8 Reasons Why Adults with ADHD Feel Stupid

Credit Freepik: "designed by http://Freepik.com"I hate the word ‘stupid’ but I put it in the title because that is how many people with ADHD describe themselves. The ADHDers I have met (which are a LOT at this point), are bright, intelligent, sharp, smart, wise, good company and wickedly funny.

Clearly there is a big discrepancy between self-description and fact. But why do people with ADHD feel stupid?

1) Academic success.
ADHD isn’t a learning disability but it is one of those conditions that make learning difficult. Struggling to pay attention in class, with memory, organizing skills, problems, etc. mean getting good grades is hard. Society places a huge emphasis on academic success as a way to gauge intelligence.

2) Learning Disabilities
About 40 percent of people with ADHD have a learning disability in addition to their ADHD. Approximately 20 percent have Dyslexia and some ADHD adults have more than one learning disability. Learning disabilities can cause difficulties when reading, writing, performing calculations, as well as, visual or auditory perception difficulties.

3) Behavior at school
If you were a high-energy student unable to sit still or stop talking, you were properly getting into trouble with your teachers. While this doesn’t mean you are ‘stupid’, it can make you feel that you are.

4) Simple Tasks
ADHDers struggle with things that other people find easy; such as showing up on time, planning a meal, remembering to take out the recycling on the right day.

The thought pattern seems to be: if I can’t do ‘simple’ things like this, then I must be ‘stupid’. But this isn’t true; just think of the professors who have many letters after their name, but still struggle to make a piece of toast? No one thinks they are stupid!

5) Information Retrieval
ADHDers can struggle to find the words to express themselves. It could be at a party or in a meeting at work. This doesn’t have anything to do with smarts or knowledge; it’s an information retrieval problem. The good news is, this can be improved quite easily.

6) Topics of Interest
ADHDers don’t lack knowledge; they are life-time learners. However, they only remember things that interest them. If you are at a party and people at discussing a certain general topic that is boring to you, you might not be able to contribute.

7) General Knowledge
If you have a learning disability, you can spend a lot of time and energy on learning things for school and no brain space left for general knowledge. This happened to me; I spent so much time on reading and spelling, that my general knowledge was immensely lowered. Usually, it improves when you are out of the academic environment.

8) Who You Spend Time With
Have you noticed how when you spend time with certain people, you feel smart, sharp and funny? Then with other people (perhaps those who you feel are critical or judgemental of you), you feel ‘stupid’? It’s not your imagination. Researchers found that the people you spend time with do affect your conversation. Pick your friends and romantic partners carefully. You want to spend time with people who naturally bring out your best.

What can you do to stop feeling stupid and start feeling smart?

1) Stop calling yourself stupid, either out loud or quietly to yourself.

2) Intelligence is so much more diverse than what appears on an IQ test. If you feel ‘stupid’ because you didn’t do well at school or for any other reason, check out Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory on Multiple Intelligence. He found there are 8 types of intelligence. It may be very validating to you.

3) Focus on what you are good at! Because ADHDers often struggle with the basics, they develop a struggle mindset. This means you don’t value what comes easily to you. However, this is where your strengths and gifts lie. Spend as much time as possible doing these things!

4) Often, feeling ‘stupid’ is connected to low self-esteem. Check out this book, ‘Self-Esteem’ by Patrick Fanning and Matthew McKay.

 

Do you ever feel ‘stupid’? Leave a note for me in the comments section below.

Comments

  1. Ramya says:

    Thanks, for ur assurance. I was feeling bad just now, that I am not able to complete my works in time. in fact I have a submission tomorrow instead, I am searching why I feel stupid and cant work for long and be normal like other peers of my age. I want to be normal, I hate to be an ADHDer. I hate it. I hope I will find out soon enough how to be normal, thanks for ur post anyway. very hopeful

  2. Lori says:

    Thank you for the article. I am a 58 year old with a Master’s Degree with mostly honors. I struggled all throughout school and not sure how I did so well. I remember reading a passage over and over and just not comprehending it. Now, I want to get a certification in a specialty field. I read and read the book and I just can’t retain anything. I feel stupid. It also gives me anxiety. At work in meetings, ideas are flung out so quickly and I just shake my head as if I got it. Then, I have to do research to make sure I don’t mess up. I just wish I could tell someone, “Hey, I have ADD”. I read a lot. But, it is totally different to read an easy pleasure novel than to read scientific journal. Ugh. I took Adderall for a while, but, always got rebound fatigue. I just deal with it now and wait for retirement…

    • Hi Lori
      Great job getting your Master’s degree. You are right, reading for pleasure is much different to scientific journals. When you are reading them, become an active reader. Before you start the article, write down a few questions such as what you want to learn, or things you are curious about. Then as you are reading you will be reading trying to find the answers to your questions. This makes reading more interesting, plus you are more likely to retain information because you are reading with purpose.

