Sharmaine, diagnosed at 27 with ADHD in the Netherlands

Sharmaine
Age:
30
Netherlands
Diagnosed at:
27

1. What made you decide to have your diagnosis?

My mind is always racing, I have anxiety and struggle with depression since I was 14 years old. My energy levels can be extremely high compared to neurotypical people and I always give my all but struggled to keep up at school and work. Also, fidgeting!!

2. What do you do for a living?

I volunteer at a youth center

3. What is your ADHD presentation?

Combined

4. How were your school years?

I'm good at studying and got good grades, but homework took me ages to do because I got distracted by EVERYTHING and it made me so angry and frustrated because I'm also a perfectionist and suffer from fear of failure.

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

Fidgeting, daydreaming all the time, remembering A LOT of details nobody else noticed, doodling to be able to listen better, severe rejection sensitivity, a racing mind, time blindness...

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

Luckily for me getting a diagnosis went well and my therapist was very supportive about it! Everything made so much sense to me after getting it. I finally felt like I want stupid or lazy.

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

I did it on impulse, really!! I've been thinking about having ADHD for a few years and finally decided to get a diagnosis!

✨ If you are wondering too if you have ADHD, check out my ADHD Self Assessment Workbook

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

The test could've been more extensive in my opinion and they didn't talk about the inattentive/hyperactive type that much. I was a very shy and quited kid, also because I used to stutter and I felt very ashamed of it. So, in my experience, I switched from the inattentive type to the combined but mostly hyperactive type!

9. How do you feel about it now?

I've always been beating myself up for not being able to achieve perfection in everything that I do so I feel very validated thanks to the diagnosis. Almost all of my struggles are directly related to my ADHD and it felt like a weight has been lifted of my mind and shoulders.

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

I talk a lot, and fast when I'm excited about something, I fidget and I'm always observing my surroundings so I guess so? Haha!

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

Time blindness, impulsivity, executive dysfunction, procrastination (I need to feel a certain amount of pressure to be able to do boring tasks), interrupting people, trying to remember what to say while also trying to stay focused in a conversation, rejection sensitivity/perfectionism/fear of failure, waiting (mode), sensory overload, trying your hardest but still not being able to keep up with neurotypicals in school and at work, lots of interests/hobbies, but not many of them sticking around

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

Empathy, creativity, being able to "read the room", helping people, hyperfocussing when I find things interesting, I can be very funny, easily entertained, independentindependent, curious (learner), good with visuals/colours/designs/moods

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?

Yes it did! Of course it did not magically "cure" my ADHD, but it helped me make sense of a lot of things and it made me understand my brain and behaviour so much better!

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

Yes. But I also wouldn't want to change where and how I am now. It would've been nice to be more understood in my childhood, though. Things like, why I always wanted to eat and snack, why I was fidgeting/bumping my leg, biting my lips or listening to music while making my homework etc.

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

My friends weren't surprised at all, haha!! My mother was a bit surprised tho.

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

Yes. I was diagnosed with PTSD, depression and ADHD. But I also suffer from anxiety, an eating disorder and other things.

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

I try movement (playing Beat Saber) to get rid of the uneasy feeling in my chest and talking about it also helps. Being open about your feelings in general lightens the burden at least a little!

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

No, people were supportive about it!

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

Not at all. The more I learn about it and get to know more people with ADHD online and in real life the more certain I am about me having ADHD.

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

I make (even more) lists now to try and empty my brain. To Do lists, grocery lists, lists with things I want to cook, watch, save money for, etc! I also use the agenda on my phone and I have a big whiteboard in my living room in case I forget to check my phone. Lately I start the day by making a seperate list with things I need to do or remember that day and that really helps! Taking breaks is also very important to manage my energy. Saying no to people is hard, but also a good way to save more time for myself to recharge.

21. How do you feel about medication?

I'm 50/50 about it. I don't like the idea of putting artificial chemicals in my body to be able to function in a neurotypical society, but on the other hand it really helps most of the time so I 'm happy they exist!

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

The diagnosis and information about ADHD helped for the most part. After that, medication and being open about things I find difficult and creating workarounds for them!

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

If you are able to get a diagnosis, please do so! Do it for your own peace of mind and for the benefit of understang yourself better and making your life a little bit easier.

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