Got a diagnosis but still worried I'm faking it


Hello! I feel very weird posting this, but I got diagnosed over a year ago with ADD.

My dad was diagnosed with ADD before I was born, and whenever I’d forget to do homework, or get distracted in class, or misplace things, my mom would always say that it was due to “learned behavior” from my dad. She basically said that I didn’t have ADD, I was just mimicking ADD symptoms and that no research actually looked at if a child could be replicating ADD in a parent without actually having it.

Flash forward to college where I was struggling my Junior year with a bunch of research, homework, projects, and other endeavors. I’ve always had really good grades, and I was able to do well on and pay attention for the most part in class. But the stress got way too much, I read Hannah Hart’s book where she described her struggles and revealed that it was connected to her having ADD her whole life. That made me realize that maybe I did actually have it, and so I spent a long time waiting to decide if I should get tested- I did a bunch of research on the evaluation process and what ADD is, and when I went in to get evaluated, the doctor said that I do have ADD.

It’s been over a year with that answer, and I’ve graduated college, am in a professional career where I can focus on one thing at a time and I feel calm and like I’m able to manage everything. However, this calmness makes me feel like my mom was right and that I really was just overly stressed, mimicking ADD behaviors, or just faking it to give myself a reason for why I wasn’t succeeding.

I want to ask- has anyone else had similar feelings or experiences? Do I need to see if I need to get a second diagnosis? Is it common for ADD symptoms to ebb and flow with stress or am I just faking it?



Stress can absolutely worsen symptoms. But more importantly, to deal with your mom (haha, ‘your mom’-joke…) and her assumptions. Yeah, there haven’t been a lot of studies into children of ADHD’ers not having ADHD but mimicking it. Because that’s exceedingly rare! There is a strong genetic component to ADHD. It’s caused by a lot of things, but one of the main ways is from parents. Especially male parents (for some reason we get saddled with a lot of the crappy DNA…:sweat_smile: And yes, I know the evolutionary reason for it.), which means it’s almost impossible to find kids of Brains who DON’T have ADHD, especially in numbers big enough to do an actual study. And if the kid DID end up not having it, why would that child then learn 100% of their time management and study skills from ONE parents? It makes no sense that they wouldn’t learn from both. So your mom is wrong, but has planted a seed of doubt in your mind. Trust the doctors over your mom when it comes to health.

Also, welcome to the forum, fellow Brain!:wave::blush:



Well first, I’m not sure anyone CAN “fake” having ADHD to the extent that they have the negative symptoms but don’t have the condition. Like, “Oh look there’s a squirrel, I will now USE IT AS A DISTRACTION from the thing that I am supposed to be doing.” Or, “Well, I have to write a paper, so I am now going to go find a squirrel in hopes of it causing me to become distracted because that way I will not have to write the paper.” No, if you WANT TO AVOID WRITING THE PAPER, then there’s one of two ways, in this scenario, that you will still have ADHD, as far as I understand it – 1. you see a squirrel and it distracts you and you are, inherently, therefore distractable in an ADHD kind of way, or 2. you think about going to find a squirrel, as described above, and in so doing, the thinking about the quest for the squirrel is enough to distract you and you are, inherently therefore distractable in an ADHD kind of way. So, basically, if you WANT to be distracted and, on the one hand, are trying to make that happen, what’s the difference between that and, on the other hand, actually having something distract you? Just one more level of meta-awareness, but still, not writing the paper are you? :slight_smile:

And second, yeah, why do mothers resist this so? Not good for you, is my first thought. Wouldn’t she have wanted you to be reared as well as possible? Get any medical intervention you might have needed?

Third, your ability to focus on your work, feel cool and collected, and generally NOT seem to have ADHD, doesn’t prove you don’t. I am not a doctor and will not pretend to diagnose you here, but I’d suggest you read around more and watch some more of the videos on the YouTube channel. You’ll find that a lot of people present ADHD in a lot of various ways. Maybe you’re able to focus on your professional responsibilities because of the fact that they are intrinsically valuable to you; maybe you’re hyperfocusing on them because of deadline pressure and knowledge of the heavy weight of consequences which will befall you if you don’t perform them. Maybe the REST of your life is totally ADHD and the mere fact of having a good job and doing it well isn’t enough to disqualify you from Brain status. :slight_smile:



Hi mclel101,

The simplest way to see it is that the more you have to do, the less time you have, the more crucial management of your time and attention becomes. You are managing a job and paying bills just fine. Add in a spouse. Then children. Get a house that needs maintenance.

