Talking About ADHD

7 Ways to Get the ADHD Support You Deserve

On their own, ADHD symptoms are difficult to manage. But when you don’t have the support of family, friends, and loved ones, the burden becomes exponentially harder to bear. Here are 7 straightforward tips for asking for — and getting — the help you need from the people closest to you.

A paper family on a wooden house, holding a heart to represent love, support, and ADHD help
Paper family wooden house red heart

Why Doesn’t Anyone Take My ADHD Seriously?

Some people have misguided, disheartening, and, sometimes, infuriating opinions about ADHD — and unfortunately, the people closest to us are often among the worst offenders. In a survey, 85 percent of adults with ADHD report that they have encountered ridicule, dismissal, or downright lack of support from family members. Most felt hurt and disempowered by comments that ranged from careless to cruel.

“I don’t have support from my husband, and it hurts when he mocks me, especially when I make mistakes,” said one woman. Another respondent said that his family strongly believes in tricks and strategies and medication for co-existing conditions, but tiptoes around ADHD. “The diagnosis is more controversial than the remedies,” he said.

You deserve support from family and friends — and the first step toward getting it is being comfortable with your ADHD, says Ari Tuckman, Psy.D. “You need to know what is true for you about your particular brand of ADHD,” he said. “Being clear about that puts you in a better position to talk to someone else about it. Rather than being defensive or argumentative when presenting ADHD information, come from a neutral place. You don’t need validation from others to take your ADHD seriously.”

His number one recommendation? Education. “A good place to start is to share your own experiences,” he says. “Also use resources from ADHD experts, which may carry more weight.” If you’re ready to share your ADHD with your family or close friends, read on — these seven tips can increase your chances of success:

How Can I Get ADHD Support From My Loved Ones?

1. Treat your ADHD — with medication, coaching, and CBT. When family and friends see the difference treatment makes, it may convince them of the validity of the diagnosis.

[Free Resource: 7 Myths About ADHD — Debunked!]

2. Ditch the label. Instead of saying, “My ADHD made me do it,” say, “My brain works this way,” or “I have an executive function issue.”

3. Invite loved ones to join you at the therapist’s or doctor’s office. Hearing information about ADHD from a professional may alter their viewpoint about the condition.

4. Be selective about sharing ADHD information. Share small bits of information instead of a treatise.

5. Don’t be afraid to reiterate the facts about ADHD. After all, it took you a while to understand it.

6. Surround yourself with ADHD friends who “get it.” Think of them as a “second family.”

7. Reassure your family that they are not to blame for your ADHD or the problems it may have caused.

Enlisting the support of family and friends is worth the effort. One woman’s sister called to say: “I’m so sorry! All these years we’ve been annoyed with you and making you feel even worse. Now I understand: You can’t help it!” The woman with ADHD wrote: “Those were the sweetest words I’ve ever heard.”

[How to Talk About Your ADHD]

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