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Getting diagnosed saved my graduate career!

Getting diagnosed saved my graduate career!2012-10-12T01:07:05+00:00

The Forums Forums I Just Found Out! My Story Getting diagnosed saved my graduate career!

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    In high school I had straight A’s most of the time. When it wasn’t an A it was an A-. I was even top of my class, but it was very small with only 28 students in my grade with most students being pretty lazy. I, however, was not lazy.

    I worked my ass off to get the grades that I did, studying twice as hard to get the same grade as the class average, and four or five to get the highest grade. Anybody could have surpassed me easily if they put in twice as much effort as normal. Me and my mom even came up with new study techniques, basically through trial and error and accident, that involved her quizzing me on the material while I would run, jump, and doing other crazy, not normal study stuff before bed and in the morning of the exam. Grammar was a struggle for me and I always needed my mom to look over what I had written. Any standardized test that I could not study for and have someone check my work, I didn’t do so well on. I always was the last one done. Once when there was no time limit on the standardize test, everyone was done in three hours. In comparison, I didn’t spend hours, but a total of three days on this test, cutting out of classes to work on it.

    I also had trouble sitting still in high school and I still do when I’m not on my medication. In class, my teachers never noticed because I tried to always sit in the back and not say much. At home, my mom needed to frequently ask my sister go up to my room and tell me to stop bouncing around. My favorite thing to do when no one was home, was to turn the music up really loud and run around the house, pretending I was fighting dragons or going on some other adventure.

    My first biggest issue with my ADHD was I always thought I had ADHD, but didn’t understand much about it. All I knew about it was what I learned from my dad who had it. I thought of it as an excuse that people used for not being able to do something, or as an excuse for something they did. This is because that is how my dad used his diagnosis. Nothing was ever his fault; it was always a result of his ADHD or it was my mom’s fault. I thought that if I had it diagnosed people would look at me like I could never accept responsibility or that I was incapable of doing certain things because of the way my dad responded. It also didn’t help when my mom would sometimes comment when my dad when he went into one of his,”the world is against me, nothing is my fault, I’m going to yell at everyone then go the bar” moods, that I should never marry anyone who was ADD/ADHD. My mom and I have always been close, and still are, so when she says something like this, I typically listen. She also seemed to believe that I didn’t have it, mostly, I believe, because she didn’t want that to be my excuse like it was my dad’s. My dad and I had a relationship and we would do stuff together, but it seemed more superficial.

    My second biggest issue was, me and my mom had gone in to a doctor and therapist not specialized in ADD/ADHD to ask them if ADHD could be the potential problem. They asked what my grades were, then dismissed me when I stated that I got all A’s. My opinion of myself, because I knew the problems I was having, was that I was just a stupid person who worked really hard at pretending to be smart.

    Needless to say, when I went to college as an undergraduate everything changed. I no longer had a person I could study with like I had before. I knew I always had to study way harder than everyone else in high school and college is even more challenging, so I kicked it into high gear. I started to look at sleep as a luxury rather than a necessity. I typically got between 4-6 hrs of sleep a night, sometimes less, during my first semester. I can remember going home for Thanksgiving break not being able to do much but sleep. As a high school student, I got a lot of exercise going to karate classes and then eventually teaching them, which seemed to help with my hyperactivity. In college I didn’t have the time, even though I tried to, to get exercise. There was a clear dividing line between me and my roommates side of the room, as my side was a complete mess and hers was clean. This got worse as the semester went on.

    The disorganization not only affected my living style, but my class work as well. I have no idea how I made it through my first semester with nothing below a B/C as I couldn’t keep track of my homework, couldn’t really “hear” what the professor said (I always had a hard time mentally attending to class in High School), and studying left me with little sleep. One of the few shining moments of that semester was that I met my boyfriend, who eventually became my husband. He really help me get through a lot of undergraduate, even though I don’t think he realizes it. He even helped me through my worst semester in college, when my mom and dad got divorced.

    It wasn’t until I met my friend, we’ll call him Jon, that I really, truly understood what ADHD was. He had on of the worst cases of ADHD I’d heard of, yet he was getting his Masters and moving towards getting his PhD. We were, and still are, really good friends (people who have ADHD tend to gravitate towards one another). We understood each other when we went on tangents and talked circles around my husband, who couldn’t keep up with our conversations. Many of the things he said about his ADHD seemed so similar to my experiences. The best thing about having Jon as a friend was that he didn’t use his ADHD or blame his actions on his ADHD. I finally had a positive experience about someone having ADHD.

    A year into graduate school, I finally had to admit that there was something else that I was experiencing that my peers were not. I couldn’t sit still, had difficulty paying attention for more than 10 min on my homework or in the classroom, and it was becoming more crucial that I get organized in my research. I sought help, first looking up information about ADHD online, then talking with my friend Jon, followed by talking to a free school therapist certified to diagnose children and teenagers with ADHD, before finally getting tested. It took a nearly a month to get diagnosed, then three weeks to get the correct dose of medication. Now my writing, reading, classroom discussions, organization, everything really, has improved drastically. It still needs work, as my husband can tell you, but now everything seems clearer.

    After years of grief, anxiety, and constantly degrading myself, I finally found the answer. I’m different and need to do things differently from others. I need help in certain areas of my life because I cannot function well in those areas, and that’s just fine. I’m not stupid or pretending to be smart or using anything as an excuse. ADHD is part, has always been part, and will continue to be part of who I am. Now that I know this, I can adjust to better utilize it and embrace it.

    So I guess after that long spiel, what I’m trying to say is:

    Hello world! I have ADHD and nothing is ever going to stop me!


    Post count: 14413


    Welcome to our world! I’m obviously a lot older than you but it took me a long while to figure out that I had ADHD even though I had figured out that my dad had it as did my own son. Well, I knew in my heart that I too, had ADHD but I ‘thought’ that I had it all under control. Yeah, right…….

    Finally getting an official diagnosis and a prescription of meds has done wonders for me. It surely hasn’t solved all the problems but it does make me stop and think everytime I get hung up on something. I now stop and think about what the hang-up is. Is it a resource issue or is it an ADHD trait that is getting in the way of my success. Figuring out what is holding me up is far better than the old self-deprecating way- I’m too stupid and just can’t do it!

    I think you’ll agree that knowledge is power!


    Post count: 8

    I really agree. Thank you for commenting! I thought that maybe my story would help others to get tested, as well as make me feel less alone.

    Also, I realized I had been using those thoughts as a kind of sad motivator. It was like I had to prove to myself and others that I wasn’t stupid and could do it, but I still felt bad after I had finished my project because I struggled so much. Getting diagnosed allowed me to open up a fresh box of tools, rather than using the same broken ones I had used for so long.

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