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Shhhhhh! I have ADHD! Can You Keep a Secret?

A typical place where an ADHDer might work

Do you out yourself? Do you tell people that you have ADHD? Do you tell at work? Do you tell the boss or just your co-workers? Do you tell people in lineups at the bank or grocery store when you’re bored? Does your dentist know? Your clergy? Your papergirl? Your friends?

Jessica (not her real name) works in a profession where she deals with co-workers,her employer, and the public at different times throughout her day.

Some of her customers know she has ADHD. And she’s blurted it out to a couple of co-workers, though she does regret having told them. Her regret stems from a fear of being perceived as weak. Understandable, I guess, if you feel that way about yourself.

I disagree! (I’m allowed to)

But my feelings differ from Jessica’s. I think that if people know you struggle with a limitation and you’re managing, even advancing, you should be perceived as strong by anyone who is capable of rational thought. I also believe that Jessica is one of the brighter members of our tribe. She attacks obstacles with tenacity and intellect. She’s not afraid to stop and say “let me think” when she needs to. Anyone who perceives her to be weak is, in my mind, not very perceptive and possibly living in a world of fantasy.

“ […] I’m worried that my performance will be more scrutinized – that more attention will be paid to whether or not I’m doing a good job […] ”

Okay, what about the boss?

She has made a conscious decision not to tell her employer. She tells me “ […] I’m worried that my performance will be more scrutinized –

that more attention will be paid to whether or not I’m doing a good job because [if he knew] my boss may be worried.”

Fair is fair

This I can understand, and I agree with it. Let your boss deal with you at face value. There is no need to prejudice him (or her) against you before they get a chance to evaluate your performance. Jessica wants simply to have her work considered as an employee, not as an employee with ADHD.

Do what you love

Jessica has looked around in her three plus decades of life and has tried several occupations. She perceives her current one to be a very good fit for her skill set. She really loves her job and it shows.

How much of a role does comfort play

I’m not going to be the one to out her. As I’ve said, she loves her job, she’s comfortable with her situation. And she is a good and supportive friend.

And as a tribe, whether we agree with each other, as I do in the case of Jessica not telling her employer, or whether we disagree with each other, as we do in the issue of being perceived as weak, we still need to have each others backs.

Shhhhhh! I have ADHD! Can You Keep a Secret?

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or more generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about having ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2011). Shhhhhh! I have ADHD! Can You Keep a Secret?. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 Oct 2011
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