Story of my life.
My parents suspected something was up even before I was in primary school, and some relatives suggested I get some help. But my parents were hesitant to get me tested, and said they ‘wanted the decision to be mine’. How could I have made an informed choice about my mental health if I was just a child, with little to no knowledge about ADHD, let alone any support systems for people living with it? I suppose part of the reason they didn’t think it urgent for me to get help was because I wasn’t ‘impaired’. I had good grades, I was not usually in trouble with authorities, and I could be kept in line. Never mind if I was evidently socially awkward, if people complained I was moving and talking too fast, and that my infamous mood swings were giving me a bad reputation as ‘high strung’ or just ‘a bitch’.
I guess my parents and other adults thought I’d grow out of it. Or that I needed Jesus. Or that I needed to socialize more. I’ve heard it all.
Fast forward some twenty-one years later. I realized that ‘impairment’ could be subjective. Sure I had a good conduct record but that didn’t detail how my inattentiveness did contribute to my not getting accepted into a residency program at a hospital I wanted desperately to work in. I had gotten into a challenging public health masteral program, and I was doing excellently, but that only came with a lot of effort to get myself under control. I finally was in a committed romantic relationship, but my impatience and hyper-emotional state caused conflict between me and my best friend on a fairly regular basis. And I realized that I could not carry these habits into my future, if I wanted to succeed both in my professional and family life. So I got help, and I got diagnosed.
And yes, I was distraught when I found out. I wondered about the two decades I’d struggled, and whether I’d be somewhere else if my ADHD had been addressed earlier. The fact that my parents were almost nonchalant about my diagnosis only infuriated me further.
It’s been two weeks. And I’m still working through this anger.