Do You Have ADHD? No? Then Stop Saying You Do.

It’s obnoxious to tell someone they don’t have a disorder, or that a disorder doesn’t exist, but when people claim they have a disorder and blame everything on their disorder is even worse. If you’re using your disorder as an excuse all the time, I question if you have it or you’re just lazy, selfish, or just making excuses. Yes, having a disorder does greatly impact a life. But newsflash, when you claim to have a disorder you don’t, you are taking away from those who do.

Let’s talk about ADHD for a bit. I have ADHD. There has never been any question of this; I have every symptom in the DSM-V. Lucky me, right? Let’s talk symptoms.

So yes, one of the symptoms is not being able to focus. But here’s how it’s usually done. Someone says, “I just can’t focus on this assignment. I’m so ADD.”

Newsflash, it’s not ADD unless it’s like that for every single assignment. It’s not ADD if you’re able to get up in the morning, and not become distracted from your daily routine. It’s not ADD if you zone out occasionally while driving. ADD doesn’t just come and go like that. It is a struggle which occurs every single day.

Another symptom is being hyperactive. Hyperactivity is not always present in ADD, but it probably isn’t what you thought it was. Guess what? Everyone is hyper sometimes. Some people are just more hyper than others. And people with hyperactivity and ADHD are driven by a motor. It’s like a constant out of the body experience. You watch your body do whatever it wants, your mind screams to stop, slow down, calm down and you just can’t make it stop.

Oh, and the hyperactivity also goes with impulsivity (I have yet to see a case that doesn’t). That’s more with the body doing whatever it wants. You have no control over you do. You watch words come out of your mouth like a train wreck. You interrupt others, and you feel horrible each time you do so. People always tell you to grow up, act your age, learn some control, and you try so hard to do this, but you just can’t. Any confidence in yourself is now gone because you just can’t control it.

There is so much more with ADHD. It’s more than struggling to focus, it’s a struggle to fit in. A simple way to think about what happens with ADHD, not a true way, but simple none the less is to think of ADHD as a misconnection within the brain wires, effecting the portion of the brain which controls executive functioning. What is executive functioning? It controls focus and impulsive. But it also controls so much more…

It controls emotional management, time management, processing speed, decision making, motivation, memory, and much more. It helps with building social connections. And when you have ADHD, this is all impacted. Some people outgrow it. Most people don’t. And most people with ADHD are brilliant. Some people simplify it by saying everyone learns differently. It’s not that simple though.

ADHD impacts every part of my life. I’ve lost friends, jobs, failed school because of my ADHD.

And when people claim to have ADHD, it kills me. It makes my life so hard. I will be using the term undiagnosed-I mean it as they do not have ADHD, not they have a case that is undiagnosed. It makes it so I don’t get the accommodations I need at work because someone who was coming in late a lot (as they were partying the night before) claims to have undiagnosed ADD. When someone says they can’t focus in a class because of their “undiagnosed” ADD, they take away from me and take away the validity of my needs.

It’s taken me years to learn how to control my ADHD, and it hasn’t been easy. I have a long way to go as well. I am proud of my ADHD only as it shows the struggles I overcame while growing up. When people claim they have ADHD, it takes away from the struggles I and others faced. It’s the same with every disorder.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t use a made up disorder as an excuse and don’t kid about it. A disorder of the mind is still a disorder, or an illness in a manner. Would you claim to have cancer? I hope not. Then what makes it okay to claim you have a disorder like ADHD or OCD?

15 Things I Want You to Know About ADHD

1. Not every person born with ADHD is the same. It’s a condition of the brain which means there are going to to be similar symptoms, but also big differences. Think of it this way. Not everyone gets sick with a cold in the same exact way, even though it might be the same cold virus which makes them sick. So just because your husband has ADHD doesn’t mean you know how I learn, think, or act. And just because you read this list, doesn’t mean you know every person with ADHD and everything that ADHD does.

2. ADHD doesn’t stop in the classroom for most people. It’s a lifelong condition for a lot of people, and it changes throughout life. It’s something which impacts every part of my life. I may have trouble holding up conversations. I may have trouble getting to places on time. I may have trouble with tasks which are incredibly simple. I may not be able to watch a movie fully.

3. I outgrew my hyperactivity and I am lucky I did. Hyperactivity is a huge part of ADHD, but it isn’t mandatory for everyone to be that way. Just because I don’t have one of the symptoms of ADHD doesn’t mean I am not ADHD. Trust me, I’ve been tested and tested again. I am definitely ADHD. There are different kinds of ADHD though. Some people might be hyper, some people just simply can’t focus, and some people have a combination of both. See 1 if you have any more questions.

