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ADHD Adults

Screwed up at Work ... Again

Yesterday,  I “awoke” to discover that I had not completed a big task.  My boss was furious.

She knows about the ADHD and I’ve tried to educate her.
Still, she will grill me why it happened?  How it happened?  And, she called me irresponsible.

But, is it irresponsible when I just forgot it, or it fell off my radar?  I am not irresponsible!!!!!!!

When she returns on Monday,  how do I explain this to her in a way that she can understand?

I suspect she thinks ADHD is an excuse ... period.



My father to this day does not know what ADD stands for and probably never will. To him I am just a screw-up and lazy. On the other hand my wife has understood my ADD from the beginning of our relation ship, we just had our 10th wedding anniversary. Some people get it and some people do not.
The only real advice I have for you is in the latest ADDitude magazine there was an article named “Why ADDers act the way they do”. It is a great article for explaining why we act the way we do. You could show her a copy of that article. She may or may not get it, but if she does that might be something that will help get the point across. I hope this has helped you.
God bless you and have a good day.

Posted by Rancher John on Nov 15, 2013 at 7:14pm

Thank you for your very kind note.  When i was a kid, my parents thought i was a screw-up and lazy - and at times, brilliant.  You are fortunate to have an understanding spouse. 

I will look up the article and have a copy for her when she comes in Monday to read me the riot act (again).

I just joined the forum because I need support.  I do not have anyone in my life, other than my doctor, who understands.

Thank you again for your note.  Have a great weekend!

Posted by LostinOwnMuseum on Nov 15, 2013 at 7:20pm

When faced with a big project I have asked my boss if we could break it down into individual small parts after which we would touch base: either she would send me an email asking for an update within 2 days, or we would set a specific appointment right then - and schedule a new one after each part. I’ve told her this does several things things - prevents me from forgetting the project exists at all (I think only ADDers can understand that is is entirely possible to forget a major project exists - even if it’s long term and the ADDer has been working on it intensely for a long time); prevents me from losing track of time (I might know I have to do it, but am not paying attention to the passage of time); and prevents me from running amok with the project and taking it in a direction only dictated by my spontaneous “great ideas”. If it’s a somewhat new thing - this project, frequent feedback or status updates allows us to consider improvements or a change in direction as each phase progresses before we get too committed to it.  I tell her that I am dedicated t the project, but as new ideas come to me, am easily sidetracked an work much more efficiently with shorter term deadlines. When I got a new boss I told her that I have missed deadlines before because I become intensely involved in making what I am doing a great product and have discovered that I neglected projects that are next in the pile. I told her that the technique I am suggesting represents a response to that - to prevent it from happening again.

I know someone who schedules a series of “meetings” with himself dedicated only to “the big project”.

Some office e-mail systems allow you to send delayed reminder notes or alarms.

Whenever I promise someone something, I tell them when I will have it to them and (if it’s an easy thing I promised) if they don’t hear from me by 3:00 that day, to call me in case I get sidetracked and I’ll do it right then Nobody has ever minded being told they are allowed to check back when I tell them I will absolutely not be annoyed - they are not being pushy.

Sometimes if it’s a decent relationship with the person, I’ll tell them, “Look, I have ADD, I have 2 high maintenance kids and a million things on my plate. I know this thing is important to you and I know you are anxious about getting it resolved. I will do the best I can, but if it would make you feel more comfortable, and you want to do this, you can call me two days before and remind me - then you can report back to your managers that you spoke to me and I’m on track. I really wouldn’t mind and if I am being asked to get involved in something else over here, I can honestly say - hey, the guy just called me about this - I really need to get it done for him.”  Clients/customers/stakeholders - whatever you want to call them really respond positively to this. They laugh because they think I’m joking about the ADD, but they like it that I am letting them pester me because deep down they are anxious about getting this thing. I work for a government agency - everybody is anxious about dealing with bureaucracy, so to hear somebody be “real” is good.  These same folks often will call me later for a referral to “the right place” because they feel I understand real life.

