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6 Things I Wish People Knew About My ADHD

Updated: Jan 14, 2019

1. I’m chronically late, but I don’t mean to be rude. I just have a poor concept of time—judging how long it takes to do things. Also add in distraction and forgetfulness…and getting young kids ready with their unpredictable tantrums. Also, people with ADHD usually deal with insomnia. I often have a difficult time falling asleep because my mind is racing a mile a minute and won’t shut down. It’s at night that I will have my most creative ideas (when the kids are asleep, the house is quiet, and I can get into that “hyper-focus”)…but it’s also when I have some of my most anxious and depressing thoughts.

People with ADHD can also go on             tangents, like I just kind of did….and people who think linearly and logically like my husband, can get lost with my thinking patterns--but it all connects, I promise! So….because it takes a long time to fall asleep (and because of my restless leg syndrome, which many people with ADHD have as well), I don’t always get the best night’s sleep; therefore, waking up in the morning is hard. People with ADHD are often the most productive in the afternoon and evening, because it can take them a few hours to fully wake up and get going. So all of that to tell you that not being a morning person adds to the difficulty of being on time for events in the mornings.

2. I'm a little disorganized with some things, but I'm doing my best. I will accumulate piles of papers (mostly mail) that I don’t know what to do with. It's difficult to sort and file everything--and just in general, to determine what to keep and not keep (and being sentimental, it's hard to get rid of things at times). I also have never-ending piles of laundry; clothes that I put off folding and a huge "sock box" (but hey, apparently you can buy mis-matched socks it's a yea, I'm just keeping up with the trend). And naturally, I have a "junk drawer."And clutter. Lots of clutter. Inside my house and inside my mind. And when you have little kids like I do, trying to maintain a tidy home is nearly impossible!

For people with ADHD, it is especially hard to find the motivation to get going on the things you have to do, such as chores. And the messier it is, the more overwhelmed you feel--resulting in doing nothing about it, because it's paralyzing and you don't know where to begin. Starting things I don't enjoy and stopping the things I'm consumed with, is a daily struggle. I have found, however, that watching a TV show or listening to an audiobook or podcast while doing dishes or laundry, makes it more bearable. 

3. I get distracted easily, but please don't be offended. When I'm engaged in a conversation with someone, my mind may wander at times. I may be distracted by external stimuli, or more frequently, be thinking about something else. If I'm listening to someone talk for a long time on a particular topic (especially one I don’t have much knowledge about or interest in) my mind will wander and I will lose chunks of information and/or I will become bored or impatient. Please don't take offense to this. I promise I'm trying to listen and understand. In school, I often felt nervous--hoping the teacher wouldn’t call on me, since I might be thinking of something else and not catch all of the lesson, and therefore not know the answer to a question. I feel bad, but sometimes I shut down when studying the Bible or other doctrine in Sunday School at church--and so I end up not getting much out of the class. And sometimes it's difficult for me to sit completely still and listen (I can stay in my seat, but I will often shake my leg or foot repeatedly). I need complete quiet to be able to comprehend what I read. (which is still difficult for me even when it’s quiet), and my mind often wanders when reading as well, or I just can’t focus as far as processing the words, and so I may be stuck on a sentence or paragraph and will have to reread it. I have trouble retaining and relaying information I have learned. I will forget all the details and have trouble putting it in my own words. And when I speak, I sometimes lose my train of thought or have a moment of "brain fog." 

When I'm watching a movie with my husband, I often ask him to explain what's going on and how things connect (usually it's the fast-paced action films with the complex subplots). I'm also not a very good test-taker and I am indecisive with multiple choices. I am also slow-processing and impatient when it comes to learning something new, or while listening or reading instructions to make or assemble something. I get frustrated easily. It’s difficult for me to process instructions to play a new board game, and sometimes I will just shut down if it seems too complicated. I can also be spacey and have had some pretty major "blonde moments"--such as trying to make a deposit at a post office (yup, true story). I hurriedly had to run to both the bank and post office and just wasn’t thinking. Embarrassing, yes--but it also makes me laugh. Another thing...when cleaning the house, sometimes I can’t focus on one area. I will be all over the place because I get distracted by something else that needs to be done. Sound familiar? Next thing you know, there's a smell of mildew. I have said "shoot, I forgot to transfer the laundry" many times. And when I get on the internet on my computer, I often have several tabs open and a few applications as well, and will work on things simultaneously. 

