Just diagnosed with ADD and belittled by (sexist?) psychologist

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Women & Girls Just diagnosed with ADD and belittled by (sexist?) psychologist

This topic contains 14 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  jdcor 1 week, 3 days ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #135845

    lepatti
    Participant

    Hello!
    I have just been diagnosed with ADD at the age of 29. I have been suspecting that I might have ADD for a couple of years now and I thought finally getting a diagnosis would be a huge relief and a validation. Instead, the psychologist made me feel like crap about myself, belittling and patronizing me and treating me like I was an idiot. Basically I am pretty high functioning and have been able to build a successful career in NGO research and advocacy and have recently embarked on a PhD in a prestigious university. So it’s not like I’m any kind of genius but a normal person who is smart and hardworking enough to have made it so far without any support.

    Basically the psychologist mansplained to me basic things like how to read an academic article and implied that because of my ADD, I was likely to produce bad research and make claims with no evidence. He also said that it was obvious that someone like me would only do qualitative research and no statistics (which he implied is more difficult). He also said that without a lot of support from the university I wouldn’t be able to finish my PhD.

    I’m left feeling angry and powerless, like all of a sudden I was no longer an individual person but a set of symptoms and problems to be managed and for this old man to ‘save’ with his treatments. I do wonder if he had talked to me the same way if I was a 29-year old professional man. This is the exact reason I don’t trust the medical profession and was really nervous to see a psychologist.

    Sorry about the rant! I’m just feeling really crappy right now. Has anyone else had similar experiences with doctors and psychologists? Do people treat you differently and underestimate you because of your condition? DO you think there is still a lot of sexism in the ADHD world?

    • This topic was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  lepatti.
    • This topic was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by  lepatti.
    • This topic was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Penny Williams.
    • This topic was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Penny Williams.
  • #136003

    Misty Quoll
    Participant

    Oh… re sexism thing…

    Maybe he’d treat you differently if you are a man, but my guess is need just treat you like a naughty boy. He sounds like he had been too influenced by stereotypes and didn’t look closely at the individual in front of him.

    • #136538

      Janelle_carson
      Participant

      I made an account just to reply to this– how infuriating. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are sexist dynamics at play, in addition to what others in this thread have said about this psychologist’s troubling misunderstandings of ADHD.

      I’m a 28-year-old (female) PhD student at a top university. When I was finally diagnosed last year, my psychologist (a woman) gently suggested that I might consider a different career because she assumed I might struggle with being a professor. I bristled at that a little, although I think that in her case the suggestion was well-intentioned. I’ve since found a great psychologist who is fully committed to helping me be an excellent scholar and teacher.

      For what it’s worth, echoing other folks in this thread, I’ve found that my ADHD does pose challenges around boring administrative tasks and chores, but in almost every other way it’s been a strength in an academic career. I’ve been able to channel my hyper-focus and passions into a lot of projects, papers, etc. Genuinely not trying to be braggy (just encouraging), but I have the highest scholarly output of anyone in my cohort, although they do give me a hard time about how I’m consistently late to classes :).

      On the whole (ridiculous) stats topic–my mom, who also has ADHD (sought a diagnosis after mine), has a PhD in statistics and was a successful prof in the field for many years. The sexist b.s. she had to deal with, however, was truly horrifying (e.g., getting totally unjustified low grades from a professor who had asked her out). If you got sexist vibes from this psychologist and sensed he was questioning your intellectual capabilities, I would trust that instinct. My mom often wrote papers at the last minute until 4 a.m., and we had a lot of ice cream and curly fries for dinner, but she did important work. The field would be weaker without her ADHD brain.

      I’m sorry that the experience of getting your diagnosis wasn’t empowering. ADHD, of course, has *no* bearing on your intellectual capabilities. Sexism and neurotypical dominance in the academy and in society at large can make things extra hard for academic women with ADHD, mostly as we have to deal with extra judgements and misunderstandings. I struggle so much, especially this time of year, with all of the department events that women PhD students are basically expected to bake for (ugh). I hope you get a better psychologist, and maybe find some other women/people with ADHD you relate to so that you can support each other’s goals. Another woman in my program has ADHD, and it helps me to debrief and commiserate with her. Obviously the research on posthumous diagnoses is highly suspect, but sometimes when I’m doubting myself I think about Einstein and DaVinci’s ADHD-style traits for a little confidence boost. 🙂 Hang in there!

