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ADHD and Me

Updated: Dec 16, 2022


It's been so long since I've written a blog. I've just spotted so many unfinished blogs in the drafts section. All great ideas, if I do say so myself, but all unfinished, unpublished. And now I know why... ADHD.


(If you prefer to listen to or watch videos rather than read please check out my YouTube video about being diagnosed: https://youtu.be/boZH8V7jTwg ☺️)


On the 28th November 2022 I was diagnosed with ADHD by my psychiatrist and my life officially made sense to me.

The purpose of this blog is to share about my process, what made me suspect I had ADHD, what ADHD is and a bit about what it looks like for me, because ADHD presents differently in different people. I'm still learning about who I am through the lens of ADHD and everyday I'm having moments of "is that my ADHD?!", so there is no way this blog can cover everything. Even so, it's a good place to start!


You might be reading this because you think you have ADHD, if that's the case I encourage you to start the process of getting diagnosed, speak to your GP (if an official diagnosis is what you want). You might be reading this because I've directed you to it, so that you can understand more of what this diagnosis means to me. Or you might be reading it because you're nosey, whatever the reason is, thanks for being here.


So, here goes...


I've always felt a bit different. Always wondered why it seemed I had to try so much harder than others, why I forget things all the friggen time, why am I constantly moving, why can't I relax?! Why is everything so much harder for me, why do things hurt me so much more than they seem to hurt others, why is my brain so busy? Why can't I keep a space tidy, why can't I stick to habits? Why can't I remember friends birthdays, why do social situations absolutely wipe me out?Why do I always feel like I'm acting around people? I've spent my life berating myself, I just had to try harder, I failed at all those things because I wasn't trying hard enough. My internal voice was constantly saying "do better, try harder".


Around March of this year the psychiatrist I work with (I'm a mental health nurse) announced that he wanted to assess one of the young people on my caseload for ADHD. I questioned why, admittedly holding the 'naughty boy' stereotype in my head. He listed the multitude of reasons as to why he thought she had ADHD, he said "it presents differently in girls than in boys", and as I stood there listening to his reasons, the penny dropped. He was describing me! I carried on with my day, seeing young people and their families, supporting them through probably the worst time in their lives all the while an ember had burst into a full blown forest fire in my brain, the internal bees were buzzing, the fog had descended; on the outside I was functioning perfectly normally, but internally I was crumbling, everything I knew about myself, all the explanations I'd come up with over the years, they weren't true. Did I even know who I was anymore? The pit in my stomach was cavernous, I felt completely empty yet full to the brim.


I left work that day and immediately started looking online to find out more about what ADHD looks like in girls and adults. As I gathered information, I became more and more convinced that I had ADHD. I kept it to myself for a little while though, I was scared people around me would not believe me, judge me, tell me I'm hopping "on the bandwagon". There is so much information about ADHD in females and adults out there at the moment, people are saying ADHD is a "trend", I didn't want to be told that's what was happening for me. Eventually I did start telling people and I booked an appointment to speak to my GP.


My GP appointment was June 13th. I went in prepared for a battle, I had spent the weekend before writing down all the ways I thought ADHD impacted my life now and how it was also present in childhood, because that is important, it has to have been present throughout your whole life. My GP listened and I needn't have prepared so hard for a battle. I felt very lucky. She heard me and said she would refer me straight away. There were two options for me; I could go onto the NHS waiting list, she couldn't say exactly how long this was but she thought roughly 2 years. The other option was to go through shared care; due to the long waiting list, my local NHS trust was outsourcing some referrals to a private company. I could choose to go down this route however the wait could still be 9 months to a year. I chose the latter; I wouldn't have to pay for any part of the process, even if I went on to medication and eventually my care would be returned to my GP and even if it was a year, it's still better than 2.


In July I had an email through from Psychiatry UK, my online portfolio had been set up and I needed to fill in some forms, there was also 'informant' forms for someone who knows me well to fill in. It took me a long time to fill in those forms, which I now understand is a part of my ADHD. But I got them done and Steve filled in the informant forms.


Near the end of October I got a phone call from the Psychiatry UK admin team telling me they were able to book my assessment. I was expecting them to say the date would be in February maybe and even then I thought I was being very hopeful, but they said November 28th! Pretty much a month away at the time. I was ecstatic but immediately imposter syndrome started creeping in and I started doubting everything. I spent the next month constantly thinking about it, trying to be kind to myself, reminding myself that I do have ADHD and the psychiatrist will see that; I'm not making this up, but it was hard.


The assessment came around and it was great. My psychiatrist asked me a lot of questions about all aspects of my life, he'd read through the forms I had submitted previously, he gathered lots of information and at the end told me I hit the criteria for a diagnosis of ADHD in line with the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Addition).


The relief I felt was immense. I wasn't this awfully useless human being that I'd felt like all my life. I have ADHD. I am neurodivergent. Finally, life makes sense; I make sense!


What does ADHD look like for me?

I'm still learning and I know I won't be able to document it all here, but I think I can share a few bits that I know.

Firstly, there is more than one type of ADHD, the 3 main recognised types are:

* Hyperactive *Inattentive *Combined

There are some websites that say there are more subtypes, but I'm not going to go into that today.


I have the combined type, meaning I have both hyperactivity and inattentiveness. According to my psychiatrist, ADHD has 3 core symptoms which effect people with it to different degrees.

Inattention

Can look like difficulties with concentration, short term and working memory, difficulties with planning and getting started, difficulty with organisation and losing things, easily distracted by small things which others would not notice, etc.

Impulsiveness

Can look like acting or speaking on the spur of the moment without thinking through the consequences, difficulty controlling emotions, etc.

Hyperactivity

Whilst adults with ADHD are usually much less active than children with ADHD, they may still have symptoms such as restlessness and the need to tap or fidget. Hyperactivity isn't always visible and can relate to the internal mind too.


