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Lost and Found

We know that people with ADHD lose things a lot. You might’ve read about that part of ADHD before, or you might simply know it from personal experience.

Keys are the classic example, but ADHDers can lose anything, really. If you’ve ever forgotten where you parked your car, you know that size is no obstacle to losing something.

But personally, I’m a glass-half-full type of person – assuming I can remember where the damn glass is to begin with, that is. So I’d like to talk about the positive side of losing things: finding them.

Lost keysWhen you lose something, eventually you find it. (Sometimes, anyway.) Which means the more you lose things, the more you get to enjoy finding them!

I have a young niece, and one of her favorite games is to play hide-and-seek with objects by hiding them and then looking for them. I don’t know whether she’ll inherit our familial tendencies toward ADHD, but if so, imagine what a treat she’s in for: playing an ongoing game of hide-and-seek with her belongings that lasts for all of her adult life!

As annoying as losing things is, you have to admit that there really is a sense of excitement and wonder when you unexpectedly find something you’ve lost. That moment when you open a cupboard and see the missing carton of milk inside, for example.

Long-time readers of this blog will know that I have a complicated relationship with my local library. One of my favorite “lost and found” moments was one day discovering a library book I’d checked out buried under a stack of papers on my desk, after the library had given up hope and removed it from their system.

Then there’s that time I inattentively left my wallet in a cafe. Imagine the feeling of pure joy when I rushed back and discovered it was still there!

Objects aren’t the only thing that ADHDers lose. Bear with me for an analogy: some of our forgetfulness could be seen as losing thoughts.

In a way, having an item on your mental to-do list and then misplacing it (i.e., forgetting about it) before you’ve had a chance to act on it is similar to having something physical in your hands and leaving in an unknown location.

And just like losing tangible objects often leads to finding them later, losing thoughts leads to finding them when they pop back into your head without warning. Only, unlike the aforementioned excitement and wonder from suddenly finding that your phone was in your pocket all along, the feeling of “finding” a lost item from your mental to-do list is sometimes a little less exhilarating because it means you now have one more thing you have to do – or one thing you should’ve done and it’s now too late.

Does the enjoyment of finding something fully compensate for the inconvenience of losing it in the first place? Well, greater philosophers than myself have probably tackled that question, but I think the answer is: no. Still, with the bother than ADHD symptoms can cause in everyday life, you have to appreciate every little bit of fun that you get!

Image: Flickr/Ingrid Taylar

Lost and Found

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on psychology, ADHD and education. In addition to ADHD Millennial, he writes about psychology at Psych Central's AllPsych blog and about ADHD at He can be found on Twitter at @ADaptHD_blog

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2020). Lost and Found. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 14 May 2020
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