My previous post on what people with depression would like their partners to know was quite popular, so I thought perhaps I’d give a voice to patients who struggle with other mental health concerns. This time, we’re going to hear from the folks with adult ADHD.

Adults with ADHD are often misunderstood by others around them–after all, there’s still the widespread perception that ADHD is a kids thing, and really, shouldn’t an adult have better control over their behaviors?

Or, how could an adult have made it this far in life and not have a diagnosis already? It’s got to just be their personality, right?

Not necessarily.

Here are some comments from adults who deal with ADHD on a daily basis:

  • “I am not lazy, stupid, or forgetful. I really did want to do ________, but I got distracted by something else. It helps me to have a list, and for us to prioritize what needs to be done so I have a plan and you don’t get upset with me.”
  • “Please don’t make me feel ashamed for my ADHD behaviors. I’ve heard these messages all my life. Nagging doesn’t help–creating structure does.”
  • “I am terrified that my boss will find out I have missed little things at work. I spend way too much time checking and double-checking my work, but still, stuff slips through. I’m not slacking–my brain just doesn’t process things like everyone else. The words ‘detail-oriented’ will probably never apply to me!”
  • “My ADHD actually makes me a more creative person. I may not do things the ‘traditional’ way, but I can do them, and you just might be surprised at the outcome. If you insist that I follow your rules, chances are whatever it is won’t get done.”
  • “I have a tendency to say ‘yes’ to too many things, and I get overwhelmed when I realize how much I have committed to. Remind me to honor my limits, and help me learn to say ‘no’ graciously. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I also know that people get more upset when I say ‘yes,’ and then don’t follow through.”
  • “I tend to really underestimate how long it is going to take me to do something. Timeliness is also an issue for me. It helps if you can be flexible around time, but if you can’t, I need to know that beforehand.”
  • “Money management can be tricky. Some people with ADHD tend to be impulsive spenders; others are compulsive savers. Figure out your partner’s style, and come up with a plan so that no one is stressed about how the money is handled.”
  • “ADHD is frustrating for me, too! I want to be able to finish projects, focus on important stuff, be a good partner, and fit in with how the rest of the world thinks. But my brain is wired differently. I am trying to accept that, and it helps if you can validate my experience, too.”

I’ll leave you with a story that has popped up on a number of ADHD-related sites, which people with ADHD have stated accurately describes a day in the life…

A Day in the Life of Someone with ADHD (Author unknown)

I decide to water my garden.

As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage, I notice mail on the porch table that I brought up from the mailbox earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table, and notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think, since I’m going to be near the mailbox when I take out the garbage anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my checkbook off the table, and see that there is only one check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study, so I go inside the house to my desk where
I find the can of Coke I’d been drinking.

I’m going to look for my checks, but first I need to push the Coke aside so that I don’t accidentally knock it over.

The Coke is getting warm, and I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke, a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye–they need water.

I put the Coke on the counter and discover my reading glasses that I’ve been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote. Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when I go to watch TV, I’ll be looking for the remote, but I won’t remember that it’s on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs, but first I’ll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:

the car isn’t washed; the bills aren’t paid; there is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter; the flowers don’t have enough water; there is still only 1 check in my check book; I can’t find the remote; I can’t find my glasses; and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m really baffled because I know I was busy all day, and I’m really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem, and I’ll try to get some help for it, but first I’ll check my e-mail….