“They Don’t Believe I Am ADHD? Oh NO!!”

Tom Nardone
Tom Nardone


Thanks to Tom Nardone for allowing me to re-print this post, originally entitled They Don’t Believe I Am ADHD? Oh NO!! What Ever Will I do?

It originally appeared on Tom’s site, ADHD People. I’ve never met Tom but I’ve enjoyed his posts. Italians raised in the U.S. South share a certain kinship. Grazie, paisan!   —  Gina Pera

What Ever Will I Do?

By Tom Nardone

So many of my friends on the internet get angry when they hear people speak about ADHD as if it is a made-up, ridiculous, notion. It offends them to hear anyone say that their medication is unnecessary superfluous drugs usage. I found myself among them for a long time.

It really frosted me for anyone to tell me that my ADHD was just a bunch of bullshit. I would see a post or a comment and I wanted to go to battle stations; many times, I did. There has always been a split: between people who claim to be ADHD, and people who don’t believe in the existence of it. I no longer am angered by this.

This comes as no surprise to me as an ADHD person. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you.

Those of us that are ADHD know all too well that there is a much bigger division among us. There are those of us, who believe in medication, and there those that say, “Absolutely not!” I have seen and I have been involved in heated debates and discussions regarding this. This used to upset me too. It doesn’t anymore.

Beliefs Do Not Create Reality

I don’t get mad about this anymore because the beliefs of others do not cause reality. The fact that someone does or doesn’t believe that there is such a thing as ADHD doesn’t make it real or a myth. The fact that someone does or doesn’t believe that there are such things as bipolar disorder, Leukemia, AIDS or even a headache doesn’t change the facts.

I am ok for people to believe in anything they want to. We live in a world full of people that believe all kinds of stupid shit. Whether they are right or wrong is not determined by the fact that they believe it.

The naysayer camp says, “That’s bullshit, you are just lazy” or “You just use that as an excuse so that you don’t have to work as hard or do anything”. I can understand both sides of this.

Because I am ADHD,  I understand the challenge it is to just get up and drive to work— while thinking about every stupid thing that I will have to listen to the other people say.
I know, for example:

  • That my head will be in a million different places, while it is expected to be in one.
  • That I will be far more focused on what time it is and how soon it is until I leave than anything that needs to be done.
  • What it is like to do all of this while also being in fear that it might cause me to be fired. If you are a new reader, you don’t know this, but I have been fired many times in many ways.

We Can’t Expect Everyone to Care

Non-ADHD people do not understand any of this.

When we fall behind, our coworkers might have to work a little harder. That pisses them off and they don’t want to hear about it your “made-up, bullshit condition”. They are our peers and they don’t like their shitty job any more than we do. If most of you were not ADHD, you might not care either. You would be far less educated on the matter. We just can’t expect everyone to care.

Many of you might be surprised at my level of tolerance on this matter. You might be saying, “but Tom, you are so calm. You always get mad about something.” Well…give it a minute.

Eisenberg and ADHD as “Fictitious Disease”

Not long ago, the naysayers were so excited when Leon Eisenberg, the alleged “discoverer of ADHD,” allegedly said the following: “ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease.”

They were so excited they had boners. Wow!! Hooooolllly SH*T! They have the testimony of the man they now hail as, “The Father of ADHD” saying it is not real but a “fictitious” disease.

Here is what pisses me off. The arrogance of an a**hole named Moritz Nestor. I will quote a line from his article about this very argument.

In any case, no one can easily get around the testimony of the father of ADHD: “ADHD is a prime example of a fictitious disease.”

Moritz Nestor, (a**hole)

This infamous meme is grossly inaccurate

The arrogance of these people knows no bounds. For years, they have denied ADHD as legitimate. They have labeled it bullshit. By proxy, they have labeled all of us as bullshit.

They could not possibly have had an inkling of respect for the “Father of ADHD”. They could not have possibly thought him more than a common a**hole. Until one glorious day, he changed his mind—or so they want you to believe. While he was only a modest 87 years young, seven months before his death, he changed his mind.

Then, he was no longer a quack, a hack, or an asshole. He was a relevant and credible doctor. Now he could be heard, quoted, and revered as a hero to the naysayers.

Once these arrogant sons of b*tches got the answer they liked, they branded him as “The Father of ADHD”. The Great and Powerful OZ. And then this writer was off to see the wizard.

