Discovering ADHD at 26

Hi All :blush:

I’m Catherine, Irish living in Italy and thanks to my move abroad where I was trying to both work and do a masters from home it became painfully clear how “not ok” I was… I first started counseling because I assumed I must be depressed, lonely, anxious or something. There had to be a reason for why everything I did was chaotic and I just constantly felt overwhelmed?! (not to mention the insane overly emotional reactions I could have to anything and everything…)

Long story short, after several weeks of talking to my counselor about all the things I should be doing (like writing my thesis) but for some reason I’m just not doing them?? She had always gone through the usual advice like just make to do lists, plan your day and just get up and do it… after 2 months of sessions like this she was like “Ohhhhhh… Do you have ADHD??”

Of course I replied no because my idea of ADHD was all of the stereotypes but she sent me some articles to read anyway. I discovered half of what I thought of as my most frustrating personality traits were in fact symptoms! In fact it seemed I was a textbook case and I felt a mix of joy, relief and anger that no one had noticed or told me that maybe if tried to do things in another way I could have saved myself a lot of stress and heartache.

  • “sick” or skipping school a LOT - :white_check_mark:
  • Always being late - :white_check_mark:
  • Forgetting homework, deadlines, appointments - :white_check_mark:
  • Dedicating an entire day to study which in reality is staring at the wall until after midnight usually ending in frustration or a meltdown of some kind - :white_check_mark:
  • Assumed I had insomnia on and off since I was 12 but never did anything about it - :white_check_mark:
  • Excessive drinking - :white_check_mark:
  • Doing drugs as an adolescent - :white_check_mark:
  • Smoking weed - :white_check_mark:
  • abusive ex boyfriend - :white_check_mark:
  • struggle to maintain long term friendships - :white_check_mark:
  • Work progress review meetings, areas to work on always being time management, organisation and stop saying yes to everything people ask you - :white_check_mark:
  • No improvement or progress on the areas to work on at following reviews - :white_check_mark:
  • My home looking like a bomb hit it with piles everywhere - :white_check_mark:
  • Asking myself on a regular basis since I was young “What is wrong with me?” - :white_check_mark:

Unfortunately being in a foreign country and with everything going on with the global pandemic it is really unclear how to go about getting the diagnosis, at least for the foreseeable future. But I feel like I’m getting even more out of control now… At first it was so liberating to discover there was a legitimate reason for all the things I’ve struggled with in my life! Now though I feel like I’ve talked it through with my counselor and researched alone as much as I can. I 100% believe addressing the emotional issues that can develop from having ADHD is important but right now I need ACTION. How can I get my life on track? How can I be consistent and not just have one good day where I manage to get up in time and do a few productive things but then crumble the next day and end up back at square one :confused:

If anyone has any practical tips or advice for how to organise themselves I would really appreciate it! :smiley:
For example I discovered putting on music when my alarm goes off gives me the dopamine I’m missing so after a few minutes I actually manage to wake up and get out of bed (instead of rolling over and hitting snooze again and again)


:+1: First of all welcome here . . .

Have you watched Jessica’s videos?

Do you do aerobic exercise?

Have you tried meditation?

Do you stay hydrated?

Why not make a “+” :white_check_mark: checklist . . . And remind yourself of those things that are successful. Try not to add up “failures” versus “achievements” as a measure of a successful day! Let things stand on their own so that one does not negate the other.

Just a few random questions and thoughts . . .

Keep in touch!


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Hi Brooklyn,

Thanks I’m happy to be here! :smiley:

Yeah I’ve been watching a lot of her videos and others too but I don’t know if I’ve just gone too overboard in trying to consume everything that I’m overwhelmed with all the different strategies that I don’t even know where to start…

I don’t really exercise often but I do walk my dog three times a day

I’ve attempted to start meditation a few times over the years but I always found it really difficult to stay focused and would get bored really quick.

I’ve started carrying a water bottle with me so my hydration is way up then what it used to be! :ok_hand:

It’s just especially hard as I don’t really have any external structure since I’m living, working and studying from home (since September so the quarantine was just an extension of what I was already experiencing :sweat_smile: ) Since I got to two weeks before my thesis deadline and I was still only on chapter one… I have taken a step back and decided to postpone my studies. I work part time and the hours are super flexible and nobody is really chasing me up for anything.

I’ve come to discover that I have little to no motivation to do things for myself for example I spend an entire weekend planning to clean my apartment but never seem to actually do it. Then my boyfriend comes home tired from work and stressed by the mess so he goes for a nap. I hate that the mess is stressing him out so in the hour he’s asleep I speed clean the entire apartment without any issue.

