The Secret Burdens of Life as an ADHD High Achiever

Good grades: Check. Good job: Check. Cool place to live: Check. On the outside, Abby had a lot of the “checks.” On the inside, not so much. As an adult with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), she worked very hard to hold it all together. However, the more she achieved, the more people expected of her. She pulled the late nights and said yes to everything. But inside, she wrestled with feeling not good enough, and deep down she knew the truth: fighting so hard to “keep it all together” couldn’t last forever. Abby’s struggles perfectly describe life as a high achieving ADHDer, because the more the world expects of her, the more she expects of herself, no matter if she is happy or not. Unfortunately, some of the burden ADHDers carry is hidden, especially if they are outwardly successful. So let’s shine the spotlight on some common struggles in ADHD high achievers:

Always Feeling Like You’re Falling Short

Success never really has a ceiling for many high achieving ADHDers. They’ll find that no matter how much they achieve, they think they missed something. No matter how much they get ahead, they never feel “good enough.” In some ways, this is because when an ADHD individual makes mistakes, like careless errors on a form, forgetting to pick up the groceries, or turning in paperwork right before the deadline, it means a lot more to them than someone who makes mistakes without ADHD.

Imposter Syndrome

Similar to feeling like you’re falling short, folks who feel like imposters don’t feel “worthy.” They often feel as though they haven’t earned their seat at the table. It’s as if they are a con artist and one day…everyone is going to notice their crimes.

The Curse of “Meeting Your Potential”

Here’s the problem with “meeting your potential”…people expect you to keep meeting it. Breaking glass ceilings starts to become the norm, and it’s reinforced. Over and over again. When people often say you’re amazing at something, slowing down starts to feel less and less like an option.

ADHD and Burnout

When you move fast, you crash…eventually. ADHD individuals tend to go all in. Their drive toward a goal can be explosive. However, there is often a crash when the newest project is over or they finally get the promotion. Sometimes it’s burnout. Other times, it’s depression.

ADHD and Overthinking

ADHD and overthinking go hand-in-hand. This is because the brain struggles to sift out what is important from what is just “noise.” However, when you’re an ADHD high achiever, you usually have lots of big decisions to make day to day, which can leave an ill-equipped ADHDer paralyzed with indecision.

Success Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Have ADHD

An ADHD diagnosis is completely unrelated to external markers of success. It’s about the space between. The forgetfulness. The late nights catching up due to being distracted in the day. The inconsistent energy toward your goals. And the guilt spirals when you don’t meet them. ADHD is a complex neurological condition that a person is born with, meaning they find ways of coping, compensating, and overcompensating throughout their lives.

Success with ADHD Doesn’t Mean Life is Perfect

Abby began to realize that being an ADHD high achiever didn’t mean she wasn’t craving a way out of the sleepless nights, the burnout, and overthinking her decisions. It was time to feel good enough about herself, no matter how good her performance.

Begin Adult ADHD Treatment in Columbus, Ohio

Looking for more individualized support? You don’t have to feel stressed and burnt out forever. ADHD-focused therapy that focuses on managing life in a way that works for you can help you feel good about yourself. Our counseling practice in Columbus, Ohio has caring therapists who specialize in ADHD testing and ADHD treatment. To start your counseling journey, follow these simple steps:

  • Fill out the contact form to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation.
  • Meet with one of our caring therapists.
  • Stop feeling like you’re falling short. Start knowing your worth.

Other ADHD Services Offered at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling

Adult ADHD treatment is not the only service we offer at our Columbus, OH counseling practice. At Focused Mind ADHD Counseling, we offer a variety of mental health services, including ADHD testing. As an adult with ADHD, we know you may also benefit from anxiety treatment for ADHD, counseling for men with ADHD, or depression counseling for ADHD. You can also view our blog for more resources and helpful info!