Anyone Else Diagnosed After Graduating College & Not Know What To Do Now?

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    • #80391

      Has anyone else who was diagnosed with ADHD after graduating college find any resources or organizations without a paywall that they personally found super helpful in regards to help finding a job/career path or unlearning an unhealthy work ethic that they developed while in school or just transitioning at this stage of life with ADHD? For people who have spent their whole lives with high expectations set for them before they were diagnosed, how did you guys cope? I would really love to know.

      For context, I graduated college a little over a year and a half ago, and the job search for me has been a vicious cycle of finding jobs and internships where I felt like I barely meet the requirements, overcoming my anxiety and filling out the applications for the few jobs and internships that I could find, waiting, getting yelled at by my dad for not hearing back from anyone, and then falling into a depressive episode until the cycle repeats itself. My mental health has gotten so bad that over the course of that time I’ve just been in and out of some of the worst depressive episodes I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve had depression and generalized anxiety disorder since I was a child, but was untreated until college. As of this year, I started seeing a therapist regularly, and I decided to try medication again.

      So I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and after doing some research, a lot of my behavior makes so much more sense. The symptoms I presented were the most common symptoms for girls with ADHD to present. I had no choice but to get good grades while in grade school and high school because my mom would yell at me if I got any grade below a 90, and I was under so much pressure to succeed because my older brother really acted out and they decided to be stricter with me, and my parents are immigrants and I feel like a lot of kids of immigrants in the U.S. feel that pressure from their parents to succeed because of everything their parents went through to get to where they are. Unfortunately, that need to succeed meant that I learned some really unhealthy behaviors at a young age to try to overcompensate for my ADHD, like putting schoolwork before sleeping, personal hygiene, health, or anything else if it meant getting a good grade, and that’s the only way I’ve ever known how to live. I feel like I destroyed myself from the inside for my parents’ approval. Then my brother joined the military, and nothing I could do would ever be seen as just as honorable in my parents’ eyes. So basically I destroyed myself for nothing, and I want to unlearn 25 years worth of those behaviors and replace them with healthy ways to function in the adult world and not destroy myself in the process.

      In high school, I never had a part-time job because I knew I couldn’t handle a part-time job, while taking all Honors and AP courses and the few extracurricular activities that either had a limited time commitment (like the 2 musicals our school did every year) or didn’t penalize me for stepping away when my schoolwork got overwhelming. The same goes for my time in college, except by then my grades weren’t as good, even if I spent a lot of my time studying and less time with clubs. I couldn’t even get anything over the summer during either time because in high school, at least where I lived, when everyone was applying for and getting summer positions, I was worried about improving final grades and staying in all Honors classes for the next year and everything would be filled by the time finals were over. In college my symptoms got worse; I had to drop classes and retake them at community college over the summer. Then I had no choice but to transfer schools for a bunch of reasons, so I had to take classes during both summer sessions every summer until I graduated, otherwise I’d be at this new school for so much longer. I’m extremely insecure about the fact that I’ve never had a job, I’ve been made fun of and demeaned by my family for not having a job, and whilst I understand how my ADHD made it impossible to work while in school, I don’t know where to go from here in regards to landing a part-time job when I have ADHD, a handful of other mental illnesses that also get in the way of my daily functioning, and no work experience. As of right now I would be so happy with just something part time, because I was also diagnosed with mild agoraphobia after starting therapy this year and I get overwhelmed easily, so I need a way to ease my way into the workforce.

      I’ve been searching for information for a few weeks now, and while I found some things that resonated with my experiences with symptoms as a child or with my experience as a woman being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, I haven’t found anything for people in a situation similar to mine. Almost everything I found about jobs and ADHD was about accommodations at your already existing job. I saw that it was common for girls with ADHD to still get good grades, but end up really overcompensating for it, but I haven’t found anything for when those girls grow up and need to unlearn that behavior for their own sake. The only information I found regarding finishing school all referred to teens with ADHD who just finished high school and whether they should enter the workforce, go to college, or do a gap year program, and nothing about finishing college or any options for what graduates do now. I’ve seen some websites with resources that you can only access if you pay a membership fee, but I don’t have that money. I’ll admit I also got overwhelmed the first couple of times I tried to look for information, and maybe that’s why I haven’t found anything, but if anyone’s been through something similar, got past these roadblocks, and is cool with sharing your story, I would love to hear how you did it.

    • #80438

      I’m like you in that I got through school and university a straight-A kid – the moods, guilt and difficulty focussing on things that aren’t immediately urgent and/or interesting (symptoms that tend to be more female/inattentive/overlooked at school etc) didn’t really start until I was 18ish, and it wasn’t diagnosed until I was 26 and had been screwing up at work a lottttttt!

      I think the major thing to focus on, as with many adhd women, is guilt… I don’t think it’s so much unlearning things or ‘beating’ your adhd, but more accepting that, yeah, I find certain things really difficult and the life plans I had in my head aren’t realistic anymore – so what else can I do? I had grand plans of being my family’s definition of success too, and tbh it just made me ill. I think the key is working with what we have instead of trying to conform to standards of people whose brains don’t work like ours, you know? Realistically, your success will probably look nothing like that of your brother’s – mine doesn’t either, but a job in which I work with rescue dogs, have lots of breaks and freelance on the side works for me. I tried for yonks to bash a square peg into a round hole and be a city type who lived and breathed journalism, but you’ve gotta work with the cards you’re dealt and redefine success on your own terms. Being content with adapting is the most helpful thing I’ve ever realised.

