Adult ADHD – I Wish I’d Never Found Out.

Have you ever browsed through our forums?

Hundreds of stories about how the ADHD diagnosis has changed people’s lives.  For better and worse.  A ton of stuff comes up for people.

Our video, Now You Tell Me, is a survival guide for the tornado of anger, regret, relief, and hope that so many of us face after getting the ‘good news.’  I remember reeling, like a drunk in a Carnival Fun House, trying to make sense of everything.

Alarm bells were ringing, “I have a mental illness?”

No, I have a mindset that is different from most people, and I’ve always had it.

Like many adults, the notion that there is a neuro-chemical explanation for so many of my challenges, and a few of my strengths, would never have occurred to me, and had never occurred to me.  Until my son was diagnosed.

That’s when I first read a list of ADHD symptoms.  They struck me as “normal”, daily challenges. Because they were, for me.  The ADHD specialist assured me that they were not normal for everyone else.

“So I’ve been dealing with this extra layer of crap, and had no idea?”

Yep.

ADHD Emotions

“Toto, We’re Not in Kansas Any More”

The emotional tornado was totally disorienting. “What a relief!”  gave way to “Now you tell me?”  Then, “Finally! There’s hope!” Then, “Why didn’t anyone notice?!”  Then, “No wonder I was able to write thousands of short skits, but never finish a single screenplay!”

Later, came “Wow, medication really helps!”  Which quickly turned to, “Damn, if I’d known sooner, I could have written movies!”  Often, late at night, there’s the inevitable, “If only… Perhaps… What would my life be…”

At my lowest, when others snorted at the possibility that ADHD was a ‘real disorder,’ I wished I’d never been diagnosed.

“I Hate This. I’m Sick of it.”

Regret, and relief are a fairly universal stage of the tornado.  Hard not to feel that when you’ve just had most of your life-long struggles explained.

But wishing I’d never been diagnosed?  It lurked in the background, emerging only when things were not improving.  In fact, life was improving.  But being impatient meant it was never fast enough.  And my ‘Poor Working Memory’ meant I’d quickly forget how much worse the struggles had been before the doctor had said, “You have all of the symptoms.”

Now, 15 years on, the emotional ride is less extreme.  In fact, sometimes, like in the middle of a webinar, or making a video, or brainstorming ideas, I kinda like my ADHD.  It probably makes me a better comedy writer, but I can’t prove it, other than to notice how many other comedians have told me they were diagnosed as kids, have children who are diagnosed, or, I took that ADHD test on your website.  And it freaked me out.”

So mostly, my ADHD is just there.  Waiting to mess me up if I’m not doing what I need to do—exercise, yoga, mindfulness, medication, coaching.

But sometimes… it can still reduce me to tears of impotent rage.

ADHD Anger

“Really? Again?! Da%@#*it!!!”

“I’m too old to STILL be losing my car keys!  Dang it all, I co-authored a book called ADD Stole My Car Keys! I made a film called ADD & Mastering It!  I should know better!  Dammit, I DO know better.  But I don’t DO better.”

My wife has seen me in this state a few times, and knows exactly what to do.  She nods and waits. I pace, and wave my arms like an orangutan defending it’s territory.  I mutter half sentences.  Then I get quiet, fuming away.  And eventually, I find the keys and remind myself, “Hey, I’m doing the best I can.  It’s just a hectic time.”

Those meltdowns are rare now.  Mostly, if my keys aren’t where they should be, in the old metal ashtray by our bed, they’re probably in the last coat I wore.  Or Ava’s Yoga bag.  She loses her keys as often as I do, it seems, and so she’ll grab mine.

So yes, I’m doing the best I can.  Or the best I know how.  Mostly.

My Magic Wand

If my keys are not in the first place I look, or the next nine places… no worries.

