I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone casually exclaim, “Sorry, I have ADHD,” often in response to not knowing what was just said to them due to a momentary distraction. When I was diagnosed with ADHD at 12, I wasn’t actually convinced I had the disorder. I remember thinking it was an exceptionally common diagnosis, especially for children. It wasn’t until I got older that I started to see that I genuinely struggled both as a child and as an adult with prioritizing my responsibilities, maintaining focus, and completing tasks.
It’s not surprising that my inability to remain focused is also paired with difficulty remembering things. Sometimes these things are as small as forgetting to grab the soda my husband just asked me to get for him; sometimes they actually make work or school difficult. If you struggle with ADHD, you’re probably familiar with this frustrating (and likely regular) occurrence.
ADHD is far more pervasive in daily life than simply not hearing what someone said. Here are 20 examples of how, as an individual with ADHD, my forgetfulness has previously affected and continues to affect my daily life.
1. Every now and then I buy myself a nice wall calendar or planner, declaring that this time I will use it regularly. This never lasts for more than 3 weeks, I forget to write things down and eventually forget that I even own the calendar/planner.
2. I have, on multiple occasions, literally made myself a cup of coffee and forgot to drink it before work. As you can imagine, an unintentionally coffee-free day is generally not pleasant. As a child, I’d also forget my lunchbox at home.
3. When I run out of something I use daily, like coffee, I know that I need to go to the store to buy more. However, I tend to forget to do this while I’m out. This can go on for several days. In one recent incident, I bought supplies to surprise my husband with tacos after a long day of work… and forgot to grab the coffee I’d been out of for 3 days.
4. I forget where I put my keys all the time. I even have a key rack by my door, but I’m oblivious to its presence the vast majority of the time when I return home from work or shopping.
5. Not only do I forget where the keys are when they are in my apartment, sometimes I forget to even take them out of the car with me. I have legitimately left my keys in my unlocked car on multiple occasions.
6. As a child I would consistently forget to bring documents that required parent signatures with me, both home to my parents and back to school after getting them signed.
7. For the majority of the past year, I didn’t have an umbrella. I forgot it at a social event, then never got around to buying a new one. Now I do have a new one, but sometimes forget this is even available to me when it’s raining.
8. Speaking of supplies for inclement weather conditions, let’s talk about coats. When I was a child, I regularly peeled my coat off on the playground when I felt overheated. Not surprisingly, I’d forget I even had my coat and leave it on the playground. I was regularly at the lost and found.
9. As an adult, I often run late for things because I struggle with prioritizing my tasks and managing my time. Sometimes this results in me running out of the house on a rainy/cold/snowy day without a jacket or coat, while also knowing that I don’t have the time to dig through the apartment to find one. This also started when I was young—I spent some very cold mornings standing at the bus stop without a jacket.
10. I’ve literally lost money. I’ve misplaced gift cards and never recovered them. I once caught myself forgetting a large refund check was on my table and nearly throwing it away. I actually find significant amounts of money in coat pockets sometimes, simply because I forgot I put them there. I’ve misplaced multiple wallets over the years.
11. Sometimes I’ve just finished shopping and am attempting to locate the parked car, then I suddenly realize I’ve forgotten to buy something I needed. I turn right back around and try again.
12. I currently take online classes. I had one semester with online meetings that I forgot were occurring on multiple occasions. The class was at 9:15 p.m. and I would remember that I had class when the clock was already past 10. Ultimately, I ended up setting multiple alarms and having a friend remind me.
13. I will see something that prompts me to ask a question, so I’ll open up a Google search tab. Something else distracts me, and then I can’t remember what I was going to search for. This happens at least once a day.
14. Sometimes I forget to write dates on paperwork. As a child I forgot to write my name on assignments.
15. Sometimes I actually forget to even print forms that I need for a day at work. It’s not unlike me to have hand-written notes scrawled down that I transfer to the neatly organized forms at a later point.
16. I forget my own passwords for logging into anything and everything. It doesn’t help that there are “requirements” for some passwords that make them even more difficult to remember. It’s also not fun when I’m forced to change my password, but it can’t be one I’ve previously used.
17. I’ve forgotten to turn off the oven after taking out what I’ve cooked. My husband generally sees and asks me if I’m cooking something, or tells me it’s still on if he sees I’ve already finished cooking.
18. I also forget that I’ve adjusted the thermostat. I can turn the heat off because I felt warm in the earlier evening hours, only to wake up the following day to an apartment that has dropped to 65 degrees or below.
19. I forget that I’ve already read a section of a page in the book I am reading. Something distracts me, then I return to reading and recognize the sensation of deja vu. It can take me three or more tries to finish reading a single page of text.
20. I forget that I have unfinished projects. I literally once took multiple years to sew a baby quilt. I’d moved in that time period and forgotten to take the sewing machine out of the trunk of my old car. It’s amazing how many times I stepped away while writing this, giving me multiple opportunities to forget to return.
If your friend, child, or loved one has ADHD and has a hard time with remembering, please be patient. We’re trying, but it’s harder than you may think for us. It’s also very much appreciated when you help us with friendly reminders.