My adventure with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) began in earnest this year when my sons received this diagnosis.
The doctor diagnosed my oldest son, 7, after we noticed that his difficulties controlling his impulses and focusing on any task not interesting to him for any amount of extended time. It wasn’t really on our radar until his therapist asked if he had been tested for ADHD. We said he had an evaluation earlier in the year but received an anxiety diagnosis at that time.
My oldest son’s therapist asked point-blank if anyone in either my husband’s or my family has been diagnosed previously. I let her know that all three of my siblings have ADHD, and have since childhood. She looked confused for a moment and said, “But you don’t have it? Were you tested for it as well?”
I confirmed that I had not, but that I had no reason to because I did well in school and never had behaviors in school that warranted testing.
I pushed that thought out of my head. But then we also began having similar issues with my younger son, and his behavior at daycare got to the point that we received calls and reports almost daily.
Once we talked to his doctor, we found out that once a sibling has been diagnosed with ADHD, other siblings have a 30% more likely chance of also having ADHD.
He has Combined-type ADHD, meaning that he meets the criteria for both the hyperactivity type and the inattentive/impulsivity type. I also found out after his diagnosis, that if a parent has ADHD, their children have a 50% more likely chance of being diagnosed.
The more research I did on it, to help understand how my sons’ brains worked, the more I began to realize that I, too, lived with a lot of these symptoms, and had since I was a child.
Here are some of the ones that I noticed the most:
- I have always had a hard time with listening during conversations, presentations, or other verbal tasks.
- Getting started on tasks, and at times following through, is incredibly difficult and overwhelming for me. Staying on task can be difficult for me if I don’t particularly like the task or it takes a lot of mental stamina to complete.
- Frequently lost items. I can’t even tell you how many times I have lost my keys, debit cards, phone, etc.
- Forgetful while doing everyday activities and tasks. I could walk into a room and not remember why I walked in. I’ve also done things like left the oven on, or put the milk in the cupboard instead.
- Constantly fidgeting and moving. I have a standing desk at work and fidgets at my desk for this reason.
- Waiting for my turn can be difficult. I despise lines and often get irritated.
- I answer questions before they have finished being asked because I’m impatient and want to just answer.
Honestly, I thought these were normal and just quirks, that everyone struggled with these things at times. So I decided to talk to my doctor and she sent me to get psychological testing.
I met with a psychologist and discussed my past and my current struggles.
During this, I disclosed the mental conditions I already struggle with. He also felt that I met the criteria, but because I have anxiety and depression, he wanted more tests to see if those could be causing some of those symptoms I listed above. Turns out that anxiety especially mimics a lot of the symptoms of ADHD.
All in all, I had an IQ test done, a complete personality evaluation, and two ADHD-specific tests. At the end of it, my doctor looked over the evaluations and at that time, was comfortable with confirming an ADHD- Combined type diagnosis.
This is how, at the age of 34, I began taking medication for ADHD.
Let me just tell you, the first day I took those meds, I was astounded. I had no idea what it was like to have that quiet of a brain. When I was asked how it felt non-medicated compared to medicated, I explained that it was like my brain was an internet browser. Not medicated, my brain has about 40 tabs going at once. Some play music, others play scenes from my life or show, others spout helpful information, some unhelpful. I can’t help but go through all the tabs over and over. Medicated, I can close the other tabs and only focus on the ones that I need for my current tasks.
I never even considered the fact that I could have ADHD.
Again, I have been able to function fairly well my entire life. When I pointed that out to my doctor she asked, “But how hard has it been?” I realized it’s been really hard. I’m really glad now that I decided to take the leap and get tested for it because it not only helped me accept a lot about myself but it’s helped me help my sons. Having the same condition that they do has only helped them accept it about themselves.
If you think you might have ADHD (or any other condition), please don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor. The results might just change everything!
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