Helen, diagnosed at 38 after multiple burnouts

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1. What made you decide to have your diagnosis?

I’ve had four separate burnouts from severe stress reactions. I’ve had several arguments with my husband about me not paying attention when he talks. While talking after one such argument I realized what I was describing when trying to explain how my brain works sounded a lot like the discussions about some of the ND kids at work.

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2. What do you do for a living?

Teacher grade K-3

3. What is your ADHD presentation?


4. How were your school years?

I had an easy time at school, learned quickly and never had to work very hard to get good grades. I zoned out a lot and some homework was never done, but I did well anyway all through high school. At university I struggled a lot since I never learned how to study and kept procrastinating and doing things last minute. I never graduated because I never managed to finish my last big paper.

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

Daydreaming, not listening, not getting things done.

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

No. I had a psychologist I was seeming about stress management and I brought up my thoughts about ADHD with her, did a couple of screening tests and then she referred my for evaluation.

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

I read up a lot on how adhd presents in girls and women.

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

I felt relieved knowing I hadn’t imagined my struggles. I got a good and thorough explanation about my diagnosis.

9. How do you feel about it now?

I feel okay about it. I’m trying to learn to find ways to work with my brain instead of against it.

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

No, not at all.

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

Getting started with things, staying on task, keeping my concentration and focus.

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

Not sure if I have any.

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?

Yes, it was. I’m not as hard and critical of myself anymore.

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

Maybe, I think I would have had my degree and hopefully I would have had a better mental health.

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

Just a lot of support.

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

Depression. Possibly chronic fatigue from multiple burn outs.

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

I little, mostly when feeling pressured to more than I’m capable of because of fatigue and depression.

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

No, no one.

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

Yes, sometimes. I present exclusively inattentive and I don’t have any issues with impulsivity, hyperactivity or emotional regulation as so many others do, so I often feel like I don’t fit in among other adhd:ers.

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

Not really, I got it six months ago when I was really burnt out and depressed and I’m just a tiny bit better now, so my depression and fatigue is what affects my life mostly. I do try to allow myself to cut corners a lot more, to lower the threshold to actually getting things done.

21. How do you feel about medication?

I haven’t tried medication yet, there is a long wait to get an appointment, and the pandemic has made it even longer, so I’ve been on a waitlist for six months and will most likely have to wait another six or seven months to get my appointment.

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

Self awareness from being diagnosed.

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

Do research online, look up the diagnosis criteria. Talk to a mental health professional about it. Seek a diagnosis if it’s available to you.

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