Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

In the Closet

In the Closet2010-04-10T15:43:14+00:00

The Forums Forums Emotional Journey My Story In the Closet

Viewing 0 posts
Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Author
  • #88348

    Post count: 14413

    I have ADHD, and no one knows it, except my parents (with a mother who doesnt believe in it) and me. Not even my wife knows. Growing up, I had severe problems at school. I was always considered an underperforming child, who was very disruptive. I was always at the bottom end of the bottom class. Towards the end of grade school, it got even worse. my natural intuitive ability always allowed me to scrape by. I could just about scrape by with school work and quizzes despite not being able to do any homework, or studying. Doing badly enough to be criticised, but not bad enough to be held back.

    But in the last years of grade school, it became terrible. I’d always had problems with leaving things around, loosing things, leaving books on the bus blah blah blah. I’d turn up to school with no homework, and say i hadn’t brought it. Then I met a teacher who changed my life, for the worse! This was my math teacher. In math, I’d put the answers down without showing how i got them (not that I could explain how i did it anyway!) I got branded a liar, who was cheating, and somehow, this teacher, passed the word round the whole faculty so that in every class, and with every other student, i ended up in a position where every misstep i made, as a result of inattention or impulsivity, and as a naive child, lacking in the ability to come up with a proper reason for my ‘misbehaviour’, ended up we me being called a liar. I went through 3 years of hell. At this time, things got to a point where my parents had to become involved, my mother would scrutinise my work, and even when I passed tests, through intuitive ability, I was told that as I had not put in any tangible hard work, it was only a fluke, and that my ‘laziness’ would get the better of me in the end. This really affected my self esteem and I have problems with this to this day. I even managed to develope a mental block on math. There are several aspects of mathematics that i cannot grasp, mainly calculus and geometry, even though, throughout the course of my career which includes research, I have become a competent statistician.

    Junior high and high school, was meant to be a relief, a fresh start, nobody knew me. I wouldnt be victimised any longer. But because I had internalised the idea that I was lazy, a liar, a failure, i gave up on myself. Where before I used to be so confused over why people thought I was disruptive or rude, i no longer cared. I wanted to show I didnt care, but inside i felt that i had no hope, I had given up on myself.

    I was expelled once, and changed schools 3 times. I finally dropped out of high school. My parents couldnt understand what my problems were, but wouldnt give up on me, especially my father. I got taken to a doctor, and was diagnosed with ADHD, at the age of 16. I was started on ritalin. My father enrolled me in a private college, to retake the high school exams. Previously, I had been on the brink of deliquency, cutting class, underage drinking, vandalism, but the ritalin, took all that out of me. For the 1st time, i was concentrating on work, and passing tests! Here was proof that i wasnt a failure, yet a large part of me was echoing my mother’s earlier ‘mantra’ that it was all a fluke, i was a fraud, and eventually i’d get found out.

    Well, I passed the high school tests, and actually get into med school. I stopped taking ritalin in university as i felt it was interfering with my social life, but the experience in high school that I could succeed, was able to sustain me. It was very very very hard work, forcing myself to sit down and focus, even on the areas in which I had little interest. I graduated in the top third of my batch. and went on to become a psychiatrist. I work in a major institution, and have a research and clinical career (but no, i do not work with ADHD and child psychiatry). To everyone else, this should be a happy ending! Yet I still have problems, but i feel like such a fraud because my success in life seems to invalidate that I should be having any difficulties.

    I still continue to loose things, miss appointments, run late because of my ADHD. My wife accuses me alot of ‘not listening’ to her, which is as a result of my problems with inattention. my low self esteem rears up every now and then and a voice inside my head tell me ‘you’re a fraud’, ‘you’re a liar’ ‘this is all a fluke’ ‘you will get found out’. Even in my research career, when making successful funding applications, I get the same voices replaying in my head. Little comments, like references to me being untruthful, or getting things right by luck, can make me fly off the handle, with conflicting emotions like anger at myself for beliving its true or anger at the person for falsely accusing me. I think the latter comes the small child inside of me who went through all that pain years ago and the former from the adult in me who continues to torment and torture the child. The irony is that it is some ADD related qualities like my expressiveness, intuition and ability to connect that make me a brilliant clinician, especially in psychiatry. Rationally I can see that I should have moved on from the past, but there is such a big part of me that worries that everything I have is basically a house of cards, and that I got lucky because I am actually a liar and a fraud, and it will all come crashing down.

    which is why I find it so hard to come out with the fact that I am a successful professional with ADHD. because, i live in the completely irrational fear that when the world finds out, they will know that with this condition, I couldnt possibly have gotten where I am today, and that it was all because of luck, and deception.


