I HAVE ADHD PODCAST - Episode #266

June 4, 2024

Breaking Free from Masking: ADHD and Authenticity in Relationships

In this episode, we’ll explore what masking is, how it impacts our relationships and self-perception, and why it’s so crucial to create spaces where we can be our authentic selves.

For those of us with ADHD, masking often means hiding or downplaying our symptoms to fit societal norms or meet others’ expectations. This behavior is frequently learned from caregivers who, sometimes with the best intentions, teach us to conform. But while masking might help us navigate certain social situations, it comes with a significant emotional toll.

In this episode, we discuss how masking can strain our relationships and warp our self-perception. When we’re constantly trying to fit into a mold that wasn’t designed for us, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy and exhaustion. I share some personal experiences and stories from our community about the struggles and triumphs related to masking.

One of the key takeaways from this discussion is the importance of creating safe spaces where we can be our true selves. Whether it’s setting boundaries, practicing self-acceptance, or educating those around us, there are steps we can take to reduce the need for masking. I also introduce an adult ADHD masking measure that you can use for self-reflection to better understand your own masking behaviors.

Masking is a challenging but essential topic, and I hope this discussion helps you on your journey toward self-acceptance and authenticity. Remember, it’s okay to be yourself, and you deserve relationships that honor and support who you truly are.

Links used in today’s episode:
Medical News Today
Behavioral Health Consulting Solutions (info about the Masking Measure)
Masking Measure Questionnaire 



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Kristen Carder

Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B. Hey, what’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast, and medicated I am caffeinated. I am regulated and I am so ready to roll.

How are you happy? June Oh, my gosh, it is finally here. Warm weather sunny skies, birds chirping, animals frolicking. And I am just so happy, I am so glad to be with you today. And I hope that you are outside, if you’re not outside, go outside, get some sunshine. Don’t forget that nature is a thing. And maybe I can be your body double with you as you take a walk or a hike or a bike ride or whatever it is that you do in the out of doors. I’m just so glad to be here with you today. And I’m so glad that you press play on this podcast. I don’t know if it’s weird to you when I say this, but I mean it from the bottom of my heart. I know there are so many other podcasts out there and you press play on this one on this one with me. Thank you. That’s so nice. I’m so so glad.

So we’re going to talk today about masking. And I was just reflecting. You know, it’s been five years of podcasting. And I’ve never done an episode on masking which is shocking to me. It’s so weird and fun that there are still things that I haven’t done episodes on in five years, we’ve got like 260 Something episodes. And yet, here we are, again, in a brand new topic that really does need to be discussed. So we’re gonna get into it today, it’s gonna be lovely. I want to first let you know, though, that in July, I’m going to be teaching a course on relationships. Oh my gosh, I’m so excited. I love talking about relationships. Apparently, they are my special interest. I’m an ADHD coach. I work with adults with ADHD, I’m what is called a general life coach, meaning I will coach on anything and everything as it pertains to ADHD and just the human experience. But I am obsessed with helping my clients have deep connected healthy relationships. And this is something that has emerged in the last couple years as I have done a ton of work on my own relationships, and then been able to help clients with this as well. So I am going to be teaching a course, in my focused ADHD coaching membership on the topic of relationships in July, I really want you to join me, if you have been thinking like, oh, I shouldn’t really, I should really give that a try. Like I should try focused and you just haven’t gotten around to it.

First of all, you are my people I totally understand. I totally understand, I would love for this to be the topic that you join us for, you’re gonna get a workbook, it’s actually really good workbook. I know not everybody is a workbook person. And if you do it great. If you don’t, it’s totally fine. But the workbook itself is gold. And then we’re going to have four classes taught by me. And then four coaching calls on the topic of relationships, plus lots of prompts in our community and lots of like ability to encourage each other and ask questions and that sort of thing. So I just really want you to join me and I also want you to know that we are going to be running a big, huge sale around that time as well. So if you want to know all about that, and you don’t want to miss it, make sure first of all, you keep listening to this podcast, because I’m gonna be talking about it. And then also make sure that you’re on my email list. If you’re not on my email list, go get on my email list, but I have adhd.com I think really the only place to sign up for the email list right now on the website is to click on symptoms and click Print symptoms. And it’ll prompt you to put in your email and then you’ll be on the list and you’ll get to take advantage of the huge sale that’s coming.

