November 29, 2022

Dear Neurotypical Friends and Family…

This one’s for all the neurotypical friends and family who have a loved one living with ADHD. There are SO many misconceptions about this diagnosis, and it can be super challenging for us to communicate our experiences to you effectively.

Societal shame and childhood upbringings have played a huge role in diminishing the voice of ADHDers. But there are so many things we’d like you, our friends and family, to know about us! Thanks to the input of several friends in the community, I’m sharing 3 things we wish you knew about ADHD and 3 things we’d like to ask from you.

Without giving away too much, it’s crucial for you to start by understanding how hard it is for us to share our struggles and ask for help. THANK YOU for taking the time to listen to this episode and for being our support system!

Another helpful thing you can do for a loved one living with ADHD is encourage them to get support. My group coaching program FOCUSED offers a supportive community and the tools needed to thrive with ADHD. >>FOCUSED<<



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This totally free printable includes a psychologist-approved list of symptoms that adults with ADHD commonly experience. This could give you the answers you’ve been begging for your entire life.

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’re listening to the I have ADHD podcast episode number 187. I am medicated, I am caffeinated. And I’m ready to roll. How are you? How are you? Welcome. Come on over, gather around. I’ve got a great episode for you today. Well, this might actually come as a surprise. But if you have ADHD, this episode actually isn’t necessarily for you. This episode is for the people in your life, who you wish knew just a little bit more about ADHD and the ADHD experience. I’ve never done this before. But I’m recording this special episode for the neurotypical people in our lives to explain ADHD and to let them know what we wish they knew about this neurodevelopmental disorder. There are so many misconceptions about ADHD. So I thought it would be really helpful to clear some of them up. And additionally, I found that most ADHD are struggle to communicate about ADHD, and to express their needs. So I’m hoping that this episode will be a vehicle for adults with ADHD, to be able to share a few things about what you might need or want from the people who are closest to you, if you’re brave enough to share it with them.

So to my ADHD listener, I do recommend that you listen to this episode just to make sure that you do resonate with it. And if you do, I encourage you to share it with somebody that you love. Share it with your friends, or your partner, maybe even on your social media, with anyone in your life that you might want to know just a little bit more about what it’s like to be you about what it’s like to have ADHD. So if this episode has been shared with you, if you’re not a regular listener of this podcast, but maybe you’ve received this episode in your DMS or your text, thread or an email, hi, welcome. It’s amazing. It’s so amazing of you to be willing to take the time to listen on the half of your ADHD loved one. It’s really kind of you, it shows that you really care. And you’re interested in learning more about the person in your life with ADHD. Thank you. Truly, I think it’s important that as we get started here, that I let you know who I am and why I have any right or credibility to speak on ADHD.

Okay, so let’s start there. My name is Kristen Carter. I was diagnosed and treated with ADHD when I was 21 years old, but I never really learned what it meant to have ADHD other than it was obvious that I struggled to focus and pay attention. For almost 10 years, I owned a learning center where I worked with children and teens with learning differences, many of those students had ADHD. And as I researched how to help those particular students, I began to learn about the scope of ADHD and all of the areas of life that it impairs. And I was shocked that as someone with ADHD myself, I had never been told this information by anyone, not by my doctor, not by my psychiatrist, no one. As I looked around for people to help me navigate this disorder, I couldn’t really find anyone that I really resonated with. I must have Googled ADHD coach, ADHD expert, you know, you fill in the blank a million times, but I couldn’t find anyone who looked smart and fun and I’m sorry to say this, but at the time, everyone’s website sacked, which was a big barrier for me.

Keep in mind, this is 2015 ish way before ADHD was trending on tic tac. So I decided that the burden was on me to do the research and the learning. I read a million books sat through hundreds of hours of lectures, at least, that’s what it seemed like, and started this podcast at the very beginning of 2019. Since then, I’ve done extensive training as a life coach and have coached more than 1000 adults with ADHD. I’ve had the honor of speaking directly to some of or maybe all of the leading experts in the ADHD industry. The authors of those ADHD books out there. Yeah, I’ve talked to them. I’ve learned from them face to face and it’s been incredible. I tell you all of this, not to brag or to my own horn, but to let you know that I’m not just a cute tick tock are out there who’s taking advantage of a trend. No offense tick talkers. I love you so much. But this is my life’s work and it has been long before it was cool to have ADHD. I’ve cultivated a large community of ADHD ears both in my coaching program and on social media, although I’m not on tic tac, and I thought it would be really interesting for me to ask them what they wish the people that they were close to knew about ADHD, what they wish the people they were close to knew about their experience having ADHD. And all of the answers just really moved me. And that’s what this episode was born out of.