4. Sometimes my mouth moves before my brain fully knows what it’s going to say. I have been working on this my whole life, and I really struggle with it.  It is so important to look at the WHY I am saying something rather than the what I am saying. I usually have very good intentions, I just didn’t say it exactly how I wanted too.

5. I’m not stupid. I can’t say this enough. I am not stupid at all. Chances are, I am smarter than you. However, sometimes things don’t click immediately for me, or I miss key points in a conversation and I want clarification or to double check. Somethings I might have to review over again just to understand.

6. Remember Dory from Finding Nemo? I feel like her a lot. My Short Term Memory isn’t always the best. If you’re giving me a task, it’s best to break it down and to give me a list so I can see what I have to do. This will keep me from becoming overwhelmed. Oh, and it’s just my Short Term Memory really. I can remember other things perfectly, including conversations from years ago.

7. Sometimes I am going to be random when having a conversation. To me, it’s not random though, it makes perfect sense. While you are talking, I either am engaged in the conversation (rarely), trying to catch up with what I missed (usually), or making connections to what you are saying (all the time). For example, if we are talking about ADHD, and I bring up how I was bitten by a squirrel when I was 8, it actually makes sense to me. I am thinking about ADHD which then makes me think about the meme about ADHD and squirrels, and then about squirrels and previous experiences I had with them and how it’s funny. This is done in seconds. I’m not trying to change the conversation, I’m just trying to contribute.

8. I can be moody. It’s actually a part of ADHD. My brain doesn’t see it as moody though, it sees it as completely normal. I also don’t always realize I am being moody. Don’t be afraid to say something to me if you see this. I don’t mean to be that way.

9. I can be lazy, just like you. But most of the time I’m trying my hardest. If something is difficult for me, please try to help me. Sometimes it’s just something as silly as making a cue card for me to follow along. If I’m hesitant to start something, it’s usually not because I am being lazy, but rather I don’t know where to start, or I’m afraid I won’t do it correctly. Though not everyone may agree, I will take the help if it is simply offered.

10. I’m not good with time management. I really try, but it is hard to be at one place at a certain time. My brain doesn’t process time well at all. I can’t tell if a minute has passed or an hour. Personally, I thrive with schedules and timers. Some people can’t function if they are in a routine.

11. Please don’t tell me what causes my ADHD, or that it doesn’t exist. Some people may use their ADHD as an excuse, but I don’t. Also, ADHD does exist, and it does impact my life. I have tried the diets, I have changed my entire life around, I have tried every remedy in the book. Some helped, but only minutely. What does help are stimulants (at least for me). They calm me down, put the world to a speed which just makes sense. I don’t question it, but I know there is a difference when I take my medicine. This isn’t always the case from person to person though.

12. I can focus on video games and sit at the computer all day, but a book can take three weeks for me to read. Why? Some things just grab my brain. Other things don’t and I have to really try to focus. And it can be painful.

13. I’ve tried to be organized. I try my hardest at what I do. Sometimes my brain just forgets to organize or to completely finish something because I get distracted and completely forget what I am doing. And when I try to tell my brain to focus, it gets even more difficult for me to sit and finish what I am doing.

14. Sometimes simple tasks can be very overwhelming to me. There are times where I get anxious because I am overloaded by all the information which I am perceiving. Being at the supermarket when it is crowded is hard for me. Trying to focus in on one thing when people are having conversations around me is impossible. I just hear white noise.

15. I’m very impulsive. I have been working on my impulsivity my entire life. I have tried my hardest to change this, and it has gotten much better with time, but I still struggle with it. Unless you are going to offer me advice that I can actually apply, please don’t. I try to think before I do. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way. The whole think before you act advice does not work.

ADHD isn’t going to be the same in each person. Just because you met one person with ADHD doesn’t mean you know what it does or how it feels. Some people might have ADHD and think this list is not true at all. Others may be upset I didn’t put things which affect them. ADHD is more severe in some people than it is in others. I personally struggle socially. Some people don’t. I don’t have as much trouble with time management. Most people with ADHD do. Some people don’t have have any sensory issues. I do. When working with someone with ADHD, whether it be an employee, a co-worker, a student, or a friend, be understanding of their needs. Be firm and direct when giving direction. Be supportive and forgiving. And most importantly of all, get to know the people for who they are, don’t just label them as ADHD.