Sarah, diagnosed with ADHD at 21 in United States

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

Ever since coming to college, I’ve really struggled with time management and executive dysfunction and it’s really shown in my grades. One of my best friends growing up was diagnosed around 12 and has always told me she thought I presented the same traits and I should get tested, but it wasn’t until the past few months when I’ve really struggled and more of my ADHD friends have told me they think I should seek out a doctor

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2. What do you do for a living?

college student/lab researcher

3. What is your ADHD presentation?


4. How were your school years?

I always thought studying was easy for me but after coming to college, I realized I wasn’t really “studying”, I was just naturally pretty gifted and elementary through high school came easily to me. However, when it came to my more challenging classes in upper level education, I found I couldn’t make the time and force myself to study

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

I think I was able to hyper focus on “good” things (reading and learning) so that it went unnoticed it was a trait of ADHD

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

I’ve been having a lot of anxiety in recent months so I went to a psychiatrist to discuss this, but I suggested a lot of it stemmed from ADHD affecting my school and work life. My doctor asked about my childhood and I told her that I made straight A’s in k-12 and was a perfect student so she dismissed the idea that it was ADHD and I had to go see a specialist to get a diagnosis

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

I was pretty confident I had ADHD, so it wasn’t necessarily a shock or something I had to cope with. During the testing process, I was placed in the 95th percentile for IQ, but the bottom 10th percentile for working memory and timing, which was quite the surprise finding out I had such a big discrepancy (neurotypical people generally test in around the same percentiles for all three, where as ADHD people generally don’t). I was honestly a little worried my doctor would tell me I was completely normal and didn’t have a reason to feel the way that I did so it was a bit of a relief knowing there was an explanation

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

I  was honestly a little worried my doctor would tell me I was completely normal and didn’t have a reason to feel the way that I did so it was a bit of a relief knowing there was an explanation

9. How do you feel about it now?

This was less than a week ago lol so I still feel the same, but I still have a ways to go with treatment. I’m hoping I notice a bigger change in my life when I really start full fledged treatment

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

I think maybe I do show some stereotypes of being fidgety and extremely talkative, but I present a lot more of inattentive characteristics: spacey, forgetful, procrastination, etc

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

So much! Procrastination, time management, executive dysfunction, holding attention, doing basic tasks when they aren’t interesting, hyperactivity, the works

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

I’m not sure if I’ve quite figured those out yet, but my curiosity and ability to research those things is definitely a strength

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?


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

Absolutely. I think I would’ve been able to make it through college with way less of a struggle and participate in more of the extracurriculars I was interested in

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

My friends were not at all surprised because it was very evident to them lol. My sister too, and my parents were a little surprised because they’ve never given too much thought about mental health, but I’m pretty sure my mother is also ADHD and never realized it.

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

Anxiety for sure, but I really do believe it’s mainly caused from ADHD and my inability to manage the things I have going on

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

Yes, and not very well. I find myself paralyzed a lot of the time and unable to complete what I need to make myself un-stressed

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

The first professional I was was a psychiatrist who told me she didn’t think I had ADHD based on my childhood habits which was a little discouraging

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

definitely not

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

Not much yet, but I’m hoping to see some improvement soon

21. How do you feel about medication?

Willing to take and excited to see if it works for me!

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

Not sure yet

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

Get help! Don’t wait until it dramatically affects your life like I did

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