Sometimes I get emails, comments or calls where a person says they are “afflicted” by ADHD and this really bothers me for a couple of reasons. First there is no question in my mind that ADHD is a disability, I know that as I am someone who is affected by ADHD. Note how I almost always use the word “affected by ADHD.” Because ADHD does affect my life. It affected my life before I was diagnosed and continues to affect my life post diagnosis but less so because I am getting proper treatment.

I also suffer from chronic pain. I actually virtually never use the word “suffer” when referring to my chronic pain. I usually say “I am a chronic pain patient” or “I have chronic pain but it is well managed.” This is because compared to how my pain used to be, it is manageable in my mind so therefore I may be somewhat physically uncomfortable all the time but not suffering, to me if you are suffering you probably can’t get out of bed or not very much. Granted this is my standard and needs not be anyone else’s.

To me one is afflicted by cancer, ebola or other potentially painful and most potentially life threatening diseases. Again, I am not saying ADHD isn’t a hardship but it is survivable. If I had to choose between having chronic pain or ADHD the rest of my life, I would pick ADHD in a heartbeat.

Now there are co-morbidities to ADHD that can be life threatening, like severe depression if that depression leads you to not want to live and you act on this. If you are feeling this way, call a doctor or hotline immediately. Tell someone.

This may all be splitting hairs to some but how we think about ourselves and how we describe ourselves reveals the mindset we have. Who do you think lives a healthier life the people who believe they are “afflicted” or the people who believe they are “affected” by ADHD?

I would argue that there is little sense of hope if you are of the mindset of “afflicted.” Also, this allows you, because of the lack of hope to possibly not invest your energy into making the best effort you can. After all, the situation is so dire and hopeless no one should expect anything from you.

Whereas if you are “affected” by ADHD, hope is implied and expectations rise, people expect things from you and you expect things from yourself. Maybe even that in spite of being affected by ADHD you can move forward in your life!

My hope is that you choose “affected” not “afflicted.” Word choices matter whether spoken out loud or just internally. How are you talking to yourself? Mindset is everything in moving your life forward. One way of thinking can set you free and another can lock you down.

What are your thoughts on this? What types of word phrases do you use when referring to yourself and ADHD?