ADHD & Lying

The Possible Reasons About ADHD Dishonesty

As much as we want to be honest and truthful, our neurodivergent condition may prevent us from doing so. While ADHD is NEVER synonymous to lying, it does have some effects on the way we express things. Here’s what you need to know about ADHD and Lying.

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ADHD and Lying: Possible Reasons Behind Our Dishonesty

Disclaimer: We do not promote lying or make justifications on why people with ADHD tend to lie. These are just some of the personal struggles I often encounter that force me not to tell the truth. Read on to understand more.

Why do people with ADHD lie? Is it because of our impulse control and how abruptly say things without thinking about them? Or is lying and dishonesty already embedded in our executive function, which is affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? Well, there are many possible reasons why people with ADHD lie, and we'll try to understand more about the potential root causes of lying from a person with ADHD's point of view.

There's this instance when I was still a child that I cannot forget about. After school hours, my parents usually let me play whatever I wanted to grant that I had finished doing household chores and homework. So when I went home, I cleaned up my room a bit and continued washing the dishes to appease my parents and let me do what I wanted. My mother asked me first if I had done my homework, and I told her I had none.

Immediately after finishing the chores, I played video games for hours until it was time to hit the bed. The next day when I was preparing my stuff for school, I suddenly remembered that I had to do something school-related, which I had forgotten to do the night before.

I did not do the task, got scolded by my teacher, and my parents got called because of my forgetfulness. My mother immediately thought I was lying just to enjoy playing video games the whole night.

Kids with ADHD are the Most Vulnerable to Lying

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are prone to lying because they usually can be the perfect examples of not following the phrase "thinking before speaking." With their impulsivity and rushed response to gain advancements, they may not tell the truth based on facts but rather tend to respond based on what they think would make them look better in the eyes of their peers or parents.

ADHD & Lying: Tendency to Lie

After that day, I faced my punishment and apologized for not doing my homework. I felt so ashamed that everyone has to go through a lot just because I had forgotten to do an important task and got caught lying (even though I forgot about them). After this experience, I told myself that I would never lie again and I should keep this promise because I had learned my lesson. (Definitely another lie. LOL.)

Kids lie even though they know that it is wrong. It may be because they want to save themselves from punishment or the consequences of something they have done. For example, a kid with hyperactive ADHD type paces around the house and accidentally breaks something. He knows that he has to face his parents' anger, so he lies about it instead. However, as adults are more knowledgeable and experienced, they need to deal with the issue more appropriately.

Lying About Our Internal Struggles

When I grew older, I had many difficulties with many things. Especially as a teenager, I had to deal with everything; puberty, the shift from adolescence to adulthood, relationships, and ADHD symptoms which I didn't know back then. Everything was a mess, and I had to put up a face that everything was alright even though I felt overwhelmed and exhausted.

ADHD & Lying: Because we are Ashamed of our Struggles

I often send my friends away whenever they want to visit our house. Aside from my room being a mess because I have too much clutter inside, I don't want them having small talks with my parents and having me exposed to everything I do. So I would tell them that I cannot host them because something came up, or I have to reason out that I am not feeling well to drive them away.

I am afraid to be judged by my friends, even if they are my closest acquaintances. I am not entirely confident that they'll still like me if they get to know the real me, which is often messy and clumsy. So I hide my struggles behind a wall of lies to protect myself from hurt or to lose connections with them. But I soon realized I missed the opportunity to bond with them and understand each other more deeply.

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Lying Because We are Afraid to Ask for Help

I would rather face some problems alone than create inconveniences for other people. I would instead bottle up all of my exhaustion and stress than ask for some help. When people ask me how I am doing, I'd proudly tell them that I am doing fine even though I am loaded with many tasks from weeks ago. I know it's my fault that I have difficulties with time management and procrastination, so no one else should shoulder the burden and the consequences except me.

ADHD & Lying: Afraid to Ask for Help

According to psychology studies, people, in general, are afraid to ask for help because we often underestimate the willingness of others to help us when we are struggling. In the case of people with ADHD, asking for help is a challenging mountain to climb because they may look at us as incompetent or incapable of taking care of ourselves. Aside from that, when we ask for help, we also seek the effort and time that the other person will devote to us. For me, it's better to avoid telling them that I need help rather than them extending their resources and energy to save me from the challenges I put myself up to.

