How do you convince people that ADHD is real?

ADHD is real and medically diagnosed but some people believe that it is just an excuse. It’s often very hard for people to imagine mental disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders as real unless the effects of said disorders are outwardly physical. You would rarely see someone with a cast being asked if their appendage really is broken. It’s easier to convince someone that you have malaria than depression. 

There are some mental disorders that are not so hard to ‘sell’. You can tell that a person has OCD if they perform certain repetitive actions. But will you believe them when they tell you that they also have obsessive and disruptive thought patterns? Everything they feel is confined to their heads and until we develop mindreading tools, often, you just have to take someone at their word. 

Why is it hard for people to believe that ADHD is real?

For some people, the effects of ADHD are so debilitating that those around them cannot help but notice, Think of the child whose teachers request psychological evaluation because they are too disruptive in class. In this case, the outward presentation of the symptoms is evidence enough that something is wrong. 

Cover Your Face With Your Hands, Hide, Horror, Fear
Just because you cannot see it does not mean ADHD is not real

Now think of the little boy or girl with the inattentive type of ADHD. They are likely the quietest person in the class. Often because they are only physically there. Their minds, on the other hand, are miles away. In such cases, the parents of this child will receive complaints about their child’s daydreaming and their lack of attention. In most cases, they will assume that the child likely needs to be put in front of the class, be disciplined more, or try harder. 

ADHD and high-achieving students

One thing that often makes some kids miss getting diagnosed altogether is if their ADHD does not disrupt their academic performance, particularly before campus. For example, i was a high achiever for most of my primary and high school. It did not matter that i barely applied myself, i did most of my assignments last minute and read for all my exams the day before. The existing structure made it relatively easy for me to excel. 

Enrolling into university began exposing some of the cracks in my learning habits. Fortunately, in my first attempt in campus, i managed to find myself around people who made it easy for me to remember to do my assignments and stay on track. But even in campus, i often did my exam and assessment studies the day before. Often, it was because i did not know that there was an assessment until the day before. 

How coping mechanisms mask ADHD symptoms

What does a person do when they find out that how they function varies significantly from how their peers function? They often develop coping mechanisms that allow them to mask their symptoms. Masking refers to hiding your symptoms to avoid stigma and to fit in.

Man, Mask, Blue Eye, Hand, Mystery, Anonymous, Hidden
ADHD is real but some people are really good at masking their symptoms

For example, after I realized the effects of keeping an untidy locker when I went to boarding school, I began ensuring that my box was meticulous at most times. This coping mechanism has served me well, but I do sometimes find that I physically cannot function until my space is clean. I cannot count the number of times I have procrastinated through cleaning. In this way, my copping mechanism becomes a distraction. 

The adverse effects of masking

There are several downsides to masking. First, they lead to the person suffering more in an attempt to ‘fit in’ or ‘appear normal’. For example, if a person masks their urge to fidget in their seat so they are not disruptive, they may end up being uncomfortable the entire time they are seated, which can distract them. Additionally, masking often leads to delayed diagnosis, which means that the patient will likely suffer longer. 

How can you prove that ADHD is real?

In most cases, anyone who stays in close contact with someone with ADHD may eventually see the symptoms manifest themselves. The distractibility, the impulsivity, the emotional dysregulation, the forgetfulness, the intense hyperfocus sessions. Anyone who pays close attention will not need any convincing. The question becomes, do you need to prove your ADHD to someone?

Do you need to prove you have ADHD? 

I think that it is futile to prove you have ADHD. You could come up with sarcastic retorts for unbelieving people like those in this article by ADDitude Mag. You could compile a list of statistics and studies that prove that biologically people with ADHD are different from those without. For example, you could point them to this study that concludes that ADHD brains and neurotypical brains are quite different. You could ask them to talk to those people in your life whose lives have been affected by or have witnessed your ADHD and how disruptive it can be. 

Or, you could focus on managing your symptoms and living your best life. 

Why you should not always try to convince people that your ADHD is real

Let It Be, Rain, Droplets, Tears, Let Go
ADHD is real. You do not need to convince anyone about that

Some people who question the viability of your diagnosis do so not because they want to understand your point but to prove you wrong. For them, no amount of convincing, studies, or medical practitioners can convince them that ADHD is real. Trying to convince these people is a waste of your time and energy. 

In such cases, it’s often best to simply accept that they will likely not believe you and refuse to engage in the conversation. Thats becasue these conversations will likely leave you flustered, frustrated, and angry. Anyone who genuinely wants to know about ADHD will find numerous resources on the internet, both free and paid for. Of course, if someone is just curious about your experience with ADHD, then that is a conversation you should likely engage in. They may end up understanding you better and being more patient with you. 

You already know how debilitating the disorder has been in your life. You do not need to convince anyone who does not want to believe you. 

In conclusion

If you ask the millions of people with ADHD or if you were to consult their attentive loved ones, they would tell you without hesitation that ADHD can be downright disruptive. Evaluate the person who is asking you about ADHD. Are they genuinely curious, or are they trying to convince you that it’s not real? For the latter type of people, you are better off letting them believe what they want to without trying to convince them. It is likely not worth that energy or time. 

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