As I stated in my first blog post, I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was 18. The road to my diagnosis certainly wasn’t unique. I was a strange and impulsive child who talked too much and too loudly, teachers often commenting on my inability to stay still, keep quiet, and pay attention. But despite this, I was a good student who got good grades so besides passing comments on report cards and in parent/teacher conferences, my ADHD was largely ignored. I attribute that the reason I went undiagnosed was because I went to a very small school and had a stable routine that I followed everyday. It was easier for teachers to pay attention to me and routine is key in treating ADHD for those who choose not to do the medication route (more on that later).
So what changed in my senior year? Well it was a year of change. I was taking several dual credit courses, applying for colleges and scholarships, running a high school marching band, co-managing the high school basketball team, raising animals for FFA, and trying to have a social life in-between all the nooks and crannies of my crazy life. My mind was being pulled into a million different directions until it just shattered. I shut down, unable to focus in classes, unwilling to do my homework, unable to do anything except sit there and get lost in my own head. My grades suffered and my parents and teachers became concerned. My mom consulted a doctor that she knew through her work and she agreed to sit down and interview me. When we were done with the interview, she turned to my mom and said “I knew she was ADHD within the first five minutes.”
So where to go from there? I was left with a diagnosis of a disorder that I had no idea how to cope with and was going to be leaving home for college in just a few months. I was upset but also relieved; finally my strange behavior that for so many years had labeled me a freak had an explanation. No one was particularly surprised at my diagnosis but they were surprised by how late in my life I was diagnosed. My mom went back and asked my teachers from elementary and junior high for their thoughts and they just said “We thought you knew.” But it’s not as uncommon as you would think for such a late diagnosis. My doctor explained to me that for many people, particularly girls, it doesn’t become an issue until later in life, usually accompanying a major life change. So my diagnosis story isn’t an unusual one. Here is a similar story to mine of a man who wasn’t diagnosed until he was 27 years old.
ADHD is hard enough to live with but being diagnosed late in life has definitely hindered me. It’s hard to maintain a routine in my life these days and I’m still trying to figure out my medication. But it has gotten easier over the past few years and I hope for a better and brighter future of living with ADHD.