We’re going to be running the sale for a week moving into July so like end of June beginning of July. You’re not going to want to miss it. I don’t want you to miss it. Let’s put it that way. Maybe you do want to miss it. I don’t want you to miss it. It’s just such an important topic because we ADHD are struggles so much in our relationships, and we don’t know how to fix them. We don’t know how to. We don’t know how to show up as ourselves which is What we’re going to talk about today with masking and we don’t know how to find safe people, and we don’t know if we deserve to be around like good people. And we don’t know if we’re the problem, or the other person is the problem. There’s just so much that goes into it as being adult with ADHD. So anyway, I can’t wait to reteach the chorus, I can’t wait to talk about it for a whole month, my special interest for a whole month, it’s so fun. So if you want to know about focus, if you want to know like, What the heck is this thing that she’s talking about go to I have adhd.com That’s my website, you can click on focused, that’s the coaching program, you can read all about it, if you are like me, you’re gonna want to go to that page 100 times you’re gonna run want to read every single word, you don’t want to click every single thing and do all of your own research.

And I really encourage you to do that I have a video on there for you, and just lots of testimonials and explanation of how the program works. And then if you want to take advantage of the big sale, you got to stay tuned, it’s gonna be worth your while promise. It’s time for me to shout out the only sponsor of the I have ADHD podcast, which is a G one. Now it’s important to me that the supplements that I take are the highest quality. And that’s why for years, like going on two years, I’ve been drinking ag one, ag one is constantly searching for how to do things better and like same. You know, like, I want to do things better, too. And they’re at 52 iterations of their formula and counting. That’s a lot. That’s so impressive. Their team is always trying to find better ways to source and test and they aim to find the best quality ingredients available. I know that I can trust what’s in every scoop of ag one because ag one is listen to this. And NSF Certified for Sport, which I looked it up I did a Google because I was like what does this mean? It’s one of the most rigorous independent quality and safety certification programs in the supplement industry. It’s really impressive. Now taking care of my health as an adult with ADHD has always been complicated.

It’s just hard. I’ve always struggled with it, but ag one simplifies it by covering my nutritional bases and setting me up for success in just 60 seconds. And some days it’s even less than 60 seconds like it is fast and easy. Ag ones ingredients are heavily researched for efficacy and quality. And I love that every scoop also contains prebiotics, probiotics, and digestive enzymes forgot support, which we all know is important for the ADHD brain. Now I’ve partnered with ag one for so long. And they’re the only sponsor that I’ve allowed on this podcast, because they make such a high quality product that I genuinely do not mind drinking every day. And when I say every day, your girl has been drinking it every day. I even took the travel packs with me on vacation recently, and was able to support my health while away eating fast food every day. But like at least I had my ag one. So if you want to replace your multivitamin and more, start with ag one. Try ag one and get a free one year supply of vitamin d3 k two and five free ag one travel packs with your first subscription at drinkagone.com/ihaveADHD. That’s drinkagone.com/ihaveADHD. Check it out.

All right, y’all. Let’s talk about masking. So let’s start with what is it? According to add.org masking is when a person with ADHD acts in a socially acceptable way to fit in and form better connections with those around them. This usually involves camouflaging their symptoms by controlling their impulses, rehearsing responses and copying the behavior of those that don’t have ADHD. Sound familiar? I wanted to read another definition just so we have some variety here. From Medical News Today masking also known as camouflaging or impression management. I like that. I like that term impression.

