Being Diagnosed with ADHD at 24, A Happy Tale
Updated: Dec 27, 2020
"It's very common for intelligent girls who struggle with ADHD to go undiagnosed, they're simply too good at coping."
When my psychiatrist ended a week long process of assessments with this phrase I couldn't help but laugh in relief. For the first time in a long time I was proud of little ADHD ridden Ula, because hell she got all the way to a masters before not being able to 'cope' anymore. It took adding another acronym to my name for me to appreciate the success of two degrees.
You see, I thought it was quite normal to struggle with focus, its called lack of motivation right? To be distracted, that's life isn't it? To have to rely on panic to finish, that's procrastination... everyone does it, obviously? And its true, we're only human and all of those behaviours don't necessarily require a rushed visit to the psychiatrist to get a prescription, but they are not so normal when you have to deal with all of them at once, every hour, everyday.
My reason for writing this is to help out my fellow women who might have to try a little too hard to get things done and rely a little too hard on panic to make those deadlines. And also to let you know that over all, in life, I think having ADHD is a f*cking super power. Just check out this article by the Attention Deficit Disorder Association: https://adhdatwork.add.org/potential-benefits-of-having-an-adhd-employee/ ~ cool, right?
The boring bit that I've tried to make less so: according to the National Health Services website the primary symptoms of ADHD in adulthood are harder to spot; the medical world is largely less informed on the subject due to it being far less researched than its counterpart in children. Having said that, girls are already less likely to be diagnosed since medical research is primarily conducted on males, and the sympomts of ADHD in girls are far less volatile behaviourally than in boys. So its a double whammy for us women. Back to the symptoms on the ever helpful NHS website:
carelessness and lack of attention to detail
continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
poor organisational skills
inability to focus or prioritise
continually losing or misplacing things
difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn
blurting out responses and often interrupting others
mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
inability to deal with stress
taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others ~ for example, driving dangerously
Congratulations if you actually made it to the bottom of the list and read everything, I'm looking at you number 4. Now the symptoms are different for everyone, I have most of them in my behavioural repeteur, but definitely not all of them ~ we're all different.
If you're currently overwhelmed by that list adding up a little too well, help yourself out and go talk to a medical professional about it; if you have been recently diagnosed, be proud, look at you making it this far with ADHD on your own! What a wonderful uniqueness to have ADHD, like everything else in your mind that has mixed to make you unrepeatable ~ and guess what ~ you're still you, you're not suddenly categorised into 'a people with ADHD' folder.
I think that's the most important thing to remember, that you've always been someone with ADHD, this shiny new label doesn't change anything, nor does it demand that you now have to justify your behaviour with your diagnosis; having ADHD is not a name tag on your shirt everyone must note before getting to know you ~ although it does make for excellent material if you enjoy self deprecating humour.
The people who love and care already accepted you without that explanation. However, you are now someone who can make the world work a little more for you: for example, when you tackle goals that are already difficult for someone without ADHD... like a masters dissertation. It's actually shocking how much easier things become with the right prescription (whether that be behavioural training or medication); things that before seemed physically impossible, like focusing for more than 20 mins at a time, can become laughably easy.
Yet, it's important to not view medication as the catch all for your problems, but man do they make some things easier. They won't always work, they will kill your appetite, sometimes you'll feel ill, and sometimes you won't even feel like yourself ~ it's not all sunshine and rainbows. I would even advise considering a lifestyle that doesn't require you to be muted by medication (and still allows you to be fulfilled), don't be afraid to go searching for an alternative life path. I, for one, do not have any intention of being in academia if that requires me to be drugged for most of my week ~ hence the yoga instructor course next year. BUT, also don't let it stand in your way, if you want to work in academia then go do it! When given the right support and love, including self-love (I realise that's a hard one for a lot of us), everyone can improve their quality of life and even sometimes conquer their struggles, and everyone includes you ~ don't apply the uniqueness pep-talk I gave you earlier to this instance.
Now all of this extends to all of our different diagnosis, quirks, hurdles, what have you: we will always have things that make life a little difficult. There are things that we can control, and things we cannot. So I'll leave you with the thoughts that have been lately occupying my mind in regards to said difficulties: we're always coping with a difficult piece of life and it does not define us, but it does in someway fit to build up a brave and beautiful creature. And those difficult pieces are universal, in the same way that the lovely ones are ~ the more pieces make up our whole, the more we appreciate the pieces in others and love them for them.
Note: I wrote this instead of focusing on what I was supposed to be focusing on today (not to mention the mural I drew on the office white board)... as I said the meds don't always work. They give you the choice to focus, but you still have to choose to focus on the right thing.
Disclaimer: NO information on this website should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease or condition. I strived to provide accurate information that can help you learn more about ADHD, however I am not a medical professional and I encourage you to consult your GP or psychiatrist before making any health changes. This post conveys only my own experiences and thoughts regarding a diagnosis of ADHD.