ADHD Symptoms

How Do You Know If You Have ADHD? Some Hints

“…You stop at the stop sign, and wait for it to turn green.” It’s funny because it’s true. (And sad, and frustrating, and empowering…) Here, adults reflect on the many ways ADHD makes itself impossible to ignore. What were your early warning signs?

A woman concerned about her life and wondering if she has adhd.
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In Your Words

How do you know if you have ADHD? We asked readers to finish the sentence "You know you have adult ADHD when..." Your answers are an honest and funny look at life with attention deficit. See how many of these situations you can relate to — it may be more than you think!

How do you know if you have ADHD? Lost car keys.
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Disappearing Act

"You can’t find your car keys or your spare set, and your partner is hesitant to lend you his keys because you will probably misplace those, too. (And you agree!)"

How do you know you have ADHD? When shopping takes 3 attempts.
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Third Time's a Charm

"Any shopping trip involves three attempts. First, you leave your shopping list behind. Then, when you go back to get it, you put down your wallet and arrive with your list, but no bag. Usually, but not always, the third time’s a charm."

[Free Download: 19 Ways to Meet Deadlines and Get Things Done]

How do you know you have ADHD? Business man's mind is wandering.
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Mind Wanderings

"While considering your answer to your boss’s question, you wonder what’s for supper... 'I’m sorry. What was that question again?'"

Messy desk. How do you know you have ADHD? Organization systems never work.
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Organizational Challenges

"You buy another organizing system, to organize your last five organizing systems. You just know this system will be the one to finally get your life in order. Maybe."

Red stop sign. How do you know you have ADHD? Red always means stop and wait.
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Red Means Stop

"You're driving. You stop at a stop sign, sit there, and stare at the sign, waiting for it to turn green."

Signing a check. How do you know you have ADHD? You forget to pay bills.
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Bills, Bills, Bills

"You have enough money in the bank to pay bills, yet you simply forget to do it! Maybe next month you'll remember..."

[Free Guide: 73 ADHD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your Life Now]

Checking time on a watch. How do you know you have ADHD? You have trouble with time.
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Time Troubles

"You leave the house with enough time to show up early for your ADHD doctor's appointment, but are thinking of other things and drive to work instead and end up late. Oops."

Friends having coffee. How do you know you have ADHD? Everything is distracting.
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Attention Grabbers

"The person sitting beside you grabs your attention, but so does the heating unit shutting on and off, the fluorescent light flickering above you, and a bird flying by the window!"

A note from a parent saying "thank you" to a teacher for working together
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Twice the Thanks

"You send your friend a thank you card for the birthday gift... twice. And you only know this because she tells you, not because you realized it on your own."

Man showering. How do you know you have ADHD? You forget the steps.
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Shower Woes

"You’re in the middle of taking a nice, warm shower when suddenly you forget what you’re doing. Lather, rinse and… where was I? Before you know it you're out of the shower and only have one leg shaved!"

Man with wristwatch. How do you know you have ADHD? Looking for something and you already have it.
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Lost and Found

"You spend an hour looking for your favorite watch. You finally give up, and decide to wear another one, only to find that your favorite watch is already on your wrist."

PB&J Sandwich. How do you know you have ADHD? You forget what you're doing.
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Kitchen Caper

"Your partner asks you for a cup of water so you go to the kitchen and end up making yourself a peanut butter sandwich. Hope he wasn't too thirsty!"

Bad phone conversation. How do you know you have ADHD? You forget who you called.
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Dial Drama

"You dial the number, but by the time someone answers the phone you forget who you’re calling. We've all been there."

Phone planner. Bad phone conversation. How do you know you have ADHD? You need your planner.
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Planner Lifeline

"You can't live without your planner. You would rather have your wallet stolen than your planner — you'd be lost without it!"

[The Best Planners to Suit Any Organizational Style]

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  1. I like this list, but it is missing one that I heard the other day from someone else who also has ADHD. “You know you have ADHD when you have more alarms set to remind you to go to bed, than you do to wake up in the morning.”

  2. ^^^this one^^^

    Wow all of these happen to me! In the shower i forget if i washed my hair and do it 2-3 times which turns into OCD.

    I’ve been diagnosed with OCD but am sure i have adhd … is it common to have both of these behaviors or disorders?

    I tick the box of every symptom of adult adhd…

    Thanks!

    1. Absolutely common! I was finally diagnosed with ADD combined type this year at 33, along with OCD and sensory processing disorder. I had been diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder prior to that. After taking medication for ADD my depression is gone and anxiety is diminishing as I am able to manage life! There are many cooccuring issues with ADD. Best od luck to you!

  3. You know you have ADHD when you’re positive that if you just focus and work fast, you can get this simple task done in an hour. Four hours later, you have absolutely no idea what happened…

  4. I use NOTES on my iPhone everyday ! I add dates for appointments, articles to read later, thoughts about planning, business ideas, little weirdo type of to do lists, need to buy on amazon or eBay lists, need to check on buying physically in the store lists, places or stores I need to physically go check out (like Guitar Center and Pianos), or jotting down authors, peoples quotes I am intrigued with to read and/or watch their life story on YouTube (Honest Abe, Jamie Dimon, David Jones Bowie, Jack Welch, Jim Cramer ) etc etc etc all kinda of madness and grace belong in my notes. Thank Gashhhhh for Notes. Oh, and if you didint know this already, you can “Lock” your “personal” notes (you know, the emotional / conspiracy ones) if you want too. But, no really, this is the generation of transparency, so who really gives a…Beeeep. =) For anything that seems to be “all in good manners” is when disillusionment seeks a variety of the upmost truest most deepest forms of EQ, and IQ.

  5. O Brother!! ALL of these Ring sooo True for me… and then it gets even more complicated because they are also readily attributable to my Definitely having Complex-PTSD from early childhood developmental trauma Abuse.

    Mariah’s STRUGGLES
    are Definitely better Understood too, though. As a child or adult with ADD (ok ..so now it’s called ADHD despite having NO hyperactivity making the disorder obvious), ADD alone was/is Enough her to have so many mis-behavior lapses!! To top it off, Mariah DID also have a traumatic childhood even though I did miraculously successfully parent (single). Praise God!!!

  6. How about this? I’m in the middle of calling someone, and then hurry and hang up before they answer, because I forgot who I was calling. Or even better (i.e. worse), they answer the phone and I ask who’s speaking. It gets less painful once you give up trying to hide your ADHD.

  7. How about this? I have reminders set for everything. When they go off I get annoyed and reset them for the next day or another time. Really important reminders I set a special tone so it really grabs my attention to get it done. Those annoy me worse and I put them off too. How can I change this behavior?

  8. You know you have ADHD when you’ve had to reset your password to this site countless times. I swear I was looking and looking for my cell phone, which I was holding. I appear to be a dingbat to other’s but I really work hard to have a sense of humor, that’s imperative. I earned my master’s degree, have a nice paying job, but lordy, I can drive myself crazy.

    Great article. I have done each one of the examples.

  9. I thought the stop light story was a bit silly, until the following happened to me. I pulled up to a stop light and patiently waited for it to turn green. Eventually I figured out that I couldn’t see the light. I’m tall, the roof is low, the light was high….

  10. Then there was fhyd time I was sitting in my parked car, talking to my dentist’s secretary on my cell phone. We decided to schedule an appointment for me to be seen. I had her hold on the line for several minutes while I looked for my cell phone to put the appointment in my calendar, while commenting to her via the cell phone that “my phone has to be here somewhere. I’m sitting in the car! It has to be in arm’s reach!”

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