The Christmas hols, family being skeptical about my ADHD


I need to vent this here. I’ve had the diagnosis for just 3 years now. I thought my family (of birth) were ok with it. Turns out not, entirely. Seems it’s something I need to be discreet about with my family, and certainly with my uncle and cousins. I mean, it’s not that I need to shout it from the rooftops, or even talk about it much at all, but if I need to essentially keep it a secret, it doesn’t feel right to me. I mean this is my family, not some random set of people.

I asked about it later privately from my sister and my father. My sister said she couldn’t see why it would be ADHD that I have, because I’m not at all like someone she knows who has severe ADHD. She asked me how I thought that ADHD affected my life. I told her, but it didn’t seem to be credible to her. She asked why I was making it be this big dramatic thing. She said she had started getting symtoms of menopause and she didn’t feel the need to talk about any of that. So why should I need to make this into some big thing and push the subject. I said because it feels really bad feeling like I’m not being heard or understood by my immediate family.

My father then joined in with a comment about me making my symptoms worse by reading up on the condition. He said I was over dramatising when in fact other people really aren’t interested in the innermost workings of my mind. I asked him to please stop and not go further, because that was just not going to be helpful.

The whole conversation ended in mid air. They left thinking I was being defensive and overly dramatic and self centered. And yes I was defensive.

It really is hard every time you realise you can’t just be openly you with your family. I don’t want my ADHD to be this great big thing, but I do need to have people with whom it can just very simply be a part of me, just like it actually is. I don’t need to draw attention to it. I just want not to have to actively hide it with the people closest to me.


Families… facepalm

My brothers side of the family disowned me


Something I’ve noticed about myself is that my social skills have lagged since high school/college. (I’m 57.) If there are good books out there on building social skills for the ADD/ADHD mind I’d love some recommendations.


Family and friends rarely react well to the diagnosis. There are reasons for that:

  • 90% of what they “know” about ADHD is BS
  • They don’t want to do the heavy lifting of changing relationship dynamics based on this new insight
  • Family members especially may well have symptoms themselves, what with ADHD being highly genetic, and they absolutely do not want to deal with that

On my father’s side I’d say the rate of ADHDlers is off the charts, but they absolutely will Not Deal With It. It’s easier to tell themselves you’re just making it up, you know.

The only thing to do is make your peace with that. It’s on them. You told them, you explained, your part of the job ends here. If they’d rather close their eyes, you can’t do anything about it.


Aline, thank you. fistbump


Sorry that you experience such harsh reactions. My own experience is that most people just don’t find our revelation very interresting. They don’t understand that we see our life, every experience, those we remember, a different way. Nor our struggle to understand and tackle present life. I don’t understand much my self. And my very understanding partner who urged me to get diagnosed also gets fed up with my ruminations. I think you should be proud of yourself. You have told your family. Bit maybe you can’t expect much in return


I wanted my family to be more compassionate and understanding about my adhd. They never be very emotionally supportive. I was diagnosed with adhd at 22 but it wasn’t until about a year ago when I found information on line and a doctor who understands adhd and is helping me. I had to go through a lot of downs in my life and I’m finally learning how to accept and love myself. I wanted a better relationship with my mom. I wanted us to connect better and talk about things but she isn’t capable of understanding or listening to me. For me to heal myself I needed to set boundaries with my mom because of the negative ways she affected me. I was sad when I came to terms that I can’t have the relationship I wanted with my mom and finally accepting it helped me. I love my family and they love me. There are just some things we don’t talk about with each other. Finding people who support you and accept you for you and relate with you are good for you to have in your life. I don’t really have any friends with adhd but I do have this online community and I go to chadd meetings once a month to connect with others dealing with adhd. It feels good to be heard and understood and it feels really good when you the help you need to improve your life


I think it is impossible for family to understand unless they struggle themselves. Reading about it is not enough. I have read a lot. Reading the same stuff after I got diagnosed is a completely different experience. You can learn a lot but still not understand. So it is good you have come to terms with your mother.