    • Rebecca says:

      Wow it’s great to hear from people with ADHD who achieved a Master’s degree. I am currently working towards that. I’m in my undergrad now and I’m in my last year. Like you, I also do well and get top marks, but it is getting assignments in on time that I struggle with and it has been extremely difficult. I would not have made it through if my professors did not give me extremely generous extensions. I’m also late to class all the time because I can’t judge time properly no matter how hard I try. Sometimes I well set my alarm hours in advance and I still manage to be late. My mind just totally wanders off.

      I feel like my professors must think I’m a total weirdo and they probably wonder if I am taking advantage of them by asking for so many extensions. I’m too embarrassed to tell them I have ADHD. In order to get extensions I have to tell them about my physical health problems instead and those are not nearly as bad as dealing with ADHD. I feel like a stupid child sometimes and like everyone probably thinks I’m pathetic despite the fact that I’m trying my hardest.

  3. Neila says:

    Glad to know I am not the only one who struggle in life. People around me just don’t understand. It is hard to be open and think someone can judge me. I just feel bad, I believe not even a psychiatrist can’t help me. I just got fight alone. ….I wish I could find someone who could understand me. I believe should be someone who went through all this once in life.

    • Hi Neila…why don’t you check out a ADHD support group in your area? That will be full of people who have had similar experiences. Some ADHDErs say the place they feel most at home is at their support group meeting.

      • Kenny woodruff says:

        I’m 52!have struggled with ADHD all my life have served in the milatary some school but have a very hard time at my bed job due to test cannot get my last raise have to take days off work to test for work crazy when the towers got hit my world changed I lost my two favorite jobs I was really good at but factory life has. Died oh well anybody who helps with ADHD is a blessing but unless u deal with it everyday no one can know what is like. 34 years of marriage and I reunited it now divorced I realize now it was me not so much her but I . I love life but sometimes it’s like living in hell unless I’m left alone at s place I can work without stress r being judged I do better at home a lot better

    • Trapped says:

      I struggled my whole life. I have always know I had it, but I didn’t know how bad and how much it effected my day to day.
      Sometimes having ADHD is so painful it dibelitates me. I work hard at everything I do and I try but somedays I find myself just so broken and tired and down. The struggle of ADHD is so real and I agree I feel alone. I have lots of friends but they don’t know what it’s like. I been alone for 31 years trapped in my head. It’s isolating and I do social things to escape the isolation and trap that I am in.

  4. I’m glad people like you are out trying to help. We deserve a better quality of life. Article 100% accurate.

  5. Stephanie Singerhouse says:

    Wow. It is all really starting to make sense to me know. All of those reasons hit the spot exactly and even reading through all these comments its really nice to know that there are many others with the same thoughts and feelings…now i am 28 and after so many years of struggling with this where do i begin. I want to get help and advice.

  6. Jenn Rausch says:

    Wow, this article really hit on the nose. I am 42 years old and was diagnosed a 34. All of these points ring true for me. I’ve always struggled with comprehension. In school, I could never read the text books, I had to be in class and listen. If I didn’t, I didn’t know what was going since I struggled comprehending. I am now a teacher, I was successful teaching the younger children, however, I was thrown into upper elementary without any consideration. I struggle daily and feel stupid next to 5th graders who understand and comprehend better than me. I struggle teaching the reading curriculum too.

    I also struggle with time management, especially when planning lessons and trying to get somewhere on time. I actually struggle with all the points mentioned. I would love to know how I can help with Information retrieval.

