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Why ADHD Masking Is a Form of Self-Sabotage

Do you squander your precious time and energy trying to “act normal” at the expense of your mental health? That’s ADHD masking, which may include suppressing symptoms, trying to hide your ADHD in public settings, or denying the real effect ADHD has on your life. Here, learn the signs and features of masking, and how it can sabotage your social skills, prevent accurate diagnosis, reduce self-esteem, and lead to burnout.

3 Comments: Why ADHD Masking Is a Form of Self-Sabotage

  1. I didn’t see in this article any blatant recommendations that you bare your soul everywhere but revealing your ADD or ADHD condition in the workplace is a DISASTER. The only fields of employment that understand or tolerate ADHD are medicine and education and people who have spent their entire careers there JUST DON’T GET IT!

    I’ve had a reasonably successful 40 + year career as an engineer, always at for-profit corporations. These places are run by hard-ass dudes who have zero tolerance for mistakes, missed deadlines OR ANYONE WHO MIGHT SAY SOMETHING STUPID AT A CUSTOMER-FACING MEETING (as ADHD victims have a tendency to do). Some companies even have pre-employment psych tests designed specifically to weed out any applicants with ADD/ADHD.

    People hide all sorts of embarrassing things about their past: bankruptcies, DUI arrests, divorces, a dishonorable discharge from the military, flunking out of college, serving a stint in a mental hospital, having gonorrhea, etc. so why would this be any different? Huh?

    So you want to release some emotional tension by revealing your ADD/ADHD at work? Don’t be reckless! You might find some sympathetic coworkers but what about the old fart in the adjoining cubicle who is jealous of your youth and college education? Get real! This SOB will weaponize this ill-considered announcement of yours and trash your name all over the company.

    Unless you want to get fired or have your job applications trashed, find a way to hide or suppress this ADD $#!+. No law requires you to confess your private health information. Even gang members in handcuffs don’t blab unless they are totally stupid. You have the same 5th Amendment rights as everyone else plus HIPAA.

    If you need help, get help and follow your treatment plan. And read ADDitude for its sympathetic support.

  2. I hear you Joyfulnoisemaker. Many years ago before being dx with ADHD I described myself as a “shapeshifting empath” and just figured I was different than others and somehow flawed.
    I’m 67 and still figuring things out but am more cognisant of my quirks and know my limits. Some sadness in not standing up for myself but we can only go forward:)

  3. Thank you so very much for this article on Masking. The whole thing is a summary of “ME” and was both encouraging and discouraging all at once. The positives are helpful, but the negatives (as perceived by me) seem insurmountable. I’m 72 years old. Talk about “ingrained cognitive distortions!” I’ve carefully practiced being a phony for so many years, and I’m so GOOD at it, I can’t imagine being able to be REAL. I don’t even know who I am, and that’s putting it mildly. Fortunately, I have a wonderful therapist who knows how I struggle to be honest with her. I’m forwarding this article to her with the hope that it will give her something — ANYTHING — that might help her to help me live out the remainder of my life in genuine peace.

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