I am lucky with my wife she is realy the one that pointed out that i might have it after our boy was diagnosed and the doc said we should get cheked out. She sees so much more than I do. Secretly i think she is happy about me having it because it explains alot of the dificult aspects of me.

I think my father has it also but he has no desire to investigate it in himself but recognises alot of the symptoms in me in himself .

Extended family i do ok with also there are one or 2 that have the typical reactions of non belivers but the rest of them are fairly good. And some are even inquisitive and want to know more. I think with parents that play down or denie ADHD it has alot to do with there own guilt and fear that it could be there fault or a negitive reflection on them.

Kinda like people trying to pray the gay away. Not acknowledging how you are and what the cause is will be easier than working through their own problems. Its always easier to look out than in.



I think it’s easier for people to accept what’s going on with you if they can just nod it off and not actually deal witrh it on a day-to-day basis. Us bringing up our quirks when they come up? That’s getting dangerously close to them having to deal with it.

A woman I know is an alcoholic. (She’s been off the booze for about twice as long as she’d been on it but she still identifies as an alcoholic.) When she started not drinking, a lot of the people around her shied away because they either felt judged for still drinking or just uncomfortable drinking around her, or awkward not drinking in a social setting that would normally involve alcohol. She never judged anybody based on their consumption and never made a fuss about people drinking in her presence. It’s all them. I sometimes feel like that, except with thinking.


Your last paragraph could apply to so many aspects of myself and my relationships with (some) family members.

One of the things that helped me as a person was when I stopped allowing my mother to decide which extended family members were allowed to know who I am. I had avoided visiting my aunts and uncles and cousins im Italy for 13 years because of this. 13 years! Then I went, with my partner and child, and it was no big deal. It was all about my mother’s fears of what they would say, not based on any genuine reactions of theirs.

This was not about adhd at the time, but the parallels with attitudes to gay people ar everywhere. Finding my tribe has been a homecoming that is maybe as important as finding ‘the gay community’ way back when.

And on a smaller scale I like it when I meet other people who have one Italian parent but grew up in a colder more Northern European culture.

Or who like reading.

Or who like learning languages.

Or study later in life.

Or have kids.

All of these things are part of who I am, and I don’t need to ram any of them down people’s throats, but I feel a bit weird if they are denied or silenced.

And everyone’s daily reality is normal to them, so it makes no sense when some people tell others that they are weird. I guess they have real difficulty imagining how the world is for someone in different shoes.

I am rambling. Happy New Year, if you count years from 1 January :wink::grin:


Reading what you say made me realize something that makes me even more baffled about my sister’s lack of understanding.

My sister is also gay. I remember way back when she started coming out to our family members. The reactions were not always great. I remember it was the first time I felt profoundly disappointed and angry at some of my family: I thought, how could they not get over themselves and let go of their prejudices, and how could they possibly justify effectively forcing my sister to sort of only bring part of herself to any family gathering, since there was a whole part of her life that she “wasn’t allowed” to say anything about. And how could they not see the change in my sister: I had never in my life seen her so calm and content …and simply happy! Of course it had to come from having finally understood something profound about herself: the obvious effect of pieces falling into place.

I imagine that time in the beginning with our family was more hurtful for her than her and others’ reactions about adhd are for me (thankfully our family has come a long way since those times, my sister can just simply be herself, and she also has a family of her own now), but I can completely see your point. She wasn’t asking to parade being gay, just like I don’t need adhd tattooed across my forehead to call attention to it. What she wanted was what she now has: she can simply be who she is with any family member. And I’m left wondering how come nothing about what I tried to tell her seemed to ring a bell.


Maybe you could say that to your sister at aome point and see if she can take that on board. I am guessing that she hasn’t realised that this mirrors her experience.

That was another big learning moment for me: that gay people can be racist, and people who have experienced racism can be anti-gay, that gay people can vote for non-liberal political parties… I had thought, very naïvely, that people who have experienced unfairness would never treat other people unfairly. Unfortunately, how we treat other people seems to be based on something other than experience!