    • Hi, Im Dustin Hughes. Pretty much everything you described about ADHD fits me. I was diagnosed with it at 6 and was put on Ritalin. I did well in school when I was younger even without taking it but when I took it I ended up making ab honor roll. When I hit middle school I started not to care anymore about school, except for the subjects I was interested in which I made good grades in. I couldn’t sit still, couldn’t keep focused long enough to do my work, started doing drugs, started hanging around the wrong people, started getting in trouble. High school was worse I started skipping, had trouble controlling my anger, got into fights, kept doing drugs to escape what I was going through. Got expelled, went to a school for delinquents then dropped out because there was really no way I could focus on my work around those crazy kids. Here I am now, 24 years old and ever since I dropped out of school. I’ve been working landscaping and construction jobs just drifting around with no purpose, getting high. I have anxiety, ocd and bi polar on top of ADHD. It’s still hard for me to concentrate that’s why I can’t keep a job for long. I want to get my g.e.d but there’s no possible way for me to get it at home here in Florida, online g.e.d is illegitimate. My anxiety is so bad to the point I can’t even leave my house without getting high, lost my job because of it. I’m not trying to throw my long sad story out there because a lot of my problems have come from making stupid choices, but what I’m saying is. I realize my problems stem from unresolved ADHD. Anyone know the best natural thing that helps with ADHD? I’m anti pharmasuitical so any feedback would be nice. Thank you.

  7. Stephanie says:

    I am at a stage in my life where my learning difficulties are making me feel useless and stupid. I have been diagnosed as having dyslexia and discalcula and I also have auditory processing issues. I have been with my husband for 26 years and feel our relationship isn’t the same because of me and my disability. I can’t seem to enjoy any of my jobs because I hate trying to learn new things. I hate doing paperwork and I feel I’m starting to get anxious about doing my tax books. I have now taken on childminding as I have a 2 yr old and find it more convenient but am petrified about the paperwork. I lose every argument my husband and I have because I can’t remember what was said by whom and when. I’ve started leaving my keys in the ignition when I come home from being out and my husband notices. I never remember figures I’ve just looked at. I just can’t remember anything I’m asked about. Then when my husband try’s to help he gives me things to read and then gives some instructions for me to follow but I then feel I’m lazy because I never do this or never continue what might help me. I really am struggling to figure out how to fix me. As I do say I’m stupid, thick, lazy and I cry every time I think of myself because I feel useless. My finances are a mess also and I find myself not looking at my bank account hoping it will fix itself. Do you have any advice for me? I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD. My attention span is rediculously poor and always has been. ?

  8. Sahar says:

    My name is Sahar I’m 25 years old and Suffer from ADHD, as a child my parents didn’t really see a problem, and it was not till I was in my late teen when I was diagnosed.

    Im a mother now and Having ADHD negatively impacts parenting for me for the following reasons:

    I don’t know how to manage my time

    I Make sure I cook and feed him and forget to feed myself

    Doctors appointments

    Procrastination for scheduling appointments

    When it comes to reacting in certain situations my Mind just jumps.

    I yell.. I cry, I hurt, and I see I’m not alone , this article is just inspiring.

    I feel stupid, incapable and unworthy at times. I forgot how old I was this year, my memory is really bad , I couldn’t tell you what I wore or even ate yesterday. My dad makes fun of me and just makes me feel more self conscience. My sister refers to me as a child with a child. I guess it’s true , I’m a child at heart that’s what I feel like most of the time, my sister has a child as well but I don’t see her behaving foolishly like I do , matter fact I don’t see any parents acting the way I do . My hyper mannerisms are uncontrollable , and come and go as they please.

    I often find myself lost , or just deep in thoughts ,I can have up to 10 thoughts in a matter of seconds, I can be having an important conversation and impulsively react to a plane flying by and just loose complete focus. I remember playing basketball in middle school and during one of our away games the court was outside , anyways long story short I was distracted by a bird and just put everything else on pause for a few seconds. Also sometimes when I drive I hate to admit it but I get into a deep stare like a day dream.

    Any advice helps..

  9. MM says:

    Hello All:
    My name is MM and I am 56. I have struggled with Anxiety my entire life. Growing up in a family of 8 girls and one boy my parents hardly had time to breathe, let alone concentrate on one child at a time. I believe that I have struggled w/ ADD my entire elementary school age years and into high school. I remember having so much difficulty during those years. I could not understand why everyone else in the class was “getting it” and I was so far behind. I remember “feeling dumb..”
    Now, into Adulthood, (I have never been tested for ADD) but I have been able to pull off a successful career (How…I really don’t know)…Still, I feel dumb. I remain anxious, have many a sleepless night due to the “running thoughts.”I suffer from OCD and Anxiety. I wish I could “bring myself down…”

  10. Aishwarya says:

    Hi, I am 24. I am not sure if I have ADHD , but sometimes I feel anxious and can’t react well in time. I feel I am dumb , can’t perform math calculations which involves more number of digits .I am late always and can’t stick to a thing. I get very anxious when I hv to do something . I don’t know if I have a problem or am I over thinking it . Only thing I know is I really don’t feel good about myself at all.

