Talking About ADHD

No, I Don’t Need to “Just Try Harder”

One of the most frustrating aspects of ADHD is not a symptom or side effect, but the judgment we endure everyday from people who question whether ADHD is real. Next time someone tells you to “just focus” or “try harder,” respond with one of these pointed comebacks.

Woman cooking in the kitchen

How many times has a friend, loved one, or coworker seen you struggling as a parent, with your relationships, or at work, and told you that ADHD isn’t real or that it’ll get easier if you “just try harder”? Here, adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who’ve had enough share their comebacks to these painful words.

The Sarcastic Reply

“You’re right. I’ve always been a slacker and a bit of a masochist. So whenever you see me pulling my ‘lazy bit,’ you should clean up my desk in a way that suits you. And when I find myself getting behind and start to panic, you should take over. You’re so good at fixing things, and I know I can count on you to do a fantastic job!” -Lemelia, North Carolina

The Honest Truth

“How well can you stay on task with a fly buzzing around your head? That’s what it’s like in my world. It isn’t about trying harder, it’s about trying to keep the most important things in the front of my brain while swatting the ‘flies’ away.” -Kaeli, Kansas

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“I wish you could live my life for just one day.” -An ADDitude Reader

“You may be good at A, B, and C, but I am great at D, E, and F.” -Joanne, New Jersey

“You have no idea how hard I try!” -Nancy, Kansas

The Bold Approach

“Stop insulting me. Asking me to try harder is like asking you to grow taller.” -Anne, Ontario, Canada

“You are either ignorant about ADHD or you are a bully. If you’re the first, I can educate you; if you’re the second, I will ignore you.” -An ADDitude Reader

“With all due respect, shut up. I need strategies, not dismissive platitudes, to help me cope.” -Ann, California

[“I Have ADHD, and I Don’t Need to Be Fixed”]

Updated on July 3, 2019

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  1. I like the more direct approaches. It’s not my job to educate people or explain myself, except in very, very limited circumstances. And even then, only if I think I’m dealing with ignorance. If there is the slightest bit of contempt shown to me, they get sarcasm or a firm shutdown. I have ended relationships over being treated dismissively or with contempt, and I have more than once said to close friends “you don’t have to agree with my diagnosis or (whatever limit I’ve just set), but you do have to respect it, and me.” Shows you very quickly which relationships are salvageable and which are not.

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