Anxiety is a tricky beast. It can mask the symptoms of ADHD with its own, and it can also be caused by ADHD. It is actually one of the most common comorbidities of ADHD. Followed in close second by Depression. This is especially true in women. Please take the time to check out this List of ADHD Symptoms in Women when you’re done here. Now…
Think You Have ADHD?
Here are some signs your anxiety may be masking ADHD:
Time blindness can cause you to have deep fear around time. It could be that you’re always going overtime on tasks, or never having enough time to finish. It could also manifest as being late to everything… all the time. Whatever the individual issue… Time blindness is not our friend.
At one point, I was so anxious about the time that I was checking my watch every 2-3 minutes thinking 10 had passed. It was almost obsessive how often I checked the time. Every time I did, and it felt like more time had passed than actually had… I panicked a little, recognizing that my internal clock was not working… like at all.
I learned to set alarms for literally everything in my life to prevent time-related catastrophes. I masked my ADHD with anxiety and began showing up to things early and seeming like I had a firm grasp on time.
Do you ever forget what you’re saying or change topics mid-sentence? Do you remember what it feels like when that happens in a big group? Yes… in a word… MORTIFYING! ADHD causes these little impromptu brain farts at the worse possible times. Which then leads to good old social anxiety.
I have felt like I can’t trust my own mind, so I stopped speaking around strangers. In fact, I stopped talking to anyone who wasn’t already in my tight inner circle. Which sometimes caused others to look at me as rude or conceited. Thereby adding fuel to the anxiety.
Little do they know how badly you want to say something to them, but the fear of sounding stupid is keeping you in check. The anxiety has over-ruled the ADHD impulses, and you appear to be quiet and shy to the world.
Well, it follows the same train as the brain farts. Likely, you’ve been criticized one too many times for being “too much.” You know, too loud, too emotional, too intense, too talkative, too everything… So now you’re afraid to be you. I felt like that a lot. Like I’m not allowed to be myself because people won’t like it. That feeling kept me from interacting in social situations.
I didn’t want to be labeled “too much” again. So I ended up labeled as nothing.
No one outside my circle seemed to know I existed. When forced to go out, I didn’t speak up, and I used body language that helped me blend into the scenery like I wasn’t even there. So either no one noticed me or they thought I was shy and boring. They never knew the extreme willpower it took not to engage sometimes.
I’m pretty sure I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my neck. I am capable of forgetting anything. Including my children… Luckily, I’ve never forgotten them in a dangerous situation… at least not for long… I have left the infant carrier on top of the car before… but I swear it was only a couple seconds before I realized my mistake.
Actually, my extreme ability to forget manifested a totally different disorder… I’ve developed symptoms of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and started quadruple checking everything… always.
Like I mentioned, I left the infant carrier on top of the car… twice actually but two different kids so it doesn’t count, right? 😳… Anyway, after each incident, I would obsessively check to see where my child was.
It went like this:
>> Get in the car check mirror see infant seat…
>> Turn the car on check mirror again, then doubt my child is actually in the seat, so lean back for visual confirmation…
>> Sit back down, start to put on the seatbelt, feel that doubt again, then check the mirror, lean back for visual confirmation, then rock seat a little to make sure it’s adequately latched…
I think you get the point… This could continue for quite some time before I’d put the car in gear and drive off.
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When to Question Your Diagnosis
If these things feel relatable to you, you may want to start questioning your diagnosis. Don’t go accusing your counselor of misdiagnosing you or anything. Just begin to ask if there could be something more going on with you.
Check out these lists to get a better idea of the symptoms associated with ADHD:
I’d especially start asking if usual treatment isn’t helping you or is making your symptoms worse. Many times anti-depressants are prescribed for anxiety, and they can cause the symptoms of ADHD to worsen. Thus, causing your anxiety to get worse instead of better.
Please Note: This list or any other is not a substitute for evaluation by a mental health professional. If you believe you or someone you love may have ADHD, then contact your healthcare provider today. There is no substitute for an accurate diagnosis. Check these resources to find a provider near you: Clinics List.
With that said, I hope this has helped you understand yourself a little better. Always remember you’re not alone! Now, Stay Awesome! Stay Unique! And always be Unapologetically You.
Until next time…