I go to our donkey.  He’s made of porcelain.  One of the few things I kept from my parents home.  Inside one of the baskets that hang on the donkey is a little high-tech gadget.  Like a miniature metal detector.  It’s a ‘Locator.’

It sends out a signal that magically prevents emotional meltdowns.

I just wander around the house, holding down the big button on the locator, and when I’m close to the where my keys are hiding, a matching beeper on my key chain goes off.   Several companies make these miraculous time-savers.  Finally, a high-tech device that saves time, rather than wasting it.

ADHD

It’s Better… I Guess

The point is that I do lose my keys, phone, and sunglasses far less often.  And for the keys at least, the locator quickly solves the problem.

But when I’m rushed, stressed, and upset, I may actually forget the locator exists.  Caught in my old way of being, rushing about, cursing the keys, and cursing myself, feeling almost ill, “Not again!!!”

Disheartened and angry, I forget how much better things are.  Or I dismiss it.  It was all a temporary victory.  “Things are better…” Sorry, but I can’t hear it.  I don’t feel it.  At that moment, it’s as if nothing has changed.

But one thing has changed.  That moment passes quickly.  Years ago that sense of frustration and despair often ruined my day.  Now, it’s gone after a few minutes.

It’s not that it passes quickly.  It’s that I make it pass.  I remind myself that it happens to everyone.  I remind myself of what has worked.  It’s literally the power of positive thinking.  Or perhaps choosing a positive focus.

Best,

Rick Green

ADHD Community

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10 Replies to “Adult ADHD – I Wish I’d Never Found Out.”

  1. It is a good thing to follow Rick so many years after his diagnosis…am in my 3rd year after the diagnosis, and feeling like I should be “over it” by now. Currently, I am in the stage of beginning to understand its blessings—so that’s good, right? So last night, I hosted a small 5-person 40th dinner party for a dear friend. Skipping out of the conversation for a moment, I decided to use my bathroom break as an opportunity to sign her card in another room. (YES, it WAS this year’s card!) Getting interrupted or distracted by something, I walked away during the process and “lost” her card for the evening. I almost cried out of frustration. I found the card the next day….and then read this article to prepare myself for my dear friend’s 51st birthday. Sigh. Cheerios & Froot Loops, Diamond.

    1. I always thought i was lazy used to be depressed for hours without having been triggered by anything and the fact that I didn’t understand why i couldn’t just get things done. I am now taking medication for depression have began using behavioral strategies to address my finances weight situation s with some success, Finding out the truth has been a relief even though there has been regret s of what if I knew earlier. Still i think that no one in my family truly understand s how this journey of mine has been lonely until I found add sites. u know they don’t understand and it’s okay I have other adders to lean on and learn from I know they love me and that s a big plus for they give me my space instead of coming down on me.

  2. I’ve never regretted getting the diagnosis, because finding out gave me something to work with, a chance to learn to work around the problem. Right? I have wished I didn’t have ADHD, because I think life would be easier without it, but maybe some day I’ll figure out how to set up my life so I can live with the challenges more easily, regardless.

    Love the “locator,” but know I’d need a locator for a locator, too, if I had one. I’m happy that at least my keys, phone, and wallet have a home that they go to more often than not. Sometimes they take little vacations, but they come back when they’re ready.

  3. I never lose my sunglasses because they’re built into my glasses, in the form of Transitions lenses. Without my glasses, everything’s a complete blur, so there are only 3 places they could ever be: on my face, on my night-table, or on the bathroom counter. When I used to wear clip-on sunglasses, I lost or broke so many of them that it worked out cheaper to get Transitions lenses.

  4. As I’ve written before, we (not just you and I, Rick, but any two people) have different manifestations of our ADHD.

    I never lose my car keys; although I have misplaced them, I go through all the events from when I knew I had them last and, usually within a minute or two, voila, there they are. My son, who also has ADHD, is constantly losing things. “Where’s my wallet?!?” I know better than he does (“You left it on the desk in my office when we were talking about anime.”). The only times I’ve lost things is when someone else has taken them and not returned them – and that’s not my ADHD, that’s someone else’s forgetfulness (or ADHD, I’m no judge).

