I’d found this site some time ago, but I was still early enough in understanding how ADHD works for me, I didn’t have enough context for a lot of it to make sense. I didn’t have anything to triangulate off of, in other words.
I wasn’t diagnosed until 34, which was about two years ago now. I’d always joked about having ADHD because I tended to bounce around a lot, but I didn’t have any of the stereotypical symptoms. I didn’t act out in class (on the contrary, I was definitely one of the quieter kids) and my grades were always fine. I survived high school, college, law school, and passed the bar exam on my first try. But I did often get frustrated with myself, in terms of the day-to-day inability to get things done and some weird gaps in my intellectual ability. I never felt like I was able to use all of the available hardware in my head, so to speak.
I’d been in counseling for depression for pretty much my whole adult life, but again the idea of actually having ADHD never occurred to me. After being with the same counselor for a couple years, she suggested that I might have it. I underwent a neuropsych exam, including the CBT, but the results weren’t consistent with ADHD. Some things did make sense once I was diagnosed: a large variation in sub-scores on the IQ test, and terrible performance on a memory test. This last I expected, since I’ve always known that I’m lousy at rote memorization without anything to connect things to.
Anyway, we went back to the drawing board for awhile. But a year or two later, my counselor said one day something like, “are we sure you don’t have ADHD?” By this point I was open to any and all possibilities, and so she referred me to a psychiatrist. I did a questionnaire (something akin to the ASRS), and she had no trouble making a diagnosis at that point.
I started meds, and it was pretty great. It took awhile to find the right combination, of course. I started on methylphenidate but maxed out on dosage pretty fast. Adderall was, if anything, too awesome; it felt amazing and really helped me get a handle on stuff, but was stressful and jacked up my appetite something fierce. I got switched to Vyvanse, which has so far been the best fit.
More and more things, looking back, have started to make sense. I was 2-3 years ahead in math when I was little, until I took algebra in 7th grade and hit a wall. I ran from math from a long time after that. Our theory at the time was that I just hadn’t developed some abstract reasoning bits in my brain just yet, but it was a serious blow to my self-image. Not having the maturity yet to step back and think about it, I stuck my head in the sand and just decided that it was something I wasn’t good at. Of course, getting diagnosed with ADHD made this make sense: seeing the initial concepts was fine, but multi-step problems were much more problematic.
Now, my biggest focus is in figuring out how to manage time better. But it’s not the more typical issue of, say, needing to get things done around the house (even if that’s part of it). Instead, I have no idea how to prioritize my time just in general. I feel like I’m interested in everything, but only for a bit. I don’t really feel like I’ve been able to find anything that I consistently enjoy, and the result has been an inability to really develop meaningful skills in anything. I think that my strategy of avoiding the wall of awful was just to do something else. But this is also a way to climb it: I do much better on something tedious if I can multitask between it and something that I actually enjoy doing. Thus for me, all those things they tell you not to do when studying were actually the right things.
This is all well and good, but the prioritization problem remains. Everything is interesting when it’s new, and I don’t know how to focus down what I actually want to devote my time (and life) to. So that’s my focus (heh) for the time being.