PanicI found this and thought it might be interesting.

The Shame Game and ADHD

Why people with ADHD struggle with feelings of shame and how they can overcome them.

by William Dodson, M.D.

Shame Is Not Guilt

Shame is one of the oldest known English words that originally meant to “hide or cover up.” As such, shame is the hardest thing to deal with since it tends to be hidden and never addressed. Feeling shame is different than feeling guilt. Guilt focuses on what one has done. Shame focuses on who one is.

Feeling Separate and Unequal

For ADHDers, shame arises from the repeated failure to meet expectations from parents, teachers, friends, bosses, and the world. It is estimated that those with ADHD receive 20,000 more negative messages by age 12 than those without the condition. They view themselves as fundamentally different and flawed. They are not like other people.

Feeling Bad About Oneself

It is especially painful when well-meaning people in an ADHD person’s life point out that he has failed or fallen short. ADHDers are accused, directly or through implication, of being lazy or willfully disobedient—as if they set out to fail. It’s hard not to feel bad about yourself. In fact, one expert believes that “low self-esteem” should be one of the criteria for diagnosing ADHD in adults.

Anger for Those Who Criticize

Those with ADHD who feel shame withdraw into themselves—or hide behind a rage at the perceived source of the negativity. This may explain why people with ADHD fear letting others get to know them intimately or to see how they live. The ADDer harbors two horrible secrets: Their future is uncontrolled and uncontrollable and life can inflict wounding shame just as easily as it engenders success.

Problems with Trying to Be Perfect

Shame causes many ADHDers to try to be perfect. A person thinks: “If I look and do everything perfectly, I can avoid shame.” An ADHDer who holds this belief is constantly evaluating everyone in their lives—friends, family, children—to see what they approve of and value, and gives it back to them. The person with ADHD forgets what he genuinely wants from his own life.

Just Giving Up

Many ADHDers who feel shame stop trying to do things—at work and at home—unless they are assured in advance of quick, complete, and easy success. They do not have the ability to sustain effort for long if they are not succeeding completely. This is often misinterpreted as laziness, leading the person to feel more shame and more misunderstood. This is one reason video games are so popular. If you fail, only you know. You reboot and move on, as if nothing happened.

Shying Away from Help

Shame gets in the way of ADHD adults and kids asking for help. For many people with ADHD, telling a doctor about their failures and asking to receive medication to help them succeed is unthinkable. They have tried everything, and it hasn’t worked. Many children would rather flunk than ask the teacher for help. This is why many parents feel blindsided when they discover how badly their child is doing in school. Their child didn’t tell them because it was so shameful to admit it.

Blaming Others

Many with ADHD equate blaming someone else for their failures with fixing the problem that caused them to feel shame. Once they have found someone to blame, they wash their hands of responsibility and accountability for correcting the mistake. The goal of breaking the cycle of shame is to adopt financier George Soros’ view: “There is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes.”

Laugh the Shame Away

For the ADHDer, humor is one of the best weapons against shame. Laughing at a situation that has gone wrong or a mistake you have made brings more self-acceptance and softens the often-harsh attitudes he developed about himself in childhood. Humor takes away shame’s power over us.

Accept Yourself—Warts and All

Although people who feel ashamed are intensely focused on how the outside world sees them, the first step in combatting it is self-acceptance. Unless a person with ADHD is able to accept and value herself, even though she is not perfect, she can’t really believe that others can love her just as she is.

Find a Cheerleader

Having someone—a friend, neighbor, coach, or grandparent—who accepts and loves a child or adult with ADHD, despite his faults and shortcomings, is vital in overcoming shame. This is the opposite of perfectionism, in which approval is contingent on what the person has done lately. The accepting person acts as a vessel that holds the memory of you as a good and valuable person, even when things go wrong.

Strength in Numbers

An ADHD support group can be a welcome island in an ADHDer’s world. Finally, the person is understood. The other people in the group have been in his shoes and know the shame of failure and being different. The group sees the person as he is and corrects the distortions that result from hiding in an inner world of shame. What’s more, self-help groups set ADHD-specific goals that are more realistic and loving.

