ADHD and adult bullying

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    • #82850

      Hi, I have severe ADHD combined. I feel very hyper, have an extremely short attention span or find myself engage in chronic daydreaming (if that even exists). It’s hard to hide because I cannot control myself from fidgeting in the seats or looking like I’m not there. I cannot walk straight, always look like I’m on the go, find myself knocking things down or injuring myself when I bump into things. Every little thing catches my attention “Shiny!” and it shows because my head would move quickly to the direction of the stimulus. Some of my coworkers find this humorous and copied my behaviors and laugh together. I tried my best to ignore it but sometimes it can be hard and I come home crying. Today, at a meeting my manger threw a pen at me. I was startled and my body language shows it. Many people started laughing. I want to know how Additude reader will deal with this kind of situation. I wish I can throw the pen back. I cannot quit now. I want to educate them that they is real and it’s not funny but maybe they will find more reasons to tease me.

    • #82861
      Penny Williams

      While disclosing ADHD in the workplace is typically not advised by most ADHD experts, I do wonder if a confidential conversation with human resources is in order. Maybe not disclosing your ADHD, but simply the bullying in general, to get some guidance on how it should be handled.

      Your Workplace Rights with ADHD

      I see a lot of this “teasing” when people don’t understand that there’s a physical condition behind the symptoms they see on the surface.

      Maybe next time, you ask one of your co-workers how it would feel if you mimicked or teased them about ___________ (something “out of the norm” they do).

      It’s a tough situation for sure, and I’m sorry you’re going through it.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #83261

      I too dealt with this at my last job. I was nicknamed “Squirrel” because of similar actions. Any car or motorcycle that drove by I would be looking out the window. Weird noises or things of the like always caught my attention more than answering dozens of emails. For the most part, I didn’t mind the nickname, even though the main perpetrator has an ADHD son, which is ironic.

      I guess my first question would be what steps are you taking to minimize the symptoms? I personally don’t like using medication, but it hasn’t been necessary for me, so I try all the natural methods for controlling symptoms. I try to get more sleep, avoid sugary foods, get some exercise, finding helpful music, etc.

      I think Penny is on to something though. I think both a talk with HR and individual talks as events arise might help.

      I hope this helps!

    • #83299

      First of all, I am finding this post very disturbing. As an HR, and business management professional, I have been involved with various work places and situation my whole life, and while I have seen bullying, and hostile work places, this does not seem like a healthy situation for you or your co-workers.

      1. I would speak to your provider about limiting or controlling your symptoms, including different medication. It sounds like you are have troubles functioning in the workplace and getting additional help would allow more productivity.

      2. I would document the situations where they are mocking you. You have a right to a safe and harassment free environment. I would document the date and time of where then pen was thrown at you.

      3. Do you have an advocate, coach or mental health professional? I would strongly recommend that you have someone to talk to, who can teach self advocacy, and other skills. In addition they may be able to assist you in developing appropriate accommodations

      4. Does the company have a written anti-harassment policy in place? Generally speaking any company of any size would have some sort of handbook, and list of policies signed off by employees limiting harassment of any kind.

      5. If you feel safe speak to HR, and I would even speak to the ownership. If you are experiencing bullying, hostility, and harassment in the workplace, then others are too. The ownership can be held responsible for their employees actions. In addition, it creates a very poor work environment which will cost them valuable, and highly productive employees.

      As a side note, I really had troubles working with one person on my current job. She was to assist me in onboarding, and benefits administration. She rarely performed her duties accurately and completely. The paperwork was not completed, and we were not compliant with laws, rules, and regulations. In addition, other projects (in addition to HR, I oversee the accounting) and transactions were not handled properly. As I was about to file a grievance with my boss, the co-worker was offered another job, my boss encouraged her to move on. So whoever is the primary ringleader, may have numbered days.

      • #83478

        Steve mentioned this but I will echo it: NOBODY, and I mean NOBODY, has the right to treat you like this at work. Yes, we can be more sensitive, but that’s entirely beside the point. You’ve got grown adults here who are acting like middle school children. This is UNACCEPTABLE in the workplace. Steve’s right; talk to HR, or even talk to the ownership if that’s possible.

