You and ADDA, changing futures together.
Every day, someone with ADHD discovers ADDA. And it’s like they’ve gone from wandering alone through a dark maze to finding a community they never knew existed.
For those people and their loved ones, ADDA is their deep well of support. Workshops, webinars, programs. Nurturing social networks. Priceless connections. The supports are endless — but not the resources.
We must fight harder with less. This is why your donation to, and membership in, the leading champion of adult ADHD matters so much.
Whether it’s one gift now, an easy monthly contribution, or something else, your donation will grow awareness, put adult ADHD on the map, help us find more undiagnosed adults, and help everyone else stay informed, equipped and inspired.
You can do all that right now with a donation to ADDA.
Help turn the page for people everywhere. Donate to ADDA's Rewrite the Story Behind the Story campaign.
Every adult with ADHD has more than their share of tough, even tragic stories. But here’s the real story: with diagnosis, treatment, and the vast programs and community support of ADDA, those stories can go from heartbreaking to hope-filled for anyone.
For proof, here’s just some of the countless, transformational ADDA member stories we hear every day.
I was shamed. Now I’ve found my people… People who “just get it”
Even though I sometimes feel hopeless, I am not helpless.
ADDA asked me to share my story. My first thought was, “Why would they ask me? I don’t have a story anyone wants to hear.” Yes, that voice in my head is almost always negative. I reject myself before someone else has a chance.
Along with ADHD, I struggle with depression. Depression and ADHD are quite often coexisting conditions. Like ADHD, there are diagnostic criteria and common symptoms. But like ADHD, depression can present differently across individuals. (If you or someone is dealing with depression, please learn more and get help. But this story is not about depression, so…)
Since childhood, I’ve had professional support in different areas of my life. But it wasn’t until adulthood that I started to make real progress. Many of the coping skills I developed turned out to be bad for me in the long run. For example, rejecting myself. I almost turned down this opportunity to share my story with you. Sure, turning down opportunities prevents me from failing and protects me from pain. But how many personal and professional opportunities have I passed up in my lifetime? And the longer I practice these ‘skills’, the harder they are to stop. They become habits. But, even though I sometimes feel hopeless, I am not helpless.
As an adult, I started learning new strategies and soon saw tiny bits of progress. I realized there ARE things I can do to help myself. Like we learn skills to help with ADHD symptoms, we can learn skills to help with depression. I wish I could say, “And this is how I made changes and now everything is awesome! Call this number and I’ll help you solve your problems!” That is not where this is going.
Getting help and making changes in my life has been difficult. It is often hard for me to identify what is wrong, much less figure out how to fix it. Self-awareness is one of those areas affected by executive function. And it’s one I struggle with. I’m so lucky to have a supportive wife. But I know she gets tired of seeing me struggle. And it’s tough on her because she feels it’s her responsibility to point things out when I don’t recognize them.
Getting help has been difficult in other ways. Finding a skilled practitioner that is a good fit is hard, time consuming, and expensive. Being vulnerable for self-discovery and sharing painful experiences is taxing. I forget previous successes. I forget the supports and solutions that worked before and have to start over. And I continue to experience symptoms, which makes me feel like I am wasting my time trying to do it all again.
I’m lucky though. I have experienced a lot of success throughout my life. I am friendly, I find purpose in my life helping others, and I love to make people laugh. I can use my strengths. I am creating a wonderful life with my wife. And I have had interesting and fulfilling jobs.
I have learned many skills from peers and practitioners. I’ve become so much stronger in noticing, experiencing, and talking about my feelings. I have learned to reframe negative thoughts. I am able to see that I have had amazing experiences that are worth sharing. I have joined support groups though ADDA and learned to be compassionate and kind to myself. I also have opportunities to use what I have learned to help others. And it will be worth it if even one person reads this and finds it helpful.
I was smart. I was a girl. So how could I have ADHD?
As a child, I was always late. I lost things. I was boisterous and talked too much. I always said things I later regretted. Teachers wrote me off as “smart but lazy and immature.” They thought I had no desire to work hard at anything and had no concern for my future. I was a disappointment to family members and close friends for not living up to my potential.
No one considered any underlying problem. I was smart. And I was a girl.