    (I’m using “car keys” as a metaphor there; I’ve had can openers, ATM cards, and even large power tools go missing because someone else borrowed them and didn’t return them to their proper location. “Where’s the trimmer? It’s not in the shed! Wait – what’s it doing in the basement?” “Oh, sorry, Dad, I thought that’s where you wanted it.” Urgh!)

    — Sorry, got off track; that’s ADHD for you. 😉 —–

    I loved my diagnosis! It meant there was an actual reason for my behavioral oddities; I wasn’t just being an a-hole like people said. There was a great reduction in guilt, both from the behaviors and from my inability to fix the “problems”. Turns out it wasn’t that I couldn’t fix them, but rather I had trouble doing so because the only things I knew how to do was brute-force my way around them.

    Turns out I still can’t completely fix them, but now I know more efficient ways of dealing with it. I am more comfortable with it now that ever before.

  5. Getting a diagnosis in my 40s definitely helped my marriage and (secretly) my career. At home my wife complained that I was ignoring things I was supposed to do and would tune her opt when we were talking. At work I had noticed I was missing meetings, forgetting assigned tasks, etc and worried that I had early dementia or something so I scheduled an appointment with a neurologist. She examined me and referred me to a psychologist for further evaluation which came back as ADD from both. I have since been evaluated by a second psychologist that used a different set of screening tools and also came to a diagnosis of ADD.

    When I first got the diagnosis I was worried about what my wife would say, but her response was relief and the comment “Well, that explains a lot”. Looking back, all of the signs were certainly there. Knowing I have ADD allowed us to come up with coping strategies. One rule she imposed is “This isn’t a ‘get out of jail free’ card”.

    At work I have kept the diagnosis a secret but being on medication has had a definite positive effect on my job performance.

  6. When I first suspected ADHD I was 53 and was officially diagnosed at 54. If you read some of my early forum entries and blog replies I certainly wasn’t a fan of the diagnosis. I struggled for many years prior to my diagnosis, seeing several psychologists. My marriage struggled but I had no idea why. I knew I was hurting my wife but thought it was just me being a loser incapable of providing the emotional and physical support she needed. With the marriage nearing an end and a new diagnosis it seemed too little too late. The future has yet to be determined. Without the diagnosis I was prepared to accept my personal failures and the loss of my marriage. Now I have to accept my mental attributes and hope that it’s not too late to recover my marriage. I was angry that no one saw it before and that. I had to put the pieces together myself. I was angry that I couldn’t find help.
    Now I have accepted the diagnosis as a chance to improve myself. I still struggle with balancing my desire to get better and my desire to improve my relationship with my wife. The two seem to be mutually exclusive. With the diagnosis I have a chance. I hope I have the strength .
    Richard
    AKA
    That Guy with ADHD

  7. I’m another diagnosed-in-his-40s. I find myself looking back at all the ways myself, and others, should have realized I had “issues” and adjusted our expectations to be more realistic. I’ve always been into analyzing people’s problems, so discovering such a big personal blind spot was a shocker. I don’t regret being diagnosed, but I am still frustrated sometimes that it has not made more difference: meds don’t work on me, and I have not found some great new career that fits my ADD personality. I’ve concluded that for my sanity I have to be accepting of these facts. Working on that.

  8. The diagnosis was a relief because it explained so much of my life. I was diagnosed last summer at 69.
    I had been battling with depression and anxiety for many years and ADD explained things that I had been going through and put them in perspective.
    First I enjoyed identifying the symptoms and their effects until I began identifying ‘with’ them and became depressed again.
    Having realized that I am dealing with this and I can’t change everything at once – or ever- has helped me realize that I am not so bad and don’t have to rein myself in all the time.

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