If People Would Understand That ADHD Is Real And That It Does Incapacitate Me In Everyday Living

#4. This post is a part of a series where people answer my anonymous survey question. If you have ADHD but haven’t gone public with it, what would it take to you go public with ADHD?

There are risks and rewards for going public with ADHD AND for staying hidden in the ADHD closet. See this post for context on the series.

Another answer to my anonymous ADHD survey question. First, here’s some background to my one question ADHD survey from the actual survey page, then the 4th answer (many more to follow).  Feedback on the series is welcome. I’ll eventually post a summary breakdown of the types of answers.

People with ADHD often face a lack of resources in diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, especially for adults with ADHD, and often face stigma about the condition or how they treat the condition.

One of the MANY reasons for this is that many people in the media/govt/health system/public don’t think ADHD exists, or that it is a real problem/ significant problem with major impacts / think it’s overdiagnosed/ conspiracy theory, etc.

Plus, people who have ADHD very rarely go public with having ADHD, or do things to educate the media/govt/health system/public about the problems and stigma that people living with ADHD have. So no/few perceived problems because few complaints/advocacy, especially when people with other mental health conditions do more complaining/advocacy = few $$ and resources for ADHD and more stigma.

This questionnaire was created because of the reaction to a YMCA ADHD stigma ad see my two blog posts on it, and people telling me on twitter & offline that they probably wouldn’t do a similar ad for people with depression or diabetes because more of them ARE public with it and would speak up against it more.

The question was suggested by someone at the recent Northern Voice blogging conference when I asked them what could be done to get more people with ADHD to speak out against ADHD stigma? They suggested starting with finding out the answer to this question, so I created this one survery question, and I’ll blog the answers on my

Adult ADD Strengths blog

I believe that if more people go public with having ADHD and are willing to educate and advocate online and offline about the realities of living with ADHD and the lack of resources & stigma around ADHD, it will help EVERYONE with ADHD. This is one of MANY ways to help people with ADHD. It’s not the only way though.

BUT going public with ADHD is TOTALLY an individual decision and one size doesn’t fit all. There are many negatives and positives of going public with ADHD just like there are the many negatives and positives about keeping your ADHD private. Not everyone should go public.

This is an anonymous survey. I don’t want to know your name, just your answer.

I want to know, if you’re currently diagnosed with ADHD and haven’t gone public with it yet,what would it take to make you comfortable enough to go public with having ADHD?

Public as in being able and willing to talk about having ADHD with your family, friends and work colleagues.

Answer #4.

“If people like my friends and family would accept ADHD as an actual diagnosis, mental illness.

Everyone keeps telling me to pull myself up by my bootstraps and just do it.

They think it’s just a matter of willpower and that if I had self-discipline that my life would get better.

I also have alcoholism (which by the way willpower doesn’t work to stay clean), PTSD, and Depression.

I am so frustrated because everyone gets frustrated with my continual lateness, distractability, hyperfocus (for hours and hours on end), and never getting things done or forgetting what they asked me to do (task).

I always say I am going to do something like “yes mom I’ll clean the grill” and never do it.

On top of that then there is the “Psychiatrists say everyone has ADD, and you’re not hyper anyways”.

I am hyper in my mind, I can think of two separate thoughts at the same time.

So it’s not always noticeable on the outside, only the not getting tasks done or being late which is chalked up to self-discipline again.

I guess I’m really struggling right now because no one accepts that I actually truly have ADHD.

So whether I say I have it or not, no one believes me. I don’t get any special help or accommodations, or understanding/patience.

It’s really irritating because I am trying so hard to learn about ADHD and apply new time management techniques so that I can be a functional part of society.

The truth is I’m not, I can’t hold down a job, I can’t do simple everyday things.

I am relearning how to live, and after doing the same things for 25 years and banging my head against a wall, I am accepting my ADHD and doing different things after failing for so long.


HELLO, I CANNOT CONTROL THE SYMPTOMS OF ADHD, so if you are expecting me to remember everything you ask of me, or to go to bed at 11 pm and wake up at 6 am it’s not going to happen!!

It is not a case of willpower or self-discipline, it’s about learning how to use my ADHD assets and coming up with solutions to live with my disease instead of pretending it’s not there and continually failing. ::sigh::

I think I got it all out.

I’m tired of trying to explain it to people who don’t have it, it’s different in everyone and it’s SO HARD TO EXPLAIN.”

8 thoughts on “If People Would Understand That ADHD Is Real And That It Does Incapacitate Me In Everyday Living”

  1. Great post. I am vocal about my ADHD because I feel people judge you as a cover if they don’t know about it. In my experience, I have been asked if I’m on crack, if I ever calm down and have been judged for being spacey. However, once I was diagnosed it was a huge relief to be able to be kinder to myself with regards to the symptoms. It’s hard to meet people who also have ADHD… Because so many are quiet. Recently I met a friend who has it and we have become close. It’s such an awesome feeling to have conversations with someone who understands and sympathizes with it. 🙂 I hope more people come forward. I see my ADHD as a strength because of the endless energy and creativity that surges in me because of it… However…. Coming out with my friends and family has seemed to improved my relationships with them because I’m not written off as distant or non caring anymore should I have a small attention span. 🙂

  2. I agree with everything the bottom part of the article (the venting part) said, but not entirely the part about it not being a case of willpower and self-discipline. You are ADHD and that means the traits of ADHD are hard to control. But that doesn’t mean that we can control the symptoms to some degree. In the end, as human beings, we can control ourselves.
    I find it easier to give a specific reason to change something. Regarding the example of going to sleep early and waking up early; I had the same exact problem. I managed to change it, not by telling myself I’m going to start sleeping earlier, but because my housemate has a class a little earlier than I do; and I decided to wake up earlier to drive him to class since we live quite far from my college campus. To wake up earlier, I had to sleep earlier. Essentially, give yourself some kind of personal interest/motivation to change something.

    This quote is from this website: http://www.scatteredminds.com/ch1.htm

    “I do not believe ADD is the almost purely genetic condition many people assume it to be. I do not see it as a fixed, inherited brain disorder but as a psychological [sic] consequence of life in a particular environment, in a particular culture. In many ways one can grow out it, at any age.”
    So yes, you can change yourself, though it will be hard.
    BUT, Ultimately, in conjunction with the quote, I believe it is really important who you surround yourself with. If your friends are doubting you, you should maybe find new ones; of course it depends on how long you’ve been friends with them for and how close you are with them.

  3. I’m quite proud of how I can still seem to make the best of having ADHD. I will talk about it if I feel safe with someone. I explain that I am just wired differently than most, and I love the creative ideas that often come to me. My family doesn’t really get it but they have accepted me as I am. The late one. The talker. The scape goat.

    On the radio I was really in my element. I did interviews with the local “celebrities” (perfect because I am curious). I talked to thousands of listeners “out there.” In 2005, I chose to tell my supervisor about ADD as soon as I was tested and diagnosed.

    The subtleties at work were noticeable to me. For example, on my annual review a new item would be, “needs improvement on time management” or “needs to be better prepared on the air.” For the previous 7 years, there were no associations or links to characteristics such as the typical AHDH traits.

    Pretty soon she asked me to take my ADHD tool list of my bulletin board “because it didn’t look very nice.” I learned about accommodations from my doctor and tried several times to get her to talk with me about it. I was met with, “can’t now” or “maybe later” and finally, “I don’t want to talk about accommodations.” Write-ups and conference reviews started to happen, surprise meetings with HR right before I went on the air began to raise even more red flags and of course, the harder I tried to be natural and just do my job, the more errors I made. Pretty soon their efforts to undermine me made my air shift a train wreck. d

    I am a professional and have never been written up or been on probation in my entire 40 year career. I finally asked for accommodations from HR, and followed the rules of the ADA. The HR supervisor wanted them in writing so I complied. But although they were sent to HR by my dr. , HR claimed to not receive them. When HR admitted to receiving them, HR complained that the wording wasn’t strong enough. The wording was taken right out of the Job Accommodation Network’s recommendation for accommodations for ADHD. I had to jump through many hoops and it should have been easy, but as you guessed, I was on my way out the door. Three more tries from my doctor and HR finally accepted the list of accommodations, simply to be put in my file, but wouldn’t talk to me about it or supply me with simple things I needed.

    My supervisor was a perfectionist and I had ruined the perfect record she tried so hard to maintain. Her behavior towards me led me to become so anxious I had to take FMLA leave. When I returned I started getting written up again, and the infractions were all lies. It was a case of she says, she says. There were many station policies made that affected only me, no more comp time, no lunch hour, etc. I would bring this to HR and they would simply say that my supervisor can do whatever she wants.

    In my case, I wanted to be upfront and honest. I had a hard time accepting that people aren’t who you think they are. I couldn’t believe this was really happening to me. There was a distinct change in our relationship. I have filed with the EEOC and my rights were definitely taken away from me. I lost my long-standing career that I loved, and excelled in. I lost my home, my insurance, my sense of self. Today, I have little confidence, developed PTSD and finally after 4 years, I’m on medicaid and disability because of the ongoing harassment. I live with family and friends. I would do the same thing again. I worked for a state university, an educational institution, so I was very surprised how their HR department “pretended” to know about ADHD.

    “Why would any one want to report that they have a disability?” the HR office asked me.

    When I wanted to share information about ADHD with my co-workers, HR said it was against HIPPA (spelling) laws. I think they began to view me as having a mental illness. I tried to explain the courtesy and etiquette that would be explained to my co-workers if I had to bring in a service dog, and sadly there was no connection that management could see, so I was further isolated.

    It was just a horrible situation and I lived through it. It makes you wonder why some institutions seem to want to get rid of the best and the brightest of workers. We saw that happen all the time, and that practice still continues. in the end, do what is best for you; just wanted to share my story.

  4. Wow that’s a horrible story Robin. And I’ve done a blog post in the past about the many competitive advantages of having ADHD as a radio talk show host . Seems like you were bullied out of a job because of ADHD. Very hard lesson but when people show you who they really are? Believe them.

    Have you contacted an employment lawyer familiar with mental health issues to sue them for harassment and discrimination?

    Sadly discrimination against ADHD knows no bounds. I know people who work in the mental health field that have been discriminated against and harassed by doctors and psychiatrists because they went public with adhd at work.

    The practice sadly will continue until more people with adhd start to out these people to the media and sue them for discrimination. Not implusively but strategically and deliberately with due dilegence ie talk with lawyers before etc.

    It may not get their jobs back but will inflict a cost, and if enough do, more employers will think twice about harassing us.

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