High school was easy. I never studied. The only low grades I received were in subjects that required reading and writing.
When I got to college, I crashed and burned. No discipline. No study skills. No one to hold me accountable. I barely graduated.
After college, I worked in retail for 14 years, during which I married and had two kids. I dreaded working holidays and weekends. But as a manager, I wouldn’t have to. So I entered an 18-month Branch Manager training program. To my surprise, they promoted me within 9 months. I went from trainee to running the branch, with my own trainee. All while still trying to complete my own training!
I couldn’t keep up. Between overwhelm and imposter syndrome, I sabotaged my job. They fired me. My managers pleaded with me to help save my job, but I felt I didn’t deserve to be a Branch manager because I couldn’t keep up.
Around this time, I discovered what adult ADHD was and that I had it. I was 37. I spent months grieving for those years I wish I had back. I spent the next 13 years spinning my wheels. I had no idea how to manage my ADHD, with and without meds, while trying to be a good wife, mother, and employee. I couldn’t find the right therapist that could help me. They focused on “underlying issues.” Or they imposed strategies that didn’t work. Some straight out didn’t believe in ADHD.
That’s when I realized what I wanted to do. I wanted to help people like me. I wanted to provide accessible resources and care. I wanted to give people expert, correct information. And I wanted to let them know THEY ARE OK. I wanted to make the world aware of ADHD and that THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
In 2018 things started to turn around. I found a good therapist. My company allowed employees to form groups based on their commonalities. So I started a group for employees with ADHD. And then I found ADDA. I joined to access the webinars. And to join the African American/Black Diaspora Peer Support group. It helped TREMENDOUSLY. It was so much easier to search on ADDA’s website than on YouTube.
Still deciding which path to take to help others with ADHD, I started volunteering for ADDA. They immediately invited me to join the Workplace Committee and the Education Committee. Working with these committees allowed me to better serve my group at work. I was able to host more educated and meaningful conversations.
It also prompted me to deliver a presentation to my company’s HR dept to increase ADHD awareness. I even pursued adding it to their Leader’s Class on Mental Health. In 2019, I attended my first International Conference on ADHD. I met ADDA members and people whose webinars I had watched. I connected with so many people, and it felt like home.
Being a part of ADDA has helped me gain confidence in myself and allowed my good ADHD traits to shine. I am carrying out my mission. As a soon-to-be certified ADHD Life Coach and an ADDA board member, I am realizing my goal. I’m increasing awareness and providing resources to people with ADHD.
Thank you, ADDA.
I CLIMBED THE ICEBERG OF ADHD. THE STORY BEHIND MY STORY
Growing up, I was always told I was bright. I could pull out the good marks when needed, but as I got older it got harder. Deadlines got closer together, the work was more demanding, and there were so many more distractions. Eventually I grew tired of the big last minute efforts, so I settled. I took a career path that, while worthwhile, didn’t challenge me.
But my undiagnosed ADHD didn’t let me settle. I kept having ideas. One was digital photo restoration, long before it was widely available. Others were about businesses or changes to the hospital I worked at, or services like therapeutic mental health programs. Having a wealth of ideas is not new for people with ADHD. We just struggle to bring them to fruition.
Finally, the frustration at all these thoughts, and the unshakable feeling of not reaching my potential, became too much. I vented to my wife. She became my self-regulation, and encouraged me to see the ideas as something I could present to the hospital, as a new role. On my next day off I had a meeting with the CEO and pitched. While all of my ideas didn’t get launched, I got the job — the first of several roles I would personally create in a variety of health industries.
Gradually, I found the way my brain worked was a means to growing my roles and reaching my potential. My never-still mind was best directed to learning and creating my own solutions.
Several years later I realized I had ADHD. It hit me hard. And the shock was realizing how close I came to stalling all those years ago. With the majority of adults with ADHD undiagnosed, it’s crushing to consider how many have stalled in their lives and don’t know why.
This is the iceberg of ADHD. All that potential lying dormant. Somehow I climbed it, and my potential was seen.
This is why I’m sharing my story here, and asking you to give to ADDA. There are millions like me out there, and all the gifts they can bring to the world are hidden underwater, just like that iceberg.
