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10 Things I Wish the World Knew About ADHD

During ADHD Awareness Month, we asked ADDitude readers to share with us the (sometimes uncomfortable) truths about attention deficit disorder that they most wish the neurotypical world would understand and respect. Nearly 450 readers responded; here are some of the most poignant from adults with ADHD.

12 Comments: 10 Things I Wish the World Knew About ADHD

  1. There were interesting aspect in this article, but I feel the author is sometimes contradicting himself. “If you really want something you can achieve it” and “as someone with ADHD, trying to find your place in a neurtypical world can be very taxing and mean you don’t have the energy to do some things as you’re already using your resources to fit in”. And then there’s the”ADHD is a superpower”. No, just no. ADHD is a spectrum disorder. You may find that you are able to juggle fitting in and using your out of the box thinking of hyperfocal to find your place in a neurtypical work environment, but for some people, their ADHD symptoms can truly be debilitating. Also, promoting it as a superpower is taking ADHD outside the scope of medical disorders. And if it’s not a disorder then why should you need medication, why should social security (or insurance) intervene financially in your treatments? Why should there be studies made about it, why should students benefits from special accommodations, for example more time and a quiet room when passing exams. I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point. If you can use your ADHD to your advantage, great. But please don’t make matters worse for people struggle to manage their ADHD by spreading falsehoods about the disorder, saying it can be advantageous if you just make the effort. Because that’s just shifting the blame back towards the person suffering from ADHD.

  2. Number 3 hit me hard. Honestly, I kind of wish people would stop calling ADHD a “superpower.” Because it doesn’t feel at ALL like that. It feels like an overcharged engine that keeps making me crash because the rest of the car wasn’t built for it.

    Of course, I’m 41 and didn’t find out I had ADHD until I was 39, nearing 40. So most of what my diagnosis has been for me is clarity on why I’ve worked so hard yet struggled so much to succeed at anything 🙁

    I’m mostly embarrassed about my past and hopeless about the future. Best I’ve been able to achieve so far is something of a “witness” consciousness that says, “This isn’t my world. I don’t belong here. So just enjoy watching the show. Oh, and keep focused on your breathing.”

  3. (This may be a duplicate; looks like I forgot to save & send my original edition). I am a middle aged guy and have been working some 25+ years. I’ve seen a lot. I was recently diagnosed with ADD (NO Hyperactivity!). I’ve always suspected I had something wrong but now I know the name of this sleeper cell agent that has been living inside my brain since I was 6.

    YES! Read ADDitude e-magazine for expert advice, knowledge and encouragement. Thank you, ADDitude for being in my corner.

    NO! Do not out yourself or go public! The LAST person you want to reveal this to is your boss! Your boss is not your buddy and by definition he/she is someone who dangles a sword of Damocles over your career. So, heed my warning! Don’t be foolish. Don’t be foolhardy. Don’t be reckless or stupid! An HR manager once told me that he can fire or refuse to hire anyone he wants and make it all look legit. Just remember: even Rosa Parks got thrown under the bus and into jail.

    The pressures of the workaday world are bad enough without having to endure a whispering campaign behind your back. There IS something worse than having to maintain secrecy about this affliction: getting fired! You could very well be swept up in the first round of layoffs and then have a thick collection of Dear John letters from a frustrating effort to find a new job. You’ll never discover the truth as to why. Take down any posts on social media admitting to your condition, lest a data mining company find it and sell it to prospective employers.

    So, don’t let own mouth be your worst enemy. My solution is to use the valuable counsel from ADDitude magazine and apply my recently learned self-awareness and try to catch myself before I commit an embarrassing faux pas in front of others. They can waterboard me and I still will not reveal my most sensitive secret.

    Just be careful. I wish you all well in your mental health challenges.

