That discussion took place on Friday afternoon. On Monday, everyone showed up for the meeting, wondering where the boss was, including Gordon. “It was completely gone from my memory that I was to run this meeting,” he says. When the boss didn’t show up, everyone went back to their desks. Later in the day, the boss came in and asked Gordon how the meeting went. “I said, ‘We didn’t have the meeting, you weren’t here. I figured we’d have it when you came in.’ And he looked at me completely dumbfounded, like, ‘How is that even possible?'”
Gordon has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He describes it as a feeling of paranoia. “You’re always, always on edge.”
He explains: “You never know when something is going to go horribly wrong. There’s every chance it will. If my boss calls me, I wonder what went wrong. If I get mail, I wonder if I’m going to jail. You assume and expect that at any moment you’re going to get sideswiped by something, and it’s something you did or forgot to do that is going to have severe repercussions.”
ADHD is a condition that both children and adults can have. The symptoms include an inability to focus, being easily distracted, hyperactivity, poor organization skills, and impulsiveness. Not everyone who has ADHD has all these symptoms. They vary from person to person and tend to change with age.
Adults Have ADHD, Too
Only in the last few decades have researchers realized that ADHD can last into adulthood. Experts say every adult with ADHD had it as a child, too, whether it was diagnosed or not. And most adults with ADHD weren’t diagnosed as children, says Linda Walker, an ADHD coach. She helps clients with time management, organization, and anything else they need to be successful in life. She’s also a committee chair for the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA).
Adults Have ADHD, Too continued…
“We [humans] are not very empathetic,” Walker says. She says it’s hard for people who don’t have ADHD to understand someone with it. Walker says she learned through experience: She’s married to Gordon. ”When you live with a person who has ADHD, you realize that there is no one on Earth who would put that much effort into failing over and over again.”
Gordon was diagnosed in his early 30s when they were looking for help for their daughter. She was having a lot of trouble focusing in school. They started learning about ADHD and soon found out both Gordon and their daughter had the condition.
Terry Matlen, MSW, is a therapist who specializes in adults with ADHD, particularly women. She too has ADHD. Her diagnosis came after her daughter’s. “A real common theme,” she says. ADHD tends to run in families.
She describes having ADHD like this: “It’s a chronic sense of overwhelmed. It feels like you’re being attacked in all areas of your daily life — like sounds, and lights, and sensory things can be overwhelming,” Matlen is the author of Survival Tips for Women with ADHD.”
She says she hit a wall after she became a mother. “And that is what we see a lot with women, once their lives become more complicated, they can’t stay on top of things. Both of my children turned out to be hyperactive. I couldn’t keep up. I felt like a total failure, someone with two college degrees couldn’t do something as seemingly easy as putting dinner on the table every night or keeping the house organized.”