Clara, diagnosed with ADHD at 20 in Canada

Clara
Age:
20
Canada
Diagnosed at:
20

1. What made you decide to have your diagnosis?

I struggled my entire life to understand the root cause of why I felt like I couldn’t function in normal every day life as well as others could, after years of misdiagnosis and wrong medications and seeing TikToks about ADHD in women, I went to go see a psychologist for a full assessment.

2. What do you do for a living?

I’m a university student right now, hoping to be a doctor one day.

3. What is your ADHD presentation?

Combined

4. How were your school years?

In school, I floated to the top academically. I was always called a chatterbox, and a daydreamer, but because I performed so well in school, the possibility of ADHD was dismissed.

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

The most obvious trait of ADHD in my childhood, looking back, was my report cards home. They always said I was a chatterbox, and distracted others. Or they would say I was a daydreamer during class and needed to pay attention more. Or they would say that I would finish my work so quickly that I would then be a disruption to the rest of the class and I needed advanced work.

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

I have been battling for an ADHD diagnosis for 5 years. I was initially misdiagnosed with anxiety, then depression. I was told that there was no possibility I could have ADHD considering my performance in school. Finally, I had to pay out of my own pocket for a psychoeducational assessment with a licensed psychologist. I was diagnosed with ADHD and dyscalculia.

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

I went into the assessment completely aware that I was about to be diagnosed with ADHD. I wasn’t prepared for my dyscalculia diagnosis however. It took a toll mentally, but I have recently been going to an ADHD coach who is helping me navigate life from a neurodivergent perspective, instead of a conformist perspective.

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

I was satisfied with my diagnosis, and my psychologist was incredible in explaining everything to me, and being patient through all my questions. She was actually the one I reached out to about potentially seeing an ADHD coach, and she recommended me different people in the city.

9. How do you feel about it now?

Every day is a struggle to accept myself for who I am. As a 20 year old, I’ve gone through  all of my foundational years thinking myself and my attitude was the issue, not a genuine neurological disorder. Now, I am learning to unmask myself and to work with my ADHD instead of against it.

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

I am not the ADHD stereotype at all, which is why I feel like I went undiagnosed for so long. I am pursuing a university degree in science and am attempting to get in to medical school, the stereotype of ADHD would never have believed an ADHD individual could achieve all that.

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

I struggle to just get through the day! Everything is a challenge with ADHD, especially my short term memory. I forget everything!

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

My ADHD has allowed me to have so many passions and be skilled in so many different areas. I am a registered lifeguard, and I play classical piano at an advanced level. I also have various kayaking, sailing and canoeing certificates and have been in almost every club or council throughout my education. Being ADHD allows me to have so many different things that bring me joy.

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?

It helped me get on medication, receive accommodations in school and encouraged me to pursue help from an ADHD coach.

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

When I first got diagnosed, I was filled with anger and sadness directed towards all the different people in various steps throughout my life who missed the ADHD, and shouldn’t have. But instead of focusing on what I could have been, I like to look back and think about all I accomplished in my short lifetime so far, while I was undiagnosed and untreated. I did so much with no help, that now with help, I am unstoppable.

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

My family was shocked at first, but as I explained combined type ADHD and how it presents in women, they were less shocked and were upset they didn’t know that information to see the signs earlier. My friends were not really shocked at all!

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

Yes, I suffer from OCD diagnosed at a very young age, anxiety and dyscalculia

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

I like to deal with anxiety by using various CBT techniques my ADHD coach has taught me!

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

The stereotypes and negative associations with ADHD and with learning disabilities like dyscalculia and that they make the individual ‘dumb’ has been in my face from the moment I got a formal diagnosis. It makes me doubt myself, but then I like to think about all I’ve accomplished and I am reminded of my worth.

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

Not at all!

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

Absolutely. I have developed so many new healthy coping strategies and am actively working towards being a better version of myself that lives in harmony with my ADHD

21. How do you feel about medication?

I think that it’s up to every individual person! You know yourself better than ANYONE ever will. I personally take medication because I feel better and more emotionally stable on it.

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

My medication!

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

If you have the resources to go get an assessment/diagnosis and you think you have ADHD, my advice is JUST GO. If you genuinely think you have it, and have done research. Just go. Do not waste any time, because the actual knowledge (not just the thought) changes your perspective on life, and inspires you to take control.

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