What to do if undiagnosed and suspecting, but your family won’t listen?

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    • #84452

      Alright, so, I suspected there’s a very real possibility I’ve had ADHD for a couple years now, sometime back in my sophomore year when I was told it’s not normal to feel the urge to bounce and run around my house when I’m excited or come up with an idea I’m very enthusiastic about carrying out…which is painfully often.

      That’s not just it either. I’ve poured my heart into research and a lot of habits I have matched many ADHD symptoms down to a t. And I had a realization that I had been suffering through many of these things for years, and even my school life from middle to high school had suffered horribly. I just barely survived, and the only time I had honor roll after leaving elementary was in my senior year. I have a huge list of things I have that matches it and I’ve scored high on every catagory on every ADHD test I’ve found to a concerning degree…but I really don’t want to go into heavy detail here. I still realize none of this holds a candle to an actual diagnosis.

      The thing is…I’m finally going to college in a month or so and I’ve never been good in school. I’m terrified I won’t be able to shape up and I’ll just be a huge waste of money. My mother is mad at me because I can’t seem to find the motivation to be more helpful and do stuff around the house and calls me a mess or disorganized, and it’s crushing because it’s not that I don’t care or don’t want to do more, but I can’t even sit through a pile of laundry without zoning out multiple times halfway through or I just, always forget. I’m scared I won’t be able to handle adulthood because the idea of having a job I won’t like is agonizing. And I’m horribly scared of talking to new people or getting shut down by them. I honestly worry I might cry or snap back at someone if I get overwhelmed. But there’s also the possibility I’m just lazy and made all my problems up by myself or that looking into and finding comfort in the fact I MIGHT have ADHD is me just making excuses.

      And then finally, a couple weeks ago, I was told by my father (I live with my mom and stepfather, I was visiting him) that my half brother was diagnosed with ADD and he has never been diagnosed himself. The possibility has never felt more real to me than it did now. But when I decided to talk to my mom about it with this newfound information, even trying really hard to explain to her that it’s only a chance and I just really want to know so I can learn how to deal with it…she immediately tells me I don’t, that I just need structure and anything that just sums it down to ‘you’re just not trying hard enough,’ no matter what argument I try to use, and I’m not eloquent enough to fight back, even with the nonstop research I’ve done. I’m crushed.

      So, I came here because I really don’t know where else to turn. I don’t want to risk messing up my next few years of my life because I don’t know what to do with myself or if I can handle what’s coming, but I won’t be getting any help and support from my family on that end. Is there anyone I can talk to about this that could help me or am I stuck waiting until I can save up for my own diagnosis? Is it dumb of me to have done this research at the risk of me just perpetuating symptoms? Are there college counselors that would be willing to listen or, anything? Has anyone else struggled with this and what did they do? Could it all be in my head?

      At the very least, I just needed to finally get this off my chest because I needed to say this in a place where people really understood and relate, so even if I don’t get an answer, I thank this website and community for finally feeling like I’ve found that space. I hope this kind of question or rant is ok though.

      • This topic was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by Oribiitt.
      • This topic was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by Penny Williams.
    • #84548

      After I was out of college I learned that I could have gotten services and gotten diagnosed at the college I think for free. Look for something that like Disability Services or something like that and go talk with them. You will have that right of decision once your 18. Whether you have it or not your always welcome to still be a part of the community.

      I think it’s marvelous that you want to express your in an Exuberant fashion!! Don’t stop being you!! We do still need to live by some standard to make in the world generally. As a young adult you’ll get to arrange a lot more of your personal life with your characteristics in mind. Just for example, you can have 2 colors of the same type socks so you can toss them in an open lidded container instead of matching when doing laundry. Maybe chose clothes that you put on hooks instead of hangers or that don’t wrinkle. For now helping with your Mom with laundry, doing something along with it, listening or brainstorming while folding. Just keep your hands moving folding. What style of putting away do you think is easiest for you? Opened containers that you can already see thru them to drop or toss stuff in? If you lay papers down one on top of each other they will already be in date order from current to later. So if you could “toss” the papers into an open basket or box might help. Maybe develop a launch pad area in your room where you put everything you will come home with keys, purse, backpack etc in same place or leave with next day. Make things easier for you to put things away to what fits your natural style of handling things. Cardboard boxes are a dime a dozen and you could experiment with them before paying money for other types. I have all but a few pairs of special shoes in an open box in the bottom of my closet. I use the edge to flip them in their or get one big enough to stand in and take your shoes off in it. The ones you use the most will end up on top. I can’t seem to do them any other way without a hassle. Soon you’ll be having to do a lot of things on your own.

