back to top

23 Phrases That Are Incredibly Frustrating For Someone With ADHD

No, you can't have any of our meds...

Posted on

Being there for someone with ADD/ADHD can be tricky, and sometimes you might say the wrong thing.

It happens, but it's helpful to keep in mind that some questions or phrases (even well-meaning ones) might have a completely different meaning to someone living with ADHD.

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community living with ADHD to tell us what they wish other people understood about the disorder; and it reminded us just how many myths and misconceptions are still out there.

To better understand the disorder, we'd suggest reading up on it. And in the meantime, please don't say any of these things to someone with ADHD...

1. "ADHD isn't a real disorder."

NBC / Via

"Every time I mention my ADD, someone says something about it not being real, everyone struggling with things, or it not being a big deal. If someone opens up to you about themselves, you have no right to tell them that they are wrong."


2. "Everyone gets distracted sometimes."

NBC / Via

"ADHD is so much more than just 'getting distracted sometimes' and it’s frustrating when people assume that. Only we truly understand what it’s like to live with ADHD."



6. "You just need to be a better listener."

HBO / Via

"I'm so tired of always hearing 'you should listen better... if you were listening you would know... you obviously don't care or you would have listened.' I'm aware, but the constant reminders are like being slapped over and over again."

—Abraham Knoff, Facebook

7. "People with ADHD have an unfair advantage."

Comedy Central / Via

"People act like it’s some sort of advantage I have over them. What I want people to know is that medication allows me to function like them. I don’t have any advantage. And even with medicine, I still have to use my own self control. It’s very easy for me to focus on the wrong thing. I could have a pile of homework, and end up cleaning my entire room instead."



8. "Well, I would do better in school if I took ADHD medication, too."

ABC / Via giphy

"My medication doesn’t make me smart. I am the one that is smart. My medication helps me perform up to my potential and creates an even playing field. You taking ADHD medication is unfair, and quite frankly disrespectful. It doesn’t exist to give you an extra advantage, it exists to treat the people who need it to function normally."


9. "People with ADHD are just less intelligent or lazy."

Twitter: @John_V_Collins

"ADHD has had a significant impact on my life. I was not lazy, I was not stupid, I was not reckless, or immature. I needed help. And I wish people would try to understand that."


10. "Well, if you really cared, you would've heard what I said the first time."

Walt Disney Pictures / Via

"I often have to ask for clarification on things to make sure that I heard it correctly and remember. It doesn’t mean I wasn’t listening or don’t care about what you’re saying."


11. "You don't need extra time, you just need to work faster."

NBC / Via

"ADHD can be extremely overwhelming. It takes forever to get just one thing done and you constantly feel like there isn’t enough time in the day. But no one understands this and they wonder why you’re so slow at everything or how they finished ages ago and you’re only halfway through. Obviously if I could work faster I would. I never asked to be this way!"



12. "ADHD is just an excuse for not doing well in school."

TVLand / Via

"It’s also not something that just affects school, it’s something that affects your entire life in making decisions, completing tasks, and simple every day things."


13. "Stop overreacting."

LOGO / Via

"I wish people understood my overreactions. Having a breakdown because my room is a mess is something I can’t help. I understand that I overreact but it feels very real and rational to me."


14. "How could you forget about something so important?"

Netflix / Via

"I wish that people understood how much it hurts receiving judgement from others when I am forgetful. I really am trying my best to remember, there are just times that I physically can’t."


15. "Did you forget to take your meds today?"

ABC / Via

"Asking someone with ADHD if they 'forgot to take their meds' just because they are excited or energized is a total invasion of privacy and actually extremely degrading. Like I can’t be excited without you assuming it’s just my disorder?"



16. "I honestly like you better when you're off (or on) your meds." / Via

"Nothing hurts me more then people telling me they like me better on or off my medication. There’s medicated me and non-medicated me. I love myself but I respect medicated me because that’s the version of me who focuses on my future and my grades. Don’t tell me you don’t like me on my medication. It’s like telling me you don’t like the version on me striving for success."


17. "Remember that last project you started and never finished?"

TBS / Via

"When I get an idea or want to try something new and creative, I'm faced with an eye roll and 'remember the last thing you tried' speech. There's no understanding that being creative is like therapy for me. It's a way to channel my frustration and excessive thoughts into something useful or positive."

—Lindsay Dufour, Faceboook

18. "Omg it's like you have no filter."

CTV / Via

"My ADHD makes it so a lot of the time I really don’t have the ability to filter my thoughts before they come out of my mouth. I’ve hurt the feelings of a lot of people I love because of my inability to control the impulse to speak. I hate it."

Blake Chernin

19. "Wow, someone's spacey."

Magellan Pictures / Via

"It can be a struggle just to pay attention during a conversation or stop myself from interrupting because I just remembered something from a topic we stopped talking about five minutes ago. But when I can't stop myself from interrupting or letting my mind wander mid-conversation, I just come off as rude which is so frustrating. Even when I try, sometimes I can't help it."

--Mich Elle, via gmail


20. "Can I have some of your pills for my exam?"

"I wish people wouldn’t ask me for some of my medication around finals and midterms. They always say 'I have trouble focusing on studying' to which I respond, 'I'm having trouble focusing on this conversation.'"


21. "You know, you probably don't even need medication. Have you tried [insert non-medical opinion here]?"

Disney / Via

"People also think that they can tell me whether or not I should medicate. I hate it when people suggest a solution when it’s none of their business."


ADD/ADHD is a neurological disorder characterized by difficulty sustaining attention, by lack of self-control, and by impaired working memory. It’s now more often classified in medical literature as attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but lots of people (including some doctors) still refer to it as ADD.

Nearly 8 million adults in the U.S. suffer from ADHD. To learn more about the disorder and how to find support groups, check out the resources here at the National Resource Center for ADHD.