Management refers to when someone makes changes to the way that they behave to cover up or compensate for their symptoms. So yeah, masking is a thing most neurodivergent people mask I understand that masking is a whole thing within the Autistic community as well. That’s not a community that I have a ton of experience with as far as like I am not autistic. I have a lot of autistic people in the focused ADHD coaching program and my son was just diagnosed with autism like yesterday, but I’m not going to pretend to be an expert as far as the experience of the autistic person. So I’m going to speak through the lens of someone with ADHD and we all all ADHD wears masks from time to time, some of us more than others, we were literally taught to mask, it’s just the way that we naturally show up is a little strange. I mean, can I get an amen to that, and think of yourself as a child with ADHD. And think of how your parent or your older brother or someone around, you would just be like, don’t do that. That’s weird. Stop doing that. That’s weird. Don’t say that. You can’t say that in public, or you can’t bounce your leg like that that’s annoying, or stop sniffing the way you are, whatever. Whatever the case may be, I think that sometimes our caregivers and whoever was kind of teaching us to mask, sometimes they had our best interest in mind. I mean, that makes sense, right? Like, sometimes they’re just like, I don’t want my kids to be rejected for the way that they’re showing up.

And I can have compassion for that, like, I appreciate in some instances, being helped to see what is socially acceptable and what is not socially acceptable. I think that is just part of parenting. And part of bringing our kids up into the world is helping them to see like, Hey, if you jump around like that, in certain settings, you might get made fun of or you might be rejected. So you might want to save that for home. Or you might want to try to sit still so that you can fit in. And I think that in some ways that’s really protective and beautiful. And in other ways, it really taught us to not be ourselves. And I think there are a lot of US adults with ADHD who are now trying to unpick and untangle. What are the ways that I am masking that it’s actually helpful and a good thing? And what are the ways in which I masking that is actually hiding myself and being inauthentic. And really that’s going to be the theme of our conversation today is in what ways is this helping you because obviously masking is helpful or we wouldn’t do it? And in what ways is this preventing you from being your fullest version of yourself that you want to be? And so it’s actually a pretty deep conversation. Let’s start with acknowledging that all people mask, even neurotypical people, if you think about the way, like think back to your childhood, and the way that your mom would answer the phone would be like her phone voice. Do you remember this, I’m holding my hand in my ear, using a phone from the 1900s. You know, when that was plugged into the wall, back in the day, and your mom would like pick up the phone and say hello, like in her like phone voice. And I remember just looking at my mom being like, why are you using a fake voice.

But it’s it was masking, it was a pretend fake voice for the telephone a little bit more professional than the like, haggard mom voice right that you would use around the house. So thinking through the different ways that all people mask, I think is really good, like how I show up at work, or how any neurotypical human shows up at work is going to be different than how they show up at home. That’s not abnormal. It’s very, it’s very typical for every human to enter an environment and kind of put on a certain mask to reflect the appropriate attire and tone and vibe of that environment. I don’t want to categorize masking in general as being an overall bad thing. I think that we should actually normalize a lot of what we do, because all humans do mask, you don’t show up to your doctor in the same way that you show up to a sleepover. I don’t know why is it sleep over? Like what adult is going to as well actually. Okay, let’s just move on from that. Let’s just move on from there. Like any neurotypical is going to talk to their best friend in the backyard at a barbecue differently than they’re going to talk to the teller at the bank. That’s not a problem. And I don’t see that as being inauthentic or insincere, or fake. And I think it’s important because often times when a neurodivergent person learns that they’ve been masking what they there’s this tendency to want to rip off the mask and show up quote unquote, authentically in every space, meaning like, I’m just going to be myself no matter what and like whoever’s on the receiving end can just deal with it. Which, sure that can that if you want to go in that direction. Sure that’s an option.

