ADHD & Losing Things: Where Did I Put My Stuff?
Is everything disappearing on you 🤔? Or do you spend significant hours searching for your things? Did you know that some people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder often have trouble staying organized, remembering, and paying attention to essential details? They might also have a significant tendency to lose things? I learned it the hard way, and I guess I have to accept that my ADHD brain works differently with other people.
From my reading glasses, the remote control, or car keys, I always have the ADHD struggle to keep things in order and put them where they are supposed to be seen easily 😅. When I am done using them, I should have placed them in a spot where they are visible and within arms reach, but often, I fail to do this. I will find them in the strangest places, like in the fridge or even in the freezer! One thing is for sure; they are never where I remember I last left them.
But what is with some people with ADHD that we tend to experience this ADHD trait of losing things? Why do we struggle with panic, anxiety, and feeling lost when we can't find our stuff? How do we manage our belongings well to avoid having the difficulties of losing our things? ❓
Most Adult ADHD Symptoms Rolled Into One
The brains of people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are wired differently. Our brain functions are pretty unique as we process information differently than others. We can have difficulty filtering out distractions, making it difficult to focus and pay attention to the task at hand. We may also be impulsive, meaning we might act and speak without thinking first 🎤. This can lead to us saying or doing things without considering the consequences first.
And of course, there’s our tendency to lose things. With our trouble organizing our things, being forgetful at times, and getting easily distracted, we might lose things easily and spend hours searching for them 🔎. Remember that neurotypical people can also experience this, but those with ADHD, this experience can be more frequent.
Aside from the ADHD symptoms, our tendency to misplace things can also be due to our environment and the people around us. A chaotic and cluttered environment can make it difficult to focus and find items. If we have a lot of people around us, we may get easily distracted and forget what we are doing or where we place our things. When we have the habit of putting tasks off until the next time, we may have trouble focusing in the long run and forget where we put the things we need for that task 😰.
The Anxiety in Misplacing Things
I always struggle to keep my mind at ease because I can’t seem to keep track of my belongings. As a result, I experience anxiety. For example, when I am outside and try to blow off steam, I always think I am the unlucky magnet. What if my wallet goes missing, or what will happen if I can't find my phone? These what-ifs always bother me, making me anxious instead of enjoying the moment.
When traveling, I might get too stressed out and lose focus because I may not remember where I left my luggage last. It’s a big deal because everything I need is there, and there are too many people wandering around that may take my stuff. I have all the essential papers and documents there 📒, so I can't afford to lose my stuff. The feeling of anxiousness and stress can make my trip more tiring than it should be.
My intrusive thoughts about different instances of losing my things can be frustrating and tiring. I constantly worry that I might have lost something important or that I won't be able to find it when I need it the most. This can also lead to feeling overwhelmed and stressed, affecting my mood and energy levels.
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I've Been Searching Back and Forth
When adults with ADHD lose things frequently, the frustration they feel gets to the point of losing hope of ever finding them. Most people with ADHD spend the whole day having difficulty remembering where they last left the TV remote or the car keys that they just used. For me? I always feel like my memory is betraying me whenever I can't remember where I placed my things 😥.
I always tell myself to put anything that I frequently use in the same place where I put them. But I always forget this and put my things in different places every time. What's worse is when I can’t find the lost item, I'll resort to impulse buying. This struggle can be a waste of time, effort, and money.
After I buy things to replace the lost item, I'll remind myself again to put it in a special place so that I won't struggle with misplacing them again. Only to find out days later that I lost track of it again.
Compensating with Adult ADHD Traits
Adults with ADHD experiencing difficulty keeping track of their stuff often try to overcompensate. For example, they might try to be extra organized in their office or home. They also tend to worry a lot about their belongings, constantly checking if everything is in its place. Our ability to keep track of our things can get so out of hand that we need to exert extra effort and do things differently.
Some people with ADHD might try to overcompensate by being extra careful with their things. They might double-check if they brought their keys, wallet, or phone 📱 before leaving the house. Or they retrace their steps when they can't remember why they were walking toward a room.
Other adults with ADHD might also think they are too forgetful and so they go the extra mile and take medicines to improve their memory. However, please note that unless it's recommended by a mental health doctor, taking non-prescribed medicines is a big no-no. Before taking drugs, you should have undergone proper treatment procedure and an accurate ADHD diagnosis first 💊.
We all have struggles of our own. A lot of people with ADHD also have their fair share of difficulties and challenges, especially with losing things. It can be frustrating and tiring, but these adult ADHD symptoms will always be a part of us, so we need to manage them well to live a less-stressed life.
There are accommodations and treatments available for adults with ADHD. If the symptoms are too much, already affecting your quality of life, it's best to seek professional help. Proper diagnosis and treatment can go a long way in helping you manage your ADHD symptoms and prevent them from impacting your life negatively.
ADHD Traits: Losing Things: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is the tendency to lose and misplace things an official ADHD symptom?
As strange as it sounds, the tendency to lose things is, in fact, an official symptom. The CDC says a person with ADHD “Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities.” This is particularly under the Inattentive Presentation.
What symptoms can contribute to an ADHD adult’s tendency to misplace and lose stuff?
A lot of symptoms may contribute to this tendency, such as being forgetful, getting easily distracted, and having difficulty organizing tasks
What can be done to address the issue of losing things?
The first and perhaps most practical step is to give space for all your items. That way, you’ll immediately associate an object to a specific place. If things don’t work out well, talking to a mental health professional will always help.