Hi, Before I talk about you I’m going to talk about me.
I am a veterinarian with late diagnosed ADHD. (45 yr old when I asked my Dr if she thought maybe I had ADHD…and she said Oh hell yes!)
I flunked out of college once, transferred twice, and had a very unregulated undergraduate college career.
I got great test scores though, and was admitted to vet school. Got through vet school by surrounding myself with insecure geeks with flashcards, bless them. They always knew what exams were coming up and when it was time to panic. If one of us overslept on exam days, the others would phone.
My first few years in practice were ok, but regular vet medicine was a repetitious drag: vaccinate, vaccinate, spay, spay, fleas, more fleas, rinse and repeat.
Emergency medicine turned out to be a lot of fun for me, and a good fit for a good long while, because I’d never know what was going to walk in the door,and I was always making things up as I went along, drawing from book-learning, previous experience and instinct. It was fast paced, rarely dull, very superficial as my goal was not to keep anyone alive forever, just for 12 hours when I could turf them to their regular doctors or the specialists. And if it was slow, I’d catnap or plan my next adventure. Full salary for 3 shifts a week, so there was time for an actual life: skiing, raising a family, volunteer biologist on a whale watching boat.
I am now retired at 55, have a service dog who keeps me on track, am currently on 3 meds, have tried 7 total, and I work in a zen center part time, tutor highschool kids with ADHD part time, run an air Bnb, raise tomatoes and am a low-budget debt-free homeowner.
I tell you these things to establish myself as a muddling-through-it non expert, in hopes that you’ll take heart in my tale and see that whatever you are doing is just what you are doing right now, it’s not what you will do forever.
Here’s what I’m seeing other folks recommending, and I will add to it at the end.
1) don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. So your specialty isn’t your dream job. It is A job, pays better than flipping burgers, and might be worth hanging onto until any student debt is cleared. Free time is scary. Debt is scary.
2) Recognize your accomplishments. Dude.
2.5) Get outside and help somebody every day. It helps with depression.
2.75a) If the meds you are on are leaving you in a hole, get new meds.
2.75b) they can do genetic screening now to help predict which psych drugs will work better for which people, at least in terms of absorption and metabolism rates. It’s a start.
2.9-ish) Talk therapy with a psychologist who works with adolescents with ADHD may be better than working with an “adult” Dr who doesn’t ‘get’ the ADHD brain and the anxious, self deprecating spinning top that lives between your shoulders. Don’t be shy about shopping around. You may have to tell your story a few times before you get the right vibe back.
3) EVERYone is in a fake-it-til-you-make-it situation until the moment they know their job fully, and that’s the moment they get bored or cocky or stop going in. Imposter schmimposter. (that looks dopey in print, sorry)
4) self-paced rad reading alone in the dark etc sounds like an inappropriate lifestyle for a person with ADHD in the long run (although those folks have the BEST complexions). If you stay in radiology, can you practice within a team? Can you work in a teaching-setting, where there is discussion and banter and backup? Can you teach rad- technicians, ultrasound, physics? Can you work with companies selling imaging machines and demo them to docs in a large sales territory? Work with the breast cancer people on early detection, etc etc?
5) Don’t get stuck in an all-or-nothing loop. Radiology or nothing. Perfect or nothing. Brilliant or nothing. Excited to go to work every day or nothing. Don’t go there…it’s stupid and it’s wrong and you know better.
Here is what I want you to do: If at all possible, don’t quit your day job but PLAN a transition. Shadow folks in different specialties. Spend some time in an ER. Spend some time with Ski patrol. Hang out in a residential treatment house for ADHD teens in Utah. Think about a volunteer stint with doctors without borders. The inherent ingenuity of an ADHD brain can be a lifesaver when you have to McGuyver an IV bag from the bladder of a shot-up goat (OK, don’t do that).
Find a niche, for now. It is unlikely to be traditional.
And please know there are others of us out here. We don’t follow straight career paths. We engage in self-defeating behaviors. We know we suck. But we suck less than most other people, so it’s ok!
Best wishes for an engaging rollercoaster ride through life,