New and confused by myself

Hey there!

Sorry in advance for the long text, I also try to sort my thoughts a bit by writing this.
Since this is my first post and it might be relevant: I am a male in my early thirties.

A while ago a friend of mine got diagnosed with ADHD. I had no clear picture of it so I just acknowledged and basically forgot about it. When we had a talk recently where I told her about things that I currently struggle with, she just said “That’s what ADHD feels like.”

That’s where I started watching videos about the topic on YouTube and finally stumbled across HowToADHD. The more videos I watched, the more I recognized myself in those descriptions.
I’m new to the topic but from what I’ve learned by now ADHD would explain so many things starting in my childhood up to now. Jumping from one topic to another because everything seems interesting or getting ten things done on my way to the kitchen only finding myself in my room again realizing that I didn’t fetch the glass of water that initially made me get up … all that might not be “me”? I always thought that I just lack discipline when procrastinating or not getting things done but now I know that it actually might not be my own fault. Which brings me to the question of what to do when I’m not even in charge of myself?

Two things crystallized to be my main concerns lately and those I wanna expand on a bit further:

  1. My dream is to join the army. That’s possibe in about 1.5 years at the earliest since I’m currently doing an apprenticeship. Medication would be really helpful with the things I’m struggling right now but having that diagnosis would make joining the army impossible. (On the other hand I might fight my way there on my own and then fail at the army medical …) I’m kinda torn between seeking help and fighting for my dream. (I’m not based in the US btw.)

  2. I met a girl at the apprenticeship. We spend a lot of time together during the week (the apprenticeship is in a school with a boarding home) and we really lift each other up when we struggle (I’ve got the feeling I overuse this word but it kinda sums up my current situation perfectly). I really enjoy her presence (which seems to be based on reciprocity) and I know she has a boyfriend, but lately I got the feeling that I might fall in love with her - or already have. Since I tend to overthink things I’m asking myself if it’s just “It’s new, it’s interesting” and will fade ever so slightly again. Or in other words: Is it love or ADHD? Her being in a relationship doesn’t make the situation easier. I don’t wanna hurt her or myself but I just don’t know what to do. I’m just confused.

If you made it this far: Thank you for bearing with me and my cluttered brain and rest assured that every word or piece of advice will be appreciated!

LoneRanger

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I suppose no one can be totally in charge of themselves! There are too many other variables beyond our control. Which brings me to the AA Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Seems learning about ADHD . . . took courage!
Posting your concerns here . . . took courage!

I’ve had various experiences with social media and online forums, some positive, others negative. It’s been years now that I have come to this site . . . pretty much every day! There are good, caring, and non-judgmental people here.

So welcome . . .
Hope to see you become a “regular”!

Barry from BROOKLYN (of course)!

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First, welcome! Second, before making further decisions you may want to get diagnosed professionally. May be you have ADHD or may be another comorbidity with similar symptoms. Correct diagnosis would also help with getting the right kind of help. Also note that a diagnosis does not automatically mean you must take medication for it. While I think one can manage many ADHD symptoms without medication, it is much harder and the potential for falling off the wagon much higher, especially with more stresses, lack of sleep, etc. etc.

As for your issue #1, a user on this site who is a pilot described a similar issue: medication would likely help with his ADHD issues but would automatically disqualify him from flying. You have to figure out what is more important to you and how much more. You may also want to look deeper in yourself. Why Army? What are the underlying needs that would be satisfied by joining the army? Are there other ways, other career choices, to satisfy the same needs?

For #2, Rather than overthink and obsess over what might happen or not, you can let things develop and see where they go. The key thing is to develop a strong sense of self and confidence to be open with others. That makes it easier to be yourself in any situation and people start trusting you. Sooner or later you will find someone who will like/love you for who you are!

Good luck!

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Welcome to the HowToADHD forums @LoneRanger !

I think that @Brooklyn and @khagen have both given some great advice.

I’ll add a few of my thoughts for your consideration.