        And, use it as a teaching time if you can; that’s what I did. Because I’m a disabled vet, my workplace had to “officially” know about all my disabilities. But HOW MUCH they knew, was up to me. I got some of the typical, “it’s a made-up, big-pharm disease to turn kids into zombies” skepticism, but for the most part, people were curious and willing to listen. I even showed some people comparative brain scans! (“Oh wow, so this really is, like, a brain thing then?” Um….yes. yes it is.) Point being, people started realizing that a lot of my ‘quirks’ were things that were literally out of my control. And I started getting a lot more support after that.

      • #108856

        Yeah it happen even when they have no idea you have ADHD. I just had a team lead look right at me in a meeting and say “That women running that project is even crazier than you”. It pissed me off & really hurt my feelings.

    • #83302

      Thank you for taking time to reply and give me advice. I am treating my ADHD with Adderall and vitamins like Omega 3, ginkoba, etc. I talked with an EEO officer about the pen throwing incident and I don’t think he can do anything. He just said he will keep an eye out. Yes, I think confronting the individual when it happens is helpful. At those moments, I feel frozen and I don’t know how to unfreeze myself and react at that time but I will try… My manager (who aim, threw the pen, and burst out laughing) with other people actually know I have ADHD because I needed accommodation. The pen missed me but I felt very uncomfortable. It happened at a meeting and meetings are very hard to sit for an hour plus. I found myself day dreaming, fidgeting and looking out the window, around the room. If an argument does arise, how can I handle it? Most people who I talked with at work think I take things too personally but they will never say that if I am sitting on a wheel chair. I know ADHD people are more sensitive but this kind of treatment should not be accepted for anyone, anywhere?

      • #83475

        I’m like you; I freeze too. Unfortunately I’m also a full-blooded Scot so I have one HELL of a temper. Had it been me, I would have jumped up and stormed out of the room. But after that, I probably would have come back in with something much larger and messier to throw BACK. I’m a firm believer in both revenge and one-upmanship. (Which is probably why I’m now self-employed.) However, that’s usually not everyone’s thing.

        But I think you just nailed it with the wheelchair…”If I was sitting here in a wheelchair, would you call me names? Would you make fun of me? Would you throw things at me, maybe tell me to bend over and pick them up? No, you would not. Because you would UNDERSTAND there’s a handicap issue going on here. Even if I had Aspbergers or Autism, you wouldn’t make fun of me; you might not know how to DEAL with me, but you wouldn’t make fun of me. Because you would understand that handicap is very real, even though it’s one you can’t see. Well, THIS is also a handicap. THIS is ALSO ‘real.’ And if you think I’m having FUN being the butt of all your jokes, think again.

        “To put it bluntly, I’ve met 8th graders who are less like a-holes to me than you are. And you’re ADULTS. So knock it off.”

    • #83413

      I told my boss(es)/ some of my coworkers about my adhd when I first found out. Not as an excuse but just to let them know what’s been going on. If they aren’t “friendlys” then don’t do this. I am lucky enough to have a adhd friendly job (as in I don’t have a lot of deadlines).

      As someone who currently isn’t taking meds or even watching the diet that much and letting my adhd fly…
      I would say focus on the positive and use those “super powers” that adhd gives to make you look better and to blow them away.

      If you can use the creativity to solve problems in your workplace, they will stop bullying you. Because they won’t be able to keep up.

      My adhd is fed by using sites like pinterest, and Stumble to find “random” yet interesting websites and videos that at least let me know something about a lot of different things. If you are that way too, show them the benefits of having adhd by knowing something about what your bosses / others are talking about – chances are they can’t keep up with you on this either.

      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

      So guess where they fall…

      Enjoy your gift 🙂
      Hope this helps.

    • #83476

      Hey, I’m sorry this has happened to you. Maybe you should consider speaking with a lawyer? You have rights under the Americans with Disabilities act. You have the right to a non-hostile work environment. The behavior of your manager and coworkers is unacceptable and so is HR’s response that they can’t do anything about pens being thrown at you. Your employer has a responsibility to protect you from any sort of physical violence from people in positions of power over you, from sexual assault and harassment to having things thrown at you. If this were a sexual harassment claim HR wouldn’t brush it off like that. If you are at the point where you come home crying, something is wrong, and it’s not you. You have the right to stand up for yourself. You are not the issue here. Don’t let them tell you that you’re overreacting or that you can’t take a joke. You don’t have to live like that.

