Part of what separates ADHD-havers from the merely forgetful is that for us, to use DSM parlance, the symptoms “have a significant impact on daily life and functioning.” When I was a kid “significant impact” meant being in perpetual trouble: always being late, never hearing the assignment, enduring depressingly frequent teen-magazine “It Happened to Me”–type moments (I was often surprised by my period’s arrival). Teacher’s pet I wasn’t: “Clearly Rae has not been,” snapped my sixth-grade math teacher, flinging an eraser at my desk, “PAYING ATTENTION, so the whole class will have to wait while I go over this again.”
By high school, I had fully internalized the fact that I was a screwup and began acting the part with teenage gusto. “Fuck you, fail me,” I spat at a particularly hateful teacher, middle fingers aloft. “It’s not my first time.”
Then I’d go home and cry. Repeated failure is destructive. It chips away at your self-confidence and eats at your resolve. It makes you hate yourself.