How to Understand someone with aDHD when you don’t have aDHD

A big problem about having ADHD is how misunderstood we are. Which is interesting, considering that we are very keen on explaining how we’re thinking. I could spend hours talking about my ADHD to anyone who asks for information!

Living with ADHD is… complicated. Our brains are wired to notice all the things. ALL THE THINGS.

ADHD is badly named

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. That’s what they called it, which proves just how much ADHD is misunderstood. We’re not lacking attention. Well, not entirely. Zoning out is 100% a thing that we do, but mostly, it’s about focus.

We are aware of all the things at the same time.

The amount of information that were subjected to at all times is very high. It’s the same for neurotypical people, but we can’t prioritize. Anything. The fact that you’re talking to me is at the same level as the fact that I’m currently thirsty, and my ankle is bothering me, and I’m thinking about the dishes that have to be done, and…

ask a computer to run too many tabs…

…And it will freeze up. Well, mine certainly does, but it’s an antiquity by now. If my pc has over 90 tabs open, it’s slowed down by the division of its power. Just like my brain! The attention is there, but I don’t have any say in where it goes. A lot of this is attributed to the fact that ADHD brains are unable to create the right amount of dopamine that we need, and that dopamine deficit is a huge factor in our ADHD symptoms.


I have written 230 words for this article so far. It took about 10 minutes, and during that time I have stopped to pet the cat(twice) went on another tab to make a google search that was, of course, entirely unrelated, and zoned out into my empty cup of coffee for a minute or two.

During that 10 minutes, I’ve repositioned myself at least ten times. I’ve been bothered by an itch on my ear, and I feel my back is unhappy with all of this hunching I got going on. My legs are hurting too, and just as I wrote the start of this sentence, I looked away to check out my list of blog post ideas, which is ALWAYS AVAILABLE and in no way important right now.

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pictured: person looking away, with a thinking bubble that says "i have no clue what she just said. i hope it wasn't a question..."
The Zoning Out experience

the sensory overload experience

When I talk about sensory overload, a lot of people look at me a little weird, but if you think back on the previous two paragraphs, it may make a little more sense this way. The human body gives a LOT of information to the brain. A neurotypical brain can filter through all the signals and keep only the most important ones.

silence must be nice

Being aware of every little thing in my body is part of why I have issues with the outside information sometimes too. Sorry, I can’t hear you over the discomfort of my dry lips. Or the strand of hair that brushes against my shoulder, or the interesting fact that my foot has been slowly moving in circles by itself for the past minute.

Sensory overload happens when the information, both inside and outside, becomes irritating. There’s too many sensors, and I’m not going through the info fast enough, but the info won’t stop either.

What can i do?

Not much. Sensory overload is affected by stress, but other than that, it just happens when it happens. A good trick is to get some noise-cancelling headphones, because auditory signals are probably the easiest ones to block. With these sensors no longer giving information, it helps the overall sensory overload.

Another thing you can do, if you don’t want complete silence, is to get a pair of noise-reducing head phones. They filter noise, but they don’t block it entirely, which is useful for being aware of your surroundings or being able to hear specific cues while still getting some relief for your sensory overload.

i’m not doing this on purpose

People who think we are ADHD-ing on purpose is ridiculous. Why would I want to look like a disorganized train wreck? I’m sure there’s better ways to get attention than to piss off every neurotypical possible with my ADHD traits.

I’m sure I’d have just as much attention without my 74 post-it notes to remind me of the smallest things.

I’d probably get MORE attention if I managed to follow a conversation.

can’t you just… concentrate more?

I’d love to, really. No one gets more in my way than me. While neurotypicals have their fancy “habits” and “routines” and “ability to read a full paragraph without stopping,” I have to jump through hoops to figure out how to make up for my lack of dopamine. Being organized isn’t something I just… don’t want to be.

It’s something I physically cannot be unless I work REALLY REALLY HARD AT IT. And that is about 50% chance of success anyway.

And yet, we can still fail, no matter how hard we try. I did find a few hacks that often work well, but it’s always a bit of a game of chance no matter what.

To understand the person with ADHD

How ironic that my unorganized ADHD self would end up building a blog about it? It sure requires a lot more consistency, research, and organization than I ever could manage. Thankfully, I am finding my much needed dopamine while writing about invisible chronic illnesses, which makes the whole process easier.

Still, productivity has never been my strong suit. It’s easier now, since I figured out how to unlock productive procrastination, I’m getting a lot more done in quite less time! As usual with ADHD, it’s not perfect, but the success rate is pretty satisfactory.

Now, the most important thing to get out of this article, if you don’t have ADHD, is that we’re not doing this on purpose, and we’re just as mad at ourselves as you are. We’re trying our best. It’s just not enough.

Be nice to your friends/family members/coworkers/etc with ADHD, I can promise you, they are not okay and they wish they could “just focus.”

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