ADHD Feels Like…

ADHD Feels LikeThis week, I asked people with ADHD to describe what ADHD feels like for them. I thought it would be helpful for non-ADDers to understand it more. The varied replies give an excellent insight into life with ADHD. If you would like to add your own description of what ADHD feels like to you, that would be awesome! Pop it in the comments section below.

“To me, ADHD feels like my attention span is being controlled by every single garage door opener within 100 miles.”
– Mark Kawate    ADHD


ADHD feels like…I have to constantly “dumb myself down” as a way of accommodating “normies” who don’t share my set of neurobiological advantages. Three-fourths of my day, my time and energy are spent doing this. It’s tedious. Honestly, the amount of time I spend waiting for others—who I might add, supposedly have a “normal” brain—to catch up/get up to speed with my insights or, to “get it,” to simply see solutions to problems as quickly and clearly as I do, is tedious, immensely time consuming and, frankly, frustrating.

Nancy Ratey.    Author of The Disorganized Mind



“ADHD feels like your brain is an unruly child, flitting about when the grown-ups would prefer a child who could sit still, be quiet, and concentrate. ADHD feels like ten thousand things are yammering for attention and all of them are equally important.
ADHD feels exciting and creative when I put things together from wildly different domains, and see the common pattern. I just wish I could go from there to some kind of organized action to benefit from all that creative genius.”
– Bonnie Hutchinson



“Sometimes I don’t like it because I get too excited and do things I’m not supposed to, like hurt myself when I get carried away.”
“Sometimes it’s fun because it keeps me going for activities, and staying active; even though I’m tired.”

With meds, “everything feels boring. I feel sick (nausea, headaches and tired more easily), but I do pay more attention in class.”
Without meds, “it’s harder to pay attention, but I am more responsive in class, like I put up my hand to ask & answer questions.”

“If I had a choice to keep it or not, I would keep it, because it doesn’t really do much bad things. It just makes me excited more sometimes.”
– Luca 11 years old


Before diagnosis:
It’s a heavy veil you can’t shake off; a heavy secret you feel you need to hide. You have to work harder for everything, but you don’t know why, and you certainly don’t want people to know you’re “slow” or “stupid.” So you have to put on an act all the time, even though you know you’re really smart and capable — it’s frustrating and it gets really exhausting. You can’t talk to anyone about it either, and you get really tired of hearing, “Why don’t you listen?” and “You’re not trying hard enough,” when you’ve been trying really hard to begin with.”

After diagnosis, learning more about ADHD, and finding others who share the same struggles:
It’s a quirky, fascinating thing that’s just part of who you are; and is manageable. It’s lighter, and a lot of the heaviness goes away. Yes, you still have to work harder, but now you know why, and you know you’re not slow or stupid. And you can drop the act, because now, you have people who understand you to talk to. It’s something you can share a laugh and a cry over; a secret club with some of the most interesting and creative people as members” 🙂
– Marcia Hoeck      A purposeful


“Having ADHD is like having an on / off mental switch with limited control. Sometimes things click, sometimes they don’t and it’s always hard to see the pattern, so after a while, it can be hard to be confident at anything, because one second you are amazing at something and super focused, and the next time, it just doesn’t click. I think until you get education or training about it, it’s like trying to drive a stick shift mentally with a bad clutch while having absolutely no idea how to change gears, because you’ve only ever driven an automatic.”
– Grant Weherley    Control My


“ADHD feels like Hanoi traffic! We’re here in Vietnam now and rented a motorbike. The traffic looks crazy from the outside (and even sometimes inside it). It looks overwhelming and it’s so different to what everyone is used to who didn’t grow up with it. But if you try to fight against the way the traffic works here, it’s worse than recognizing that it’s different and just going with the flow to make it work for you.

We have loved riding around; even in the process of riding throughout the city.I’ve said to myself: I see how this works, but I don’t understand HOW it works. It definitely goes against what I’ve always been taught “should” be when it comes to traffic. Seeing the traffic and recognizing that for me, it’s a lot like ADHD and how embracing it has made my life better; which was a fun experience.- Nathan Sudds


“I am often conflicted with what it feels like to have ADHD. When my symptoms are well managed, I love having ADHD and see it as my super power. I feel in control of myself and my anxiety significantly decreases. It feels like the mental fog has completely dissipated. As a result, I often feel very proud to have ADHD and at times will feel somewhat offended knowing that it is a disability, mainly because I don’t feel like I have a disability when the right meds are prescribed. My self-esteem is definitely increased. Also, I am able to sustain attention and focus for appropriate amounts of time, make appropriate decisions, prioritize tasks and problem-solve accordingly. When my symptoms are well managed, I can assert myself with confidence and express my thoughts and feelings quite clearly. I sincerely feel like I am the real me, the genuine person that people see.

Without meds, or without the right combination of meds, I feel incredibly anxious, often self-conscious and it’s like I have no control over myself and my symptoms. My brain feels very cluttered; like I have heavy mental fog and chaos. It is incredibly difficult to sustain focus for very long. It’s so annoying to watch a movie with me because I will have to often rewind as my mind often drifts off to other thoughts. I also feel heavily frustrated with myself because no matter how hard I try at achieving a goal, my symptoms interfere, which then makes me feel like a failure. As a result, I retreat and only see myself as having many problems with no solutions. It’s very discouraging.

