Stop sharing your ADHD tax with the unsympathetic

Embracing Our Unique Journey

For those of us journeying through life with ADHD, we’re intimately familiar with what I like to call the “ADHD tax.” It’s a term that encapsulates those moments when our neurodiverse minds lead to unexpected challenges — be it the forgotten subscription that auto-renews or the mix-up in travel dates. These aren’t mere oversights; they’re the recurring toll of dealing with inconsistent dopamine levels throughout our lives.

Dealing with Self-Judgment and Misplaced Advice

ADHD often brings an internal chorus of “judging, criticizing, evaluating.” When well-meaning but misplaced advice like “Did you add it to your calendar?” or “Did you double-check before leaving XYZ place?” comes our way, it can lead to an exasperated realization of “I already knew this—what’s wrong with me, why can’t I just remember?” Our non-ADHD loved ones do not fully understand the ADHD brain wiring, which can make their attempts at support less effective. This is where mental fortitude steps in – we recognize their limitations, forgive their missteps, and protect our sense of self.

The Art of Selective Sharing

One of the first pieces of advice I offer is about sharing these “ADHD tax” moments. It’s tempting to vent or seek solace in others, but not all ears are the right receptacles for our stories. It’s crucial to “hold off on sharing your recent ADHD tax payment” until you’re in the company of those who truly get it. Share when you can find the humour or lightness in the situation, surrounded by people who see these incidents as just a “quirk or unusual unfortunate event, not a tax.”

Alternatives for Healthy Processing

Before reaching out to the non-ADHD’ers in your life, consider alternative ways to process these experiences. Talk to a sympathetic friend or a fellow ADHD’er who is on the path to creating healthy mental spaces. Journaling or sharing in a recording can be therapeutic — even a chat with ChatGPT can hold space way more effectively than your opinionated father-in-law. After processing and recovering your composure – you can then engage your problem-solving prowess. The same problem-solving prowess, mind you, that your clients and employers pay big bucks for. Remember, you’ve got this!

Embracing Mental Fortitude

In these “moments of difficulty,” the most powerful response is to summon our mental fortitude. Saying to ourselves, “Breathe. I’m sorry. That sucks,” is more than just an acknowledgment; it’s an act of self-protection and strength. It’s about allowing ourselves to be human, to falter, and to rise again, fortified by our resilience.

Privacy in Sharing

Our ADHD experiences are ours, and while sharing can be cathartic, it’s essential to consider the timing and audience. Sharing when we’re in the throes of frustration often leads to feelings of being “kicked when they’re down.” Instead, let’s share in environments where empathy and understanding are guaranteed — where our quirks are seen as just that, quirks and not as failings.

To my fellow ADHD travellers, remember this: You’re accomplished. You’ve faced and continue to face many hard things in life. You don’t need more advice on “how to avoid paying your taxes.” What you could benefit from and most certainly deserve is a space to be understood, to let go of mishaps, and to move on with minimal fuss and maximal problem-solving when you’re in the right space for problem-solving. You’re not alone in this journey, and your experiences, while unique, are shared by many. Keep embracing your path with courage and a heart full of self-compassion. You’ve got this!

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