My experience with ADHD

In November 2007 I was diagnosed with ADHD. ADHD of the combined type that is. This article aims to share my experiences with ADHD and provide space to share ADHD experiences. So do you have experience with ADHD? Share it at the bottom of this article. Although much has been written about the characteristics of ADHD, there are only few experiences with ADHD by people who have ADHD themselves. Most books and articles are written by scientists without personal ADHD experiences. In this article I would therefore like to share my experiences with ADHD.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is an abbreviation of the English term Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD is the most common mental disorder in children. ADHD occurs in three different types: the combined type, the predominantly inattentive type (also called ADD) and the predominantly hyperactive/impulsive type.


According to the DSMIV (diagnosis manual), someone has ADHD if he or she has six or more of the following symptoms (most days of the week):

  • Insufficient attention to detail or careless mistakes
  • Difficulty paying attention to tasks or play
  • Don’t seem to listen
  • Not following instructions or not being able to complete assignments
  • Difficulty organizing tasks
  • Avoidance or aversion to tasks that require prolonged mental effort
  • Losing things needed for tasks
  • Getting distracted easily
  • Forgetful during daily activities
  • Restless movement with hands and feet or turning on the chair
  • Standing up when remaining seated is expected
  • Running around or climbing anywhere when it is inappropriate
  • Difficulty playing quietly or performing relaxing activities
  • Being busy or just trotting along
  • Talking continuously


Facts and fables

  • People with ADHD are not lazy
  • ADHD can also occur in adults
  • ADHD is not caused by a wrong upbringing
  • ADHD is not caused by insufficient outdoor play and/or exercise
  • ADHD also occurs in women
  • You do not have to immediately see from the outside that someone has ADHD
  • People with ADHD do not lack character
  • People with ADHD are not posers


My experience with ADHD

I’ve spent my whole life dealing with problems that I didn’t know what to do with. At the beginning of September 2007, this came to a low point (or high point, whatever you want to call it): I started a university course that demanded a lot from me mentally, and that caused me to have even worse problems in other areas. I recognized myself very much in descriptions of ADD (I am studying Psychology and previously completed 2 years of Social Educational Assistance) and I asked my GP for a referral to a psychologist. In November 2007 I had an intake interview and the diagnosis was ADHD (combined type), dysthymic disorder and major depression.
After 6 weeks of treating depression with an antidepressant, I started taking Concerta, a methylphenidate. For my experiences with this, see my article My experience with Concerta (methylphenidate)

My experiences with ADHD in practice


Although I managed to get through grammar school quite easily and therefore left high school with a diploma, there are still a number of ADHD-related problems that I encounter. For example, I absolutely cannot work in a room that is too quiet without stimuli, so I have to look for them myself (a homely environment works best for me, occasionally petting the cat, making a cup of tea, etc.). I don’t go to lectures, because I don’t learn much from them. Usually the text from the book is just repeated and nothing else, so that bores me, so I’d rather be at home. Moreover, I don’t learn very much from spoken material. Moreover, the lectures are always quite messy with all kinds of people walking in halfway, crunching sandwich bags, chatting behind me, etc. So I actually spend 95% of the time looking around and everything the teacher says passes me by. I have a kind of alarm clock on my computer that starts playing music of my choosing after half an hour of studying. Then a fifteen minute break and then another half hour of studying. So I have a shorter concentration span than an average person. I make a plan for which chapter I will study for which exam and when. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 I get sick or something else messes up my schedule.
Nevertheless, I am officially over this school year. I still have 2 more chances, but I’m done anyway!

My experience with ADHD: Fatigue

If I get the chance (no obligations/if my boyfriend isn’t home to kick me out of bed) I’ll stay in bed until 1:00 PM at the earliest… And while I’m generally in bed by 11:00 PM. My aim is to get up at 10:00. That’s 11 hours of sleep, which should be more than enough, but unfortunately it isn’t. And when I get out of bed, I am still unable to do much because of that fatigue. And I really do almost nothing in a day. According to the psychiatrist, it could be that my mind is unconsciously very busy (in addition to what I already consciously notice). There is nothing physically wrong with me either. I have already had numerous blood tests that always showed perfect body values.

My experience with ADHD: hyperfocus

“For example, I have now discovered a website where you can post self-written articles and earn money with them. So I have been writing articles since 11:00 am.”
The above is a quote from me on a forum from about 2.5 months ago. A hyperfocus is actually a kind of intense and undisturbed concentration on a certain activity. I have trouble starting and stopping. For me, literally anything can be a target of my hyperfocus. Sometimes it’s my studies (unfortunately not enough), usually it’s something silly like a project/idea that I’ve become completely enthusiastic about. I have the feeling that hyperfocus sometimes affects me when I have been dreading something for weeks and then suddenly start tackling it. For example, mopping the house. If I start with that, I won’t just mop, no, I’ll also immediately clean the windows, give a complete bathroom makeover, wash the kitchen cupboards, etc.

