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Inattentive ADHD and Me

I went to see my doctor for a mood disorder, and left with a referral to see a specialist about ADHD. Was that really the cause of my years of forgetfulness?

A mood disorder is a weird thing. One moment someone can tell a joke and you will be laughing, then shortly afterwards you can withdraw into yourself and everything is grey again. You do your best to hide it from everyone but sometimes, like in this piece I am writing, it simply spills out.

Mood Disorder” writes the GP on her notepad as she makes a referral for me to see a specialist. The thing is, the referral is not for the mood disorder. It’s for a neurological condition which is at least partly responsible for the mood disorder.

The thing I was being referred to the specialist about is a badly-named condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – Inattentive Type.

In this piece I am going to introduce you to this form of ADHD and talk about how it has impacted on my life. [If you think this type of reflective writing is self-indulgent, then I suggest you stop reading here. And if you want to use it against me because I’m involved in politics then good luck to you.]

Inattentive ADHD put simply, means your brain is rubbish at choosing what you focus on. It’s the daydreaming type of ADHD, not the can’t-sit-still type. It’s not that you can’t focus at all. You can focus alright, just not always on what you need to focus on. Sometimes the problem is when you get stuck focusing on the wrong things.

[Free Download: Your In-Depth Guide to Inattentive ADHD]

For people with inattentive ADHD, repetitive tasks become hyper-boring and mentally exhausting to stick with. Yet with the tasks you are interested in, you can barely notice the outside world for eight hours straight.

You also have a rubbish working memory. Your long-term memory can be excellent, but your ability to temporarily hold two or three pieces of information in your mind at any one time is limited. If you are typing on your computer and someone asks you to remember to call someone, you will nod and say yes, you will actively try to remember but the information never lodges.

Aligned with this is a deficiency in your prospective memory. Prospective memory is all about being good at remembering to remember. The thing about tasks is that they are set to be done at a specific time. “I need to pay this bill when I get home.” “I need to pack my lunch when I leave for work.” “I need to go to the post office at lunchtime.” With inattentive ADHD you store these pieces of information as you would an answer to a trivial pursuit question, not as a note in a diary. So even if I’ve reminded myself several times I need to put my lunch in my bag before I walk out the door for work, the thought will simply not enter my mind at all.

Also with inattentive ADHD you often can have a crappy executive function, i.e., your brain is really bad at directing you through a series of sub-tasks to get the main task complete. It can do each sub-task fine, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone in charge in there to lead you through the steps.

[What Inattentive ADHD Looks Like In the (Not So) Wild]

I came to this diagnosis the same way most people come to it: way too late and not through the lack of trying to work out what is going on.

My school report cards follow the classic progression of someone with this neurological condition:

  • Tim is a delightful child, he is passionate and highly intelligent.
  • Tim is an excellent student, especially when it is a subject Tim finds interesting.
  • Tim needs to apply himself to all subject areas, not just the ones he enjoys.
  • Tim struggles to pay attention in class and isn’t submitting his homework on time.
  • Tim shows glimpses of potential, but he really needs to work harder.
  • Tim has failed all his tests and hasn’t submitted any of his homework.
  • Somehow Tim has gotten 100% on all his final exams. I’m not sure how he did this given his results last semester.

And it continued on the same in university. Failed first year chemical engineering. Got a high distinction average despite failing some subjects in environmental science. Failed to submit my Honors Thesis. Got a distinction average in a different Master’s degree. And no amount of school counselors, time management courses, GPs, psycho-dynamic therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and antidepressants would change this roller-coaster.

The ADHD wears you down but it’s the secondary psychological impact that hits you the hardest. You get judged by your friends, colleagues, teachers, partners and relatives as being weak in character or lazy. And you don’t know if they are right. Eventually you believe them. The only honest answer you ever have for giving someone about why you stuffed up is “I don’t know”.

And what makes it worse is that when you find a topic or task engaging, you really can perform. Like exceptionally so. Everyone sees this and uses that as your benchmark and then assumes that when you fail at a boring task it is because you are weak-willed.

People diagnosed with ADHD later on in life, like I was, wear the scars of a lifetime of judgement from failures you could never explain. It’s genuinely traumatic. It is big things like struggling through university and failing to have a career that matches your potential. And it is little things like forgetting birthdays and people’s names and all seven items on the grocery list to bring back from the shops.

