The Terror of the ADHD Diagnosis

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Over 80% of adults who are suffering from ADHD, and I mean suffering, have no idea what’s actually going on. They believe they are lazy, dumb, weird, weak-willed, irresponsible, stupid, clumsy, anti-social, unlovable, irresponsible, and worse. What happens when, after decades of wrestling with this invisible saboteur, you suddenly find out it’s not morality, but neurology… You’re not lacking character… You’re lacking a certain Neurotransmitter? Real adults with ADHD share their feelings about being diagnosed!

5 Replies to “The Terror of the ADHD Diagnosis”

  1. I wanted you all at to know that I love your site and am so glad you are out there reaching out to the rest of us with your witty, entertaining advice and empathy. So, please don’t take this reply as a commentary on the site in general.

    Not sure what it’s like in Canada, but here in the U.S., the real horror of the adult ADHD diagnosis is the process of trying to find affordable, competent, available medical professionals and coaches to help build a program to effectively manage the disability and maintain some real success in life. I was already at rock bottom a year ago when I got my diagnosis and I still haven’t found a workable team of professionals to help fix me.

    Once you’re lucky enough to find someone to prescribe drugs, there is then the horror of going through the seemingly endless process of becoming a lab rat and ‘trying out’ different medications and dosages, and dealing with side effects that you just can’t believe anyone at the FDA would have found acceptable. Your already unbearably chaotic, confusing, miserable life gets even worse while you stumble through figuring out which drug/dose (if any) is really going to make a net positive difference despite the increased irritability, anxiety, exacerbated insomnia, inexplicable exhaustion, headaches, body aches, urinary issues, threat of kidney/liver failure, etc, etc, etc. Yikes.

    Concurrently, while it’s nice to know *why* things are so much harder, the fact still remains that the reality of trying to hold onto your job and keep all the ‘life’ ducks in a row is *still* a race against time. A diagnosis doesn’t change that. “Can I figure this all out before people give up on me at *this* job? Before I forget something critical and experience yet another crushing personal loss? Will I lose my temper at the wrong time with the wrong person and bring things crashing down on myself? If I take a chance and tell someone in charge what I’m going through, will they understand and forgive my extended-and-even-worse-than-normal performance at work?”

    This video is very cute and positive (and I love the way you’ve tied in the Halloween theme!), I normally love your videos, but this one made me wonder if you’ve forgotten about what, for me at least, is the real experience of a new diagnosis. I can’t be the only one going through it like this. It *is* a terror and a horror–it’s all about fear of failure and loss and illness. And it seems like there is no guarantee that you will actually ever figure it out, even with a diagnosis

  2. Hi Hstew,
    Sorry for the delay in replying to your comment.
    I don’t know if anyone ever figures it out completely. I’m 15 years into this and I still have days that go off the rails. (This morning was a write-off. This afternoon I’m a machine. Go figure.)
    Finding help is so hard. I totally get it. There are so many people who are wanting to help, but getting connected is not easy.
    One suggestion… Go into the Forums on the website, and start reading people’s postings. And see if there’s someone you like, and ask if they’d be interested in buddying up… as a partner. You could also look on our Facebook page. The other place to look? A local support group. If there isn’t one near you, consider starting one. My friend Brian Mowery did just that. After seeing our video, ‘ADD & Loving It?!’ he recognized himself, got diagnosed, and when he found there wasn’t much support around he started a support group called ‘ADHD? OK’. It’s been a going concern with people connecting from all over area. In fact, about half of the people in this video are members of this support group!

  3. Initially… relief… then depression… now? I’m wrestling with acceptance and perspective… 3 years in… since being diagnosed… I could have been diagnosed at 8.. . only got the diagnosis at 28

  4. @tjifill – me too – hilariously giddy relief and then….. the walls caved in. For my ENTIRE life, .. MY ENTIRE effing LIFE, I’ve clung fiercely to the expectation that one of these days I’m finally gonna crack that secret code to a life of stability, respect, and acceptance. Fifty-some years I’ve been waiting, sinking deeper with every fight, and now I discover there is no secret code! So much life already trickled away….. how are we gonna get out of this tjifill? It’s like there’s nothing to do now but just lay down and die.

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