  11. kris says:

    Im back in school after years away from it. I was just taking a test tonight and felt so dumb and though I had studied I got very anxious and fearful as if the world would crash down on me. I have hated feeling less than normal all my life. It is VERY hard to deal with ADD all day , every day for years -Im 44. I wish that there was some easy way to get better and erase the negative tapes we have all played in our minds. A smokescreen over my intelligence has not been good for dating or jobs. I am reading everyone’s post intently and have to say YOU DO UNDERSTAND.. IT has been such a BATTLE!

  12. Hi, I have not been diagnosed with adhd but do experience similar issues mentioned on this site. For instance trying to remember words and names of things and people in everyday conversation ALL THE TIME is extremely frustrating. I also find difficulty in problem solving, as if a wall comes down in front of your brain and refuses to let anything past. I’ve tried taking deep breaths and writing down the problem but nothing seems to work for me.

    Also like others I also have suffered from anxiety from the age of about 17 to my mid thirties. I struggled with agoraphobia and other psychological disorders with debilitating tendencies, sometimes literally not stepping past my front letter box. It’s like going into a shell of self worthlessness. I have overcome this now and have travelled to 22 countries in the last 7 years and my other issues have all but gone.

    Life can be cruel and I think it’s a pity that one seems to be only defined by their so called ‘intelligence’, social standing and academic achievements, when there is so much more that makes up a person.

    I know for a fact that everyone who has posted here has something they are good at. They may not be the best but there is ALWAYS going to be someone better. There is a lot of pressure on us poor old humans to out do each other and it’s true we tend to look up to those with ‘superior intelligence’ they often become leaders and just like us, have an important role to play in society.
    I’ll bet also that people like us often ‘think outside the box’ a bit more than your average smart person, because we think differently and can approach things from a different angle.

    I work in retail, I don’t have certificates or wonderful grades and I do feel down about myself from time to time but I’m me and don’t want to be anyone else.

    By the way NOBODY on this site sounded dumb to me!

  13. Jeremy says:

    Wow…great article. I am 42 years old and have always struggled with learning new things, retaining new things, remembering important things, not being aware of important things…pretty much just not good at “things.” I was recently diagnosed with ADHD and am on Adderall. I find that it’s helping and my wife of 20 years seems to feel that I am more present than I had been in the past. My lack of focus and seemingly non-caring of my environment nearly ruined my marriage.

    I am an in IT sales, selling IT services to large enterprise clients. Basically I work with high level executives, like a CEO or CIO, or VP of IT and help analyze where they need help. I then match that need with our services. My problem is that I typically can’t focus enough to really grasp what they need. Furthermore, it seems as though I have learned the “bare minimum” of technology throughout my career, so I am not a really strong technology consultant, which you need to be to maintain success. I excel in building relationships with customers because I am likable, but when the rubber hits the road; when action items need to be acted upon, I tend to come up short.

    The strange thing about ADHD to me, is that one can go about their everyday life feeling fairly normal. I always knew I was distracted or wasn’t catching things in every meeting I attended or classes in high school, but the concern was always fleeting, short lived. I finally started recording all of my meetings so I could go back in order to recap, playing the same moments over and over again until I would understand a specific point. This coupled with the fact that my wife would continually tell me that she told me something and it would sound so foreign to me, I thought she might be going crazy herself, finally made me look a bit deeper at myself.

    Shortly after these realizations I started seeing a therapist. At the time I was failing miserably at a job and could see the handwriting on the wall. Luckily, I had a recruiter trying to get me into another IT services company, but I knew I had to make a change or this job would end up like the last (and frankly the one before that). At first my therapist thought I had a strange gift, compartmentalizing to the point where anything negative would be placed in a part of my brain where it could reside without me dealing with it. Over time we came to the realization that no, I was not compartmentalizing anything, I simply didn’t deal with things, or specific thoughts because they came into my brain and back out again. Like a hummingbird to a feeder, some stays were longer than others, but it always left.

