Me?…A.D.H.D.?…O.M.G.!!!

Last year we took a poll during one of our webinars. We asked: “What are the biggest issues you want us to address?” Number one?  Procrastination. No surprise.

And we’ve been working on a Procrastination video for a while now.  (Insert your own procrastination joke here.)

Second issue?  The tornado of emotions that erupt when you, or a loved one, receives the ADHD diagnosis.

We’ve been asking a lot of experts about this furious funnel of feelings that can send an already racing mind into a tailspin.  And, man oh man, do we have some stories to tell.

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  YOU MUST BE KIDDING”

You probably have your own story.  Do you remember when you first started down the road to a diagnosis?  Maybe your doctor asked, “Have you ever considered you might have ADHD?”

Or a friend asked you not to laugh it off, “Seriously.  I’ve done some reading.  It would explain a lot.”

Maybe you were waiting at the hairdressers, leafing through a magazine, and there was a fun quiz.  And the fun quiz left you with a sinking feeling.

Or, like me, maybe you were looking over the results of the testing that the school suggested might benefit your child. The test indicated Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.  As I read the list of symptoms it sounded like my life story—including every report card I ever had.

Do you remember the wild swirl of emotions in those early days?

CAUGHT IN A TORNADO – AND STRUCK BY LIGHTNING

When our documentary ADD & Loving It?!  debuted, one of the first e-mails we received was from a viewer who had decided to PVR the program because, as he said, “I always felt like I might have a bit of that A.D.D. stuff.”  When he got home at 1:00 am, after working the late shift, he “decided to watch 5 minutes of it…  Four hours later I finally reached the end of the program.”

Me?...A.D.H.D.?...O.M.G.!!!, Lightning, ADHD, ADD

ADD & Loving It?! is one hour long.

He explained, “It took four hours because I kept having to stop and rewind because I couldn’t hear what you were saying over my own crying.”

He had been crying with laughter. Relief.  Sorrow.  Regret.  Anger.  Doubt.  Alternating waves of fear and hope.  Stunned by the possibility.  Then craving to know more.

Sound familiar?

OUT OF THE BLUE

Receiving any diagnosis from a doctor can trigger a surge of emotions.  “Seriously?  I need bifocals?  At my age?”

Most medical diagnosis are bad news. Last month a loved one of mine was told she has an inoperable condition.  One comforting thought is that this person has had 91 years and a very full life.  Another is that they will be able to manage the pain.  Another is that we have time to say goodbye.

We’re making the most of these few positives.

At some point we all face a final diagnosis—we don’t like to think about it, but we know it’s coming.  Whereas ADHD… well, for adults, that one usually comes right out of the blue.

THE MANY STAGES OF GRIEVING

As Terry Matlen, author of The Queen of Distraction, told us, her first reaction was denial.  And her second, and third, and…

“I don’t have ADHD!  I’m just lazy. I don’t have ADHD.  I just have problems.  I’m quirky.  I never fit in.  I never fit in as a kid; I’m not fitting in as an adult.  So that’s the way it goes.”

In our new video Now You Tell Me?! Surviving the Emotional Tornado of an ADHD Diagnosis, Terry admits her denial was so profound, even a diagnosis from a doctor didn’t convince her.

So she sought a second opinion.  And was given the same diagnosis.

So she sought a third opinion.  And again received the same diagnosis. “ADHD of the Predominantly Inattentive Subtype.”

After seeing a fourth expert, Terry decided she needed to see a fifth expert.

At that point, with the score of 5-0 in favor of  ADHD, Terry moved to the next stage. Which for her, was relief.

Linda Roggli, author of Confessions of an ADDiva, talks about seeing four experts before she accepted the diagnosis.  At first she was heartbroken: “Now you tell me?  Why didn’t someone spot it sooner?” And “If only I had known…”

She was filled with regret over how her life might have unfolded, had she known earlier.  “I don’t get a do-over.”

Oh, I know that one.  “If only I’d known sooner.”  Which is particularly painful if people have suggested you should get tested and you’ve resisted for years and years.

For Alan Brown of ADD Crusher it was his doctor who resisted the idea of ADHD.  When a colleague in the advertising business talked about his own diagnosis and urged Alan to get tested, Alan’s own doctor dismissed ADHD as an invention of the media and advised him to do more crosswords.  Alan laments, “So another 5 years went by thinking, ‘Oh, it’s a myth created by the media.’  Until one day when he was reading the Village Voice. The back page had a little announcement from the Manhattan Adult ADHD Support Group, ‘Presentation Tonight. Doctors: The Ones Who Get It; The Ones Who Don’t.’”

DOES THE TORNADO EVER END?Tornado, Storm, Emotional Journey, ADHD Emotions

The early days after the diagnosis are intense.  So intense that some people simply stay in denial, too terrified to consider the implications, unaware there is hope—and plenty of tools that can help.  What a tragedy.  But then…

I’ve found that even now, when I have a bad day, I’m back into the tornado.  But it’s no longer a Category 5 Storm. It can take the wind from my sails but it doesn’t knock me flat.

The fastest way out of the storm?  Feeling it fully.

Understanding that this how I feel right now.  And reminding myself that this too will pass (even if it’s never soon enough for my liking).

This is why we made Surviving the Emotional Tornado.  Because receiving an  ADHD diagnosis may feel like the end of the world, but as the experts explain, that feeling is completely normal. It’s a part of the process.

Experts like Alan, Linda, Terry, join the coauthors of Driven to Distraction, Dr. Edward Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey, and others are a like a Disaster Relief Team, guiding you through the tornado, as quickly as possible, with minimal ‘storm damage.’

