Something my therapist recommended - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Something my therapist recommended

Annegables124 profile image

Hi all, so I talked to my therapist about how due to being reprimanded a lot and criticized a lot and my fear of looking stupid, odd, or crazy, I’ve often modified myself, my opinions, and my stories, so I wouldn’t get odd looks. So when I told my therapist this, she recommended I write a sentence, paragraph, or however much I want to write stating who I am unmodified. I think it’ll be good for me to do, but also a little hard, since I’ve modified kind of a lot and I tend to feel torn and confused and my thoughts are all over the place and it’s hard for me not to listen to the voices in my head that are harsh on myself. But I have hopes for the best. How do you get rid of the voices and know who you are?

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Hiya Anne gables,you've got the common trait of adhders.Were all so gd at punishing ourselves for all the stresses in our lives.btw,you don't sound stupid,it can really mess with our lives from so many different perspectives. I bet most of us are pretty withdrawn,anxious and generally in a pretty dark place.So please don't be hard on yourself,try to be the best you can be on any particular day.give meditation a go to ease your stresses.

Thanks so much.

It sounds like what you are describing is masking. Masking is trying to camouflage your neurodiverse tendencies in order to avoid embarrassment, ridicule, or other negative consequences. It's devoting a lot of time and mental energy into passing for neurotypical, and it can be really draining. I think a good question to start with if you want to start imagining what an unmasked version of yourself looks like is to start by identifying which masking behaviors are the most draining. Imagine your brain is a cell phone, and your thought processes are apps. Which one would you close to save your battery? Can you imagine how you'd think, feel and act without it? Another question to ask yourself: Are there any contexts in which the fear of being reprimanded or criticized is diminished or disappears? (Perhaps by yourself? Or when surrounded by neurodiverse people, like on this forum? Or with someone who may not have ADHD, but understands and accepts you as-is, like your therapist or best friend?) What are you like in whichever context you feel the greatest level of psychological safety in?

Great ideas, thanks.

P.s.-- Here are some interesting videos on ADHD and masking if you wanted to learn more:

I think The visual exercise of the phone and apps ect is a great idea for a lot of peeps and I will be trying it later (on my to do list ) thanks 🙏

Hi, Annegables124. I was married to a verbally abusive (and other types of abuse) man, for 21 years. I started out fighting for proper treatment, but he knew how to make me feel guilty for reacting emotionally. And he knew how to make me feel guilty and ashamed for not keeping the house cleaned up, or knowing where anything was. When I separated from him, I started making lists of all the things I liked....what kind of music, what artists I liked, I collected pictures of the types of fashion I liked. I also made a list of my good points. And if I was having trouble thinking of things, I called my sisters or my best friend. It helped some. But also just reading about something and starting to ask yourself....what do I think about that? and starting to keep a journal and writing what you are thinking. Also, you have to start talking to yourself nicely. There are bad things being said in your head....I know, I've heard a lot of it. But you need to start talking back to those voices. That's what my counselor told me to do. And my (currrent) husband would hear me putting myself down and start telling me "You're looking at the wrong mirror!" So eventually, I started hearing that after I said something negative about myself. "You're looking at the wrong mirror", (about anything not just looks). I hope this helps. Oh, one other thing I did was I got a big poster board and got some old magazines at the library (the ones they sell that people donate) and I made a mural. My ex used to put down feminists and never watched female sports, or listened to any of my music. So I made the mural from the pictures in the magazines. I glued on fashion pictures, a picture of a female soccer player, things that inspired me. It was helpful to me during a time when emotion was overwhelming me, but I needed to declare my independence and one way was through honoring my own interests, and my own role models, and not being put down for my thoughts or my beliefs. I wish you well, Annegables. I hope this helps. Take care!

Glad you got out of your abusive marriage and thanks for the advice

I mean I made a collage. But do it the way that feels right for you. With ADD, we hear all kinds of negative feedback. It is so important to know who you are and to embrace that person.

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Journaling has helped me express how I really feel about subjects. It also allows me to reflect by reading older journal entries. I can see how my mood changes, pinpoint triggers, get angry or sad without feeling judged. Also, daily positive affirmations can really help change negative thought processes. If you only talk badly to yourself, that’s your reality. Saying out loud daily that you love yourself, you deserve happiness and health ( whatever it may be) can be a great start ❤️

Annegables124 profile image
Annegables124 in reply to Hidden

I love to journal too. It does the same for me.

Trust your gut.

Recently, I listened to an audiobook called "10% Happier" by Dan Harris. He begins by stating he originally wanted to title his book, "the voice inside my head is an asshole." All that followed was interesting enough, but that one line really resonated with me. Practicing loving kindness (or metta) meditation is something he touts as pretty effective, & I gotta say, doing that for even a brief moment each day has had a beneficial effect on my psyche. It's helped me to remind that voice in my head to stop being a jerk.

My partner with ADHD just did the same self-image exercise. What helped was brain dumping, not trying to get it right on the first try, and having someone to talk it out with.

The process that worked was just to write down positives and negatives. This took a few days (with several "oh yeah, and this"). Then we tried to group things together (good step to have a good listener help out). It's so much easier to organize what's in front of you than what's swirling around in your head.

With ADHD, inconsistency of performance is universal. Can you focus? 4-second attention span but up all night focusing. Can you read social cues? Don't know why people act the way they do but am an empathetic sponge for others' feelings.

These inconsistencies undermine a stable, self-confident self-image. By understanding your strengths and weaknesses, not as flighty or only working when the stars align, you can build your self-image and the confidence that comes with knowing who you are. This foundation is needed to make progress against perfectionism, being able to say no, and ultimately emotional regulation across the board (well this and mindfulness).

Self-image -> self-confidence -> emotional regulation

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