What is ADHD Masking? (And Which Mask Do You Wear?)

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ADHD masking is when an ADHDer tries to live life without anyone “noticing” their ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). However, this ultimately leads to a great deal of emotional turmoil as they work overtime to mask their ADHD from the world. This behavior often acts as a form of “camouflage” that inevitably causes more anxiety, depression, or suppression of one’s true self from the world. It can be difficult for people without ADHD to understand ADHD masking, but a good starting place is to know that there are different “types” of ADHD masks.

Types of ADHD Masks:

  • The PerfectionistA man rubs his temples while sitting at his computer desk. A therapist in Columbus Ohio can help you overcome ADHD and overthinking. Learn more about how Focused Mind ADHD Counseling can help you manage ADHD and emotional regulation. 43235 | 43220 | 43085

Working overtime to make sure no one knows about their time-management struggles or forgetfulness. This might mean lots of “overcompensating behaviors,” such as showing up incredibly early all the time, cleaning or organizing constantly, or panicking over small details.

  • The Hero

By making yourself indispensable or in control, The Hero masks making mistakes by creating a reputation of being “Mr./Mrs. Fix It.” However, every superhero must at some point face their humanity, which often means beginning to experience how lonely being superhuman can feel.

  • The Overthinker

Analysis paralysis much? Overthinking might make us feel a sense of control and certainty. For example, “if I maximize the decision-making process, I can avoid feeling the shame of messing up.” (Spoiler alert: ADHD and shame is a common pairing.) However, the sense of control is often an illusion, which ultimately just makes us lose time (and can end up leading to more shame).

  • The Extrovert

On the outside, you’ve got a lot of stories to tell. You’re always reading an interesting book or learning about something new. When it comes to social situations, you project the image of being funny and worldly. No matter how funny and worldly you actually are, needing to keep up this “front” is tiring. Inside, you just want to have one social interaction without the inner critic making you worried about what others think.

  • The Turtle

You crave interaction, social connection, and authentic friendship. However, outwardly you hide in your shell, staying in the background, rarely saying what’s actually on your mind, and always worrying about coming off as rude (despite any evidence you’re anything but gracious and accommodating).

An illustration of a woman holding a happy and sad mask for Focused Mind ADHD Counseling. A therapist in Columbus Ohio can offer support with ADHD and emotional regulation. Learn more about how we offer support with ADHD in adults Ohio. 43202 | 43214 | 43235The Impact of Each ADHD Mask:

  • The Perfectionist = anxiety, stress, and loss of connection to the other valuable parts of life. Because perfection isn’t attainable, you never arrive at your destination. So while you’re trying to hold it all together so tightly, your self-esteem takes a hit.
  • The Hero = loneliness, a need for more fun in life, and perhaps even depression. You wish someone else would just take the reins every once and a while.
  • The Overthinker = trapped in a circle of “what if” scenarios that can leave you so overwhelmed that you freeze. And freezing ultimately leads to either inaction or lost time, which further distracts you from your goals.
  • The Extrovert = not feeling like you can let your guard down or be your true self. And that is exhausting. You tire from the loop of self-judgment and can even avoid new social interactions due to your own self-critic.
  • The Turtle = feeling tired of organizing your life so that you do not have to put yourself out there socially. But without putting yourself out there, you never get the chance to receive the positive feedback that would increase your confidence.

How to Overcome ADHD MaskingAn illustration of a man holding a happy and sad mask for Focused Mind ADHD Counseling. Learn more from a therapist in Columbus Ohio about ADHD and emotional regulation. We offer anxiety therapy in Columbus, OH and other services. 43085 | 43035 | 43214

  • Identify which ADHD masking actions are helpful and which ones are harmful. For example, thinking through a problem helps, but spending five hours researching which jeans to buy…not so much.
  • Learn to identify and manage the underlying emotions that often affect folks with ADHD. A lot of ADHD masking comes from either a lack of awareness of how we feel or a desire to avoid how we feel. An ADHD therapist or coach can help.

Begin Adult ADHD Treatment in Columbus, OH

You don’t have to live your life wearing a mask. ADHD treatment can help you find real understanding and real solutions. Our Columbus OH-based counseling practice has caring adult ADHD specialists. To start your journey with our adult ADHD specialist, follow these simple steps:

Other ADHD Services Offered at Focused Mind ADHD Counseling

We offer a variety of mental health services that go beyond adult ADHD treatment at our Columbus, OH counseling practice. As an adult with ADHD, Focused Mind ADHD Counseling understands you may also benefit from anxiety treatment for ADHD, counseling for men with ADHD, adult ADHD testing, or depression counseling for ADHD. You can also view our blog for more resources and helpful info. We look forward to connecting with you!