It Just Doesn’t Matter

My reason for saying all this is to make a point. It does not matter what Leon Eisenberg, Ned Hallowell, Tom Nardone, or the person that cuts your hair thinks about ADHD. It has nothing to do with determining its existence. If you have ADHD, then great, figure out what you are going to do with it.

And, if tomorrow, a hundred thousand people wake up with a totally new and refreshed outlook and feel empathy for you and your ADHD? You still are not going to remember what in the hell you did with your keys, and you will spend your morning looking for them just as you always do.

I am Tom Nardone, and you are welcome.
You can find Tom’s podcast here:  ADHD People – The Tom Nardone Show

—Gina Pera



18 thoughts on ““They Don’t Believe I Am ADHD? Oh NO!!””

  1. Differences in behavior are inherent part of any organism. The categorization of those behaviors can be helpful, particularly in the study of those organisms. The extreme range of behaviors is an important characteristic that makes life such a wonderful phenomenon. You are welcome to accept a label/diagnosis and accept treatment/drugs for that. Others may want to face there situation in a different way. I think that labeling someone is is generally negative, because as we all know we tend to embody the labels placed on us. Maybe it is simply better to understand our specific situation and learn to deal with that with, hopefully, the help of a caring community. We all need that not just ADHD people.

    1. Hi Jack,

      Absolutely. We humans are like snowflakes: no two alike. And that goes for our brain.

      As for the “labeling,” what people with ADHD tell me is that they were already suffering from labeling — mis-labeling, though.

      The diagnosis gave them a path to understanding themselves and to be better able to merge their goals and desires with their abilities.

      All in all, the brain is an organ. The most complex organ imaginable, and the most vulnerable.

      AS I wrote in my first book, though, we must be humble and cautious in seeking to understand the blurred boundary between personality and dysfunction that might be amenable to treatment.

      Nothing simple about that!

      Thanks for writing.


  2. After my diagnoses with ADHD my parents still don’t believe in it and refuse to let me get any prescription or go to any sort of therapy. I think I can be mad

    1. HI N,

      I’m very sorry to hear that. Is it possible that your parents might go in and talk with your diagnosing professional?

      Maybe if they hear it from that person?


    2. I wouldnt bother telling them I had that too & did the exact opposite of what they said
      Hence I am a lot better & they none the wiser
      What they dont know wont hurt them

  3. LOVED this article! I’m new to your site, have enjoyed reading some other articles too. I have known that I have ADD for years, but for some reason it seems like most of my family, my boss and co-workers don’t believe me or they wish i didn’t have it so they won’t have to deal with it (me). If that makes any sense. I have 4 grown sons and two of them were diagnosed with AD/HD, one when in elementary school and one as a teen. Of the other two, one has multiple mental diagnoses and the other may have mild ADD.
    So I know first hand how it is for people to not only believe that ADD exists or that someone they know, live with or work with can have it. I struggle with this so often. I am glad that I found this site as I need a voice and need to have others to relate to! 🙂

  4. Tom,
    I’m working very hard on this. Hah someone replied to an email I sent apologizing for not having the “Melvillean verbosity that [my] prose exudes” lol. I write. A. LOT. You are so funny and I love the topics you write about. I need to laugh right now and I thought of you when I wished my helmetcam was on when some lady told me “sidewalks are for WALKING” like I’m a kid as she WALKED PAST me while I was skateboarding on the sidewalk a block away from the skate shop. The skateboard law here is as follows: if you are going pedestrian speed and riding responsibly, you are a pedestrian and you can ride on the sidewalk; if you are going bike speed, you are a bike and you must ride on the street. I didn’t get mad and she probably didn’t like me laughing at her but you’d be amazed at how many police officers are into longboarding and I talked to a sergeant for a long time about foot-braking technique one day, sat on my board going down a hill on a sidewalk so smooth I always wanted to try it and the only pedestrians were two officers going the other way who kind of laughed at me for sitting on my board and moved on, and I KNOW THE LAW. She was wrong, mean to me, and I laughed at her. Too bad my helmetcam was off. I just thought “idiot” in my head not only does she not know the law but in a couple blocks she would encounter people skating on ramps set up outside the shop on the sidewalk (it’s very wide there).

