Wednesday, December 15, 2010

low frustration tolerance or over flowing

A lot of times those of us with challenges are seen as being easily frustrated, but I don't think that view is looking below the surface. We need to look deeper than superficial cues/clues. There are times those of us with challenges tolerate a huge amount of frustration. We endure so many struggles, painful experiences, setbacks, people's negative view of us. We have to endure the frustration of having to strategize for absolutely everything we do. We have to endure lots more "failures" than others before we find a way to make it work for us. If we have an invisible challenge it can very well take us years to discover why in the world do we have these issues that we do. When you have an invisible challenge such as ADD/ADHD, it is incredibly difficult to understand why you feel different or why you can't do things like others. We tend to excel in other areas that others don't, let's say science or art. Or we manage to get our Ph.Ds, masters, bachelors but we can't get things done on time, clean our closets, manage our time, fill out simple forms. We have areas of extreme interest and focus and areas of total lack there of. Try as we might these "boring" tasks, are incredibly difficult to do. There are certain topics or tasks that seem to dry up my frontal lobe and make it absolutely useless for anything executive.

So you take all of this into account, observing our challenges, enduring painful criticism and judgement. We are told that we are 'immature', 'not good enough', 'lazy' or we are told 'just try harder', 'you need to plan ahead', 'failure to plan on your part doesn't constitute an emergency on my part'. So in addition to our invisible challenges that we work our tushes off in order to succeed, we keep trying, looking for answers, we have to deal with all these negative labels and abuse. So out of our pain, and after being told that 'we don't measure up' for years on out; we continue to try harder, work longer, and what not. We all in attempt to 'measure up', yet no matter how hard we try we stray from the track. And people wonder why we have 'low frustration tolerance'?

I am not convinced that people with challenges have a lower frustration tolerance than those without. I think it maybe that they are already tolerating a lot of frustration, it's just that when you pile on more frustration they may blow or react. A glass can only so much water before it overflows. If you add the same amount of water to 2 different glasses, one of which is already full and the other is nearly empty, the one that is full is going to spill over much sooner than the other.

I feel that most of us with ADD/ADHD have really high frustration levels, it's just that we use so much more of our frustration capacity than many other people. So when we finally 'blow' out of frustration, it's not because we have 'low frustration tolerance'; instead it is because we have over filled our already used frustration capacity.  I believe 'low frustration tolerance' is when you start with an empty glass of water and you quickly blow.

So what are your thoughts about this?


  1. My though on this is, Yes ! This makes so much more sense to me ! I lost it with my childs School Wednesday when after starting the process in November we were finally able to sit down and Say conclusively ADD and The resource teacher saying he needs this this and this. She then says but I don't have time. (private school). I made it to the next day before I got his progress reports, three Ds, from the head of the school. I had major the melt down. It was not any one thing it was all of them. And Why yes I have this thing too. Seems to run in families. I explained it to a friend of mine by the way who does not have this. I get up every day and start tasks over and over and over again. That it is not that I lack the dispiplne she talks about. I just lack the ability to not be distracted over and over again. In some areas I feel as overwhelmed as you describe and there are some days when I do ask, Why bother ? I love this article and will show it to my son. Thank you.

  2. Reading this sort of made me want to fall over. It's so easy to forget that somewhere out there, there's someone who understands. Thank you.