πŸ’”πŸ’πŸ« Feeling Inadequate: Low Self-Esteem and ADHD


Low self-esteem πŸ’”⬇️ is common in the ADHD community. I appeared to be accomplished enough on the surface at school and at work, but I CONSTANTLY feel INADEQUATE

  • Even when I achieve something impressive, I almost never feel good about it
  • 😞🏒🏫 Imposter syndrome: I fear if people knew what I was like under the mask I put on, they will dislike me

Potential causes [based on my personal experience]:

  • 🎒Inconsistency: My ability to execute on a plan is often either 0% or 100% with little in between
    • 🎲Either I can put together a whole slidedeck in an hour, or spend a day with my brain spinning to churn out 2 slides
    • πŸŒͺ️Feeling out of control: I know what I’m capable of but can’t reliably predict or replicate that productivity, resulting in feeling like I lack control over my actions
    • πŸ“‰Sense of underachievement: "If I can just be consistent and perform at a consistent level, I would achieve my potential!"
  • Failure at seemingly easy things due to executive function challenges:
    • πŸ’­ Distractibility: I walk into a room to take out the dirty mugs and somehow walk out with my phone. All the “Ugh why did I just do that” adds up, exacerbated by finding unfinished tasks everywhere I look
    • πŸ—️Forgetfulness: Did I lock the door? Did I turn off the stove? Did I eat lunch?
    • πŸ“† Planning failure: Forgetting to load up my bus pass every month, getting charged extra month after month, yet never learning the lesson
    • πŸ•°️ Time management challenges: Everyday is a rushing chaotic scramble - I run late for my appointments, am late for work and late on assignments
  • πŸ’”Criticism: All these challenges lead to receiving more criticism and the criticism leads to sky-high anxiety and fear of failure
  • 🌧️Comparison with others: 
    • The voice in my head asking “Why can’t you just be normal?” Why can others remember movie details, keep habits, enjoy hobbies, remember what was on the news?
    • 🀐 Social challenges: Never feeling like I fit in with others and always feel self-conscious


πŸ“‰ Accumulation of negative experiences over years led to persistent, chronic self-criticism, feelings of inadequacy, and low self-esteem.

  • I try to overcompensate in other, often unhealthy, ways. For examples, Sometimes I punish myself by staying up late to get things done because I need to “teach myself a lesson” and suffer for my inadequacy

What helped?

Since my diagnosis, many strategies I’ve incorporated has been helpful:

  • 🧠Understanding how ADHD symptoms manifest and avoid seeing symptoms as a failure on my part
    • Having memory or attention struggles is not a reflection of me being a bad person or having a personality defect
    • These are symptoms associated with the neurobiological disorder
  • 🀝Acknowledging that seemingly simple tasks can be difficult
    • Recognizing that what’s easy for others may not be easy for me
    • It's ok if I need10 alarms in 5 minute intervals to make it on time
  • πŸ”ƒI don’t need to compare myself to neurotypical standards
    • If paying bills is a challenge for me, I can put in additional systems or find strategies to overcome it
  • πŸŽ‰Celebrate the small wins, and recognizing that progress is better than perfection
    • Did I pay that bill on time? It may be a small thing, but that’s a win regardless
  • πŸ€—Practicing self-compassion and forgiving myself
    • The odds may be stacked against me, and some days are better than others, everyone fall short sometimes


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