    I struggled with the following:
    -Keeping on task
    -Not finishing anything completely
    -Avoiding everything (because I never knew enough about them)
    -Aversion to learning new things
    -Negative about anything I didn’t already know
    -Not listening or retaining anything
    -Confidence as I felt “stupid” or “not worthy”
    -Multitasking
    -Being really good at any one particular thing (jack of all trades, master of none).
    -Rationalizing other’s feelings
    -Remembering important things
    And much, much more…

    After some testing it was confirmed. ADHD, or as my Psychologist said, “a pretty major case” of ADHD. I started Adderall shortly thereafter and while I don’t feel the night and day differences that some claim to experience, I have noticed some differences. I seem to be able to focus now when I put my mind to it. My wife calls it “hyper-focus” and this has helped. On the flip side, I feel tremendous guilt as I can now see the damage I have caused my family and of course friends and past employers. I was never truly listening and never really fixing any problems. Building and working on a budget for instance was impossible for me, causing our finances to crumble and remain that way. I have made six figures since 2008, but we have always lived paycheck to paycheck as I was literally afraid to sit down in front of an excel sheet and work out a budget.

    With therapy and medication, I have been on a better path for the last couple of months. I feel more comfortable with work, though I still have some of the same challenges. Putting myself in my wife’s shoes (figuratively, not literally) is becoming easier. I use an iPad Pro now to keep a living To-Do-List, which helps to keep me on track. Out of high school I had joined the military as I certainly couldn’t focus on college. I now have enough confidence to pursue my education and have started classes, so far so good.

    We are what we think we are. I’m not stupid, I’m awareness challenged 😉

  14. Hi AJ
    There is a great book called ‘Mindset’. I think you should read is ASAP! The author talks about a fixed mindset and growth mindset. Your teacher had a fixed mindset. I am glad you don’t think you are stupid, and THRILLED you feel smug about how far you have come! YAY! Thanks for sharing with us. We want to see your graduation day photo! will you come back and post it when you graduate?

  15. AJ says:

    The week of my high school graduation a teacher in my school told me to enjoy my graduation as it would be the last one I would be a participant in. Nice, right?

    I was diagnosed with ADD and learning differences when I was 9. The report stated I was of at least average intelligence and should be able to succeed academically with the proper support and tools. My dad kept that information to himself and told me and my teachers I was of average and I should be able to succeed if I tried harder.

    After the death of my parents, 7 months apart when I was 28 I was at a loss. My father employed me and paid my rent. I bounced from crap job to crap job. I felt stupid. But this was not a new feeling. It affected everything I did and every relationship I had. I didn’t know what to do with myself. One day going through my dads papers I found the original testing. I was/am furious. I felt and still feel like my father robbed me of my academic, professional and social potential and my ability for form meaningful relationships by fostering a dependence on him.

    At 30 I had my self retested with basically the same results. I took out loans and went to college anyway. And yes, I got a degree in 4 years. And yes, I struggled, but I did it. I still felt stupid.

    I came upon this article while doing research for a paper I am doing that has nothing to to with ADD. I was actually looking for a song lyric. At the tender young age of 50 I decided I needed a Masters degree. I am 3 semesters in. I get A’s and B’s. And I still feel stupid.

    I am doing everything I am supposed to be doing. I am in therapy, I take ADD meds. My professors know whats up. They don’t think I am stupid. Maybe on graduation day when I am hooded I won’t feel stupid. Maybe it will take a Phd. to get me there. Who knows?

    But I will end with this. Some days I do feel smart. Some days I am almost smug about how far I have come (first time I ever admitted that out loud). I am a former high school drop out in a Masters program at a good university.

    As for the teacher who told me to enjoy my graduation, well she went on to law school and its now a judge. I googled her. She went to a tier 4 law school that is not even ranked in the top 160 schools and she is a family court judge. Seems like mediocrity suits her 🙂

  16. Jennifer Medlyn says:

    Hello there, I am 28 years old and I’m currently a college drop out. I was attending a community college for Nursing and when I got to the entrance exam and BAM!!! Stoped. The tea was hard and I took it twice and didn’t pass. The test is called the Tease Test entrance exam. Recently I was thinking about going for cosmetology because I’m really good at doing hair and I enjoy learning new things pertaining to it. I feel really bad about my unfortunate inability to maintain studious life. My memory is poor, my consinteraction is poor and something doesn’t intrest me you can forget it. I’m just in the slumbs about my future. However, I’ll take some of your advice and see how I do.

