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Just Diagnosed With ADHD (Adults)

Just confirmed ADD diagnosis today

I’m a 46 year old male.  I’ve always felt that something was a little ‘off’ about me but I could never put my finger on it.  I passed elementary, middle (I failed the 5th grade) and even high school each year barely by the skin of my teeth.  I’ve always felt that I have more potential than I’ve show but ‘something’ always held me back.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt depressed and (despite growing up with a loving family and being currently married) isolated from everyone else.

I’ve held the same job for nearly 20 years and will be eligible for retirement next year.  It was only until my depression/anxiety finally started interfering with my job performance that I started to see a therapist who prescribed me medication and it did help but only slightly.

Long story short, for the last several weeks, I suspected that my core problem was ADD and I just today received confirmation of it.

I’m not sure how to feel about it.  A part of me feels angry that it wasn’t discovered and addressed when I was young but I realize that that’s not a fair and rational assessment.  I also feel that a huge portion of my life has been wasted because I feel that I could have done a whole lot more with my life before now.

Although I am feeling this way, I am not completely without hope.  I’m still young enough to do great and fulfilling things with my life if I make use of the the therapies and medications that are available to treat my condition.

I apologize if this post seems long and drawn out but as I said before, I’m not sure how I feel about all of this.

Replies

Hello,

I just wanted to say that I could relate to your feelings. When i figured this out at 49 it was a huge blow.  I cried for having ADHD and all the things that could have been.  Then I felt relief.  So many issues were out of my control and at the root of an imbalanced brain. 

When I started Ritalin my life turned around and I had a fresh perspective.

It has been 2 years since then and I can attest life can get better.  I followed up medication with Neurofeedback at the 6 month point and that solidified the changes that I was feeling/seeing with medication.

My new outlook is that it isn’t quantity but quality of life.  I will turn 51 next month and looking forward to what lies ahead.

Yes it would have been nice to have known about this when I was younger, so many years of needless suffering. 

However I am grateful for my life now.  I wake up feeling rested, grounded, and hopeful.  I like who I see in the mirror.  It feels good.

Mitzi

Posted by Mitzi Maine on May 15, 2014 at 1:12am

Congratulations, and welcome to “the tribe”, co4mac! 

Feeling conflicting emotions about a diagnosis as an adult is not at all uncommon.  Most of us who are adults with ADHD (especially those of us in our 40s and beyond) were not diagnosed as a child—I have had very few clients over the years who were actually diagnosed in childhood.  Even in the ‘80s (when I studied psychology in college—a long, long time ago!), what we knew about ADHD was very different than what we knew now.  Back then, we were taught that the vast majority of kids with ADHD grew out of it at puberty.  When we were younger, most of us were not diagnosed unless we presented with very strong hyperactivity, which was probably disruptive. 

Your parents didn’t know, your teachers didn’t know,  and your doctor didn’t know because, well, they just didn’t know!  And you are right—focusing on a missed diagnosis is not going to make much of a difference to you now, but I think it’s natural to mourn “what might have been” in a situation like this.

The really, really good news is that now you have answers.  You have an explanation for what you’ve been struggling with.  You are still you.  Nothing has changed there.  You are just you, but with more information!

Give yourself some slack to let yourself feel what you’re going to feel, and then get to work on becoming that better you that you’ve always known you could be!

Education is a great place to start.  If you haven’t already, check out “Driven to Distraction” by Edward Hallowell, or some of the many other great resources that are out there (I have a link to my Amazon recommended reading list on my website if you’re interested).  Educate yourself about ADHD in general, and then do the work to learn about how it affects you as an individual—because it shows up in each of us a little bit differently. I always say that your ADHD as is unique as your thumb print! 

Working with a well-trained ADHD Coach can be a great leg up in the process toward helping you do those great and fulfilling things!  (That’s our specialty!)  You can find well-trained coaches on the ACO website (http://www.ADHDCoaches.org).  They have a database that you can search by specialty.  (Most of us work with clients from all over the world by phone/internet, so geography really isn’t all that important.) Finding a coach with whose style you are comfortable is almost as important as training, so if you are interested in coaching, talk to a couple coaches to make sure you find one who makes you feel at ease.  Most of us offer complimentary phone consultations.

You really are in a “crossroads” kind of place right now!  You have this important, new information about yourself and your brain, and you’re on the verge of having some new choices open up to you in terms of what you do with your life!  What better time could you have to create your own path and do great and fulfilling things?!

Best wishes, and Bon Voyage!

Lynne Edris, ACG
Life & ADHD Coach
http://www.CoachingADDvantages.com

Posted by ADD_Coach_Lynne on May 15, 2014 at 1:19am

Thank you both for your kind words.  I have a lot to consider.

Mitzi Maine - I am looking into neurofeedback and hope to try it soon.

ADD_Coach_Lynne - Thank you for the reading suggestion.  I have placed it in my amazon kindle wish list.  I am currently reading, ‘You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!’ by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo.  I find it very insightful.

Posted by co4mac on May 15, 2014 at 9:42am

Hi co4mac,

That’s great that you are considering Neurofeedback.  I will put a link at the bottom of this post that I experienced.  I love their site as it is easy to comprehend and the testimonial videos are powerful.

