ADHD BrainfreezeIt was 3:00 p.m. The phone rang. From the sound of the ring, I knew it was a long distance call.

Chances were 50/50 whether it would be a frivolous telemarketer, or something important.

Ok, that’s probably wishful thinking. Chances were around 99% it would be a telemarketer, but as usual, I clung to the hope that it was the Ellen DeGeneres Show inviting me to talk about women and ADHD. (Hey, dream big, right?)

Even as I reached for the phone, I chastised myself because I knew I risked losing my train of thought; I knew transitions were hard for me; I knew this was procrastination, an easy way to deke out of finishing the article I was writing.

“Congratulations! As a thank you for participating in our internet survey, you’ve been selected to win a prize. Press 1 now to claim your prize or press 3 to be removed.”

My heart sank the second I heard that creepy, metallic, robo-voice.

That voice didn’t care if I won a stinking prize. It wasn’t even a real voice.

I could have slammed the receiver down. I didn’t.

My impulsive reaction landed me smack in the middle of quicksand. I was sinking fast, as my brain jammed up with an instant barrage of conflicting thoughts:

I know I’ve done online surveys recently, but I can’t remember any. What were they about? When did I do them? Was it one, or more?

What if I press “3” and I’m “removed”? What if I lose the chance at winning something fabulous?

You won’t win anything. Don’t be stupid. Nobody ever wins anything. You don’t get something for nothing!

But Sharen always wins. You can’t win if you don’t play, right?

What if it’s a scam? What if I press “1” and something terrible happens?

What terrible things could happen? I can’t think of anything terrible. There must be something, I just can’t think of it right now.

A list. I might get on some list…

So? Big deal. So get on a list. What can they do to you?

Who’s “they”? I don’t even know who’s calling! [my cat enters the room and gives me “the look.”]

If I don’t feed my cat right now, she’s going to swipe at my leg and draw blood.

I need information! I need to hang up! I need to feed the cat!

Even as it was happening, I could feel the cryogenic effect these thoughts had on my grey matter.

Finally, the internal pressure of conflicting arguments built up sufficiently to crack through the iceblock that had become my brain.

I hung up.

I did not press “1.”  I did not press “2.” I just hung up.

I felt annoyed, frustrated, defeated, incompetent (how could I not make such a simple decision?), trepidatious (holy crap, I didn’t even remove myself from “the list”…What if they call again?) and (I admit) I felt let down (did I just rob myself of a fabulous prize?).

All that angst and confusion over one unimportant phone call.


I have voice mail. Next time I’m on a roll, I’m unplugging my phone. Ellen will have to wait.

*  *  *  *  *

Think that sounds like fun? Here are even more ways ADHD trips us up on decision-making:

Shiiiiiiiiiiiine-y Things: Making Decisions – ADHD Style!


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    Last reviewed: 30 Jan 2013

APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2013). ADHD Brainfreeze. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2015, from


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