    Patte Rosebank
    Post count: 1517

    What you’re describing is called “The Imposter Syndrome”, and many people have it, especially those of us with ADHD. I have it, and my mom has it. She deals with it (badly) by over-preparing and over-producing, driving herself and the rest of us to the point of exhaustion and an explosion of frustration. I deal with it (badly) by thinking I can do things without following the instructions. The result is that whatever I make is often okay on the surface, but ultimately not that well put-together, so I know that it’ll eventually fall apart.

    Take a look at the video “If Bill Had a Hammer”, in the “Bill’s ADDventures” part of “Videos” on this site. It deals with this, and is quite funny too.


    Post count: 28

    Hi Prpldnsr

    It sounds like you have such a heavy weight on your shoulders. I can’t imagine what it must be like to carry this on your own and noone, not even your wife knows.

    I have no doubt you have worked hard to get where you are and have succeeded in your career due to your talents. I also have ADD and made it through two university degrees and work in health care now. I was just diagnosed a couple of years ago after having a few a-ha moments following years of feeling like I just needed to “get it together” (combined with low self-esteem) and instead of my career becoming easier to manage, it became more difficult as I outgrew the novice role.

    Perhaps you are not a fraud as you fear, but are faced with trying to manage a disorder completely on your own with no medication (I am assuming?) and the demands of your life are probably the greatest they have every been. So I would think to break it down a bit:

    -you are where you are because you have earned it regardless of whether or not you have ADHD

    -if you feel that the symptoms of the disorder are affecting your performance in many areas and would benefit from medication, even for a short while, would considering that be helpful?

    -could you consider telling someone, possible seeing a therapist who specializes in this area and can talk through some of the feelings you have? Perhaps you could work towards telling someone you trust a lot (your wife perhaps if you have a good relationship or a best friend?)

    I struggle with a lot of shame around having experienced depression and ADHD, and it has helped me greatly to be able to confide carefully in a few good friends.

    It also has helped me to read the stories of others who are in the public light in their careers and they have disclosed that they have ADHD (such as Ed Hallowell). But I don’t think you need to disclose publicly.

    I hope that you become more comfortable with this part of yourself that has become a locked up compartment of shame right now.

    I’m not sure if this made much sense (meds wearing off for me…very tired) but I feel for your situation.


    Post count: 11

    Larynxa – “Imposter Symptom” is a great name for what I experience. Most people would consider me a successful “together” type of person but I’ve spent years trying to figure out why, despite the many successes I’ve had in my life, I still struggle constantly with my self esteem. My mom sounds a lot like your mom – Definitely ADHD but handling it with lots of control issues, and blame (but I love her!) I’ve always berated myself because of my inability to keep my house in order, my habit of constantly loosing the lists I make so I don’t forget things and my life full of “loose ends”.

    prpldnsr – this web site is helping me realize that I’m not the undisciplined person that I always think of myself as. I’m starting to realize that I have amazing discipline to carry on and get through all of the daily stuff as well as I do. I liken it to living with chronic pain (with no disrespect intended to those who do live with chronic pain). I’m just used to going through my day with a really high anxiety level – I’ve learned to ignore it as best I can and get on with things as best I can (ie. exercise compulsively, eat compulsively and live on caffine). Saying this, however, now that I’m seeing my life and myself more clearly and have the info, I’m starting the process of getting diagnosed and trying medication. My son is on Ritalin and it has been transformative in all of our lives but most importantly it has taught me to be kinder to myself.

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)