I have symptoms, but I was a high achiever

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    • #197010

      Hello! This is the first time that I write in here and I must say, for a start, that I am very thankful that this place exists!
      I am sorry if anything I write might sound strange. I am not a native English speaker.

      I would like to ask you for some confront, whether I might need to consider an ADHD diagnosis or not.
      I think I recognize myself in the adult ADHD profile and my psychologist seems to agree on the fact that I display symptoms. However, when confronted about childhood and especially primary and middle school, this hyphothesis was questioned because, as a girl, I was a high achiever.

      As I liked studying, I know that it is possible within ADHD. However, I feel that any professional might easily dismiss it. I wasn’t even the one that daydreamt or chatted the whole day while still getting good grades: instead, I was hyperattentive too.

      I know that my adult “symptoms” haven’t come out of the blue, but it seems impossible to prove it given my study record; and yet, they are here, causing trouble, so getting over them is not an option. Do you think I should insist looking for a diagnosis or should I look for solutions elsewhere?

      I thank you for any help!

    • #197022

      Hi, and welcome to ADDitude!

      I definitely think you’re in the right place.
      I say, go for it! If you think you see several signs of ADHD in yourself, it’s worth checking into.

      Personally, I put very little stock in the dated view that to really have ADHD, you must have shown the signs from childhood. Lots of times the signs are just overlooked. I have also heard that some researchers believe some people with ADHD do not show signs of it until they start to enter their difficult teen-age years. That was certainly me. At least, I know that as I entered puberty, I switched from being a seemingly mature, great student, to being an impulsive, thrill-seeking wild child.
      Some researchers are, I believe, even beginning to question the view that ADHD mustt have begun in childhood or adolescence. ADHD research has been forging ahead in leaps and bounds in the last 25 years or so, and I don’t think a serious psychiatrist or psychologist who understands ADHD would rule out an ADHD diagnosis in a person just because they can’t prove that the syndrome began in their childhood.
      Also, I understand what you are saying about being a very good student, and that you enjoy studying, but listen, that is really very common, I think, among those of us with ADHD. I have read many people’s postings on this site that reflect their love of studying, of school, their ease in school settings, their great academic accomplishments…and yet they have trouble keeping simple or complex jobs. Work situations are very different than academic settings.

      I have two Master’s degrees, and most of a third one-which I didn’t complete only because I got irrationally angry at the faculty and told them where to go. But I have been “let go”, and quit, several job positions over the years that were simple types, such as cashier, customer service, baker because I just couldn’t be consistent or on time…or lots of reasons!

      I’ve also been very successful in a handful of jobs for years-but only because I loved the work I was doing AND I had a secretary to “handle” me and keep me straight and “on task”. (I hate that phrase, “on task”).
      I was not diagnosed until I was 50. I seem to learn new things about ADHD…and myself, everyday.
      If you think you are, you may well be. Try to find out and keep on advocating for yourself!

    • #197053
      Penny Williams

      There are many people who have ADHD that have been high achievers in school. Anxiety due to potential consequences often creates this.

      And ADHD girls and women often fall through the cracks for reasons just like this.

      ADHD Looks Different in Women. Here’s How β€” and Why.

      Why ADHD in Girls Is Often Overlooked

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

    • #197088

      Thank you so much for your answers! Whatever the root of my difficulties is, you made me feel less alone.
      I really needed some clarification about the high achieving thing. I will not try to force an undue diagnosis in myself, if that is the case; but I’ll make sure that, in case ADHD gets excluded, it is for a solid reason.

    • #197102

      I would echo lynneiha, I did well achademically, but struggled hard to concentrate at school. ADHD gives you a hyperfocus and mine locked onto study. But I also struggled to keep menial jobs yet did well in management once I had a PA to keep a diary and such. You can’t take a simplistic view, such as “You must have done badly at school to have ADHD” that’s lazy. I was put on detention for not focusing or being impulsive and yet got mostly grade A’s I was also considered well mannered, so surprised many that I kept getting into trouble. lol. That did confuse the teachers that liked to label you and pop you in a box.

    • #197681

      Thank you! Going from study to work made things tougher for me too. πŸ™‚

    • #197833

      Those links above are great. Thank you for sharing these.

    • #197852

      I am sending the links to my husband, right now πŸ™‚ just to check if he sees the signs too! I am very insecure about my self-perceptions. πŸ™

    • #197888
      Dr. Eric

      The issue that you are concerned about is called “functional impairment”.
      The threshold is different depending on context.

      For example, to qualify for special education in the United States, the functional impairment has to be very specific to education and very high.
      However, for a clinical diagnosis, it just means that your symptoms prevented you from reaching your full potential.

      I was in a similar situation.
      However, you could see my symptoms and functional impairment, not necessarily in my grades, but in my injuries and trips to the emergency room, types of behaviors that got me disciplined the few times that I got in trouble, and social issues. You could also see it in the number of physical activities that I engaged in from sun-up to sun-down. I probably would have gotten in a lot more trouble if I wasn’t going from school, to musical rehearsal, to swim practice, to karate all in the same day!

    • #198105

      Thank you! Now I understand that school is considered especially important in ADHD assessments when they are set for school interventions, and that the perspective of a clinical evaluation is broader.

    • #198114
      wandering away

      I’ve always assumed high achievers with ADHD would be even higher achievers without it.

    • #198478

      Thank you! That makes sense. In my case I think that without my ADHD-like thing I may have just been more consistent with my results. Probably without perfectionism I’d have been more relaxed in my childhood and much, much more constant in my adolescence and adulthood. I hyphothesize πŸ™‚

    • #198484

      I totally feel you. My Dr dismissed my situation as well because I didn’t show signs in my childhood. Really pissed me off because I knew what I was feeling right now! My advice…do your own research on websites like this one. I felt really alone as well until I found ADDitude.

    • #198521

      Thank you! Sometimes I feel so estranged. I get the criticisms, then when I suggest β€œmaybe I need some help about it” everyone is like β€œOf course not, don’t worry!” πŸ˜… Places like this are so helpful!

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