I have been told by a few specialists recently that without being diagnosed and treated I couldn’t have expected to be any more successful in any aspect of my life than I have been. This is incredibly reassuring to know, but in many ways the damage has been done. I know I am bloody good at my job. I know my daughters love me. I know I have wonderful friends around me. But these thoughts are often far too fleeting, as the internal thought processes of a person with zero self-esteem continually reassert themselves. I am certain that my mood disorder takes its roots from dealing with the fallout from the ADHD.

Having only recently starting taking ADHD medication it’s nice to get a window into way that non-ADHD people live. I feel I live so much more in the present now. The mental exhaustion from a normal day’s work has disappeared. I have richer conversations with friends and with my children. And I’m starting to sift out what is me and what is my ADHD. But there is still a long way to go.

I might write more about this. I might not. As I said at the start of this piece, sometimes it all spills out. I’m glad I know about how and why my brain works as it does. It would have been nice to know earlier but I can’t help that now. But I’ll certainly keep trying to find a way through it all.

[Take This Self-Test: Could I Have Inattentive ADHD?]


Shortly after I wrote this, I heard the tragic news that one of my very close friends Eleanor Bloom had passed away from a long and debilitating illness. Eleanor was one of the very small group of people I felt comfortable with confiding in about my ADHD and mood disorder. I know she would have been proud of me for having written this.

This post originally appeared on Medium. Republished with permission.

40 Comments & Reviews

  1. Thank you Tim for this post. I felt like I was reading the story of my life unfolding. I was only recently diagnosed and understanding that I’m not alone means the world to me right now. Thank you again.

  2. Tim I noticed you justified writing this piece which I find myself doing that a lot. This was word for word my life; I cried thinking how much this was how my own life has been impacted, not only from this condition, but from people’s reactions towards me from their lack of understanding, especially family. My brother once said “she’s not very smart but she’s loyal” then was shocked when I went I on after years of failure in school and jobs to get a biomedical degree at 39.
    I was 54 when I was diagnosed and today my kids tell me they don’t know how i made it thru life. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  3. “James is a good student, but doesn’t work up to his full potential”.

    Every report card, every year. I only came across the phrase “inattentive type” a few days ago and it has qualmed so many fears. Reading your article did the same. For a long time I suspected that my depression was not a cause, but a symptom of something else – now I can walk into my doctor’s office and really set the agenda for the discussion. Sixty is looming – I don’t want to watch the rest of my years fritter away.

  4. This article is like a homecoming for me. Yesterday at my Doctors appointment my PCP posed the question to me whether I felt my ADHD was legitimate or misdiagnosed by her and as a result I had fallen psychologically dependent on the stimulant she prescribed me.

    I thought about it seriously and searched my symptoms exactly. I was only diagnosed two years ago after an exhausting first pregnancy with my first daughter. After researching last night I came to the amazing conclusion that not only is my diagnosis legit but that I suffer from the Inattentive subtype of ADHD. This post made me feel normal. It made me see I’m not alone with these symptoms.

    As an honor roll student in HA, college graduate (meanwhile I was not diagnosed or medicated in college, I survived on naps and red bull)… it made it difficult for me and people around me who knew about my recent diagnosis to understand how I could have made it so far in life with this undiagnosed condition. But you said it best- I succeeded where I wanted to succeed and I failed at so many menial smaller things. Only now, with children and a full time job and so much more on my plate as an adult I have buckled under the pressure.

    Thanks so much for helping open my eyes to the reasoning behind this. It finally grants me some peace and solace.

    So happy to have found his piece thanks for sharing it with the world.

  5. Tim,
    Like everyone here, I want to thank you. To read about my own struggles, in a way I haven’t been able to describe myself, has been incredibly cathartic. I am newly diagnosed, but everything I have read so far has validated my past and present conflicts. Again — thank you.

  6. Tim, I’ve gotta say, it’s really weird reading this article of yours. I’m only recently (in the last few days) realizing that I do have ADD (inattentive type). I’m in the process of setting up a meeting with a psychiatrist to confirm this, but I feel like I could have written your article myself. I’m struggling to keep up with things in life right now because my add is getting in the way so much, so I’m anxious to experience this “window into the life of normal people” roughly as you put it. Thank you for putting this out there, it gives me hope.

