Ranelle, diagnosed at 26 in rural Australia

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1. What made you decide to have your diagnosis?

I initially sought mental health/cognition supports when I was struggling at university and the counsellor I had a one-off consult with suggested I may have ADHD. Unfortunately, the town I was living in at the time didn't have any psych services, and this was many years ago before telehealth was considered a viable options for such services, so I was never able to progress any further than a GP.

I then successfully sought and received a diagnosis, after being unable to live independently.

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2. What do you do for a living?

Speech and language pathologist

3. What is your ADHD presentation?


4. How were your school years?

I was a gifted student who didn't struggle academically, but did have a reputation for being clumsy and overly talkative.

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

Verbal hyperactivity and impulsivity was the biggest one.

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

As mentioned previously, living in rural Australia (especially pre-telehealth) was a major barrier.

Then even when I was successful in pursuing a diagnosis, there were still the barriers of wait lists, cost and travel.

So to answer, yes it was difficult and took every fibre of my being to not give up (as I tend to feel very easily defeated, which is what halted me in pursuing my diagnosis the first time around).

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

I wrote down a list of my 'symptoms' or how my life is affected by my 'symptoms' and spoke through it with my GP. I didn't actually mention ADHD as I didn't want to bias anything, or look as though I was self-diagnosing, so I essentially went in saying 'I need mental health supports, because all of these symptoms I'm experiencing are making me feel useless', and the GP came to the conclusion independently that they suspected ADHD.

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

I felt validated, seen and understood, tainted with intermittent waves of grief, embarrassment and fear of being 'found out' to be different.

9. How do you feel about it now?

I largely feel reassured and validated still, bit occasionally frustrated that it took this long for me to receive the right diagnosis and subsequent supports; I mourn for what 'could have been', and wish I wasn't trying to learn coping mechanisms as an adult who is expected to simultaneously function in society. I feel if I'd been diagnosed sooner, things (i.e. my life) would have been easier.

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

Yes and no.

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

Completing tasks, remembering basically everything, basic day-to-day tasks like showering and teeth brushing, time management, emotional regulation, interrupting, staying focused in conversations, daydreaming, and making and keeping friendships.

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

Always willing to try new things, quick problem solving, and being able to read between the lines.

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?

Yes, even if just for the validation it provided me - I am not useless, I am not a failure. I am a neurodivergent world whose spent a life being forced in to a neurotypical box.

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

100% yes.

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

They don't know.

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

Social anxiety and depression.

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

Yes I do; I am currently seeing a psychologist to support me to live with this.

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

Nobody knew.

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

Sometimes - I am riddled with imposter syndrome.

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

It has allowed me to be kinder and more patient with myself, and make accommodations that I need.

21. How do you feel about medication?

I think it has great potential to help some people, but costs too much money.

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

Honestly, the validation of a diagnosis.

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

Seek the diagnosis. You may have ADHD, you may not, but either way if you are struggling you deserve help, whatever that may be.

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