Suffering With Adult ADHD and Comorbid Disorders

June 25, 2010 Douglas Cootey

Often, adults with ADHD have comorbid conditions. In other words, why just struggle with impulse control and absent mindedness when you could also toss in Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or Tourette's Syndrome for good measure? Hey, the more mental health conditions the merrier, right?

Comorbid Disorders: Adult ADHD and Depression,Tics, Insomnia...

When dealing with comorbid conditions such as ADHD and depression, it is easy to get discouraged. Here's how I dealt with a recent wallop of comorbidity.

You may have noticed I haven't posted articles this week. I wish I could say I simply forgot about my deadline, or that I had meant to post my articles but became severely distracted by growing magical asparagus in a virtual yet distant land, but the truth is that I have had a tough week.

I deal with the comorbid conditions of Depression, ADHD, and Chronic Motor Tic Disorder. I also have insomnia and sleep apnea. It's sort of like riding a unicycle over cobblestones while gargling peanut butter and also being covered in a heavy, wet, and wooly blanket. With ninjas. Some weeks are better than others; some weeks are terrible. This was a terrible week.

I generally manage Depression and adult ADHD using Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques. I also manage the Sleep Apnea with a hose and a squishy mask fastened to my face. The effect is not quite unlike watching an air mattress be inflated. If I'm lucky, I might even sleep. This week, however, I was a neurological mess. I couldn't manage my tic disorder at all. Ticking and twitching coupled with periods of lethargic mental sluggishness? I could barely do my full-time dad duties, never mind write articles.

I have to admit that I completely failed to stay upbeat and positive. All I could think was "When will this end‽" It always ends, like a passing storm in the night. Terrible while overhead, but soon forgotten in the beautiful morning that follows. My "morning" started at 7:15pm Thursday night.

This Comorbidity Makes Me Feel Lonely But I Push People Away

Whatever your comorbid conditions are, you will be hard pressed to find many people who can relate with them. People cannot relate to arms that flail about and smack yourself in the face. They can't relate to sadness that never ends. They can't relate to chronic tardiness. They can't relate to mood swings you have no control over.

That may make you feel lonely and isolated. I know it does for me. Yet, I am not alone. I have friends and family that care. I'm fortunate. You may be fortunate, too. Sometimes, though, we are so busy dealing with our troubles that we fail to see the world around us. We forget to look on the bright side because the dark side is so overwhelming. It can make us push away the very people we need in our lives. This is a terrible mistake to make. (Why Do We Shut People Out When We Need Them the Most?)

I made that mistake this week. I snapped at my kids and barked at my wife. I was miserable and let everyone know it. I'm lucky my family didn't walk me into the grocery store and leave me by the frozen turkeys.

Comorbidity and Staying Positive As A Coping Tool

As you struggle with your comorbid conditions, try to keep your chin up. I know it can be hard. I know it can seem impossible. However, the alternative is misery and loneliness. We get enough of that without adding more by our own efforts. Seek the good around you and thank those who help you. Reward them for their efforts. With a better attitude, we can cope with our difficulties as opposed to being crushed by them. The storm will pass and things will look better. You may still be carrying various issues around on your back, but a positive attitude may help them feel lighter.

What do you like to do to help lift your spirits when ADHD or other conditions have you feeling down?

Photo credit: Nathan Jones

APA Reference
Cootey, D. (2010, June 25). Suffering With Adult ADHD and Comorbid Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Douglas Cootey

Kira (dana/roze13)
June, 25 2010 at 10:35 am

This sounds familiar to me. I may not fully comprehend the specifics of what you go through, but it feels familiar. In addition to my ADD, I deal with social anxiety, low self esteem and some variety of sleep disorder (can one have both insomnia and hypersomnolence?).
I find cleaning sometimes distracts me enough to leave behind my lethargic moments. But that doesn't always work. That's usually when I realize I need to go find people who make me smile and laugh. Working up the nerve to call up friends, who I know on a logical level would love to hang out, is daunting enough that sometimes I sit there and wallow instead. It helps that one or two of them now know to bug me more often now.
I'm still looking for and and learning about ways to deal with everything as my diagnosis is still rather new for me. It makes me glad to be able to find places like this online where I can read a little about others and have hope for them too.

June, 25 2010 at 11:03 am

Does Polio and 17 intestinal surgeries in 7 years count ? Mixed with exhaustion, chronic pain, and walking around in leg braces ? If so, I feel a kinship with you. Sometimes, waking up and facing another day can be awful. On the other hand, more often, I wake up and the day is beautiful and full of promise. On these bright days, and I don't mean sunshine, I'm ready to enjoy my life, family, and the beautiful outdoors. I just need to muster up the strength to conquer my disabilities, and enjoy being alive. The smell of roses, or fresh mountain air lifts me up. And just maybe, the joy of purchasing a ticket to England might be in my distant future. Dreams keep me going as well. Dreams are invigorating.

August, 17 2010 at 10:40 am

I have ADD and also bipolar 1, diabetic and have some trouble seeing and hearing and G.A.D. I know what it's like to be different. (blech). As I have gotten older, some things r easier to control and some things just 'are' - no matter what I do. I am learning to accept myself warts and all. I love your blogs. They articulate what I cannot put into words and clarifies for me which things I do are from bipolar and which r ADD. Thank u so much for sharing your struggles with us. It makes it easier to bear when not alone with it all. Keep on writing! I love your humor!

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