Talking About ADHD

“I Don’t Need to Be Fixed!” Epiphanies of Self-Acceptance from Adults with ADHD

The path to self-acceptance is long and treacherous for adults with ADHD, many of whom mistake their symptoms for personal faults. Here, ADDitude readers share the moments they realized that they weren’t broken at all — and that their wild, wonderful ADHD brains didn’t need fixing.

Butterfly symbolizing ADHD self-acceptance
https://www.pexels.com/photo/gray-and-black-butterfly-sniffing-white-flower-91946/

ADHD Self-Acceptance Through Community and Research

“Not long after I was diagnosed with ADHD in my 30s, I was surfing the web and found others like me. Reading their stories made me cry buckets of tears. I was not alone. I was not lazy. I was not stupid. There is a name for what I have suffered all of my life. That discovery and realizing that I have ADHD — it doesn’t have me — gave me the power and self-assurance to make changes and try new things.” — an ADDitude Reader

“Reading about the life experiences of other people who also have ADHD, who can identify with many of the same challenges I’ve faced, has helped me to feel that I’m not alone in this struggle. Learning more about the condition has also helped me understand the neurological basis for my ADHD symptoms and better manage my life.” — an ADDitude reader, New Hampshire

“I lived my whole life knowing I was different but not understanding why. Learning about ADHD in adults helped me understand why I thought and approached problems differently. I always understood me, (I live in here!) but I didn’t understand how to bridge a gap I couldn’t see. Being diagnosed let me see the gap and build the bridge.” — Mickella, Alabama

“I was diagnosed at 40. Turns out, I didn’t need fixing, there was a reason I am who I am. I decided to embrace ADHD, plus all the quirks that come with it.” — Ellen, California

“The more time I spend around other people with ADHD, the less and less I think I need to be fixed.” — an ADDitude Reader

[Read This: How ADHD Self-Awareness Helps Us Unlock Change and Progress]

ADHD Self-Acceptance Through Family Love and Support

“I know it when my son tells me that he loves me and that he appreciates everything I taught him about dealing with life issues.” — Olivia, Texas

“My house is standing and functioning. My family is fed. My son is being educated, and my husband loves me. No fixing needed here.” — Christine, Winnipeg, Canada

“I realized it when a wonderful woman fell in love with me.” — Catherine, California

“When my wife told me that she appreciates my drive and my ability to get things done quickly.” — L. Stephens, Florida

[Get This Free Download: 25 Things to Love About ADHD]

ADHD Self-Acceptance Through Career and Passions

“I realized it when I started a not-for-profit women’s group in my community and realized my brain is fine… it’s just different.” — Dorothy, New York

“When I became legislative chairman and president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association because of my passion and ease in communicating with public officials.” — Scott, Minnesota

“When I was able to turn our basement into an art studio where my husband and I could both channel our creative energies. We participated in festivals and also sold our art in several local shops.” — Sabrina, Georgia

“When I became successful as a creative professional. In a world with limits, my limits-averse brain can be a problem, but once I worked for myself — making things I love —I became successful.” — Carrie, California

“When my company started a YouTube video series based on my knowledge and ideas.” — Maureen, Illinois

ADHD Self-Acceptance Through Learning and Teaching

“I realized it when I graduated with honors at the top of my class in graduate school.” — Laura, Indiana

“As an art teacher, my students tell me nearly every day how much they value me as their teacher. As a mom, I am loved and have raised kind and compassionate kids, who are now young teens.” — Dina, Massachusetts

“I did well in college-level math and science and earned a BS in nursing. As a nurse, I’m emotionally available and empathetic to those who need someone to simply be there and actively listen. My ADHD makes me a better RN and gives meaning to my work. I felt honored recently when a patient confided in me and was humbled by their appreciation.” — an ADDitude reader, Oregon

“When I graduated with honors from college in my 30s.” — Kristy, Texas

“I realized that much of my energy, varied interests, and the joy I receive from working as a Cub Scout leader came from my ADD. I was a den mother for 24 years and loved every minute of working with those boys. Even though I taught the same topics year after year, it never got boring because I always found new challenges in teaching each new group of scouts. Plus, as a pack leader I could be like Peter Pan, and never grow up. After 24 consecutive years, I was honored to receive the Silver Beaver award for my dedication to the Cub Scouts.” — Patsy, Utah

“I saw that embracing my own neurodiversity helps me teach my own kids and my students to embrace theirs.” — Lucy, Virginia

“When I saw my ‘spiky profile’ graph (a graph used in some countries to chart a student’s strengths and weaknesses), I realized I genuinely see things differently than many people around me. And it’s not because I’m missing something — it’s because I’m gifted at connecting ideas and seeing the bigger picture.” — Allison, United Kingdom

“My high school students know that I understand them more than other teachers might because of my own first-hand experience as an adult with ADHD.” — Dan, Virginia

ADHD Self-Acceptance Through Knowing “I am Enough”

“I realized it when I stopped caring about what others think of me and started living an authentic life. Mask dropped. No filter. This is the happiest I have been in, like, forever!” — Shelley, Alabama

“When I realized that I actually like spending time with… me! I am enough in and of myself.” — Monica, Florida

