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TotallyADD Blog / Diagnosis: Signs & Symptoms Archives - | Adult ADD | ADHD in Adults

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23 Signs You Do Not Have ADHD

By Rick GreenADHD, ADD, Overwhelm, Do I have ADHD, Do I have ADD

There are lots of quizzes and tests you can take to find out if you have ADHD. We have one online – give it a try! Or  you could have some brain scans done!

It may show what’s going on, but doesn’t really help you finish that stuff you’re procrastinating doing, or finding what you’re missing, and it sure doesn’t help you to arrive on time!

But since most people who take tests dread finding out that they have ADHD, I have created a new test. I call it 23 Signs You Do Not Have ADHD. This fabulous new quiz is as scientific as I could make it. Which is to say, I put on the lab coat I used to wear when I was a teacher at the Ontario Science Centre back in the 1970’s. (The late 70’s. I’m actually quite youthful.) OK, we’ll it’s more scientific than that, but the lab coat helps too. So here we go!


1.    You’re a mess in a crisis.
Folks with ADHD tend to be great when the adrenaline flows.  That’s why there are so many with ADD in adrenaline-producing careers: the military, police, fire & rescue, E.R., stock market, high tech, show biz, and sales.

2.    You feel like you are living up to your potential.
One of the most common things you’ll hear  ADHD adults say is, “I’m underachieving.”  I’m betting even famous ADHD adults like Richard Branson feel this way.  One reason?  We may actually be underachieving. It’s hard to be your best when you have the equivalent of 9 radios blaring in your head 24/7.

3.    You finish projects on time.
Wow, what’s that like?!

4.    In the past month a few friends have said, “You seem like you have ADHD lately. Maybe you should get tested.”
ADHD is there from childhood.  “I’ve been so scattered, confused, and overwhelmed… ever since my house exploded,” is not ADHD.  It’s stress and overwhelm from your house exploding. Or a loved one dying. Or losing a job. Or any recent crisis.

5.    You’ve been with the same company more than 6 months.
Okay, an exaggeration. But we tend to get restless. Or get fired. Or go off and start a new company.

6.    Your parents and siblings don’t have ADHD.
ADHD runs in families. It’s in your genes. The statistic I’ve heard quoted by the top experts is that it’s 79% heritable.  About the same rate of inheritability as your height.

7.    You have your taxes done and filed ahead of time.
Wow. I cannot imagine.

8.    The term ‘hyperfocus’ doesn’t really resonate with you.
Despite the name, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is not a ‘Deficit’ of Attention. It’s uneven, unmanaged, unpredictable attention. Sometimes on the wrong things. Or at the wrong time.  When we are interested, we are laser focused.

9.    When someone asks, “What were you thinking?!” you are able to tell them.

10.    Without taking your eyes off this screen, you can tell me where you left your keys.

11.    You have no trouble reading any of this.
40% of ADHD kids have a Learning Disorder such as Dyslexia.  And the majority of ADHD kids become ADHD Adults.

12.    You tend to listen more than you talk.
It feels like every time I’m interviewed on the radio, the host discloses the fact that one or two of their kids have been diagnosed and they think they have it too.

13.    You are curious to find out if you have ADHD.
I am not the only ADHD adult who has noticed that the people who are the most vehemently opposed to the possibility that they might have this mindset are the ones who seem to have lots of the symptoms. A number of the experts in our videos have told us the same thing.

14.    You have a great sense of time, and never get lost.
It’s not a universal truth that people with ADD lack this ability. I’ve actually developed a good sense of time. But so many ADHD folks get lost or arrive late to everything they attend.

15.    Your To-Do list has fewer than 493 items on it.
Don’t ask. We get enthusiastic.

16.    Your desk top is visible.
For some reason people with ADHD need piles. And the weird part is, we know what is in each pile.  What looks like disorganized is actually differently organized.

17.    Now and then you walk into a room and wonder, “Now what was it I came in here to get?”
I have days where I go back to where I started, “Oh, right, I was going to get the stapler.” And then return to get it… and arrive… and wonder… “Darn, what was it I came in here to get?!

18.    You tend not to overreact.
ADHD affects Executive Function – organizing, prioritizing, keeping track, staying on track, finishing, following through…It’s also about monitoring your emotions. Reacting appropriately. Whatever that means! I mean, reeeeeeaaaally! OMG! How dare they say I overreact, I’m a drama king! It’s the end of the world!

19.    You don’t talk to yourself.
Working Memory, that is to say, holding stuff in mind… “Right, the stapler. I’ll go get it.” … is often a weak point for ADHD adults. So speaking it aloud helps to keep it alive.

