Chick ADDI have birds on my mind a lot this week (please, no bird-brain jokes…). Yesterday, I watched as a chickadee flitted from branch to branch. It reminded me of the way I still restlessly march from room to room, constantly, throughout the day.

I chose the moniker, ChickADD for my ADHD-related website ( as well as my Twitter title (ChickADD44).

At first, this choice was based on a play on words using the chickadee’s call. I changed the call to – Chick-AY-Dee-Dee-Dee… (okay, that’s ADD with a stutter, but then, a lot of us have a comorbid condition, right? ha ha).

Watching that little chickadee made me wonder if there might be more similarities I hadn’t thought of. My observations confirm that there are.

Emphasis on “chick”

First and most obvious, I like the word “chick.” As a woman of 51, I’ve rarely conformed to a certain expectation of maturity. Often, I act much younger than my age, and I’m ok with that.

“Chick” implies a young, high-spirited, gregarious woman – qualities that a hyperactive ADHDer has no difficulty emulating.


These birds are very trusting. When I lived in Toronto, I was told that the chickadees in High Park would feed from your hand. Sure enough, I had only extended my hand for a few seconds before a chickadee swooped from a pine bough, landing on my outstretched palm to peck at a few seeds. It was another matter standing in 40 below weather, for what seemed like hours, to train wild chickadees in my own backyard.

Still, of dozens of species that regularly visited my birdfeeders, the chickadees were the only ones who accepted my invitation of a hand-fed winter snack.

This extreme trust given by a wild creature reminds me of the extreme trust of a wild ADHD Chick.  Sometimes, we can be overly trusting.  This can lead to our being taken advantage of when our trust isn’t well-placed. On the other hand, when we ourselves are trustworthy, we tend to see that in others, warranted or not.


I think of trust as the flip-side of truth. When we hold the truth in high regard, we tend to think others do too, and so we trust them.  Of course, that’s not always the case. Perhaps, then, the chickadee is a perfect totem for an ADHD woman. According to a reference in Animal Speak by Ted Andrews,

“To the Cherokee Indians, the chickadee is the bird of truth. It helps us to pinpoint truth and knowledge.”

One compliment I’ve often received from friends, is that they can count on me to tell the truth. Learning how to express that truth in a more temperate way, however, has been a challenge. Again, the little chickadee comes to the rescue:

“Those who have a chickadee as a totem will learn to express the truth in a manner that heals, balances, and opens the perceptions. Truth is shared in a manner that adds cheer and a joy to your own life and the lives of others.”

From Animal Speak, page 126

Highly sensitive chickadees

Chickadees are delicate, but tough. This tiny bird endures harsh winter conditions, yet flits delicately from bow to bow.

As HSP’s (Highly Sensitive Person) a lot of ChickADD’s have delicate emotional states. In spite of our sensitivity, or perhaps because of it, we develop a thick skin as we endure misunderstandings, insults and a growing sense of failure and alienation as our symptoms plague us throughout our undiagnosed lives.

Black and white

Chickadees are black and white. Often, ADHDers can get stuck in “black and white” thinking, failing to see the nuances of a situation. This can be because we’re driven by our emotions, blinded from the full picture by our exaggerated feelings (we drama queens might be the most guilty of this).

Or perhaps we’re misjudging a situation due to any number of other ADHD traits (inability to learn from the past; lack of self-awareness; inability to focus on the other person’s point of view, etc.) Either way, black and white can be our dominant colors, at least prior to diagnosis and treatment.

So, perhaps I have chosen my symbol wisely.  Zoë Kessler, ChickADD.

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