  • #136005

    Misty Quoll
    Participant

    My feeling is that people think of ADHD on kids won struggle at school. They rarely reconcile w the idea that in high functioning, high acheiving period w ADHD it can be a [time consuming] “super power”.

    I see this kind of sh*t at work.

    I have 4 degrees, including Honours and a masters. I tend to hyperfocus and LOVE stats. Can’t count or do arithmetic but w a computer and a hufe data set, I am a god of PCA, cluster analyse and the ANOVA etc. 🙂 i love finding ‘hidden’ patterns and correlations in large data sets. The hardest part is stopping and going home… or doing other birds of my job.

    I am continually frustrated by people using my ADHD to treat me like an idiot or a toddler.

    Most recently, I was ‘banned’ me from using my laptop to take minutes etc at meetings. I was told, in front of everyone at meeting, that using a laptop is ‘rude’ and as someone w ADHD it distracts me. She hates me typing down everything (fast!) and hates seeing me google relevant pics to drop into my minutes while points I already know are discussed explained (repetively). She makes no attempt to understand that This HELPS me focus on meeting rather than getting lost in something completely different in my own head. Just because I sit quietly Didn’t mean i can pay any more attention … where as If I have an almost verbatim transcript typed up with pictures, it is always easy to read my own notes later. Having ADHD symptoms/diagnosis seems to justify tagging ne like a child instead of a productive and valued member of staff.

    Meanwhile, another colleague always pointedly scans and sends me an email of things everyone else gets given on paper… [something which is awesome]… but always loudly discussing my SPECIAL NEEDS and risk of lost paperwork when I am tired. She is condescending and paternalistic about it.

  • #136002

    Misty Quoll
    Participant

    Completely understand.

    Try reading this:
    https://www.dixonlifecoaching.com/single-post/2018/05/07/The-Mysterious-Paradox-of-Being-a-High-Achiever-With-ADHD

    My feeling is that people think of ADHD on kids won struggle at school. They rarely reconcile w the idea that in high functioning, high acheiving period w ADHD it can be a [time consuming] “super power”.

    I see this kind of sh*t at work.

    I have 4 degrees, including Honours and a masters. I tend to hyperfocus and LOVE stats. Can’t count or do arithmetic but w a computer and a hufe data set, I am a god of PCA, cluster analyse and the ANOVA etc. 🙂 i love finding ‘hidden’ patterns and correlations in large data sets. The hardest part is stopping and going home… or doing other birds of my job.

    I am continually frustrated by people using my ADHD to treat me like an idiot or a toddler.

    Most recently, I was ‘banned’ me from using my laptop to take minutes etc at meetings. I was told, in front of everyone at meeting, that using a laptop is ‘rude’ and as someone w ADHD it distracts me. She hates me typing down everything (fast!) and hates seeing me google relevant pics to drop into my minutes while points I already know are discussed explained (repetively). She makes no attempt to understand that This HELPS me focus on meeting rather than getting lost in something completely different in my own head. Just because I sit quietly Didn’t mean i can pay any more attention … where as if I have an almost verbatim transcript typed up with pictures, it is always easy to read my own notes later. Having ADHD symptoms/diagnosis seems to justify tagging ne like a child instead of a productive and valued member of staff.

    Meanwhile, another colleague always pointedly scans and sends me an email of things everyone else gets given on paper… [something which is awesome]… but always loudly discussing my SPECIAL NEEDS and risk of lost paperwork when I am tired. She is condescending and paternalistic about it.

    P.S. sorry about typos. On a train on the way to a seminar on ADHD and workplace discrimination. Was doing research when I got distracted by your post. Made me feel better to not be alone. Hooe I helped too. 🙂

  • #136408

    ISABELLA SANTINI
    Participant

    Hello,

    A psychiatrist I was seeing years ago wanted to treat me with Lithium and other drugs that were making me a zombie. He believed that I didn’t fit into the righteous circle of society, so he wanted to change me to be “normal”.
    When I told him: “I don’t want to change, I don’t want to be normal. I just want to stop suffering” he got really mad.
    He was the same psychiatrist that had been able to identify my son’s ADHD and to prescribe him Ritalin, which eventually helped him to succeed at school and go to university.
    Strangely enough he couldn’t be as effective in diagnosing the same disorder in an adult female patient. He labeled me with Borderline Personality Disorder and totally ignored the most obvious possibility that the mother of a boy with ADHD could have the same condition herself.