20.    You’ve said “No more coffee for me. It’s after 7:00!”
Caffeine is a stimulant. Half the planet uses it to focus at work. ADHD medications are also stimulants. Unlike coffee they aren’t addictive.  So many ADHD adults find that they can drink coffee at night, and it actually helps them focus their thoughts, and slow down their racing mind. So they can fall asleep.

21.    You can tell who made your shirt by the tag on it.
When we ordered ADHD T-Shirts for our shop, we made sure they came without tags or removable tags. Weird, right? Not really. Y’see, we struggle with managing our attention. And our emotions.  And our reactions.  But we may also struggle with physical sensations. Noisy rooms, bright lights, certain fabrics, even clothing tags; all of these can add to the irritation for a prefrontal Cortex that is struggling to deal with overwhelming input.

22.    Your closet isn’t full of unused scuba gear, musical instruments, exercise equipment, yoga gear, and sports equipment.
ADHD folks tend to be interested in a lot of things. We can be curious. And enthusiastic. And say ‘yes’ to everything.

23.    You read through this list in order, thinking about each one, not skipping to the end.
Again, I have to say, wow! Good for you, because I can’t do that!


Group of ADHD People If you think you do have ADHD, you’re not alone. About 1 in 25 adults qualifies as being in the spectrum – probably struggling in life but not knowing why. And assuming they are lazy, weak-willed, flaky, or dumb.

You’re not crazy. It’s not a mental illness. It’s how you’re wired. It’s about low levels of certain neurotransmitters. It’s biology not morality. And there’s lots you can do about it.

A recent University of Memphis study showed that people with ADHD score higher than their ‘neurotypical peers’ on 11 standard tests for creativity. So if you find out you have ADHD, it will explain a lot of your challenges and also where you thrive. And at some point you’ll actually experience relief, “So, there was a reason!” You’ll almost certainly also experience, “Why didn’t I know sooner?! Why didn’t someone see this before now?!”




New ADHD Test

By Rick Green

Solar System, Moon, ADHD, ADDScience is about facts. Right? The scientific facts confirm what’s actually true.

Sometimes. But as any criminal lawyer or parent of teens will tell you, facts are tricky things. For example, in space there is no gravity… right? Which is why astronauts can float. But then if there is no gravity in space, what holds the moon in orbit? And what keeps the astronauts circling the earth?

ADHD, ADD, Swung, Being SwungIf you’ve ever danced with a partner, you know how much effort it takes to swing someone around you. And in fact, the moon doesn’t circle the earth. The moon and the earth swing each other around. The earth being so much bigger and heavier, it moves in a smaller circle. Picture John Goodman dancing with Justin Bieber, swinging him around. The Beeb would be whipping around in circles, like a child on a merry-go-round, but big John Goodman would be leaning back himself, and circling. But in smaller circles. If they were closer in size and weight, the effect would be more obvious, like two figure skaters… okay… what was I talking about?

Boy, did that get off on a tangent. Rather than risk getting lost again, I’ll get straight to my point.

There have been a couple of announcements in the past while about reliable ‘tests’ for ADHD. One involves measuring the ratio of different kinds of brain waves. (The theory is based on measurements that show ADHD folks are more often in a Theta Wave state. Or was it Beta? Or VHS? Anyway, whatever the waves are that the brain puts out as you’re nodding off, well, we do that more often.)

The other test suggests that ADHD can be detected by measuring involuntary eye-movements. Having recently done a webinar with Nick Lum, co-creator of BeeLine Reader, a tool to help people read faster, or even simply be able to read, the idea of eye movements resonates with me.

But as our good friend Gina Pera (author of Is It You, Me, or Adult ADHD?) points out, the announcement seems a bit premature, being based on a small sample size. As she points out the announcement ‘reads like a press release.’
Since Gina knows more about ADHD science than most of the doctors I’ve met, I’m going to trust her advice and, ‘approach with skepticism.’ And with fingers crossed that they’ve found something that can be measured. Scientifically. Repeatedly. And reliably.

Now I’m trying to get that image out of my head of John Goodman dancing with The Beeb! While I’m doing that… Here’s one of my rants about a new ADHD test.

Lisa Ling Shares Some Good News, ADHD

By Rick Green

There’s not a lot of good news in the media when it comes to ADHD.

But then, well, there’s not a lot of good news in the media period. Because, when things are working well, it’s not news. In my Balanced News rant, I talk about the reason why the news is always negative, and why increasingly, ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’  And that’s not going to change soon, I suspect.

But recently there was some great news and it’s share-worthy!  Lisa Ling, ADD, ADHD, Our America, OWN

Lisa Ling, the host of Our America, was diagnosed as having ADD.

Lisa has done some amazing and dangerous stories in her career, like fighting to have her sister rescued from North Korea, and covering the drug war in Columbia.  But going public about her ADD, well, to me that takes courage.

