Life at 40 with ADHD

So I was recently diagnosed with ADHD. Shocked? Well, I sure was. But the more I have learned about it the more it has made sense to me. It explains behaviors and traits that I thought were just bad habits or anxiety, even depression.

As it turns out, there is a lot of misinformation regarding ADHD. I used to think that anyone with ADHD couldn’t focus or pay attention, struggled with school and/or work, and generally bounced off the walls all day. (Somewhat like my twins when they were 2 and 3) But that is not the case at all, especially for adults. Here’s a snippet of info from CHADD.org, a resource for folks like me..

Until recent years, it was believed that children outgrew AD/HD in adolescence. This is because hyperactivity often diminishes during the teen years. However, it is now known that many symptoms continue into adulthood. If the disorder goes undiagnosed or untreated during adulthood, individuals may have trouble at work and in relationships, as well as emotional difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

This makes sense… for me. In fact my diagnosis was the result of peeling back the layers surrounding my anxiety and depression that resulted from the divorce. But after post divorce healing, there was still anxiety and depression left to manage. As we dissected it, repeated themes began to emerge from periods of my life.

But first, I want to take a step back to the basics of ADHD to load up on facts and disspell some myths.

1.  There are 3 subtypes of ADHD. They all present with different symptoms.

AD/HD – Primarily Inattentive Type:
Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes, struggles to follow through on instructions.
Has difficulty sustaining attention, avoids or dislikes tasks requiring sustained mental effort.
Does not appear to listen, is easily distracted.
Has difficulty with organization.
Is forgetful in daily activities.

AD/HD – Primarily Hyperactive/Impulsive Type:
Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair, has difficulty remaining seated, runs around or climbs excessively.
Has difficulty engaging in activities quietly, talks excessively.
Acts as if driven by a motor, has difficulty waiting or taking turns.
Interrupts or intrudes upon others,
blurts out answers before questions have been completed.

AD/HD – Combined Type: Meets both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive criteria.

2. Symptoms have to be present before the age of 7, present consistently for 6 months and significantly impact 2 areas of life (home, school, social settings, work)  Most people exhibit these behaviors at some point, but it the consistency and the extent to which these symptoms present that make a diagnosis of ADHD appropriate.

3. The cause of ADHD is largely unknown, but research has established that it is neurobiological. Heredity is the main cause of proliferation.

4. Now to list some common myths: (Each link is addressed in detail in the article: Myths and Misconceptions About AD/HD: Science over Cynicism By Phyllis Anne Teeter Ellison, Ed.D.)

Myth # 1: AD/HD is Not a Real Disorder
Myth # 2: AD/HD is a Disorder of Childhood
Myth # 3: AD/HD is Over-Diagnosed
Myth # 4: Children with AD/HD are Over-medicated
Myth # 5: Poor Parenting Causes AD/HD
Myth # 6: Minority Children are Over-Diagnosed with AD/HD and are Over-Medicated
Myth # 7: Girls Have Lower Rates and Less Severe AD/HD than Boys

Quite frankly, there is so much I am processing right now, it’s a bit overwhelming. I would have never guessed that this would be a diagnosis for me. I was an Honor Student in school, but received poor marks in Talks Unnecessarily and Mischievousness. Apparently, I finished my work first, then bothered everyone else. I also excelled in my career. At one point I managed 3 programs through 5 model year changes and thousands and thousands of engineering changes and builds. I was very good at my job, especially projects. This is driven by motivation and hyperfocus (a skill most ADHD folks possess). But I struggled with repetitive tasks, the daily grind.

It’s also why I have struggled this past year. The daily grind, the mundane day in day out, the lack of motivation, the lack of a structured schedule. Moving three times, getting a house put in order, etc. is the epitome of what I detest.  I get overwhelmed by the amount there is to do and get depressed when I don’t accomplish what I think I should.

The good news is there is a reason for the way my brain works and solutions to help me get headed in the right direction again.

Advertisements