Posted by Juggler on Nov 15, 2013 at 9:00pm

Hi Lost!

Juggler has so many great suggestions!  When you go to your boss with ideas that show you will not allow it to happen again, he/she will know that you are not using your ADD as an excuse.  How are you at breaking large projects into small steps to write on your calendar?  Do you have a system of making appointments on your calendar for doing the small steps?

Posted by GreenPopp on Nov 16, 2013 at 4:24am
Posted by sunnynwarmer on Nov 16, 2013 at 3:52pm

Basically it is irresponsible in the eyes of what Dodson refers to as the ‘neurotypicals’. And that’s more than just a label for the behavior. It’s the reason that the problem, not getting the task done, occurred. And in all probability your boss can’t relate to the cause anyway - and we only give credence to causes we can relate to.

Part of what GreenPopp wrote was key. It should be highlighted, underlined, and italicized: “go to your boss with ideas that show (how) you will not allow it to happen again”.

Short of actually completing the task over the weekend, and I don’t know if that’s even possible in this case, there is nothing else you can do. Seeking to make your boss understand ADD will only make it sound more like an excuse.

Unfair, but it’s the price we pay for living in a world geared to neurotypicals.

Posted by ADDedValue62 on Nov 16, 2013 at 7:00pm

Never tell your Boss or really anyone outside your immediate family that you have add/adhd, why? because it’s none of anyones business!  I only told my husband (he doesn’t believe in add/adhd he thinks it’s an excuse, but loves me with his whole world) I told my son, daughter (neither had adhd) and my mom (who says it’s something in the farm water) hahaa see what I mean don’t tell anyone or they’ll judge you as slow or incapable of completing a task and they’ll think your just lazy looking for excuses and attention.  Which we know is not true.

Many will disagree with me as they usually do but this site is about each individual and their opinions which is why this site works so well. I also like to write in simple form so everyone can understand what I’m trying to say (laymens) cant spell either lol.

Just tell your boss you forgot to do the project and take it from there because no matter how you slice it the project didn’t get done and there is no excuses in the Boss’ eyes.  Your paid to do the job and that’s that. My Boss would say I don’t pay you to forget and I’d feel so helpless and small, defeated. I don’t know what the right thing to say is, but I can’t sugar coat anything here.

Good Luck and I pray you get through this and learn a lesson here also

Posted by BexIssues on Nov 16, 2013 at 7:46pm

A great book for anyone with ADHD or their significant others to read is The ADHD Effect on Marriage - Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlovs it’s helped me!

Posted by zupamum on Nov 18, 2013 at 9:30pm

LostinOwnMuseum, remember to sit down with someone that doesn’t know what happen and speak to them as you plan on speaking to your boss. Sometimes someone listening can provide some positive pointers to help you.  I know I get upset when my boss yells at me.  I know it’s on your mind and you’re thinking of it in different ways. Try to think of something else, since that darn brain can be a trouble maker sometimes. With all that thinking and playing back over and over again in your mind.  . I’ve always learned that we feel comfortable in our own surroundings and when we speak are emotions get the best of us.  Where as speaking outside your environment your a bit uncomfortable but speak better because of it. 
Where u able to complete the project after u didn’t complete it?  We all forget things and we are human.  Don’t let her get the best of you.  Take the time to complete the work if you haven’t finished it.  Speaking to your boss can be hard when it comes to this.  Take ur time and run it to a friend or friends to let them give u some insight when u speak with her.  All the best, Lee

Posted by happynewyorker on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:17pm

I know where you’re coming from. When I was at boot camp I had a penchant for careless mistakes, leaving stuff behind, forgetting stuff in weapon handling classes, and adding more problems to my issues with inspections. I eventually got kicked off platoon and quit the Canadian forces. Also got fired from two kitchen jobs and almost fired from Tim Horton’s for similar reasons

Posted by Newfoundlander on Jun 17, 2015 at 2:35am

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