She’s not the first reporter to be diagnosed with ADHD/ADD. In fact, when we were making ADD & Loving It?!, and more recently our video on The Perfect Career for ADHDjournalism is one of the fields that experts mentioned works for some ADD adults.

The difference is that Lisa Ling did a news report about it. She told the world. “This is me.”

Welcome to the Tribe, Lisa! 

Bravo for having the courage to step forward.  And bravo to the producers and OWN for running the story.

What’s so great is that every few weeks it seems another celebrity is talking about their ADHD.  A month ago I read that Zooey Deschanel is quite open about using medication to manage her ADHD. Sports figures, columnists, comedians, business people… it’s terrific. Some are disclosing it, some mention it casually, a few go big. “This is me!”

As more and more public figures ‘come out’ and are loud and proud, it will be harder for people to dismiss this as a nonsense diagnosis. And that’s good for all of us. But it’s especially good for ADHD adults. Why?

Because when you know what’s going on, you have a chance to deal with it.

You have a better understanding of why you: don’t listen well, keep changing jobs, never stick with things, and can’t stand certain fabrics or tags on your clothes.

Knowing makes all the difference. And Lisa Ling’s courageous act of saying, “I have this,” will impact many other people. Especially, I suspect, women with ADHD.  This will save lives. Careers. Marriages.  If I hadn’t found out what was going on I’m pretty clear my second marriage would have gone the way of my first. Not good.

Knowing matters. It’s why Ava and I have made it our mission to spread the word.  Education cuts through the tornado of mythology and ignorance around ADHD, and demolishes the stigma.

Telling Is Risky

But there are millions of people who can’t announce it to the world for fear of recourse. Who do you tell? Friends? Family? Coworkers? Your boss? Your employees? Your customers?

It’s tricky. Risky. Not because there’s something to be ashamed of, but simply because the vast majority of people still have no idea what ADHD is. And to be fair, the scientific community is still struggling to understand what it is.

So publicly acknowledging this diagnosis means you are not just dealing with your ADHD, you’re also dealing with everyone’s ignorance about ADHD.  It can have serious repercussions and it’s why we don’t recommend it – not everyone around you may be supportive around you, especially at work for some folks.

Letting the cat out of the bag is easy. Trying to get the cat back in the bag? Not so much.

Here’s the thing to remember. You don’t have to disclose that you have ADHD. But you can certainly speak up when people say stuff that you know is wrong or ignorant. You can tell your boss, “I’m great at dealing with customers, but I need help with paperwork. In fact, if I can give my invoicing to someone who’s good at it, I can focus on sales and make you a lot of money.”

By the way, at an ADHD conference someone was telling me about a woman who had kids with ADHD and she only hired sales people who had ADHD, because she knew they would be great at it. She created systems to handle the stuff they didn’t do well, and they got to focus on where they excel.

Win-Win.  In fact, Win-Win-Win-Win.

And Lisa Ling going public with her ADD diagnosis?  Win – multiplied by the number of people who see her story.


June 23, 2014 Ava Green


knowing eliminates suffering

In my previous Blog I noted, somewhat awkwardly, that knowing I have a place for my car keys doesn’t mean they’re always there. Or, when life gets nuts, even mostly there.

For example, ahem, I’ve had to borrow Ava’s key for the past two weeks. Not the end of the world. And yet, as I noted in the previous blog, it can fee like it.

ADHD can be such a pain. Knowing what’s going on doesn’t automatically prevent me from making the same mistakes over and over again. And again.

If knowing doesn’t lead to doing, why bother learning about ADHD? Not just knowing that I score top of the class for Problems With Attention, Impulsivity, and Restlessness, but actually understanding the neurology?

Because it saves me from a lot of suffering.

We’re heading out to the airport. We’re on a tight schedule. Flying to Pennsylvania to give a big speech. Everything’s packed. And I can’t find my keys. “Really? Oh man!” I snap into aggravation, upset, or despair, “How dumb can I be? How can I possibly produce TV shows if I can’t even find my stinking car keys?! I shouldn’t even bother…”

A dozen years ago that torrent of torment would have gone unchecked and unchallenged for minutes. Hours. Days. Years.

Now, I can cut it off. Sometimes in less than a minute. Sometimes in seconds. It gets better with practice. And happens less often because I do have a place for my car keys. And one for my wallet. And others for the camera, receipts, phone, mail, memorabilia, ideas, tools…

breaking the negativity transforms your brain

I interrupt the negativity. What therapists call the Shame Spiral, or Loser Loops, or Self-Esteem Toilet Flush Swirling. I realize, this is just neurology. Chemistry. Or lack of chemistry. Click, I can switch off the upset. Amazing, right?

It’s miraculous. “Oh, right, this upset is pointless, wasteful, and useless dramatics.” (Hysterics might be a better term.)

