The Late Diagnosis, thanks to Netflix.
Formally diagnosed with ADHD after watching 'Take Your Pills' on Netflix.
When did you find out that you have ADHD?
I found out this year in my mid-20s. It took seeing 3 doctors and taking 2 assessments spanning 1 year and 6 months for me to receive my formal diagnosis of ADHD combined type. I felt relieved but wished I was diagnosed as a kid rather than later on in my adult life.
I was quite different as a kid, I lived in my own head most of the times and I had this feeling of wanting to be free to do whatever I want. I always had so much energy and felt that anything was possible. I was very ambitious at school but something wasn’t right. I kept hitting roadblocks. Teachers would tell me that I had so much potential if only I tried harder. I felt like I did. I read as much as the smartest kids in the class but I found it challenging to fully absorb/digest knowledge from the textbooks. I eventually brushed off wondering why I was still in the ‘You’ve got so much potential box’ in my late teens.
I adjusted. I knew that I would have an uphill battle achieving high grades in school so I focused my attention on diversifying my skill set in order to get ready for the job market. I studied abroad, picked up unconventional hobbies and honed in my soft skills, mainly relationship building and emotional intelligence.
Entering the workforce
The struggle began, it was me vs my undiagnosed ADHD. I struggled with paying attention to detail and found it challenging to deliver at pace. I’d take a whole day to draft a document, whereas it took my colleague 3 hours to deliver on the same task. Luckily for me, my team didn’t have an issue with my slower than usual pace because I was new and they seemed to think I was on top of it all.
At this point in my life, I adopted the ‘Swan’. A swan gracefully moves across the water, but below the water’s surface, the swan is furiously paddling along.
I came across the ‘Take Your Pills’ documentary on Netflix. It documents the experiences of individuals at different stages in their lives across all age groups who have been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD.
I resonated with a few stories. If I’ve remembered correctly, there was a guy who struggled with tidying up, doing the dishes and chores in general. You may stop to think, well who loves doing chores!? But as some of you may know, it can truly be an invisible uphill battle that you just can’t shake. I felt so seen!
Straight after I finished watching the documentary, I did some research and took a couple of free ADHD online tests. I thought back to what my behaviour was like at school (aged 11-16) and remembered that feedback from my teachers always mentioned that I didn’t pay enough attention and I was very chatty, which seemed like pretty normal at that age. The only difference was, at the time, I was referred to a school counsellor to work on controlling my random outbursts of excitement. Then it hit me, I have ADHD. It was only a self-diagnosis at this point but I was sticking to it.
The following week, I booked an appointment with my GP. She was very dismissive and strongly felt that I didn’t have ADHD. Why, you ponder? Because she had a patient who had ADHD and I didn’t exhibit the same behaviours. I felt that this was really unprofessional. If you’re reading this and you think you may have ADHD continue to push until you’re referred to a specialist for an assessment, I’m glad I did. 3 doctors and 2 assessments spanning 1 year and 6 months, I eventually received my formal diagnosis for ADHD combined type.
Post Formal Diagnosis
I’m figuring shit out. I’ve been taking my medication and I’ve seen improvements in a few areas. I was on the list to start group therapy sessions but COVID-19 took the world by storm and all appointments are on hold. Luckily, there are great resources online and a bunch of ADHD’ers on social media platforms.
It’s a bit of a lonely journey, I haven’t met many adults diagnosed with ADHD. When I talk to friends about it, they don’t quite seem to understand the symptoms and how they affect my everyday life. But I’m learning new things every day which is great!
So my fellow ADHD’ers, shall we begin this journey together?
Follow me on Twitter, @AdultingADHD.
I've been looking into ADHD a LOT recently and I feel I've come to it LATE (I'm 58! I know, old lady, right?) I've been on and off anti-depressants since I was 19 and a lot of the time I've known they weren't doing anything for me other than tamp down my emotions. I've suffered (even saying 'suffered' sounds weird because I've always put this down to my weird personality or whatever) from procrastination (still do) and poor memory retention, for e.g. I can be speaking to my daughter about something then all of a sudden she'll ask me something about what we're talking about and I can't tell her (she says I 'zone out') I put off housework chores as though I'm going to be judged on it and I've always put this down to my mother being highly critical of everything I did, so I'm just chore-averse or something; or plain lazy (I've been convinced I'm lazy most my life - and that's a LONG time to beat yourself up about it). My emotions are off the scale; either I'm completely floating on a high with tears of joy or I'm sobbing in a corner, or I'm snappy and bitchy as hell. I've had so many jobs I've lost count and a lot of them I really had no idea what I was doing in them. I remember full IN trays, and empty OUT trays and filing piled up so high I think I walked out of the job because I was scared of not knowing where to put things. I've had so many relationships (2 failed marriages) and lost so many 'friends' because they don't understand me (or I don't think they do) and feel as though everything/everyone around me is doing things right and I'm getting it wrong. Constantly. I'm going to watch 'Take Your Pills' - sorry I've rambled on for so long, I'm glad I found your blog and will follow with interest x
OMG. I feel so seen reading this. I’m so sure I have undiagnosed ADHD with many of the symptoms you described, plus constantly losing things throughout my entire life, experiencing severe rejection sensitivity, having difficulty keeping a job. I have excelled academically thanks to compensatory behaviors and good social skills, and I am now a doctoral student in clinical psychology. That’s how I realized I had it! I can write a mean research paper and do well school
Overall thanks to being a field that teaches more with writing than with direct tests. I keep a near 4.0 due to ability to take time and “beat around the bush” to get to my point in papers. When I have an exam that’s multiple choice I always bomb every time because my detailed information retention is so low! I grasp overall concepts and struggle with the logistics, or the opposite clinically where I attune well to clients but my brain struggles to conceptualize their case which severely impacts my ability to provide treatment! Unfortunately I just moved for this program in Aug and I went to a new PCP (or GP whatever) and when talking with him about just general first appt things I also expressed my desire to be formally assessed for ADHD. He accused me of seeking adderall and told me it may be more beneficial to lose weight (that which he prescribed me a DIET FUCKING PILL). I explained that I am not seeking any kind of stimulant drug, that not everyone with ADHD even needs medication, I just want to be assessed to have an answer and to be in treatment! It felt so disheartening to be accused of manipulating the system and seeking drugs when I was just trying to be heard! I am struggling to feel confident to find a new physician and to see what the assessment process is like if I can ever get referred! I feel like I am so close to no longer having just “potential” and will be able to start a dissertation and last in a job rather than constantly put it off and job hop/return to school due to familiarity!! So sorry to vent via comment! I realize I usually scrutinize the folks who over share to folks they don’t know on public platforms! But I read your blog and had tears on my eyes! I was so happy to see that you were able to advocate for yourself and ultimately get the care you knew you needed!