Uncover the Truth

A doctor and therapist need to be vigilant for signs of shame because most ADHDers hide it from the world. It is key to proper diagnosis and successful therapy that therapist and patient are aware of the emotional intensity that is part of the patient’s life. A lot of patients attempt to hide this emotional component, fearful of being wounded further if the truth were known.

Additional Resources

Join our online community, ADDConnect, for support from others touched by ADHD.
Why ADHDers Act the Way We Do: Understanding ADHD Behavior.
Check out
16 Sayings for ADHDers to Live and Laugh By.
Smart Comebacks to ADHD Doubters, for free.



the mind can’t be fooled


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for all of my adult life, i have been skeptical about “self-help stuff”, especially the kind peddled by Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. why? because it simply doesn’t work. and it turns out i am right.

“There are other researchers who question the validity and utility of self-affirmations. Canadian researcher, Dr. Joanne Wood at the University of Waterloo and her colleagues at the University of New Brunswick who have recently published their research in the Journal of Psychological Science, concluded “repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most.”

The researchers asked people with and low self-esteem to say “I am a lovable person.” They then measured the participants’ moods and their feelings about themselves. The low-esteem group felt worse afterwards compared with others who did not. However, people with high self-esteem felt better after repeating the positive affirmation–but only slightly. The psychologists then asked the participants to list negative and positive thoughts about themselves. They found, paradoxically, those with low self-esteem were in a better mood when they were allowed to have negative thoughts than when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts.

The researchers suggest that, like overly positive praise, unreasonably positive self-statements, such as “I accept myself completely” can provoke contradictory thoughts in individuals in individuals with low self-esteem. When positive self-statements strongly conflict with self-perception, the researchers argue, there is not mere resistance but a reinforcing of self-perception. People who view themselves as unlovable, for example, find that saying that when they don’t really believe it, strengthens their own negative view rather than reversing it.

These findings were supported by previous research published in 1994 in the Journal of Social Psychology, showing that when people get feedback that they believe is overly positive, they actually feel worse, not better.

Dr. Wood goes even further. In her Psychology Today blog, she says that most self-help books advocating positive affirmations may be based on good intentions or personal experience, but they are rarely based on even one iota of scientific evidence. She cites psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness as an exception.” (from Psychology Today)

the reason it doesn’t work is because the mind is not easily fooled. really. unless of course one already has high self-esteem – in which case one does not need to use positive affirmations.

so guys like eckhart tolle and deepack chopra are simple, vile liars, peddling their expensive shit to people who don’t know it doesn’t help and who will keep having low self-esteem, because what they are told will help, doesn’t help THEM – i.e they are so flawed that they are beyond help (and poor to boot), with a whole lot of useless books.




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Heartnothing brings us so close to our own mortality, as the death of a family member. it is inevitable. my father died 2001. my first thought when i was told, was: now i am the oldest in my family.

yesterday my father-in-law died. it had been a long downhill struggle, so for him it was most certainly a relief physically. still, just last week he said he would try and hang on until his pension-pay-out, so his wife would have a little more money for the month ahead. he worried for his widow-to-be. hearing this, i realized that i too am thinking about those i leave behind one day.

i am not afraid to die, nor am i afraid of the after-life. death is a natural part of living and i and G-d are on first name basis. but i do worry what will become of my wife the day i die. how she will cope, how she will manage. that scares me.

my inner lizard

Meet my inner lizard. In scientific language his name is AMYGDALA, but I call him Herman. Herman is in charge of everything that has to do with any raw emotions. Like FEAR, ANGER, JOY, GRIEF and LOVE.

Every time I experience a feeling, it is Herman’s doing. He is very good at his job. His job is to respond to what happens inside me or around me, and specifically alert me if there is danger nearby, and prepare me for either flight, fight or hide mode. If he did not do this, I would perhaps be at risk of getting killed several times a day. Herman is very important to me.


