Few children want to be “different” from their peers. We instinctively want to fit in. To avoid being different from the crowd, we start to mask our ADHD symptoms early on. To compensate for executive dysfunction, we develop perfectionistic tendencies. To release hyperactivity, we fidget. To avoid awkward interactions, we decline social invitations. This masking helps us fit into society, but it can also be exhausting, isolating and shame-inducing.
While it is helpful to educate others about ADHD, self-acceptance is key to overcoming the stigma and accepting ADHD. Find courage in the comments below to see how ADDitude readers are working towards unmasking their ADHD traits.
ADHD: Being Yourself
Since I was diagnosed as an adult with ADHD, so many things have happened to me. My husband says that my symptoms are worse. Shame, in my opinion, is not an acceptable excuse. We’ll find out. — Sara
“With the help of diagnosis, I was able to get out. This is liberating. I style my hair whenever I want. I also bounce my legs and fidget. I ask myself: Was this so embarrassing that I had suppressed it? — Katarzyna
It felt good to take the necessary steps. The overall experience was enjoyable, even though the process itself was difficult. The process is difficult but I like it. “Finding out who I am, and my experience of the past”. Jessica
“I am a senior manager at a medium-sized tech company and I’m not afraid to share my diagnosis.” When ADHD symptoms appear, I tell people what to expect. I interrupt someone’s train of thought when I have a random idea to tell them what a great topic they are discussing. Nobody cares if I forget my point mid-sentence and need to be reminded. They can interrupt me to bring the topic back on track, if needed. It means no one has to watch me search for tangents. — Chris
I want to live perfect life as I can Chriss. At work I feel happier and more productive.
“Yes and No.” Listen to me. You try to avoid masking… I’d love to be allowed to sing loudly at work, and have a dance when I feel like it. It is disrespectful to others who need to be able concentrate and hear their thoughts. I put on my headphones and sing in my head. I squiggle in the handicapped restroom. I’m still honest about my ADHD, but I get more cooperation when I am considerate. — Anneke
I am 45 years old and this is my first time unmasking. It’s frightening, but so liberating!” — Andreya
“Let’s let it out!” We are what and who we are. It’s not a problem. There are 8 billion people in the world and a whole army of ADHDers. We’ve got your back. — Trev
It’s amazing how it works. I never knew I had ADHD all my life. I didn’t know the things I had learned to help me. I was also unaware of the habits I developed along the way. I used to get a lot of criticism from people because I would chew my fingernails too much and they would bleed. My fingernails are now kept clean and shiny to prevent them from being chewed. However, I still want something with which to play. Then they’ll end in my mouth as stimulation. — Erika
“I don’t like faces covered”.
“I will replace others who are annoying ! No more hiding, no more being myself!” Loco Senorita
In the cafe,the staff would gather at a nearby table to chat between shifts. One of the staff members was unable to remain still for long. He is at ease with them because they have worked together in COVID and are good friends. Pamela
No one should be ashamed. They are what they are. — Daniela