Hey, I just got diagnosed myself at 38. ADHD wasn’t on my radar for a long time because I didn’t think I fit the bill. Sure, I struggled a lot with “adulting”, but I was sure that if I just worked harder and was less lazy, I’d do better. If I just worked a little longer, if I just tried a new organizer, or a new app, if I just stuck with that new habit…there was always something I SHOULD have been doing. And even after I became aware, around 32, that the ADHD criteria did kind of fit me, I STILL thought that I wasn’t affected enough to seek treatment. When I finally did get around to being tested, six years later, I was positive they were going tell me it was all in my head and that I was making it up.
Guess what. I’m not making it up.
Also, I’m not a “little” ADHD. I’m VERY ADHD. I’m hyperactive and inattentive, and I lose a SIGNIFICANT portion of my cognitive capabilities when my ADHD is triggered. But I didn’t know this because I didn’t have any real data to compare myself to until I got evaluated. I knew I had lots of challenges, but I assumed i just wasn’t working hard enough or smart enough. Turns out, I was working so hard to convince everyone I was normal that no one realized I desperately needed help. Not even me.
I’m not an impostor and you aren’t either. ADHD looks like a lot of different things, and as a 29 year old, you’ve probably become very good at masking your challenges and forcing yourself to work harder than everyone else around you. It can be hard to admit that you have a neurological difference that will never go away. Our society is not kind to neurodiverse people, despite recent pushes towards acceptance. It is easy to internalize the message that we should just be different than we are.
Besides, being ADHD can be a good thing! You know that saying about when you have a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail? I don’t think this is true for people with ADHD. When we have hammers, we get bored looking for nails so we figure out 97 new things we didn’t know a hammer could do. Our world runs on the creativity and innovation of neurodiverse people. It really does take all sorts to make a world.
Like you, I’m still figuring out what to do with my diagnosis (and with my daughter’s. She got diagnosed too). My test results indicate that everything I’ve ever tried has been completely wrong, so I need to re-do the way I do life. The meds help but they don’t make the challenges go away. I still need to figure out how to adult but now I have permission to do it my way. When I don’t waste my energy forcing myself to do things “the right way”, I’m actually much better at managing my symptoms and getting things done.
You didn’t game the system. You’re not an impostor and you aren’t lazy. You’re a person in progress. And as an ADHD mom diagnosed with ongoing anxiety and depression issues (yay co-morbidities!), I can tell you that you’re not the only one. I hope you can find some peace with yourself, and learn to enjoy your differences while you learn to live with them.