Additionally, I have quite a bit of difficulty with recognizing when to step on the breaks. For example, when articulating myself, my goal is to communicate assertively. But instead, it comes out sounding more aggressive. This is frustrating because I am not an aggressive person, I am a patient, understanding and empathetic person, but these qualities are hiding behind the ADHD symptoms which people can’t see. In a professional setting, this comes across as me being a very tense person and possibly someone who lacks professional integrity or stability.

To be honest, this is my current situation. Since my doctor has changed my meds, I 100% feel like I’m back to where I started. I don’t feel heard or understood by my doctor as she gives the impression that she knows my reality better than I know it myself. Therefore, everyday feels like a struggle or a battle, and I feel very, very, very TIRED. More than tired; exhausted. I feel incredibly anguished from this combination of emotions and thoughts. Despite all of these difficulties, I acknowledge that there is still hope, because I was once at a state where my symptoms helped me succeed. So hope isn’t gone, it just feels far away.”
– Linda 32 years old

PS Thanks to Nathan for the photo of the Hanoi traffic


  1. Marie Cattermole says:

    ADHD feels like being locked alone in a glass box being able to see everything For what it is and everyone for what they are yet they can’t quite reach you even though you really would at times like them to be able to. Yet there are other times when the glass box is so bright and so exposing that you want to hide in a dark not so revealing place to gather your thoughts and pull yourself back together.

  2. Susan Clifford says:

    I’ve had ADD since I was a young teenager I would say, very quiet introverted and inattentive with a lot of daydreaming at School. I got around it by focusing on sport and art, however had minimal success in my life as a whole with nothing much to speak of other than the frightening ordeal of having to understand myself more as I grow in to my 50’s. I have anxiety and depression which exists along, sometimes this is very severe. I know I have talents however they’re locked up quite often as the exterior voices tell me to focus, don’t be lazy, keep your chin up, people know they bore me to death also and they can’t even grasp in to a conversation with me about this immense process I clearly have going on inside myself. I find it tough to conclude things, have impatience and can’t wait to be elsewhere inside myself working it out still as if to say ADD wasn’t about to happen. I know people see me as a misfit and under-achiever. I’m pleased i have found Jacqueline and this website.

  3. Travis says:

    What does ADD feel like?

    Imagine you are perpetually tied to an anchor that no one can see, but you feel it’s weight holding you back as you drag it along every waking moment. Because you are terrible at the little things, you use your charm and quick wit to control the dialog, make friends, manipulate situations and business associates in order to hide your inadequacies. You are bright and capable, but your inability to focus causes delays, procrastination, late work/appointments/meetings and incredible stress in business and personal relationships. You are almost always the last one out/done because everything takes you 3x longer. You believe you are a complete fraud and undeserving of any admiration. On every single complex project or assignment you are guaranteed to make an error of omission or obvious mistake because the details always get you EVERY SINGLE TIME – regardless of the effort. You feel like a perpetual idiot because all co-workers and associates can’t “trust” your work without proofreading. All of this inevitably leads to living a life built on a foundation of anger, anxiety and frustration. You cannot even really enjoy your “successes” because you don’t honestly feel you have earned them, even when you did. You have abused alcohol because you convinced yourself that helped you sleep and quieted your perpetually racing mind, but it only caused you and others more pain. But possibly the hardest part was the seemingly endless, and fruitless, search to find my true “passion” – which I have ultimately come to accept will never come. Then again the little things are equally as damaging – death by a thousand papercuts: ie: lost keys every day, lost wallet every day, walk into a room and wonder why you are there (5-10x a day). You live in a pool of self-loathing with no exit. That is my ADD.

    I was diagnosed about two weeks ago at age 50. This came as absolutely no surprise – I have just always known. While I had casually thrown around the term to describe myself over the years, I never really KNEW what it actually meant. When an extremely difficult life event caused me to actually research the subject, the mind-blowing experience that would unfold came as a complete shock. After reading these personal experiences and other medical sites, it was as if the answers to all of my life’s biggest challenges were there right before me. I can literally trace every single major personal and professional struggle directly to ADD. I felt like a blind person who could see for the first time. While being told by a psychiatrist you are, and will always be, mentally ill isn’t exactly a hurray moment, I at least gained one very important thing. Hope.

    As I begin this new journey I’m still trying to understand how the meds are effecting me and how I respond. But at least I finally have THE answer. For the first time, I don’t feel lost and alone.

    The anchor and controlling force in my life has always been ADD. But I can finally imagine a light at the end of the tunnel. And, just gaining the knowledge that everything isn’t all my fault gives me something critical that has been just as elusive – some internal peace and acceptance of who I am.

    • Marie Cattermole says:

      This comment is absolutely spot on! And very well worded for how it truly feels and our reality IS. Couldn’t agree more with you and there is a warm, comfort to reading it when you are a sufferer just the knowing that you are not as alone as you thought in your ways and feelings. Thank u.