But I don’t know that that is really how we feel function in society, I think there is this level of like, we all show up to different, like, if I’m going to an award ceremony, I’m gonna be real different than if I am going to my backyard to sit on on my back porch. Like it’s just, it’s different. And that’s okay. It doesn’t make it in authentic, there’s just different aspects of my personality that are going to show up in different settings. And that is normal, we don’t need to say like, well, I have to be the same person in every setting. That’s not really a thing. In my opinion. Nobody does that. Nobody shows up the same in every single setting. So I don’t want you to have this idea that maybe you are insincere or inauthentic. If you’re showing up differently in different settings, that’s not necessarily a problem. That’s usually just being human. Right. It’s just being human. There’s a certain level of propriety that’s required, like at church, that’s not required when I’m at the beach. It’s just it’s just a different setting. And so a different version of Kristen Carter is going to come out. That doesn’t make me inauthentic. That doesn’t make me insincere. And it doesn’t mean like, oh, girl, you’re masking this is a bad thing. It’s like, No, this is just a different setting. And I am an adult who was understanding what’s expected and what’s required in each setting. So it’s not really a problem. Everyone masks it’s a normal thing that all humans do. Well, however, however, where it becomes problematic, in my opinion, is when we neurodivergent folks have to mask in order to be accepted. That’s when it becomes a problem when we have to pretend to be okay, when we’re not okay. When we have to pretend to understand what’s going on, when we don’t know what’s going on, when we have to pretend to like something that we don’t like when we when we have to pretend from a really insincere, inauthentic place that feels yucky, that feels performative, that feels just gross.

That’s when it’s a problem. It’s also a problem, in my opinion, when we have to hide ourselves, when we feel like we can’t show who we really are, when we’re masking to cover up our vulnerability in my opinion, that’s when it’s a problem, not when we’re just kind of showing up with a with a more professional vibe or not when we’re just you know, like, Okay, I’m not gonna wear a bikini to church. Like it’s not masking. I’m not gonna wear a bikini to church. I’m gonna wear a bikini at the beach, because that’s appropriate. But I’m not going to resent the church environment for being like, why can I just wear a bikini? Because that’s what I want to wear. It’s like, well, no, that is not that’s not the plate. Does that. Can you imagine I’m a pastor’s wife. By the way, can you imagine showing

the image now, I hope I’ve created just a hilarious image in your head. Hopefully my husband’s not listening to this. Okay. So I think it’s important that we start here, there is a difference between symptom management and masking. And I don’t even think that the articles out there on the interwebs do a good job of making the distinction between symptom management and masking. Not everything that we do to manage our symptoms as an adult with ADHD is masking. That’s not it. Okay. So there’s this whole aspect of ADHD, that is symptom management.

And yeah, like you’re an adult with ADHD, you’re going to need to manage your symptoms, or you’re not going to hold down a job or you’re not going to keep a relationship or you’re not going to be able to function in society. That’s, that’s not masking. Managing our symptoms is just helping us to function in society. And there’s nothing wrong with this. Obviously, we want to be functional adults, we want to hold the job, go to the store, have friends, we want to be able to just show up and function. And that’s not being fake. That’s not masking, okay. In my opinion, it’s just symptom management and it’s not masking. So here’s an example of what I mean, on add.org website. In the article that I referred to earlier, which I will link in the show notes. They listed this as a form of masking here it is being extra early to events to avoid being late. In my opinion, that’s not masking that’s just smart symptom management. Like you have ADHD, you know you suck at time management. You Gotta be late if you’re not extra careful. So showing up early is just a way that you’re managing your symptoms. It’s just a way that you’re making sure that you’re able to function in society. It’s not, you know, not allowing your true self to come out. Like if we did that with our time management, we would never show up is that like, hello, right. So, masking is not letting your true self be seen. Showing up early to ensure that you’re not late is just smart ADHD management, in my opinion, okay. So I think that as you are processing and maybe assessing like, okay, am I’m asking, Where am I masking? Do I want to mask? Is it working for me? Do I want to make changes I really want to encourage you to, I’m making hand motions and you can’t see me, you can’t see me you’re listening. Separate? That is what I’m trying to say, to separate ADHD symptom management and masking because there is a difference. I don’t know what the specific nuanced differences are for you. So that’s for you to just think through and figure out but separating Okay, where am I masking hiding my true self not wanting to be seen not wanting to be vulnerable, fearing rejection? And where am I just managing my symptoms?

