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It’s Not an Excuse. It’s a Neurological Condition.

I’m not looking for your forgiveness; it’s your understanding and help that I need, because ADHD is a neurological condition, not an “excuse” I’m making up. When will the world learn this?

woman with arms crossed, tired of hearing that ADHD is an "excuse"; it's a neurological condition
woman with arms crossed, tired of hearing that ADHD is an "excuse"; it's a neurological condition

There’s nothing quite like the unsolicited advice of strangers (and even loved ones) to make my already-fragile ADHD self esteem go plummeting downward. There’s the good old “Set reminders on your phone” advice when I’m late, or “Stop and think” advice when I can’t find my keys – yes, again. But the worst of all in my book is this: “Stop making excuses.”

According to Merriam-Webster, an excuse is “an explanation offered to justify or obtain forgiveness.” A reason, on the other hand, is “an explanation or a justification for an action or an event.”

See the subtle difference there? I’m not looking for your forgiveness; it’s your understanding and help that I need. I’m not begging or pleading; I’m informing and educating. All with the hopes of taking more steps forward than I’m taking backward.

Here’s one example: I do not like to drive. I see driving only as a means to get somewhere if no other transportation is available. My community has an inexpensive mini bus that makes the rounds of local shopping centers. I enjoy taking that bus a few times a week. My friends say, “Why do you take that bus when you can take your car?” I tell them I like the convenience, the relaxing ride, and the avoidance of parking wars. “Oh, just another excuse for not driving,” they say. Nope. Not excuses – reasons.

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Similarly, when my husband asks me if I want to drive somewhere I almost always say, “No, it is raining ” or “No, I am tired.” These are not excuses. I’m not seeking your forgiveness for not wanting to drive. I just want you to understand why it doesn’t make sense for me right now.

Now, if I blamed the car for being red or the day for being Wednesday, that might be a different story. Those are clearly excuses; I’m full of explanations, not excuses.

Do you feel there is a difference between excuses and reasons? Do you wish family members or teachers too would stop berating you for making excuses? Feel free to remind them excuses are made only when forgiveness is being sought, and being yourself is nothing to apologize for.

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5 Comments & Reviews

  1. Thank you!! This is one of my greatest frustrations! I can’t count the number of times in a week someone tells me I’m just making excuses. And so many of them claim they’re saying it to be supportive! “Why don’t you quit your job abd apply for this really cool job that involves skills entirely insuited for your ADD brain?” “Because I have ADD, and there’s a huge need in that job for organizational skills.” “That’s just an excuse! You’re smart. You’d figure it out.”

  2. I second the above. THANK YOU!!!! I never had someone say that to me or make me feel so low as my ex because he kept parroting the same thing about my ADD being an ‘excuse’ and then eventually how he just reluctantly ‘learned how to live with it’ like I’m some giant pain to be with. No one should be made to feel that way due to something that is intrinsically part of them and not anything they are trying to purposefully do.

  3. So much YES! I remember all through my (undiagnosed) teen years saying to my mum that I’m not making excuses these are my reasons for not doing something or not wanting to go somewhere or whatever it might have been. We argued a lot and I always ended up questioning myself and getting confused about how I felt and if it was real. Now I can easily tell her or anyone else that excuses are given when seeking forgiveness, reasons are given when seeking understanding. Thank you.

  4. Haven’t read the aritcle yet BUT: THANK YOU for changing the printing format to not print the pictures, etc… I have more success reading if I print the article out.

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