I hope this finds you all well, safe, and happy. So much has been written about the pandemic lately, that I thought I’d jump to a completely different topic. Read this month’s featured article about ADHD, the invisible condition and the connection between that and my broken kneecap.
Plus, check out a recent article in Mashable, where I was interviewed on the topic of ADHD and Meditation. And you won’t want to miss an upcoming workshop with Sari Solden! It’s all here, so keep reading!
Don’t forget that I’ll be rotating this newsletter with my 3 Minutes with Terry mini-mailings. So please do keep an eye out for that one. It’s a quick, easy, and fun read.
And if this found its way to you via a friend, please consider subscribing yourself, so you don’t miss a single issue.
Stay safe. Stay well.
Years ago, I was a writer at HealthCentral.com, covering stories on ADHD. One of my colleagues there wrote a piece about how awful it felt to have people stare at her young son’s uncontrollable public outbursts.
Reading it back then, it felt like someone punched me square in the stomach…and on a number of different levels. Having a child with ADHD means you- as a parent- more than likely experienced very similar experiences as this writer and her son. You’ve been stared at, scorned, and have heard your share of indignant and ignorant comments.
I have my own horror stories as well. But her story jarred me, because it brought to the surface the fact that ADHD is an invisible disability (I prefer to call ADHD a condition because not everyone is disabled by their ADHD, though plenty are), and one that people react differently to than, say, a condition that is more outwardly apparent.
When I broke my kneecap years back, while waiting for it to heal, it was impossible to walk for any extended period of time. After surgery, my leg was secured in a brace that started above me knee and ended at my ankle, which obviously hampered my mobility. Once I gained just enough strength to get out of the house, my family and I took an excursion to Target. I knew pain and fatigue would overcome me quickly, so I chose to use one of their electric carts.
That experience changed me forever and helped me to understand even more how people with disabilities are treated.
What struck me immediately was that I suddenly became invisible. People averted their eyes when I came tooling down an aisle. They silently moved out of my way, as if I had some sort of infectious disease. No words were exchanged (no “excuse me”, for example). However, children stared- no… gawked at me- as if I had two heads. THAT I could understand, remembering my own childhood curiosity about anyone who looked different from me. What struck me right after realizing I had suddenly become invisible, was the gnawing question of how I reacted in the past when I saw someone in a wheelchair or electric scooter. Did I also look away? Were they invisible to me as well?
During my invisible visit to Target, I became depressed almost immediately. I lost my dignity, my independence, and well…my identity as a fellow human being. What does that say about a child with ADHD who struggles at home, school, socially, and just about everywhere? How can we educate people to understand that although children with ADHD look like most every other kid, what they experience internally is quite different?
Almost daily, I get emails from adults with ADHD who share these experiences. I’m wondering how many of you reading this article can relate to comments like these:
“I work so hard at my job- arriving early, staying late, and yet I still can’t get things done. I sometimes blurt out things without thinking and people stare at me. I just want to shrink and hide.”
“I’m a stay-at-home mom with three kids and can’t keep up. I am such a loser, and my husband, who works full time so I can raise the kids, reminds me of just that.”
“I haven’t had friends over in years because of the clutter. I have two college degrees but can’t manage the piles of papers and over-due bills.”
These women (and men) feel inadequate. No matter what their accomplishments are, no matter how capable they are in other arenas, some ADHD symptoms just shoot them down.
My point here is twofold. One, people with ADHD, learning disabilities, brain and psychiatric disorders, etc., typically look like most everyone else; their challenges are less visually apparent than the person with physical impairments. However, that doesn’t mean your life is any easier than those whose limitations are more visible. What that means, often times, is that people have higher expectations and less understanding and empathy for your difficulties. “Just try harder”, or “If I can do it, so can you” are comments folks with ADHD often hear.
Does that sound familiar to you?
Secondly, given the fact that people simply might not understand your ADHD related behaviors – your “invisible condition” which, by the way, isn’t always invisible, as we see aspects of it via piles, clutter, unpaid bills, etc. – it’s even more important to teach, to explain.
Instead of fuming inside, offer information. Stand up for yourself. Isn’t it time to stop hiding? To stop being invisible?
I once knew a mom who, when her ADHD son was quite young and having difficulty controlling his behavior in public, handed out business card sized messages to those who stared or made inappropriate comments. The card read: “My child has ADHD. He sometimes is unable to control his behavior. To learn more about ADHD, please visit www.chadd.org for more information.”
I thought that was brilliant of her—instead of internalizing anger, embarrassment, or sadness, she took a proactive approach to dealing with the all-too-common situations she faced.
When my colleague shared her personal story online of her son’s behavior in public, it made me wonder: if he had a physical disability that made him stand out, would people have acted differently toward him and his mother?
If you were on crutches but had fallen in the middle of the fast checkout lane at the market, would people have stared at you in disgust?
Would parents of those children need to hand out information cards? Would we, as adults, have to shrink and hide our ADHD selves? I think not.
*What hurtful comments have you heard about you or your child’s ADHD? Please share in the comment section below.
Terry’s Top Picks
Did you miss the ADHD Women’s Palooza?
OWN the Palooza—All 31 videos, 31 audio files PLUS 31 lightly edited transcripts so you can read, watch or listen at your leisure!
ADHD Top Hits
I was recently interviewed by Mashable for a story on ADHD and Meditation. Read it HERE.
Sari Solden, M.S., one of my all-time favorite ADHD experts, and the person whose work influenced me to also specialize in helping women with ADHD, will be offering a Post Pandemic Transition Workshop for Women with ADHD.
The workshop is on Saturday, April 17, 2021 from 3:00-4:00 PM EST.
For information and tickets, click HERE. Don’t miss this special, exclusive opportunity!
And, pick up her book, A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldly, and Break Through Barriers, written by Sari and Dr. Michele Frank, which has become a classic, and is now available on audio!
Exclusive! Looking for One-on-One Help with Me? Zoom Consultations!
Feeling stuck? Need to get your life back in order? I can help!
Let’s work together to help you get back on track (or get started on your journey!). I provide short-term sessions offering psycho-educational information, resources, support, and mini-coaching to help you get started- whether you’re looking to find someone to evaluate you or if you’ve been struggling your whole life and are ready to get unstuck, I can help.
I get it. Because I have ADHD, too, and over 25 years of experience working with adults with ADHD.
(I have a limited number of slots available; if you don’t see a time that works for you, email me at terry@ADDconsults.com).
The Queens of Distraction
Struggling to tackle paper piles, toy piles, projects and more?
Then join me and your fellow Queens of Distraction online in a private, secret room where we Get Things Done. We “get” it and are here to help you.
* Like this article? I write about all kinds of ADHD experiences here on my website in the blog section, and if they spark something in you, talk to me! I offer online consultations for men and women with ADHD.
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*Disclosure: If you buy any products above via my affiliate links, I may get enough money to buy a few candy bars and popcorn (but not enough for a pony)!