Whether or not you seek a diagnosis is really up to you. My experience with ADHD medication is that it helps me a lot, but I still struggle with certain things, like procrastination. It is sometimes said that “pills don’t teach skills”. You can start now to develop skills and strategies that can help you. To find out more:

  • Search this forum. We’ve talked about a lot of things, including what’s worked for us at times.
  • Jessica McCabe covers many such topics on the HowToADHD YouTube channel.
  • There are many helpful resources: books, websites (e.g. additudemag.com ), YouTube videos, other YouTube channels or podcasts (e.g. “ADHD reWired”), and other forums.

How to process your thoughts and feelings:

  • Write them down. Journaling can be very beneficial, but even if you don’t make it a regular practice, it can help to write down all your thoughts and feelings at the time. (Try to let the words come naturally, without judging them. They might merely be your feelings in the moment, but they might be very enlightening for you…long-held beliefs to affirm or to question, revelatory memories, etc.)
  • Talk about them with a trusted friend, family member, or mentor figure. (The people closest to you will know you best. Then again, they may also have too much influence over you, so use your best judgement who you seek advice from.)
  • If you feel you can discuss them in public, then by all means, you are invited and welcome to continue to talk about them here.

Regarding the two topics you brought up:

  1. If you are committed to joining the Army, but an ADHD diagnosis would prevent you from being able to serve, then you would have to weigh that those two possibilities against each other. I have heard and read many examples of how people with ADHD can excel in a military role.

If serving in the Army is important to you, if your life would feel incomplete without doing so, then you might postpone an ADHD diagnosis until after your service is complete. (You’ve already lived this long without a diagnosis, but I’ll bet just the revelation that you might have ADHD has led you to learn more about yourself in ways that might help you, at least to be more aware of things you struggle with.)

Serving in the Army is an action-oriented type of work. Other action-oriented careers seem to be a good fit for many people with ADHD, including:

  • emergency responders (e.g. police officer, firefighter, paramedic)
  • skilled trades (e.g. carpenter, electrician, plumber)
  • medical field (e.g. doctor, nurse, physical therapist, massage therapist, radiologist)
  • technology fields (this might be my personal bias, because I found my niche here, but I’ve found that many people I’ve worked with in Information Technology have ADHD; action-oriented roles are often in tech support, but various roles will have action-oriented facets)
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  1. Regarding the feelings you’re having for someone who is already in a relationship:
  • Before any other consideration, look back at 1). Military service can strain or break relationships, due to separation, stress, and other factors. If you had to choose between an Army role or a relationship, which would you end up choosing? (Many couples make this work, but military service has been linked to high break-up and divorce rates. My parents and grandparents made it work, but I gave up my plans at military service in favor of marriage.)
  • Make sure that you act according to your own convictions and beliefs. (Actually, that’s a good measuring rod for any big life decision.) What’s your no-go limitation, based on your belief…is it if she’s in a relationship, or if she’s engaged, or what? Keep in mind the reverse situation…if you were dating her, how would you feel if someone else was trying to win her interest away from you?
  • If you think that you should not pursue your feelings, then you need boundaries and distance.
  • Do you feel like you absolutely must see where these feelings could take you (whatever the consequences)?
  • Would you feel vindicated or conflicted if she breaks off a relationship to try one with you?

The best advice I can give on this is: Be true to yourself.


I hold myself to a very high code of ethics, but here are a couple of examples from my own life:

  • I once asked out a college classmate, only to find out that she had gotten back together with the boyfriend she has broken up with just weeks before. I backed off and didn’t continue to pursue the feelings for her that had begun to form.
  • Not long after that, my ex-girlfriend called me up, and we went out on a date to feel out our feelings for one another. I felt that I was every bit as in love with her as I was when she broke up with me before. I then found out that she hadn’t completely broken off her relationship with her last boyfriend. (Their connection was complicated, and it took her a long time to sent all ties with him.) I felt like this was my last, best chance to win her heart (and that I was rescuing her from a bad situation), so I went all-in. … We were married for 20 years (but I gave up all chance at military service, because of her fears of abandonment). — The rest of the story is that we had good years and bad, four amazing kids, but then she divorced me while I was still fighting for our marriage. (We are still on good terms. I have no regrets.)

