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Need advice on how to approach family with new diagnosis

I was just diagnosed less than a month ago with ADHD, combined type at age 44.

In some ways I am relieved to have the diagnosis because it finally confirms what I have strongly suspected for a very long time. However, I’m not sure how I should approach my parents and other family members regarding my diagnosis. 

My mom didn’t think there was any way I could have ADD when I mentioned it to her a number of years ago so I never brought it up again with my parents. Even a very good friend didn’t believe me. I can understand why people maybe wouldn’t think I could have ADHD because as a child I was shy, quiet, well-behaved in school, and tried not to let on if I didn’t understand something. I got decent grades through LOTS of hard work and help/tutoring from my parents.

My parents are good people and I’m afraid if I tell them they will think and feel that they were bad parents.  Anyway, part of me wonders if I should tell them at all but part of me also really wants to tell my family because by not telling them I feel as though I would not be doing anything to help reduce the stigma and also might help explain why I have had issues throughout my adult life with jobs, relationships, etc. I think my family thinks I’m lazy as my brother and sister are both highly accomplished individuals with very good jobs.

I would appreciate any suggestions or hearing from others about how they disclosed their diagnosis to family.

Replies

You are having this debate within simply because you are thoughtful and considerate.  You now have a glimpse of the source of the misunderstandings and issues that have stalked you always and you still are concerned that you do not startle those you love.

That is gracious but it will not work for you and maybe not even for them. You do not need a trumpet but you will need to “speak your truth quietly and clearly.” You need not be responsible about how others feel about what a diagnosis has revealed. And there is no need to mire yourself in endless explanations. It’s pretty obvious that ADHD has had an impact on all those things you mentioned. If you accept that and the implications you can now focus on how to avoid the pitfalls and build on the strengths. There is no need to abandon your insight and caring but now it’s your turn to grow and thrive.

Posted by John Tucker, PhD, ACG. ADHD Coach on Jul 11, 2014 at 9:45am

I love John Tucker’s response above, and agree with all he said.
Before my diagnosis I also had people dismiss my concerns that I might have ADHD, and this was after my young child had been diagnosed! It is maddening to think that I might have been diagnosed years earlier had I ignored this feedback and listened to my own instincts, but I did not do that, And knowing what I do now about ADHD and myself, it makes perfect sense! So, I am learning how to advocate for myself. And I do talk openly about my diagnosis and ADHD struggles with family and friends. As for sharing the news of your diagnosis with family, as John Tucker said above, you are not responsible for how others react to the news of your ADHD. (Having ADHD, it is hard enough to be responsible for yourself and your own reaction!) And I bet you will find, as I did, that talking about my ADHD helps me AND helps loved ones to understand me and ADHD better. Another benefit of being open about my diagnosis and struggles is that my sister was evaluated for and diagnosed with ADHD a couple of years ago. So have heart. Your journey to building a better understanding of yourself, and with luck, closer relationships with loved ones, is just getting started. All the best to you.

Posted by ral77851 on Jul 11, 2014 at 1:04pm

It’s likely your insights surrounding family and friends will grow along with a renewed sense of confidence. Things just seem to fall into place after the diagnosis and treatment.  Read books like: Women with ADHD. or Delivered from Distraction or both and many more.  You find your internal self explained so clearly. You are reading the story of your life. You become awake and alive to who you are.  It is the good news you’ve waited for . Stay connected to this site as well it’s a great resource. Be Well

Posted by jetergirl on Jul 11, 2014 at 1:05pm

Thank you all for your advice!

Posted by becca2322 on Jul 13, 2014 at 12:32am

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