  17. H to the izzo says:

    I’m a grad student in a program for students who are interested in attending medical school, but don’t want to apply yet because their undergraduate grades suck. It’s only been 3 weeks of the program so far, and I already feel the dumbest of everyone. I’m living with 5 other people in my program, and I feel blessed to be with them, as they are all really intelligent witty people.

    I don’t pick up on a lot of their humor, which is annoying because I’ll get their jokes 5 minutes after the fact, lol. I also don’t contribute that much to group discussion when we study together: partly because I feel like I don’t know the answer, and partly because I’m scared I’ll say something stupid.

    Blah, gotta get back to studying.

  18. Frank Moccia says:

    Hi, I am 59 years old and just decided to get some help with adhd and depression after all these years. I have done some therapy and given up on it. I decided to start once again. I cannot take any adhd meds since I had a massive heart attack two years ago. I have always wanted to work on my math skills. I have always felt that I had the ability to do well in it but the fear that I had as a child still haunts me as an adult. The fear of failure. I love playing the guitar when I do play it. But of course I do not play well because of the troubles learning i’ve always had. The guitar makes me feel so happy ,calm like i’m in a good place even though like I mentioned I don’t play very good. I want so much to learn certain skills. But i have a hard time in believing in myself. But this is also in many aspects in my life. I want so much to sit down and do a math equation that I can figure out and I can finish. I want to be able to sit and actually say to someone I play the guitar and really be able to play it proficiently before I leave this earth. I love life so much but its still so difficult for me. I just to be able to say I am going to do whatever things in life that are humanly possible and accomplish it . Thanks so much!

  19. Zeke says:

    Hey amazing article but just wanted to point out a typo. I think the first paragraph you mean “met” where you put “meet”. Thanks!

  20. Susan says:

    Sifg… I am sitting in my car reading these and I started crying. Reading about Marissa who not only miss the doctor appointment but sat in the wrong parking lot. I miss my doctor’s appointment today because I lost a precious 20 minutes of time trying to get more things done in the morning I struggle so much with being on time. I know some of it is an OCD issue I saw it in my father and I have two sons on the autism spectrum with some OCD and cognitive issues so definitely got some genetic miswiring. I try to build myself up but when you have a bad day. I guess we could all agree to call them stupid days it’s very hard on one’s morale. I want to punish myself and hug myself at the same time I want to be stronger and better and more disciplined butt the constant pop ups in my life sing to make me walk in an irregular line instead of a straight line. Most difficult part for me is letting some things go. I knew after the doctors I had to pick up my mother and I wanted the house to look great butt there were dishes and messy windows and they were just cleaned but my guys are not always careful. Do you ever feel like you need a good slap and a hug at the same time? Lol

  21. Mike says:

    I’m seventeen and I apparently have ADHD, Dyslexia and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I feel stupid all the time. I also feel like I don’t have ADHD or Dyslexia. I feel like the doctors are wrong and I’m just an idiot or a fraud. I can’t focus on anything that the teachers want me too. I just sit there and daydream about a better life. I can’t commit to anything unless I like it, and my interest normally fades quickly. I’ve been able to read since I was four, so how could I have Dyslexia? My math is horrendous, I can barely do multiplication, and division is an absolute nightmare. However, I can tell you all about MBTI, the Enneagram and about being an INFP. But who cares about that stuff? People with ADHD or Dyslexia are smart, I’m not.

  22. marisa b says:

    I know im not stupid, but i feel stupid, i missed my dr appt for the second time, the first time i had the wrond date, today is my second appointment and right now im sitting inside my car outside the wrong clinic… i acually cried a little this time… that’s just one of many different insidents. i know ill be ok but sometimes i find it hard to believe..

  23. Molly says:

    I was diagnosed with ADD last year at the age of 42. I’ve always had to work awfully hard to remember things and it’s a problem that’s just getting worse with age. My short-term memory is horrible. I tried several medications but I’ve yet to find one that doesn’t put me in a stupor or send my heart rate soaring.
    I’m being promoted next week, which I should be celebrating. However, I’m going to have to learn so much new stuff that I’m feeling terribly worried and insecure about it all.
    I’m on my break right now and need to get back to work niw.
    Thanks for your article, listening and sharing.
    Good luck everyone.

