Most people I meet are very surprised to hear that I have ADHD. I wasn’t formally diagnosed until I was a junior or senior in high school. I attribute my great skills of ADHD masking to this. Since I was officially diagnosed, I have worked with other professionals to develop healthy skills so that I could let go of my masking tendencies and be more true to my authentic self. ADHD masking is when someone who has ADHD is able to hide their struggles so that they seem like they don’t have the disorder. People mask their ADHD so that they can fit into society, so they don’t draw attention to themselves, or to avoid shame and embarrassment. There are healthy and unhealthy forms of masking. In this post, I’ll talk about signs of masking, why masking is a problem, and what to do instead. If you think you or someone you love may be masking their ADHD, keep reading!
Signs You Might Be Masking Your ADHD
Why Masking Is A Problem
When you mask your symptoms, this could lead to a delay in diagnosis. While a diagnosis on its own won’t solve your symptoms, it can bring about an incredible amount of self-compassion and understanding from others. If you’re doing a lot of masking, this could lead to anxiety or depression, thinking something is wrong with you. Untreated ADHD makes you at a much higher risk for substance abuse issues as a way to cope with their issues. A diagnosis may entitle you to accommodations at school or work, or may allow you to get a medication that can radically change your life. People who are masking their ADHD are usually copying others in social situations. People pleasing is common with people who are masking their ADHD. When you’re engaging in masking behaviors, you’re not being true to yourself. When you spend extended periods of time masking, you may not even know who you are, what you feel, and what’s true for you. It could take years to unwind, individuate, and be true to your authentic self.
What To Do Instead of Masking
ADHD is hard to manage without extra help. It’s a good idea to notice what symptoms you’re masking and take stock if these are unhealthy or healthy coping mechanisms. A good question to ask yourself is if the behavior is sustainable. For example, putting forth some effort every day to clean your home (even if it’s just for a few minutes) is sustainable for most people (who don’t have other underlying health or mental health issues), but trying to adhere to a ridged clothing organization system is probably not sustainable for most people. Notice how much effort you are putting in for each trait you are trying to mask. Are the rewards worth the effort? Or are you going to burn out?
Once you’ve identified the areas where you are engaging in masking behavior, notice where you need extra support.
Important to Note!
In addition to getting additional support, it’s also very important to celebrate (and engage with) your strengths. Make a list of all the things you do well, and make sure to do them on a regular basis. If you’re a great artist or musician, make sure to keep doing those things instead of putting them on hold so you can try to get your house under control. Find balance with continuing to use your gifts and talents while also learning new skills to help you manage your ADHD in a healthy way.
By Jean Prominski, Certified Professional Organizer
Check out my media exposure: Seattle Sparkle in the Media
Download my free 5 week journal The Seattle Sparkle Method to Get Organized and Stay Organized
Sign up for my free 4 Day Color to Declutter Challenge.
Become part of a like-minded community by joining my Facebook Group, Declutter and Organize with Seattle Sparkle.
Ready to book a consultation? Complete this form.
For artwork to energize your home, order through jeanprominski.com.