  4. Thank you all! I am a “normie” grandmother just completing the first year of homeschooling my ADHD granddaughter aged 10. Public and private schools were an astounding failure. Homeschool allows Mia to find success but grandma is drowning in the multitude of symptoms. Thank God for websites like this and and I thought ADHD was just about lack of focus and a big case of the fidgets. Oh so much more and my little Mia seems to be at about 80% of every one of them.
    Her mom (also ADHD I can now see) wont permit drugs or even a diagnosis or a learning plan so I am on my own. I never use the term ADHD with her. I found a description that acknowledges she has a difference without adding the condemnation and judgement so many of you speak of. I say, “you have a brain like a Ferrari and the brakes of a bicycle.” She now carries a little Ferrari hot wheels in her pocket to fidget with and remind her that she is a classy kid designed for speed.
    The biggest breakthrough came as I talked with the mother of her newest friend, Lizzie. (Yes she now has two real friends!) Lizzie is a high functioning autistic. Many of the accommodations that work for Lizzie work really well for Mia. i.e. thinking putty, squeeze balls, athletic ball chair with wheels, graphic novel type science text books–Max Axiom, noise cancelling headphones, easy and frequent breaks, art table always available to use that creative brain, typing instead of handwriting. This year we are dropping Spanish and using Social for curriculum on how to get along better with others and counter the internal enemies like Rock Brain and Space Invader vanquished by Super Flex.
    I share these just to say, keep looking for helps, aids and techniques. Thank you for showing me what a champ my 10 year old granddaughter will be. God bless.

    • Ella says:

      your granddaughter is super blessed to have such a wonderful grandparent

  5. Like I have approximately 68929766 things to say and do and need to do and say all of them RIGHT NOW. It is also numbing because feelings don’t register as quickly than with those that don’t have ADD and I kind of feel like an ass for not being able to express my care for others as my mind changes so quickly. It’s hard to get dressed, cook, clean, eat, whatever. It’s totally manageable,though, and yoga/meditation have become good friends!! Also, life kind of happens around me in a whirlwind and its like I try to pick the important pieces out so I don’t become overwhelmed. My biggest thing is realizing how loud my mind is until I get into a completely quiet room, like my thoughts are screaming but I’m just sitting there.

  6. SquishyMii says:

    It feels like walking around with an embarrassing costume on that I can’t see but everyone else can. It feels like my perspective is completely off compared to everyone else in the world. Like at work when I feel like I am trying as hard as I possibly can and really putting in my all everyone else seems to see me being lazy and on top of it being very blasé about it like I don’t care. feels like trying to run a marathon with a bunch of people watching while an invisible hand is holding the back of your shirt. I feel like everyone else is making life look easy and that somehow if I didn’t have this it could be easier for me too.

  7. Aby says:

    To me adhd is like in distracted all the time. I can’t seem to focus on anything that doesn’t least interest me. Someone would be talking to me, and my mind goes to some far-off thought.
    It’s very difficult and I wish that I could have single thought at a time.

  8. Zoe says:

    I get so many blank spaces in my head, I’d be really good at something really hard (like this Virtual Reality game I like) and then the next time I do it it’s suddenly going too fast and I can’t find the pattern and I get overwhelmed and I completely stop. It’s like having two or more computer cords being tangled up and even though you know you need to untangle them you’re standing there stuck and you can’t figure out what way to pull the cords so they can untangle.

  9. Joe Langer says:

    I have always loved the analogy of having ADHD, is like someone pointing the remote control at your head and never stops changing the channel! I added something to compliment this, in addition to the remote control feeling, it’s also like being right handed, but having to use your left for everything!
    Those 2 things pretty much sums up, what it like 4 me having ADHD!

  10. Kyla Fitzpatrick says:

    When I’m “on” I’m so on that people can’t keep up. I’m funny and like making jokes and they just come whizzing out of my mouth at rocket speed. The humorous connections in my head are so fast and so complex that not everyone can keep up. At the same time, other people trying to be funny often make such simplistic attempts at humor that I know the punchline long before they have reached it and I can’t even pretend to find it funny because to me a two year old could have made that joke. And it’s not to put anyone down, it’s just that when I’m “on” my mind moves really fast.

    On the other hand, I’m taking an online course right now and the outline suggests 5 hours to complete chapter 1 and I am currently at hour 15 and can barely retain the name of the course, let alone the information in the chapter. Just kidding, it’s accounting, but it’s embarrassing to me to admit how incredibly difficult it is for me to learn this stuff. It’s an introductory course and I’m on page 15 of the manual and I just can’t seem to keep the information in my head. I read the words. I take notes. I re-read the notes. I photocopy pages and cut out the diagrams and tape them into my notes. I re-copy the notes. And every time I go over them it’s like I’m seeing them again for the first time.

    I’m 44. I’m so smart and driven and accomplished in the areas of personal development and athleticism and interpersonal relationships. I care for myself and my home incredibly well. But I’m always 15-30 minutes late for work, barely accomplish anything at the office, have quit university three times out of frustration, usually leave a job after a maximum of two years because I’m bored to tears and need a new challenge, but when I take on a new challenge I quickly become paralyzed and completely overwhelmed.

    This stuff would drive you crazy, but it’s just the way it’s always been so I thought it was normal, at least for me. Two days ago I was discussing my anxiety about studying with my therapist who has done a lot of work on ADHD and it was like a light bulb went off above her head. She suggested this site and other resources and I identify so much with what people are writing. We have an appointment next week to test me and see if I really have this disorder. I’m so hopeful that there is a way out of this mess and at the same time so brokenhearted for all the decades of struggle and strife over something that seems to be so controllable.

  11. I tend to get carried away/excited very easily, like too much uncontrolable energy. Then i crash. Same with ideas, i have so many projects i wish to accomplish! I start new things, i’m intense for a while, then i crash. I find it impossible to accomplish long-term projects.