My experience with ADHD: relationship

I have been in a relationship with a super sweet and understanding boyfriend for over 4 years now. We have been living together for 2.5 years now and are very happy together. For an ADHD person this is quite exceptional, haha! Many people with ADHD quickly grow tired of a partner and cannot maintain long and stable relationships. I think the strength of our relationship is in complementing and challenging each other. We are both strong personalities, which occasionally clash, but that only makes the relationship more intense and deeper. An important ‘lubricant’ for us is humor and understanding. We go to the coach/psychiatrist together and try to find our way together. There are ups and downs, but fortunately there is an upward trend.

My experience with ADHD: finances

My financial situation was a gigantic mess until recently. I bought everything whenever I wanted, without checking whether I could afford the purchase. I would see about that later. Fortunately, I never got into trouble thanks to guidance from my friend, but I have now worn out about 6 financial systems and tools. From a shoe box with compartments for each type of expense (food for the cat, school books, clothing, rent, etc.) to a separate agenda in which I wrote down each expense. Nothing worked! I now have 3 separate savings accounts and a regular account into which I carefully distribute my income every month in the right place, and this is working well for the time being. I know that for most people one bill is the most practical, but unfortunately not for me…

My experience with ADHD: work

I’ve never worked. At least, never longer than six months. I have quite a problem with starting a job very enthusiastically and impulsively, and then working myself to death for the first while because I enjoy it so much. But then, after a few weeks, the novelty wears off and it no longer offers enough stimuli. As a result, I have almost become overworked and I fall into depression when the work no longer offers me a challenge.

My experience with ADHD: household

I’m a complete disaster at home. My friend and I have developed and tried several household systems, but none work satisfactorily. I seem to ‘forget’ that I have to vacuum, because when I have to vacuum I think it is more important that the litter box is changed. And then you actually forget about vacuuming …

My experience with ADHD: sensation seeking

I am not a real thrill seeker in the sense that I do not drive too fast in the car (I do not have a driver’s license), do not engage in delinquent activities and am not an excessive user of alcohol or drugs. However, I tend to feed my need for stimulation and excitement by always doing things at the last minute. This creates adrenaline, which strangely enough calms me down. The disadvantage, however, is that I am often late for appointments…

My experience with ADHD: chaos

I’m not a professor, but I act exactly like one. I forget all kinds of things, luckily my mind is stuck, otherwise I would regularly forget even this one. I always lose things, forget appointments, sometimes stand on the roof terrace with my toothbrush in my hand (wondering how this toothbrush got into my hand…) and even manage to leave my friend’s shoes at the tram stop standing after a visit to the hospital for his sprained ankle…

My experience with ADHD: communication

Having a conversation with me can be quite difficult. Not necessarily because I talk fast (although I can also chatter…) but because I jump from topic to topic. My thoughts always seem to be 5 steps ahead of the current topic of conversation, which I sometimes blurt out. I am also quite direct and occasionally too honest. Well, not too honest, but not subtle enough.

My experience with ADHD: hyperactivity

You can’t immediately tell from me that I have ADHD. I do have a tendency to tap or shake a lot with my hands and feet, but I can sit quietly in my chair and wait for my turn.
However, in my head there is a lot of great hyperactivity. My brain never seems to stand still and keeps running. I usually don’t think about one thing at a time, but generally about 8 unrelated topics at the same time. I seem to absorb all the stimuli in my environment, nothing seems to be filtered. That’s why I have difficulty focusing my attention on one thing, unless this is something that requires my hyperfocus. Even in my sleep I am restless and have very vivid dreams, which causes me to wake up tired.

Final note

I understand that the above experiences with ADHD and descriptions will provide a point of recognition for many. Yet I think that, although several people will (partly) recognize this, it does not always cover the burden of the limitation it poses for me. I find it difficult to indicate exactly what I am running into, because I am quite confused and chaotic, and will try to update this article when necessary. Questions are always welcome, as is sharing experiences with ADHD or tips. Partners of people with ADHD are also cordially invited to share their ADHD experiences from the partner’s point of view.

read more

  • My experience with Concerta (methylphenidate)
  • My experience with dexamphetamine
  • My Experience with Wellbutrin (bupropion)
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