Sometimes, this unlikely behavior of shutting down the possibility of people helping us because we aren't letting them could cost us more than we think. They may think complacent and utterly clueless about our struggles because we mask them to boost our self-esteem, but we take away the idea of getting out of our slump because we are afraid to ask for help. Also, lying to people because we won't like to be helped feels like cutting the bridge between us. There'll be days that they, too, will be having a struggle of their own and will need someone to be there for them.

Lying to Cover up our ADHD Brain

There are specific ADHD symptoms that can raise many eyebrows if people who don't understand us ever encounter them. These ADHD traits are already a challenge we must overcome to have a better life. For example, our executive functions may make it hard for us to focus on things we aren't interested in, making us rude and obnoxious if other people find out. Or we may be easily distracted, which can look like disinterest or disrespect when it's not the case.

Because of this, I often blurt out tiny little white lies to make it more polite when symptoms of ADHD get the best of me. When suddenly I zone out and drift away during a conversation with a friend, I'll try as much as I can to respond and tell them that I'm all ears about what they are saying. I know that white lies are still lies, and they are wrong, but for me, it's more important to be more polite and gentle even when I can't explain my ADHD brain to them.

ADHD & Lying: Because we Try to Be Polite

I always hope that ADHD education and awareness can be improved and spread out so that people with ADHD can live without shame and feel more accepted by others. By then, I'm hoping we won't resort to compulsive lying because they understand how our ADHD brain is wired.

Lying Because of Our Emotional Regulation

According to a study held by mental health experts, kids with ADHD have trouble recognizing other people's emotions and expressions and telling the differences between them. One thing I noticed about how we handle emotions is that we cannot read other people's emotions. There are times when emotional dysregulation brought by ADHD may hamper our skills and lead us to breakdowns or outbursts because of the overwhelming feeling we experience. Likewise, when we consider other people's emotions when giving them disappointment and rejection, we tend to downplay them just to avoid the feeling that we think they'll endure.

Because that's how we like things to be for us.

We often hate to be the bearer of bad news, so we tell lies that we think are more acceptable to other people than what's true. We often answer, "I'll try to" or "Let me check first with my schedule," rather than denying them outright. We don't want them to experience the same feeling we don't like when someone says no to us.

ADHD & Lying: Because we don't Want to Hurt People's Feelings

We've experienced enough struggles, and as much as we can, we don't want to hurt other people and let them experience that same feeling of rejection. We don't want to let them down and be the ones responsible for that, so we choose to lie even if we know deep inside it won't do any good.

Lying Because we are Ashamed

There's always been a fine line between neurotypicals and those that differ from them. Whenever we are labeled something not nice, I perceive myself as different and try to cover it up. When I was diagnosed with this neurodivergent disorder, I was out of words and thought immediately that I was not the same as those who don't have it. That is why I feel ashamed that people know, and sometimes, telling a white lie helps me avoid the subject like nothing ever happened.

ADHD & Lying: Because we are Ashamed of ADHD Struggles

ADHD and lying can always correlate with each other because we mask and hide all the struggles that lead to compulsive lying. It is our coping mechanism to prevent other people from judging us and from getting our self-esteem or confidence further down the ground. We tend to lie because we try our best to avoid punishment for a mistake we don't even intend to make. I know this behavior is improper, but when you are backed against the wall, you'll have to use your coping skills to handle everything, even if it costs honesty and integrity.

I'm not saying that people with ADHD are not naturally honest, but their behavior can be based on the struggles they experience. A few things may be related to their impulsivity or lack of focus, and they may not be fully aware that they often commit mistakes because of it. We can be honest; it's just that we cannot stop lying because it's part of our coping mechanism, and we are hoping that people will understand the reason why we do it.

ADHD & Lying FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Is lying a symptom of ADHD?

No, lying or compulsive lying is not listed as one of the symptoms of this neurodivergent condition. However, some symptoms may be related to it, like being forgetful and blurting out things without thinking.

Why does it seem like some people with ADHD often resort to lying?

As mentioned, some symptoms of ADHD may predispose a person to lie. For instance, forgetting details may cause us to answer questions wrongly, which can appear as lying. When we blurt out things without thinking, we may say wrong information, too. Another thing: because we don’t want to be judged by others, we may tweak some details about ourselves instead of honestly telling people of our struggles.

How do we get past our tendency to lie?

The best way, of course, is to understand your condition. What are our main symptoms, and how do they affect us? Of course, we must also accept the help and support from those around us. Hence, we need to be honest about our condition and the symptoms that come with it.

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