So last year, at twenty-four years old, I was diagnosed with ADHD. It made perfect sense to me after leading a somewhat chaotic life – both in body and mind – but to my family and friends it was a shock.
For many people who do not fully understand the diagnosis – they imagine a stereotypical, restless, child who’s bouncing from floor to ceiling. However there are many aspects to the disorder and each person who has it may be affected differently.
It was my mental health prescriber who first picked up on my symptoms and referred me to the ADHD team. He thought because I was a female, who got through school with pretty good grades that perhaps I could have slipped through the system.
In fact, the NICE guidelines state that ADHD is under-recognised in girls and women. So they are more likely not to be referred for assessment, or to live with undiagnosed ADHD, and even perhaps get a misdiagnosis of another mental health or neurodevelopmental condition. This was surely me.
Finally getting diagnosed was a long process which was not taken lightly. The ADHD team wanted to speak to family members about my past and current behaviours, and even assessed them about their behaviours. As I found out it is common for ADHD to run in families. They also read through all my old school reports, from primary to secondary, to look for behaviour patterns.
That was that. I was left in the dark for six months wondering.
Then I got a phone call, it was finally confirmed. I have ADHD. It was certainly the outcome I expected after a rigorous assessment, although I wish I wasn’t left unknowing for so long without any further communication. But I guess that’s just the state of the current NHS. I am grateful to have been assessed and finally know where I stand and why I do the things I do. My brain is literally wired differently. And I guess that’s okay.
What ADHD is for me…
Impulsivity, forgetfulness, impatience, procrastination, isolation, distractability, struggling to focus, feeling constantly restless, struggling to maintain long-term relationships, speaking without thinking and at times struggling to organise and manage myself are just some of my symptoms.
It goes without saying that this affects my work, social and personal life. I literally cannot watch a film the whole way through. My body is constantly shaking, whether it be my restless leg or a twitchy arm. I literally cannot stand waiting in a queue and if it so occurs I become extremely inpatient, almost to the point where I become a totally different person – the wait witch comes out. I act impulsively in too many ways to even describe; ways that have ruined relationships, hurt myself and others and have left me broke – financially, spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Being diagnosed felt like it was the answer I never knew I needed, but it all makes total sense to me now. I am eternally thankful to my prescriber for picking up on my symptoms and to the ADHD team for working with me through my diagnosis and for my ongoing treatment.
It guess it was why I unknowingly acted the way I did for so long and now I have found a solution. I have been offered medication to which I accepted. I know medication is no cure, or fix all, but it’s helping me for the meantime. The recommended therapy for ADHD is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy but the waiting list is longer than my bank statement (I daren’t take a peak at that just yet). So I guess I’ll have to put that on hold for now. But one day I would like to go back to therapy as I think it is really effective and I enjoy being challenged on my shit.
If I’m being honest, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy totally changed my way of thinking and in some ways saved me from myself. I get a lot out of therapy, whether it be individual or group, and would recommend it to anyone who is considering it (also to anyone who isn’t).
The truth is people with ADHD are different. Everyone is. We all are unique in our own way. It’s learning how to manage and cope with our own struggles day-to-day what counts. I’m learning how to see the good in my diagnosis. I’m turning the negatives into positives. I’m exercising more to help get rid of my restlessness, to distract myself I’m creating and writing more, I’m challenging myself each day and it seems to be working. Of course I struggle to focus sometimes but who doesn’t. We all have good days and bad days, but that’s just life. We just have to have faith and get on with it.
– Have you got ADHD or know someone who does? Are you waiting to hear back from mental health services?
Narcotic Anonymous: 0300 999 1212 (10am – midnight, everyday)
Samaritans: 116 123 (runs 24/7)
AADDUK: The Site For and Run By Adults with ADHD in the UK