    1. I, too, am curious what it would be like to be “normal “ as in not have my thoughts constantly racing through my mind, especially when I’m trying to sleep. I am 39 years old, always thought these “symptoms “ of ADD were the norm until I recently discovered thst I have ADD (the inattentive type). Never thought of medication. I am all about using natural remedies and herbal supplements.

  7. I’m a bit speechless. This is me except all my report cards were full of “lazy,” “if only he’d apply himself,” etc. I started suspecting ADHD a year ago. I went to see a doctor and, because I’m not addicted or fidgety, I was literally laughed at. I’m 59 and it hurt just as much as when I was in fifth grade. I did get a PhD but I couldn’t figure out how to keep that momentum going. I knew what I had to do but I couldn’t make it happen.

    “scars of a lifetime of judgement from failures you could never explain.” Yep. I hope I can find a doctor that understands ADHD.

  8. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. My son is almost 16 years old and has exactl what you have described. I am trying to help him succeed as best I can, but not as much information out there as there is for the hyper-active ADHD person.

  9. wow feel like this could have been me writing. especially the school reports. mine I remember being also ‘has a great brain if only she would use it more often’.
    I am fighting for a diagnosis right now. I have so far been diagnosed with generalised anxiety but i know that’s only a by product of the low self esteem from being put down due to what i now think were not ‘bad things’ just my inattentiveness at certain things. If only I could use this at my next consultation. Thanks Tim

  10. Thank-you for sharing Tim!!! I am 50, and I was diagnosed at 33. When my Psychiatrist first said the words, ADHD I laughed and didn’t hear him. He said it again, and my mind drifted to ten-years earlier when I was living in FL. Young active boys SEEMED to be being over-prescribed Ritalin, and having to go to the nurse’s office at lunch time for their meds–it was on the news constantly. I couldn’t possibly be in this group?? Dr. Sam said it again, “ADHD.” He had to say it several times before I HEARD him. I started to cry, then I got angry. I felt duped by my other healthcare providers that hadn’t seen it earlier in me. Everything always seemed so difficult, yet I was always given a label of being smart. I felt relieved for the diagnosis, and medication has certainly helped. I am glad I can talk to my nephew [who just started college] about his ADHD–diagnosed at 16. Maybe things won’t have to be so difficult for him, or maybe he won’t have to feel like he’s so different from everyone else. :>

  11. The difficulty for people with ADD is their IQ’s don’t match their eventual productivity in life – particularly in the workforce where metrics and measurements are the lifeblood of an organization – and the ever so important employee evaluations that allow employers to promote their superstars and demote (and eventually get rid of) their non-superstars. Inattentive ADD’ers with high IQ’s have developed any number of different strategies in their life to compensate for most circumstances. And when starting a new job the inattentive type will come across as an individual with all the tools and talent needed to achieve great things within an organization. The albatross, however, is the inability to CONSISTENTLY think quickly on one’s feet – which is to say, the executive functioning is lacking in comparison to our neuro-typical friends and co-workers. Most compensations ADD’ers develop are scripted for everyday life – not necessarily the workforce. The workforce want’s individuals who can think quickly on their feet, be decisive and make convincing arguments to take needed or necessary actions to help the company grow and make money. Employers don’t want folks who can perform most of the time – especially at higher levels of the organization. Organizations want individuals who can think quickly on their feet ALL the time – not just some of the time. With that said, employers grow confused because inattentive ADD’ers will have “flashes” of high achievement while in the workforce, but because of their ADD simply are unable to show this brilliance on a consistent day-in-day-out basis. As a result, inattentive ADD’ers are most times thought of as underachievers or simply lazy. The employer can clearly see the early potential in an inattentive ADD’er (otherwise they wouldn’t have hired them in the first place), but eventually becomes increasingly frustrated with the individuals’ lack of achievement, shortcomings, and inability to take things to the next level. The employee and the employer continue to grow apart and the same “report card” many of us received as kids is once again delivered to us, albeit in the form of a “performance plan” – carrying much deeper consequences – many times ending up as a lost job. Evaluations will most times fall into the category of average or below – thusly increasing the pressure and stress felt by these individuals. This is a very disheartening string of events – events that I’m sure most every inattentive ADD’er could clearly articulate has happened to them at some point in their lives. If the inattentive ADD’er manages to hold on to their job, they’ll forever carry the moniker of being the proverbial lazy under-achiever who (seemingly) has all the tools for greatness, but for one reason or another “chooses” not to give their full effort.