There are so many adults with ADHD who simply don’t know how to communicate about this disorder. It’s really complex and nuanced. And even though I’ve spent a decade immersed in it, I can stumble over explanations of it as well. So if you’ve asked the human in your life about their ADHD, and they haven’t given you much information, other than maybe they have a squirrel brain or they struggle to focus or they forget to eat. I don’t blame them. It is complex. It is nuanced. And it’s hard to explain. Another really interesting fact here is that many ADHD ears don’t know how to ask for what they need. When it comes to living with this disorder. This is likely related to decades of shame around their impairments that they’ve just been trying to hide. They don’t want to mess up as much as they do. And they feel so much shame for all of their failures, and all have their executive functioning impairments. And you know, it’s probably related to their family life as a kid and just not feeling safe to express needs.

But suffice it to say, We ADHD ears kind of suck at expressing our needs, asking what we want, and communicating what would be helpful to us. So I thought it would be helpful if I did the communicating for the ADHD person in your life, or at least if I just got the conversation going, obviously, in the 30 minute podcast, we’re not going to be able to cover everything, but I wanted to take the big things that ADHD ears just really wish that you knew and communicate those to get the conversation rolling. All right. So I pulled my Instagram audience, and I asked them, What do you wish the neurotypical people in your life knew about you? Now let’s start first by saying if you’re not familiar with that term, neurotypical, it’s a scientific term for someone with a typical brain, a brain that functions relatively typically, without the impairment of ADHD or, you know, other mental health disorders.

Okay, so when I pulled my audience, what do you as an ADHD are wish that the neurotypical people in your life knew about your experience? I got some really heartbreaking answers. And I’m going to share the top three answers with you. The reason why I’m sharing these answers specifically is because I got them over and over and over and over, maybe, you know, different ways that people express them, but they were essentially saying the same thing. So here’s number one. I wish you knew, like really knew that ADHD is real. This one is so poignant, because it’s so simple, yet extremely loaded. It’s just three words, ADHD is real. But sometimes your person with ADHD might feel like you don’t believe that their diagnosis is valid. And when you as a neurotypical person kind of dismiss the diagnosis, even if you don’t mean to, maybe you directly imply, maybe you don’t even come out and say it, but you imply that ADHD isn’t a big deal. It isn’t real, like what’s the big deal here? It can be really painful for us.

Now, as an ADHD expert myself, I can tell you with certainty that ADHD is in fact real. It’s an impairment of the frontal lobe of the brain that impacts the executive functions. It’s a disorder of self regulation, meaning that ADHD are struggled to regulate their attention, their behavior and their emotions. ADHD was first mentioned in medical journals in 1902, and has had quite the evolvement as researchers and doctors have learned more and more about it. And as technology has progressed, some fMRI imaging has even shown differences in the brains of adults with ADHD and a recent study came out, I think it was this month that shows a genetic component. I will link that study in the show notes. Anyway, about two to 4% of adults are diagnosed with ADHD and my prediction is actually that the number will increase as I believe there are many adults out there with undiagnosed ADHD who as education is more accessible, will seek a diagnosis. All this to say when you as a person with a typical brain, when you downplay misdiagnosis that we’ve received from a medical professional, it can feel really dismissive. And even if you don’t mean it, it hurts. It’s invalidating.

Sometimes it’s just mean. So what we wish that you knew is that this diagnosis is super real. And it can be absolutely debilitating. I’ll put some research in the show notes, as I said for you. If you’d like to follow the rabbit trails of all of the dangers of untreated ADHD, and what the experts out there, the researchers, the doctors, the psychiatrists, and psychologists say about it, but suffice it to say, your ADHD person would probably really appreciate you believing and really knowing that ADHD is a real thing.

Okay, so, in response to the question, what do you wish the neurotypical people in your life knew about your experience with ADHD. A lot of ADHD ears responded with some version of this. It’s not a lack of willingness. It’s a lack of ability. It’s not that I don’t want to show up on time, I’m literally not able to. It’s not that I don’t want to follow through on that thing that I said I was going to do. It’s that I can’t. Now I know this gets really tricky here. The first thing you need to know is that ADHD is a spectrum disorder.

So this means that different people with ADHD will be impaired to varying degrees. Not everyone’s ADHD looks exactly the same. But there are some very real impairments that come along with this disorder. All humans are given a set of executive functions in their brains that allow them to show up and get things done. And as I said earlier, ADHD is a disorder of executive functioning. So let’s just say that for most people with ADHD, probably, you’re a person that you love with ADHD, their executives do not function very well. So here are some of the symptoms that you might see in your human with ADHD. They struggle with working memory, they forget things a lot.

