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It was a huge relief. One of the best days of my life!
I was Dx in my 40’s. I was a straight-A student through high school, and an A/B student in college. Nobody would ever have thought I had anything like ADHD.
Honestly, I’ve been the same person with the same strengths, weaknesses, and traits my whole life, but I don’t think I had the “D” when I was a kid. The “D” is for Disorder. It’s when your traits are causing you serious problems. My traits are lifelong, but my problems – my “D” – started when I was an adult.
My parents created a very structured, calm home environment. We didn’t do a lot of extracurricular or social activities. Some, but not a crowded schedule. Downside: my mom kind of infantilized us and didn’t require us to have a lot of responsibility (which made the transition to adulthood that much harder). But the upside was that I was never really challenged much in my weaknesses. I coasted on my strengths.
Women more commonly present with inattentive subtype (what used to be called ADD back in my day). I test very low on inattention, I’m actually pretty good at keeping my attention on track (compared to other ADHDers).
I am much higher on impulsivity and hyperactivity. I can hyperfocus like nobody’s business – to a scary degree sometimes. I lose time. I don’t notice people in the same room.
That is what got me through school, that deep hyperfocus.
Unfortunately, when you’re a grownup and you have to be responsible for maintaining your life and health and home and relationships, and especially when you’re a parent and responsible for OTHER PEOPLE’s lives… forgetting everything and losing track of time is a problem.
Add in the messiness, disorganization, losing stuff, forgetting tasks & appointments, making wrong turns & getting lost while driving, etc etc etc –
I was a good student, but I’m kind of a crap grownup. And no matter what I tried, it didn’t change. It didn’t get better.
Well, I could pick one thing, obsess over it, and make it better for like, six weeks to three months. And then the wheels would come off and it would be like I never even tried. Habits just don’t stick.
So when I finally found out what it was, it was awesome. I’m not a crap grownup or a crap person in any way! I have funky wiring in my head that goes fritz sometimes. Sometimes it’s awesome cool fritz. Sometimes it’s a problem fritz.
But see, now that I know the fritz is always going to be there, I can stop fighting it. I can take all that enormous amount of energy that I used to use on trying to change myself, and use a tiny fraction of it to create buffers and systems and safety nets to minimize the problems from the fritzing.
Problem-solving is SO MUCH EASIER than trying to pretend I don’t have problems. Immensely easier.
So I have a lot of energy left over to accomplish things that are worthwhile and make me happy.
I hope you have that too.
And I’m sorry that people are questioning your diagnosis. There are a lot of people – even medical professionals – who are very, very ignorant about ADHD in adults.
People thinking you don’t really have ADHD is probably more a reflection of their ignorance than of your diagnosis. Everything you’ve said here sounds exactly like classic ADHD. Plus the amazing battery of tests – I’d trust all that way more than one doctor’s strange idea that everyone in their 20’s has abused prescription drugs.
What a bizarre thing to say.
As for the Ritalin, all meds are not created equal, and don’t work the same for everyone. If the Ritalin isn’t helping you, or you can’t deal with the side effects, you can try something else. But give yourself a little time to acclimate to it before you decide.
Starting meds feels really weird. It’s altering your brain chemistry, after all. How could it not feel weird? Give yourself a week or 2 to adjust and then see if it’s helping.
Best of luck to you!