    1. @Wagner2020
      Bravo, thank you and exactly!! You pretty much nailed the string of events I’ve faced over the years, and I love the Linus quote!! 🙂 feels like the reverse side of the Spider-Man coin!! 🙂

      Anyway thanks for highlighting the challenges of being part of this tribe of adult ADD-i

      I think form an ordinary person’s point of view it’s just very difficult to understand what it’s like to be us. Thankfully I have a partner (now) who makes a super human effort to understand, even if it’s baffling for her at times – frankly I find my behaviour completely mysterious too.

      My recommendation is don’t underestimate to importance of having at least some people around you on your side, who “get it”.

      1. Apologies for the typos and I see the Linus quote come from the below comment – my confusion!!

  12. A super AMEN to the previous comments! The dysthymia, or vague, chronic depression that is a result of a lifetime of falling short, while having “so much potential!” (There’s an old Peanuts comic strip where Linus raises his arms to the sky, crying, “There’s no heavier burden than a great potential!”)
    Anyway, 2 comments: 1) I WISH that we could get accommodations for bill-paying the way it was possible to get accommodations in school! “I can’t organize or track my bills” is very similar to “I can’t keep track of my homework!”
    Also, I do take Ritalin for focus, but the hard truth is that while it’s very useful in being focused, it’s useless for prioritizing! How many hours/days I’ve spend being hyper-focused on totally the wrong thing!
    OK, one more comment. I just turned 71, and I gotta tell ya, while I might cut myself more breaks than I used to, the backwards look at a “lifetime of falling short” is no easier now than it ever was; maybe even harder, because shouldn’t I be much more capable at this age? More competent? (sigh). I am not. The measuring stick is just longer. (sigh again.)

  13. Tim,
    Agreed on all counts. My life has been mish-mash of extreme highs and lows. Anti-depressants have helped but yes its from the constant sense of not living up to expectations. Military,college, marriage (twice) and so much more. Still need a diagnosis but have tried adhd meds and they do help. At 48 I can only move forward.

  14. Thanks for writing this, Tim.
    A “trick” I’ve used to make my add/adhd work for me was to stop caring. I could always rely on my adhd to forget something uncomfortable, including confusing emotions and responses to awful people. But I didn’t have good family or adults to notice, so I became pretty adept at hiding everything. No one cared (a neglect I still grapple with) that I was a good kid in an impossible situation (abuse and neglect that still haunt my self-esteem).
    I’ve had a keen interest in the here and now, and have grown that into a spiritual philosophy. Being the only person to genuinely look after my own best interests, I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that so much of my potential will never be realized because my success by any measure was never alluded to as a young person. Seriously. At my college graduation, (14 years to get a 4-year degree) my mother said to me “I can’t believe you made it this far with me as your mother”. I’ve been raised with neglect and narcissism, and most of my writing also tends to be , as you say, “self-indulgent “ so Thank You for saying that at the beginning of your essay. With everything I read on this site, I feel as if I’m being given permission to be the way I am. We are survivors.

  15. Tim I want to sincerely thank you for this article. I’ve suffered from the exact same symptoms you’ve listed here my entire life, with a very similar set of ups and downs and failures. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid, but back then medication didn’t really help much and I REALLY suffered from the ostracization that comes with it when I was younger. A bounced around without a “proper” diagnosis for years, suffering from the “I am told something is wrong with me but no one knows what so they seem to believe I’m just worthless,” mindplague. While I got myself rediagnosed with ADHD after my first deployment (U.S. Army Officer, and this condition does NOT make that easy) it was just a basic diagnosis. Reading this article I now have an actual thing to call what I have, and I have the ability to look for stuff that can help. Every time I ever looked for ADHD help it always has been for the hyperactive version of the condition, and that’s never been very helpful for me.

    Where should I look for strategies and resources to combat this? I’m at a crossroads in my life right now. I’m in my last semester of Grad School and I’m struggling to study for my comprehensive exams. I need to review 100% of what I’ve learned for the last 3 years, and I am falling behind to be honest. In addition my career field on the civilian side is that I’m about to start working as a strength coach once I graduate, and while I excel at the training people side of things the job involves a lot of data entry. In my military career I’m seeking my first command, and I can’t afford to forget the little shit in that role. I’m also exploring running for political office and I’m working as an activist with some progressive groups currently.

