The Mighty Logo

These Graphics Perfectly Explain 6 Relatable ADHD Moods

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

As an adult with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I have some unique “quirks” and moods I experience that others may not– or, at least, not to the same extent. That’s why I always love when I find posts online that put how I feel into words. The latest discovery has been this graphic of six ADHD Moods and let me tell you, the author is spot on. Seeing this made me feel beyond validated and I felt compelled to share why. So, without further ado, let me open your eyes more to what experiencing these six ADHD moods is like.

• What is ADHD?

1. Hyperfocus

In the graphic, it states, “I’ve just spent 15 hours researching this new hobby of mine… which will be gone by next week.” It’s cute and funny. It’s also unbelievably true. For those of you who have never heard of “hyperfocus,” it’s a common ADHD term to describe the sensation of being so focused you lose track of everything. When I hyperfocus, I lose track of where I am, how much time has passed and I even forget to do basic things such as eating, drinking water or going to the bathroom. 

In my brain, it often feels like I only have two modes: unfocused and hyperfocused. I genuinely don’t know what it’s like to focus in a “normal” way. My phone is filled with alarms and reminders about when to do basic tasks, such as “take out the dogs,” “shower” and my personal favorite that in all caps, “Take your meds!” because without those reminders I literally forget to do those simple everyday things. If I get settled into a preferred task after work, I can sit there until my eyes are heavy and I’m half asleep only to realize I completely forgot to shower…for the third day in a row. Hence the alarm to shower. It may sound like a silly thing to have an alarm for, but it’s better than going to work with greasy hair and a terrible smell the next day. Hyperfocus is real.

2. What did I even do today?

This graphic is so accurate that it makes me cringe. It has a person in bed and reads, “I spent the whole day doing nothing because I couldn’t spend 30 minutes doing my assignment, but I didn’t allow myself to do anything else until it was done.” That description is so accurate that I could cry from the regret of my wasted days. It doesn’t happen often as I’m a very “Type A” person who tends to have multiple “To-Do Lists” going on at one time, but when I get into that funk I always end the day feeling horrible about myself. 

See, being someone with ADHD means I often forget to do things, so in order to not forget, I decide I won’t do anything else until my main task is done. There are good intentions there. Except, when I don’t want to do the main task, I just sit there, staring into space in order to avoid it. I can be there for hours. And the worst part is, I don’t even know what I’m thinking about when that happens. All I know is that I’m thinking about something and my mind is very occupied. Then, I think about how I’m avoiding the thing I should be doing and that’s why I’m just sitting there. I usually remind myself how the task I need to do could’ve been done in the time I’ve spent staring into nothingness. Nonetheless, I continue staring into space, and therefore continue avoiding the task at hand. Before I know it, it’s 8 p.m. and I’ve accomplished nothing that day, which leaves me feeling hopeless and stupid. Unfortunately, that’s become a cycle.

3. I’m lost.

Of the six graphics, this is the one I connect to most, because I am always, always, always completely and utterly lost. My most common example is placing a curbside pick up order for my groceries. Every week, I have every intention to do this. One of my famous reminders might even go off to remind me to do it. The problem is, when I open my phone there are a plethora of distractions. To find the grocery app, I also have to see all of the other apps on my phone and that’s where I’m a goner. No matter how hard I try, I end up on some social media or entertainment app, which eventually sparks something that reminds me to do something else, which then reminds me to do something else until suddenly it’s the next day and I realize I never placed the order for my groceries. This has happened for an entire week at a time before, as I live off of pretzel rods and cheese quesadillas because I have no other food. Unfortunately, I seem to get lost like this multiple times a day. All the reminders in the world won’t prevent it from happening. It’s inevitable at this point. I’ve accepted my flaws.

4. Am I sad or hungry?

I know this mood isn’t exclusive to ADHD, but it is definitely an ADHD mood. The graphic answers the question with, “Actually, I’m bored… but it’s easy to mistake boredom for those feelings.” To start explaining this graphic, I just want to ask if anyone actually knows how hard it is to actually entertain someone with ADHD? I mean, I’m great at acting entertained. In fact, I can have an entire conversation without retaining a single piece of information. But my mind moves so fast that when I’m alone, I don’t know what to do with myself. In fact, my mind moves so fast that I don’t even know the options my mind is giving me for what to do. So, I usually just sit there and feel the urge to eat something. Then, I question if I’m actually hungry or if I’m just sad and using food as a coping skill. Nine times out of 10 it turns out, I was just bored. As soon as I become engaged in an activity again I’m no longer hungry nor am I sad. It was just another moment of ADHD. Go figure.

5. Overachiever

This graphic reads, “I want to do this… and that… and that… and talk with everyone… and clean my house… and wow… I should look into this too…” Now, this may sound like the opposite of ADHD, but going back to the first graphic, I said that it feels like ADHD has two moods: unfocused and focused. When I’m focused, I want to do it all. I can get an entire week’s worth of work done, reach out to friends, clean the house, take my dogs to the dog park–  you name it. I feel like productivity central. However, other days, I spend all my time going from task to task, trying to remember what I’m actually supposed to be doing. There is no in between. However, as someone who tends to hyper focus more than I’m unfocused, I’ve always been seen as that overachiever. I never struggled in school, I’m fairly outgoing and people see me as someone who’s very on top of everything due to the to-do Lists I use to compensate for ADHD. So, I guess it’s fair to say that sometimes ADHD does have its perks.

6. Zoning out

This graphic is another one that hurts to read because it’s just too accurate. It has pictures of a girl with thought bubbles with text that reads, “Listening to a meeting. It reminded me of something else and I got lost in my thoughts…Wait…How long was I gone?” As I said, it’s so accurate it hurts. 

I’m not an auditory learner. I’ve never been an auditory learner. I’d go as far as to say I’m the weird girl who’s always taking notes even when the speaker is saying nothing of significance. Why? Because if I don’t, I literally enter my own world. Let me give you a fictional example. I’m at a meeting and someone says something like, “The data shows that so-and-so is…” that’s it. I’m lost. Now, I’m thinking about so-and-so. However, I’m not thinking about so-and-so in the way that I’m supposed to be thinking about so-and-so. Instead, I’m thinking about so-and-so in an entirely unrelated way, which then triggers me to think of such-and-such, which then triggers me to think about this-and-that, and when I finally realize I’m off in my own little world, I have absolutely no clue what they’re talking about in the meeting. This is why I take notes. If I’m taking notes, I have to listen in order to continue taking notes. It’s the only way I’ll focus. So, that’s why I’m the weird girl taking notes when my boss is talking about something entirely insignificant. At least I’m paying attention.

And as I said before, some of these moods, other people might experience too. It’s just that us ADHDers experience them to the extreme. Our brains are wired to always be busy thinking about something– even if we don’t know what that something is. So, be gentle on us. We really are trying our best. It just takes some time to learn how to compensate.

Lead image from @ADHD_Couple on Instagram

Originally published: April 14, 2023
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home