Geeks Vs Loneliness: being diagnosed with ADHD

A few words from someone who's just had an ADHD diagnosis...

A very warm welcome to Geeks Vs Loneliness, our spot on the site where we talk about the things that may be affecting you, or people you know. Not every article will work for every person, of course, but hopefully, over the course of the series, you’ll find something that works for you. It’s a very warm welcome back to Den Of Geek for Rory Cooper this week. Rory wrote for us some time back, and approached us last week with this piece about his recent ADHD diagnosis. We’re thrilled to have Rory back writing for us, and thank him enormously, too, for sharing his story. Over to him…

“Rory was always a little bit different.”

That’s what my mum said when the assessor asked her what I was like as a child. She was right of course, mothers usually are, that’s why there’s a saying about it. I was different although I’d never really understood why. I’m a bit of a space cadet, find it difficult to concentrate, my mind jumps to random places, and I find it difficult to sit still but even more difficult to do anything productive. In the last few years I’d suspected that I had ADHD but could neither be sure nor do anything about it without a proper diagnosis, which is why my mum was there, telling a complete stranger how odd I was as a child thirty-some years ago.

I’d already been misdiagnosed as having ‘a bipolar disorder’ (his exact words) by a disinterested psychiatrist who’d barely listened to me for ten minutes before branding me with a non specific mental illness and offering some antidepressants which I completely refused. I’d had antidepressants before, they’d made me depressed.

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The suspicion that I had ADHD came after that diagnosis. After doing my own research and completely dismissing the psychiatrist’s analysis, I did some digging around on the internet and discovered my mental health problems more closely resembled ADHD. Online tests bolstered my suspicions that ADHD was a distinct possibility and I should see a professional. I took my new found information and did absolutely nothing about it, because I have ADHD and we’re usually not too great at following things through.

Several years later it came back into my thoughts that this was something I should really look into. I wasn’t getting any younger, my computers were filled with half completed projects, note pads packed with potential and doodles but little else, and there was a boiling desire in my chest to achieve things that I could never unlock. I was forty years old and had had jobs but could never find a vocation, and all the things I was passionate about were locked up in word documents or in my mind. I finished a few things, articles and stories and blog posts etc. but they took a long time; a two thousand word article could take me six months with ten minute bouts of writing interspersed by months of procrastination as I mentally tortured myself about my non-existent motivation, and total lack of concentration. When I finally sat down to do something I was distracted by everything: the internet, bits of fluff, Facebook, bottles of water, Twitter, pens, whatever was within reaching distance could give me a good couple of minutes entertainment and make me forget what I was doing.

I tried numerous techniques to bolster my productivity and motivation over the years, I read books on the subject, and just plain tried my hardest to kick my arse into gear. Nothing worked, I felt like a failure, the tides of depression ebbed and flowed inside me as I tried to present a brave face to the world.

A friend of mine who also has ADHD recognised my problems as similar to her own and inspired me to ask for a referral to a specialist. She also gave me a few of her tablets, to see if they made me any better. I took them without considering the potential consequences, because I have ADHD and thoughtless risk taking is one of the things we excel at.

Two years passed as my name slowly crawled up the waiting list, I didn’t really notice as I was too busy working as hard as I could to stay several miles behind everyone else.

The appointment with my mum was several months ago now. It took three appointments over about six months to finally get my diagnosis and when I got it there was no revelation, no release, and very little in the way of epiphanies. It was a reason I was the way I was. I was a little angry that I hadn’t realised sooner as I thought of all the opportunities that had passed me by, I was a little apprehensive of the future as I considered the obstacles yet to come, but I was also excited about a new chapter in my life, what the medication might do for me, and how it might change me for the better. I was also a little resentful of all the people in my past who had told me “you’re not wired up right” as it seems they were totally correct.

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At the time of writing I’m three weeks into my new medication. It’s not quite right for me yet, I’ve had some pretty unpleasant side effects, but nothing I can’t handle. I seem to be able to concentrate a little more at the moment though. This article took me a little over an hour to write so it’s possible there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

I’m 42 years old old and I’m about to start a new chapter in my life.

But then again, I was always a little bit different.

It’s estimated that 5 – 7% of school age children and 2 – 5% of adults have symptoms consistent with ADHD.

ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and behavioural symptoms include: inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

If any of this sounds like you then it might be useful to take this handy test. The NHS also has some useful advice on the subject.

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