The Mystery of the Forgotten Coffee: How ADHD Makes Me So Forgetful

I made myself a cup of coffee the other day, set it next to me on a table just out of my line of sight and forgot it was there all day. Out of sight out of mind because my working memory only notices what I’m working on right now.

That reminded me that the things I need to pay attention to need to be visible or they don’t make it on to my radar. BTW, this is why you buy more of what you already have or say there’s nothing to eat in front of a full fridge.

When you have difficulty remembering what you have you may as well have nothing. Why does this happen automatically when you have ADHD?

The Power of Peek-A-Boo

Have you ever noticed how babies are utterly fascinated by peek-a-boo? It’s more than just a game; it’s a crucial part of their brain development. This simple game is where the magic of object permanence begins to unfold.

It’s the idea that things still exist even when we can’t see them. Think about it – when we play peek-a-boo with babies, we’re not just entertaining them; we’re actually teaching them a fundamental truth about the world.

Ever seen a toddler search for a toy you’ve hidden under a blanket? That’s them putting object permanence into action. They’re grasping that the toy hasn’t just vanished into thin air. This is a skill we use every day.

It’s in the little things, like knowing your car is still in the parking lot even though you can’t see it, or understanding that the people in our lives still exist even when they’re not right beside us.

But when you have ADHD you routinely forget when you parked your car and often forget people exist when you haven’t talked to them in a while. Responding with the customary, “Oh yeah” when reminded of them.

Object permanence is the unsung hero of our daily lives, it helps us navigate spaces, and even shapes our relationships. It’s the invisible thread that connects our present moment to the things and people not immediately in our sight. Sounds like a superpower doesn’t it?
But for those of us with ADHD, our lack of or inconsistent object-permanence can be disabling.

The Invisible Struggle

When something is out of sight, it often slips out of our minds. This isn’t just about misplacing keys (though, let’s be real, that happens a lot). It’s about forgetting tasks, overlooking important deadlines, and the frustration of feeling disorganized. It’s like our brain hits the “delete” button on things the moment they’re out of view. Frustrating, isn’t it?

But here’s the good news! There are strategies to help us navigate this:

1. Visual Reminders: Sticky notes, whiteboards, and open shelving can keep important items and tasks visible. I yearn for transparent cabinets and fridge so we don’t keep buying what we already have.

2. Tech to the Rescue: Digital reminders and apps are lifesavers. Setting alarms, using calendar notifications, and to-do list apps can be game changers. I live by these.

3. Organized Spaces: A place for everything and everything in its place. Organizing our space can help reduce the chaos and make it easier to find things. Don’t move my stuff.

4. Mindfulness and Routine: Building a routine and practicing mindfulness can help us become more aware of our surroundings and our tasks. Being present frees your mind of irrelevant thoughts making it easier to work on the task at hand. Now if everyone would just keep it down 😉

5. Self-Compassion: Remember, it’s okay to struggle with this. Be kind to yourself. We’re all doing our best in a world that isn’t designed for ADHD brains. Freeing ourselves from the bullies between our ears is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.

I can and do teach these strategies to my clients until they’re habits.

Now let’s open up the conversation. Share your experiences and tips. What helps you? We’re in this together, and by supporting each other, we can discover what we’re truly capable of.

Skip to content