Because I know I have ADHD and I know that symptom management is important. Next, let’s talk about why do we mask I think it’s pretty obvious. But let’s go ahead and go through it. We obviously mask to avoid rejection, we mask to fit in, in environments where maybe we’re not safe. We mask because the world is not set up for neurodivergent people. That’s why we mask, we mask because we were taught to mask by our parents, by our teachers, by our older siblings, by our coaches by our caregivers, we were taught Hey, the way that you show up in the world is weird. So you need to change, or I’m going to reject you. And that’s so sad, that it’s so sad. It’s so sad. It’s so sad. And yet it is the reality that we live in tangent, I’m gonna go off on a tangent here. Sometimes I get people commenting on my stuff, saying like, the world is just not made for people, you know, for Neuro divergent people. So we need to fix the world. Like, no divergences would not be a problem. If the world would just adjust and if schools were just a better place, and like they just go on and on and like, yeah, totally. Totally agree with you. But also, that’s not the world we live in. Like, we got to live in reality, when someone comes at me with like, ADHD is not a disorder. It’s just a different way of being and the world needs to adjust to it.

Like, great, what are you going to do to make the world adjust? Because so far, in my 43 years, the world has not adjusted to me. And, and also, I do struggle with that thinking of like, the world just needs to adjust to me like, like, I’m okay with understanding that my brain is different. And, and I need to make some adjustments to live in the world. That’s not a problem for me. I know, that’s a problem for a lot of people. So if that activates you, fair enough, I totally get it. But for me, it’s like, I don’t feel entitled that the world is just going to automatically adjust to my every whim. That’s just not. It’s not an expectation that I have. As a parent of two neurodivergent kids, do I wish that the world was set up better for them? Yes. And their world is set up so much more in an accepting way than my world was so that they are getting so many more accommodations, there’s so much more acceptance, they’re able to talk to their friends about mental health and their neuro divergences. Like they’re able to do that. So I do think we are improving in that way. But I also just want to say like, yeah, it would be great if the world were set up for it. For my for my brain that’s a little bit wild. And that’s a little bit quirky, but I also don’t feel entitled that everyone else around me needs to adjust. I know that I can adjust and hear me. I think that I can do it in an authentic way. That shows my nerd emergencies and doesn’t hide myself but also keeps me safe. Okay, so why do we mask we mask to keep ourselves safe because the world is not set up for us and understanding and really accepting that the world was set up for neurotypical brains not neurodivergent brains really understanding that and being like, Okay, what do I want to do about that? How do I want to show up? What is my role here? What do I want to take responsibility for? What do I want to let go of? What do I want to put on someone else? Like all of this is really important, deep adult work. Are you in? Like, are you Let’s go are you in? Okay? So we mask to avoid rejection, because the world is not set up for us to kind of fit in where we’re unsafe.

And we actually in a lot of instances, either were, or maybe are unsaved, meaning we will be rejected if we don’t mask. So how does it help us? I mean, faking normalcy can be real helpful, you’ve experienced that you’ve experienced masking, showing up in a way pretending and being accepted. Because of it, I’m not going to stand here and say masking is bad. Don’t like stop all masking. Like, I want us to acknowledge that it’s actually been helpful to us in a lot of ways. It’s also been harmful, we’re gonna get there, but it has been helpful. It’s allowed us to survive different environments. It was adaptive for us, especially I would assume when we were little to function within the school system and to stay in friend groups and to not be rejected and maybe to get a job and to fake it in the workplace and all of that. It is adaptive behavior. However, it becomes maladaptive.

