On Getting an Adult Diagnosis of ADHD (Diagnosis story one)

Morning internet people.

Today you get part of my diagnosis story.

I grew up through half the seventies, all of the eighties, and half the nineties. I remember orange furniture, shag carpets, McHammer and the day Kurt Cobain died.  Growing up then only children severely affected in development were diagnosed with disorders. In general they did not attend regular school, or if they did, not integrated. Kids who weren’t really bad off but still having troubles did still get labeled. We got to be stupid, lazy, obstinate, etc.

Kids like me just muddled through and some of us overcame problems and some of us didn’t.

I did not seek diagnosis for mine until my thirties.

I had suspected autism for some time, so, the autism diagnosis was validating and not the least bit upsetting. I had been previously diagnosed with PTSD so that was nothing new either.

ADHD (ADD is a subset) on the other hand caused me a bit…. distress.

You see I had spent my adult life hearing that ADHD was a diagnosis for hyperactive boys,

that teachers couldn’t handle,

that  perhaps learned differently.

I adored (and still do) Ken Robinson’s talk on “How Schools Kill Creativity”

and nodded right along with his statements that implied the education was to blame, and that ADHD was primarily a non-existent, over diagnosed tool to control and to sell medication.

In the pathology classes I was required to take for my degree, ADHD was skipped over, and I was got the sense, it was unimportant in relation to other childhood disorders.

The thing is,

I wasn’t diagnosed because I was fidgety or inattentive in school, though I certainly was.

I wasn’t diagnosed because I was different learner who needed more time, though I certainly was.

I wasn’t diagnosed because a parent or teacher expressed concern. I know my parents took all my school troubles as personal flaws, and most certainly never expressed concern.

I didn’t slouch at my desk or have any obvious posture issues that would lead a teacher to believe I wasn’t listening.

I wasn’t even diagnosed because someone wanted to control me via medication.

I didn’t  even suspect it.

I was diagnosed because of TESTING.

It turns out my working memory is off the charts awesome.  It was my highest, and most obvious asset in my IQ testing. (thought I must be doing well when her jaw dropped)  I don’t believe that I have some sort of magical power, though I may be better at “chunking” long bits of information into smaller packets than the average bear.

On the other hand, I flunked my processing speed tests.  My  score was well below average. I’m not processing information coming in at the same rate as everyone else. The clinician believes, because most of the things on my mind are inner thoughts, not what is going on around me. That, she told me, is ADHD (without the H)

Stigma and misinformation left me in disbelief.  However, I have come to accept it and educate myself.  I know now that ADHD, like autism, includes the asset of hyper-focus. I know that just about every portrayal of ADHD in the media is inaccurate. While I don’t dismiss that misdiagnosis occurs, it is a real.

Understanding how I think and why that leads to issues that fuel anxiety is good, whatever they want to call it.

She urged me to take medication, as she felt my mind slowed down a bit would help me attend. I consider it now and then, but don’t feel at this time, that I want to take anything. I’ve made it 40 years thinking this way, and I know from previous tries at medications for other troubles (depression, anxiety) I don’t like changing the way my thought process runs.

I like it.

That does not mean, I disapprove of medication, especially if it improves getting by in life. It’s a personal choice.

For me, organization, adequate sleep,  (this is so essential, that I do take medication to help me sleep when needed), remembering meals, keeping a schedule, understanding my conditions and making goals help me achieve and function.

It’s not perfect. Sometimes I’m not organized. Sometimes I feel lost. Sometimes the inertia of depression, executive functioning problems, and anxiety (my main battle) get the best of me.

I just try again.







One thought on “On Getting an Adult Diagnosis of ADHD (Diagnosis story one)

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