Reply To: 99% sure I have ADHD, but scared


Hi Dandelion,

I made an account just to respond to your question! Your story sounds 100% like my own and I wholeheartedly encourage you to follow through to a diagnosis. No offence to the response from Chris but I think as women we experience ADHD differently and don’t agree with his sentiments.

I just wanted to give you a little background to my story – I was diagnosed at 8, I was taken off medication by my mother when my younger brother developed OCD from it. So I spent most of my life off medication. I have always known I’ve had a high IQ, I was placed in a class for “gifted children” and would get top marks if something sparked my curiosity, or would completely fail if I wasn’t interested. When I was 20 I got into architecture by studying for just 2 weeks, yet dropped out after 6 months as I lacked the confidence and ability to study at that level. As an adult I just thought if I worked a little harder I’d be able to overcome my inattentive ADD symptoms.

It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I realized that I really wasn’t coping as well as I thought and I really had severely underestimated how it was affecting me. I’m now 32 and I’ve had more jobs than I can count, in hospitality alone at least 10 jobs, in professional business settings over 15 jobs, despite working my ass off. I finally realized ADD was affecting me in more ways than I knew and was also affecting my relationship with my husband, he felt he had to nag me into eternity to finish anything around the house, from projects to simple cleaning and I resented him for his insistent nagging and treating me like a child.

I also have GAD and depression which are extremely common in ADD – you are 70% more likely to have a coexisting condition such as anxiety, ODD or OCD if you have ADD. In my experience I believe my anxiety/GAD has been compounded by my untreated ADD, so the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve felt anxiety as a result of my symptoms – for example being treated like you’re incompetent at work, being fired or not achieving to your potential despite doing everything in your power to succeed is an incredibly hard pill to swallow when you know how intelligent you are – yet you’re judged because you’re 5 minutes late to work every day – or you struggle to effectively manage your time/stay on task – or you interrupt people unintentionally because if you don’t get this thought out right now, you know it’ll slip your mind and you’ll forget it. We are so self critical and hard on ourselves over the negative aspects that it really damages our self confidence, further compounding the anxiety and depression. Even when we are successful we suffer from impostor syndrome or don’t feel like it will last.

I’ve been back on medication for 1.5 years now and I cannot explain how life-changing it has been for me. My ability to get motivated, stay motivated and stay on track is a complete 180, I really feel like a different person. It’s really helped with my depression, I get so much more accomplished rather than spending hours on the internet or social media because I’ve forgotten what I actually need to get done that day or I’m just procrastinating. Now, I take my medication first thing when I wake up and it will make the difference between staying in bed until 12 scrolling on my phone or getting up at 8am, walking the dog, cleaning the house, job hunting and making healthy food choices.

If you already suspect (as I do too) that you have ADHD – then you have absolutely nothing to lose from getting a diagnosis, you actually have everything to gain!!! I understand that it would feel like a blow – another set of letters added to what you’re already going through GAD, PD, PTSD & depression, but I can promise you by getting treatment you will see a vast improvement to your other conditions, it’s proven that ADHD medication and treatment will help minimize your other symptoms.
When it comes to your husband think of it this way – both of you will now have reasons to understand why you are the way you are and you can come up with strategies that work for you, not against you which in turn will lighten his load and I bet you will see an improvement in his mental health once you are getting treatment for your ADHD.

I’m not sure what country you live in but I know in America and Australia you are protected under the disability laws at work, you can’t be discriminated against for your condition. I’m in Australia and have recently discovered I’m eligible for disability employment services so the government pays a third party to get me into the right career and will support and help train my employer/colleagues on how to ensure I’m provided with the understanding and tools I need to succeed which I’m still amazed at!

I’m not suggesting medication is the cure-all, it definitely needs to have a hand-in-hand approach alongside behavioral changes which you can learn from your psychiatrist and doing your own research. You won’t just take a pill and magically be able to organize your life and be able to focus on the exact thing you’re meant to be focusing on, but over time it gives you the space to work on the areas you’re lacking and understand how best to organize yourself.

I recommend reading a few books that have really helped me-

***The ADHD Effect on Marriage – Melissa Orlov (Your husband also needs to read this – written by a woman who is a Harvard educated therapist and whose husband has ADHD – it’s really great read for both of you)

***Taking Charge of Adult ADHD – Russell A. Barkley

***Secrets to Winning at Office Politics – Marie G McIntyre … Not actually an ADHD book but definitely beneficial if you’ve struggled in the workplace

I really hope you can see that a diagnosis isn’t a bad thing – it’s a gift to unlock your potential in all aspects of your life, to play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses. It’ll be the best thing that has happened to you and you’ll wish you had a diagnosis sooner!!

Best of luck xx