ADDA can find those people. Their stories can be rewritten. Your donation is how. Please join ADDA. And please give.
Anonymous, ADDA Volunteer
THE DOUBLE-DIAGNOSIS THAT KEEPS ME SINGLE-MINDED. THE STORY BEHIND MY STORY
There are two questions people consistently ask me when they learn that I’ve worked for more than 20 years as a project manager who also has ADHD. The first is about how I manage the demands of project management while grappling with ADHD: the follow-up wonders when I received my diagnosis.
My answer to the first is usually surprising to folks. While project management does require an inordinate level of executive functioning, what’s under-appreciated is how it can also align with, and leverage, neurodiversity.
Like many people with ADHD, I have a co-morbid diagnosis, which is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In my case, the two diagnoses come together and create natural skill sets and interests in designing, building and managing projects and programs. The planning aspects of project management feed my OCD, while the complexity of the work lets me constantly shift my attention to endless combinations of tasks, while still working on a single project.
Having ADHD and other co-morbidities is less about what I can’t do, and more about utilizing my neurodiversity to reach my goals and be my best self.
I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was an older adult with almost grown children, at a time when I was having difficulty managing constant overwhelm. The diagnosis caused me to reflect back on my childhood: I probably always had ADHD. My ability to hyper-focus on topics of interest allowed me to excel in school, and as I matured and began working, I established processes for critical functions as a means of survival. The sense of overwhelm that prompted me to seek help was just symptomatic of how the manifestations of ADHD change as life becomes more complex.
At this point in my life, it has become much easier to manage both my ADHD and OCD with medication. I can honestly say that without the gift of ADHD and the lessons I’ve learned as a neurodiverse woman of color, life would not be as fulfilling as it certainly is at this point in my life.
With your gift to ADDA, ADDA can provide the support, skills and other crucial tools that will help others see their ADHD the way I do — and rewrite their stories to ones of equal richness and joy.
Please join ADDA. Please give what you can. We need your support and your voice.
Lorri Jenkins, ADDA Member
STIGMA, THE ULTIMATE COMORBIDITY.
THE STORY BEHIND MY STORY
There’s always been a stigma with mental health. But within the BIPOC communities, it’s exponentially more profound. And people in my community not living up to their potential due to this stigma has almost become a proverb.
I always struggled with social interactions and focus, but I wanted to belong. In the seventh grade, when I was finally getting my social life together, my parents received a letter saying that I’d fail and repeat if I didn’t get my grades up. The thought of being in class with kids a year younger — back then, a one-year difference may as well have been 10 — was too humiliating to bear. I asked my parents for seven folders and notebooks, pens and pencils, and studied like my life depended on it. I passed — and the habit kept me on the honor roll. However, that cycle of failing and then kicking into gear would repeat every time my environment changed.
Finally, in law school, I saw a psychiatrist, was diagnosed with anxiety and OCD, and was treated for 14 years. Then I heard someone talking about ADHD and something clicked. I told my psychiatrist. She looked at me and said, “You are an attorney, you’re too together to have ADHD.”
I thought to myself, “TOGETHER? Are you kidding?” I had to read books on body language to learn social cues. I brought it up repeatedly until she finally looked up from her notepad and said, I can test you for it, but it will take a while and your insurance won’t cover it. After a battery of tests, I walked into her office and she told me to sit down — never something you want to hear from a doctor. She said, “How did we miss this?” She told me that I scored an 8.4 on the combined metrics for ADHD. 8.4 out of 10 sounds serious, I said. Her response was concise. 8.4 out of 9. My eyes got big, and I asked, well, is it fatal? She laughed. I had ADHD… big time.
Once I started treatment, the strangest thing happened: my anxiety dropped by 80% and I was able to control my impulsivity. I was 40 years old — what opportunities had I missed? To complicate things, the medication helped abate my symptoms but I still didn’t know how to schedule my time. I learned how the brain works, about executive functions, and I also realized that my anxiety and occasional depression weren’t anxiety and depression in the clinical sense, but were tied to undiagnosed ADHD.