    Things are too important for me to afford to screw them up, so I’d be grateful for any advice or resources you could give me so I can manage my ADHD and achieve my goals.

  16. Wow, I’m only now realizing that I have suffered from this all my life. I was a brilliant child who taught myself to read before kindergarten. I could have been a Doogie Howser, but I got bored at a certain point in my life. I finally got my undergrad degree in computers at about age 37, it was easy. Of course, I used it to get one job, lost that due to inattentiveness, did nothing for the last 15 years and now live on a disability income of $770 a month (not from ADD, which is undaignosed, but from my MS. I spend my days getting loaded on speed, pot, and alcohol. Too bad, a brilliant life was wasted.

  17. Thank you so much for writing this – you describe my brain to a “T”! I was diagnosed a few years ago when I was 53 years old and struggling through nursing school – I was acing the classes (by spending WAY too much time on studying and paper assignments), but the clinicals were a nightmare. The powers-that-be in the nursing department sent me to a head doctor and after a couple of sessions of questions and answers, she concluded that my problem(s) – depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, in addition to the fact that I was having all kinds of problems with clinical work (despite the fact that I obviously KNEW what I was supposed to be doing) – were caused by ADHD. Suddenly, my whole past life made sense.

    I’m 58 now, and I ended up getting tossed out of the nursing program – my personality was majorly irritating to my final clinical instructor, so she gave me a “stress test” during clinical, and I cracked under the pressure – I felt like I was going to pass out every day and made mistakes left and right!! She finally gave me the choice of quitting or getting flunked out (yes, you can be flunked out of nursing school if you suck at clinical, even if you get straight A’s on the written material). But that’s another story… and my life is much better now…

    The methylphenidate helps, but I sometimes get rebellious and want to live like a “normal” person and go off my meds – I’d been off for the past week or so, and today my husband finally spoke up and said he could tell I was off the meds and begged me to get back on… oh well, so much for “normal.” My hubby hates that word, btw – he loves me, miswired brain and all! 🙂 But apparently I am irritating as all heck when I go off my meds, but I don’t realize it unless someone tells me.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! Also thank you to all the other ADD’ers who added comments to this article. It is so nice to realize that I am not alone!! Sometimes I get down in the dumps and wish I could be like “everyone else,” but when I’m in a good mood I actually revel in the fact that my brain is different from the average bear’s. Yes, I know behave a bit oddly (I can see from the way some people react to something I’ve done or said), but I figure it’s a good tolerance barometer – if someone can put up with my oddities, and still like me, they must be good folk. 🙂

    1. NEURODIVERSITY. I added that word after halfway through this. I start the topic further down. It’s something to be excited about. My initial reply starts here: I use the same barometer. Even though I know my strengths and value,I still feel so lucky that a few good people stick around. Like many of the other comments, it feels so good to see there are others who have lived lives with the same struggle that feels like a never ending two steps forward one step back with some start overs every 5 years or so. I’m 45 with two teenage boys and I’m finishing my MBA this Winter. It only took me 26 years of mostly in school and working years. I wish there was like an Inattentive ADHD loan forgiveness program. We deserve it. I was told by wife number 2 I had anxiety. She was right but Lexapro alone for 5 years took away my strengths of hyperfocus and natural ability to eat perfect and stay lean. But it was better because I could choose my thoughts. Then we divorced and I got a promotion. Anhedonia depression set in. Promotion equaled my expert level career status went to beginner. I also lost my source of deep conversations. I thought it was my age so I asked around “hey, do you ever just hate your life even though everything is good”? I couldn’t find anyone who felt that way. So Wellbutrin instantly snapped me out of it. But then I realized I’m more outgoing but my thoughts are not as well thought out as they seemed. So my self esteem took another big hit realizing I have to learn how to communicate in meetings now since I feel like talking. Wellbutrin eventually made my heart pound sometimes in as little as 3 stairs. So then Vyvanse 6 months ago and a diagnosis that initially damaged my self esteem again. It was hard to look back at my life and face that it wasn’t shyness, anxiety and introversion. It was mostly inattentive ADHD. By the way, can some influential person please change that title? There is no hyperactivity. The title only holds back progress towards awareness. I had to cut back on vyvanse also but overall a lower dose of Lexapro at night and Vyvanse in the morning (along with all the other important factors of weights, healthy balanced meals, mindful/intuitive prevention of stress building, supplements, walks in the forest, etc) is better than any alternative I’ve tried. NEURODIVERSITY. Ok, back to this. ADHD is included in the topic of neurodiversity along with autism, dyslexia, etc. as STRENGTHS. It’s a recent addition to Equity Diversity and Inclusion conversations. As most of us has said, we have lived our lives feeling misunderstood, judged and less than. I noticed my strengths in my 20s. But most people were not exposed to them and saw me as lazy even though I was always working on something, in my head. Most people still don’t get me. Nobody cares or gets the significance of not letting up on my education until I finish it. My MBA takes more from my life than it will probably ever give except the feeling of completing it. That’s enough for me. That’s my truth. I’m not a victim. I’m just someone who is thankful that kids growing up now days will be supported and empowered and shine rather than left excluded and feeling shame and guilt. I still feel it often. It’s engrained. Ask me to do some research for you for free. I’d do it for 8 hrs straight and never let up until I found what you wanted. Ask me to mow your lawn for 1 hour or do data entry for an hour for $50. I would pass as those mindless tasks are almost physically painful mentally. It’s not because of the labor. I lift heavy weights most mornings. That example right there is a big source of conflict for me. Most people don’t get it. But they will. EDI, Neurodiversity, social sustainability, all good stuff. But lets not leave it at that. Inclusiveness isn’t inclusive if all we do is include some people. It should be a way of being in the world. Connecting, not offending.