      Lots of luck to you x

    • #80504

      First, let me confess. I should not be answering this. I am in my late 40s so this time in my life was a long time ago. I have never taken medication for my ADHD turned ADD (no one can see the hyper that continues in the brain, only the bodily slowness courtesy of other illness.)

      That being said, I was the typical ADHD girl even though I was not diagnosed until hours after I completed university. es, I made the top quarter despite ADHD and dyslexia but, as you have discovered, those accomplishments came at a price. For me, I found my oh so vital internship, did my time and walked- no, ran, far away. I had not been able to have jobs while in school if I wanted parental financial assistance and I had just turned my back on my degree/career. Was I crazy? Well. I was headed that way.Truly.

      I got a retail job. It was part-time evenings. Within 2 months it was full time supervisor. A year later, it was management. (My ADHD was even a benefit.) It was not in anyway related to my degree, but I was HAPPY. For the first time, I was happy. What a shock to realize.

      You are not me. I do not know your answer, but it is out there. It may not be the one your parents want. I am sorry,but it cannot be about them. It has to be about you. It is your answer, your life, your happiness. I will pray for you. Don’t give up. Live for you.

    • #80548
      Penny Williams

      The other responses are spot on! Write your own story instead of trying to fit into the version you feel others have for you (including society). The more at-ease and happy you are in your job, the better you’ll perform at it.

      Finding Joy on the Job

      It sounds like your anxiety is interfering with your job search and your personal happiness. (I see the signs, because I have anxiety myself. Feeling like you only meet minimum requirements for everything so you must not be qualified or able to do that job well, for instance.) Your anxiety may be strong enough that it needs to be treated as well. It can be a wall between you and any self-confidence.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #80673

      Yes – my son.

      After university he looked for a job where he knew he’d never have to sit still – he’s now a nurse and loves it. (His Masters degree was in Ecology)

    • #81517

      First, I just want to say thank you all for all of your supportive words. I was really hesitant to post in the forum because a part of me thought I’d just get a slew of hate with a side of millennial bashing, but I’m really glad that wasn’t the case. I just want to clarify, because I wrote this post at about 2 or 3 in the morning where I am, when I say nothing I do will make my parents proud I am making a factual statement that I know I cannot change. I spent 20+ years chasing their approval and I’m done doing that, which is a really gutsy statement for any child of immigrants to make. Thank you guys for showing me that I’m not completely doomed. I’m still in the process of learning how my symptoms affect all aspects of my life, so I’m trying to take things one thing at a time and not overwhelm myself. I’m still not 100% sure where I want to go career-wise, and I don’t think going back to school is even a choice for me financially, but all I know is that as long as I can find something that has a good balance of sitting and standing (so not sitting all day or standing all day), doesn’t make me take work home with me (I am currently in the process of learning better time management skills and it’s a bit of an uphill battle, so extra work that I have to take home and do might suffer), doesn’t hurt people in any way, pays back my loans, and still gives me the time to pursue my creative hobbies, I’ll be content. I hope that’s not too much to wish for.

      For any other young adults who have just been diagnosed and don’t know what to do or any parents of these young adults who want to help and be supportive, sometime between the time I made the initial post and now, I found a handful of programs (without overwhelming myself this time) that actually address the issues that I’m going through right now and they might be helpful to you too. One of the organizations I found is called New Directions For Young Adults that’s a residential facility where you learn to live on your own, you can take college classes near their 2 locations (Florida and California) or participate in job training, you’re assigned a therapist, and you participate in a support group with the other residents. The downside is that the locations could be far from you, and you have to contact them to find out the program fees. I think it would be too expensive for me, but everyone’s circumstances are different, so you have nothing to lose by just contacting them if you’re interested. If you live anywhere else, you can google “transitional programs for young adults” plus your location to see if there’s something closer to you that meets your needs. I also found a lot of stuff within my county’s department of human resources website through their Office of Behavioral Help. Each age group has their own page with resources for their developmental needs. This is a good small place to start, but available help will depend on each county. Another thing I found was this 18 page PDF with all the government, non-profit, and private facilities and organizations within my county that offer so many different services for people of all ages with disabilities and mental health issues. I found this through the website for my state, and I’m pretty sure you can find an equivalent PDF on your state website (or your country’s equivalent of if you’re not American) with similar resources near you. It might be too much information to take in at once, so go through the PDF in the way that works best for you, so you don’t overlook anything that could be potentially helpful.

      My next appointment with my therapist is tomorrow, and I’m going to ask her if we can dedicate a future session to looking through all the stuff I found to see if there’s a local program that fits my needs and can act as a good supplement along with therapy and medication. This is the first time I’ve felt really hopeful in a long time.

      Again, thank you to everyone who has responded so far. I may or may not have cried reading these because it’s one thing to read a WebMD article about what people with ADHD go through, but it’s something else seeing that another human being has been through some of the same stuff you’ve been through.

    • #88905
    • #88947

      I’m 46, just getting a diagnosis.

      In retrospect, I coped by jumping from job to job (software engineering, a skill I’ve developed since age 11) until I had enough knowledge and experience to be an independent consultant. At that point, my hourly rate was high enough that I only had to work 15 hours a week. I would spaz around life the rest of the time — mostly drunk.

      That sounds great and all, but when you only spend 15 hours a week on your own business, you really can’t mature it into a long-term sustainable source of income. I managed to keep it up for 10 years, but it eventually crashed an burned.

      That was the eye-opener that led to returning to full-time work and seeing a doctor about why my life wasn’t normal like everyone else.

      I’m not sure this will be helpful or not, but thought I’d share my experience. I guess if there’s any lesson in there, you should seek out “less traveled” options, but don’t blow it by doing so without proper treatment (like I did)!

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