My ADHD Diagnosis as an Adult

Most of the content on this blog is “how to” – how to bake, cook, arrange, plan, or parent. I usually try to be helpful in what I share, providing answers to questions or inspiration for projects. 

I haven’t written much lately because the big project I’ve been working on doesn’t have answers, but I think it’s important to share the journey.

Last year at my daughter’s annual well-check with our pediatrician, our Dr asked me if I had ever been diagnosed with ADHD. 

I must have looked at her like she had just spoken Latin.

I believe my exact response was a flippant “Who me? Of course not.” 

Fast forward six months, and I sat in my primary care doctor’s office, filling out a questionnaire about my behavior and inability to focus. 

I was there because after seeking treatment for some stress-induced panic attacks and underlying anxiety, my lifelong ability not to stay focused was exposed in broad daylight. 

As a kid, I was a rule follower and very social.

I remember struggling in kindergarten. I couldn’t control my impulse to take off my socks and shoes. 

I had trouble in early elementary learning to read. I had to be tutored in the summer to “catch up.”

I enjoyed getting out of my desk at every opportunity to go and have a chat with my teacher at her desk. 

I was frequently bullied and often would find excuses (stomach aches) to go home from school.

As I got older, I could read, study, and prepare for tests, only to get a B or C. 

But I was a little girl in the 80s who never let my behavior get me in trouble at school, so my struggles weren’t thought of as anything that needed “help.”

As an adult, my anxiety was what kept me succeeding. Once that was tempered with my medication, I struggled to complete the most basic tasks of my workday. 

Taking care of my mental health led me to understand that one of the root causes of that anxiety and stress was my undiagnosed ADHD. 

Now that I’m taking the time to educate myself on ADHD, I’ve realized there are many things in my life and my personality related to it. 

I’ve always struggled with impulsive behavior. It looks different as an adult vs. as a child. I’m not sitting in meetings pulling people’s hair as a child might. But I will probably sit in that meeting and shop for things I don’t need. Or be unable to focus on what the presenter is saying unless I am intentionally practicing active listening or deeply engrossed in the topic. 

I am working towards recognizing how I work differently and how to nurture that as a strength. Especially as a parent. Especially as a parent with a child probably struggling with the same things. 

I reached back out to our pediatrician and asked to have my daughter seen for an ADHD evaluation. We originally wanted to wait for her to have a full year of kindergarten under her belt, but I believe it’s best to get her the help sooner rather than 40 years later. 

In preparation for her assessment, our pediatrician asked me to have her teacher fill out a questionnaire. I did, and I was so curious to see what it said, but it came home in a sealed envelope. I was really happy when the Dr asked me to scan it and send it in before the appointment. I ripped the envelope open, only to sob in the kitchen after seeing it. 

It was proof that my girl was struggling the same way I had. I was crying because I felt bad for her, but I was also crying because I felt bad for my 6-year-old self.

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