Things Not to Say to Someone With ADHD

Another of the many mental disorders I have is ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and while I’ve been pretty good at managing it, it has caused me some self-esteem issues and other problems. I’ve also heard some pretty insensitive things about it, so here goes the fourth post in my “Things Not to Say” series:

  • “Are you sure?”: I’m going to have to say that I’m pretty sure. After all, I know myself better than you know me. The problem is, hearing that from someone makes me question myself, even if I have gotten the diagnosis from a therapist. Also, if you ask me if I’m ‘sure’ I have ADHD, you’re trivializing my disorder and the struggles I go through every day because of it.
  • “I think I have that”: That’s great, you may very well have ADHD. But when you tell me all about how you think you have ADHD because you couldn’t concentrate on your homework yesterday, either you don’t actually know what ADHD is or you’re downplaying your symptoms. So instead of telling me all about why you think you have ADHD, why don’t you call your doctor and talk to him or her.
  • “But you’re not hyper”: First, I might be able to control my hyperactivity or channel it a different way. Second, there are two types of ADHD; one that is more inattentive, and one that’s more hyper. Some people are more AD than H.
  • “ADHD doesn’t exist”: Yes it does, and saying it doesn’t is just going to harm my self-esteem and make me feel bad about myself.
  • “You just say you have it to get the accommodations”: Yeah…no. First of all, I got diagnosed too late to be able to apply for those accommodations. Second, those people who do have accommodations really need them; otherwise, they might not succeed as well in school.
  • “Everyone has a little ADHD”: No. Just no. Everyone can be a little forgetful sometimes, everyone can get a little distracted sometimes, but don’t tell me that “everyone has a little ADHD”. The difference with ADHD is that those symptoms are amplified and interfere with everyday life. ADHD is not being distracted by the people talking loudly in the back of the class; it’s being distracted by the people talking outside the classroom, the person zipping up his hoodie, the person clicking her pen, and every person making a little sound that is seriously impeding my ability to concentrate. My ADHD is a real disorder, and pretending that everyone has it detracts from the seriousness of my problems.
  • “ADHD is overdiagnosed”: Experts believe it’s actually the opposite, and this is particularly true for girls, who are often not diagnosed or diagnosed late in life. Sometimes people are misdiagnosed with ADHD, but ADHD is not overdiagnosed.
  • “ADHD is just an excuse for bad behavior”: No, it’s not. People with ADHD really try to do well and behave properly, but we can also be impulsive, and impatient, and antsy. It’s just the way we are, not an excuse to misbehave.
  • “It’s not that hard to just focus”: This one actually just makes me laugh. But, yeah, it is. That’s what the “AD” in ADHD is all about.
  • “You don’t have ADHD”: Yes I do, and I think I should know which afflictions I have better than you.

I hope I haven’t missed anything, but if I have, feel free to comment!

-cmblanc

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