I’ve been around a loooong time in the ADD world and have worked hard to help, support, and educate those with ADD as well as their families, friends, teachers, bosses and more. Yet, the amount of ADD misperception that still lives in this world confounds me. Here are 10 misconceptions that are still alive and (not) well:
10 Big Fat Lies about ADHD
- You can’t have ADD! You’re married with kids and have a great job!
- You can’t have ADD! You have two college degrees!
- You can’t have ADD! You can watch TV/work on the computer (fill in the blanks) for hours and be fully focused!
- You can’t have ADD! You’re a great cook!
- You can’t have ADD! Your desk/home/office is tidy!
- You can’t have ADD! You like to read!
- You can’t have ADD! You’re not hyper!
- You can’t have ADD! You’re too smart.
- You can’t have ADD! You look so…together!
- You can’t have ADD! You have lots of friends!
The truth is, you can do all of these things very well, even with ADD. But what the outsider does not see is how HARD we work at the things that come easy and naturally to others.
To do many of the things above, we exert more energy than most because of our distractibility, inattention, impulsivity, fear of boredom and more. It’s exhausting. Then we hit the sack and our bodies- burned out from a day of running uphill- collapse, but our brains continue raging down the railroad track into ever lasting loops of thoughts, worries, ruminations.
What about you? What naïve comments have you heard over the years about your ADD? How do you respond? Share your thoughts in the Comment section below.
From my brother: “I think you should stop worrying about this so-called “diagnosis”… Why don’t you go back to practicing law?”
From my son’s elementary school guidance counsellor: “Well, as my son says, everyone who grew up in the 1980’s has ADHD.”
I was speechless. Regrettably.
Great post Terry! It’s so true!
My all time favorite was making an appt with my PCP to get a referral to a psychologist, to get assessed and the doctor told me he didn’t think I had ADHD because “I was too high functioning.” I appreciate it, but not true. I certainly am. And, ironically he was dual credentialed in internal medicine and psychiatry! I must have a great facade. It’s exhausting.
I too was told by someone that I was “too high functioning” to have ADHD. My thought was…it is because I am high functioning that my ADHD symptoms are well hidden (most of the times).
This explains why I am so exhausted at the end of the day! I always hear about my friends going out to concerts and away for family weekends to celebrate the end of a hard week and I feel kind of jealous. I think ‘I should be doing that our kids are getting a bit older now’. But I just don’t have their kind of energy. After a week of living life I am so exhausted that all I feel like doing is pulling the blanket over my head and sleeping for a thousand years! My next big challenge is trying to find a medical professional who goes beyond saying ‘that’s not ADHD love it’s called procrastination’ but I fear I just don’t have the energy!
I was told, fairly recently, by a psychiatrist that ADD does not exist in adults but if I’d had it as a child I would have been a drug addict and in prison by now.
My answer, “huh what???”
How do we get professionals to listen to us?? I am that high functioning, well educated person. I am also that constantly discouraged, exhausted and overwhelmed person. No physician or therapist I have seen will even engage me in a conversation about why I think (I KNOW) I have ADHD. The exception was a psychiatrist (whom I waited 4 months to see because the therapist I was talking to wouldn’t even discuss ADHD) who asked one question – “have you ever read an entire book?”. She then proceeded to tell me she had no suggestions for reading material etc. Luckily, I was very well informed because of this site and knew she was full of it. So discouraging.
I am 66 years old, burned out, and have four more years of a high stress job ahead of me.
To EchoLane: Don’t stop trying to get tested. I knew that I had ADD in the mid 1980’s, because my son had it. I was watching the Liza Show, and she had a doctor on that talked about ADD/ADHD. When the doctor described ADD, I knew my son had it and I knew I had it too. I got my son tested and sure enough he had it, but I couldn’t be tested until I was 42 years old. That was because most doctors still thought that only children had it and would grow out of it. After I was tested, I was put on medication and my life changed drastically. My second grade teacher tried to convince my parents that I was mentally retarded. Thank God they didn’t believe her. Before I was tested, I couldn’t hold down a job for very long and I couldn’t pay attention. My house was always a wreck and so was my life. Since I was tested, I was the secretary for a real estate agency. After two and a half years in that job, I became a real estate agent for the same agency. I was an agent for ten years. After the decline in the real estate market, I worked for LL Bean here in Maine for seven years. I will be 62 in June and life is great. Don’t let anyone, including doctors, tell you that you don’t need to be tested. Insist on being tested. The psychotherapist I saw helped me get tested and I can’t thank her enough. My husband and I have been married for 34 years and he is my greatest cheerleader and the love of my life. I hope life get easier for you. Don’t give up.
“I think ADHD is just an excuse for people who don’t want to accept responsibilty for their own actions and failures.”
This comment felt like a slap in the face to me. If only this person knew how hard people with ADHD struggle each day to take responsibility in a world that does not understand how we function…and the shame we feel after trying our best to succeed, but coming up short of other people’s expectations.
It is so frustrating to see how the myths and misconceptions continue, after all the work we’ve done in the field of adult ADHD. I, too, have been told that I can’t possibly have ADHD because I appear to be so together. We work hard, maybe too hard, at appearing together, don’t you think?
The comment that madthai opened her post with is a synopsis of what I seem to hear. It is usually spoken in kinder ways though and I don’t think that the person intends to hurt me. The good friend I speak of has tried to be helpful by basically saying that she too, and so many others must have ADD too because they get distracted or occasionally forget what they came in a room for. However, she manages to juggle so many things and get it all done successfully with a smile on her face … whereas I feel as though I am failing over and over and over.
When she says that to me, I hear that the source of my difficulty isn’t ADD throwing me off despite my efforts after all. Then I am left feeling like it’s just that I am failing whereas she and whoever else isn’t – therefore I should be able to also. I’m not looking for an excuse, I am looking for help in overcoming barriers. Understanding ADD and its implications has helped to some degree.
Referring back to madthai’s comment though. It does feel like a slap in the face – even when it is said with more gentleness. Thank you for saying it so succinctly.