Hey everyone, I feel all of you. I’ve been here – I was diagnosed at 25, after stumbling through my formative years during which everyone around me was barking up the wrong tree – I was pegged with depression/anxiety, possible Asperger’s, possible learning disability, being rebellious and acting out, simply having bad study skills, etc. ADHD was never a serious consideration, because this was the 90’s, and ADHD was the thing that hyperactive, disruptive boys had (and not a thing that smart, well-behaved but aloof girls like me had), and my parents understood Ritalin to be a harsh horrible drug that would turn you into a zombie, so they never pushed for further evaluation. I just got used to being accused of laziness and not applying myself, or just forgetting things.
After somehow barely flailing my way through a tough university (D is for diploma, amirite?), I still sucked at life and couldn’t stop shooting myself in the foot. By this point in time (2012 or so), inattentive-type ADHD in girls was much better understood and recognized. I went to a psychiatrist known for treating adult ADHD, brought a bunch of old records and evaluations from when I was a kid/teenager. He questioned me about my symptoms and history (which started with me getting kicked out of multiple preschools) and reviewed the docs, and was like, “Oh my god how did they miss the ADHD??” He wrote me prescriptions for Concerta+Ritalin and it pretty much changed my life. Felt AWAKE for the first time ever, could finally remember things and follow through and it was mind blowing.
Looking back at all the misery and difficulty I faced growing up, I think I feel bitterness rather than anger. Also some vindication. No, I wasn’t repeatedly shooting myself in the foot on purpose, I was doing it because I didn’t have the brain wiring that enabled me to not repeatedly shoot myself in the foot. But then I wonder what it would have been like if I’d had the Ritalin during those sucky years. Maybe my parents wouldn’t have been so profoundly disappointed in me all the time. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so strung out and miserable all the time. My mom has expressed guilt that she blew off the ADHD possibility so fast and ended up doing me a disservice. I eventually landed on my feet so it’s all good. I try not to dwell on what could have been. At least I have the diagnosis and the meds now.