The Link Between ADHD and Depression (and how to overcome them)

It’s tough to imagine if you’re neuro-typical. Maybe you and your brain have a relatively harmonious relationship. Be grateful for that.

If you’ve been sleep deprived, drank one too many Red Bulls and found yourself overwhelmed with racing thoughts, distractibility, jittery/restlessness, and feeling a bit flooded by sensory input, that’s a little taste of what it’s like to live with Attention Deficit Disorder (we no longer call it ADHD) except we’re like that all the time.

All. The. Time.

I’ve lived with ADD all my life. I’m just too old and tired to be hyperactive anymore. My brain has two speeds: 100mph and REM sleep.

I lived with depression most of my life. My brain tells me I kicked it many years ago but I know better. It can come back anytime I ease up on my self care or spend too much time alone.

Sometimes the obvious alludes me. I never associated my conditions as having any cause and effect. I thought my depression was a product of my past and feeling that there must be something very wrong with me that I never fit into mainstream society.

Of course, the way my brain works is a big part of why I don’t fit in.

It’s not a product of enlightenment or self actualization that leaves me bored by the mainstream (media, people, social norms, everyday things), it’s that my mind has already rapid fire analyzed it, found it lacking, and worse – completely predictable and therefore dull.

It’s like watching  an unending series of formulaic movies, desperately hoping to be surprised.

It’s craving experience and desperately needing an unending supply of input and outlets simultaneously.

It’s having an insatiable appetite and perusing an endless buffet of celery and ice cubes.

It’s wanting to be understood and having no idea how to explain.

It’s having a love/hate relationship with yourself and learning every lesson in the hardest possible way.

“I live in conflict and contradiction”  – Eyedeas & Abilities

Boredom is intolerable emptiness. Depression follows. Can’t afford it. Search. Find the next distraction. Stay busy. Work too hard. Do everything too hard. Burn out. Start over. Repeat. Until it hurts too much.

New plan: My solutions have been almost entirely spiritual. The more I connect with other misfits, the healthier my life is. The more I have great conversations about ideas, music, books and the more I learn new things, the better I am.

Be of service to others. Allow others to serve you. Reciprocity is scary but it allows intimacy to grow.

Stop whining about wanting to be happy and seek joy. Happiness is fleeting and joy endures.

Practice self acceptance – I’m different and so are the best people I know.

I’ve learned that I have to give my brain projects to work on. For most people, “What if…” questions are usually a product of anxiety. For folks like me, they’re opportunities being considered and dreams being dreamt.

Most of the folks I’ve known who live with unwieldy brains struggle to find folks they can relate to in meaningful ways. Seek us out in the arts, in social services, in hobbies that require passion and just notice that we’re like you – we’re different too.

It’s not hard to spot someone’s freak flag (even though a lot of us hide them) – it’s hard to introduce yourself and say, “Hey, me too.”

It’s also totally worth it.

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.