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Unmasking ADHD & What Hides Beneath the Surface

Living with ADHD can be like walking a tightrope, especially for adults. On one hand, you have your unique strengths and talents, but on the other, there's the constant conscious and unconscious struggle to fit into a world that often doesn't quite understand the nuances of your condition. Let's explore the concept of masking and its profound impact on adults with ADHD.


Masking is the art of concealing one's true self to fit societal expectations. For adults with ADHD, this often means suppressing their natural tendencies and forcing themselves to conform. They may mimic behaviors they perceive as "normal" to avoid judgment, criticism, or rejection.


Ways We Mask Without Realizing

  • Agreeing with everything or struggling to share our opinions in order to to keep the peace

  • Manic cleaning perfectionism before people come over

  • Over apologizing for our ADHD tendencies & symptoms

  • Taking on more than we have capacity for to please those around us

  • Rehearsing conversations before they happen to try and control the outcome

  • Interacting more than our social battery allows

  • Nodding your head as if you understand even though it's actually not processing

  • Missing out on opportunities for fear of exposing your ADHD symptoms

Masking is a survival mechanism, but it comes at a cost. The constant effort to hide their ADHD symptoms can lead to exhaustion, anxiety, and a profound sense of impostor syndrome. The toll it takes on mental health can be immense, making it crucial to address and understand.


It's important for friends, family, and colleagues to recognize that those with ADHD are often battling silently. Creating a supportive and empathetic environment can help them feel safer in revealing their true selves. Education and awareness are key in this process.


Breaking Free from the Mask

For adults with ADHD, unmasking can be a liberating experience. Embracing their true selves and seeking strategies that work for them can lead to improved self-esteem and overall well-being. Encourage them to seek professional guidance, join support groups, and learn more about their unique strengths.


How Can You Unmask?

  • Honoring your limits by taking alone time when you need to recharge

  • Allowing yourself to say some of the goofier, out of pocket things that pop into your head (After you‘ve practiced identifying what could be hurtful)

  • Letting yourself chew on things (That are safe to)

  • Focusing your energy into people who understand, respect, and accept you rather than people you admire or want to impress

  • Leaving situations that drain your energy and give you little in return

  • Becoming aware of tendencies you do or urges you suppress for other people’s comfort (Forcing eye contact, stopping fidgeting, etc)


Masking is a survival strategy that many adults with ADHD employ daily, but it's essential to remember that it shouldn't be a lifelong necessity. By fostering understanding, empathy, and support, we can create a world where individuals with ADHD can feel safe to unmask, embrace their true selves, and thrive.


Manage your mindset in our 8-week emotional regulation program for adults: Healing ADHD Emotions


Shine on,

Coach Brooke


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