      What natural positive traits do you have already? Don’t hide them but let them shine for others to see and they will attract others. If you find getting up in the morning is difficult, then try to take your classes during times that fit more with your bodies natural rythem a little later in the day.

      This can be a marvelous time for you! Hang in there!

    • #84738
      David Rickabaugh

      Hi there. First of all, good for you for researching and investigating ADHD and exploring the possibility that you might have it! And congrats for having the courage to discuss this with your family. And please know that you aren’t stuck and you aren’t dumb. You can navigate your way through this to get the hep you need.

      So, here’s how I’d summarize your situation

      1) What you describe about your own behavior does align with ADHD symptoms, and serve as a positive indicator that you have probably (not just “might”) have ADHD.
      2) The fact that all of the screeners/tests for ADHD you’ve taken indicate you have ADHD is a positive indicator.
      3) We know that ADHD is genetic, and the stat I’ve seen is that parents have a 50/50 chance of passing it to their children, and it is VERY common for siblings to have ADHD (I have examples in my own family). So the fact that your brother has ADHD is a positive indicator.
      4) Your mother’s reaction is totally typical of people who don’t know enough about ADHD and too easily ascribe our challenges to character or insufficient effort. So this may not be a positive indicator, but her opinion doesn’t equate as a negative indicator either.

      If I were you I’d do everything I can to get a diagnosis. If you are 18 you can go see a doctor yourself. Ask your dad for help. Lay out all of the information you’ve collected through your research (maybe even this post and responses) for both your parents and ask for their help. Perhaps you can convince your mom to let a doctor decide. And do your very best to find a doctor who specializes in ADHD – too many other docs don’t know enough! Keep trying.

      If you can’t address this until you get to college, most campuses do have health centers and I imagine most have good experience with ADHD. Go see them ASAP with all the backup you have. I imagine they get REALLY busy at the start of the term, so don’t put it off.

      Good luck – and keep posting here and on other communities to get the support you need.


    • #85055


      Even without a formal diagnosis, and even without any kind of support, there are things you can start doing now to help cope with your ADHD brain. Even if you don’t have ADHD they will benefit you.

      The best things you can do to normalize are: Get Good Sleep, Maintain a Healthy Diet (Avoid sugar like the plague), Exercise Periodically, Get Organized (how is highly personalized). Those are smart things for anyone to do, but if you have ADHD and you want to be successful, they are essential.

      Develop habits, and stick to them. You need to learn how to be neat, how to clean, how to cook, how to do the dishes. I’ll be the first to admit, it is literally painful for me to stop whatever I’m doing to do any one of those 4 chores, but they still have to get done.

      ADHD isn’t really a disease, and there’s no cure for it. It’s apparently genetic, like red hair? We just cope with a brain that loves to shove us down rabbit holes. Medication kind of helps with this, sometimes. But really a healthy lifestyle is vastly more important. Your mom may be wrong about you not being ADHD, but she’s not really wrong about the other stuff. If you have ADHD and you’re trying as hard as normal people, then you probably aren’t trying hard enough. If a neurotypical person solves a problem with a straight progression from A to B an ADHD person gets distracted 5 times, forgets what they were doing twice and eventually finds the answer.

      I went to school for physics, got A’s, then B’s, Then C’s and D’s then a couple E’s, then I was like “I’m not good at this… how do I get a job with this degree”. Now I’m an engineer, I learned a lot when I was getting those E’s and now I use that in everyday work stuff.

      Anywho, don’t worry too much. As long as you’re not hurting people, there’s not much in life you can’t come back from. Also, the desire to be better is the first step the rest is just figuring out how.

      That’s all folks.

