Wendy, diagnosed with ADHD at 22 in Canada.

Wendy
Age:
22
Canada
Diagnosed at:
22

1. What made you decide to have your diagnosis?

I’ve struggled to function in daily life more and more as I got older and I couldn’t take it anymore so I went to get help because I knew there had to be more than just the GAD diagnosis I have.

2. What do you do for a living?

Fashion Design Student

3. What is your ADHD presentation?

Combined

4. How were your school years?

I always did extremely well with grades in subjects that I enjoyed but barely passed classes where I didn’t. I daydreamed and doodled a lot and mostly only studied if I had to or if I had someone sitting down with me. My attendance was not great and became minimal as I got older because I was always exhausted and anxious. Despite being called smart by teachers multiple times I was held back from graduation my senior year, tried again the following year, and ended up having to get an equivalency of my missing credits to graduate.

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

The constant daydreaming was the biggest one for me but also random racing thoughts that somehow all connect, interrupting teachers to tell them useless information, and fidgeting.

6. Was it difficult to get a diagnosis?

Yes and no. My psychiatrist was focused on my GAD diagnosis and we only ever had short appointments by phone a few times a year so he didn’t really look into other possibilities of why I was struggling despite me bringing up that I wanted an overall evaluation. In the fall I was feeling suicidal (like I had countless times over the years) and went to the ER where another psychiatrist briefly evaluated me and immediately told me to look into ADHD next time I speak to my Psychiatrist. In February I filled out a questionnaire where I scored very high and immediately was diagnosed with ADHD, referred to occupational therapy, and prescribed medication.

7. How did you prepare yourself for your diagnosis?

I didn’t really do much to prepare because I didn’t want to get falsely diagnosed with something. The only thing I did do is have my Fiancé help me answer the evaluation because he has lived with me for over two years now and notices more how I act externally on a daily basis than I do.

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

I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and I could finally stop beating myself up after years of doing so. It explained so much from my childhood and how I function. I wasn’t given much explanation yet, only a referral but post diagnosis I dove into research on ADHD to learn everything about it and tips to make life more manageable and less overwhelming.

9. How do you feel about it now?

Thought I’m still struggling and I know I will for a long time, I am extremely hopeful for the future now.

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

Yes very much so.

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

The biggest things for me are task paralysis, working memory, and emotional regulation but I also struggle in one way or another with all of my executive functions.

12. What are your ADHD strengths ?

I am extremely creative and have been recognized for this with a few awards. I also am extremely perseverant and HATE giving up despite failing so many times.

13. Did your ADHD diagnosis help you?

Getting diagnosed has changed so much for me in such little time. Many people say that they can see the sparkle in my eyes once again that I lost a long time ago. I feel more confident about who I am even if I’m different. It’s made me actually reach out for new opportunities I wouldn’t usually take like applying and getting elected as my college’s fashion design studio representative or applying for artist residencies.

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

I do think life could have been a lot easier and it could have saved a lot more pain if I was diagnosed earlier but I don’t hold any anger towards it since I can’t change the past.

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

It made so much sense to everyone I ended up telling and they were super happy that I finally had an answer to why I was struggling so much.

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

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder at 11 and experience panic attacks fairly often.

17. Do you deal with anxiety?

I’m still working on this because I struggle with it so badly. I try to take things one day at a time or even one hour at a time if I need to. Taking a bubble bath, playing video games, or just walking away from a situation or task to get some fresh air for a few minutes are some of the ways I try to manage stress.

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

I’ve been dismissed a lot throughout trying to find out why I was struggling. Even once I got diagnosed, I was still slightly doubting myself (from everyone previously doing so all the time) and only 100% without a doubt believed the diagnosis once I took my prescribed stimulant medication and was able to immediately take a nap and do things with less difficulty.

19. Do you ever doubt your diagnosis now?

I don’t doubt it whatsoever.

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

It’s made living life easier overall since I finally have a direction to head in towards coping with life’s challenges in a way that will actually help me. I’m not as hard on myself and way more accepting. I feel like I can be my weird self again that I shut out as a preteen because people didn’t want to be friends with me. I can also get a lot more done now without even thinking about it. It’s really nice to be hopeful for the future and able to get things done.

21. How do you feel about medication?

It has helped me so much so far. I’m not at my optimal dose yet but the improvements I’ve seen on it are life changing.

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

My Apple Watch for reminders, checklists, and being able to ping my phone when I lose it and asking for accommodations in school (extra time for assignments and extra short breaks if I need them).

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

Bring it up to your doctor so they can evaluate you. My favorite resources for cute illustrations with traits and more information are How to ADHD and The Mini ADHD Coach.

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