Do I Have ADD? Diagnosis & Next Steps

“Lazy.” “Scatterbrained.” “Weird.” What Labels Preceded Your ADHD Diagnosis? 

If you spent years berating yourself for being late, or loud, or distracted, or messy, or any number of so-called “shortcomings,” you are not alone. Here, ADDitude readers share the toxic labels they gave themselves before understanding these quirks were actually signs of ADHD in women. 

Most people could not tolerate the voices that echo in my head all day, pointing out every little thing I've done wrong: Why did I say that? How could I forget to pay the bills? Why didn’t I wake up on time? What is the matter with me? I’m dumb. How could I be so forgetful? Why can’t I say no? How could I forget to buy eggs when I’m holding the shopping list in my hand? This relentless barrage of self-reproach make us feel unworthy, incapable, and inadequate. We are our own harshest critics.
Most people could not tolerate the voices that echo in my head all day, pointing out every little thing I've done wrong: Why did I say that? How could I forget to pay the bills? Why didn’t I wake up on time? What is the matter with me? I’m dumb. How could I be so forgetful? Why can’t I say no? How could I forget to buy eggs when I’m holding the shopping list in my hand? This relentless barrage of self-reproach make us feel unworthy, incapable, and inadequate. We are our own harshest critics.

If you received an adult ADHD diagnosis, there’s a good chance you lived too long being called one or all of these things: Procrastinator. Drama Queen. Clutz. Always Late. Daydreamer.

Of course, these labels are wholly inaccurate and unhelpful. In reality, ADHD explained why you had difficulty initiating or completing tasks. It caused your emotional dysregulation. Hyperactivity. Time Blindness. And so much more.

Here, ADDitude readers share the labels they unfairly assigned to themselves in the years before they understood that many of their behaviors and quirks were signs of ADHD in women. What did you call yourself in the years before your ADHD diagnosis? Tell us in the Comments section below.

“My least favorite phrase: ‘You are not living up to your potential.’ And its companion: ‘You are lazy.’ Lazy? But I worked so hard all the time. I felt like I was fighting a pool of molasses when everyone else was floating in water.” — Beth, Colorado

I labeled myself ‘scatter-brained.’ My mother used to say quite often, ‘You’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached.’” — An ADDitude Reader 

“I grew up and moved through adulthood thinking I was defective: ‘lazy, undisciplined, and broken.’ After my diagnosis, I grieved for the time lost and opportunities missed, but I also felt lighter. I wasn’t defective; it was how my brain works.” — Eliza, New Jersey

[ADHD in Women: Misunderstood Symptoms, Delayed Treatment]

“Creative. Crazy. Daydreamer. Lefty and emotionally deeper than others. And late. Always, always late. Not knowing what was wrong with me my first 42 years really beat up my self-esteem.”  — Karen, Australia

“The things I heard in childhood became my inner voice: I was ‘dramatic,’ ‘too smart to forget things like this,’ or sometimes simply ‘too much.’ Now I accept that I can’t always help it and no longer feel like a lazy, flaky, hot mess. I’ve also found my tribe, who see me as passionate, funny, intelligent, and hard-working. I’m no longer ‘too much;’ I’m the perfect amount of me.— Emily

To be honest, I called myself crazy. And also weird, selfish, and egotistical. Now that I have a diagnosis, I realize that certain behaviors are likely a result of my ADHD. It allows me to feel less ashamed.” — An ADDitude Reader 

“My diagnosis at age 35 changed my life! I’d spent a lifetime hating myself for being ‘useless,’ ‘messy,’ and constantly trying to fit into a box that I now know was never made for me.”  — Hannah

[Download: The Anti-Shame Game for Adults with ADHD]

“Inconsistent. Lazy. Not trying very hard. Perfectionist. Slow. Daydreamer. Checked out. Hot-headed. Short fuse. Lack of follow through. Lack of respect for others and their time. Messy. Before my diagnosis, I lived under the shame of almost never achieving anything as an adult with nearly limitless potential.” — An ADDitude Reader

I thought I was weird. I would see people looking at me funny if I talked over them or said something impulsively. I knew deep down something was going on, and I finally got my diagnosis at age 40. I felt relieved and had some clarity, but I also felt confused and angry how my GP had never noticed my ADHD.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I called myself a misfit. I haven’t had many friends and blamed myself for being weird. A diagnosis has made it possible for me to know what all these disparate symptoms are and what tools I need to succeed in life.” — An ADDitude Reader

“I have always struggled with being late for everything from work to outings with friends. I would literally scream at myself in my car as I drove to wherever I was going. I felt like such a loser. Then I discovered I had ADHD (inattentive type) and learned what time blindness was, and it was such a positive revelation.”  — An ADDitude Reader

Signs of ADHD in Women: Next Steps


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