    • Drew says:

      Ditto Marylou! My wife is constantly reminding me to finish off projects around the house that I’ve lost intetest in! I just don’t have the means or tools yet to keep these projects interesting or exciting enough for me to finish! I generally complete them, just to stop the constant reminding. Problem with that is, that I don’t finish them off with the perfection I normally would, and consequently I don’t like the end product! 😩

  12. Natalie says:

    I was diagnosed two weeks ago aged 35. I’ve thought I have been going through some sort of spiritual awakening for most of my life that there’s a higher power and reason for the struggle. Now I’m faced with coming to terms with the idea that it’s all just the way my brain functions. Life is like a dream or nightmare at times a strange quality to it. I feel very alone not lonely or lost just alone. Life feels purpose-less and meaningless but I don’t feel depressed with it. Trapped at times like a fly in a bottle – all wrapped up in a cotton wool like sensation. I feel weird, odd and different.

  13. DJ says:

    One of the most difficult things about ADHD is that it seems to be the “forbidden illness.” You know you have it, you want to embrace it and deal with it, but it’s the mental illness you’re not allowed to have. Almost every time I’ve told someone I have it, they immediately try and talk me out of it. It’s hard to understand why they don’t see the rudeness in that. But there’s this stigma, and a lot of people don’t want to accept it exists. Even the government mandated disability questionnaire you fill out when applying for a job doesn’t list it. So you have to click the box that says, “I don’t have a disability,” even though that’s not true. So there’s the temptation to just keep denying it instead of treating it, because you don’t want to bear the shame.

    After taking nearly 8 years to finish college, without any help for my ADHD, I decided I was going to make things easier for myself in grad school. So I went to the disability office, and she basically said, well you have a degree so it must not be that bad. We can’t help you.

    Sometimes I wish they’d come up with a better name for it. You want to just accept it and deal with it, but it feels like people don’t want to let you. It seems the media is on an eternal campaign to disprove it. Look around at articles in the mainstream press about ADHD. They’re overwhelmingly negative. It’s basically an illness feigned by drug addicts.

    Even medical professionals are often prejudiced against it. For many of them, it seems to be the diagnosis of last resort. There’s surprisingly widespread ignorance and misconceptions about ADHD, among the very people you look to for treatment. One psychologist was convinced I didn’t have it because I was too smart. Apparently, he thought everyone with ADHD has low intelligence. He diagnosed me with CAPD, and wanted me to take a bunch of tests I didn’t have money or time for. I suspected it was his research area. Years later, I came across a study that found a strong bias toward CAPD diagnoses by those performing research on it.

    After so many years of coming up with excuses for the things you do, it becomes difficult to even be honest about your condition to yourself or your doctor.

    Not that it’s all bad. I did poorly in school, but found that I need to learn in my own way, and have had great success with that. Albert Einstein was much the same way, and I’m pretty sure he had ADHD. but he found a way of doing things that worked for him. Problem is, there are times – a lot of times – when my brain just simply won’t function. Even if I find a topic fascinating, I can’t concentrate enough to make use of that.

    • Jeffrey says:

      You nailed it.

      This describes how I feel perfectly.

      • Teresa says:

        Powerful truth, I feel that way too! I was diagnosed at 54 and my daughter at 19 very recently. Now that we are both medicated we can actually have a conversation. By the way, most people diagnosed are intelligent and my daughter is gifted.

    • thomas bishop says:

      same here but with a gallon of isolation.

  14. Ajay Anand says:

    Jacqueline . . . You are doing a wonderful job running this site with a very high standard of content and analysis and personal attention. . . I am a 50 year old male and have suffered from comorbidity comprising bits of ocd/adhd/aspergers from grade VIII onwards. . . Symptoms are similar to what others have been posting on this site. . . Lots of effort, struggle, anxiety, time-wastage and flashes of success at which I myself have been surprised. What I have not been able to understand is that why is the reaction of our family members so negative, comments like, “you are lazy, don’t concentrate, you’ll never make it etc.” as if they really want these forecasts to come true. What aspect turns them of so much? Normally if a child is slow at times, gets late or is not able to cope, he/she is given more care/attention. . . However my grandmother understood something; when I was in high school, she would often say, “Of all my grandchildren, I worry most about you and how you will make it. . . And in those days I would wonder why. . .? These were the initial stages and I expected to grow out of them naturally as one moves from school to high-school to college; little did I know. . .

  15. Cathy Jones says:

    Diagnosed ADHD 2 months ago aged 49. I am having lightbulb moment after lightbulb moment when reading about ADHD. These lightbulb moments are interlaced with feelings of doubt ‘it must be all in my head’, ‘it can’t be true’, ‘I cheated at assessment’ ‘I didn’t have all the same symptoms that Some other people have. I put these unhelpful thoughts down to years and years, throughout my childhood and adulthood of feeling different and not good enough, lazy and thick. It is hard to shake years of being moulded by my own beliefs and that which others have held about me. I always knew I was different, swam upstream from everyone else and underachieved at school and I certainly have not reached my potential at work. I have felt flakey, emotionally on the edge one minute and then happy the next, self doubt and very low self esteem. One thing I have to learn is what ADHD means for me in terms of my symptoms. My symptoms are unique to me, it would be very easy to compare myself to someone else who has bigger time management issues than me (mine aren’t too pervasive), however, my emotions are all over the place! I start Xenedate tomorrow…wish me luck!

