Emotions & Shame

“People Judge Me Instead of Trying to Understand”

An older woman has come to terms with her ADHD — and thrived in her career in spite of her challenges — but still wishes her family and friends weren’t so dismissive of the struggles that come with the disorder.

Illustration of a sad person dealing with the social stigma of ADHD, being pointed at by large red fingers
Sad blue person pointing red fingers

All of my life I believed that I had a learning disability. Finally, after I turned 60, I began hearing about ADHD in adults.

I started to educate myself about it. I have been seeing a therapist for many years because of a mood disorder. I brought it up to him in one of my sessions, explained my “symptoms,” and asked him what he thought about my having adult ADHD. He agreed that what I was describing was indeed ADHD. I was relieved to know that there was a reason why I had felt “dumb” all these years and why my self-esteem was in the basement.

I am a successful realtor. I passed my exam on the first try, and I have always been proud of that accomplishment, since my grades in elementary and high school were not great. Selling real estate is challenging, and it is stressful at times. It takes a lot of effort to keep tabs on all of the details. But I do it. I couldn’t live without sticky notes and a schedule written down in 10 different places.

[Read: How to Respond When a Loved One Is Diagnosed]

When I try to explain my ADHD to my family, their eyes glaze over. They see me as they have always seen me: spacey, unable to focus on conversations, or to remember where I was going or why. I want to take them to the therapist and have him explain the reasons why I am the way I am. They judge me, instead of understanding that I have a disorder.

I no longer have the energy to battle the social stigma and get them to take me seriously. I just want to be understood, not judged.

—Renee (from adultaddstrengths.com)