  18. I started to read this to validate myself because I am always misunderstood and just let the tears fall as I read and related so deeply yet envious of your opportunity for treatment that worked for me. I’m not only denied but treated like I’m a drug seeking, manipulative woman that is intentionally misreprenting so I can high. Every day is a challenge, a struggle, I was diagnosed text book adult ADHD at the age of 37 and given medication that, just like you, started the process of some manageability. That Dr. Left the county and state funded medical facility for a career in our local Mental Health Hospital for the criminally insane. My life has never been the same. A medical Dr.continued the treatment plan until a Pshych Practitioner took over a year later and reduced my meds to 1 IR a day. The monthly reports about who I am stereotyped me in the manner a Dr.who doesn’t believe in ADHD. I think he was obligated to my diagnosis to prescribe me something through my “addict behavior”. I moved to another county hoping to get the help I needed. Long story short, its been one failure after another because I’m going on 5 years without medication and its worse then its ever been. I coach for a non profit for 6 weeks out of the year and I can’t make it to practice on time. I am a Jr. college student on academic probation that an appeal process is required for in order to to obtain. I can’t work and without any financial assistance because I can’t get the simple help required through resources because I’m no longer under the care of a Dr because this county closed my case “per my request” after I questioned why I wasn’t being treated for diagnosis amd questioned when they changed it. Its impossible to make a long story short. Its impossible to obtain the smallest things I’m capable of. No matter how hard I try, I can’t change what challenges me. I used to be so vibrant, confident and funny. Now, I’m just here in full blown ADHD in a depression but still carry hope that one day, someone who can provide treatment will understand me. More important, believe me.

  19. Reason TO CELEBRATE too!

    I beleive the inattentive neurology makes us REAL FREE THINKERS and gives us OUTSTANDING INTUTITION if we manage to keep the burdensome depression away, keep an open mind, and keep feeding our everlasting curiosity.

    A well developed dopamin system – like most people have – rewards meaningless, contradictionary, and even unethical behaviour. It is one of the reasons for the ignorance all around. This is a huge problem for human kind. We are needed to tell when the emporor has no clothes on!

    In many ways the traits of inattentive neurology are similar to that of the INTP personality type of the Meyer Briggs system. Albert Einstein is said to be of that type. Somewhere I read that is brain was found to be relative small, which is also true for the adhd brain. He followed his passion – literally advertising for a wife to do all the mondaine routines.

    I think that is the key to success for a person with inattentive neurology. Find your passion, follow it, and let others do the mondaine routines.

    I was diagnosed age 42 at the edge of devastation – too late to make much difference. What if kinds with similar neurology was made aware of the gifts early in life??? Maybe this could make the world a better place. Instead they are now demotivated by a school system not understanding there difficulties.

