In response to yesterday’s article about my tools and systems for actually getting anything done as someone with ADHD, I had a handful of folks write back to me asking…
So… that sounds a lot like me! How do I find out if I have ADHD?
I’m not a doctor, so I can’t diagnose anyone.
But if you think you may have undiagnosed ADHD (it’s very common!), Jessica McCabe from How to ADHD has a great video on the topic.
It’s also worth noting that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and a lot of symptoms caused by anxiety and the general trauma of that can overlap with ADHD symptoms.
Getting an official diagnosis
If you find that your potentially undiagnosed ADHD is making it hard for you to get things done, you might pursue an official diagnosis, which you generally want done by a psychologist. If you think you’d like to explore ADHD medication, you’ll instead need to see a psychiatrist for that (at least, in the US).
From what I hear, some doctors are great at diagnosing and helping with ADHD, but many are not. There’s a lot of outdated information, and much of the official medical literature focuses on the “easy to measure” stuff. Many of ADHD’s more common symptoms are hard to measure, though, and don’t make it into that literature.
ADHD is a form of disability, in that tasks that a neurotypical brain can accomplish with ease might be a lot harder for someone with ADHD.
As such, in the US, you’re entitled to accommodations at work and school to make your life easier. Many other countries have similar laws and requirements. Asking for them may require an official diagnosis first.
Why are so many people just getting diagnosed as adults?
A few people I know noted that it seems like a lot of folks in their circles of people are just getting diagnosed with ADHD in their late 20’s and 30’s.
In the 80’s and 90’s, ADHD was relatively new and poorly understood.
It was thought of as the “hyperactive kid who can’t sit still” thing. Medications for it were new, and often over-prescribed. There was a stigma around it.
As a result, a lot of people weren’t diagnosed when they were younger. Sometimes people dismissed it as “not a real thing.” Others wanted to avoid having their kid stereotyped or over-medicated. And because many women with ADHD don’t display the hyperactivity typically associated with it, ADHD is often missed in women who have it.
Today, and particularly in the last year, there’s been a big push from folks with ADHD to be more open about it, how it affects them, and what it looks like.
People who have had ADHD their whole life and didn’t realize it are suddenly connecting the dots with stuff they’ve struggled with and a potential reason for that. And then they’re seeking a diagnosis for the first time as adults.
Knowing is empowering
Having ADHD symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have ADHD.
But if you discover that you do have ADHD, it can unlock a whole suite of tools to help you understand yourself better and live life the way you want to. You’ll also find yourself part of a community of amazing people!
I firmly believe ADHD doesn’t need to be “fixed.”
For me, its about understanding, “Oh, I suck at X because of ADHD. What sorts things can I do to make sure that doesn’t negatively impact my life?”
That might mean doing things like folding clothes in batches, or avoiding dishes that aren’t dishwasher safe. It means putting reminds in my watch so that I don’t forget to bring the trash to the curb.
With systems in place, I can focus (ha!) on throw all of my energy into the things I’m actually good at!
If you’re looking to learn more about ADHD and connecting with people who have it, here are some of my favorite resources:
- How to ADHD
- Dani Donovan
- ADHD Alien
- Jesse J. Anderson
- Desy with ADHD
- ADDitude Magazine (this one is hit or miss for me)
And of course, I’m always happy to chat with people about my own personal experiences with ADHD!