31 Things People With ADHD Want Everyone That Doesn't Have ADHD To Understand About Them
🎶These meds are small I know, but they're not yours, they are my own 🎶
When people hear "ADHD" the first thing that usually comes to mind is hyperactivity and getting easily distracted. It makes sense because that's basically what the disorder is called, but...THAT'S JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG, FOLKS!!
In reality, ADHD is soooooooo much more than someone just not being able to focus on things. So I asked the BuzzFeed community to tell me what they'd want the world to know about what it's like to have ADHD.
Here's what they said:
1. "If you’re working with someone with ADHD it helps to know that we generally do better with clear written instructions rather than talking at us with orders. And don’t be vague; it’s hard for someone whose mind has a dozen thoughts at once to try and interpret what you actually mean."
2. "Executive dysfunction is real. I don’t care how many reminders I set or how badly I want to do the thing, my brain becomes kind of paralyzed — and I physically cannot force myself to do the thing. People think I’m lazy, but it’s really just my brain short-circuiting."
3. "When I'm lying on the couch doing nothing, don't get mad; I'm in ADHD paralysis. I want to move, but I can't. There are things I wish I could do, but I simply can't, and getting angry at me/trying to tell me that I can if I 'put my mind to it' is not helping anyone."
4. "Anything that’s out of sight is out of mind — people included, but it doesn’t mean I no longer care. I’m just already so overwhelmed by the things that ARE always brought into my realm of focus that it gets hard to keep track of the things that AREN’T constantly pushing for my attention!"
5. "People often think that someone with ADHD must always be late to everything. I’m the opposite though. I’m early to everything but not easily. Because I have no idea of time (how long things take, like getting dressed or eating), I’m usually an hour or two ahead of schedule. It’s majorly exhausting but hidden."
6. "Undiagnosed and untreated, it can look an awful lot like anxiety and/or depression. Smart people can develop a whole bunch of systems and coping techniques that make it look like everything’s OK, but actually just maintaining that veneer of functioning at a basic level takes a huge emotional and cognitive toll every. single. day."
7. "While men and boys tend to externalize their struggles with ADHD, women and girls tend to internalize it. We're less likely to display the kind of disruptiveness, hyperactivity, reckless behavior, and impulse control issues that are frequently associated with ADHD because they're so prevalent in boys, but we're a lot more likely to struggle with anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and body-focused repetitive behaviors in connection with our ADHD."
8. "I'm not always hyper and bouncing off the wall. I'm in my own head a lot of the time, while my husband has to constantly be busy. Not everyone is the same -_-, and yes it is real. Not an excuse for behavioral issues. I do struggle as a grown-ass adult to learn things — does not mean I'm stupid. Just takes me a little more time."
9. "It’s very badly named. It’s less a ‘deficiency’ of attention and more an inability to switch on and direct attention. It would be better named as ‘executive function disorder,’ since this is the area that helps you decide what you need to focus on, and control your behavior and attention to do so."
10. "ADHD makes it extremely difficult to know where to start on a large project, especially if you don't have a pretty solid concept of what the end result is supposed to be. A lot of times, we're not procrastinating; we just literally cannot figure out where to begin, and can't just get started until we figure out what the end result is supposed to be and break the process down into manageable steps. This happens a lot in multi-step or multi-part projects, like cleaning your house."
11. "I’ve been taking medication for about 15 years, and it has saved my life. I got through university and found a career. I would want to pass on that while medication isn’t for everyone, please don’t dismiss it. I tried three kinds before I found the one that worked for me."
12. "As someone who was diagnosed as an adult, I had no idea why I was doing the things I was for most of life. It's not only hard to begin tasks, but also to change direction or plans last minute. There is a constant, ever-growing list of tasks in my mind, and it's overwhelming to feel like you're falling behind, even if it's only against your own brain."
13. "There are so many things that come easy to other people — cleaning their homes, taking care of themselves, eating regularly, etc. — that just don’t come easy to people with ADHD. My brain is missing the 'on' button that motivates me to do things."
14. "Women with ADHD like myself are so misrepresented and internalize so much. We put on a mask, and society doesn't see what we go through; how much we struggle to start tasks, to stick with it, to participate in conversations, to remember to eat. We are working twice as hard to live life, but we get grouped into categories as lazy or dumb or airheads. We are usually the smartest in the room but need more time to process. Give us the benefit of the doubt, people. ADHD people rock. We are creative, funny, and lovable!"
15. "The best way I can describe it is that everything I need to do — everything I’ve ever needed to do, currently need to do, and might ever need to do — is swimming around in my head, and none of it can ever “stick.” I can see everything, and nothing sticks to my brain so that I can actually do it. Until I take my meds. I would literally lose my job without my meds."