“When I learned to let go of other people’s energy that wasn’t helpful to me instead of internalizing it.” — Genell, Arkansas

“When I learned to listen with presence. I looked at the person talking to me and didn’t get 10 steps ahead of myself, worrying about what my response would be. I focused only on listening.” — David, Illinois

“I realized I did not need to be fixed once I understood ADHD and learned how to make it work for me instead of against me. Today I’m my own boss and, at the age of 57, I’m in school starting a whole new career. Why? Because I can!” — Mary, Nevada

“I stopped concentrating on the obstacles of ADD and started concentrating on the advantages that come from it. Now I’m a better advocate for myself and others.” — Colleen, Texas

“When I saw I was calm and dependable in a crisis; great at brainstorming and awesome at teamwork. I know now that I have a talent for making films; that my partner admires and depends on me to tell the truth and get things done. Seeing how very much my family and friends love me, despite my shortcomings goes a long way, too.” — Zsu Zsu, California

“A friend of mine from college noticed I had a lot of trouble focusing and was easily distracted. The wife of another friend said that couldn’t be true since I earned a degree from Harvard. My wife defended me telling the small circle of friends that everything I do is 10 times harder for me. ‘He had to lock himself in a room for 10 hours to focus for three,’ she explained. Finally, being diagnosed took an enormous weight off my shoulders because it wasn’t just ‘in my head.’ ADHD is challenging, but my wife helped me see that I don’t have to beat myself up over the things that are much harder for me. It’s just the way life is. I’ve learned to find workarounds rather than fixes.” — an ADDitude Reader

“I found out that, although I might not be able to verbalize my own thoughts and feelings very well, I’m good at helping children communicate theirs to the grownups around them. Today I am an ADD social worker, working with ‘problem’ children (whom I don’t believe exist!) in a low-income community and making an important difference in their lives.” — Henda, Wyoming

ADHD Self-Acceptance Through Living My Best Life

“When my husband divorced me because he was having an affair but said I was the problem, I was hurt and confused. After I moved from Texas to New York, I found a good therapist, got help from medication, and began dating. Finally diagnosed with adult ADD at the age of 43, I now reveal my adult ADD to close friends. All of this helped me to see that I am not crazy; I am just me! Mentally beautifully even when I see something shiny like a squirrel!” — Tivona, New York

“My ADHD contributes to the very unique qualities that make me who I am. My passions, eccentricities, and drive to create are all woven into my ADHD blanket. It’s a blanket, though, and not a comforter because it’s lined with severe and chronic depression and the other usual thorns that accompany the disorder. I’m in my 60s now — diagnosed 21 years ago. What’s sad is that I only recently began to understand and embrace the side of me that’s so full of light and life it almost glows.” — Diana, Missouri

“My ADHD allows me to see multiple perspectives in any situation and gives me great empathy for all.” — Marci, an ADDitude reader

“I was diagnosed at the age of 21, three years after joining the U.S. Army. I was doing well, but once I started medication and counseling my whole life changed for the better. Most soldiers with ADHD are discharged from the Army for various reasons — being late, drug abuse, and other disciplinary issues. But once I understood why I felt the way I did and learned coping mechanisms, I excelled. After 22 years of serving honorably, I just retired from the Army.” – David, California

“I took an Indigenous Studies course and it helped me see other world views. We live in a society that doesn’t value different ways of learning, thinking, and engaging with ourselves and the environment. It’s our society that needs fixing!” – Christina, Waterloo

“When I experienced the impact of my medication, I saw the direct outcome of being able to stay focused, follow through on projects, and not space out. I distinctly remember saying to myself, ‘I guess I’m not so f****ed up after all.’ It was a moment I won’t forget.” — Jane, California

[Could You Be Suffering From Generalized Anxiety Disorder? Take This Self-Test Now]

Updated on May 14, 2020

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  1. I am a dude in my pre-geezer years. I always knew since I was 6 years old that I have a problem that normal people don’t have. Despite that I struggled and devised work-around solutions. It took me 4 1/2 years to get through engineering school but I made it and have had a good career but was never considered for any management position.

    Just last year I found out the name of this honky mo’ fo’ that’s been dwelling inside my brain like a terrorist sleeper cell agent. Please don’t insult my intelligence with any horse $+!+ about what a wonderful “gift” this is. This is no ****ing gift! It has been a frequent source of embarrassment in both social and working settings. I can’t think of any instance when it was a plus for me.

    It was only by my sheer dogged determination and inner drive that I was able to bulldoze my way to moderate success. I notice that most of the writers in your article have not revealed their real names and neither will I even if waterboarded.

    I consider ADDitude a loyal friend and appreciate its useful advice on how to cope with this. I (grudgingly) accept the fact that I have this shameful affliction. I am seeing mental health professional and following his treatment plan but I will not out myself. That’s 2 out of 3 but that’s the best I can do now.

  2. Over time, I’ve realized what a waste it is to envy anyone, especially since I realized some of them envy me.

    I want to thank Marci for her comment. I’ve learned a good deal about ADD and my other “issues” over the years, but this is the first time I’ve seen anyone talk about the value of seeing multiple perspectives. I do that, and it’s one of the things people envy, but I never knew where it came from before.

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