    I find that most doctors are not knowledgeable enough about ADHD in adult patients. The majority still considers it a childhood disorder that will eventually disappear with maturity.

    At the same time of my personal struggle to manage my condition, I researched intensely about ADHD to help my son. So, being a high school teacher, I ended by helping also many students. I was the expert in charge to educate my colleagues and many parents about ADHD. That was twenty years ago.
    Sadly it took me another fifteen years before I could finally get my own diagnose.

    Today I know that my flaws are gifts instead. My flamboyant creativity, my excessive empathy, my noisy sense of justice are just some examples of the unique person I am.
    Yes, I am messy, forgetful and chronically late BUT I am also a multitalented artist, a honest citizen and a loyal friend. My whole intelligence would not be complete without my other less popular traits.
    Indeed, sometimes I need to remind myself too that being different is not synonymous of being bad, but something to be proud of.

    • #136510

      nhl_71
      Participant

      It seems like I’ve found a home in this thread. I too struggle with adult ADHD and the boring, every day tasks of paying bills, sending thank you cards and cleaning my house.

      But I have amazing talents too. I seem to make connections at light speed that no one else in the room sees and amazes them. I’m creative and can see the big picture that just let everything fall into place when planning activities and events. I can work tirelessly on some things that require a great deal of focus if I am inspired. And, when the panic monster sets in, I can accomplish things like cleaning and organizing the house for impending visitors that astounds my husband.

      It takes its toll — after such projects I have to rest for a day or two — but now that i’ve accepted this is who I am, I’m slowly learning to live with it in my late 40s.

      And with meds and coping mechanisms, I can approach the difficulties with a better attitude and don’t let it get me down as much as it used to.

      I think your therapist is wrong. There is no mansplaining needed for ADD/ADHD. Us women struggle with ADD more because we’re stereotypically expected to remember dates, make sure the family is on time, keep the house clean, pay bills, buy presents, feed everyone, etc.

      But that’s not because of our gender. It’s because of society. If you don’t accept that, and don’t let other people belittle you like that, you’ll find it very liberating.

      That therapist is full of crap. Find a new one that will work with who you are, instead of trying to fit you into a mold you don’t go in.

  • #136434

    unstableAngel
    Participant

    He seems nice! 😒 I’ve been lucky, tho I had tosee a different Dr when insurance changed & this guy…well is an ass! Upon asking me to what degree does my ADD affect my daily life on a scale of 1-10 I stated it’s 9-10! To which he replied, “No, because if that were the case you would have been digging around in your purse, walking around my office & touching things, you wouldn’t be able to stay seated. I refrained from saying what I really wanted to say & frankly what this ignorant Dr needed to hear. I did say “NO, see because I am a grown woman not a small child therefore I am capable of remaining seated. And you obviously missed my constant leg swinging & foot tapping. Also if you listened to me I reported that I have ADD nit ADHD. Both of which manifest differently in women & men, women aren’t as disruptive or loud & running about. This guy as well as your Dr have no business treating people w/psychological issues! My suggestion is to find a Dr who either specializes in ADD/ADHD. Or at least it’s in his/her area of study, often seen when looking up Drs info along w/patient input regarding Dr. Pls disregard everything that “Dr” said, ADD can be an asset! We can hyperfocus for hours on things that interest us. We also tend to be “on the ball” in emergencies. Ex. paramedic when others often panic & freeze we tend to “SHINE” Do lots of research, it’s very helpful in putting Drs in their place when you know “whats up!” ALL THE BEST❤️

  • #136453

    Dr Sarah
    Participant

    Whatever his reasons, sounds as though switching psychologists would be an excellent option if you have it.

    Also, you sound as though you’ve done awesomely with your life. Hoping you find someone better equipped to help you with your ADHD.

