I Think I Have ADHD. What Do I Do Next?
First I want you to know that finding out you have ADHD can be a huge turning point in your life. It was for me. A woman who heard me do a radio interview, recognized herself, and got a proper ADHD diagnosis said it was the single most important event of her adult life.
Up until now you may have assumed you were:
Teachers, parents, siblings, and others may have accused you of this as well.
This is a neuro-developmental disorder, that is heavily genetic, (The first suspect gene was identified in 1999, with many more since.), and appears to involve the neuro-transmitter Dopamine. It’s plays havoc with what’s called Executive Functions.
An overly simple explanation is to imagine a huge car company, with thousands of workers all doing their jobs, but no executives around to manage the goals, production targets, resources, spending, timetables, coordinating, prioritizing. No matter how hard and how well the workers are each doing their job, it’s going to be chaotic, with everyone in crisis management mode. “We need headlights!” “These are the wrong engines!” “The doors are a different colour than the body, we can’t bolt them on, where do we store them?”
Anyway, to get properly tested, you will need to find a doctor who understands ADHD. He or she will give you some screener tests, do an interview looking at your life history (Because unlike Depression, say, this is how we come into the world. So it will be there in our report cards.)
In the meantime, learn as much as you can. This is the biggest thing you can do to help yourself. I would start with the ASRS test on our website.
Watch as many of the videos on the site as you can. Do they resonate? Do some or many of them leave you thinking, “This is me! It’s like they’ve been watching my whole life.”
If you can, invest in a copy of our program ADD & Loving It?! which is still the best introduction to this particular mindset. It’s particularly effective when you’re dealing with people around you who don’t believe in ADHD or think you’re just looking for an excuse. I can’t tell you how many people have written to tell us how their parents, partner, or friends finally ‘got it’ and realized this isn’t some character flaw.
If there are specific issues you are struggling with, there are videos on many topics, and there are full-length videos in the shop on everything from Anger, Sleep, and Emotional Sensitivity, to Medication, Tools & Tips, and Careers.
Finally, I highly recommend our book ADD Stole My Car Keys. It outlines 155 ways ADHD shows up in our behaviors, misbehavior’s, challenges, and even our strengths.
But at some point you want a qualified expert to confirm it. And it’s always going to be a judgment. There’s no blood test. It’s not obvious, the way a broken leg is.
And the challenges are ones everyone faces. Every car company has trouble managing all their resources and being efficient. The one with no Executives just has bigger issues, far more often.
Testing can be expensive, depending on where you live. In the meantime learn as much as you can. The more it fits, the more you understand your particular mix of symptoms, the faster things can change. Everyone has a different ‘flavor.’ I don’t have a problem with being late for appointments. I am terrible prioritizing and sticking with what needs doing, rather than going off and doing something interesting.
Try some of the strategies we suggest in our videos. Do they help? Even before you have an official diagnosis you can be experimenting with strategies.
Keep us posted.
And if it is ADHD, trust me, in the long run this is good news. It’s not going to be rainbows and sunshine from now on, but if you keep moving forward it gets better and better. With some crappy days and weeks along the way.