What if I don't appear to have ADHD?

Hi! I’m a 19 year old man from the Netherlands and currently have a gap year. In the Netherlands the schooling system is a bit different, but I had pre-university education, which basicly means I was smart.

I started my BCs Applied Mathematics on the TU Delft, only to quit a few months later, because I couldn’t keep up. Almost always I didn’t make notes, do homework, or pay attention in lectures. I’ve had similar issues in middle/high school, where I also had a lot of trouble with starting projects and if I started, to continue working on it, resulting in nobody wanting to work with me. I finally got through after doing redo-year.

Right now I’m working three days a week on a school, helping students with their math-problems, since that’s on of the few things I feel I’m good at. I also take driving lessons twice a week.

I’ve never thought about having ADHD until very recently, when I accidentaly found myself on a website about it. I noticed I had a lot of similar problems (mind is always on the go, trouble getting to sleep before 02:30 AM, missing parts in conversations, always fidgeting, easily distracted, unable to start with even little tasks that should be easy, and difficulties focusing and shift-focusing). Except for my parents and siblings I haven’t told anyone that I’m getting myself checked, and I find it very hard to tell anyone about it, even on this website.

It’s been a month now and in two days I’m going to see a psychiatrist for the first time. The problem I’m having is that in the last month I’ve constantly been thinking about every move I make and it makes me anxious that I’m just making these symptoms worse in my head then they actually are. And somehow can’t seem to come up with any specific thing from before last months, aside from some major things I’ve had trouble with.

The last few weeks also makes me overthink things, so I could do them as someone with ADHD, or try to do it like any other person would (a.k.a. masking). I feel like I’m doing things to make myself feel like I have ADHD, which makes me doubt myself about actually having it, and it’s driving me nuts and I can’t shut it off.

I’m scared that I get diagnosed with ADHD while I don’t have ADHD, and I’m just lazy and just straight up weird. Or that I don’t get diagnosed while I actually have it. The last few weeks have been terrible for me, because of the permanent anxiety and headaches, because I can’t seem to let the thought of ADHD go. Especiallly the last few days - now that I’m actually going to see a therapist - I’ve been laying in bed without being able to think about anything else. I’m either thinking about it, watching videos about it, or reading forums and blogs about it.

I can’t seem to focus on anything else that normally get my focus, like playing video games. Usually I can play for hours on end without trouble, and now I can’t seem to do it for more then 30 minutes. I’m also scared for next year, because after summer I’m going to start with a BCs in Computer Science, and I’m afraid it will exactly the same, even though I do find it very interesting.

I was wondering if anyone has a similar experience like this, and if so, how did you get over it? Is there anything that helped taking your mind of it? Even if you don’t have a similar experience I would still like anyones thought on this. Thanks in advance.

Btw: I’m very sorry if I made some mistakes in my English, since I’ve never been very good at it :grimacing: and it’s not my native language.


Whether you have ADHD or not, learning a good system to study with, that works for you is in order. :slight_smile:

Your psychiatrist will help you to figure out what your issues actually are. Maybe it’s ADHD, perhaps it’s just the difficulty of transitioning from childhood into adulthood… maybe it’s something altogether different.

Don’t worry too much about which diagnosis box you may receive. Though if you are having a hyperfocus episode, perhaps use it as an opportunity to learn all you can about ADHD and other disorders that can be similar or have share some similarities.

Either way, ADHD or something else or ADHD and something else, you’ve already taken that first step. You have an appointment to seek help! Things are looking up!


i agree with mabd. i don’t know if you have ADHD. that’s not my job or your job to figure out. that’s the psychiatrist’s job.

whether it’s ADHD or something else, you’ve got something going on that’s making it hard to do what you need and want to do. you deserve support.

it sounds like you are having trouble doing things that are meaningful or enjoyable for you – things you want to do. i don’t think that’s laziness. it’s painful to not do the things you want to do.

your english is great. definitely don’t emulate mine. (if you want to talk laziness, i don’t bother with the shift key because that’s extra keystrokes!)


Thanks, from both of you. It helps a lot to see the supportive comments. Definitely makes it easier for me to get to monday!


Welcome @MightyEagle , Dirk to the forum.

A psychiatrist will do a thorough assessment, in order to give you a diagnosis of ADHD, there should be symptoms from early childhood, questionnaires, a psychiatrist history, a clinical interview, screening for other psychiatric conditions.

I received a diagnosis of ADHD.

I had a nervous breakdown, for months . I thought I was stupid , actually ADHD.

If you get a diagnosis of ADHD, there should be accommodations, available .

You are not the first person , to feel anxious about possible undiagnosed ADHD.

