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Why I Tell People I've Just Met About My ADHD

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I am typically not the most open person. It can take a long time for me to trust someone enough to open up to them about my personal struggles and insecurities. However, I don’t hesitate to tell people I’ve just met that I have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

I am often told how great it is that I’m comfortable being open about my mental illness, but I’m not comfortable with my ADHD. I am not comfortable sharing one of my biggest insecurities and feeling like I’m making excuses for my faults. I tell people about my ADHD because I feel like I owe them an explanation for who I am as a person.

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I tell people I have ADHD because I can’t apologize again for interrupting them when I’ve done it six times already.

I tell people because I see the look of horror on their face as I dig through the mess of crumpled papers, old pencils and food wrappers at the bottom of my backpack only to find I forgot to pack my assignment that was due that day.

I tell people because I don’t know how else to explain to my friend that I’m driving with my brights on because my headlight has been out for 4 months and I keep forgetting to get it changed and yes I know my service light is on, I need an oil change, and yeah I know I need gas, I’ll stop later, and yeah I know I need to get the crack in my windshield fixed and fill my power steering fluid and sorry, but I can’t clean the windshield, I haven’t had wiper fluid for over a year and I’m sorry I almost caused an accident, I got distracted by a cute dog.

I tell people because I can feel my entire bottom cringe when I hear them ask: “Why don’t you just…”

Ahh yes, please finish; I’m sure I’ve heard it before. “Why don’t you just leave earlier?” “Why don’t you put things back in their place?” “Why don’t you just start your homework sooner?” “Why don’t you just pay your bills on time?” “Why don’t you just keep a planner?” “Why don’t you just stick to a budget?” and on and on and on.

I know they mean well and I know they are just trying to help, and I know they can’t possibly understand the mess that is my brain, so I tell them I have ADHD because I need them to understand I’m trying. I need them to understand I hate being late and that being disorganized gives me anxiety.

I need them to understand that doing well in school is so important to me and I won’t invite them over because I’m embarrassed by the mess that is my room. I need them to understand that I spent years asking myself those very questions before being diagnosed, and I still struggle to be kind to myself when I can’t seem to handle the basic responsibilities that come with being an adult. I feel constantly overwhelmed and stressed out and I can’t handle others’ judging me for what I already judge myself so harshly for.

So I tell people that I have ADHD, because I know I can’t hide it.

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Originally published: June 22, 2017
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