Do I have ADHD?
“Do I have ADHD?” is a question I’ve asked myself (and the internet) over and over for years.
Since I found out ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) was a thing, and looking at the list of symptoms again and again over many years, I’ve considered that I’ve had it from either childhood or adolescence.
It would explain the struggles I’ve had with school, with concentration (or lack thereof), being either very interested or very disinterested in certain school subjects, blurting things out, and so on…
This has definitely affected my work life too.
Highlights and timeline of my lifelong struggle
(age 7 to 16 years old)
- Only interested in English and Art, because I was generally good with English and enjoyed art and was also good at it. I didn’t like the rest of my subjects and struggled with them. My parents sent me to private tuition classes to help me with school.
- I would rather be drawing than my other subjects.
- I had sleep issues (maybe due to my parents fighting all the time?) and did not sleep at my bed time, so I had problems waking up. The bus would come an at unearthly hour, like, 6am?? The school bus always had to wait for me and threatened to drive off. I would always fall asleep on the bus and my uniform would be drenched in drool.
- I tried dressing in my uniform to go to bed so that I didn’t have to spend time getting up, brushing my teeth and getting dressed. I stopped doing that when it got really hot in my uniform. My previous “ADHD coach” told me ADHDers have problems transiting from doing one thing to another. I’ve found this true regarding transiting from being asleep to waking up, and a lot of other tasks but I’ve not verified this yet and it was the first time I’m hearing this as an ADHD trait.
- I get up and walk around a lot and not just sit down and do my homework. My mom always remarked why i can’t just sit down and not constantly walk around.
(age 17 to 21 years old)
I’ve always had problems with focus. There was a schoolmate I looked up to because he was smart and he was also someone whose opinion I trusted. One day out of frustration with my issues with focus, I told him I think I have ADHD. He brushed me off and said I was fine and I don’t have it. I was crushed. Maybe I didn’t say it in a serious enough tone. But, by then, I was convinced I had something — if not ADHD, then something else. Anything. I felt like he was saying I was simply making excuses for myself, my “poor behaviour”. This was more than 10 years ago but I remember it clear as day.
I was probably seeking validation, and maybe even permission.
What I wanted to hear was:
Why do you think you’ve ADHD? If you really think you have ADHD, it may be a good idea to seek professional help and find out more about what you’re going through?
NO ONE has said this to me, ever.
Word of advice: If you don’t know anything about the topic, please just show support for your friend if you can see that they’re struggling instead of telling them they’re fine and just imagining things. Telling someone they’re imagining their own condition DOES NOT help at all. Just BE there for them. DO NOT minimise the situation or invalidate how they feel toward their suspicions.
People not believing it when others tell them they have a problem is one of the reasons people end their lives. They reach out, but getting brushed off or getting told “it’s all in their head” can drive one to suicide. It’s a good thing I don’t have suicidal tendencies. But PLEASE be more mindful when dealing with people who come to you and say they think they have a problem.
Yes, I am high functioning, and I have a certain intellect. But that does NOT mean I don’t have mental health problems. Being intelligent also probably means that I am great at covering it up too! Until it is too much and starts to pour out of my crumbling shell. I feel like that’s exactly what’s happening to me right now.
At holiday jobs, I brazenly only did what I liked to do and ignored the rest! I did not even know/realise that was a problem! I just chucked it aside. One day a lady overseeing me asked me about one of the tasks I happily ignored, I told her I didn’t do it because I didn’t like to. She said I didn’t have the liberty to choose, and I had to do it. Until then, I found out that my behaviour was not acceptable.
- I’ve problems starting tasks/projects (procrastination, overwhelm, lost of interest, fear of failure).
- I’ve problems finishing tasks/projects and never do well with deadlines.
- I’m always late for work (sleep problems plus bad at time management — what time to get up, time it takes to get ready and transport time required; I typically underestimate by a lot).
- I only do what I like to!
- I think I’m a good multi-tasker but I’ve learnt that I’m not.
- I get distracted by related things, for example, I’m supposed to research one thing but get curious about something related and go look it up and then see somthing else, etc… and then I’ve to pull myself back to my initial research topic
- I go into hyperfocus and can get stuck in my seat working for hours on end
- My iPhone Safari browser has more than 300 tabs open.
- My laptop browser tabs are always full. I have 6 different profiles (both work and personal)
- I literally have to say the word “FOCUS” in order to pull my focus back because I get distracted while doing something (just ask my husb!).
- There are tons more but these are the struggles that come to mind.
I REALLY really wish to get diagnosed and told once and for all if I have ADHD.
I want to work at regaining normalcy and be a functioning (instead of dysfunctional), productive human being who can earn and income sustain my own living.
If you’re an ADHDer or if you’re like me and suspect you’ve ADHD, please leave a comment below. Would be really great to hear from you!