16. "We don’t mean to talk over you or ramble on and on. Our impulsivity makes us interrupt; we’re not trying to be rude or disrespectful. It’s the same thing with finishing your sentences or something — our brains just kinda jump ahead and fill in the blanks. With rambling, we tend to hyperfixate on things like a TV show or topic (superheroes, cats, etc.) and when we start talking about that subject, we get super excited and into it, so we just keep going."
17. "That it’s overwhelming, exhausting, and totally natural to me. As in, I often don’t realize my ADHD is interfering again. I was diagnosed as an adult, and the way my brain works without medication feels like 'normal,' but it’s not optimal for my adult life and leads to a lot of issues. ADHD’ers can’t just flip a switch and 'DO.' A lot of people procrastinate or struggle with motivation, but can still force themselves to do it. Whatever it is that makes that happen, I can’t do without medication or the jolt provided by that last-minute urgency."
18. "Stop asking us for our meds. They are our MEDICINE, which helps us to function like a 'normal' person. Would you ask a diabetic for their insulin? No. So stop asking us."
19. "I treat my ADHD with medication, and I’m surprised by how many people don’t realize that there are many different types of meds. Adderall and other stimulants give me immense negative side effects, and so I take two non-stimulant, long-acting meds (Guanfacine and Strattera) that work for me. If your primary care physician can’t help you find an effective medicine regimen, get a psychiatrist. They specialize in medication management and can open other avenues the PCP may not be aware of."
20. "I get so disheartened when I'm telling someone a story and they curtly tell me 'you've already told me that.' As a person with ADHD, it's very hard for us to keep up with who've we told what to and what stories we've even told. My boss has ADHD as well and constantly tells me repetitive stories, but because I know what it's like to be shut down mid-conversation, I always let him finish."
21. "ADHD is a debilitating disease, and it’s very serious, and shouldn’t be minimized by dumb 'Oh look, a squirrel! I’m so ADHD!' jokes. I’ve also met several people who are afraid to medicate their kids because they don’t want to 'change their personalities.' Please, get help and recognize ADHD for what it is!"
22. "My mind will go through a string of thoughts based on a prompt, like a song or a word that triggers a memory, but because it’s all happening in my head it sounds like I’m changing the subject when I say, 'Speaking of that topic, what about…(seemingly unrelated topic).' Or I get a craving for a certain food because someone reminded me of a dinner I had with a friend by mentioning something that reminded me of a conversation with the friend."
23. "If I'm madly fidgeting, stimming, changing seat position, or moving around while you talk to me, then I'm trying really hard to pay attention. If I'm sitting completely still with an occasional nod, you've lost me, and I'm gone chasing the 20 million thoughts constantly running through my head, and have no idea what's being said."
24. "Sometimes it makes sex difficult. I have a hard time focusing on my partner and not getting distracted sometimes. Sometimes, sex can feel like one of those impossible tasks. It’s important you and your partner communicate about all these things!"
25. "I would not trade my ADHD for anything; there are so many wonderful traits it produces. But, sweet Jesus, it’s so exhausting. If I’m conscious, my brain is running. I also have delayed sleep phase issues because of my ADHD that makes doing anything in the morning difficult. My body always feels like it’s about three hours behind where the clock says it should be."
26. "It’s the dopamine deficiency and emotional regulation struggles for me. I do love my neurodivergent brain, though, because it helps me think outside the box and creatively problem-solve. I’m very thankful for my therapist, who has helped me over the years. I’ll never 'cure' my ADHD, but I have learned how to troubleshoot a lot of it. 😋"
27. "The issues with auditory processing, the inability to function in shades of gray (it's all black and white — either you’re all in, or you don’t do it at all; there's no middle ground), and the fact that laziness and procrastination are words that have been used to describe and demoralize us for years even though executive functioning issues is one of the most common attributes of ADHD."
28. "ADHD is not a lack of focus. I focus on too many things, and that's what's hard about focusing for me. It's like having someone play five different songs at once and telling you to write the lyrics for one song. And while you are doing this, everyone around you is listening to one song and critiquing you about not getting done fast enough, or that it's not that hard, or you're lazy and don't care because you are struggling with the lyrics. It's incredibly frustrating to be told to 'just focus.'"
29. "There are so many things that I want to tell people or do for people throughout the day, while trying to maintain my 'routine.' Then, I’m accused of being forgetful or not caring. People with ADHD are trying sooo much harder than you know to stay on task. We did not forget about you; we just remembered a few other things along the way, as well."
30. "You can have ADHD and still be a very smart, functioning member of society. I was diagnosed with ADHD about 18 years ago (right before 5th grade) and when I'd tell people I'd have ADHD, they'd be shocked. I was a top student and never hyper or traditionally ADHD. I could hyperfocus and be a good student but was lousy with social cues."
31. "I am not broken; I don't need to be fixed. I just need the right tools and the right environment in order to succeed."