Hannah, diagnosed with ADHD at 33 in United Kingdom

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United Kingdom
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1. What made you decide to have your diagnosis?

My youngest brother and then my husband both got diagnosed.

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2. What do you do for a living?


3. What is your ADHD presentation?


4. How were your school years?

In the subjects I liked studying was very easy. I got good grades and would describe myself as an overachiever. For the subjects I didn't I would forget homework, put it off, and then panic and make up for it all at the last minute. I love learning so it was ok.

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

Impulsivity and hyperactivity socially! I was very talkative and excitable but struggled to maintain friendships due to saying things impulsively

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

I had to pay a lot of money privately and wait about 6 months to see the psychiatrist I wanted. I feel lucky I could save enough to afford it.

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

Became hyperfocused on ADHD and researched a lot, and made lots of lists of memories or incidents demonstrating how each symptom showed up in my life. I forgot to bring all these lists on the day of my appointment though 😂

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

Relieved, understood, a bit overwhelmed. The psychiatrist I chose was really great (female and also an adhder with 30yrs of experience working with neurodivergent individuals) and very thorough and kind. It was still a lot of information to process though!

9. How do you feel about it now?

80% happy and relieved, 20% grieving, angry, and having a small existential crisis. It's hard imagine know how life might have been different if I'd been diagnosed earlier

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

Not at all! I appear very organised and can mask when I zone out well so people don't see me as distracted even though I totally am.

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

Finances, and keeping on top of the self employed parts of my work. Impulsive decisions meaning I take on too much and then feel anxious because I can't do all of it without burning out. Sensory processing issues affect me quite a lot so learning to manage them is a bit overwhelming

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

I am very creative and very empathetic - big ideas and big feelings!

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?

Absolutely. I feel like my life makes sense now and I can understand how to support myself better and have access to more resources

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

Probably? I might not have decided to become a therapist and might be still working as a theatre professional, which I have mixed feelings about

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

All my neurodivergent friends weren't surprised. My best friend and I are having great conversations about neurodiversity now as she is dyslexic and we share some interesting traits. My mum was really supportive and my dad was weirdly impressed? He said "wow, great coping skills!" because he never suspected. My youngest brother is much more 'typical' ADHD presentation so everyone thought ADHD looked like him. He actually just laughed and said "yeah I knew it" 😂 so I feel very lucky that the people in my life who I am closest to have been super supportive.

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

Anxiety for sure (though that has improved a lot since diagnosis) and Auditory Processing Disorder. Apparently APD is v commonly tested for and diagnosed with autism and people are only just now doing the same with ADHD!

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

I try to use lots of practical techniques I've learned from going to therapy and being a therapist - breathing techniques, grounding tools and games etc. Usually though the most effective thing for me is a hug from someone I love who reminds me things will be ok, and then makes me a cup of tea.

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

Some people, but usually ones who don't know me well. The main person who made me doubt me was me!

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

Sometimes I do wonder if I'm making it up or over exaggerating my struggles, yes

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

I am much more forgiving with myself. Medication has reduced my feelings of overwhelm and helped me be more consistently productive. I'm also starting to organise things in my house differently to see if it helps me find things better. And I'm trying to be curious about other things I can do like building in downtime after social events to cope with overstimulation, or using loop earplugs to help in noisy environments etc. Also investing in noise cancelling headphones have changed my life.

21. How do you feel about medication?

Like it's another tool in the toolbox to help me survive a world that's not always made for me to thrive in. If I want to use that particular tool I like having the option, and I like knowing that the type I take is short-acting so I don't have to take it every day if I don't want to.

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

Sounds cheesy but self-compassion. Reducing the critical voice in my head gave me space to notice what I needed and reduced the shame around asking for it.

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

Do as much research as you can, and start documenting why you think you have it as early as possible. Don't be afraid to ask other adhders questions, everyone in the communities I've met have been really welcoming and supportive. Don't get all your information from social media - it's great sometimes but a mixed bag and full of people who actually don't know what they are talking sbout. And be kind to yourself! It's a tough world and there are no prizes for making things harder for yourself

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