You’ve probably heard the expression:
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
Just as the saying goes, it is not right to criticize anyone’s ADHD diagnosis story. Every person’s path to diagnosis is unique, lengthy and fraught with difficulties. Aside from the fact that each person’s narrative is unique, I’ve also found that there are parallels or mutual themes that run throughout the diagnostic stories I’ve heard and been told. In some respects, this is a good thing because many individuals can connect to and understand each other’s experiences, helping them feel less alone in their challenges!
Getting to a point of diagnosis is both relieving and liberating, but the road to that point is far from fairytale-like. After all, it entails raw emotions, real struggles, sorrow, agony and confusion. However, it is all worthwhile in the end as it binds all the struggles together in such a manner that those with ADHD can finally make sense of it. They can now put a name to something that is a huge part of their lives… ADHD!
My Diagnosis Story
I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 27; surprisingly and sadly, this is considered an early diagnosis within the ADHD community.
Before my ADHD was identified, I coped with a life of struggles, especially as a teenager. I was even diagnosed with certain mental health problems, though my ADHD remained undiagnosed. It wasn’t until I decided to take matters into my hands that I realized ADHD could be an underlying condition I had. The more I looked into it, the more I found myself relating to various elements of it. It was then that I decided I had to do something about it. I had self-diagnosed myself!
However, I did consult with a psychiatrist soon after, who assessed me further and verified the diagnosis. The session with the psychiatrist was not thorough at all and in fact, rather pricey. So, about 6 months later, I discovered a better facility that offered similar consultations and had myself much more thoroughly assessed at a more reasonable and lower price.
All I can say is that, although it took a whole 27 years to receive the right diagnosis (what a miracle!), I am so thrilled to finally know of it since everything makes so much more sense to me now. I know of many others who have had similar experiences with their diagnosis as I did and who can relate.
Isaac was not diagnosed with ADHD until later in life as he didn’t meet the “typical” male stereotype of ADHD. We’ve all met the boy who is out of control, naughty and disruptive; Isaac was the polar opposite. He was withdrawn, quiet and very distracted. When others kept their focus, his mind drifted to another place. Isaac attempted to get through it regardless. Things remained the same for him up until his wife sensed something wasn’t quite right.
Isaac and his wife took the matter to specialists, however, most of them believed that ADHD did not apply to adults, especially men, and so there was no reason for Isaac to have inattentive presentation. After a three-year wait, Isaac finally found a specialist that understood him for who he was! The wait had finally come to an end, and at 49, he could finally begin to comprehend his life.
But, what about all of that lost time?
Izzy was loud, buoyant and a real “whirlwind of energy”, as her teachers described! She was diagnosed at only 8 years of age. Her attitude, however, was labelled as a behavioural issue at her school.
She was told that she had nothing to worry about and that she would soon grow out of it. Oh, how incorrect her doctors were! One problem led to another and Izzy’s peers labelled her as an outcast and stigmatized her. She was given medication after medication. The doctors never provided a proper explanation and her teachers/parents never asked!
Izzy had to face all of it until she decided to get diagnosed on her own merits at the age of 18. Only then did she begin to understand herself and the way forward. The level of ADHD awareness present then as opposed to the past made it a lot easier for her to navigate the process.
She had always wondered why people advocated for early intervention. She was diagnosed at a young age but it took her ten years to obtain the right answers. So, is early intervention but lack of support the right way forward?
Can you relate to any of these stories?
These are experiences of three different people, yet some similarities overlap between them. And there are plenty of others who have similar or identical stories too.
The question is, how can we make our story more straightforward, be better prepared and make a change to this same narrative we keep hearing over and over again?
Here are Indie’s Top I’s and what to keep in mind:
According to an article on ADDitude Magazine, the three key elements of the multi-step diagnosis process is inclusive of:
A clinical interview
A medical history review
Completion of rating scales by loved ones, educators, and/or colleagues
I: Advocate for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If in any case, you do not agree with a professional’s viewpoint or are confused about anything, go ahead and ask! If you disagree with something, say so and if it’s dismissed, don’t settle for second best! Clear up any doubts you have by inquiring or searching the web to find out more. Remember, we know ourselves best, so making sure everything feels right with our core is essential! Here is an article that lists down good questions to ask your doctor during your consultation: https://www.additudemag.com/choosing-a-doctor-for-treatment/
I: Get a second or third opinion. As I shared in my story, this is something I believed and pursued as I didn’t believe my initial diagnosis was adequate. If you do not agree about a diagnosis or the process that was utilized to deduce it, reach out and find someone else. Making this decision can help you dodge a misdiagnosis and avoid malpractice.
I: Speak with others. Reach out to others whether it’s through a support group, forum, social media outlet or people close to you. This point is my favourite tip to share.
You don’t have to go through this alone; others can help you, give you advice and most importantly, lend you an ear. Do not hesitate to reach out. Otherwise, you may lose out on opportunities that might be beneficial to you. To name a few, great support, good doctor recommendations or simply a shoulder to lean on are some things you may benefit from. I, for one, was able to leverage on some great advice I received on the Indigo Support Group!
Realize that although there are similarities in ADHD journeys, each individual has a unique ADHD diagnosis story. Some may entail roadblocks that make the journey a bit more difficult.
So, why not give our suggestions a shot and see if they assist in making your path a lot more calmer and a little less stressful?