    • Suzanne says:

      49 here!
      Thick is a great description of how I feel when I am “working”. I just started a new job. Itemized spreadsheets and multiple digital files. I feel my scalp start to itch and my brain starts throbbing when I try to MAKE MYSELF sit there and work on one single document!! Fortunately another part of my job is being out in the community and talking with people about food – so it’s a balance.
      I fight the demons every moment. You suck. You’re gonna get fired. This job isn’t for someone like you….I just wanted to respond and ENCOURAGE you today to keep fighting!

    • Cary Serack says:

      OMG! I think I wrote this except I started Adderall XR 20mg 8months ago.

      LIFE IS AMAZING ever since.

      Good Luck!

  16. Nandhani says:

    ADHD is like being in a body you have no control over. Their will be times you´re completely normal, and others where your on the ground crying, pulling your hair out. No matter how much you try, you feel hopeless. Like your drowning in water, and everyone is watching you, but instead of helping, they sit their in laugh. It´s hard because it makes you feel stupid. It feels like you have to take pills to be ¨smart¨, or to be qualified as ¨mature¨. You hear everyone say ¨oh look at them so immature can´t even sit down and be quite.¨ It hurts to hear that because you try, and you suffer. I would never wish this on anyone. This pain, stress, and anxiety is mine to carry. No words can ever make anyone understand what this feels like, but trust me, you don´t want to know.

  17. Miranda Cruze says:

    ADHD makes you feel like life is way harder than it should be. Completing a task that requires any level of organization or structure is like climbing a mountain.

  18. Cc says:

    Life feels like the dream, and dreaming feels like life.

    Im an innattentive combined ADHD type with chronic daydreaming symptoms.

    Its prevalent to a point of being my dream characters out loud (unknowingly lol,) that I do not see myself as “me,” but different dream characters most times.

    The surreal life is predictable, controllable and orderly – immensely stimulating and exciting always! Whereas real life is a mess of time, unpredictable events, draining tasks and several varying complications.

    My dream characters are strong, confident, dependable and valuable – which I struggle to be each day.

    Life with ADHD is treated as an excuse rather than a condition, and to others, I’m always a:

    Failure:”You wont make it far in life!”

    Lazy: “Why don’t you finish anything!

    Dumb: “You’re always confused!”

    Careless: “Late again? Do you even care about your job/family/others?!”

    Which is odd because I:
    *live very comfotably
    *work 3 jobs
    *earned two academic and 1 athletic scholarship
    *scored in the top 15% for the ACT in high school
    *graduated college with enough partial credits to go back for two more degrees,
    *speak 3 languages including American Sign Language
    *help put together international charity events (with the UN,)for the well being of ALL humanity.

    And in the midst of depression, tears, worthlessness, overwhelming task, choking deadlines, forgotten chunks of study, chaotic disorganization, and ridicule- my non ADHD peers dropped out of school or life because it was, “too hard.”

    Strange thing is, it was all one scrambly dreamy mess you’re blissfully tangled in.

    Thats life with ADHD.

    • stephaniejavier says:

      “Strange thing is, it was all one scrambly dreamy mess you’re blissfully tangled in.

      Thats life with ADHD.”

      I could not agree more with this statement.

  19. Shawn says:

    After being diagnosed at least 28 yrs ago, I am so looking forward to retiring from work, where I have had to manage my personality, and be free again like when I was a child, to be me! To let the creativity and the ideas flow to my hearts content and to have no one trying to shove this square peg into a round hole. In the last year, due to changes in the work environment, I have now developed the anxiety that I have read about others experiencing. It’s so awful. It would be wonderful if I could help others with ADHD after I retire. I have one daughter and she has been on this journey with me, as she was diagnosed and then I was. She now has 2 out of 3 children with ADHD also. You ought to hear the joyous noise in our households over the holidays! It’s refreshing. 😜

    • DJ says:

      Work changes can be pretty terrifying when you have ADHD. I find I can actually function every well in the right environment, even excel. But lack the capability that a lot of people have to simply be content with the mundane. Believe me, I’ve tried. It’s not just boring. It feels almost like suffocation. Other people don’t get this. They think it’s just laziness. My biggest advice to people with ADHD, especially, if they’re younger, is to do everything you can to find what works well for you and pursue it. Don’t try to fit into the norm. There have been some remarkable people who exhibited symptoms of ADHD, who never would have succeeded with the ordinary.

    • Thank you Shawn! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your , let’s say ‘Post’! 😁 It was so, so refreshing to read. I’m 53y.o. a few years to before I retire, but after reading what you wrote, I too look forward to retirement, and just being me!
      THANK YOU!

  20. To me, ADD feels like lights are always too bright, every noise is too loud, and people are speaking a different language. I try hard to focus on whatever I’m doing, ex: Work, homework, a book, yet no matter what I can’t seem to make anything stay in my head.

    I have secondary anxiety and depression as a result of my ADD, which is what my therapist told me. One of the faulty ideas people have about us is that we choose to be lazy and that we don’t put forth any effort and that’s not true. I want to live up to my potential and only feel worse about it when I don’t.

