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Table 21 Self Image/Self-Esteem

From: Comparison of the burden of illness for adults with ADHD across seven countries: a qualitative study

  Self Image/Self-Esteem
  Approximately 98 participants reporting (91%) with 75 of these (77%) noting problems with self image and self esteem
Canada Well, I never took any medication, always full of complexes and in my own bubble, and full of anxiety, and if I have a party what will I do, what will I wear, and everything always became so complicated, and then at the last minute I’d look at myself in the mirror and say, “Hey, I’m not that ugly!” and I’d get to the party and, oh, boy, like, all the women were beautiful except me, you know, and I felt like a loser, for everything. And even now it’s better but I still have these complexes and low self-esteem, and I have to program myself in advance. And my boyfriend says, “Just live in the moment,” but I can’t, I’m not there, I’m over there. I’m not here, I’m there. Don’t ask me to be late and not ready, I have to be ready. And, you know, he’s really active, into sports and stuff, and I’m smooth but inside it’s all the anxiety. And I’m somewhere else in my mind, very often. It’s so weird.
France It’s true that I notice after a while, you end up, how do you put it… I don’t see ADHD as an illness, but as a kind of specific feature. I don’t feel sick. I think my self-esteem swings. I have good days when I feel punchy, motivated, like a go-getter. And then an hour later, I’m trying to write my book and I tell myself, “Poor jerk, who’s going to read you? Everything you’re writing down has been said a thousand times. What have you done that’s innovative?” […] I feel inferior to other people. On the hand, sometimes, I feel superior in certain ways at least. I say, “You’d have to be a real idiot to have a nine-to-five Monday to Friday job, you’d have to be real jerk to have a boss, to get paid once a month. […] At the same time, I have a great amount of contempt for working people, people with a job. I want to say, liberate yourselves! You all have blinders on. In those instances, I feel like somebody who’s understood the world. And I see people all following the trodden path.
Germany One aspect I’d like to mention that is the self-esteem problem. It is a great handicap I think. Although I’ve really made great inroads and I don’t see everything negative anymore but you sometimes get feedback from others that something isn’t as it should be and then you start to interpret and you start to over emphasize and you start to read too much into it.
Italy Being loquacious is one of our characteristics. Before the diagnosis, the biggest problem I had and that heavily penalized me in my social life was my impulsiveness: I always fidgeted, I didn’t have self-control because I was not aware. Since I am aware I am ADHD (and I say I am ADHD, not “I have the ADHD”, I really care about this semantic differentiation!), the only awareness associated with the study of the pathology, the reading of books and comparisons with other people, helped me very much keep impulsiveness under control. So, my main symptom was impulsiveness, now it’s much better. I’m still impulsive, I wouldn’t define myself a quiet person.
The Netherlands I used to finish hardly anything, but not anymore. At a certain moment you just have to, otherwise the problems will simply pile up. You will sooner or later run into the things you haven’t finished and get the consequences back from it. At first you laugh about it and think “that’s just who I am”. But if you keep on not finishing things, you don’t have a completed education, or you won’t stick to your appointments and get only negativity back because of that. So in the end you have to train yourself, with or without medication, so you won’t get that misery.
United Kingdom I spent years psycho-analyzing myself on failed relationships and put a lot of blame on me, and a very good friend once said to me like to know me is to love me, and I thought what the hell? You know, if people don’t take the time to get to know you how’s anyone ever going to love you? But, the people that take the time out to get to know me are the people that are worth having in my life, and I just think I’m me and I like me now.
United States I feel like there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance. You know that people are able to make routines and schedules and do things, but you can’t do it. So you’re setting yourself up, like: why can’t I do that? I don’t know why I can’t do that. Why can’t I? I feel like it reflects—I’ll just speak for me. I really have to work on addressing the issue rather than telling myself: you suck because you can’t do these things that obviously have a negative detriment on your life.