Unless you are a person with an ADHD brain, it’s hard to believe that ADHD is real. People usually think it’s an excuse or nonsense.
If you have ADHD, you remember being the child who stared out the window while the teacher was talking. Or maybe you were clowning around, making jokes with the kid sitting next to you. You sat for hours staring at your homework assignment, but none of it made sense, especially the math problems.
You would read the pages in a book over and over again, yet the words didn’t sink in. How is it possible that you can read and have no idea what you just read? You knew you were smart, but only in some subjects. And then there were times you felt smarter than all the other kids, but your grades didn’t show that.
Your parents were called in for teacher conferences, only to hear her annoying comments again, “If she would only concentrate, she’d be an A student.” I hated hearing those words as a child, and then again as a parent. Didn’t they see how hard you tried to read the words on the page, or listen to the teacher’s monotonous voice?
As the years went by, you found a way around it. Maybe you lied about homework assignments or cheated on tests until you finally figured out how to push through the internal struggles in your mind that no one else could see.
You had read the same paragraph ten times before it made sense. You had one great friend that loved you in spite of your unreliable planning disabilities: being late, making two different plans at the same time, and leaving one friend to go wandering off with another.
Then when you were older, you were sure that you were free and clear. You found a career, had a serious relationship or got married, and had kids but then you ran into a wall of bricks. There are still paragraphs that make no sense when you read them. You forget to pay the bills on time. Leaving the house looks like a scene in a Broadway drama. You scream when your dog whines. Your clothes are scratchy. Your bed is lumpy. And, the worst part is….
NO ONE BELIEVES YOU
It’s also hard for the people who love you. It’s hard to believe someone is incapable; when at times you are very capable when working on a project you enjoy. What do you mean you can’t? It looks like you can.
When you’ve read certain books, it’s as if you are the writer, understanding every word on the page. What do you mean when you say you can’t read?
You can prepare a meal for twenty people in one day. How is it possible that you can’t put a letter in a mailbox?
How could anyone not pay a bill, pick up the dry cleaning, make a doctor’s appointment, or forget three items that are on the grocery list you are holding in your hand?
ADHD is a perplexing, frustrating, and disruptive disorder- to the people who have it and to the ones who love them. We (those of us who have it) confuse people who don’t have it. We say one thing than we do another. They think we are smart, but then we make a few dumb choices that snowball into multiple problems.
Blame it on my ADHD. Don’t you dare say that! If you do, you are making excuses. You are telling a lie. Don’t say you can’t. They think you just don’t want to. Too bad, they don’t know how much you want to, but really can’t.
How do you explain you can’t when you look like you can? Forget it. Don’t bother trying to explain it. No one will believe you.
The truth is- ADHD is real. You only know it’s real, if you have it. For years, I tried to deny mine. I joked around about my unusual and creative way of doing things (which I would never want to change). Or I’d tell myself (and other people) it’s just my personality. I like to laugh and have fun. Sure, I procrastinated with some tasks. But then there were other tasks that I completed immediately and perfectly.
I didn’t have the “H” of ADHD. Maybe I did have a little trouble focusing on one thing at a time, but I wasn’t HYPER. Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized I’m not hyper externally, but internally I am. Some days the hyper is in my mind- with thoughts racing out of control. Some days it’s in my body: pounding pulse, fidgeting fingers, and needing lots of space to pace.
Oh, if they only knew what really goes on inside our heads. How hard we try, how fast our minds work, how we see endless possibilities in every little thought, how terrible it feels to read words and not comprehend them, and how exhausted we get from all of this constant activity in our minds.
Look, it doesn’t mean that we’re playing a sad violin wanting everyone to feel sorry for us and our strange thought patterns. All we ask is for a little extra kindness, are gentler, nicer and lighten up a little.
Let’s laugh over the silly little things. Know that we are trying hard. And if we’re not, it’s only because we are exhausted and need to shut down for a while so we can re-boot later. Because having an ADHD mind is exhausting.
Try to remember why you fell in love. ADHDers are fun to be with, funny and fantastic when we are doing what we love. We wear our hearts on our sleeves. We love from the depths of our souls. We are passionate, people-pleasers who love to make other people happy, usually at the expense of our own happiness.
All we’re asking for is a little compassion, patience, and non-judgmental love. That means no rolling eyeballs, no dirty looks, and no screaming when we’re a few minutes late or can’t find our keys.
If you can do that, we will try harder, and continue to try harder. We will figure out how to get through our rough spots, if you promise to be by our side, supporting us, cheering us on, and waiting for us at the finish line.
1- Know the difference between can’t and won’t.
Sometimes projects, books, assignments are so hard to concentrate on and comprehend that the ADHD brain hurts. There are times when the ADHDer can, but it will take a lot of extra effort, support, and time to accomplish the task.
2- Find an ADHD coach
There are coaches who specialize in ADHD who will work with your specific challenge to help you find a way to accomplish your tasks successfully.
3- Respect our differences
Not everyone thinks, acts, and does everything the same. We need each other’s strengths to balance out our weaknesses. That’s a good thing.
4- Judge favorably
Realize that we are trying our hardest, even if it doesn’t look like we are. Go easy, be gentle, and give us a little extra time. Remember there are many benefits to your life because of our ADHD.
5- Laugh at the little things
Don’t be so serious. Not everything is such a big deal. Some things are not worth fighting about. Everything is not a drama. Learn how to lighten up, laugh and have fun again.
Love, peace, and gratitude,
Read your blog, and can see why your article went viral. You are amazingly honest, and that is what is wonderful. You outed yourself, whereas most people with ADHD believe they are crazy, going off their heads, afraid to admit they are not perfect (who needs perfect? No one is perfect) We are all unique human beings and you are providing a great outlet for those who have yet to admit they need help. Understanding is key, and compassion, patience and having the ability to laugh at one’s own silliness in some things and smartness in others is what makes the difference. Humour and not to take oneself too seriously is what I find to be key. Life is serious enough, without us giving ourselves migraines about how we are percieved. Yes, we do all want to be like for ourselves, and honesty about who you really are will attract the true believers. The rest will find their niche. Thank you for your insights and for taking the time to spell this very misunderstood trait that I myself might possibly have, and are only discovering now after 63 years. By the way I love Adam Levine, he is a brilliant singer and human being. The first time I saw Maroon Five, I just knew they would be famous. Loved him on the Voice, which we used to get in SA, am waiting for the new season to get here.
Thanks so much for your fabulous comment! It means so much to me to know that my article is appreciated! Yes, I love Adam, too!!