It does become maladaptive and we’re gonna get there. Okay, so masking can help us avoid rejection, it can help us land a job, it can help us to be included. It can help us in a lot of ways, but it can also harm us. Masking takes a toll. It’s really hard to feel like you have to fake it in order to be accepted. That’s so hard. So hard. It’s really hard to feel like you’re not known for your real self is really hard to think if they only knew what my house was like. They would hate me or if they only knew what XYZ looked like, what my closet look like what my car looks like, if they only knew what the behind the scenes look like. I would for sure be rejected. That does not feel good.

That is intense pressure. That is a weight to carry. It’s a lot. It’s a lot. I’m going to read some excerpts from our focus community I posted in Slack yesterday, we have my focus, ADHD, coaching, membership. And slack is where we hang out. And we encourage each other and I answer Coaching Questions and generally just hanging out as ADHD ears and I I asked some questions about masking yesterday and I got some beautiful answers. So I want to illustrate for you and maybe this will give language to like your experience. I wanted to share what my members say about masking and how it impacts them. I’m not going to name names just so you know, I’m just going to read from here. Masking to me means I’m holding back and hiding parts of myself to avoid judgment and negativity. Masking is so tiring. It’s one of the main reasons that I avoid people. Masking is acting in a way that’s unnatural for me for someone else’s benefit, or so that I can fit in better eye mask constantly. Up until a few years ago, the only time I unmasked was when I was at home, or by myself in nature. Masking means that I’m putting on an aura of capability on the outside. But inside I’m feeling like each and every task that I’m asked to do no matter how tiny feels like a humongous mountain to climb. Masking to me is when I’m pretending it shows up as hiding that something is hard for me often going to great lengths to hide the struggle. I was late diagnosed in my mid 50s. So repairing the collateral damage of my own unmanageability and charming my way around these incorrigible characteristics kind of became my personality. Removing these now kind of leaves me wondering who I am. So maybe it feels like masking because I act like I have it together. When God knows I don’t masking to me is knowing that you are too much for a person or a group in a setting that is more serious.

So I need to behave or perform well and not be over the tower. Ramboll masking for me definitely presents as social anxiety. It’s not inviting people to my house because they’ll see the mess, pretending everything is fine responding to how are you with I’m good you have anxiety about whether I’m talking too much driving too fast or being one minute late, agreeing to things that I know will make my body cringe. I’m most likely to unmask with those who I truly trust, mainly with other ADHD years, I started masking fiercely after my first experience of bullying in the fourth grade. I started masking from then on, it was pretty constant and involuntary. I never took the mask off, except at home with family or all by myself. And I never stopped masking until I turned 5050. Oh my goodness, that’s 40 years of masking. Okay, I’m gonna end this with a hysterical story. Here’s an example from before I was diagnosed with ADHD at one of my former jobs, no matter how hard I tried, I could never figure out what the company did, says you are going to die. When I was first hired, someone explained it to me, I thought my brain interpreted it correctly. But I eventually found out that I was wrong, like any good ADHD or I avoid difficult conversations like the plague.

So I didn’t want anyone to think that I wasn’t paying attention. By asking again, I tried to figure it out by taking cues from listening to other people about the company. But every time I thought I had it right, I would hear another explanation that was totally different. Oh, my goodness, what turned my brain into a pretzel. After I was there for a year or two, it would have looked really bad on me. If I had to ask someone, what is this company actually do? Eventually, as much as possible, I would do my best to avoid any conversation where it might come up. As a member of the company’s marketing team, I had to find creative ways to describe the firm’s capabilities for different pieces of content, all without revealing that I had no idea what I was talking about. I stayed there for 10 years, y’all. If that is not the most perfect example, I do not know what is.