    • #85084

      So, I’m here, reading this magazine (and consequently, these post thingys) mostly to help support my two sons, who have ADHD. But then I read your query and you remind me that hey, I have it too! (diagnosed a few years ago, but like you, the signs were always there) Happy to share the little I know/have experienced myself if it can help another! 😋

      If you’re leaving for college soon, then you’re a)at or almost at 18, yes? This may come as a shock to you, it did to me at 18, but… you can see the Dr without your parents approval/consent. If you’re on their insurance and using that for the visit, and you need to ask them for the health card, etc, that can get kind of hairy, especially if they don’t support your thinking that it’s ADHD. But like someone else mentioned, use the university health center. They will see you and while they may want you to see a counselor and/or psychiatrist or something for an official dx. Keep in mind- they also see college kids all day long, many of them (sad to say) looking for drugs. They will probably be reluctant to start you off on a stimulant med, just FYI. The best thing you can do, I think, is keep doing your research, journal or log your signs/symptoms, however you’re doing that, and do the basic self-care that we all tend to let go- eat right, sleep 8-9 hours, take some “me” time when you need it, balance your life. For me, I keep a list. Ok, I keep a lot of lists. And I have nice markers, lol, so they’re color-coded (to begin with). But to deal with the millions of thoughts beebopping inside my head, ive found I have to get it out. I write little notes everywhere- my kids say we shoulda bought stock in Post-Its- and I highlight, cross-purposes, circle, checkbox things…. It’s a system, probably a silly system that works for me, but the point is that it DOES work for me. You gotta find what works for you. If you need help, just reach out. We’re all here for you! 😊 Good luck!!!

    • #85087

      I just want to add in my two sense about how you are feeling since this is a very important point of your statement which only fosters all the worst aspects of and ADHD brain. I don’t normally post on forums but I read the comments and one in particular I thought was condescending and conceded enough to prompt me to respond with positive and helpful emotional support.
      I know how scary college can be. I remember when I was in your shoes (6 years ago) and I was terrified of going to college and failing. The thing is I had the grades and I was still worried because grades in high school do not determine your success at university. University is an altogether entity from high school but I sympathize with your worry about how expensive it is. It will be hard but please try not to worry about that. The fact that you are worried is a good sign that you are responsible.

      The previous posts from people have addressed both adequately and comprehensively how to get diagnosed/resources for ADHD but I want to assure you that it is completely okay to feel everything you are feeling. It in no way makes you any less capable of being an “adult”. Feeling overwhelmed and scared of this next chapter in your life is normal, especially if you have ADHD. Even if you do not it is still okay. Try to embrace it because it will be a great time of self discovery for yourself! It was for me.

      You have most likely read a lot about ADHD and know how hard it is for those who have it to find and create structure. We struggle greatly with the linearity of neurotical life and schedules. I know it was stated multiple times above and again here just to clearly emphasize how essential this is: I CAN NOT stress enough how important it is for you (or anyone) to figure out what does/does not work for you in this regard. It is paramount for your success within society that you create the *right* schedule for YOU. As stated above universities do (and must MUST, though the extent of such mandates vary widely) have a disability services office. Now you may be wondering “what is a right schedule”?

      Well that answer is challenging to answer. I can tell from what you are currently doing that your current method is not working. Why, I can’t say. It could be it isn’t the right environment but it also could be you may need medication. I do NOT think you are not trying hard enough! Immediately dismiss that thought from your head. ADHD isn’t an excuse but it is an explanation for why those of us struggle in a neurotical environment. It may be why even though you try very hard you haven’t made much progress. Think of it like this, if I got a text with an obnoxious ring tone every 1 to 2 minutes and had to respond immediate to this text for the duration of a lecture how well do you think the majority of people would cope with such things and comprehend the lecture content? That is an ADHD brain. We are constantly fighting to stay focused on a task or forgetting to do it altogether.

      Okay great now what? How do you overcome this? Small changes make the biggest impact. Sticky notes are your best friend, a note book to write important events in and obsessive reminders (note your phone may not be ideal if it is a distraction ie if your always using the infinite potential of the internet you should not use it). What’s the common theme in those statements? STRUCTURE. STRUCTURE. STRUCTURE; which is not shocking if you read the other comments. If you don’t know how to handle everything find yourself a very good caring doctor or psychologist who will help you understand yourself and suggest helpful day to day accommodations. Typically a university will have cheap/no cost resources for you to use and I would say 100% you should use them.
      I’m sorry your mother said “you’re just not trying hard enough.” Truly, my heart hurt so much when I read that. I’ve heard that statement so often and it is 100% incorrect. ADHD is not bad with proper treatment it is our greatest strength.
      I wish you the best of luck at university and hope that this has helped you!