    Some days, I feel happy and exuberant and I feel as though I can do anything and that this can’t limit me. Other days I feel the opposite and I feel resentment at the normal people who can do simple tasks like getting out the door without forgetting their essentials. Today is one of the harder days for me.

    I still struggle with bitterness over my diagnosis. At first, it felt like weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now I feel sadness because of the person I feel I could have been if I had just gotten some help when I was a kid but I didn’t know what was wrong or even how to ask. I’m 24 now.

    • DJ says:

      Oh to be 24! It took me much longer to fully come to terms with it. I’ve wasted far to much energy regretting all the talent I wasted trying to fit into what I thought I was supposed to be. But that’s just more waste. Find the way of doing things that works for you, now, and pursue that with all your energy, while you still have your whole life ahead of you. You think different from other people, but that doesn’t mean they’re better. There are geniuses who have shared in your foibles. But they excelled in their own way.

  21. Lianne says:

    Nathan – thanks for the pic shared of Hanoi Traffic. Yes a perfect descriptor as i was there in August. Crossing the road with all that crazy traffic is scary but fun. You just gotta go with the flow, look confident and weave through it at a steady pace and then you’ll be ok. Bit like ADHD crazy and scary at the same time. Work for me in the morning is the worst as I was doing office work. Having to sit i my desk for longer than 2 mins was near impossible. I had to go to the toilet for the umpteenth time, (even though i didn’t really need to go) make coffee, go back to the kitchen to reheat coffee or make a fresh one. Send a document to print in colour to a different building where the colour printer is. Anything but sit still. The restlessness is the hard part. Even waiting at a bus stop for 10 mins is bad enough without something to do. I walk to the next bus stops or duck to the pub on the corner and throw down a beer. Hey! 10 mins is heaps of time for bus and a beer. Lol. Everyone’s comments have been great to read as they are so relatable. Keep them coming so we don’t feel so alone. Cheers Lianne P.S 45 and just diagnosed.

  22. Jojo says:

    ADHD is very frustrating. for example, if the teacher is talking I would be looking at this person that is trying to text without the teacher noticing. Or I would be looking at someone that just dyed their hair a different color for the 5th time. “How can chemicals change your hair color like that. How long do you even keep in the hair dye in your hair? Is it a burgundy color or a dark violet color? it’s actually kind of pretty. But a lot of people have that color. *looks around the classroom* Yeah like that girl has a dark red and OH look Sidney got highlights!! *looks out the window* it’s raining? since when did it start to rain? wow, that’s a lot of cars in the parking lot. But I think that’s is the only parking lot that teachers are allowed to park in. But wait…..”
    Yeah, that is what goes through my mind in every class, every day, all day. It got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore that I got homeschooled. I concentrate better at home, I can go on my own paste, and definitely fewer distractions. Of course, I get distracted at home but it wasn’t as much at school.
    Even though ADHD is very frustrating I learned that it has a lot of positive effects on me. I am super creative with decorating or writing poems or even my imagination, I love trying new things like hiking or trying different foods, I am eager to help people who are in need of anything, I care for people even if I just met them, and the list goes on.
    I am currently on medication for ADHD, anxiety, and depression. My doctor is trying to find the right ones for my body. The doctor said that the medication for ADHD should help me to concentrate, but it doesn’t. The only thing it helps me with is staying still which was the second main problem I had. My doctor and I have been seeking for the correct medication for a year now. In total, I tried 7 different medications and I was allergic to 4 of them and the rest I needed a higher dose but the side effects (after a month) would not go away.
    I try to find ways to concentrate and the only things that help me is having something in my hand to play with (I use what is called Thinking Puddy), I need to have little noise around me but sometimes I do play piano music and that helps, because I have a lot of hair I put my hair back when I am doing work (it’s the little things that you notice) , I have different places to do my work like I have a desk and a chair but the chair has wheels and it spins so I can move around in it, then I have another area where I have a stable chair and a smaller table , then I recently got a lap desk so I can do my work in bed or on the couch with a little table that has a pillow under it to be comfortable and I love it, I sometimes light a candle that smells like chamomile and lavender, where ever I may be studying has to have no clutter because I would be distracted with the number of things around me, and if I am really having a hard time concentrating then I just take a break and do whatever I enjoy doing like cooking or drawing or even going for a walk. Then afterward I try to go back to doing my work. Hopefully, by reading this you can know that you are not alone and maybe even try some things that I do to help me concentrate.

    p.s. sorry for the long post lol. But I honestly could have kept on going haha!

  23. Suzanne says:

    So many great identifiers in this article!
    Like most ADHDers, I am highly creative. In group brainstorming settings I have a hard time not interrupting others. I feel like a 5 year old who doesn’t have a gage as to when to stop talking. Looking back at these interactions, I am so embarrassed!
    I also tend to overthink what someone’s response to my idea might “really” mean.
    Hyper sensitive to criticism and reading into everything has become a huge problem. I recently and impulsively quit a job, asked for it back the next morning and was denied.
    I am really good at what I do, but I can be my own worst enemy.

    • Lianne says:

      Susanne, you sound just like me! 😁

    • Michelle Nadine Graff says:

      Thanks, Suzanne – your post really resonated with me.

      • Suzanne says:

        Thanks. I am finding these articles and the follow up comments sooooo helpful!