I have also found a compliment to my ADHD. While I’ve always struggled with social interaction, it never occurred that I could be on the spectrum as well. I always refused to acknowledge this due to stigma: all I knew about ASD were the stereotypes, severe cases like non-verbal behavior. While I never got a clinical diagnosis, I took two medically suggested diagnostic tests, and the circle now seems closed. ADHD and ASD working in tandem explains all of my idiosyncrasies, while their genetic component explains my family experience growing up.
It’s turning out to be a very long journey, but I am the most confident I’ve ever been about who I am, and how I see the world and other people.
My mission now is to help rid society of the stigma, and help provide a pathway for people to be the best versions of themselves — not just get by with alcohol, drugs, food, sex, hyper-consumerism, and all the other ills that plague my community.
Michael David, ADDA Member
HOW I STOPPED FIXING WHAT WASN’T BROKEN.
THE STORY BEHIND MY STORY
It’s hard to believe that before ADDA, I never had a genuine connection with another person.
I knew I didn’t fit in at school. I knew I didn’t fit in at college. Once I discovered I had lost interest in any career I had studied for, I knew I didn’t fit in, period.
I didn’t understand how or why I was different. Where do you turn for help? Doctors don’t understand. Employers, insurance people, teachers don’t understand. My family doesn’t understand.
And as I searched for answers, I realized even the information I needed on ADHD wasn’t made for me. The secrets were buried in dense research, hidden in a footnote on page 15… it was like no one wanted me to have them. Somewhere in their research, they needed to discover that the people who needed that information most would need it presented differently.
Before I found ADDA, I was lost, alone and filled with self-loathing. Without feeling understanding and compassion, you cannot learn self-compassion.
That is what ADDA has given me.
For the first time, I was in a space with other people hearing experiences like mine. They described the challenges of ADHD and how they influence how people treat you. Or they’re just people with a similar sense of humor, habits, needs or perspective. The information was available, and it was designed for me.
Here, I am part of the status quo. And when I do something that is natural to me but different to others, no one points it out. It’s not good or bad. I exist as I am for the first time. Before ADDA, I had emotionally and spiritually shriveled, subsisting on shallow and conditional love relationships and friendships.
Here, there’s no need to fix yourself. You’re not here to figure out how to cope while being less than. Suddenly, you realize you are not broken and deserving of love. The neuroscience-backed perspective makes way for self-compassion. ADHD isn’t character flaws or personal failings. It’s hardwired into your gray matter.
Zay Elliot, ADDA Member
THE TICKET I’LL NEVER STOP PAYING FOR. THE STORY BEHIND MY STORY
People with adult ADHD get more than our fair share of tickets. You may dismiss that as a minor impact of ADHD, but it has consequences most people don’t see.
Like a canceled family vacation.
Many years ago, I was driving, too fast as usual. I was speeding, my coping mechanism for watching the road instead of the scenery.
I got pulled over by the police.
Then it started. The officer discovered that my registration was expired: I’d forgotten to renew it several months earlier. This, too, is no surprise to any adult with ADHD.
But this was the week before our family’s summer vacation, visiting family in a different province and camping along the way. The children were excited to see their cousins, and my wife Linda and I were looking forward to the change of scenery.
But the cost of the speeding ticket, the ticket for the unregistered vehicle, and the car registration drained our vacation fund. Vacation was canceled. The children were devastated. It was just one more thing that was my fault.
People with ADHD are often poor drivers. It can be difficult to focus on the road as distractions pass on either side, so we deal with it by driving fast. The rush of adrenaline helps us focus, and it also helps overcome our poor time management skills, as we’re always late for something.
Before I was diagnosed with ADHD and treated, I wrote off four vehicles. I also repeatedly placed my family and friends in danger, not to mention myself.
Since my diagnosis, I never drive unmedicated. And I’ve learned to give myself plenty of time to get there safely and on time.
Approximately 5% of adults have ADHD. About 85% are undiagnosed.
ADDA can steer those people off the wrong roads, the ones that are going nowhere good. But we need your help: your membership, your donations, your time, and your sharing of our messages.
No one should have to cancel a family vacation because of ADHD. Or have something far worse happen. That’s no story any of us want to hear. We’ve heard too many.
You can help ADDA rewrite them. Please join. Please give.