Currently, a lot of the literature out there that discusses ADHD is still geared towards the naughty child. Even the form that we use to assess teens and kids in work asks questions that don't really relate to how ADHD presents in girls.

I think (I hope!) we're at the beginning of things changing regarding the ADHD assessment process and the knowledge around the disorder. There are still people who think it is something you grow out of and therefore cannot have in adulthood, which is absolutely not the case!


So, what does ADHD look like for me?

The information my psychiatrist provided above does fit, I have all of those things but what does ADHD actually look like day to day for me?

Below is a list of just some of the ways in which ADHD shows up for me, in no particular order:

  • poor short term memory

  • struggle to stay on schedule

  • impatient

  • poor sleep

  • struggle waking up

  • enhanced PMS symptoms

  • time blindness

  • chronic fatigue and burnout

  • anxiety and depression

  • struggle dealing with mail, including digital (hello slow replies on every social media platform ever!)

  • struggle adjusting to plans

  • closing container/cabinets

  • buying things impulsively and therefore being terrible with money

  • booking appointments

  • answering questions on the spot and recalling information

  • decision making but can also make impulsive decisions

  • overly emotional (Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria)

  • negative self talk

  • forgetting to attend to basic needs (going to the toilet, eating, etc)

  • poor relationship with food

  • difficulty focusing, consistently zoning out, easily distracted

  • forgetting verbal instructions (that poor working memory!)

  • leaving things to the last minute

  • regularly making mistakes

  • get bored easy

  • leaving clothes somewhere they shouldn't be

  • 2am productivity

  • feeling like I'm lazy

  • loss of motivation

  • detachment

  • executive dysfunction

And the list goes on...

I won't go into detail about any of the things on that list here, perhaps I will write more in-depth blog posts about them? or maybe I won't write another blog for months/years again... who knows! haha 🤣


My brain feels so fizzy knowing all of this information, like I finally make sense to me. I've spent my life reflecting on myself, learning about myself but I've never made sense to me, I could rationalise a lot of things but it still didn't feel right. And now I know, it's because I'm neurodivergent, my brain is different, I see and feel things differently, I'm different and that does make sense 🧠


Since learning about ADHD, before my diagnosis, I'd been on a rollercoaster of emotions. Excited, finally understanding, relief that it isn't my fault and really it can't be changed, sadness and grief for the kid, teen and young adult that was always trying to be better, to be neurotypcial when she could never be, frustrated at myself for being so hard on myself all those years for things I couldn't control.


It's been a whirlwind and I know it's not over, even now with my official diagnosis.


What happens next?

I've been prescribed medication, I'm waiting for it to arrive. I have high hopes for what it could do for me, but I also have realistic hopes, I know it won't magically make everything better. It can't make me neurotypical.


I want people to know. I want everyone in my life to know that I have ADHD. I literally want to shout it from the rooftops and talk to anyone who will listen about it. I don't think it will change much, people knowing, but it might explain a few things about me for those around me. It will certainly help me to not feel the huge amounts of guilt and shame I feel for not being the wife/daughter/sister/friend/family member I want to be. Social situations are really hard, they leave me exhausted because I'm constantly masking and knowing that I'll be exhausted after makes me incredibly anxious going into them. This is something that is getting worse as I get older and I hate it. I'm not the person I want to be and I beat myself up about it all the time. But if people in my life know this about me, then maybe I can know that they understand and therefore I don't need to feel so awful, because they can get it, they can understand? Maybe, just maybe. Not that people in my life have made me feel bad, it's definitely an internal dialogue thing 🫣


Anyway, I think that's it for right now.

I could continue typing about ADHD for ages, but I write how I think and that doesn't always make sense... I've already read this blog about 5 times to edit it and make sure it makes sense and flows ok and I just don't think I can read it anymore. Now it's time to share it with you all.


Thank you for reading if you made it to the end 🖤



Below are some of the resources I have found incredibly helpful for gaining more information about ADHD:


https://www.adhdadult.uk Founded by Alex Conner and James Brown, they have an instagram account also: @theadhdadults, a podcast and a YouTube channel.


https://www.adhdasfemales.com Founded by Laura Mears-Reynolds and Dawn-Marie Farmer, they have an instagram account: @adhdasfemales and a podcast; this podcast has been particularly helpful for me!


The podcast 'Is It My ADHD?' by Grace Timothy, on instagram @gracetimothywriter and @isitmyadhd


This instagram accounts have been very helpful:

@thepsychdoctormd

@iampayingattention

@the_mini_adhd_coach

@this_might_help_adhd

@adhdmemetherapy

@adhdjesse

@mollys_adhd_mayhem

@pennybelle

@adhd_couple

@womenandadhdpodcast



There are more but I think I'll share them at a different time 🥰

Thanks again for reading!








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2 Comments


perkyplants
perkyplants
Dec 07, 2022

Hi Anna! Thank you so much for this, the date will forever be a special one for me now for sure, it would be nice to have it displayed on a subtle way like this some how! I like the idea. Thank you again for sharing and thank you for reading. And no need to apologise for a brain ramble, they’re very welcome here! X

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anna.reid.jones
Dec 05, 2022

I didn't get past the date of your diagnosis, sorry :) I will go back and read the post, but wanted to send this link while I remembered. My daughter went to see the Cure yesterday and found this poster on their website. I have the Chat Noir poster it's based on so she thought I'd like it. But the date doesn't mean anything to me, but it might mean something to you :) Sorry for the ADHD brain rambling comment. x

https://shop.thecure.com/product/X9APTC10/the-cure-cats-poster-paris-nov-28th-2022?cp=null

ps. I've read it now. Thank you for sharing your story so far ❤️

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