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ADHD Adults

A lifetime of shame and denial


I’m not completely new to ADHD but I am ready to face it head on for the first time in my life and face the deep sense of shame I have towards it/myself. I’ve been in and out of denial and I’m ready to do something about it.

I’m not sure if this is the correct community for this post, but I figure it’s a start. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I was diagnosed at age 9 and was also diagnosed as gifted. My mom had a very negative outlook and focused almost entirely on my ‘flaws’ (as she worded it) and gave very little attention to my strengths. I hated feeling different than all the other kids and in addition to different, I also felt inferior almost constantly.

In addition to this, my mom has no impulse control and blabbed my diagnosis and the fact that I was on medication to almost anyone who would listen, including my close friends, and she had a negative bent on it. I just had a feeling that people saw my differently after my mom blabbed, and sometimes it was confirmed by distancing. I was completely mortified. She has been blabbing to the present day and has told friends and crushes even.

Growing up, I felt this deep sense of shame and stupidity and wanted to overcome this part of myself desperately. I worked very hard and performed quite well academically. I wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve and was capable and intelligent. For the most part I was able to prove this to myself but the deep sense of shame and differentness never went away

Medication was an interesting story. Due to my mom’s blabbing, I felt a deep sense of shame toward this. Also my mom acted as if I was nothing and had no hope of ever achieving without the medication. I saw it as a crutch but continued to use it for fear of what would happen without it. I had no treatment other than medication treatment.  I was on Ritalin for a few years before switching to Dexidrin, which I stayed on for for 14 years. I forgot the exact dosage but I think it was too high. I liked the focus dexidrine offered, but there were some side effects that were not working for me. First of all, I felt it changed my personality drastically. I felt inhibited to the point of being very shy and reclusive and this was against my natural personality, which was warm and with longing to connect with and embrace the world and the people around me. The medication also made me more edgy, nervous and irritable. These personality changes were quite frustrating.

I also had trouble eating enough and taking pleasure in meals and food and was underweight all my life on medication.

I tried to lower my dosage in my 20s but had a hard time when I started gaining weight, even though I liked my personality and my general level of functioning better on this lower dosage
In my mid 20s I developed an eating disorder and even abused the dexidrine for that purpose at the height of it.

In my late 20s, I decided to go off the medication cold turkey. I stayed active academically and took language courses for fun and to prove to myself I was still able to function and do well off the medication. In addition to that I made some major life changes while off the medication. On the downside, I have been in denial about past and present struggles with adhd and treated it like a dark secret of my past.

However, I am struggling with memory problems to an extreme degree, and focus to a lesser degree. I lose things constantly. My mind races with these great ideas but I struggle to hold onto one of them long enough to see it through to its fruition. I have many dreams and many life changes I yearn to make but I keep procrastinating and getting in the way of myself.  I would love to go back to grad school so I can purse a career path that I would find very rewarding and fulfilling.  I feel that I have the potential and the will to make these changes, but I am struggling with the follow through.

A few weeks ago, my mom came to visit me and my roommate (who is also a dear friend) and she blabbed about my adhd and past medication issues to her. As usual, I was mortified and really wanted this to remain a secret.

Since the visit, my roommate, who sees and empathizes with my day to day struggles with memory and everything else mentioned, is urging me to look into adult ADHD so here I am. I’m going to set up a diagnostic appointment for next week.

I’m scared and excited. I think my biggest obstacle in moving forward will be overcoming this huge sense of shame I have.
I’m nervous about medication due to my personal experiences growing up but I’m willing to give it a try again if it will help me. I think a lower dose might be optimal for me.
I’m also looking forward to learning some organizational strategies and coping skills as well as other non medication treatments to supplement this. I’ve never tried other non medication related treatments as a child and I’m optimistic about learning some of these now.


It sounds as if your mother has some of your ADHD traits. And her own pain made her take it out on you. She has a bad case of foot in mouth disease but sadly the infection has hurt you also.