You sound like you are on firm ground and moving in the right direction.  I am rooting for you!

I also wanted to add that I have been trying to figure out what to do next.  I wrote a book about my experience of being diagnosed late in life and finding a new outlook on life with Neurofeedback.  However my book isn’t for everyone because my story includes growing up in a house of horrors with extreme childhood abuse.

I thought about it and recently watched a documentary on Frontline about the solitary confinement program at the Maine State Prison (I live in Maine).

As I was sitting there watching, I was trying to imagine what it would be like to be locked in a small room with no visual stimuli with a non-stop motor inside of me.  I would have just freaked. 

Before my diagnosis, it was physically painful to sit still.  Watching these inmates cut open their veins for some kind of relief made total sense to me.  I totally got it.  It was a release of the built up pressure plus it caused a surge in dopamine levels and most likely activity to the frontal lobe.  I think it goes without saying a portion of the population in solitary confinement have Hyperactive/Impulsive Type ADHD.

I wrote a letter to the Warden and sent him a copy of my book asking if thought it might be appropriate for the lending library at the prison.

I think prison libraries would be a good match for my book.  I was fortunate that my terror was greater than my rage growing up.  Otherwise I could have snapped, killed my stepmother and gone to prison at 17.  I can’t help but think how many inmates grew up like I did, already in prison, snapped and went from one prison to another.

I actually think my ADHD may have tipped the scales for me. 

Anyway I am going to focus on trying to bring a greater awareness for Neurofeedback Treatment for prisoners, starting in Maine.  I have no idea how but trusting I will be guided. 

Of all the treatment options available, I truly believe NF would be the most beneficial and offers lasting rewards.

Mitzi
http://www.eeginfo.com

Posted by Mitzi Maine on May 15, 2014 at 6:40pm

Posted by Mitzi Maine on May 15, 2014 at 6:40pm

Hi, am new here, does anyone have an idea if there would be any interest in starting a “clutter companion” thread? Like a buddy system accountability thing? I find it motivates me when I do things with a “kindred spirit” /companion with same goal…like exercising…maybe would work also to chip at the goal of conquering clutter?

Posted by Squirrel!!! on May 15, 2014 at 9:59pm

I agree with what Ms. Edris says about self-education - I was diagnosed 5 years ago, and I’ve acquired a better library than some of the psychologists I’ve seen and sort of taken up neuropsychology as a major activity, but there is more than that, I think.  I think all of us share a sense of lost opportunities or unfulfilled potential, but if you look back and kind of re-frame or re-examine your life through an AD/HD lens, a couple of things usually come out of it.  One is that the feeling of being different wasn’t you being crazy all those years, you really were different.  Another is that you did cope and adapt and find ways to live, marry and work.  You were what you were and you still are - nothing has really changed except now you know more about what you were all those years, where you’ve been and why. 

From that comes a better understanding of your past, but the most important thing that comes from it is insight on what you can do with the future.  When I look back, some of the memories are painful, but understanding brings a certain sense of closure and frees you to get on with what lies ahead.  Having AD/HD is mostly only a disability because other people want or expect you to be like them.  I’m not like them, and personally, I don’t want to be like them.  Being different has a lot of advantages and the trick to being successful and happy is to find those advantages and use them as such. 

As you read up on AD/HD you will find some differences between experts who themselves have AD/HD (Ned Hallowell et al) and those who don’t (Russell Barkley, Thomas Brown) - or at least a\re not “out” about it if they do.  All of these are equally valid sources, but the difference is that where experts who don’t see AD/HD from the “inside” see distraction and attentional problems, those who have it themselves see creative, divergent thinking.  95% of the planet pays too much attention to the wrong stuff. 

The rest of us ask the questions they never even think of.  We think outside the box because they made the box and there isn’t any place for us inside it.  It can be harder for us to find a way in or a way to contribute, and a lot of the time the 95% are not all that willing to listen to what we say, but this is what the value of diversity is all about.  Now that you know, read up, take stock of your strengths and weaknesses and start thinking about where you want to go and how you can get there.

Posted by Cedar on May 17, 2014 at 9:00am

Hi co4mac, et al,

I’ll be 46 soon & was diagnosed almost a year ago. I also felt relief for having a name for “what the hell’s the matter with me?” At the same time it felt bad bc I felt broken. It also felt bad bc of the many missed opportunities, what ifs in my career. My ADD has had a significantly different impact in that I’ve lost almost every career opportunity I’ve created. What I want to figure out is what job can I find that pays well enough w/o being an epic struggle to survive.

Mitzi, I live in Maine too. Are there any support groups up here?

Thanks,

Steven

Posted by ADDingUp on Jun 05, 2014 at 5:06am

Hi! At least people like us have hope now. We have resources to allow us to live without the symptoms, shame, criticism, etc. I was recently diagnosed myself and I briefly felt a bit of anger for professionals not catching this earlier but the more dominating thought was what exciting things meds and therapy will bring in the future.

Posted by purplecat on Jun 16, 2014 at 8:46am

I must tell you all how truly amazing it is to have and to hold a sense of belonging…. for the first time in my life.
Thank you for each and every word .

Posted by jetergirl on Jun 25, 2014 at 11:24pm

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