I mean, that is the most HD thing that I have ever heard in my life. 10 years on the marketing team, and you don’t know what the company does. I love it. So, so so so much. Okay, so here’s a question. Is it worth stopping? Is it worth it? Is it worth stopping yourself from asking, is it worth on masking? This is a really, really interesting conversation to be had. And what I want to say is, I want you to be very clear on where you are comfortable masking, where you can accept that from yourself as just like, oh, this is just like a normal thing that I’m going to do. And it’s totally fine that I’m going to mask in this environment. And where are you having this nagging feeling like hey, you’re not really being yourself, and you’re hiding and you’re being inauthentic. And I’m uncomfortable with us doing that in this location? So for example, can you unmask in your own home? I really, really want the answer to be yes. Can you unmask in front of yourself? Without judging yourself for your symptoms? For your corks for the way that you put the keys in the refrigerator? Can you unmask at home? In front of you? Are you a safe person to unmask in front of Ooh, that question is a good question to say it again. Are you a safe person to unmask in front of or do you shame and beat yourself up and judge yourself and reject yourself for your ADHD symptoms? I mean, if that’s not the question, I don’t know what is.

I’m getting hot. I’m starting to pretend I’m getting hot. Like that is the question. Can you unmask in front of you? That’s where we want to start? Are you safe at home? Are you safe to just be yourself? Without fear of judgment and shame in front of yourself? If the answer to that is no that’s where you need to start. We do I need to go out into the world and ask them to accept us without judgment when we haven’t even done that work ourselves. No, no, we can start on Inside, we’re gonna start at home, we’re gonna start with asking our very closest people to accept us for who we are, we’re going to start setting a precedent, where it’s like, Hey, you don’t actually get to speak unkindly to me about my ADHD symptoms, I need to be safe. In my own home, I understand that some of these are going to impact you. And I’m going to do my best to mitigate that impact.

But also, I am a neurodivergent, human with ADHD and I need to be able to be safe to unmask here. I have to go out into the world and pretend to be able to function, I need to be safe here at home. Here’s how you know that you’re safe. You are not judged. You are not shamed. You are not more accepted when you’re pretending than you are when you’re being authentic.

If that is not the scenario that you are privileged to have at home, that’s where I want you to start, how can we make it safe? How can I be safe for myself? And how can I ask for the people around me to accept me and allow me to unmask here at home? Okay, that’s, that’s number one. After that process happens, what I would really encourage you to do is just pick a couple people who you would be willing to test unmasking in front of, where we’re going to just like, slowly test out if they’re safe or not. So I know I have a sister and a couple friends that I can just totally, totally be myself in front of. And I think that’s important. I’m not 100% myself in front of everyone. That’s not really a thing. In my opinion, like I I showed up to this podcast with makeup on. For those of you who might watch on YouTube, or watch a real on Instagram, I am wearing makeup, that is a mask. Okay, I’m 43 years old, I’m going to be wearing some makeup, if other people that I don’t know are going to be interacting with my face. Right. And I’m okay with that. That’s not inauthentic. That is just me feeling comfortable putting my best self forward with a little bit of concealer and some lipstick and making sure my eyes pop. You know, I’m saying that’s not that’s not in authenticity.

I think that in the neurodivergent community, maybe we’ve allowed the pendulum to swing like really, really far where it’s like, anytime that I’m showing up, you know, not in my fully fully authentic self, then I’m being inauthentic, insincere, or fake. And I just I really want us to curb that. I don’t think that’s actually true. I think there are settings. For example, like right now, where I am, I’m showing like I’m wearing a bra. And you are welcome like that. I think that’s important. But I’m not going to do that at my house. I took it too far. I always do Chatez, who takes it a little too far, every time. My point is, it’s okay to show up different in different settings. But do you have people that you can be fully yourself with? If you don’t, I really encourage you to make it your mission to find some, okay? I don’t want to mask at home. I don’t want to do it, not going to do it. I demand to be accepted in my own home. That is just like baseline, I want to be accepted in my own home. I want to be accepted for myself. And I want to be accepted from the people around me. I also don’t want to mask with my five closest people. I don’t want to have to pretend I don’t want to have to pretend that I’m functioning better than I am. I’m gonna be pretty raw and real with them.

