Pretend You Don’t Have ADHD


Sometimes I wish that I could follow a non-ADHD person around for a day – just to see how they do life.

Haven’t you ever wondered how the so-called “normal” people do it?

I can spend a whole day, frenetically doing a bunch of this and a whole lot of that. I try to be mindful of what I am doing, while I am doing it. I feel like I am pretty efficient, for the most part. But I’m sure if I hung out with a neurotypical, their day would look a lot different than mine.

But would it be better?

I’m thinking of asking someone if I can shadow them for a day. But how do you approach a request like that?

“Hey, can I follow you around for a while? Just go about your business and pretend I’m not there. You be the lion, I’ll be the camera woman. I just want to know what a normal day looks like in your wilderness.”

It’s creepy and weird, so perhaps I won’t.

This idea came to me the other day. I am a member of a task force in my community, whose focus is on promoting education about ADHD and enhancing resources for those who live with it. Every October, we put on a community event in honor of ADHD Awareness Month. This year, our theme is going to be “Getting Inside the ADHD Mind” – with a focus on creating a better understanding of what it’s like to have ADHD, designed especially for those live with an ADDer.

I would like to engineer the reverse of that. What’s it like to not have ADD? Do people without ADHD have only one thought at a time? When faced with a big list, do they automatically know what to focus on first or do they have to think hard about it? Are they naturally organized and on time, or does it take effort?

Think about this for a few minutes. What would it be like to NOT have ADHD?

I’ve been contemplating this. I can’t come up with a conclusive answer, obviously. I can’t live in someone else’s head. I’m stuck with my own. But this is the conclusion I’ve come to, based on nothing more than a thought experiment.

Without ADHD, I’d still be me. I can see that certain parts of my life are definitely affected by the fact that I have it, but I can’t say that my struggles would go away if my brain was wired differently. Perhaps I would just have different struggles. Perhaps you would too.

Being organized, focused, and on time would no doubt be easier. But I don’t think I’d necessarily be happier, more successful, or fulfilled. I imagine it this way:


People who wear glasses might feel that some things in their lives would be easier if they didn’t need to wear glasses. No doubt, that’s why laser surgery has become a popular procedure. I don’t wear glasses, but I can imagine it’s a pain-in-the-butt to have to rely on them, and there would be times when it’s extremely inconvenient to depend on them.

But take away the need to wear glasses – how much better would life become? I mean, after the initial novelty wears off?

This is what I think:

Life without ADHD would have its own struggles. Having ADHD can certainly make a lot of things harder, but it doesn’t necessarily make life harder. Living with ADHD, successfully, can mean that it’s no more inconvenient than relying on a pair of glasses for reading or driving.

It really is that simple. As I’ve talked about many times before, there are many ways in which ADHD can actually benefit our lives, especially when we know how to use it to our advantage. The difference between being overcoming ADHD struggles, and being overcome by them, comes down to whether or not you find ways to make it work for you.

Read through the archives of this blog – I’ve outline dozens of ways that you can make ADHD work for you. If you’d like to find more unique ways to manage your ADHD, shoot me off an email and we’ll talk about it. And don’t forget to sign up for more free tips delivered straight to your in box in the signup sheet below.

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4 comments on “Pretend You Don’t Have ADHD

  1. This is a really nice story, thanks Andrea. It’s something I have thought about a lot and I’ve come to the same conclusion – now that I know I have ADD, I’ll keep it. It is difficult living with ADD, not because of the ADD so much, but more for the the way people treat you – like you are stupid (among other things). But knowing goes a long way to helping deal with day to day, minute by minute things – I was really happy the day I got a definitive diagnosis. I have found your site the best source for helping me come to terms with not being normal – I love the word neurotypical. I’m glad I’m not.

    1. Hi Peter, thanks so much for sharing, I’m glad this site has been so useful for you. I agree with you – I’ll keep my ADD too! I tend to not tell people about my ADD until after they know me a bit. Not that I am ashamed of it (I’m definitely NOT!), but because I don’t want them to form any preconceived notions about what I must be like. I usually share the ADHD part when I know the person better – unless there is a relevant context for sharing it right away. Sad that this is even an issue but its true for many things in life.

  2. I think if I didn’t have ADD, I would be able to stay on task and complete things. Y’know, like housework. I wouldn’t think, “Oh, I better stop doing this and do that before I forget that altogether” and then forget to go back to the first thing…… or leave one room to put something away and find other things to do in that room until something needs to be put away in another room and I find……..well, you know how that goes. And I think my relationships would be better because I could actually be present and accounted for when I’m with someone else. But I wouldn’t want to not be ADD (is that a double negative?). I like it when I am glutted with creative Ideas. I love it when I can get lost in my creative process because I’m hyper-focused. I wouldn’t have me any other way…..

    1. Well said Lara. I agree with you – there are so many things that would be easier without, especially relationships. My family would certainly be happier if I wasn’t hurrying them up so much. Nothing seems to go fast enough for me but I’m working on it. Like you, I wouldn’t give up the creativity for less chaos though!

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