I’m late to being dx’d. And wish I had been dx’d as a child. Finding out that my quirkiness is due to physical factors that I was born with or had develope due to early life factors and that a lot of stuff truly wasn’t being lazy, crazy or stupid helped me get over a lot of shame and guilt. Realizing that some of my genetic vulnerabilities came from each parent didn’t mean I could blame them for my quirks. Overall I can say thanks for having a strong healthy body, high IQ, and endless curiosity. That these came with some burdens such as trouble focussing on dull subjects, procrastination and episodes of unpredictable brain fog still ends up with more good than bad. Learning that I wasn’t to blame let me forgive myself. And since I couldn’t blame my parents and saw that some of my traits came from each, I realized they deserved forgiveness just as much as I did being just as limited by their nature and nurture.

Your mother is toxic. I’m not saying let her keep hurting you. But that her own probable ADD traits may be the ones she picks on with you. And she’s less able to control herself because she’s unaware or in denial. You have faced yours and learning to cope.

I was terrified of trying head meds for ADD. I checked out many alternatives such as amino acids, did find some food and chemical sensitivities make things worse as well as the hormone changes of menopause and hypothyroidism. Balancing those, making some diet changes such as getting wheat out, all helped but not enough for what i wanted. Adderall helps but isn’t perfect. It’s only been a few months of trying different brands of generic vs name brand and may try Ritalin name brand or Straterra. But I no longer feel ashamed of myself for all the stuff I believed I ‘should’ have been able to do but couldn’t as my brain function doesn’t work that way.

Posted by Gadfly on Aug 26, 2014 at 3:44pm

You may have anxiety as well as ADHD.
Your mother seems to have trashed your self confidence.
Doing the language courses has shown that you are capable.  Well done.

A support group works well for me, as we can all talk openly.  I am not usually a very sociable person, but I do enjoy this group.  We are all ‘crazy’ together so there is no issue.
I also have a few good friends and we can be open with each other, and support each other.  Your room mate seems to be a good supportive friend - cherish that friendship.

Posted by Bob from Cootamundra on Aug 26, 2014 at 6:37pm

Hi I C,
You are taking a brave step and that it is not surprising since all your life you have met challenges and struggled against great odds.

I think your mom was scared and couldn’t help herself. Forgiving her will make your life easier.

In the meantime you’ve have had enough down. You are due for a long period of up. None of any of this history was your fault. None of it. So while you forgive your mom it is also a very good idea to totally forgive the self that you once were. Weep for his struggles, admire his bravery and forgive every last thing.

Shame is a dirty old coat that does not even fit any more. Just toss it away.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Aug 27, 2014 at 12:03am

Your awesome! Thanks for sharing. I had a similar experience with Dexedrine. I stopped taking it when I was younger because it killed the inner me. I was lucky enough to have a supportive parents though. I went the rest of my schooling without meds and boy did my grades suffer for it but my coping and life skills thrived. School bored me. I never understood why; if I could get mid ninety percent scores on all the tests, they could fail me because I didn’t do the work to “learn” how to do it. Didn’t the 95% score on your test just show you I know how to do it? I spent a majority of my life without med’s and without many issues. I learned to put myself into jobs and positions that worked well for adhd (cooking, maintenance, landscaping) and had enough turn over that no one ever cared if you left the job and worked somewhere else. I was never without a job or great reference from age 14 till now. Well I came to my wife last year and told her about my adhd and now it’s the biggest stress of our marriage. I fear loosing “Me” again and the addictive nature of all the meds. I’m taking adderall now and notice it helping but I am taking it on a “as needed” basis.

Posted by Baldy on Aug 28, 2014 at 12:35am

Thank you all for the kind comments and for sharing your stories, I can really relate.  I’m really looking forward to healing my shame, connecting with the community and unlocking my potential.

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 at 12:08am

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