Maud, diagnosed with ADHD at 24 in Netherlands

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1. What made you decide to have your diagnosis?

I was mentaliteit struggling a lot. I sought out professional help from a psychologist. After describing my struggle with finishing my higher education (to become a teacher), my psychologist suggested to test me on ADHD.

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2. What do you do for a living?

I'm currently studying to become an international teacher, besides that I work as a teaching assistant.

3. What is your ADHD presentation?


4. How were your school years?

During primary and secondary education, I had minimal struggles. There was enough structure and a had a great friend who helped me organize.

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

Time management. I had a really hard time getting up and getting ready in time in the morning, as I always miscalculated how much time I would need to get ready. If my mom and my friends hadn't been there, I would always be late.

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

There were some struggles, yes. I have been misdiagnosed several times, because other (related) symptoms were more obvious. I have been diagnosed with personality disorder and anxiety disorder, but those did not really fit completely. After describing the struggle I had with focusing and finishing my education, my psychologist luckily came up with the idea to test me on ADHD.

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

My brother was diagnosed with inattentive ADHD some years before, and it showed totally different. So I was absolutely sure I could not have ADHD, because we were so different. So I came in totally unprepared.

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

During all the questions, I noticed a lot of them were very relatable, so I was very confused at first. Luckily my psychologist explained how I taught myself coping strategies, which explained why it hadn't been noticed before. She also explained how it can be so different in people, which explained why there was such differences between my brother and myself.

9. How do you feel about it now?

After the diagnosis I started reading a lot of articles and books about ADHD, which taught me even more and made me understand more. Before the diagnosis I sometimes felt like I was going crazy, and that I was not trying hard enough, or that there was something very wrong with me. (Why couldn't I just finish my education when others could?)

Now, I feel so much more understanding and empathy towards myself, because I know why I show some behavior and struggle with things. I am also very glad I am able to educate myself and others around me, to help myself. So I am very glad I got diagnosed!

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

Absolutely not. I was very convinced I did not have ADHD, so  that was even a surprise to me. I believe there is this image of ADHD people, that when you have ADHD, you are an annoying kid who is never able to shut up or sit still. And even thought that is true for some, it is absolutely not the case for everyone! Oh and adults have it too!

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

I struggle a lot with focus on the right things, like my education. When I find something really hard or not interesting, my focus just disappears.

Besides that, I lose my stuff all the time. For me the saying "out of sight out of mind" really resonates. I cannot remember where I put something or where I last had it.

This also applies to social relationships, I find it really hard to maintain social contact, because my mind is just racing all the time. I just forget to reply to texts for example.

Oh and I can be very emotional. Little things can trigger a big emotional response, like getting very angry or crying over small things.

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

I am still finding out what those are, but I do think I have a lot of empathy for others and always go out of my way to make others happy.

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?

Yes it really helped me. I was really struggling and not understanding myself before my diagnosis. Now I am able to find the right help and am able to find people I can relate to.

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

Yes absolutely. Before my diagnosis I got burnt out, because of unhealthy habits (trying to keep up with everyone and comparing myself to others). If I had more understanding of myself, I would have been a little nicer to myself.

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

My boyfriend was a little surprised, because I am not really hyperactive a lot, which was the image he had of ADHD people. But all the other things related to ADHD did not surprise him. My mom was also not surprised!

My friends were supportive and luckily my diagnosis did not change their view of me, for most of them.

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

Yes, before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I was also diagnosed with depression combined with some anxiety issues.

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

Yes I still do, and I had even more anxiety in the past. Over the past few years, the main thing that I have learned is to communicate about my needs and behavior. I always worry about the opinion of others and how my behavior could influence them or their opinion. In my mind I always made up the worst case scenarios. By communicating about what is going on in my mind or why I am showing certain behavior or emotions, I noticed that there is more understanding and room for others to be open as well.

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

Some friends were confused by my diagnosis, because they thought it "didn't fit" me. Because I was not showing symptoms they related to ADHD, they were not to sure. This sometimes gave me the urge to have to defend and explain myself a lot, even if I didn't really feel like it.

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

No, also after looking up more information on the internet and finding a lot of relatable things on social media, I know it fits me.

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

Yes, I have professional guidance to help me, and I am trying to be nicer to myself. It really helps to have other people to relate to, I do not feel as alone anymore. I am growing confidence and try to show more of my true self to the world.

21. How do you feel about medication?

I believe this should be a very personal choice. There are a lot of different kinds available, so just because one does not work for you, does not mean there are no other options. However, if you prefer to not take medication, that should also be okay! Most important is to find out what really works for you  and find a professional to guide you in this. And please remember that your opinion is most important, how medication makes you feel and how it works for you is really personal. Do not let anyone else decide what 'should' be best for you.

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

To stop comparing myself to the people around me. My mind works differently and that is okay. I maybe do things in a different way, but that does not mean it is wrong. It is exhausting trying to live up to certain expectations, especially when they don't suit you.

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

Find people to talk to! Have open conversations with people around you and let them know what is on your mind. They might be able to give you new insights or just find information with them. If you are looking for a official diagnosis, find a professional you are able to connect with and trust. And please make sure you find people that take you seriously and do not dismiss you or your feelings.

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