Caroline, Civil Engineer, diagnosed at 28

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1. What made you decide to have your diagnosis?

I fell into ADHD spaces on Tumblr and realized it sounded too much like me to be a coincidence.

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2. What do you do for a living?

Civil Engineer.

3. What is your ADHD presentation?


4. How were your school years?

I always have loved learning, so school itself was easy for me! But homework, especially for classes where the assignments were repetitive, was a nightmare. I loved when I was in college and finally homework wasn’t always graded.

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5. Looking back, what was an obvious ADHD trait in your childhood?

Time blindness. I have never and still don’t understand how people know how much time has passed at any given moment. Getting ready for school was so hard because of it, and I was always late.

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

Fortunately, no! I had been struggling with severe anxiety and depression, and after doing an outpatient program I found a therapist and med management professional who were experienced with ADHD. Each of them agreed with my self-assessment, and got me the help I needed!

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

I was begging for it, honestly. I had to leave two different jobs because of the anxiety brought on by my ADHD symptoms, and I was hoping for the piece of paper saying “hey, I’m not lazy or unfocused or not trying, my brain just works different”.

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8. How did you feel right after getting your diagnosis?

Relieved! It validated that my “flaws” were not personal failings, but that I just experience the world a little differently.

9. How do you feel about it now?

I’m so outspoken about it. As a “smart kid” my whole life (and a licensed engineer at this point), I’ve been told so many times “well if you just applied yourself…” and this is me being like “hey, sometimes things are harder for some people like me because we’re just a little different.” Also fighting the “smart people don’t have ADHD” stereotype is very important to me!

10. Do you think you "look like" the ADHD stereotype?

Not at all.

11. What are you struggling with because of your ADHD brain?

What we millennials call “adulting.” Keeping my space clean, doing chores everyday, paying bills on time… all the monotonous stuff that I have to take care of for my life to run smoothly.

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

I work well under pressure and process information quickly. In my career, being able to understand a problem and find a solution fast are huge benefits. On the more personal side, it’s so easy for me to be empathetic and connect with people!

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?

Yes!!! With a better understanding of my brain, I now can better advocate for myself and find ways to live my life that work for me. A little of the pressure to do things the “right” way has been lifted.

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14. Do you feel your life could have gone the other way if you'd been diagnosed earlier?

YES. If I could have known earlier, I would have been able to take care of my mental health so much more effectively. My self-worth was impacted by my ADHD symptoms, and I am no stranger to depression because of it. Having a diagnosis I think would have helped me avoid some of the darker times in my life.

15. What was your family/friends' reaction to your diagnosis?

They were unsurprised. I do talk a lot and get distracted easily, but my family had also done research into the deeper symptoms of ADHD, and realized they described me perfectly.

16. Do you have any comorbid disorders or neurological conditions?

Anxiety and depression! I’ve lived with both for most of my life.

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

Yes! I used to dissociate frequently because of it. Breathing, being aware of my body, and coming back to the situation gently has helped me so much. Also, having a support system that I can rely on helps quiet some of the fears.

18. Did people around you make you doubt yourself during your diagnosis journey?

Only a few. I struggled with it internally initially, because I believed a standard of perfection was applied to me. Once I had accepted that I probably had ADHD, I stopped caring what anyone else thought.

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

I did have one professional think that because of my scores on an in depth ADHD assessment, I had “grown out of” most of it. That was hard to hear, but I realized my ability to compensate doesn’t invalidate my diagnosis.

20. How has the diagnosis changed the way you live?

I’m a lot more gentle with myself, and have actively looked at ways to help me live my life how I want to. It’s hard not to care what other people think, but being able to say to myself “I have ADHD, so I’m going to do things a little different” has helped so much.

21. How do you feel about medication?

My belief is that everyone needs to do what works best for them. Medication works well for me, but I don’t expect my experience to be universal.

22. What was the thing that helped you most in your daily life? 

A visual calendar app called Tiimo. It has helped me do a morning and evening routine so much better than I ever have been able to before.

23. What advice would you give someone who is wondering if they have ADHD?

Regardless of diagnosis, your problems are valid, and seeking help with them is the bravest thing you can do. If it turns out to be ADHD, join the club! If it’s not, hopefully you can still end up in a better place than you started.

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