    Anyway – Thank you Tim. For the first time in my life I feel part of something.

    1. Sorry abount the misspellings. English is not my mother language and I am not fond of writing. I mean “outstanding intuition” and “What if kids with similar neurology was made aware of the gifts early in life???”

  20. Your article describes my situation almost exactly. I’ve learned that ADD-I has always been a part of me, I just didn’t know it. Now I have a source of truth to work from as I continue on my journey. Along the way I discovered I have rejection sensitivity dysphoria a fact that has been extremely significant to my recovery from depression. Don’t every stop talking and learning about ADD. It has a stigma that must be overcome, especially by insurance companies!

  21. I’m 45 year old man and I cried when I read this article. It’s like if someone just got inside my mind and wrote about my life story better than I ever could.

    I’ve struggled with high levels of inattention and the subsequent depression since I was a child. I’m one of those who’s never been diagnosed because of the belief that people with ADHD are supposed to be hyperactive, so I must not have it because I’m ‘lazy’. All of my life I’ve believed I just lack the drive or the work ethic and therefore it’s my own fault.

    I’ve experienced exactly the same up and downs during my academic life. Because of my ability to learn and understand certain things quite quickly I’ve been labeled as highly intelligent and if I underperform it’s because I’m lazy.

    I’ve struggled to find a job that matches my supposed potential. I shine at highly difficult short-lived tasks, yet feel completely lost when I face a long project.

    My depression since early age has significantly affected my sense of self-worth. I’m my own worst critic and can be quite cruel when talking to myself. I’ve treated my depression via therapy and, while it got better for some time, it created the false sense in me that I was ‘cured’. I’ve recently realised that I’m still depressed, I’m just in denial about it.

    Thanks to this article now I know that I need to get diagnosed ASAP.

    I just wish I had read this before. I could have sought a diagnosis (and potentially) treatment earlier. I could have avoided an oncoming major work crisis for which the only explanation I’ll have is ‘I don’t know’.

  22. My wife, who’s recently been diagnosed with ADHD sent me the link to this article. Just like many other previous commenters have said, this article reads as if someone entered into my memories and decided to write about what they found in there.
    I’m a 45 year old man and i felt like crying when reading this article. Finally a potential explanation for all my stuff ups I’ve never been able to explain. I’ve been the typical very smart but lacks the drive and thoughtfulness to achieve better things. My academic life pretty much mirrors what Tim and many others have described.
    Now thanks to this article I know that my next step is seeking a referral to a specialist to get diagnosed, instead of finding a psychologist to treat the depression that keeps popping up over and over.
    I wish I found this article earlier. If diagnosed as having inattentive ADD I might have started treatment and learning how to manage it. This would have saved me from the work crisis I’m about to face tomorrow, for which my only explanation will be ‘I don’t know’.

  23. Tim, thank you so much for sharing this. I’ve taken to the internet in complete despair to try and make sense of things and the only useful bit of information I’ve found is your article, what a relief to hear from someone who understands. I was starting to lose faith and thought maybe I am just stupid, but I KNOW I’m not, it’s that while thing of needing to be interested in something… I could explain forever and a day just thank you so so much

  24. Right on, Wagner 2020! I’ve had a similar experience. It took me 4 1/2 years to earn an engineering degree that normal people do in 4 years. Still it was an excellent choice and I was always able to make a decent living but my career plateaued because my bosses did not think that I was management material.

    I always knew that I had something wrong with me but it wasn’t until last year at 60+ years of age that I found out the actual name of this honky mo’ fo’ that’s been dwelling inside my own brain like a terrorist sleeper cell agent. This ADD shit has always been a hindrance, a handicap and a source of embarrassment. Nothing good has ever come out of it.

    So, folks, listen to me. LISTEN TO ME! Your boss is NOT your buddy. You admit this startling news and whaddya think is gonna happen? He’ll go to the internet and find that ADD victims have some 10 symptoms. Even if you (like me) have only half of these, he’s going to assume the worst and will be plotting how to get rid of you. To make matters worse, your peers will marginalize you and start a whispering campaign that you won’t be able to stop.

    I gave my shrink a tough assignment: I will consider low-risk drugs but not any that make me gain so much weight that I get diabetes or give me tardive dyskinesia so badly that I cannot drive my own car. I could have used some Ritalin some 40 years ago when was cramming for my thermodynamics final but I don’t want to risk it now. I am trying to deal with it by CBT and a mood stabilizer but even that has some side effects.