And here’s what’s amazing, new research is showing that being able to switch to positivity does miraculous things to you brain. Everything from protecting your heart, increasing your immunity, and even improving your peripheral vision. (So when I’m in a snit, I’ll be far less likely to notice where my keys are! Incredible, right?) (Don’t believe me? Check out the book Positivity, by Barbara ___ in our store. An amazing read.)


Research is proving that positivity is more than feeling better. You are better emotionally, spiritually, and physically. It’s the key to success, health, productivity, and creating a life that matters. And the opposite is true. If you’ve ever been in Depression you know it’s a whole-body experience: stomach aches, pains, headaches, and more. Your view of life narrows. Your ability to imagine dries up, you can’t focus, become forgetful, and lose motivation and memory… In fact, you start to look like you have ADHD.

By interrupting the negatives you prevent damage to your mind and your body.

So for me, knowing what ADHD is gives me the ability to stop, interrupt, and reframe what’s going on. And all that energy I used to waste on anger, frustration, blame, and shame?  I get to save that for something better. Which covers pretty much anything else.


By Rick Green

When I browse through our Forums I’m always amazed at the brilliant stories about the difference the ADHD diagnosis has made. For better and worse. In our DVD, Embracing the Diagnosis, we explore the kaleidoscope of anger, regret, relief, and hope that we all stumble through, like a drunk in a Carnival Fun House.

“Why didn’t someone tell me sooner!?!” one minute, then, “Thank god I know,” and even, “I wish I’d never been diagnosed.” That last one is pretty common. I went there a few times. I suspect we all do when things don’t seem to be improving. (I actually was improving. But being impatient and forgetful, I didn’t appreciate my progress.)

Now 10 years on, the emotional ride is less extreme. In fact, sometimes, like in the middle of a webinar, or making a video, or brainstorming ideas, I kinda love my ADHD.

Other times? Uh… Not so much. Now and then it still reduces me to tears of impotent rage.

“I’m too old to STILL be losing my car keys! Dang it all, I co-authored a book called ADD Stole My Car Keys! I made a film called ADD & Mastering It!  I should know better! Dammit, I DO know better. But I don’t DO better.”

“Hey, I’m doing the best I know how.” Not really. I do know better but I’m not doing it. I have a place for my car keys. And they aren’t there!

No wonder a century ago ADHD once described as, “…a defect of moral consciousness which cannot be accounted for by any fault of environment” (George Sill, 1902)


Here’s the thing: the neurology of ADHD is complex, partly because neurology is complex. But a key factor in ADHD is a neurotransmitter named Dopamine.

As signals rocket around your brain, telling you to sit up, sit down, or do the Harlem Shake, the messages switch from electrical to chemical, and then back to electrical. And one of the chemicals carrying the message, transmitting it, is Dopamine. If you have a slight shortage of Dopamine, the signals don’t sustain long enough to connect, and the message is never delivered, lost in the noise.

It’s not that I forgot that guests were coming on Saturday. Honestly. It’s that I never made the memory in the first place. You can’t forget what you’ve never remembered.


Sure, you told me twice. You could tell me a 100 times. If I ain’t got the brain juice … If there’s a gap in the wiring… one bridge out on the highway… it goes in one ear and out the other.

It’s a radio wave at the wrong frequency and I’m tuned out.

The worst part is, I can look like I’m listening and really taking it in. But do not be fooled, that furrowed brow is me concentrating, but on a dozen other things.

It’s the one skill I did learn in school—pretending I’m hearing. It takes practice to nod, grunt, “Yeah, Okay,” while mentally planning a basement renovation, writing a comedy skit, and ranking the films of Preston Sturges according to laughs per minute.

The results are infuriating at times. For me. For others. For loved ones. For people I’m working with… who may not want to work with me after a while. (Hopefully they’re ADHD and they’ll forget that I forgot…)


Breaking patterns is hard. Replacing them with new patterns is better. But for anyone, ADHD or not, it requires I build new habits, new wiring, new practices. Like learning how to energize my brain to increase my memory skills as we’ll be doing in this weeks Focus Burst Webinar with the current Guinness Book of Records Memory Champ Dave Farrow. (If you were part of Dave’s first webinar, or you’ve seen it in the Webinar Archives, you’ll see how he tripled my working memory in one hour. It was incredible. I still can’t believe how easy it was to memorize that list of 15 unrelated words. In fact, yesterday I ran through the list, forwards and backwards, and it’s still there!  “Watch Pizza Thread Australia Kiss Filter etc. etc.) (Sorry, I digress.)

So what does knowing give me? Less suffering. Less melodrama, guilt, shame, and despair.

It’s neurology, not morality. I’m low on Dopamine, not some scruples.

Click here to read Part Two, “I’m Not A Bad Guy. I’m Dopamine Challenged”

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