ADHD: Diagnosed at Age 25
"Yes, Mallory, you have ADHD."
I felt excitement welling in my chest + about to burst as I heard those 3 words of validation from my psychiatrist.
This was 4 days ago.
But this story really begins with a phone call I had with my best friend over the summer.
We were talking about mental health as we frequently do, with us both struggling with anxiety + depression, when she asked a question.
"Have you heard on social media about this new wave of women in their 20s getting diagnosed with ADHD?"
"No, why?" I said, wondering why this would be relevant.
"Well, it's all over social media + when I actually started looking into it, the symptoms made me think of you: forgetfulness, zoning out in conversations, procrastinating..."
I laughed as she listed all of my "quirks" (or at least I thought that's what they were).
She continued, "I'm actually going to get tested myself, + I think you should look into it. I'll send you some articles I've been reading."
My friend is a therapist, + we spent 4 years of college together, so I knew that if she was seeing symptoms of ADHD in me, I should definitely look into it.
I read the articles + my mind was truly blown--ADHD in girls/women does not look the same as it does in boys/men.
Once I started reading articles, I couldn't stop.
I searched the internet for stories of women in their adult life who were diagnosed with ADHD + I saw myself in them. I created a Pinterest board + added articles I found to it obsessively.
I took some online quizzes that all told me ADHD is "likely" + knew that I had to bring this up to my psychiatrist.
When I did bring up ADHD as a possibility in therapy, my psychiatrist said, "I was actually thinking about testing you before you even brought it up."
I laughed + knew in my gut at that moment that I had ADHD.
She continued,"It's clear with your new anxiety medication that you're doing better, but you could be even better still."
I agreed completely + felt so seen.
In therapy we talked about my life until now + the areas that have been affected by ADHD.
There are 3 types of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive, + combination.
I was diagnosed as type inattentive.
When you think about what you typically hear about ADHD in the world, it is from the hyperactive type + you usually hear about it in boys.
This is why I was so shocked when my friend first brought it up.
If you read the list below, you will see that the symptoms aren't related to hyperactivity but are highly related to being inattentive--the way ADHD often looks in girls/women.
A list of ADHD symptoms I've gathered so far about myself:
- Organization: never being able to keep my disaster of a room clean, much to the dismay of my poor mother + also to my sisters whom I frequently shared a bedroom with--thanks for putting up with me!
- Daydreaming: through school (especially math--shoutout to my 3 best friends for getting me through it)/really just life in general
- Sleep Issues: struggling to fall asleep because my brain wouldn't turn off at night; tossing + turning; nightmares
- Directions: being directionally challenged + not able to find my way around places by myself, even if I have been there countless times
- Easily Embarrassed: then thinking about that embarrassment over + over again throughout life
- Fidgeting: picking at my fingers, bouncing my leg up + down, playing with my pencil, etc.
- Procrastinating: my school assignments/projects + then finishing them at the last minute
- Relationship with Siblings: Feeling different from them in a way I couldn't really pinpoint
- Shame: feeling shame if I couldn't get myself to do the tasks I knew needed to be done
- Handwriting: having chicken scratch for handwriting that I couldn't even read myself
- Criticism: feeling absolutely crushed every time I received criticism/got in trouble
- Memory Loss: unable to recall specific memories when friends/family members brought them up
- Emotions: crying easily as a child, even if I wasn't the one who got in trouble
- Thinking: Always feeling like my brain was having a million thoughts at once
- Motivation: having zero motivation if I had to do a task I didn't like
- Perfectionism: being a perfectionist even though I procrastinated
- Noise: being sensitive to noise (I HATED fireworks as a kid)
- Focus: easily distracted when trying to accomplish a task
- Overwhelm: constantly feeling overwhelmed with life
- Attention-span: zoning out in conversations
- Self-criticism: overly self-critical
The symptoms above are things I've been dealing with for pretty much my whole life, + I'm still dealing with them now as a twenty-five year old.
My psychiatrist said she recommends a combination of medication + therapy to start treating my ADHD, so I immediately started medication. This is only day 3 of taking my new medication, but I am eager to see how it will help improve my quality of life.
Instead of seeing this diagnosis as a stumbling block or something to be disappointed about, I'm excited because I have a name for the everyday issues I struggle with. I no longer need to feel ashamed or confused, because now I have clarity + I'm going to use it to see the best possible future for me.
This post is just post #1 in what I'm sure will be a long series of posts in the future as I navigate on this new journey.
For now, I will end with a sincere thank you.
First, to my best friend, who saw my symptoms before I even knew ADHD could be a possibility, + who encouraged me to be my own mental health advocate + seek treatment. Without her I may not have my diagnosis right now as I type this.
I would also like to thank God, because even though I lived 25 years without getting diagnosed, he is still good + he is still faithful. I'm looking forward to seeing how this falls into his plan.
***I am not a licensed health professional--my writing is based on my own experiences