I think I just have a lot of bad habits and coping mechanisms I’ve developed over the years (I’m the type who took the route of “I’m just lazy” so “I don’t really do things” which means if left alone for a week you could find me still on the couch in the same pajamas with boxes from take away meals scattered around the place.

Of course I have achieved things like university, working etc. but if I think deep down it was always because of the people who were around me (whether they knew it or not) Like as much as I wanted to drop out of university I didn’t even consider it as I didn’t want to disappoint my dad (a big academic type)

Just feeling a little lost and not sure how to begin this journey of taking control of my ADHD :sweat_smile:


Well, you are doing therapy . . . this forum . . . and Jessica’s videos! Aren’t those very important things for yourself?

I can relate to walking your dog. This is mine, “Lucy”


However, As exercise . . . walking a dog doesn’t do it for me. To benefit from exercise I need to get my heart rate up and sweat! Not the answer for everybody, but I have found exercise to be a lifesaver! Like you, I don’t stick with things so I will have weeks go by without getting on my exercise cycle. I used to have a banner that I made with an old-fashioned dot matrix printer that hung on my bedroom wall. It read: EXERCISE OR FEEL LIKE SHIT . . . (a subtle reminder :joy:)

Just today I was feeling real cranky, which I knew, but it was not until my wife politely pointed that out when I decided to do something about it . . . at least today. I did 30 minutes on the cycle while listening to an old fashion radio show with Groucho Marx, “You Bet Your Life”. Afterwards I could feel the difference. My mood clearly went up a few, very important notches!!

So if there was only one thing I could recommend for somebody who was dealing with ADHD, especially if they have depression as well, it would be to get their heart rate up! For me at least, it never fails to improve my mood, energy, and willingness to live the day more fully.

OK, enough lecturing!

Take care of yourself and keep in touch . . .


She’s so cute, same colour as my little lady! Her name’s Kia


Thanks so much for your message it really gave me the boost I needed! :star_struck:

I guess I hadn’t been letting myself look at the positive steps I had made by myself for myself… I’m definitely guilty sometimes of letting myself dwell on the negatives!

I was always “the sporty kid” when I was in primary school and back then I was intensively training and competing in gymnastics. I stopped though when I was about 13 and never took up another sport… really took on that “lazy” role :sweat_smile:

You’re so right though about exercise, it always made me feel great and to be honest back then is probably the last time I can remember being disciplined! I I love your strategy and have in fact just stole it! (including “artsy” doodles :joy:)

Not expecting miracles or anything but excited to start taking small steps!

Thanks again and I’ll keep you posted! :hugs:


Don’t think I forgot about Brooklyn’s


Ahah no need to say sorry!! :slight_smile:

She’s the best :heart_eyes:
Adopted her just before the global pandemic thank god so she’s been keeping me sane :joy:


It’s amazing isn’t it?

Dogs just seem to know exactly what to do!

Just keep beer away from them . . . :joy:



Ahahah good to know it’s not just Kia who’s always trying to get her paws on the beer! :sweat_smile::joy::joy:

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Here is my little angel.

I’m really glad to have you here. I hope you will find the same wonderful and helpful community I have.



My “Grand Dog” . . . Coco says “woof” . . . i.e. “Welcome all of my rescued dog pals . . . So nice to meet everyone!” :dog:


Hi Cat!

While reading your post, I thought I was reading my history

I am a Spanish student in German Master, working part-time and having huge anxiety levels. In my case, I am in therapy (with a German doctor, who could give me therapy on English). And actually my therapy started just when the pandemic situation started (of course Germany is not in the same situation as in Italy), but for example, I had my ADHD test during the pandemic, and the therapy as well, but via videocall.
I had to wait 1 month to get an appoint for the test tho, but I would like to encourage you to keep trying it. After it, things start to get much easier once you get your results and start to work on it.

Regarding university here, I heard that students writing the thesis got some extra 6 weeks- two months. But I personally decided to have an extra year during my master in order to start learning about myself and get to know more about ADHD

Regarding organising, I found an app called notion, where you can create your own templates and organise everything you want. There are even templates about writing and thesis, but the one I like the most is just the calendar, where you could not only have it in your phone and organise it as you want, but also then open in on your laptop. So every time you want to make an appointment or need to write down something fast, your could always do it from the phone. I would suggest you check some youtube videos talking about notion, it was really motivating for me

-Maria =)

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