Okay, but here’s what it takes to stop masking. It takes safety. The reason why we started masking in the first place was because we were not safe to be ourselves. Because we were would face rejection, abandonment, isolation, that’s not fun. And so what we need in order to stop masking is safety. Are you putting yourself in safe environments especially at home and with your 234 closest people around you? Are they safe? Are they accepting? Do they know you? Do they do they see you for who you are and love that because that’s what we need in order to stop masking. We need safety. I want to provide you with a real source as we end one of my clients, David found this and I am just so grateful to him for it. It’s from behavioral health consulting solutions. And it is an adult ADHD masking measure. Isn’t that cool? And adult ADHD masking measure. It’s a pioneer assessment tool designed for mental health and medical professionals developed through this is what it says on their website developed through our data informed diagnostic process. The AE M M, which stands for adult ADHD masking measure is an essential resource for accurately identifying and understanding the unique challenges faced by adults with ADHD. I’m gonna link it in the show notes. But you can find it at bhcsmt.com/a m m, you’re gonna have to rewind that 100 times and listen to it or just go click on the link in the show notes.

Keep in mind that it’s currently in its beta testing phase, it’s not yet undergone formal validation. It’s being offered for use on a trial basis and should be utilized as a supplementary assessment in conjunction with other established diagnostic methods in the clinical judgments. But I think it’s really neat and really useful. So it’s a list of 28 questions. And you answer never rarely, sometimes often, or very often, I’m going to just going to read a couple of them, you can go look at them for yourself, I think it would be a really interesting kind of journaling prompt or a self reflection exercise. But here are a couple of the questions, I pretend to be fine. When I’m not. I’m overly cautious about talking too much or interrupting others during conversations. I overdo tasks to the point of exhaustion to prove my capability. I’m overly conscientious about the cleanliness of my living or workspace, I hide hyperactive tendencies, even if they make me feel uncomfortable. I’m overly apologetic due to forgetfulness, or a perceived lack of focus. So those are just a couple of the of the kind of reflections that you can go through there. I really, really found it to be insightful.

And it really showed me the ways in which we ADHD errs work, so freaking hard to keep up. And part of that, again, is just ADHD, symptom management. But another part of it is just the taxing nature of living in a neurotypical world as a neurodivergent human and how hard that is, and how it makes complete sense that we are exhausted. It makes so much sense if you are tired, if you just feel like oh my gosh, I just don’t know if I can keep going because it is just so excruciatingly exhausting to function in the work environment. Especially I just want to honor that and say I validate you. I think that is so real and so true. And being an adult with ADHD is so difficult. I think that part of relieving that pressure is knowing where you can unmask safely and demanding that from yourself in environments where it is safe. Where can I show up authentically, be myself allow myself to be seen? And know that I’m not going to reject myself for it? Probably not at work. But can I do it at home? Can I do it with friends? Can I make sure that I’m only surrounding myself with friends that are fully accepting of me that is a beautiful gift that you can give to yourself. I’m only going to be around friends that I feel comfortable unmasking in front of and if that means I’m alone for a while. That’s what it means.

Because I would rather be alone and unmasking and relaxing and recharging than continuing to have to perform in every environment that I find myself in. Who is big. Alright, this is a much bigger conversation than a 40 minute podcast but I hope that at least we got the wheels turning for today. I would love to hear your thoughts on it and I cannot wait to talk to you next week. Goodbye. Hey ADHD, er, I see you. I know exactly what it’s like to feel lost, confused, frustrated and like no one out there really understand the way that your brain works.

That’s why I created Focus. Focus is my monthly coaching program where I lead you through a step by step process of it Understanding yourself feeling better and creating the life that you know you’re meant for. You’ll study be coached, grow and make amazing changes alongside of other educated professional adults with ADHD from all over the world. Visit Ihaveadhd.com/focused to learn more

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