As I said, Herman is very good at his job. Sometimes, though he gets stuff mixed up. You see, Herman is also in charge of the memory of feelings I have had in situations where Herman has had to warn me about something dangerous. So, let’s say that Herman once warned me about a car turning the corner just as I stepped off the curb. Herman HEARD the car, and yelled “DANGEROUS CAR!”, and flooded my brain and blood with adrenaline, so I could quickly step back onto the sidewalk. The sudden rush of adrenaline and appearance of the car just inches from me created a memory of fear in me, associated with the sound of a speeding car.
Herman is good at his job. He is not very bright though, he cannot tell real from not-real. So next time he hears a speeding car f.i when I am safe on the sidewalk on my way into a store, he will yell “DANGEROUS CAR!” and flood my brain and blood with adrenaline AND the memory of fear.

There is no speeding car to be afraid of, but Herman can only remember the SOUND and the FEAR, he cannot check if there is a car.

This affects how I respond to the sound of speeding cars.
Herman has hundreds maybe even thousands of ideas about what is dangerous to him and me. But since he is not very bright, and cannot tell real from not-real, he needs me to keep him informed about the realness of stuff he warns me about. If I didn’t give him that information, he would keep himself and me in a constant state of panic.

Luckily for me, Herman is not very fit. He can’t keep flooding me with fear and adrenaline for more than a few seconds at a time (10 seconds at the most), before he needs a breather. When he is taking his breather, there is room for ME to step in and either tell him to calm down or divert him by adding a stimulus that is not connected to what Herman is freaking out about.

Music is very good, or positive white noise like cat-purring. Something that will catch Herman’s attention in a good way.




Insomnia1all my life i have had ‘odd sleeping patterns’ and have suffered from insomnia. and all my life i have been fighting with my weird sleeping habits. it turns out that not only do i not have to fight them – they are actually quite normal human sleeping patterns.

The 8-Hour Sleep MythTurns out that psychiatrist Thomas Wehr ran an experiment back in the ‘90s in which people were thrust into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month. When their sleep regulated, a strange pattern emerged. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before drifting off again into a second four-hour sleep.”

The myth of the eight-hour sleep – BBCIn 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks. His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

When segmented sleep was the norm

  • "He knew this, even in the horror with which he started from his first sleep, and threw up the window to dispel it by the presence of some object, beyond the room, which had not been, as it were, the witness of his dream." Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge (1840)
  • "Don Quixote followed nature, and being satisfied with his first sleep, did not solicit more. As for Sancho, he never wanted a second, for the first lasted him from night to morning." Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote (1615)
  • "And at the wakening of your first sleepe You shall have a hott drinke made, And at the wakening of your next sleepe Your sorrowes will have a slake." Early English ballad, Old Robin of Portingale
  • The Tiv tribe in Nigeria employ the terms "first sleep" and "second sleep" to refer to specific periods of the night

Source: Roger Ekirch

ha! so my pattern of getting sleepy around 8-10 PM, going to bed and then wake up around 2-4 AM and then get sleepy again around 5 AM and sleep until 9 AM is just as it should be. good. i will not feel bad about how i sleep anymore.

in fact i am going to use my wakefulness to be creative and self-indulgent. 😀

here’s a bit about NAPPING:

and something about the nature of humans:



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garbage can1today was home-assistance day. i hate it. not because it means i have to do household chores like cleaning and washing dishes. i don’t like doing any of those, but it’s ok to do it  together with the home-assistants. i don’t like it because i have to ‘socialize’. i have to ‘be in charge’ and ‘know what needs doing’ and that takes a lot of energy. then there is the ‘crowdedness’ of having ‘strangers’ so close. it is draining. i often have to spend the rest of the day unloading and decompressing.

accepting help is difficult, because although i know that i need the help due to my neurodifference, it has not always been that way. there was a time when i did not know i was neurodifferent, when the difficulties i had with cleaning, washing dishes, going to appointments and such were labeled, ‘laziness’ , ‘slobbiness’ and ‘unwillingness’. all this created a lot of shame. shame that accompany me every day, and most intensely when it is time for home-assistance each monday and friday.

shame is a very odd feeling in some ways, as it makes me both want to hide three feet below the floor and at the same time scream and hit everything around me in fury. it is difficult to participate in the chores when one feels like an earthworm on fire.