They’re kind of like out of sight out of mind. If your ADHD human says that they’ll stop for milk on the way home from work, but then they don’t do it. It’s not because they don’t want to do it. It’s a lack of ability to remember to do it. Another example of an executive function is ability to understand time we call it time blindness. We struggle as ADHD errs to understand and conceptualize time. So your ADHD person is not selfish or lazy when they show up late, they’re legitimately impaired when it comes to time. Organization and prioritization are two other areas of weakness. So if your ADHD human is messy, unorganized loses stuff all the time. That’s pretty typical ADHD behavior, no matter how much they want to be organized and tidy. Their ADHD hinders them from doing so. emotional regulation is another really important one. And your person with ADHD, the person that you love, the reason why you’re listening to this podcast, they really struggle to identify, process and regulate their emotions. So if you’re human with ADHD is kind of an emotional roller coaster, that’s typical. They want to be regulated, they want to be steady. And even just like you are, it’s not a lack of desire, but they don’t have the ability to do it because of the area of their brain that’s impaired by ADHD.

Namely, in this case, the amygdala, let me say that we do not believe that ADHD is an excuse, and that they just get a free pass. We’re not asking for a free pass, we’re just asking for some understanding. ADHD is an explanation of why life is so hard.

ADHD is an explanation of why it’s so hard to be living with your human with ADHD. ADHD is an explanation of why they show up late or why they’re emotionally explosive, it doesn’t mean that they get a free pass and that there are no consequences. So please don’t hear me saying that. What it does mean is that they need a lot more support, they probably need to spend a lot more money on their mental health than they are spending right now. They probably could do some therapy, some coaching, some strategies, some support some accountability. That’s what a human with ADHD needs to thrive. And so I want to be very careful as I’m going through this that the ADHD person in your life, they’re not asking for a free pass. They’re asking you to understand that it’s not that they’re not willing to do the things, it’s that they’re really impaired and they’re struggling a lot. Right. Okay, the last answer that I’m going to go over here and this one came up a ton. So the question is, remember, what do you wish the neurotypical people in your life knew? about your experience with ADHD. Here’s the last answer to that question.

I’m telling you, I got this answer so many times, here’s what your adult with ADHD wants you to know. They want you to know that they know it’s hard for you to be in relationship with them. They know, they know it’s hard for you to be in relationship with them. But they want you to know that living with ADHD is so so hard for them. We know it’s hard for you to live with us. But living with ADHD is so difficult. Your human knows that it’s hard for you to be in relationship with them. They know.

They know they can be messy and unorganized and late and seem flighty or uninterested. They’re aware of that. They wish they didn’t show up in this way they wish they could be, quote unquote better for you. So it wasn’t so frustrating for you. They see the impacts and they don’t like it. But they really need you to know that they are drained. They are physically and mentally drained. The amount of energy that it takes your human with ADHD to show up day after day, to wake up on time to get out the door with clean clothes on to go to work and not have an explosion at the coworker that they hate to pick up the groceries at the right time and make dinner at the right time and take care of all of the adult things that really just come naturally to you. It’s actually really, really hard for your ADHD person. Remember, ADHD is a disorder of self regulation.

We struggle to regulate our attention, our behavior, our emotions, think about how much self regulation is involved in a day, and just a day of adulting. Even just taking a shower and getting ready for the day has like 42 steps involved. It’s exhausting for us to have to work so hard to regulate ourselves all day long. So much of your person with ADHD, that human that you love, so much of their mental and emotional energy is going to simply regulating themselves, convincing themselves to do the things that you do naturally. So we’re tired, they’re drained, they might need a nap or alone time. And it might seem that their lives are pretty easy, but we just can’t handle it. Yeah, they know. But it’s it’s hard for them. All right, how you doing? I really hope that I’m creating an environment where you are not feeling attacked, but you’re just gaining some understanding. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for listening. Because it shows how much you care about your ADHD human for you to take your time and energy to listen to this on behalf of someone that you love. I respect it. Love it. Thank you.

Okay, so I’m going to share three top answers to another question that I asked. I pulled my audience with this question, what do you need? What do you need from the neurotypical people in your life? Now? This might break your heart a little it sure broke my heart. The top answer that I got over and over was this. I need understanding, patience and empathy. What your person with ADHD needs from you, my friends, is understanding, patience, and empathy. They want to be understood. They want you to know a little bit about their symptoms and impairments, so that you can see them not as flaws but for what they are symptoms and impairments.