  4. As a neurotypical mother of two adult children with ADHD (one diagnosed in grade school and one undiagnosed until late adulthood), and the wife of an ADHD husband in denial, I can tell you that understanding, tolerance, patience and acceptance of how ADHD affects the closest people in my life has been a work in progress for a very long time. I get it. ADHD brains and emotions are wired differently. Being constantly on guard so as not come across as criticizing is a LOT of work, especially since much of the time it’s the PERCEPTION of criticism by highly sensitive people at issue. I gotta tell ya, it can be SO HARD putting up with the messes, the clutter, the constant waiting, forgetting, and misunderstood communications! I dearly love them, but I am EXHAUSTED by weighing and measuring every word, expression and request to make sure THEIR feelings aren’t hurt. I feel a near desperate need to feel heard and accommodated, too. So many words are used to explain the affects and effects of ADHD. How about a few to give some respite to those of us without ADHD who are ALSO trying their best?!

  5. It is satisfying to read this article after knowing I am also ADHDian.recently I turned to 25 and Ya only we know despite of such destruction of mind how we achieve many things which are difficult to achieve non-ADHDian.until now I was unaware of being this and was enjoying my forgetfulness(as lots of people suffer because they remember everything). People around me ask, how you could clear these many exams while you do very silly mistake in the very simple tasks and forget things that just happened. I always trying to convince them that intelligence is different than a memory. It doesn’t mean you are dull if you can’t remember everything. only we can understand how it is tough to stay focus on one thing though we lose it frequently. Despite that, I understand several things in a much deeper sense than others but I do many mistakes and easily disrupt by impulses. Thank god I learned the art of mindfulness, otherwise, it would difficult to handle this thing at least after knowing. Currently, I am pursuing my Ph.D. which requires enormous study and high concentration, you can imagine how much I am struggling only just to remain focus and moderate by activity cause ADHD makes you hyperactive or utter quite. I enjoy being unaware of most of the things that happen around me and not keeping that garbage in mind. But that doesn’t mean we are not striving to be perfect.

  6. This is a really good article . What I Wish The World Knew about ADHD… I got this from ADDITUDE Magazine.

    I came out several years ago. ADHD is who I am; it’s the way I’m wired. Striving for excellence was something I always had to do. I tried to be a perfectionist, never quite reaching perfection. I read an article my daughter posted about the difference between Perfection and striving for excellence; it got me to thinking…..

    That was an Aha- Moment for me. I guess better late than never; I’m 61 and through out my child hood, I had to work harder, just to be as good as… I learned early to find my niche, and work hard to be the best. Thankfully I found a doctor who understood ADHD in adults. ( It took a while to find the correct medication and dose)( often a lower dose works best) ADHD has turned out to be my blessing. As a maintenance instructor for American Airlines I teach Aircraft Structural Repair and Advanced Composite Repair. My own life struggles allows me to see those students who struggled the way I did. Taking a little one on one time with those individuals, with some hands on training and a dose of encouragement , made all the difference for that employee.

    One day ADHD will become as socially accepted as a child with glasses or hearing aids. Square pegs doesn’t always fit in a round holes.

    Image may contain: 1 person, smiling

  7. Since coming to understand my own ADD challenges in the mid 90s, ive recognized the blessing and curse that it is. I’ve been fortunate to have a great outlet for my creativity as a model for artists- requires me to be statue-still for several minutes/hours. It’s like meditation and can put me in “the zone.” But I’ve missed some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as well and have beat myself up for it- and still do.

    I know ADD is in my family too and it makes communication and relationships nearly impossible ( there’s a lot more bad stuff in addition to the ADD). So I will pass this article along to a sibling with whom I probably judge too harshly. I suspect she has ADD with a host of other things (depression, anxiety, and more)

    I am really enjoying this publication- thank you thank you thank you.

  8. Wow, Thank you for the words #2 & #9. You have just given me such an insight into my daughter. She is a natural born leader, but struggles with others bossing her around because of the times they have seen her inability to stay on task. Then she tries even harder to cloak her differences and comes home an exhausted emotional wreck.