There are no guarantees in matters of love. There is always risk, there are sometimes hurts (even in the most loving relationships), yet the possibility of tremendously great rewards.

Whatever you choose, be your best self.

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Hard to ignore the Bard . . .

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man .’

:+1:

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That wisdom still holds true!

Thank you guys for your kind words!

@Brooklyn
Learning a prayer “by heart” and learning it “at heart” unfortunately are two different things (English isn’t my first language but in my mind that was a great pun) and I seem having a hard time with the latter.

Thanks for the appreciation! It actually didn’t seem like much of an effort learning (since I’m interested) and posting here (anonymously).

I’m not sure if I want to be a “regular” since I’m more like a wanderer … but we’ll see.

Farewell. My blessing season this in thee. :wink:

@khagen
Right now taking medication and only then (maybe) getting a diagnosis feels like the best approach but I guess that won’t be an option.

#1: Thanks for the hint regarding the pilot! I’ll have a look if I can find it. If you’d ask me right now, I’d tell you that there is no way around the army. It has been my dream for so long and I would probably hate myself for giving up not having tried.

#2: I’m not trusting people easily so having found someone like her is kind of a big deal for me. Someone I trust and I can be myself with and obviously she feels alike. I’m still not sure how to go on but I might go with “let things develop and see where they go” lacking a better option.

@j_d_aengus
Right now I think medication could really help me with studying for all the tests at my apprenticeship but (un)fortunately I don’t need to study much for good grades. There’s just that feeling lurking in the corner that when I would really (like “really really”) have to study I’d fail.

Over time I’ve developed some of the skills myself by finding out what works best for me. I was – for example - always listening to music while reading or studying. Also writing things down to get them out of my heads works really well for me.

#1: I’m not completely sure if ADHD is a no-go for the army here but I think my chances are drastically reduced if I’ll go there with such a diagnosis rather than having them find out themselves (and only then deciding if it’s yes or no).

My apprenticeship happens to be as IT specialist for system integration btw. :wink:

#2: If I had to decide right now I’d choose the army. I know we don’t need each other which makes the time that we spend together voluntarily kinda precious. At the moment I’m not really sure if I really want a relationship and it’s actually not even about that or even her being in one already. Lately I’ve learned that many things that I failed at probably aren’t my fault but a result of ADHD. That takes the power (and maybe even responsibility) away from myself. I started doubting if the things that I do is really “me” and thus if the feeling that I have for her is love or just some “side effect”. (I hope that’s somehow comprehensible … if it isn’t I’ll try and rephrase it)

One thing that really impresses me about her is her determined pursuit of self-improvement that I was yet to see in anyone else. We really match in that aspect by handing each other pieces of advice that we ourselves don’t heed. In other words: I’m striving to become a better version of myself (and I appreciate every help on the way)!

LoneRanger

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We have many “irregulars” who visit from time to time . . .

:sunglasses: Feel free to drop in anytime! We’ll leave the light on . . .

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Hey there,

Welcome to the forum, @LoneRanger. I will be succinct as many before have written much:

Re: army

  • personally, as I get older, I think the reason one should study and get as many letters as possible is so you can avoid the front lines, bullets hurt and I’m allergic to pain. Of course I also understand that joining the military is one way to get legal access to some really cool toys that go bang, or bang, bang, bang … etc. I’m not going to judge, as the world is, someone has to be prepared to protect the flock and if it’s your compulsion or itch do what you need to do. If getting a diagnosis is going to be a deal breaker, then don’t get one and see what you can do without meds and develop habits and coping strategies that will not require you to admit to anything. A lot of us here have made it a long way before diagnosis and there are more than two ways to solve any problem, even if “the problem” is having ADHD. I’ve met a colour blind electrician that although they didn’t make it into the army, he managed to get himself into the air force (where being colour blind is also a deal breaker, and I’ve already said too much).