  24. Ryan Kim says:

    I also have adhd, but I can tell you it isn’t something that has to be cured. I would just like to think that people with adhd don’t go well with the school system, authority, and closed environments. I mean I didn’the have good grades in highschool. But the first year of college I managed to get straight got As, forcing my self. I’m currently dropped out of college and is looking for something that I can passionately work on. Personally, people with adhd have absolutely no problem because when they find something that they are passionate about, they won’t let anything stop them.

  25. Robin Berry says:

    This helps me a lot I found I had ADD when I was 6 year old I am 37 and have adult add struggled through school yes I was In resource math reading and English I also clumsy that could be because I am 6ft I also went through a very bad divorce at 4 yrsold my mom helped me with my school while my father just basically didn’t want to be there for me or my sister he picked his wife over us back to school I was picked on called stupid I sometimes would look at thanking people I wish could be that person yes to this day I do feel judge do struggle some feel stupid I was told I would never make anything out of myself well I am a mother I own a ranch I own rental property I am married to a engineer he is a former student of Texas A&M UNIVERSITY everybody in my family went to A&M except me my father is a vet my sister is a marine biologist animals and family are my passion I raise cattle I raise golden doodles also help with rescues I hate feeling judge hate feeling stupid I hope my daughter never has to go through what I been through I also feel sometimes like my husband thanks I am stupid he does have hard time understanding me he doesn’t the add at all he also has problems to he is pack rat lol I am trying to get him read stuff on add he is hard headed I try hard no one is perfect

  26. Samantha Stafford says:

    Dear Jacqueline,
    Thank you so much for your amazing article! My name is Samantha Stafford I am a senior in high school, a performer and I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 5 years old. I have struggled all my life when it came to feeling smart well I always felt like I was smart but I feel like other people perceive me as “stupid” because I do learn differently sometimes, I have trouble with being on time sometimes but I love who I am and everyone else should love who they are! People with ADHD are super smart and have very high energy! I support you 100% with your book! Everything you have said is so beyond true! I’m writing a paper right now about what intelligence is and how there are all different intelligences and there’s no “one size fits all” intelligence level. I would love to run a program one day so people diagnosed with learning disabilities know their true abilities! please let me know your thoughts, thank you!

  27. Stacy says:

    I’m 24, I was never officially diagnosed with ADD, but I feel like it’s quite apparent. The things I struggle with are, spelling, grammar, reading, following dialog, and I make a lot of little mistakes that it really shouldn’t. I’ve worked so heard, I’m almost embarrassed at how hard, to get good grades. Because I’ve always valued intellegence. I still get uncomfortable when I remember how embarrassed I was in school when we had to read outloud; I would make a mess of it. It is horribly embarrassing when I miss-spell, time consuming to go back and correct. I got into a emotionally abbusive marrage early on and I believe that it had everything to do with feeling to “stupid” to take care of myself and lucky to have someone so accademicly smart. I’m divorced and taking control of my life, but ADD is something I struggle with everyday and I’m writing because it’s nice to talk to other people who know what I mean. I guess because I don’t feel like most people want to hear it; I keep things to myself. I haven’t had luck with medication dealing with anxiety, and the process of finding the right treatment plan for ADD sound very expensive and time consuming. I probably will do it when I get better health insurance and have a little more time. It’s been comforting to read the stories, and I like how the article brings up the point that the people we associate with can have a big influence on how we think of ourselves. I also related to the part that talked about how we reason, because I can’t do this simple thing I must be unable to do anything difficult, I feel that way sometimes.

  28. Annie says:

    Wonderful article. I am an adult who has been clinically diagnosed with ADHD. I have learned some tricks for coping, but I do feel “stupid” and “unintelligent” whenever I am reunited with my family. My father has even recently revealed that he has ADHD and appears sympthatetic to my affliction, but then has a special knack for making me feel stupid. I believe this is mostly due to the way that my younger brother is treated compared to how my family treats me. Granted my brother has a PhD in aerospace engineering and worked very hard to get there, I feel there is such a major discrepancy in the way we are treated. This is revealed in the questions we are asked (or not asked) to the concern shown for our physical and emotional states. Any insight into why there seems to be one child always held on the pedestal while the others are scraping the crumbs at his feet?

