Even More Countermeasures for When ADHD is Embarrassing

Dec. 18th, 2017

There are many things about ADHD that many people like. Creativity and entrepreneurial spirit among them. However, there are many more unfortunate aspects that range from irritating, to the ADHD brain and others, to inconvenient, to downright embarrassing.

Now I’m not saying that shaming people for something outside of their control is good or acceptable, but it is something that happens. We even shame ourselves for these things. There are even one or two items on this list that are actually positive things that other people judge, because they don’t understand it or it bothers them. Here are the first five and here are five more.

Here are a few more embarrassing ADHD traits I’ve experienced or witnessed, along with some suggestions on how to mitigate the embarrassment for the future.

1. Weight

When you think about it, the paradigm of ADHD is a perfect storm for weight gain and keeping weight on. Impulse control causing us to snack when we know it isn’t healthy, reward issues causing us to feel that the next handful of popcorn must be as delicious as we think and when it isn’t, maybe the next... Dopamine problems including both production and uptake combined with the fact that empty calorie food is an abundant and easy source of dopamine. And those are just the ones I know about, without being a research scientist!

I’ve blogged both about the things that helped me get healthier (despite my ADHD) and the specific ways my ADHD and other things got in the way. The bottom line is if weight loss or a healthier lifestyle in an ADHD individual is approached without taking their ADHD into consideration, the effort is far more likely to fail.

2. Fidgeting

A client of mine recently told me that fidgeting, even with a designated toy, during a job interview for a security or law enforcement position can lose you the job. It’s seen as a sign of nervousness and that is clearly not desirable in positions of that kind. While I completely understand the necessity of this viewpoint, it still saddens me. Fidgeting is a natural human action and while it can be connected to anxiety, it genuinely assists ADHD in staying on task.

If we find ourselves in a position where an “official” fidget such as a spinner or cube are not allowed or discouraged, we can get creative. There are very few places that ban jewelry for example. Finding a way to keep our fidgeting subtle can be a challenge but it is worth it for many of us.

3. Self Medicating

This is a very sensitive issue. I am also not a doctor nor a psychiatrist and have no ability to treat or advise on addictions. It is something that can result from untreated ADHD, however. These things we do to give our brains the stimulation we need can be embarrassing at times. They can also be behaviours rather than the substances we traditionally think of when discussing addiction.

If an addictive substance or behaviour is impairing your life, please seek professional assistance to effectively treat it. Finding a professional who understands ADHD and addictions could also be a game changer. Because as we know all too well, some of the traditional approaches to problems don’t work for ADHD.

One last thing, having the correct medication and dosage for ADHD can actually reduce the likelihood an individual develops a substance abuse problem later in life.

4. Losing Stuff

Keys, phone, documents, pets, cars. We’ve all lost things before and once in awhile it’s perfectly understandable. When it’s an hourly occurrence and people around us lose patience and we inconvenience ourselves and others... It can be mortifying.

There are many solutions for this problem. A very ground-up approach would be to tackle clutter and organization of physical objects. Another is the tracker approach, though of course it would get a little expensive if we bought a Tile for every single thing we owned. Then there’s meditation and mindfulness. If our thoughts are less scattered and crazy, then the chances of us losing things theoretically goes down.

5. Being Fired

The only time I was ever fired the owner of the restaurant was very kind and polite about it. I was not yelled at and it was done in a private room in a very tactful way. This did not mean I wasn’t mortified and wished to sink into the ground and vanish. The reason I lost that job, and in all fairness should probably have lost the other job I had, was because of many ADHD symptoms. Additionally, many things about the food service industry make it a very bad job for someone with ADHD.

Keeping a job has two prongs, to my way of thinking. One, we can, to the best of our ability, manage our disruptive symptoms in order to perform to the level expected. Two, we can choose a profession that has many aspects that allows us to be ourselves.

In my, admittedly limited, experience, reality demands a combination of both. I am a coach and in so many ways my job is extremely well suited to my ADHD. However, there are many ways it is terrible for it as well. Examples include proximity to my fridge, lack of external structure for non-client-based work, and isolation. This means I must implement strategies that counter those downsides while enjoying all the perks.

What embarrassing things does your brain do and what do you do to counter them?