It is massively underdiagnosed.

Your English is ok .

Good luck .


Here is one reader’s comments after reading the book:

You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!

“I am an adult who was recently diagnosed with ADHD. I am partway through this book but already blown away. The matter-of-fact, pragmatic, but compassionate writing is incredibly reassuring. It addresses problems that I once thought were personal or moral failures, explains without judgement or sugarcoating why people with ADHD tend to experience them, and gives practical advice for positive change. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for people who suspect or just learned that they have ADHD and want to learn A) why they can stop calling themselves “lazy, stupid, or crazy,” (because they’re not, I promise), B) what’s actually going on in their head, and C) how they can take advantage of their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses in order to start living their best life.”

I agree with what he says . . . and more importantly have lived (for over 50 yrs.) with undiagnosed ADHD . . . I’m now 75! Better to know than wonder . . . rather than suffer with self-doubt and uncertainty!

My 44 y.o. son was diagnosed at 4 yrs. old and his 12 y.o. daughter too!

I relate to so many things that you described . . . It’s better to know if you have ADHD than going on doubting yourself. Perhaps you noticed that those of us here proudly refer to ourselves as “brains” (:brain::brain::brain:) and other non :brain::brain::brain: as “neuro-typical”! Neither one is better than the other . . . just (in some common ways) . . . “different” . . . in good ways!

Oops! Forgot to WELCOME YOU!

Gee, do I forget things many times a day?

I don’t rember! :joy:

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hey mr. eagle :slightly_smiling_face:
when i read ur story i got the urge to tell you “you dont have to try so hard to prove anything”
maaaybe thats not even what u r trying to do. i cant read minds. but thats a strong gut feeling i got reading this.
u dont have to prove that u r smart or not (who sets those standards?)
u dont have to have ADHD to have a place in this world
u dont need any other explanation to be whoever you are
be the best version of yourself. thats all everyone of us got :slight_smile:

a friend of mine i real skeptical about the whole ADHD issue and even though i certainly dont agree with everything he thinks about it i think he might be right about one thing:
just because the world decided to set certain frame in which u “have to function” to be part of “the average joe” doesnt mean u actually have to function in that way ALL THE TIME. make some mistakes. fuck up some courses. be bad at some things. ADHD or not. other impairments or not. just do ur best and stay on a path that takes ur forward. i hope u get what im trying to say and im not sounding too much like a fortune cookie :smiley: take care!


Welcome @MightyEagle,

I also live in the Netherlands. I’m a 44 year old male diagnosed roughly 3 years ago.

Reading your story I think you definitely have a similar neural wiring (afwijking) as many of us here. So the psychologist is mostly going to ascertain if your particular symptoms have impaired you in multiple contexts throughout your life. If so, you probably get diagnosed. If not, you might not. But even then it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t benefit from learning about ADHD and what can help you.

My point is, don’t worry too much about diagnosis/misdiagnosis. You’ll be there using your head (I know you are). And you’ll eventually find what kind of help or treatment works best for you and your particular struggles. You are making the right steps to get there. Keep that in mind.

As for getting over the motivation bridge to study… I finally graduated university when I was 27 after many years of procrastinating. An unhealthy drive to prove myself actually pulled me through to actually finishing it. Which somewhat helped me hold myself accountable. But that is not the path I’d recommend.

First off: you absolutely should study something YOU are interested in (from what I read you are going to do this, so that’s something!)

Second: Accountability is really key here. And it can help if you have someone that can hold you accountable for doing the stuff that needs doing at certain times. Might seem childish. But managing to plan and study through a multi-week (or month) course or assignment is not one of our strong suits and never will be. No shame in asking for help there.

Third: Medication. If you do get diagnosed. Meds (for me) were especially helpful with motivation. I don’t use them myself anymore because motivation is presently not my biggest struggle. But I think they would have helped me a lot when I had taken them during my studying years.

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You have presumably seen the psychiatrist at this point, but I figure it’s still worth noting that your parents are valuable for the discernment you’re struggling with; if you have ADHD, your brain will have been wired that way from the start, so they’ll probably have noticed things over the years, dating all the way back to when you were an infant. It may take you asking, “Am I mad, or have I always…” for it to register with them, but they do have that life-long observational experience of you.

The key to communicating well in a language is confidence. Someone with a fraction of your vocabulary (including quite a few monolingual speakers…) can get by sufficiently simply by not being anxious about their grasp of English. You clearly have a good understanding, so all you need to learn is how to be comfortable with it (which may be simple, but doesn’t necessarily make it easy).

I can tell that’s Dutch, because it looks like a cat walked across your keyboard while you were typing your post :stuck_out_tongue:.