They’re dying for you to be just a little bit more patient with them. They know they’re annoying. They know that living with them can be hard and sometimes inconvenient and difficult for you. But they’d love for you to practice patience. They’d love for you to practice empathy. Gosh, every human craves empathy, so much and ADHD are no different. Now, if you roll your eyes at the concept of empathy, like I used to, I really like Brene Brown’s definition of it from her book Atlas of the heart. She says that empathy is not walking in someone else’s shoes. Rather than walking in your shoes. I need to learn how to listen to the story you tell about what it’s like in your shoes. And believe you even when it doesn’t match my experience. It’s not beautiful. That’s what we’re all looking for, believe me, even if your experience doesn’t match my experience. The next most common response that I received when I asked adults with ADHD, what they need from neurotypical people in their lives was this less judgment and more normalizing of the strategies that they use to stay afloat. Here’s what I mean. A lot of people wrote in to tell me things like their partners made fun of them. For setting reminders to eat, because what kind of person needs a reminder to eat, or their best friend that their routines were too regimented or too rigid, or they didn’t think they should have to write things down in order for their ADHD human to remember it.

But the strict strategies that your ADHD human has in place are important, because there’s scaffolding that literally holds up the entire operation. So please don’t demean or dismiss or judge these strategies instead, can you offer some help with them? Can you help us to set reminders for ourselves? Can you remind us to eat can you implement some sort of hopefulness with this

instead of judgment? That’s what we would love. Actually, that leads me to my very last response here. So when I asked ADHD ears, what do you need from the neurotypical people in your life? The third most common answer was, I’d really like some help. I want you to ask me, Hey, is there anything you need? Or hey, can I do anything to help? If you’re willing to engage with some understanding of the disorder and consent to being empathetic? It does seem like offering help would be a natural outworking to that. Now, your ADHD human might not actually ask you for help. And there’s so much that I could go into here, but I’m just going to say that there’s a lot of factors at play, including shame, maybe some past family stuff, lots of factors here, but please know that if you see your ADHD person floundering, if they’re rushing around to get out the door, for example, less judgement, more help, would be so amazing.

My husband often asks, if he can pack my lunch for me, if he can help me get out the door. There’s anything I need. I know it seems really simple, but it’s not because those easy tasks are actually the hardest ones. For me, see, I can run a successful company, I can have an awesome podcast, blah, blah, blah, I can do those things that seem hard to the outside world.

But what’s most difficult for me, is remembering to take out the trash and the night that the trash is supposed to go out. What’s most difficult for me, is remembering to do laundry before I have zero clean clothes left. What’s most difficult for me is getting my kids folders out of their backpacks and remembering to sign all the papers. What’s most difficult for me is actually showing up at the dentist when I have an appointment scheduled. Those normal, easy, typical adulting things are actually the hardest for your person with ADHD. And so please, they can probably use some help.

Now when I surveyed my audience and asked them if they felt comfortable asking the people in their lives for help, only 36% said yes, that means 67% of adults with ADHD, at least the ones that I surveyed, are not comfortable expressing what they need and asking for help. So it’s very likely that your loved one with ADHD, feels ashamed, feels maybe a little bit judged, feels incompetent, and they just don’t want to ask for help with the easy things in life because they feel like they should be able to do it better. But by cultivating understanding and patience and empathy, you will create a feeling of safety for your ADHD loved one over time, you’ll be able to show them that it’s safe for them to express their needs, without judgment without thinking that they shouldn’t need, you know the things they’re asking for.

So please know that if your person with ADHD expresses a need to even just sending this podcast, it’s a magical moment, hold on to it with care, don’t spook them away, or they’ll never ask for help. Again, it’s a very vulnerable to express how difficult life is with ADHD. And so if you received this podcast, it’s a gift. It means that the ADHD person in your life trusts you, it means that they’re willing to be vulnerable with you, it means that they want to connect with you. I hope this was helpful to you and understanding the person that you love with ADHD. And I hope that this episode will allow you to foster a beautiful connection. And I want to say on behalf of ADHD ears everywhere. Thank you so much for listening, and for taking the time and effort to deepen your understanding of ADHD and the person that you love. Who has ADHD. All right. That’s it for this episode. I will see you next week. Bye bye.

A few years ago I went looking for help. I wanted to find someone to teach me how to feel better about myself and to help me improve my organization productivity time management, emotional regulation. You know all the things that we adults with ADHD struggle with, they couldn’t find anything. So I researched and I studied and I hired coaches and I figured it out. Then I created focused for you. Focus is my monthly coaching membership where I teach educated professional adults how to accept their ADHD brain and hijack their ability to get stuff done. Hundreds of people from all over the world are already benefiting from this program and I’m confident that you will to go to Ihaveadhd.com/focused for all details

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