The Overwhelming Underwhelm that No one Talks About…

Rochelle Hanslow
4 min readJan 10, 2024

Here we are, 10 days into January 2024, and let me tell you straight, the overwhelm has already been real up in here.

This is the first year that I have fully committed to living by the ‘Wheel of the Year’ and letting nature and the seasons be my guide, not the societal milestones that have been deemed our year or the Gregorian calendar. Right now, we are in the dreaming time of Winter; where we are resting, rejuvenating ourselves, doing some introspection, dreaming our ideas to being, and only at the beginning of the planting stage of our manifestations.

This is definitely the right path for me to follow, It feels right but as always the programming I’ve had from media, society, and parental traditions have been more difficult to release. As common for me, it’s been a conflict of two sides (I’m an AuDHDer after all) making me feel major overwhelm.

A person holding a piece of cardboard with ‘Help’ scribbled in black pen. Image from Pexel.com

Here is something that you probably didn’t know about living with AuDHD (Autism and ADHD combined) — Typically, someone with ADHD chases dopamine and will find it things they find interesting — it’s multiple creative projects for me, home improvements, books or online shopping. Admin work for example is an overall bore but it is tedicious for many ADHDers and we wouldn’t chose to do this over other things because it doesn’t make us happy, it isn’t fun and will require a lot more focus and energy on the whole.

Here’s the first snag; chasing dopamine is exhausting and overwhelming. So, I can decide to do an art project, get all the supplies and set up my space to chase the doapmine and by the time it comes to actually putting paint to paper, I’ve checked out, my creative inspiration has wandered off and I’m left with both overwhelm and underwhelm. I’m overwhelmed from the energy used to chase the dopamine which now re-engages Executive Dysfunction leaving me in a state of paralysis. I am also underwhelmed because I didn’t get out of the task what I was needing and this too, leads me to a state of paralysis. Now begins a spiral of ‘whats the point’, RSD kicks in and this stage for neurodivergent people can often be mistaken for depression.

Image of a cosy blanket with a weekly planner and coffee mug sitting on top. Image resourced for Pexel.com

I haven’t bought into the idea of new years resolutions for many years, I have things I want to create, achieve, and learn this year of course, but I wasn’t under any illusion that come 1st January I’d be ready to jump out of bed and get right on track. Now that we are ten days into January, there have been many times I’ve broken down because the cycle above has occurred but more so because old habits that have been ingrained into my psyche for as long as I can remember have reared up and caused such heavy blockades for me.

I haven’t started the art courses to allow me to build a better foundation for my skills and I’ve panicked already, thinking that if I’ve not started by now, I’m clearly not going to attain these skills this year.

I mean, what kind of absolute gubbins is that?

There are still three hundred and fifty-six more days of 2024 and we’ve been so ridiculously lead by advertising, media, society, and traditions that we now feel so much immense pressure beginning anything. Perfectionism tendencies are rife and, as someone who has chased the neurotypical life for more years than she’d cared to admit, I already know perfection doesn’t exist and isn’t achievable.

Yellow lines on an open road, with autumn coloured leaves on the road from the trees surrounding. Image resourced from Pexel.com

I always tell my sons that when they find themselves in a state of frustation or overwhelm to ask one little question that is honestly, a game changer; How can I simplify this? It seems obvious but in these moments we are often programmed to not be able to see the bigger picture. This is what I’m now telling myself when every piece of life begins to overwhelm me. Simplifying is now the goal.

I am going to reconnect to this season of winter and allow myself to be and do minimal because I want the energy needed to sow, water and grow the seeds I’m planting in this time of dreaming and bring those dreams into being. If you’ve been feeling the pressure to go all in, to be up and at ’em because we changed from 23 to 24…the numbers don’t mean jack. Nature knows that right now is the time to be still and plant beginnings in the dark, it knows that the days of light and hope are coming soon and it is in those times we will act. No one will rush the flowers or trees.

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Rochelle Hanslow

AuDHDer poet, writer and author born and based in Scotland. Wordy indulgent Creatrix. Book lover, Witch, & Moonchild, following the wild & magic within.