Em, diagnosed with ADHD at 25 in Canada.

Em
Age:
25
Canada
Diagnosed at:
25

1. What made you decide to have your diagnosis?

A close friend of mine suggested I look into it. She was diagnosed as an adult and saw the signs in me. I'm grateful she spoke up.

2. What do you do for a living?

Private Nanny

3. What is your ADHD presentation?

Combined

4. How were your school years?

If I liked the teacher or the assignment I was incredible, but if I wasn't interested it was like pulling teeth. I liked learning and excelled as a child even though I wasn't "trying" which is why I don't think I was diagnosed earlier.

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

The one that gave me a "finally, an explanation!" moment was how whenever I read a book I was interested in I was so removed from the real world that you could speak to me and I physically wouldn't hear you.

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

Surprisingly, no. I'd heard how hard it could be but I have an incredible GP that referred me to a psychologist. I've been in therapy for a while now and already knew how to advocate for myself so I think that helped.

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

I started by reading books about it and then making sure to highlight or underline parts I related to so that when the doctor asked me why I thought I might have it I could point to similarities instead of going in blind.

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

Overwhelmed. There's so much I still don't know/understand about it. I've been masking and managing for so long that it feels weird to dismantle that. And I also felt like a fraud. I still do sometimes when I tell people I have ADHD. Like I've tricked them into explaining away character flaws.

9. How do you feel about it now?

I'm still scared that I've fooled people into thinking things that are just wrong with me are actually ADHD. I'm trying to give myself grace to see that there's nothing wrong with me, with being neurotypical. And I have to remind myself that just because I managed to make it this far without "needing" help doesn't mean that I can't accept it now and that I've failed somehow.

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

I do, a bit. Enough that I'm shocked I wasn't diagnosed earlier.

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

The worst for me is motivating myself. Even things I enjoy now become such a huge task to overcome.

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

I'm really good at remembering people and things they talk about, it always makes them feel special and cared for. AND I'm great for a fun fact! Trivia Superstar here!

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?

I think it was. It's helped me forgive things that I resent(ed) about myself. Even though I'm still working on physical/practical application, having that forgiveness has been an incredible gift.

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

Definitely. It would've been nice to have someone come alongside me and help me with time management and motivation before I got to the age where it was make it or break it.

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

A lot of them don't really know much about it so they've brushed it off. But I'm a big advocate for mental health and destigmatizing neurodivergence so I think it was easier learning about it from me since they're used to that.

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

I have social and general anxiety disorders as well as depression. And a chronic illness. They all really play into one another and it's hard to figure out which symptom is coming from where sometimes.

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

Absolutely. I go to a therapist, I've also tried CBT and I take medication for it. Those really help. In the moment though, I often disassociate a bit and rationalize my way back to peace.

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

Definitely in the beginning. I had a few people tell me "Even if you do have it, you've obviously been fine until now so it doesn't matter."

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

Sometimes. I struggle with imposter syndrome a lot.

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

Leaning into it has opened up conversations about it that have given me incredible tips on how to overcome some of the challenges I'm facing. I'm not great at it yet, but I can see a future where it might come easier now. And I feel so free from the burden of shame I was carrying around for not being able to do things as easily as the people around me.

21. How do you feel about medication?

Love it. Here for it.

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

Learning about body doubling. That's the one I use the most right now.

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

Talk to your GP and a psychologist. Because even if it ISN'T ADHD, it might be something else. We have so many things now that can help you just exist easier and you deserve that, even if you don't think so.

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