    • DJ says:

      I’ve done that with job offers. Looking back, though, I realize some of those impulses would have led me in a better direction if I’d paid more attention to them. Not just every random thought, but if you take a step back, you might find that there’s a common thread in a lot your impulses that can point you to a life that works very well for you. Instead of trying to fit into something that doesn’t. Not be presumptuous, but for what it’s worth. Einstein was seen as a flake in college, and failed to get a job as a research assistance after. He finally got his job as a patent clerk through family connections. And rather than just be grateful and content, he had the audacity to try and unravel the mysteries of the universe. What he lacked in academic accomplishment, he made up for in curiosity.

      • Suzanne says:

        Thanks for that input! I am consciously deciding to NOT repeat the patterns that tripped me up in my last job. It is a moment to moment battle.

  24. Alice says:

    My diagnosis is a label/tool to use when talking to “normies”. It gives them assurance; “oh good. It’s not me!”. Otherwise, I can’t help but be myself. I’m patient, creative, laugh at myself, I’m self-entertaining, I love/pay attention to the people and things that “normies” overlook. Yes I am unorganized so I get a mess that I regret later when I have to clean it up. Yes my driving “shortcuts” turn out to actually be “longcuts”. Yes I’m always 15-20 min late. But my loved ones accommodate and tell me to be there earlier and I’m none the wiser. I have terrific insite. And sometimes I need “normies” to help remind me to see the “bigger picture”as we are working together to get something done. My ADHD is not a disability it gets me (and “normies”) through the mundane, tedious, and the lonely hard-times. If you don’t know me, you don’t know my super-power. After you get to know me, you’ll look forward to my insites. I have a good sense of humor. I’m a person that others like having around. So, enjoy.

    • Suzanne says:

      The driving bit! I too find driving the same route everyday tedious. My husband has asked me, why did you go this way? Isn’t it faster to go….?
      I like taking different routes to see different views. I take different turns to pass interesting places. I have in the past driven miles out of my way because the view is nicer along the way….

      • Christina Novoa says:

        Interesting. I always take the freeways because I can’t stand stop and go traffic. It gives me anxiety. I have to be able to drive fast, nonstop in order to remain calm while driving. I don’t pay much attention to scenery. I need to be able to keep moving and listen to my music the entire time.

      • Kate says:

        Ditto. I do this al the time!
        Kate. 67

      • Absolutely agree as well to both. Change routes all the time, drive fast all the time. Slow drivers absolutely kill me. I feel the anger building as my patience quickly falls away. I must always be conscious of this struggle and expend a ridiculous amount of emotional energy to keep myself in check. Took me almost 30 years of driving before I stopped tailgating and driving like a jerk all the time. Since I am always late, we only double down on the anxiety, anger and frustration. This leads to the playing of music to get my mind off my growing anxiety/anger. Cant stand being in a quiet car.

        My loud music in the car (or home) is another funny thing. I typically will fall in love with a song and listen to it over and over repeatedly up to 100s of times. Then I get bored and hardly listen to it again. That and the fact that my tastes in music are all over the map. I change radio stations more often than my 17 year old daughter changes clothes.

  25. Dustin medcalf says:

    Adhd to me is like reading a book. I’ve agreed with myself that those letters make words- I read the words out loud to everyone- teacher asks now what did you get from the paragraph you just read?- nothing.

    Dustin M.

    • Alice says:

      I remember that! And yes, reading is a chore that has to get done over and over again cause I can’t remember what I just read! And when I read alone, I fall asleep. I had to get through educational classes with reading tricks. Like reading only the first and last sentence of every paragraph. I, also, read the homework questions before reading (this makes reading more like a treasure hunt game).

    • Steph B says:

      Yes! Reading difficulty is the most relatable example I can think of. I sometimes force myself to read really fast so I don’t have a chance to daydream about something I read two sentences into something. When I get distracted, I usually will get all the way through a paragraph before I realize I haven’t been paying attention to what I’ve read. It’s so strange to read while not reading.

  26. Dustin says:

    To me adhd is being so smart to the point you let others be right when they are wrong. No point in arguing either. Normal people have a x and y axis. As to adhd we have a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,x,y,z,0,1,-axis ect ect…my adhd has really taken a toll on my career path because I’m so good at being an climbing arborist most say I need to work harder because I’m not moving fast enough left and right. Today’s people really need to understand what it is and not call it a joke. When we are set free and lead the situation 9/10 I get shocked faces and “how did you do that?!?” ..forgot my point I was trying to make. 🤔

    • Christina Novoa says:

      I identify with this so much. I remember having to dumb myself down quite often in school for this reason. Even now I find myself doing this because I don’t want to make people feel bad about themselves. Now, I’m a high school math teacher and have had to develop a significant amount of patience with my students while they learn new concepts that, to me, are so mind numbly simplistic that it’s almost maddening at times when they don’t “get it”.

  27. lydia says:

    Having adhd for me is having billions of ideas….all REALLY good ones!…or….as time soon tells..maybe not…
    Feels like every time I open my mouth to speak I can’t finish a point because of a noise, an action or a crying child…and then I’ve forgotten what i was saying…and it’s so distressing trying to re-engage. I feel like a bad mum cause I can’t enjoy outings with my kids and struggle to spend time with the most important people in my life.

    • Sisiri says:

      Hey Lydia, I think you are skipping a couple of steps there, what makes you think that your kids would not be bored out of their brains having a regular adult in front of them? I for one grew up in a very unconventional family, as long as you make it your own and are physically yourself; you cannot go wrong.