  9. This post has been really useful for me. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of last year (2 months before I turned 38). Reading these comments have been massively reassuring for me. Throughout my life I have been dealing with something, but didn’t know what. I always knew that I thought and behaved differently to others. I always felt that I was living in a world where I didn’t fit in and wasn’t always accepted. It felt like people were always trying to make me fit in and conform to society, but I didn’t want to fit in. I continued to be me, in a world that struggles to accept me, as I am.
    I have been on a journey learning about ADHD but have only really found info regarding the medical side of it. Reading peoples comments about their stories and personal feelings has given me this weird feeling that I can’t describe, it’s a nice feeling though. So thank you for this post and thank you to the people that submitted their stories. Any advice on where I could find more personal stories like this would be much appreciated.

    1. Amen. As an adult women with ADHD-I, dx 7 years ago… I too knew ‘something was swimming in the water’. When I official received the dx, it was after returning to school (to earn a second masters degree) and took a psych class for School Counselors ’12 disabilities in school age children’. The day the class discussed ADHD, I KNEW. I pulled my hair down, like a drape around my face, and cried silently in class.

      I had been seeking answers for a couple of years (at that point), and that day.. the answer was clear.

      I spoke to my mom about that day, shortly there after, and to my SHOCK she told me I had been dx ADHD in the second grade! What??? I had been discussing with her how lost I had felt, that something was amiss… i went back to school just to be successful at something (my thought process at that time) and all along my mom knew but didnt mention??? Turns out, my mom has ADHD, and both my older brother and sister had been dx ADHD when they were young… I just never knew.

      Soooo… i lived life all zoned out, free spirited, and working extra hard (just to be on par). Looking back, this may have been a blessing. I learned I needed structure to get things done, I learned when i played sports i had better grades, i learned that hard work is how life works… i learned to never quit anything (my mom would not allow it, if i committed to something i had to see it through, if i didnt like it, i didnt have to sign up for it again.. but never quit on a commitment).

      Now as an adult.. the power of my dx has set me free! The day I took my first Stimuamt med, I remember it like yesterday…

      I took the pill and 30 minutes later I was “In the Matrix”. I remember looking at my hands, as I moved them around, my hands felt like they were moving in SLOW motion, I remember actually saying out loud to myself “is this how everyone else lives.. clear headed, calm emotions, in slow motion?” I felt like a whole different person within 30 minutes? It was an Awakening.

      Versus how I lived for 30+ years: overfeeling every emotion all day, my head felt like it was in a “fog”, my perspective was like “looking through a dirt screen”, my self esteem and self confidence was fragile or non existent.. and unfortunately, i married a gas lighting narcissist who would take advantage of my ADHD unmedicated mind and vulnerabilities (for 20 years)… that’s off subject, except it’s important = my belief that i was susceptible to that toxic relationship, becoming co-dependant, due to the unmedicated “fog” in my mind and low self esteem. I missed or didnt ‘attend to the signs’.

      Good news, after I was dx and entered the Matrix on that fateful day.. i saw clearly where my life was and who I was married to.. everything changed that day.

      From day one of being medicated – to knowing I needed to leave the toxic relationship = 4 months! From that day – to taking action by seeing a therapist = 4 more months. From seeing therapist weekly to – leaving toxic relationship and moving out of my “home” = 6 months!

      ADHD has been my biggest strength, and biggest (then exploitable) weakness. Today.. it’s my Super Power! I believe I have gone to hell and back (just how it went, not gonna sugar coat it) to be who I am today: a mom of a son who’s ADHD, co-parent with said narcissist, I assist adults with disabilities obtain emoloyment… I innately understand what ADHD and anxiety (or codependency) sounds like when I hear it, looks like when I see it, and feels like… my empathy is strong bc I “get it”. No one should ever feel STUCK… there is always options.

      My favorite people on earth are dx ADHD, my family, my friends, my son, the Job Seekers I work with… the most interesting, creative, hard woking people I know… dx ADHD. They are my kind of people and I am a Peer Advocate!

      1. Thank you ADHDmomma. I’m sure I would have found them eventually but I feel a little overwhelmed with information at the moment and am mindful about overloading myself with information that I don’t feel is necessary at this moment in time. Thank you again

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