What did you forget today? Over the years I have received emails from many adults with ADHD. One recurring theme in these emails is how difficult the symptom of forgetfulness is. Of all the different ADHD symptoms, this, according to one woman, is the worst. Her forgetfulness has labeled her "lazy," "uncaring," "unthoughtful," and "stupid." She tries to remember, she says, it just doesn't work but it doesn't mean she doesn't care.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th edition, "is often forgetful in daily activities" is listed as one of the symptoms of inattention. Although this doesn't mean that everyone with ADHD is forgetful, it is one of the more common symptoms. In the emails I have received, individuals with ADHD say forgetfulness interferes with their daily life. Some of the things people have forgotten:
- "I forgot to pick up my kids after baseball practice."
- "I came home to no lights in the house because I forgot to pay the electric bill, even though I had the money to do so."
- "I forgot to get gas in my car and ran out of gas (again)."
- "I forgot to meet my husband at the restaurant for dinner."
- "I forgot to set my alarm and was late for work (again)."
- "I spent 3 hours at home doing a report for work and forgot to bring it with me."
Forgetfulness is seen as a negative trait. The American Heritage Dictionary defines forgetfulness as "Marked by neglectful or heedless failure to remember: forgetful of one's responsibilities." This definition implies that if you forget you are shirking your responsibilities intentionally. You are neglectful. But when you have ADHD, being forgetful is not intentional. It doesn't mean you don't care. An old saying, "If it is important enough, you will remember it" doesn't apply to people with ADHD. Picking up your kids from baseball practice is important, meeting your husband for dinner is important, getting to work on time is important.
I have compiled some tips to help you with forgetfulness. These tips have been sent to me or posted on the site, through the years, by adults with ADHD. Some of these tips will work for you, other's will not. Sift through them, find one or two that you can apply to your life.
"I use post-it notes everywhere. I have a tablet of post-its in my car, on my desk, in my kitchen, in my purse. When I notice the gas tank in my car is below 1/2 tank, I put a post-it up that says, "get gas." If I need something at the store, I write it on the post-it and put it in my purse. When I get to the store, I usually have several post-its with one or two items on each, it helps me to not make several trips to the store."
"I use mnemonics to help me remember facts or to-do lists. I take the first letter of each fact and string them together. Then I create a sentence. For example, if I needed to remember to go to the cleaners, the grocery store and meet a friend for lunch, I would use 'c' 'g' 'l' and make up a short sentence like, 'cows get lost.' I find it easier to remember a sentence like this than to remember a list of things to do."