Hi, I’m currently at the diagnosis stage of ADHD and I just wanted to share my experience before it comes to a maybe end. On January 17th I have my diagnosis appointment that I’ve been desperately waiting for since March of last year. Ever since I got the appointment letter from the hospital I’ve been terrified that I’m going to find out that I’m just really lazy and a bit scatty.
I first went to a doctor about ADHD when I was in my final year of university. I told myself at the beginning of the year I wasn’t going to let myself get behind in my work again, but inevitably I did. Of course I had this huge final project to do and I just couldn’t commit myself to starting it, I got more and more stressed and handled it by playing video games, binging Netflix, or scrolling aimlessly through tumblr. This is how I’ve always coped unless I’ve had immediate deadlines. I can’t remember what finally made me think “hey, maybe this isn’t just chronic laziness” but something did and I looked up ADHD. I related to pretty much everything. What they all seemed to say was go to a doctor and see about diagnosis.
I got to my appointment and I sit down across from the lady who asks me what I’m there for. I tell her that I think I might have ADHD. She laughs at me and says in the same breath, “Don’t you think you’re a little old for that?” I cannot describe how humiliated I felt. I was like a deer in headlights about to burst into tears and I explain (very poorly) how I violently procrastinate anything and everything to a ridiculous degree, I try to tell her how I haven’t started my dissertation and I can’t bring myself to no matter what I do. I can’t remember all the symptoms at this point and she’s already dismissing me, saying how I’m just like every other student and I just need to sit down and get it done.
I brought it up one more time a few weeks later with my parents and both of them laughed at me too and effectively told me I just wanted to be a special snowflake.
I didn’t consider it again until almost a whole year later when I started driving lessons. Almost every lesson is near constant tears. I’m driving stick (or trying to) and I can’t remember to change gear, I can’t remember to look out of the window to see what’s going on, I keep forgetting which way to turn the wheel when I go to park, I go onto the wrong side of the road and don’t notice until told, I keep staring at my speed or the gear stick. I cannot drive more than two minutes without needing the instructor to drive the car. This would be fine if 40 hours of lessons later I had improved and stopped crying all over the place. I find I can’t remember what he’s told me as soon as he’s told me, I sit there listening to him telling me what to do and my brain is blanking, when I try to focus it starts going LALALALALA over the top of it and I’m telling myself to listen but it’s like I’m self-sabotaging. He tells me he’s taught people with all sorts of learning disabilities and never has he had such difficulty with a student before. I finally say that I tried to see someone about ADHD. He encourages me to pursue it again, so I do. This doctor is barely more sympathetic than the last one, I have to insist on being referred, and even as I leave the office I can’t remember if he said he’d write the referral letter. I don’t tell my parents about it.
A letter finally arrives three months later after I’d given up hope and also given up driving stick. By this stage I’ve changed to automatic and it’s like a dream, even if I did fail two driving tests for stupid mistakes. Shortly after, I confide in my mom about ADHD diagnosis and she’s initially skeptical but she takes me seriously this time. I send her some links to websites and, to my delight, she tells me after reading them that she thinks I probably do have it. She would flip flop on this several times but a month later she accompanies me to the initial consultation and thankfully comes up with more examples of it in my behavior than I could have done. The psychologist decides there’s enough evidence to forward me for an actual diagnosis. My mom finally accepts the possibility I might have it, I think she feels if I have it she’s failed me by not noticing. She also suspects she has it too.
Fast forward ten months and here I am. I am petrified that I’m going to leave that three hour appointment with nothing. I shouldn't want to be diagnosed with ADHD but I want them to tell me I have it so I know that there’s a reason that I’m the way I am, that there are things that can be done to deal with it, and that everyone who mocked me was wrong. If I don’t have it, I look like an idiot on a vanity mission. If I don’t have it, why can’t I cope with the way I am when the way I am is supposedly ‘normal’? I’ve spent my whole life holding myself to the standard of everyone else “If they can do it, why can’t I?” and still struggling despite it. I’m so afraid of judgement that I haven’t even told my closest friends. I’ve literally been procrastinating my life for this appointment, I feel like I can’t truly move on until I know one way or the other.
There are two reasons for this monstrosity, firstly, it feels so good to get that off my chest, secondly, I hope anyone thinking about seeing a doctor for an ADHD diagnosis reading this might find the courage to start the process. No matter what the result of diagnosis is, you’ll have some peace of mind at the end and a way to move forward, hopefully.
TLDR; Don’t let other people dismiss you just because you’re not that stereotypical hyperactive little boy. Also sorry for this long post, I can’t seem to help myself?
Please come back and let us know the final result.
And I don’t think it’s nothing; you’re obviously struggling with something. Whether or not that’s ADHD is going to be answered at your appointment. Hopefully if it isn’t ADHD the clinician will be able to tell you what it actually is. But it’s something.
And whatever it is, you are so strong and amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story.