      Sorry if that sounds pushy. I know that sometimes people blame themselves, or that they don’t want to make waves. I do that sometimes. I just want you to know that you are not the issue. They are. And if they treat you like that, they will treat other people like that, too. You are not at all causing a problem by speaking up, you’re solving it. I hope that helps and I hope it gets better.

    • #83479

      One last thing–have you ever been tested for Tourettes? A good friend of mine has both ADHD and Tourette’s. When you have ADHD, it’s VERY easy to miss the Tourettes because, well, we’re fidgety by nature. But if you really, REALLY can’t control the fidgets, despite your medications, you should talk to your doctor and see about a referral to someone who specializes in it. It could make your life a LOT easier! Best of luck to you!

    • #83656

      Thank you for all the energy! I contribute to that office especially with creative problem solving and in priority situation. They treat me like crap because they think I cannot get any other job as a result off my ADHD and Dyslexia (speaking/language skills). I’m a very visual person. I’m hyper but I’m not the socializing type. I have problem with speaking, cannot pronounce words, cannot make sentences quickly. I’m actually the very quiet person who fidgets a lot when I’m bored. If I’m stimulated, I don’t fidget at all. They think I am too scared to stand up for myself because a nonprofit company that provide support for people with mental illness and learning disabilities help me get this job. Actually, I am in the process to be self employed. I’m an artist and poet. I try to cheer myself up by putting a few of my sketches on my cubicle. In the meantime, you’re right. I’m not going to let them get away with treating me like this. I thought about it whole week, and I’m going to speak up. I mean, really say something when it happens next time. I’m going to prepare myself from being “frozen,” because it will happen again. It was not the first time. My manager is a b**** who picks on me the most even though she knows about my ADHD plus Dyslexia. Most People at the office thinks I’m strange already so disclosing my ADHD (and Dyslexia) to the team at meeting will not make any difference. The next time this happens at a meeting, I’m going to say “This is not funny at all. I have ADHD and Dyselxia. You will not treat me like this if I’m sitting on a wheelchair.” I will prepare saying this at home or in my mind. I wonder what will be the reaction? It’s not about our sensitivity. it’s ok to not get along with everyone but this behavior from them is beyond that point. If necessary, I can bring in articles and send them youtube links about ADHD. Mainstream society is always preaching about respecting diversity – color of skin, gender, culture, etc. Having a different brain is one kind of diversity and people will not have chance to understand if we don’t start talking back.

    • #84011
      Coach Agnes Green

      I’m sorry you are experiencing this. No one deserves to be treated this way. If the person you went to with your problem did nothing then go to a person who holds a higher position. Document everything, date, time and experience. A good website for job accommodations and suggestions is “”. Know your rights and try to find an ally you can trust. Remember HR works for the company, not the employees, but if HR believes the company will be hurt by the behaviour of the employees they will sit up and take notice. Remember all that you have accomplished in spite of your ADHD, if the people making your life miserable had to have our ADHD brain I wonder how well they would do.

    • #115182

      Sometimes I feel like adults around me are trying to upset me and publicly bring up attributes of mine that I consider to be flaws, like my tendancy to pace, be disorganized, ect ect- ADHD symptoms. Some things that I found are effective is to use humor when something like that happens. Like if someone calls me out on being forgetful I say something like “GOD, <damnmouse>, Have a Nutrigrain bar!” The goal being to paint my flaws as endearing to other people. Sometimes this works really well, right now I’m pretty irritable so I feel a little more triggered when people judge me. I’m trying to be mindful of that, and trying to distinguish between the ways adults playfully tease each other through imitation, and when the intention is to socially and emotionally harm me because they smell blood. There’s one coworker who knows I have PTSD for example and she says my name as loud as possible when she pages me at work and it effects me all day. I’ve unplugged my intercom because of that before. I try to address it by being really direct. Like, “okay, there’s a lot going on right now and I’d find it would help me if you said my name at a softer volume, please.” Sometimes it happens and my blood starts to boil because we’ve been over this, even told her it agitates my PTSD symptoms, so I just shut up and wait for her to assume I’m not at my desk. Set boundaries where you need to.

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