    I’m getting it with strangers. I’m laughing at them. Thank you. It’s harder with family, especially those who I depend on, but I’m working on it. I am so glad to have found you here!


  5. Crystal K Lockhart

    Gina Pera, GOD BLESS YOU!
    Tom Pardone, Marry Me! No wait, you are already married to the lovely lady who invited the guest in before she asked—no, wait Tom. Keep her! Besides, I am not-married-married. My husband of 4 years (17 years ago) has just been designated as my new divorced-husband. In other words (ADHD-ers, U get it, so just skip this part) I’m divorced but have determined myself to be biblically unavailable. It’s a “Ha!” but I am serious!

    Epiphanies, lightning and fireworks are happenin’ all OVER the place on my little street here in city-something, Indiana! Nine and a half years ago to the day, I kid you not, I began an awesome job at an awesome not-for-profit with an awesome work-family who loved me, and I them. My 1st boss for 3 years of reviews gave me the “we discuss this one thing, and next thing I know, you are here, here, here and here” speech. She was pretty dog-gone critical in her tone too! (Only 2 panic attacks those 3 years.) My next boss was awesome—if you are his boss that is! Picture it: a compulsive 30-something highly successful, perfectionist male boss who never listens. Me – a mid 40, perio-menapausal un-diagnosed-ADHD lady embarking upon a whole new decade of confidence. YES, I know exactly what you are thinking. Trust me, I thought that also!

    At my 4th-on-the-job-in-the-parking-lot panic attack, he was so concerned that he insisted on the radio w/security that he come out there to help me. Security was pretty wise that day after witnessing my response to THAT suggestion.

    So today-tonight, among the virtual, tattered shreds of firecracker paper falling from the sky (due to my virtual epiphany & its celebration, you understand) comes my revelation accompanied with an overwhelming, teary-eyed, so happy, relieved and joyful discovery of Gina Pera’s dot-org site & Tom Nardone’s phenomenal, hilarious insight. A prayer answered—the one 21 years ago at my very first “nervous breakdown.” Sigh.

    God, the paxil and my favorite ex-husband saved my life. All 3 of us can only welcome my new stimulant and diagnosis (3rd week—really, the 3rd week of my intellect learning of the ADHD that my brain discovered 21 years ago.)

    That job I told you about? It was 9 years to the day, today, that I began that position: June 24. (Resigned November 2012—HEY, the VP of Human Resources will love to learn this—she always did like me.) God Bless All Y’all! ~Crystal

    Ooooh oooh, now I know what I’ll get my favorite ex-husband for our 22-year-not-wedding anniversary!! Gina’s book!

  6. Gina: Thanks for the guest post from Tom! I love his style and attitude and he’s just awesome so I checked out his site and he’s got a new fan. Thanks for the introduction. I probably never would have found him otherwise.

    Tom: This is a great post. I’m really struggling with the “what do others think about _________” thing at the moment and you gave a great perspective on what others think about this issue in an engaging and entertaining way. Recently I asked my husband if HE thinks I’m lazy because we moved closer to his parents so they could help out and I am constantly getting the message “you are lazy” from them either directly or indirectly and can’t take it. He wouldn’t give me a yes or no answer, just “it doesn’t matter what others think.” I have a whole lot more going on than ADHD and it’s easy to blow off a stranger’s opinion and I can let a comment or two from my in-laws bounce off but this constant barrage from the people we moved closer to so they could help out is difficult, especially after developing additional issues that make this area almost impossible for me to live in and asking them for support rather than (I forget the word for thinking they are doctors) caused problems and confusion. It really doesn’t matter what THEY think. They are trying to help, but they are Faux News people. I’ll put it that way. You have kind of made me realize this. Maybe it will be a little easier for me to stay calm and not get upset when they make stupid comments that are hurtful.