4. I can be forgetful, but I'm not stupid. I frequently misplace my keys, as well as my wedding ring (which is a little loose on me, and I often take it off when I'm doing dishes or taking out the trash). And of course, I often ask "can you call my phone?" I'm not the best at remembering names, and thank goodness for auto-pay when it comes to paying bills! When traveling long distances and staying at a relative’s home, I always seem to forget something after I have packed up and traveled home (so the person has to mail it to me). I always forget to charge my phone, camera, lap top, etc. (and the storage is always full on them, because I forget to transfer pictures to my computer and clear the memory card). I know all of this can be frustrating to my family and friends, and so then I get upset with myself for it.

And despite my struggle with processing and comprehending information at times (which can make it seem like I'm not smart)--I still did very well in school. This is partly why I wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until I was an adult. I had a 4.0 for most of high school and graduated with a Bachelor's degree--which is a very meaningful accomplishment for me. It is true, however, that many people with ADHD also have a more specific learning disability. For me, basically my mind just had to work a little harder, and doing my homework would take me a little longer than most of my peers. In school I was a bit of a perfectionist and an over-achiever. Now I know that it was probably because I was over-compensating as a coping mechanism. My parents’ have told me that I stressed very easily even as a little girl (such as crying over homework assignments because I was so detailed and wanted to do well; and stressing because of procrastination).

5. I procrastinate and have trouble completing tasks sometimes, but I'm not lazy. Because of poor time management skills and a difficult time prioritizing--I get overwhelmed easily. I will often make to-do lists, which usually become lengthy, and I will be hard on myself when I do not accomplish everything on my list. This is a daily struggle, just trying to get through the day—to do simple day-to-day tasks. I feel like I am almost constantly stressed or anxious.

People with ADHD often have a lot of unfinished projects. I have so many interests and will get excited and obsessed about one, and then get bored or distracted by another project (I changed my major 3 times in college; I basically had a different major each year--and I have also held a variety of jobs). And I'll be like, I want to start a photography business....and then ooh, I want to write and illustrate a children's book now....okay, I'm going to record a demo CD.....and do this, and this, and that...Then I end up with several projects that I have started--and usually finish eventually, after bouncing back and forth among them all. And I'm quick to get discouraged if I'm not successful or good at something right away. I also tend to procrastinate. When I feel the pressure of a deadline, I am more motivated and can focus; however, I am usually pretty stressed. But I still get things done.

6. I am very sensitive emotionally--but please be understanding. I am sweet and loving by nature, yet I can get defensive and “snappy." I am very impatient. I get frustrated and annoyed easily. I am often irritable. Small matters can bug me, I get offended easily, and sometimes I can blow things out of proportion. I do not handle criticism, rejection, or teasing very well. I'm a pretty pessimistic person and have trouble with negative thinking patterns. I also like having a sense of control. All of this correlates with having depression and anxiety as well.

But because I am a sensitive person, I am also very empathetic and kind. I feel everything deeply. Loving someone with ADHD can be difficult at times, but please be patient. So many people have "invisible" illnesses or disorders. And everyone has their own struggles in general. We just have to believe that for the most part, everyone is just doing the best they can and in the way they know how. God made us all different, and that's what makes life more beautiful. 

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1 Comment

Unknown member
Jan 07, 2023

Clarissa, I found this post so very enlightening. Not just in understanding (and feeling ) you, but also how many ways we are similar. You are a wonderful blessing to our family and thank you for sharing these insights. Keep your smile on, you deserve it.:) love

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