On ADHD and self-help books

As a middle-aged fellow who was diagnosed with ADHD only earlier this year, I can tell you that there is a massive scam market out there for people looking to have someone tell them how to live. I looked into them before a friend told me to go get checked out. Forget the books, people. Like parenting books, they all say something different. Go talk to a doctor. They will mostly say the same things. It’s life-changing when you realize that most of what you’ve found frustrating about yourself since birth is explainable on a chemical level and you’re given the actual tools to deal with it. Imagine if I’d known this 25 years ago? But seriously, books don’t do the job. If you identify with the woman below, I mean, without exaggerating, go ask your doctor about it.

For as long as I can remember, I have been forgetful. My mind is a steel trap for facts like Henry Purcell‘s birth and death dates (1659–1695). But for the life of me, I can never remember doctor’s appointments on my own. I lose an important item daily. If it’s not interesting enough to completely capture my attention, I will forget what you say almost immediately after you say it. Meetings are fun.

Without outside accountability, I will not finish a project. With outside accountability, I will procrastinate longer than you even thought possible. In college, I wrote more than one paper in fewer than 20 minutes. I can’t recall ever getting my car’s registration tags updated in a timely manner. I am late (and I wish this was an exaggeration) a full 95% of the time. Even though I’ve been working remotely and the only places I really have to be right now are Zoom meetings.

All of these behaviors, I now know, are common symptoms of ADHD. All of these behaviors are commonly targeted by the self-help industry. Want to be on time? Try these books! Sick of procrastinating? These’ll tell you how to stop! Looking to improve your memory? Try this on for size!

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