41 years of masking

Hello everyone,

44m here. I was diagnosed with ADHD (primarily inattentive) roughly 3 yrs ago.

Up to diagnosis I was more or less ‘managing’ my life. Going through years of procrastinating schools and study but still somehow managing to graduate from university at the age of 29. Getting a more or less suitable job and even acing it the first few years.

So much that about 10 years in, I was managing a leadership position that was asking more and more of my executive functions. I saw my work evaluations degrade each year. I saw people far younger doing better at my job than me, which frustrated me greatly and constantly made me feel like they smelled my blood (I’m pretty certain some really did). I felt like I had to push myself harder and harder in order to survive. Knew that at some point I wouldn’t be able to keep up.

Meanwhile, my inner imposter’s voice grew stronger and stronger. I became more and more convinced that I was indeed without value. That I was indeed that weird and lazy, good for nothing person people always had made me feel like when I was younger. I felt like my biggest fear was coming true: that ‘they’ had always been right about me.

And then I couldn’t do it anymore…

This put me on a path to diagnosis. Since diagnosis I went through several stages ranging from denial, shame, anger and finally acceptance. Diagnosis has helped me see my own strengths and accept my weaknesses. It made me see where and why I struggle. It also helped me to rewrite some of my ambitions so they would better ‘fit’ my particular talents than they did before.

It helped me find a new job that actually ‘fit’ those ambitions. I was prepared to do a step back careerwise. But so far I feel like I’m only going forward where before I was completely ‘stuck’.

Of course there are still struggles. You don’t just change 41 years of hiding or ‘masking’ ADHD overnight. Especially when it was so much a second nature that I never knew I was doing it. Also my executive functions are still very much failing me when managing a relationship and a household of 3 kids. And my social anxieties are worse than ever from lack of exposure due to two years of Corona.

But I can really say that I’m an overall happier and more ‘together’ person now after truly getting to know my ADHD side and no longer be angry at myself. Or worse: ashamed of myself.

I’m excited to find this forum. Even though I read it is being decomissioned. I still hope to share thoughts stories with you and maybe even learn a thing or two from this community.

Be seeing you!

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Welcome here! An amazing, (though not at all surprising), well written summary of what your life has been! Certainly sounds a lot like what I went through. But I can give you more of that later. Right now I just wanna say welcome . . . you’re in a good place here. This is absolutely the best online forum I’ve participated in. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t check in at least once if not more than once. Truly great people here!

:+1::sunglasses:

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Hello JayJay,

welcome to the forum. This is a great space with a lot of nice people having similar themes as you have. I am very self absorbed right now and not good in answering in detail, maybe later. You might want to read what I just wrote in ADHD and Autism Spectrum and you will maybe see why what you write about masking resonates with me.

JayJay it sounds that you already came a large way in the past 3 years. Congratulations. I still struggle with acceptance at times. I now it about 2,5 years I believe…

Nice that you made it here,
Annamaria

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You wrote something quite similar about the forum at about the same time. It appeared in the same minute. What a nice synchronicity. :brain: :hugs:

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I think we all have done our fair share of masking. And of course it’s not a negative thing to do persé. As long as you are not masking from yourself.

I practically shouted the (for lack of a better term) ‘ADHD part’ of me into a corner of shame throughout my life. Hating that part of me and sometimes litteraly hitting myself if I did ‘something stupid’ . Of course I never knew it was ADHD at that time. I just called it me being stupid.

Acceptance (of that part of me) made me take in the pain and lonelines that was also nicely tucked into that corner of my mind. Acceptance was by far the hardest thing I did over the past 3 years. But it also was the most helpful thing I did. Because it truly paved the way forward for me.

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Nice to hear. And thank you. I’d love to hear your story and see the similarities in it.

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Welcome to the forum.

I too was diagnosed at around the same age, and then I lost a decade, long story for another time (or I’ve already written it somewhere else here).

regarding masking and acceptance, without a diagnosis I guess we try to fit in, not realising that …

You don’t have to be normal to want to be good.
You don’t have to be good at everything in order to give your best.

Good luck and welcome.

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I was a bit confused initially about 41 years of masking – COVID hasn’t be here that long :slight_smile: As far as we know.

Welcome to the community!

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Gotta luv that synchronicity . . . :sunglasses:

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Welcome @JayJay !

We’re excited to have you join us here on the HowToADHD forums. :slightly_smiling_face:

Your story and your transition sound profound. I’m JD, and I was diagnosed at 45, about a year and a half ago. This forum and all the wonderful Brains here have definitely helped me in my own ADHD journey.


The good news is that the forum admins haven’t been too quick to bring it to a close, as it is. From what I’ve read, the plan is to continue the forum, but in some other form.