The Thing About Dopamine

Have you ever wondered why you are so good at doing something but you hate doing it? You find no joy in it, and at times,  you may even dread starting it. That feeling is frustrating and confusing since you are clearly good at the thing.


To make things worse, people around you continue to ask for your help, and you suck at saying NO, so you say YES and stay miserable. This revolving door freaking sucks. I know you are tired of it. Fortunately, it can be changed. But first, you must learn what it is to understand how to manage it.


Our ADHD brain is excellent at learning new "interesting" information until the interest dissipates. When that happens, we lose total interest in the thing but leave a strong impression on people. Some people in my life know me because of my excellent sewing skills, but I don't even sew as much anymore. Others may remember my couponing skills and still reach out just for that. My creative design abilities left a great impression on people, and they will randomly call me for constructive criticism on a design they are working on. All these aspects of my life, for me, are a distant memory! Yet it is fresh in people’s minds.


I wish people would realize that all of the knowledge resulted from “Dopamine Rush.” In essence, when folx with ADHD traits get super interested in a particular topic, idea, task, problem, or thought, we learn everything there is to know about that thing. The extent of hyperfocus varies by individual, but generally, it ranges from two hours to two years. When we are interested, there is nothing our brain cannot absorb. Most people only have a negative view of ADHD, so they do not attach our good attributes to it. We must be the voice of reasoning when interacting with people so that we are not miserable. Educate people about how your brain works instead of getting angry with people when they seem confused about your behavior. If you no longer enjoy doing something they are asking you to do, decline the request if at all possible.

Dopamine Bluntly Coached

Remember that you are never obligated to do anything you don't want to do. In your case, it is literally torture because you are running on low Dopamine as it is. Your boredom tendencies are not a behavior. Your Impulsive nature is not by choice. You are not declining an opportunity to help because you are a douche. You are different.


Yet, Your difference is not an excuse to be a shitty human. Your ADHD is not a reason to live an underperforming life. 

The more time you invest in knowing yourself, the easier it will be for you to create a self management plan. This fluid yet structured plan will guide you as you navigate your complicated brain.


Although this article is directed specifically at folx with ADHD diagnosis or traits, any human who is serious about living a joyful life can apply the same logic. You may not have ADHD traits, but you could use the same self management logic if you are contending with your serotonin, traumas, illness, stressful job, or other life transitions. Whatever the case may be, please note that…

  • You are not alone
  • You have choices and
  • You can choose to live a joyful life by learning, healing, and creating an actionable self management plan.

~Ganiyat Badmus, LCSW-C, ADHD-CCSP

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