I suspect that it is less that the symptoms are not ebbing and flowing so much as the demands on your attention have been ebbing and flowing.

You can achieve the calm with ADHD, you just have to stay vigilant in keeping up with whatever responsibilities you have while you are doing it. It builds confidence. Then you screw up again. But the difference now is that you know it is just a mistake. You are not a bad person. You are not ‘unlucky’. This does not have to be a continual cycle, you can anticipate this (not to try harder, try ‘different’).



I would also keep in mind that ADHD does not necessarily mean you will not thrive in a work environment. It may mean that you cannot shut off work when you are home, or you may have difficulties in transitioning from one thing to another. Your work may be a high enough stimulus to keep your attention. And it also is about degrees. Some people experience more difficulties than others, and yes, stress does make it worse.

Sometimes i feel like i maybe it is all imaginary, or faking it too, until something happens that is a clear reminder that yes, i have adhd. I think the comorbitity thing also comes into play here, where anxiety or depression, and for me dyslexia, can all produce similar affects. They all affect my working memory.

I was super nervous going back to school until i realized that my tendency to hyper focus was actually part of the reason i am being very successful in school right now. Work was always more difficult because i had dozens of projects with multiple deadlines and some i just was not interested in, and found it difficult to take care of. They tended to get backburnered indefinitely without someone else putting pressure on.

Glad you are finding success in your career. Keep it up. It doesn’t mean you are neurotypical. And not being neurotipical does not mean you won’t be an amazing success.

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Your life had a complete and utter shift where the split attention of multiple classes with multiple deadlines and heavy expectations and oh god oh god why no to having Done the Thing and gotten a job and now you can focus just on one thing. It’s kind of an expected thing that when you remove all that extra stress from the system, it’s going to run much better!

Think of it it like your brain having a load-limit. School was like trying to carry 20 lbs on a brain that can only handle 15. Now that school is over, enough extra weight has been dropped that the load is under that 15lb limit so the shaking and trembling and lack of being able to steer have all vanished since things are back to a load you can handle.

It doesn’t mean that the load limit was fake – Far from it! It just means that things run so much better when you’re not taxing your system.

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Oh man, I get it. Being undiagnosed and a ”””””””high-achiever””””””, there’s a lot of sucking-it-up that goes on, and that can be the hardest habit to break. It sounds like you’ve built up a lot of skills, too— which does not mean that you’re faking anything; it means that ADHD tends to engender a scrappy and resourceful sort of person! (Also, for what it’s worth, I just hit the stage of not-feeling-fake, and I could tell because I read a productivity blog aimed at neurotypicals and thought, “YOU’RE the weirdos”— so you know, it gets better.)

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The part I want to model myself after, is the part where your work CAUSES you to be interested in it. I have simply never experienced anything CLOSE to the notion that my job had something intrinsically valuable to it, and yet that intrinsic value is exactly and only the one thing which will allow me, as an ADHDer, to focus on it and care about it. I can’t convince myself. I just do NOT believe in the product. Crest? Colgate? WHO GIVES A FFFF? I believe in Gods, certain philosophies, the power of redemption and forgiveness. I can’t believe in a free-market economics type of product or service. That’s not belief, that’s greedy short-sighted venality excusing itself with the legalistic circumlocutions of the “prosperity doctrine” of the Protestant Work Ethic and thereby (quoting George Carlin) SERVICING THE CUSTOMER.

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Before I chime in, let me say, welcome to the Tribe!

That’s a very nasty seed of doubt your mom has planted. It is unfortunate as I believe she wants the best for you, but has actively hurt one potential path that could give you the answers you seek.

As several other members have mentioned, I don’t believe you are faking it. I would guess that you have come up with coping strategies that work for you, so it feels like you were faking it before. I would simply keep tabs on when things flair up and you are not in control and see what has changed in your habits and environment compared to when things are fully under control.

Also, good for you that you have managed to find strategies that work! Yay you! :smile:

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