I’ve had an ADHD diagnosis for 2 months now. And honestly, it feels like I’m seeing myself clearly for the first time ever. It also feels like I could have accomplished so much more had I known sooner.
I was a difficult child. I was bright, precocious, exuberant, but also more than a little naughty. I beat our aluminum door with a baseball bat just to see what would happen, I flooded our bathroom trying to figure out how a toilet worked, and I was suspended multiple times from elementary school for various reasons.
Despite that, school was pretty easy for me. Not because I didn’t struggle with the typical ADHD symptoms, but because I have a truly incredible memory. I would regularly forget assignments, quizzes, and tests, but I was also capable of studying for 10 minutes before class and still acing vocab tests. I flew by the seat of my pants, and I was dang good at it.
During a parent/teacher conference, my high school chemistry teacher (whom I had a very close relationship with), had a conversation with my mom that went exactly like this:
Mrs. Parrish: “For being so incredibly smart, Laren is really…”
Mom: “Bad at details?”
Mrs. Parrish: “YES! That’s exactly it.”
Mom: “If you can figure out how to fix him, please do.”
I made it to my college of choice on a scholarship thanks to a vigilant mother who never let me forget anything (this later developed into co-dependence which was far from healthy). College was more difficult, but I found a major that interested me and fit me well. I sucked at anything with numbers, though. I took Accounting 200 twice and somehow got a worse grade the second time. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
I graduated, got married, had kids, got a good job that I was great at. Things were going really well.
It all came crashing down a year and a half ago.
I was a sucker for punishment and decided to go back to school to get not just one but TWO master’s degrees. I got into a top 20 MBA business school and signed up for their online program (you know, the kind of program where you watch hours-long lectures in a browser surrounded by temptations, where you do things on your own time, where you don’t interact physically with anything, and where assignments are due at midnight…yeah…you all know how well this is going to go).
I struggled through several classes (like managerial accounting, of course) and nearly had an anxiety breakdown during one especially tough semester, but I kept things together mostly thanks to a giant senior center paper calendar I started using to keep track of things.
Things were mostly going fine…until my wife and I decided to move our family three states over.
It took months to get our house to sell (after we had already moved) and months more to find a new house. I spent 7 months living out of a suitcase with my sister-in-law’s family sleeping on a tiny bed sharing a room with my two nephews (for which I am still eternally grateful). My wife and two kids were living two hours away with my parents-in-law, so I only saw them on the weekends. I was working as a manager in a toxic work environment and constantly asking myself why I was so bad at certain workplace skills. I estranged myself from my parents over lifelong issues that bubbled to the top during the move. And I was trying to finish two master’s degrees on top of all of that.
I became extremely distracted, depressed, anxious, paranoid, and even suicidal at times. I went to one therapist and then another. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
During my very last semester, I came within a hair’s breadth of flunking out entirely. I reached out to my school counselor and explained my situation and diagnoses. Thanks to some accommodations from the school and my professors, I managed to graduate.
After finishing school and finding a new job, I discovered that all of my issues that I attributed to stress weren’t going away despite taking anti-depressants. Only then was I FINALLY diagnosed with ADHD.
When I was tested using the Brown scale, I scored 120/130 (55 is the level where ADHD becomes likely).
It’s been two months, and I’m still not medicated yet (I waited a month and a half for an appointment with a nurse NP who told me he “doesn’t treat ADHD anymore”), but I now have hope. The How To ADHD YouTube channel has been a HUGE help and a comfort since being diagnosed, and I’ve learned so much about myself by reading your comments and forum posts. I had no idea there were other brains like me!
All of these things I had assumed (or been told) were moral failings or character flaws were actually just symptoms of the way my brain is wired. Knowing that has helped me deal with the shame I’ve felt my whole life.
I know that I’m not alone now, and I just wanted to say thank you to all of you who have shared your experiences. You feel like family already.