Life After Diagnosis: The Bad Side

Stigma: Despite increased awareness, there are still a lot of misunderstandings around ADHD. The general public does not know what real ADHD symptoms look like, and ways in which it negatively impacts a person beyond the “Haha I can’t concentrate.” They likely don’t know the true impact of having ADHD. Sometimes people will give suggestions that aren’t helpful, despite good intentions. 🧠🀷‍♂️πŸ˜•

Executive Function Challenges: Organization, time management, finishing up a project, maintaining focus, and other tasks requiring executive function don’t automatically get easier with a diagnosis. You will still struggle to motivate yourself after the initial excitement wears off. You still get distracted and still put off starting tasks; it’s a part of having ADHD. You just become more keenly aware of your deficits. You wish to be able to recognize it means you can overcome it immediately, but learning to manage and conquer executive dysfunction is a gradual process and doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes you get frustrated with yourself over the lack of progress. πŸ•’πŸ’ΌπŸ“ Medication Side Effects: While medication is immensely helpful for managing ADHD symptoms, it can come with side effects. For instance, stimulant medications gave me horrible chronic insomnia, so much so that I often slept 5-6 hours a night and did not feel sleepy until 2 AM. It also caused appetite suppression, which meant I lost interest in food. Trying out new restaurants was one of my favorite activities, and that activity completely lost its spark. πŸ’ŠπŸ˜΄πŸ” Education and Career Challenges: ADHD-related difficulties continue to hinder academic and career success. There are times you’re highly motivated and can churn out work for 16 hours straight, and other times you are completely devoid of motivation and can’t seem to get it done before the deadline. You feel guilty about the ADHD and feel frustrated that you don’t have more control over it. You struggle with the feeling that you need to push that boulder up the hill constantly to get to the same end result. πŸ“šπŸ’»πŸ˜”

Grief: Adjusting to life with ADHD can involve grieving for what could have been. What if I was diagnosed earlier? What if I knew before I did my undergrad degree? What if I was more understood and accepted for the way I was? Sometimes you need to grieve through what’s lost to look forward and see what is to come. πŸ˜’πŸ’­πŸŒ…

Self-Blame: I often wonder why I didn’t get myself help earlier to try to fix things. I reflect on missed opportunities like putting off doing grad school for many years because I was so afraid of failing but I was not willing to accept help. πŸ˜”πŸ€”πŸ“š

Anxiety: Because of common social deficits associated with ADHD, and a looming concern of how it will affect my relationships. I go into social situations with so much anxiety because I’m now even more self-conscious of how I come across. Would people recognize the symptoms of ADHD? Would they judge me for it? I’m so used to hiding a real version of myself that I’m scared what would happen if I unmasked. 😰😬😳

Loss of Identity: Understanding ADHD and its impact made me question which part is the ADHD, which part is my personality, and whether the two could actually be separated, or that my ADHD is an intertwined part of me that I cannot separate from my identity? Who was I under the mask? It takes time to incorporate this new understanding into my sense of self. πŸŽ­πŸ’­πŸ€”

If you are on this journey, give it patience and time, it does get better. πŸ’“

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