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I Don't Believe in ADHD

Rick Green Photo

We can be easily derailed when someone bellows “I Don’t Believe In ADHD!”

Everyone who has been diagnosed with ADHD has their own version of this horror story.

You’re struggling in life.  You finally get diagnosed.  You’ve started making changes, trying some ADHD-friendly tools, finally understanding why some tasks are so hard, and others are a breeze.

You begin to ‘bend the world to suit you’, as we recommend in ADD & Mastering It!

Perhaps you take on a multi-modal treatment plan—meditation, exercise, and other practices, creating your own Holistic Solution to ADHD.

At some point you consider medication.

Likely you view it as a last resort, but perhaps you get all your concerns and questions about ADHD medication answered, and you give it a try.

If you’re lucky, you are in the majority of people who try medication and find it works. If you’re in the 20 to 30% who don’t experience benefits, you use other strategies.


Sure, there are setbacks. Bad days. But also good days. One or two great days. You can see it’s not easy, but with the right supports you can soar.

Medication, mindfulness, exercise, and lifestyle changes are transforming your world.

You’re getting things done. Small things at first. But these small things are huge!

Someone mentions that you seem less stressed. Fewer upsets. If you pause and think back, you may sense that you’re clearer, calmer, more in control.

You can follow conversations, recognize when you’re tired and grab some protein, and experience the thrill of finding your keys and purse right where they are supposed to be! Sometimes four times a week!

But one or two areas of life remain, well, a mess. Not as bad as they used to be, sure, but still frustrating. Too much. Too big. How to tackle it all? What to do first?


Perhaps you find a support group. What a relief! You’ve found your tribe!

People who ‘get you!’

You’ve heard about coaching, and after watching our ADHD Coaching Videos you make a few calls. You connect with a coach, and together you focus on one area of life, the biggest challenge, the one that’s hurting you most.

Perhaps it’s a job change. A move. Leaving a toxic relationship. Finding a partner. Starting a business.

At first you forget what you’d planned to do and you’re sheepish, upset, and apologetic on your next coaching call.

Your coach, to your relief, is fine with it. “No worries. We just need to figure out where things went sideways and adjust your approach.” You’re not bad, a loser, unreliable… It’s just, “That strategy didn’t work for you.

What might have made it work? Where did you need support? Where did you get stuck?”

As the weeks pass, things start moving. It’s exciting. Almost scary. You’re needing fewer coaching calls, just some quick check-ins. You get to say.

And then if it hasn’t happened already, someone says something.

“ADHD is Just an Excuse!” 

One of your parents, a loved one, a friend, a colleague. A cluck of the tongue. Or a roll of the eyes. Or a condescending look…

“I don’t believe in ADHD…”

“Oh, sweetie, there’s nothing wrong with you…”
“It’s always another excuse with you…”
“ADHD? That’s just rambunctious boys. You know what your problem is…”
“You can’t have ADHD, you finished college…”
“ADHD is just a big scam…”
“Those ADHD medications turn people into drug addicts…”
“It’s just gluten…”
“I read that in France no one has ADHD…”
“ADHD is a fad. You just need to buckle down and try harder…”


One flippant remark, but it hits you like a slap in the face. Thunderstruck, you explode, or just freeze up. You try to defend yourself, to explain the facts, but they know better.

There’s nothing you can say. All the progress in the world means nothing to them. They have no idea what it was like for you.

Those of us with ADHD are often overly sensitive, quick to over-react to situations. After a lifetime of feeling we aren’t not trustworthy or reliable, it’s easy to wonder, “Maybe they’re right…”

We all face this kind of hostility or ignorance at one point or another, whether it’s our own ADHD, our partners, or our child’s.

It’s going to happen. The more open you are about your ADHD, the more often you’ll face it. (Try going on national television and discussing your ADHD. The push back is stunning.)


If you’re not prepared for this denial, dismissal, and disdain, it can stop you cold. Months of progress is dismissed, our own experience trumped by a casual remark from someone who has no idea what ADHD actually is.

I’ve interviewed people who wasted years of their lives, struggling needlessly, because of something someone said. Someone who thought they were being ‘helpful.’


I made the mistake of telling everyone I have ADHD.

Disclosure is a tricky business, and we made a separate video about ‘Who needs to know – who should I tell?’ so you can avoid a lot of unnecessary crap. It’s especially important if you have a child with ADHD.

But no matter how careful you are, I can guarantee some people will sneer at the idea that, “You’re a grown adult! How can you suddenly have some kind of childhood issue? You’ve always been like this. You’re mom was the same way!”

Which, you explain, is exactly the point, “Yes, that’s because ADHD is highly heritable…” But they just roll their eyes and tune out. The ones who strike you as the most ADHD are often the most hostile, aren’t they?

The solution is to be prepared. Arm yourself.

Because when someone says, “I read that ADHD was invented by…” you will be confronted, angry, shocked, and your brain will shut down. Emotion will take over. You’ll be reacting, not replying.


After years of passionately arguing, debating, spewing endless statistics, and overwhelming people with ‘facts,’ I found a better solution. I agree with them.

Sort of. No matter what they say, I reply, “You know what, that’s exactly what I thought…”

Followed by, “…and then I learned that in the past 15 years they’ve identified a whole bunch of genes…” Or, “…it turns out ADHD medication’s have been used safely, since 1937.”

You’ll find a number of great ways to defend your diagnosis in what may be my favorite video, Facing The World.

When you’re prepared, it is actually easy to stun loudmouths into silence and expose the ignorance of know-it-alls. As you practice, you’ll discover you can turn ‘enemies’ into ‘allies,’ who can go on to become your biggest champions.

I know, because I’ve done exactly that. Over and over again.

And I gotta tell you, it feels exquisite.


Rick Green

ADHD Video
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