    • #85107

      I was diagnosed at 41 and only after I was seeking help due to severe anxiety influenced by overextending myself to take care of my family while my wife recovered from a surgery. I did fairly well in school up until grade 11 and my grades slid. My alternate (radical) views on things and my inability to to help others see different view points caused me to not care. My attitude was if people were so constrained in their thinking that continually led led to undesirable outcomes, why should I care anymore about anything? I lived in a small town so that limited people’s exposure to different ideas.
      Thankfully, I managed to graduate high school and ended up working at a job with men who were twice my age and earned a few dollars an hour more than I did. This lit a fire under me to not be like them. With with my mom’s help, I got into college.
      In highschool, I sat as far in the back as I could do as not to interact. This also caused me to be easily distracted and daydream while drawing in my notebook. In college, I sat right up front in the middle middle to avoid distraction and be forced to pay attention. I also discovered I couldn’t see well and being up front I didn’t have to struggle to see the board. While I didn’t know I had ADHD at 18, I knew enough about myself to find ways to overcome those obstacles. It also helped that going to college in the city exposed me to other ideas and a and the willingness of others want to learn and share. That led me to make friends who could keep me accountable to keeping up with my homework. I hope the college you go to will also have services to help you Excel. If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be to be brave and go seek help from those services. I was conditioned to believe that bad mental health was a character flaw and that seeking help was an admission I was a bad person. Sadly, that is still the general societal attitude today, however, with the internet and many celebrities talking about their conditions (Michael Phelps, Justin Timberlake), it’s a little easier to get help than it was 25 years ago.

    • #85114

      My mom was the same way. When I was in elementary school and middle school (this was back in the 80s, when it was just called ADD), teachers and counselors tried to tell her that I might have it, but she said “there’s nothing wrong with her, she’s just bored”. I had the drifty, unfocused kind, not the hyperactive kind.

      I was diagnosed and given medication finally about 5 years ago. It was eye opening, to say the least. I sometimes wonder whether taking care of it sooner would’ve helped me with some of the struggles I’ve had.

      But I’ll tell you, without medical intervention, before my diagnosis, I managed to get through college and get through law school, and I’ve been an attorney for 12 years now. It can be done. But my work is so much better since I was diagnosed.

      So my advice to you would be to stop talking to your mom about it. She probably means well, but she’s not helping you. Instead, look into reading books about ADHD. Try “Understand Your Brain, Get More Done” by Ari Tuckman. It’s a little pricey at $30 for a college kid, but it’s an actual workbook that teaches you to understand yourself and use certain tools to improve your executive functioning. I would highly recommend it for a college-bound kid. If you’re serious about doing well, I think it will help you.

      Good luck.

    • #85160

      I love all the helpful comments given so far and my heart really goes out to you. I am so impressed with your self initiative. My son has ADHD and I *wish* he had the self understanding and desire to fix things as you do. You may not realize it but you are already 75% further along than most people your age in that you recognize the problem and are motivated to find solutions!!

      The only thing I want to add is that at your college there will be TWO resources you can call upon. One is the student health center (which ALL schools have) for seeing a doctor or psychologist who can diagnose you and/or prescribe for you. The second one is the Disability Services Department (which varies in strength from school to school) where they help arrange for you help in your class, connect with the tutoring center and other counselors who can help you with organizing your homework load, etc.

      Another suggestion is that you should not forget the value of help from friends. That doesn’t mean you are dependant on them or asking too much from them. I’m sure there are things *you* well be helping them with (whether you realize it or not) and in turn they can help you on follow up and focus, where you are weakest. Don’t be afraid to ask them. Use friends in classes you are taking (or make friends) to get support on due dates etc. Use friends in your dorm for making sure you set aside time for homework, etc.

      And most of all, give yourself credit for all your incredible maturity in doing your own research and having such motivation as to think ahead about potential difficulties and reaching out to try to solve them! Again, I am Sooooo impressed!

      • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by Jerseyjanie.
    • #85171

      I feel your pain; I have it, but my husband calls my troubles a “personality flaw.” I would definitely recommend that you contact the health services of the school immediately. Also, don’t worry about telling the professors and TAs of your classes directly.

    • #85460

      Ah yes, the “indignity” of having a family member (especially your off spring) diagnosed with a disease! My mother was a freaking teacher of Psychiatric nursing and she still denies my diagnosis at 48 years old (got unofficial (only an interview) diagnosis at 25 but was discouraged so badly by mother that I did not pursue). My sister is an RN too!

      I can tell you with no reservations there is nothing a parent can not overlook when they want to!

      A couple other points:
      – you didn’t “get it a couple years ago”. You are born with it.
      – good news! LOADS of “health” college kids binge on stimulants to study well so even if you don’t have it I have a feeling school is about to get easier!

      Good luck!

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