  • #136493

    foa
    Participant

    That psychologist sounds as if he is very poorly trained and doesn’t know much about ADHD. About sexism, I used to say “oh, well, maybe that isn’t sexism, it could just be that …” but you know what? Every individual instance might not be sexism, but in aggregate, every time you suspect it’s sexism, you’re right: IT’S SEXISM. Sexism is so ingrained in every fibre of every area of our culture that it is ALWAYS implicated in the way we are being treated. We live with this because we have to. I sincerely hope that someday our daughters’ daughters’ daughters’ don’t have this problem. Maybe we should all move to Iceland.

    But about the patronizing idiot you were dealing with: he’s wrong, that’s all. Yes, there are particular challenges associated with having ADHD. There are particular challenges associated with everything. I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was 59. By that time I had a PhD and tenure. ADHD has made me slower to publish, because I can always think of an even better new shiny idea and I’m bored with this one now, why do I have to write it up? But I can always think of an even better new shiny idea and that is not true of all of my colleagues. Making weird connections that turn out to bear fruit, and doing it really fast, and having more ideas than I can use, are all things that I strongly suspect I find easier because I have ADHD. I’m an excellent teacher and mentor. I have a writing group to help me actually finish stuff and get it out the door.

    The difficulties of ADHD, now that I know I have it, can be coped with. The advantages are not things I could get anywhere if they weren’t baked in to the way I see the world.

    So do pay no attention to that old guy. Take your diagnosis, because it is useful, and use it to get meds and coaching. And get on with your lively, high-achieving, creative life.

  • #136688

    Yoyo
    Participant

    So sorry for you, that is awful. And welcome to the world of academics with ADHD. If you’ve made it thus far, you can do anything!

  • #136780

    Baeckia
    Participant

    You’re not alone.
    I had this problem earlier this year. Instead of helping, the psychologist made me feel really terrible about myself, like I was broken.

    The good news is that there are many understanding and caring medical professionals out there. Please don’t give up before you find one that will listen to you.

  • #136798

    Kendrastar102
    Participant

    I have not had that experience yet. But unfortunately it’s very common. I just got diagnosed last year at 27 after years of ADD on too of depression etc. You listen here….that old bastard is a misogynist. And yes i think if you were a man he wouldn’t of said those things to you. I don’t know you one bit but im proud of your accomplishments. Yes ADD has its issues but its not a disability. Honestly research would be a great field i think because we tend to look at all angles and in every box. You find you a new doctor. NOW! And do not let what he said get in your head and fester. You can do anything you put your mibd to. We ADDers are good like that. Just sayin but F him!!

  • #137271

    KIM
    Participant

    You can do it. Just keep a smile and really thick skin. People in academia can be either very supportive or very condescending. Our superpower is being able to ignore the ventures others think are impossible.

  • #138392

    jdcor
    Participant

    I’m sorry you were subjected to such idiocy.

    I’m a forty something-year-old man who was diagnosed with ADD less than a year ago; I didn’t know that it was something that lasted beyond childhood. I’ve been called, and treated like, a failure my entire life. Gender didn’t matter, it was EGO; egotistical people are ignorant jackasses regardless of gender.

    I would not doubt for one second that this psychologist shoves his arrogance in the face of everyone he speaks to and I’ve been subjected to women (Medical Doctors) who display the same arrogance.

    I tried talking to my MDs about my issues and instead of diagnosing and treating my ADD they put me on citalopram, escitalopram, and duloxetine which REALLY made a mess of things. I went through 5 MDs trying to get my life in order. A nurse with my insurance company called me and suggested a therapist. I tried that route and ended up being diagnosed with ADD by a Psychologist and instead of an MD for a Primary Care Physician, I am now seeing an NP.

    What ended up making the difference was I got angry and I took the stance that they work for me. I pay them to find out what’s going on with my health and if they won’t or can’t (which most of the time was a result of their self-imposed God complex) I fired them and hired someone new until my health got on the right track.

    My therapist did an excellent job of listening who directed me to both, a psychologist who was excellent at listening and to a nurse practitioner who is excellent at listening.

    Turns out that I have ADD and B12 deficiency caused by intrinsic factor failure. My NP is treating me with B12 shots and methylphenidate. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good in my life and I’m still healing…

    Don’t ever be afraid to replace idiots who are a drag on your existence.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.