It’s such a gift to be able to identify disruptive and destructive emotions so that I can recognize them and move on.  To be able to avoid or defuse the triggers that can sabotage our progress send us back into a tailspin…is so great.

As I said, even now, 15 years after my diagnosis, I can still slip back into those feelings of regret or sorrow.  So making this video has helped me again and again.

There’s sage advice that allows me to forgive myself—and others—who “should have recognized this long ago.”

And now is not then.  Now I have the diagnosis, I have an explanation I can work with.  Before, no one knew what was ‘wrong’ with me. Now I can see it’s not a bunch of character flaws, but rather, as Dr. Ari Tuckman points out, “Oh, this is a neurologically based information processing disorder or weakness.  And a lot of really smart people have come up with really good ideas and good treatments and focus strategies that help other people with this condition.  If they help other people maybe they will help me too!”

Which, I hope, is what this video will do for you.

Please comment below to share how the “Emotional Tornado” was for you. What were the emotions you felt? What made a difference for you in moving forward?  Or what happened that caused you to become stuck?

Best,

Rick

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4 Replies to “Me?…A.D.H.D.?…O.M.G.!!!”

  1. Thanks for the Blog Post. Hopefully I can write a blog post in the near future. I personally feel a burden lifted. Yes I have a small bit of beffudlement as to how and why I was not diagnosed. This is because reading the book “Living With Distraction” I could not believe my life was the same as many in the book. It could not be clearer.
    The one problem I am trying to solve is the relationship issues. I will keep looking for answers. It is great to know that there are answers and I am not defective and inconsiderate, selfish, dumb, and all the other things I have been telling myself as a result of the ADD.
    Cheers

  2. I remember being in a fairly intense family counseling situation when the counselor asked if I’d considered ADHD. I burst into tears & said not possible, 1)how did I manage to finish nursing school, 2)I couldn’t have done the things I did do, 3)I’d never been fired from a job, 4)I was overwhelmed by the emotions of things happening in my life at the time,(death of parent, son struggling with his issues, spouse struggling with his own issues & outbursts) blah blah blah..

    I did put the thought in my brain, and gradually, over the course of a few years, after reading articles in various places, talking to my physician, talking to a personal counselor, came to agree that being officially tested might be a good idea. I realized that although I’d never been fired from a job, they’d all had a logical endpoint (working in labs while attending college/university), or I had quit for one reason or another (a move, a change in circumstances). The longest I’d worked at any one place was as a nurse in a hospital rehabilitation unit (about 8 years). I had LOVED that work. However, what had been the biggest source of stress there??? Charting. Charting terrified me – even after 8 years; I was so afraid I’d forget to write down something important. Cohorts would say ‘only put down the important stuff’ – well to me it was ALL important… That job I left to go overseas with my spouse (his job) and child for three years.

    As an adult in the U.S., I can tell you, testing is costly…but now knowing (and continual reading – another thing that doesn’t seem to fit the typical ADHD ‘type’ – has been helpful in forgiving myself some of the time. Darn that tornado!!! The two hardest parts for me was (and still is on occasion) my distrust of myself & my strengths, and my inability to consistently support my son’s emotional growth (now an adult) with his own diagnoses when I (or he) were accused of being inconsiderate, lazy, etc by an unaware spouse with issues of his own.

    I still go on, verbally, or in writing – as you can see!
    Love this site, love the online camaraderie,
    Cheers from me as well!

  3. Oh, and now I am a self employed gardener, with dear friends who keep me on track with the paperwork – because paperwork still takes me forever to do,

  4. Hi, I am seven weeks post formal diagnosis which was accompanied by a prescription for medication, and five months after joining up the dots. All this has followed a ‘break down’ – depression and the development of an anxiety / panic disorder, which ultimately meant that I lost my job. So, diagnosis follows a big crisis, when I just couldn’t go on anymore. Prior to diagnosis, I had 26 sessions of therapy. Diagnosis was and is a huge relief – my life has an explanation at last, from which I just may be able to build a new future. Success in recovery never felt like doing what I did before, and now I understand why. This is gold dust, so, so far so good, But after an initial feeling of almost euphoria, I found myself way down again. All the ‘what ifs’ – I have no doubt that I would have had a happier and more balanced life if I had known and understood at 25 what ADHD is, and how it suffused and defined my thinking – from birth. Being ADHD still does, and always will of course.
    You are right, in that diagnosis is a tornado. I have had a really motivated and productive day to day – all domestic stuff. I actually changed my bedding and cleaned the windows – after putting this off for weeks. Having felt guilty on a daily basis about NOT doing these chores, but totally unable to do anything about it. So, fourteen tough days, interspersed with a feel good productive
    day, and so on.
    Before diagnosis , anxiety disorder and depression , I was an unusual, passionate, hard working, mildly eccentric ( to me ), deeply private person with an extrovert public ( nearly said pubic! ) presentation, whose sub conscious mind said ‘you have to get off the train now.’
    In learning about ADHD I think of my dear mother, who undoubtedly had it, and I suspect her mother – my grandmother – too. I have an older full brother whose life is a car crash, and who undoubtedly also has ADHD – should I talk to him about this? We are not close. I also have a new to me brother, because my mother had a baby before marriage and had him adopted, and he is ADHD diagnosed and medicated. The repercussions are profound – nephews, nieces…. diagnosis is huge.
    I’m tired. Thank you thank you thank you for this website,
    Best wishes x x

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