  25. I’m a year 12 student, and your life experience describes me exactly. I have felt for a while now that what I was experiencing wasn’t normal and even looked into ADHD but my parents always put me off the idea thinking I was fine and just need to manage my time better since I was still getting good results. However I moved to a new school in year 10, perusing a more challenging school with strong academic focus as my last school was horrible. At first it was better but the learning quickly became more independent, more study was required to memories information from terms prior. It doesn’t help that I am also required to learn a second language and memorizing vocab is horrible.

    Guess what happend today. My mum went to the GP for her own check up and asked to book me an appointment because I have been struggling with my workload, can’t concentrate, wont stop and do my work for more than a few seconds before feeling the need to get up and its finally having an impact on my mental health because i do want to do well and i feel like im going to fail at life at this point. All things I have been complaining about for years and have only gotten worse. Even when I was 7 my mum had to force me to practice for spelling tests because I actually dreaded it. Doesnt help when you practiced all week only to score a 0% and have to call your grade out in front of the class. The GP now wants to have me tested for ADHD.

    Obviously I haven’t been diagnosed yet so I might be calling it to early but i really that i have finally figured out what this is and I’m able to deal with it appropriately.

    I don’t even know why I replied. It just felt good to share these experiences with someone. I have a friend with hyperactive ADHD and the way he described it didn’t apply to me, but this does. Even now I have two drafts and a final assignment due in a few days I better get back to it, I have been putting it off all afternoon.


  26. Thank you for the article. But, I have been going through many such articles so far. But still not able to find a solution. How can I cure this disorder. Whom should I contact? What kind of treatment can I get? Looking forward to hearing from you.

  27. I am 30 years old as was recently diagnosed with the inattentive subtype of ADHD. In the past I’ve struggled with being smart but always late, always messy and anxious. I was described as a ‘daydreamer’ by my school teacher but I was well behaved and got good grades at school and university even though I left assignments to the last minute. I started to really struggle when I hit the workforce. I’m a Speech Pathologist so my work requires excellent time management, prioritisation, multi tasking, efficiency and ability to ignore distractions in an open plan office. A few years ago I landed my dream job. I was anxious that I would stuff it up and I did. I was given a huge workload and an unsympathetic boss. I struggled to juggle all my responsibilities and paperwork so I was asked to resign. To say I was crushed is an understatement. I went to see a psychiatrist and asked him what was wrong with me – why can I get an A+ on a paper but I can’t turn up on time to anything ever? Why am I excellent at reading and writing but I can’t get all my paperwork done on time? Why am I the deepest sleeper on planet earth? Why am I so messy? Why do I fidget so much? etc. He diagnosed me with ADHD, inattentive subtype. I’m now taking Concerta. To be honest, it’s helped a bit but I am still late, messy and fidgety. Perhaps my concentration is a bit better. Soon I’ll have to come off my medications anyway when we start trying for a baby. Some days it’s really hard being different and struggling with all the everyday things that others do with ease but it gives me empathy for the children with special needs that I work with.

  28. I’m blown away and feel like crying. I always thought I was a bad student growing up. I felt terrible that I wasn’t a good student. I’ve struggled so much that I couldn’t even read a paragraph of information that I was not interested in and tell you what it was about if you asked me right after finishing. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just pick up a book, especially non-fiction and get lost and read it like my friends and family. I day dreamed my way through school. It wasn’t until my adult years that I was able to somehow go back to college and struggle to obtain my AA–all the while feeling like something was wrong with me, but knowing I was smart enough. I can’t believe I’m just finding out about this now. Your story is eerily similar to mine. I need help figuring out what the next step is. In the past when I’ve tried to talk with a Doctor, they throw anti-depressants my way and they just don’t work. I’m not depressed, I’m so distracted by everyday life that the only respite I get is when I’m actually doing something I like and am interested in. How do I go about talking to the right person about this? Thanks for your time.

  29. Wow! Like others commenting, I feel like I could have written this.
    I’m just finding out about this at the moment, waiting for a referral, and trying to deal with a mixture of emotions – relief, hope for the future, bitterness about the past.
    Aside from the medical descriptions, this really resonated with HOW I FEEL.
    Thank you!

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