earthworm 2

does anyone read


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Books1…this blog? yes i know i have 12 followers, but i do not have vary many hits/day, and not many comments. i also see that people ‘like’ when i post links to each entry every day, but does that mean they actually READ each entry (i do know that one person actually takes the time to go and like each post on the actual page – for that i am grateful)?

am i writing this blog just for me, or do i have an audience, who consider it worthwhile? no human being exists in a vacuum, in fact in vacuum we implode – our brains are boiled to hardened charcoal, and we die. to me blogging is like having a conversation with people. and at the moment i feel like i am talking to either thin air or to a wall. i want to influence people, i want to have people think, and respond to what i say – and right now i am pretty sure that apart from one single reader, no one cares.

do not disturb


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mornings are hazardous living with me (and most addies). more arguments have started in our home right after getting out of bed/waking up than i wish to remember, and the root cause is either of two: me forgetting that even if i am up, i am not ‘awake’ or my wife forgetting the same.

over the years we have used several methods/tricks to get around the sinkholes of my mean morning mood. i say ‘we’, because even though i am ultimately responsible for my emotions and actions, my wife do actually have responsibility for how she does things too.

once it was apparent that my mean morning mood cannot be changed, which was our first course of action – me working on containing the fall-out while being social and interactive right after waking up – which failed miserably because i have adhd and as. then we racked our brains to try and find the reason i had this morning mood. we found many things that seemed to trigger the explosions:

  • talking about important stuff
  • talking about upsetting stuff
  • talking about stuff we disagreed about
  • talking about stuff that expressed possible demands
  • being woken by the phone
  • being woken by any loud noise
  • being asked to do stuff that takes thinking

then we thought that it might be HOW i woke up. that if i woke up in a soft and cuddly manner, gently and slow, it would ease the risk of explosive fall-out. to a degree it did. but it is not always feasible for my wife to conjure up the strength and energy to make it happen that way, and some times she could be the paragon of loving-kindness and i would blow up in her face nevertheless. besides, she should not have to jump through hoops to avoid being bitten.

so when it turned out that i almost always had this mean morning mood regardless of what happened we came up with this basic morning rule: do not disturb the bear.

it does not always work, because we both forget, and i assume that it will keep being like this for the foreseeable future – but now we have left the project of trying to fix the sinkhole, and are actively working on finding a way that will help us both remember that the sinkhole is there and to avoid it.

the latest idea – a hat. yes, a hat. a hat that i put on when i go to bed and subsequently wake up wearing, where it says: DO NOT DISTURB!

now what remains is to actually make the hat. when we have it, i’ll post a picture 😀

n.e.d 2


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n.e.dok, it’s time to revisit an old post. the one about my n.e.d, nekkid emperor detector (yes, it is a reference to the story by HC. Andersen)

a new friend of mine (keeps a blog in swedish, among other things about having adhd) shared one of his posts on FB, and someone responded in a way that told him this person was ‘profiling’ (like a psychologist would, or like someone who wants to put someone down would) him, his n.e.d picked it up and he responded by revealing the ‘readings’ of his n.e.d. then he asked me what i thought about his reply. as he asked an honest question, i responded in kind. that the initial question “why did you respond in that way?” would have sufficed. that even though he knew he was being profiled, and actually had the right to be offended, revealing the ‘n.e.d-readings’ was not called for, and could even put him in trouble.

see, in a world where the vast majority are neurotypicals, (who to a large extent do not like neurodifferents) it is not always a good thing that they are aware that we have super talents that can ‘see through’ their  smoke screens, lies, attempted bullying and manipulations.

some times it is enough that i know that i am being ‘bullshitted’ – i do not have to do anything about it, except perhaps be careful around the person bullshitting me.

the trick is to know WHEN to make those n.e.d-readings public. in my personal experience the ‘when’ is most often when there is serious danger to third person, or when i am really hurt. it is a bit like superman – he needs a ‘day-job’ and a regular identity, and then when there is real need, he becomes superman and saves the day.