    What made me ask my husband if he thought I was lazy was a doctor with a lot of influence on my future. Not only is he one of my listed contacts for disability, I found out he gives lectures to the disability people. I’ve finally accepted my current situation and found creative ways to work around my complex health issues and start laying the groundwork for a future where I can do work that makes me happy. I have even found some success (no money though) while being frustrated that working on my medical issues that are holding me back takes up so much of my time. This doctor, while I was a captive audience and couldn’t get up and just walk out, was talking to me during a procedure that takes multiple visits. He sees potential based on past accomplishments that just isn’t there anymore and has a vastly different vision for my future. He thinks I can do things that are physically impossible for me and what I’m working toward is worthless, unproductive, etc. His idea for my future is the only right future for me and he thinks I should be actively working on that, and anyone can see that it is impossible both physically and mentally. He knows I had been seeing him less often than most people for this procedure because I was juggling too many appointments and simply could not fit him into my schedule. Using different words, he called me lazy and said I would regret this laziness later in life. Coming at a time when I was pushing myself too hard, this sent me into a tailspin, requiring me to call and ask for professional help the next day which led to even more appointments and a lot of time on the phone with my psychiatrist outside of normal office hours. His words had me back to thinking of all the things I can’t do and I can look back now and see how far I’ve come to be able to live in the moment and work with what I have now and look forward. I’m still climbing out of that hole. Because this person has so much influence on my future, I have to care what he thinks.

    But I don’t have to care what he thinks forever. I’ve learned that there are several people who would step up and say he’s delusional in the unlikely event he caused problems with my disability. I won’t lose it. I just have to walk away and when he has no influence on my future, I won’t give a crap about what he thinks. But some of those extra appointments I had when he called me lazy were testing that led to a diagnosis of Traumatic Brain Injury and I need treatment for it but another condition is preventing me from getting that treatment and needs to be resolved. I need to learn how to do everything differently, especially dealing with stress! So I can’t just turn my back and walk away in a straight line because I don’t want to provoke someone with that much influence and ego and risk having the stress of dealing with social security added to my life right now. It will be like walking through an overgrown jungle. I will have to go slowly and carefully and avoid anything poisonous. Until I can find someone else, I depend on this person. Until I can walk far enough away so he doesn’t influence my future, I have to care what he thinks. But once I untangle myself, I won’t give a crap what he thinks. I have a plan for this and it will take some time but with patience, I will get there.

    I think it is common for people with ADHD to be labeled as “just lazy.” I’m new to the TBI community but the same misunderstanding I’m learning about and experiencing myself about what you have to overcome to do the simplest things is even more prevalent there. I’m lucky enough to have both! That means I can get help for both though. I try to stay positive. Finally, my world has been explained to me and makes sense now. Now that I have a huge piece of the puzzle, I can work with it and things will improve. In that sense, you are totally right. What other people think doesn’t change what I have. I will do what I have to no matter what.

    I guess in the end, it comes down to how much you depend on someone. If I didn’t depend on this person, him thinking I’m lazy wouldn’t send me into a tailspin. He would not have the ability to do so. The people we really care about and those they depend on fall into the same category I think. But for everyone else, you are right – it really doesn’t matter what they think. Their thoughts don’t have any effect on your life, so why stress over it when there are more important things to think about? Like food. I have no concept of time and funny enough, it’s 4:20am and I’m starving!


    1. Good luck, Danielle. Yes, we need to be careful in how we handle people who have so much power over our lives.

  7. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    I agree. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I have plenty of people in my life who don’t think I have it and that’s fine. I know I do.

    Our pastor was talking about mental issues recently and he brought up the point about how people don’t take someone with mental issues seriously. They expect them to carry on and act normal and all that. But he pointed out that if someone had a broken leg you wouldn’t expect them to behave normally but an illness or condition you can’t see must not be real. I thought that was a great point.

  8. Sharron Storm

    AHHHHHH!! Tom Nardone. What is your article doing here? LOL!!

    This was so Cool. I was laughing so hard my room-mate came in my room and I had to start-over. We were laughing so hard my neighbors came over and we invited them in and started over again. We were all crying. This was one of the funniest things you have ever written. How did I miss this one.

    OH and BTW. You are looking sooooooo good in that picture. It is on my refrigerator. LOVE LOVE LOVE you Tom Nardone XXXXOOOOXXXXOOOO

    1. Hey Sharron, I’m a good editor, aren’t I? It’s one of my favs, too, among many good ones. 😉


    2. Hey Tom – I met one of my blogger groupies at a presentation I gave in Anaheim. He proudly announced his age: 85!

    3. Moritz Nestor

      Dear all
      I never said: “By proxy, they have labeled all of us as bullshit.”
      Moritz Nestor labelled as asshole by tom Nardone

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