Emotions & Shame

What Does It Feel Like to Have ADHD?

Everyone is not “a little bit ADHD.” And, no, this isn’t a medical fad. To understand what it really feels like to live with symptoms of attention defict, read this honest talk from ADDitude readers.

Man with ADHD standing on road holding map with mountains behind him
Man standing on rural road holding road map, head obscured by map

We asked ADDitude readers, “What does it feel like to have ADHD?”

Like I need an “off” button for my brain. When I try to explain to others that some of my behavior is due to ADHD, they say I am making an excuse. β€”Bee, Florida

Everyone thinks I do dumb things on purpose. My friends tell me that everyone has attention deficit. Sometimes I just feel stupid. β€”Angie, Mexico

Imagine that you crawled on your knees your whole life, but everybody around you walked on two legs. You recognize that you are different, and you know you should be walking like everyone else, but you just can’t keep your balance on two legs the way you can when you crawl. β€”Ashley, Ohio

Crazy, frustrating, and sometimes the funniest thing ever β€” once you learn to laugh at yourself! And we all need to. β€”Amy, Ohio

It is like watching a PowerPoint presentation that never stops. I tell someone something and, in the middle of a sentence, I go blank. It is embarrassing to have to ask the other person what you were talking about. People look at me and often think, “The lights are on, but clearly no one is home.” β€”Angela, Indiana

[Self-Test: Could You Have Symptoms of Adult ADHD?]

Having ADHD does not “feel like” anything. Unlike a physical problem β€” a broken bone, say β€” ADHD is invisible. People offer sympathy when you are in pain. Trying to explain ADHD without seeming to make excuses is tough. Perhaps if someone were to create a “sling” or “splint” for ADHD, the public might have more sympathy for having the condition. β€”Ann, Tennessee

Every day is a struggle, but you make the best of it. Meds help, but they aren’t a miracle cure. You take things people say literally. β€”Argelia, Georgia

It is as if you are driving through thick fog, on a dark road, trying to get to where you know you are supposed to be. The problem is, you lost the directions and have no GPS to guide you β€” and, in the background, the radio is playing loud songs that are changing. β€”April, Texas

It feels like there is always noise in my head β€” a constant buzzing that I can’t make sense of. It’s also paralyzing and frustrating. β€”An ADDitude Reader

[Free Download: You Know You Have ADHD When… (The Funny Side of ADHD)]

Like I am drowning in a maelstrom of “stuff” that needs to get done, but that I never finish. It’s a never-ending feeling of futility. β€”Linda, Florida

Having ADHD is like having a nonstop conversation with yourself. -Christina, Texas

It’s like being off balance, off kilter, similar to when the computer buffers a video, and it takes forever to load and play without doing all that starting and stopping. β€”Debbie, Arizona

It’s not easy having an 18-year-old brain in a 61-year-old body! β€”Diane, Florida

[β€œTo Me, ADHD Feels Like…”]