Re Love:

  • the best advice I’ve ever been given is “whether they say yes or no, they’ll always be glad you asked.” (translated to gender neutral - because I’m inclusive like that). Work out how you really feel first I guess (always a bit of a challenge with the ol neurodiversity) and see if there are any red flags from playing on the sidelines, but if it feels true to you; ask as authentically as possible and you never know, until you ask. Also, in terms of the hierarchy of negative emotions the odd rejection here and there always trumps those niggling ongoing regrets.

I realise I’ve come in both guns blazing here, and if any of the other white beards (I shaved this morning) feel I’ve been too abrupt please let me know. I’m not going to know what I can do better if no one says anything is rubbing them the wrong way.

Stay awesome.

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Oh, the other thing that comes to mind is never underestimate the power of a “trusted mirror” a person that will tell you what they see in you honestly and candidly, so you might just want to aim for that first and if it looks like it might go further, then assess as you progress.

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I’ve got a little story to tell you about a guy, a girl, and the Army. This came to mind because of the similarities I see with your scenario, @LoneRanger . (Note: the woman in this story wasn’t in a relationship at the time, but she also wasn’t actively looking for one.)

A man and a woman met at college in 1969. (They met in a Bible study group, because they didn’t have and classes together…but people meet all kinds of ways.) They became friends.

  • (By the way, in retrospect, the man clearly has ADHD, but he’s never been diagnosed with it. The woman notably has ADHD traits, though maybe not severe enough for a diagnosis. …I know these people very well.)

Midway through school, the man enlisted in the army, which was always his plan. Since they were friends, they kept in touch (writing letters and occasional phone calls; since this was the result 1970s at the time, it was long before cell phones, email, and social media).

Over one phone call, it happened… They became a couple! Months later, when he was back home on leave, they even got married. Friendship had turned into a relationship that has lasted and thrived. They are still together (now enjoying retirement).

  • (As in every life, there were a lot of ups and downs, but they went through every bump in the road together, their friendship enduring, and their relationship strengthening over the years. The man’s ADHD did add to their difficulties, but also added some liveliness to their family.)

Moral of the story: That man ended up getting both: he got to serve in the Army, and he got the girl!

Like I said, I know this couple well… because I am their son.


I didn’t get to follow in my dad’s footsteps into military service. Straight out of high school, I was passed on because of my asthma. After 9/11, the military would have made an exception, and I almost joined, but I was a newlywed and my wife begged me not to enlist. So, I chose the girl over the dream of military service.

It wasn’t too difficult of a choice for me. She was my biggest dream, since I fell in love with her at age 15.

(About ten years later, when I had another chance at military service, and she again didn’t want me to leave, I finally figured out that she has a fear of abandonment that was the only reason she was opposed to me serving. We were married 20 years, but sadly we are divorced now…but I wouldn’t trade a minute of our time together for a military career, but the was my choice. Even though we’re no longer together, we are still friends, but obviously not as close.)

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This issue has been something I have been dealing with myself, and I recently had a mental breakdown (although it was pretty therapeutic). I want to share my experience, and maybe it can offer some points to reflect on.

To offer some insight on myself, I have ADHD/ASD and struggle with some trauma from my early years, which I am dealing with now. About a week ago, I had a breakdown. It all seems to have exploded from my need to understand more about myself. I wasn’t officially diagnosed with ADHD, same with ASD until this year. This, coupled with how I am, made me fixate on fixing things. I went into this spiral of, “What is really me?” I was trying to think how long I spent masking and how do I know what I do is me or what I do that I want people to feel is me. You get lost in it sometimes - I did. I felt like I would never be able to fix myself. I was always going to be broken. I am married (a bit over 3 years and 7 years together). This fueled my hatred for myself because I felt like I had lied to her and let her fall in love with the masking side of me. I felt like I hid and lied to her because I had hopes of “fixing” myself, and I didn’t share my feelings, which is another thing I am working on in therapy. Through all of this, though, a part of me knew what I wanted and what I feel is valid, and there were just some messy parts that I needed help understanding.

Your ADHD (or whatever) doesn’t define you. How you want to handle the situation(s) does. You are taking the first steps in acknowledging that you need to figure out more about yourself, and from there, you just need to heal/grow from whatever it may be.

By the way, Welcome!!

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