Duane Gordon, ADDA President
THE MILK WAS BAD. I WASN’T. THE STORY BEHIND MY STORY
I hate paying bills. It’s a trigger, reminding me how I’ve struggled financially due to burnout and job loss. I’ve got a lot of shame issues around this.
Utilities are especially pernicious, because when they get cut off, everything stops. A few years ago, I was struggling on many fronts, working long hours, barely sleeping, barely staying connected to family and friends. I was overwhelmed, falling behind on basic life upkeep.
So I’d often forget to pay my utilities, and my electricity would get turned off every other month. I’d pay the $100 reconnect fee and the past-due balance, then swear it would never happen again. And because I traveled a lot for work, when the power got turned off, the food in my fridge would often go bad by the time I returned home.
Things got so bad that every day when I’d come home from work, I’d wonder if this was the day that the power got turned off. So I’d unlock my door, take a deep breath, flip the light switch and keep my fingers crossed.
Through this ritual, I convinced myself that I was terrible at adulting and would never improve.
Eventually, things came to a head, as they always do. I got sick and ended up in the hospital. It forced me to slow down and get help, which came from many fronts: therapy, ADDA, and a better meds strategy.
Getting help also helped me work through my shame issues. One of the things I did to deal with ADHD and shame was to build better systems, like putting all my utilities on autopay. This simple solution took enormous stress off me. More importantly, because of the help I received through ADDA, I found a coach and began addressing the root causes of my burnout and job loss struggles.
ADDA helped me go from shame to systems. That’s why I’m sharing my story, to help ADDA get the money they need to keep their own lights on, and help thousands of people like me to rewrite their own stories.
No more spoiled food or ruined futures. That’s the life-saving work of ADDA. Please join ADDA today, and please, give what you can.
Anonymous, ADDA Volunteer
ADDA is a lifeline. But we survive on an even thinner thread.
Your donation will:
- give ADDA memberships to hundreds of people who can’t afford them
- help us grow awareness of this staggeringly un-diagnosed condition
- help us innovate more and better online interactive workshops
- help us truly become a global, 24/7 support system
- help us train our incredible volunteers, and give them the tools and recognition they deserve
This condition is so changeable, so treatable, so manageable. And you can help it happen for so little.
- Become a member for just $7.60 a month or $79.97 one-time.
- Double it — and give someone else a life-changing membership as well
- Or make a donation in one of the many convenient ways shown below.
You can thrive with adult ADHD, but it’s so much easier with support.
Help more people find their community and their answers. Help ADDA today.
Prefer to Print Your Form and Mail Your Check?
Download your form, print and complete your donation form and mail it to ADDA, PO Box 103, Denver, PA 17517, and make a difference NOW!
Tribute / In Memoriam Giving
A Tribute or In Memoriam donation to The Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) is a meaningful way to pay tribute to a loved one, mark a special occasion or express your sympathy.
You can make a donation to pay tribute to a loved one or to say thanks to someone special who supported you or a loved one at a trying time. You will receive a prompt thank you and tax receipt, as well as the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting many services for adults with ADHD.
Invite your family and friends to donate to ADDA to mark a special occasion or in lieu of a gift for birthdays, anniversaries or holidays. ADDA will provide a tax receipt, our grateful thanks and the knowledge that they have finally found the perfect gift!
Your donation will express your sympathy for the loss of a loved one. Help save and change the lives of ADDA members and all adults with ADHD. ADDA will communicate with the bereaved family acknowledging your thoughtful gesture, and you will receive a tax receipt and a note of thanks for your generosity. The amount of your donation is kept strictly confidential.
All gifts supporting ADDA programs are greatly appreciated. If desired, gifts can be designated to support specific programs at ADDA.
Help us serve, empower, and connect adults with ADHD. Thank you for your contribution to our community!
After making your donation you will receive further instructions for either:
- making your donation in memory of someone by including a message to be displayed on our Web site’s “In Memoriam” page, or
- including a “Tribute” to be displayed on the Web site along with your donation.
If you would like your donation to remain private/anonymous, simply ignore the message.
Your official receipt will follow. ADDA is a 501(c) organization, a charitable organization recognized by the IRS, ADDA’s Federal ID number is 84-1134997.