Do You Feel Others Don’t Understand You? Explain Adult ADHD

Explain Adult ADHD.

Part of #ExplainAdultADHD.  A campaign to reduce the ignorance, misinformation, and stigma against adults with ADHD.

Do You Feel Others Don’t Understand You?


“Do I feel others don’t understand me? Yes and no. In this instance, I’ll talk about the workplace because it is where I excel and thrive, so have no issue introducing it into the conversation with someone I’m likely to be working with for a while; puts me in context from the outset and lets them know what they’re dealing with.

Being one of the extremely talkative ADHDer’s (that has a love of verbal and written language, and enjoys playing with both) I’m generally pretty articulate and get feedback from time to time to say as much.

Combined with the very visible excitability factor and I’d like to think I’m convincing too because I certainly believe what I’m saying! The two words most often used by colleges to describe me over the last 20 years have been ‘determined’ and ‘passionate’.

They know I’m high energy, talk lots and fast, am seriously committed to my vocation (human services) and take pride in running a tight ship. So in that regard, I think I’m very well understood.

This is also why, when the ADHD thing comes up with someone that has known me a long time, it always surprises me that mostly they are caught off guard.

Always to my amusement, it’s evident that soon as they start thinking about it, it all comes together pretty quickly and they have a light-bulb moment.

Thing is, we work in the disability sector and are all pretty familiar with conditions like ADHD.

You’d think my colleagues (a number of them therapists) would be a likely group to pick it up, particularly as they are all very good at their job.

The thing I think most people don’t understand is exactly how busy it is on the inside, just being me; it can be simply exhausting.

My head is an extremely noisy place as it holds a multi-faceted, multi-layered global structure of absolutely everything to do with the business (I’m in operations), and I see how each piece fits together and plays a vitally important role to the overall success, in a snapshot.

So to try and whittle out the less important bits (there are less important bits?) and then convey it all neatly to another person in a concise and linear fashion…near impossible! Add to that, whilst I never lose my temper, I often have strong feelings about things (not-for-profit, values based org.), there can sometimes be a full scale riot happening inside my birthday suit that I’m working hard to actively contain. But on the outside, I can be sitting still, saying nothing, looking calm.

Another thing I think people with typical brains don’t realize is that, from where I sit, I am perfectly normal. It’s that lot out there (the majority of the population) that have issues because they can’t pick up on a lot of what I see or keep up with me.

(Downside of having ‘normal’ executive function imposed upon them by their brain; don’t even realize they’re filtering.)

But given my job requires me to speak publically from time to time, colleagues that are fond of me and up for a laugh will generally line up for a front row seat as it’s like a comedy act; watching the super human effort I have to make (nigh on painful) to select my words carefully and slow my speech so that everyone understands me.

For a WHOLE presentation. Excruciating. Inside MY head, it sounds like I’m delivering a pre-recorded speech that’s on slow dub, getting even slower and likely to cark it. Imminently.

The way I would describe it to a typical brainer is that it’s like moving to France and having to speak a language that is not your native tongue.

Imagine talking to someone about something that you’re REALLY enthusiastic about and then all of a sudden, you realize from the look on the other person’s face that they are staring at you blankly because they are confused; you’ve lost them because at some point in the conversation, in your excitement you slipped back into English without realizing.

So you stop, check yourself, reset your brain to speak in French, and start again. Sometimes repeatedly in the one exchange.

But would I change it or me? Not a chance. It’s a part of me and who I am. Took a long, long time to get to a place of peaceful acceptance, but I’m here now and wouldn’t change a thing. 🙂 ”

By Michelle.


Please share this post online with the hashtag #ExplainAdultADHD to help explain adult ADHD to non-ADHD adults so they understand us better.

See other #ExplainAdultADHD stories here.

What is the most important point about adult ADHD you want non-ADHD adults to know?

Share it anonymously or with your full name and help reduce ignorance, shame, and stigma against your fellow ADHD adults here.

7 thoughts on “Do You Feel Others Don’t Understand You? Explain Adult ADHD”

  1. Celena King

    I… I understand this. Do others not? “Are you not like that?” has echoed through my mind for as long as I can remember. “How do you not see? What aren’t you understanding (so I can explain deeper, which will totally help, right)?”

    I hope someone sees this and reaches out to me. I simply need to find others who can have a conversation the way I feel truly decompresses my mind, body, and soul.

    Thank you for reading.

  2. This really hits home. Both the article and the comment. I constantly feel like, “wait am I the only one that thinks this way?” Most of the time for my own protection I just pull it off like i’m being silly, like I was joking or like I don’t mean it. It really feels like others are not thinking very deeply or cannot keep up with my train of thought.

    I don’t know what is worse to be the person that is annoyed by my “scattered brain” or feeling shut up, misunderstood and undervalued.

    I am not sure if i have talked to someone in the past with ADHD but I have always felt “off” or out of place somehow when speaking with others. It is so good to know that there are people like me that struggle in the same ways. It makes me sad but relieved at the same time though.


  3. I think, part of what you are saying, is that you see the big picture. I’ve always considered myself to be a big picture thinker as well. However, my ADHD experiences haven’t resulted in me being outspoken and happy to speak up. It’s done the opposite. I am very intelligent but I find I can’t keep up with most of life’s processes, and I feel that the linear and logical processes are more prevalent in our current structures. I fall behind and “leave the room” in my mind, missing my chances to offer my amazing whole picture views.

  4. During the past week I have repeatedly said out loud, “I am so misunderstood.” The staff members of the business I own misinterpret my intentions of helping them and of growing the business are purposed for their detriment.
    I wouldn’t even consider doing harm to them.
    I live with a large amount of anxiety from fear of making mistakes. I feel tremendously embarrassed and ashamed of my forgetfulness and disorganization. I hate the look on people’s faces when I say or do something impulsively that is just not appropriate.
    I hate myself for causing anger and frustration for others with my procrastination and scattered existence. I’m weary of using humor to cover up the disappointment I feel of myself when my ADD traits become obvious.
    I find peace when no one is around and I can work and create in my yard as slowly as is natural to me, and for an unrestricted length of time. That is solace for me.

  5. Pete Quily

    That’s too bad Terri, you might try some ways to learn to manage your ADHD better so you have more positive outcomes for you and others at work and reduce your stress.

    I’ve got a list of 30+ notes from specific ADHD problem areas from members of my Vancouver Adult ADD Support Group sent me after some of they meeting you can try out for free.

    Also if you want, I do paid one on one ADHD phone coaching with people with ADHD, here’s a list of some of the kinds of ADHD problems I help my ADHD coaching clients with

  6. That is a great way of explaining how I so very often feel… I think I am explaining something passionately and perfectly, then people look at me like I am speaking Greek… I am very used to being that “weird girl”. I pause and recalibrate while awkwardly trying to interpret facial expressions and body language that is vaguely foreign to me, but I am really trying. I now have a child who is likely on the same path, so I am especially attuned these day. God help us.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *