I Have ADHD. I Am Not Less

by Anonymous

I have ADHD. That does not mean my ideas are less important or my actions are less right.  I am not less. Is ADHD a disability? Yes, though mostly it is irritating. To others, but especially to me. 

I Wish People Could See the Real Me 

People often judge intelligence expressed in writing by the spelling. They discount the ideas shared. They think, “If he doesn’t make the effort to get it right, why should I bother?” If they only knew how I read and reread, spell check, and rewrite almost everything I write. Yet, still there are errors. 

I have similar experiences with luggage. Once, I checked all the rooms twice. Then someone called me to help them. When I returned, I retraced my steps through the rooms again. I picked up everything and loaded the bags and other items in the car.  Somehow, I never noticed my main suitcase was not in the car.  I was 200 miles away when I received the call saying I had left my suitcase behind. I had walked right by it before I left, but its presence did not register.  My own thoughts distracted me even as I was conducting a sweep, looking for things I’d forgotten.  

I returned to pick up the luggage. That’s when I realized that when called for help, I set the luggage down in a deep chair, similar in color to the luggage. When I returned, the luggage was invisible. I changed tasks mid-task, so my mind had changed tracks. I’m sure you can relate. Transitions are deadly.  

This doesn’t happen as often as I now understand the danger of transitions. The shame I felt – I know it’s not life threatening – makes me spend a great deal of time and energy trying to prevent them from happening. Or, at least to make sure no one notices them. I’m always on the alert. And it’s exhausting. 

I don’t notice my own errors. But, I can spot anything that doesn’t fit (errors, things left out, etc.) on other people’s work. Co-workers rely on my ability to review work and fill in work gaps in projects. I complete their tasks without losing a beat.  Explain THAT to others. 

I Wish People Could Hear the Real Me 

I spent thousands on therapy long before my ADHD diagnosis. I described symptoms. I explained how the symptoms were affecting me. No one heard or understood. I’ve had good therapists and horrible therapistsI’ve had good doctors and quacks. It took 51 years to diagnose what to me now seems more than obvious.  

Just…  “How do you feel about that?”, “You need some success.”, “You’re smart, bright, and handsome.” and “You may need to change how you think.” 

Really? How I think, is already very different from the way you think I think!  

“What outcome do you want from our work?” 

I only want to live happily with others.  How many different ways can I say that, and not be heard? 

I Want Understanding, Not a Label 

I have a cynical side. That side of me doesn’t feel or doesn’t want to feel, part of a “tribe.”  It feels like we’re saying, “Everyone with two earsYoure part of the two-eared tribe. Come live with us. Ignore the other tribes. You can’t belong with them. 

I do feel more comfortable among people with ADHDI get the friendships, the camaraderie, the sharing. When I’m with them, I find more people who understand the brain, the science, the synapsesI find people who can understand me. I find people who see what I’ve done and what I am able to do. They see what I struggle with. They understand when and how that struggling occursAnd they’re ready to accept me, so I can “fit in. With them, I can be “part of” rather than being an outsider looking in.  

But my thoughts and ideas are important with or without ADHD. The ADHD is not an excuse for me. It’s also justification for belittling or bullying. I want a friend. I don’t want a manipulator, or a cheerleader. I need people I can trust. People I can be around and be myself. People I can be around who can be themselves. I don’t need a label. 

    • anneke Boelaert
    • February 28, 2020

    It is a heartbreaking thing to hear you say that.
    Because not the results but the intention is what matters.
    Of course, results can give satisfaction.
    But not peace.
    I am at home for a while after ‘Throwing in the towel’ in my job as a teacher.
    It all was too much confusion and exhaustion.
    I understand so well your sadness for letting yourself and others down.
    But how we tried is what matters and what we ve learned on the way.I would like to write with you from time to time.
    Do you agree? You re wonderfull. Please don t feel guilt and sure don t feed it.
    With love,
    Anneke Boelaert

    • Robin
    • February 26, 2020

    Dolores, do you know how amazing you are even to be taking classes for a career in your 70s? Neuro-typicals don’t do that, but we do. We have battled all our lives just to get through each day, but that doesn’t stop us from starting new adventures.

    Good people are so needed in the family court system, which seems to be a mess pretty much evetywhere. You would be a great guardian ad litem. I hope you don’t give up. The GALs here have degrees and make big bucks, but they don’t have the sense that God gave geese about the psychological dynamics with an abuser in the home, even when strong evidence is shoved right in front of their faces.

    You are probably very intuitive about people, and you can’t teach that in a class. Most of us can size up a relationship situation in seconds, although we’re blind to suitcases even when we are looking for them, LOL. At least we are not blind to human suffering.

    I finally got a degree in my 60s. I haven’t been able to use it yet because I struggle so much with my ADHD problems. But when I finally get there, I believe I will be amazing, and so will you.

    To Anonymous: from one messy cover to another, I hope I get to read your book some day. Thank you for sharing your heart. Don’t give up.

  1. Reply

    This is so how I am feeling right now. I am deciding whether or not I should withdraw from my forensic psychology program. I have one more semester but the grades I am pulling right now won’t get me the degree. This posting spoke for me. It said what I cannot put in words.
    This person was 51 when finally diagnosed. I was 71. Now 72 I am ready to throw in the towel and forget about working as a clinician. I am sad that I am letting myself down but most of all I am sad I am letting others down.

      • Kandi Hayes
      • May 26, 2020

      Duane, Delores, Anneke, I wish so much that I could wrap my arms around each of you and just hold you, maybe we could even have a bit of a cry together. Robin, You are such a awesome person, I wish I had your spark of optimism.

      I so would love to be able to sit down with all of you over a cup of coffee and with a big piece of fresh warm Banana Bread. Sometimes I think Banana Bread, fresh and warm from the oven, or microwave, could very well be the cure for a whole passel of troubles. Forgive me, I digress. To read the struggles in college, post grad level is a bit frightening as I start work on a Masters in Education, focusing on Adult Illiteracy. I struggled through my primary education just as the rest of you. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 40, though, I diagnosed my son at age 6 and got him started on medication the summer between kindergarten and first grade. It was another 12 years before I was diagnosed and started on medication and his sister 12 years younger. There is one small part I almost forgot to mention, I graduated from Texas Women’s University College of Nursing with a BS in Nursing in 1978, 12 years after I graduated from High school and 2 years after my father died of his 2nd heart attack. I believed for almost 40 years that he went to his grave seeing me as having done only one thing right in my entire life; I gave him a grandson.
      I almost became sidetracked off in the direction of my life struggles, and there have been many. It has taken me 30 years to finally embrace my ADD because when I first started really looking into it in 2010 I was frightened away by the many references/recommendations to use of techniques for coping that relied heavily on practices taken from Eastern Religions. I can now see where I needed my own relationship with the Lord of my life to grow and mature. I can now see that even my own life experiences have been not much different than yours. In fact, Today is Labor Day, and I am alone in my apartment except for my Yorkie (Yorkshire Terrier). But again, I digress, please forgive me. What I am trying to say is that as bad as things have been in my life, both from my own choices and the choices of others, I am at a place where in looking back I can see the hand of God always somewhere near me always ready and sometimes actually intervening in some of the really, really bad stretches (like 3 separate suicide attempts). And That, God’s Hand, is really what I am trying to say. I did not begin my relationship with the Lord until after my son was born and I had started Nursing School and I would Never have graduated without His intervention in a couple of specific situations.

      What I am really trying to say is that ‘YES! We Do Think Outside The Box. That IS Our Gift, from God in heaven above, to this ordinary world. We Don’t Fit In, We Are Not Supposed To. We ARE Special and the ordinary ones around us can see that special-ness and they either use us or attack us because they feel threatened by us. It has only taken me close to 40 years to finally really begin to see the truth behind so much of the pain I have taken as my own. The truth is, so often those painful circumstances really never were of my own making and what I have to do is to concentrate my focus on how best I can grow the skills needed to help others with our gifted-ness to realize their own special-ness so they can join the Uniqueness of Every One of Our Kind of New Day, that the rest of the world will never understand.

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