      Love from Amsterdam

    • Gina says:

      Lydia –YES! “Having adhd for me is having billions of ideas….all REALLY good ones!…or….as time soon tells..maybe not…Feels like every time I open my mouth to speak I can’t finish a point because of a noise, an action or a crying child…and then I’ve forgotten what i was saying…and it’s so distressing trying to re-engage.” Those words really spoke to me! Sometimes my brain is going a mile a minute, and I’m having super genius ideas but if I don’t start writing them down they are gone with the wind. I call it my hummingbird brain.

      I’m starting my second year as a teacher — which is an incredibly interesting job — but I spent the entire first year having a massive case of “imposter syndrome”. Every little thing distracted me, and I was in an urban classroom with 30 very chatty middle schoolers. There were way too many days where I was unable to finish a lesson, and as a result the units dragged on to the point of severe boredom for the kids, and we were unable to do a lot of the fun stuff planned. I was inconsistent as all get out. I forgot promises made, or impulsively told kiddos we were going to do this or that which upon further reflection were really not practical or feasible. I lost EVERYTHING. Papers to be graded, copies of assignments which had been in my hands TWO FREAKING MINUTES AGO (and sometimes less — losing things is my superpower). I forget names, and then I forget that I’ve forgotten them, so I’ll call a kiddo by the name of another kiddo and this is offensive to many of the kids. I have students who hated me and complained I was the most boring teacher ever. It took me 4 -5 hours to plan a lesson when it should have taken a maximum of two. I worked 70 hours plus a week, not including the 50 minute one way commute when I was reflecting on how the day’s lesson went or what I should do for an activity later. I took 1/2 a day off for the 10 day spring break because I desperately wanted to get caught up and even get ahead (I have to plan 3 lessons per week for 4 different subjects, so it’s very difficult to do.) My end result was I was still behind, and got really burned out. I felt like the worst teacher ever.

  28. Kyle Missman says:

    Having ADHD is kind of like writing everything down and then finding out it was in invisible ink and you have no way of reading or remembering it. I struggle so hard with remembering simple things and I get stressed very easily. It’s a hassle for me, but it’s great for when I’m doing something I’m passionate about. I feel so envigorareted and so call when I do my passion of acting, that I excel in what I’m trying to do. I just wish it was like that all the time.

    • MelonieGregorius says:

      Thats great, lol. I love your analogy with the invisible ink scenario. Thanks for sharing. 😀

  29. Christy Cahill says:

    I haven’t actually been diagnosed or anything. So, I’m not sure what is wrong with me, although I know that anxiety plays a big part. My brain feels like an office with the fan running on high and all of the papers and work flying all over the place, and even after getting a few small items filed away, it feels like more papers take their place until I am mentally buried under brain fog and fatigue.

    • Sisiri says:

      Hi Christy, you sound like physically burnt out, think that’s different. Have you tried to look into a mirror sideways then running away? It is so easy to be tired as soon as you say this you are, whilst if you imagine yourself being a refugee in Syria you would have no choice.

    • Michelle Nadine Graff says:

      Hi Christy, I was treated for anxiety and depression for years before I was treated for ADHD.I finally made sense of it by thinking about ADHD as the mothership that was generating anxiety, depression, fatigue and and many other confusing symptoms. It sounds like you’ve got something preventing you from focussing. I know how exhausting it is to fight your own brain. Keep looking for answers. They’re out there. Good luck.

    • MelonieGregorius says:

      Yes, i can vouch too! I am very near to being only inattentive type. This is my add as well. And it is exhausting! I read add itself is a lower amount of epinephrine in the brain. This is also a precursor to he different dopamines your brain uses. And it also helps tamps down or turn off inflammation in the brain. So yes for some with add the experience is what you describe. I never had a problem with feeling a little down or even getting depressed. I’m guessing my depression wasn’t severe? But i knew it was a side effect of something else. Now the anxiety that came on as i got older. Wow. That was forcing me to do something. Finally on meds and i have a life. A life i’ve never had before. I am so grateful!! More backstory; I tried antidepressants in my early twenties. Everyone around me when i would describe what i was going thru suggested it was depression and so i tried it finally. At first i thought it was helping. But it did not have the desired effects after all so i discontinued use. And ruled out clinical depression. I had already researched clinical depression and it didn’t seem to be a fit. But after 2 more years not knowing what was up and after all those people advising me i thought i could give it a shot. So i am saying to those who may not understand add inattentive type it can very well sound like depression or being “burned out”. I’m chuckling in my head just now remembering how many times i’ve been told that as well. Funny because it just came to me. But it makes sense because different than my skepticism about depression i know for a fact when i feel burned out. So it makes sense i wouldn’t recall it, I just wrote those moments off and didn’t pay much mind.
      Your analogy about the office i love that. I use an office analogy for my experience as well. And i relate to every single adjective you use to describe your experience. And i have add, without any other issues. And my medication works for me. I had to cut back sodium in my diet. But I have no other ill effects, and am doing great with my treatment. Good luck to everyone. And don’t forget if you or anyone you know experiences the blues co-morbid with anxiety… Please check into the possibility of ADD.

      • Teresa says:

        I too am inattentive type and your symptoms and journey are synomonous with mine. Medication has been a godsend and I only wish I found out sooner than age 54.

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