  29. Kiara says:

    I was diagnosed with ADHD about 9 years ago. I don’t believe I have it because I am only hyper when I’m with my friends, and that hyperactivity is just because we’re having fun and stuff, but I have trouble focusing and sometimes I say things I shouldn’t. It makes me feel stupid. I always do things I want to take back. It’s terrible. 🙁

  30. Val says:

    Hi, my name is Val and I’m 26 years old. Also, english is not my first language so please don’t be too hard on me because of the many mistakes you’ll surely find in this comment.
    I’ve been diagnosed TDA when I was very young… I think I was five or something. But my parents never put me on medication because I never had problems in school except with the whole “I don’t think she’s listening to me” speech from every teachers. But since my marks were more then okay, the teacher eventually let it go. You see, my strong point was and still is my capacity to learn by heart a notion if given enough time.
    Were things get ugly is now that I have to enter the labor market. Because you see, being able to learn something by heart is one thing, but thinking about every possibilities and seeing what is right in front of you in the real world is something I have yet to master it seem. So I alway had problem with my jobs. They alway kept me because they said I was still a good working girl but I keep making stupids mistakes and I feel so incredibly stupid afteward.
    I don’t know what to do. I feel so useless. I don’t want to be a burden but even when I give it my all, it’s not enough. Some people told me I could get medications to help me but I’m scared.
    I’m scared they’ll change who I am, who I’ve worked so hard to become.

  31. Kathryn says:

    Hi I am 20 years old. This is a great article. I have ADD and have been diagnosed with it when I was in 3rd grade. As I’ve grown older, it’s become a huge insecurity to me. I’m always the last to finish a test no matter how “fast” I try to think. I just, I don’t want to make my ADD as an excuse but I seriously hate it and wish I was never born with it. It ruins my life. I hate not being able to concentrate on things I should and concentrating on things I shouldn’t, I hate forgetting the SIMPLEST EASIEST THINGS and remembering the most random comment that someone made last Tuesday at 4:36pm and the exact tone they said it in. I hate not being able to finish one measly sentence because a dust particle flies by. It takes me almost 3x as long for my brain for process easy information while EVERYONE ELSE just gets it right off the bat. I need SO much repetition it hurts. Why does it have to exist… one of my best friends does not have amy mental disorder whatsoever and she is super smart and organized and is a straight A student and has always had a 4.0 GPA. I never wanted to be jealous of her because I would be in the wrong because we’re best friends. But of course sometimes I would just feel like trash and ask myself why I just can’t be an amazing achiever like her and get perfect grades. It is, for a person with ADD to get good grades. We always have to work extra hard to achieve things that are easy to others. It really bothers me when people self-diagnose themselves with it because they REALLY have no idea what it is like. In August 2013 through May 2014 (my first year at college) I did my best. I tried doing my homework as best as I could and tried as hard as I could to get it done on time, and I cherished the extra time I was allowed on tests. But the rest of 2014 was not a good year for me… my parents and older siblings kept telling me that all I did was play games on my laptop and hang out with friends and failed all my classes. That didn’t help at all. I was so hurt and discouraged and thought I was a disgrace to the family. Then when I finally looked up my grades a few months ago, the huge burden lmwas lifted off my chest and I ddidn’t fail 1 class. Well, I did, but that’s because we had a horrible professor that didn’t make any sense.. but other than that, I did way better than I thought I did. I didn’t get straight A’s but I didn’t fail. There’s still hope for me…

  32. I thought I was stupid for years! I was a HS dropout, I couldn’t keep a job long, and I didn’t understand why life seemed so much harder for me! It wasn’t until I was diagnosed in my late twenties that it all came into focus. Finally, with treatment, I was able to “buckle down” the way I’d seen others do for years, and I went back to school. I ended up going to college and graduating *first* in my class in nursing school! I proved to myself that the only thing holding me back was a treatable condition and the mental hurdle of the belief system I’d allowed myself to buy into: that I was lazy and dumb. It was very untrue. Now I’m an RN and more ambitious than most people my age. Who knew I had it in me?!

  33. Great article, Jacqueline! I didn’t think of myself as “stupid” but after reading your article, I realize there are ways I put myself down that essentially mean that – and how unproductive and damaging these thoughts are.

    I really appreciated learning about the “struggle mindset,” “information retrieval problem” and thought patterns like “if I can’t do ‘simple’ things like this, then I must be ‘stupid.’” I could really see the cause and effect chain of problems… The statistics are great too. As usual, super informative and helpful post.

    • Hi Marcia
      Thanks for your comment! Great to hear from you.
      We can be very crafty in how we put ourselves down can’t we? so much so we don’t even know we are doing it. Great job for realizing it!
      J 🙂

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