What if I don't have ADHD?

Hi! I’m 18 years old and new to this forum. I have been watching Jessica’s videos for quite a long time – originally because my sister was diagnosed with ADHD, but I have realised more and more that I recognise myself too in her videos.

I haven’t told my parents about my suspicions yet, even though I know my parents will be very supportive – my dad and both my siblings all have ADHD/ADD, so it’s nothing new.

I think I’m a bit scared of going through with an investigation. I’m scared of finding out I don’t have ADHD – then I’d just be lazy, careless and flaky for no reason at all. It also takes time, and I am extremely busy all the time and barely have any time to relax – adding another thing would make my schedule even more overwhelming than it already is.

I have a few questions for you ADHDers out there: Have any of you ever felt the same? And how did you talk to your parents about suspecting you might have ADHD? How did the investigation work? And how has the diagnosis helped you?

I feel like I need some support and motivation to deal with this!

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Oop hello! Same age buddies!

It’s not necessary for a diagnosis, but ADHD often runs in families so it wouldn’t surprise me if you had it too if so many of your family has it.

This is a fear that a lot of people have. It’s a fear that I have and a fear that I’m sure won’t ever really go away. The thing is, there will always be that horrible person that will refuse to understand and will only think that and you’ll be forced into that line of thinking again but it is not and never will be true.

One of the main criteria for deciding whether something should be seen as a disorder and not a character trait is distress, whether the person affected is upset by the symptoms or not. If you are, then it’s something.

I receive this advice a lot on my posts and it never ceases to irk me but here it is for you lol:

If you get it looked at, it may not come out as ADHD but that doesn’t mean youre lazy, careless or flaky. If it distresses you, it is something, whatever that something may be. And it might be ADHD (given the family history, it likely is) but even if it isn’t, that doesn’t exclude you from help and support.

I wish you all the best. I hope you can find answers!

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Hi there! I totally recognize this feeling - I was very much the same when I was your age (28 now)… And honestly, I still regularly get it – the whole “but what if I tricked them and I’m really just …”.

I felt that way for YEARS, but there’s no history of ADHD in my family, so I didn’t suspect it at all. Didn’t get tested (and diagnosed) until 2 years ago. So I’m going to echo Dxitydoo here: try to get tested if you can find the time, especially if you know your parents will be supportive.

Because ok, maybe you don’t have ADHD. But in my experience, people are not “flaky and lazy” for no reason. Maybe you are a bit burned out, or just overwhelmed, or suffering from anxiety. I remember 18 being a time of Big Life Questions and Big Expectations and it stressed me the f. out, ADHD or not :wink:

You sound like you need some support. Getting the most likely cause tested first seems like the best way forward :slight_smile:

Best of luck!

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I hadn’t thought of it that way – that the way I’m affected by my symptoms is just as important as the symptoms themselves.

And it seems stupid to me now, that I hadn’t considered that even if it isn’t ADHD, I can still get help.

Thank you so much @Dxitydoo ! :heart:

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Thank you for your advice @SugarintheSkye ! It’s nice to know someone else has felt/feels the same way, and thank you for the much needed support :smile:

I’m going to try to take your advice and find time to get tested. Maybe getting help can help me to be less overwhelmed, even if it takes up some time.

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I didn’t ever think of having ADHD until it was suggested a couple of years ago. So, I never got to talk to my parents about it.

That being said, I think it’s an okay idea to talk with your parents about it. It would be important to ask, though, what would you be asking them for? Do you need their support? Do you need them to help you get evaluated? Are you looking for their input or observations? As an adult you have the ability to seek care without them, even under their insurance. It’s just up to you to decide when to do that.

As to the concerns that you have about being lazy, careless, and flaky… that kind of negative self talk can come from a variety of places and is also usually a distorted view of us and our behavior. I think it would be worth working with a therapist to challenge some of those thoughts, and also to explore the diagnosis. And, at the end of the day, if you don’t have an ADHD diagnosis then there are other things to work on including some self compassion to be gentle with yourself, learn about the challenges you face, and find ways to address those in a healthy and supportive way.

Whatever the case, welcome and good luck!

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Twas no problemo! I’m glad I could help!

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A lil update! Time goes quickly, it definitely does not feel like 11 days since I wrote this… But I finally talked to my mum! She didn’t say either that she thinks I have it or not. She thought it might be ADD (because I think it’s way more likely than ADHD), but that it could also be that I have a lot of things going on at once. Which is true, but as I do more and more research about ADD in girls specifically, I recognise more and more from my childhood and from symptoms I’m experiencing now.

As she wasn’t really sure, she advised me to not to turn to the psychiatry directly (also partly because there are such long waiting times…) but rather to contact my school nurse and talk a little to her. So that’s what I’ll do first!

I’m a little mad at myself for not having realised this before I turned 18 one and a half months ago… It would have been much easier to get an appointment with the psychiatry. And also because I’m going on a gap year after I graduate in a few months.

Thank you for all your support! You really helped me build up the courage :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Ok, a little continuation on my update, because of course I couldn’t keep it all in my head at once! My mum said some more things:

She doesn’t want for me to do an evaluation while things aren’t “that bad” kind of — then I might not be diagnosed, and it’ll be harder for me to redo the evaluation in the future. I get what she means, but if it’s ADD/ADHD I’d like to find out before losing track of my life and becoming depressed and anxious.

It made me think of a story I heard in a (Swedish) podcast today: a girl who had all the criteria for inattentive ADHD but “had her life together” so she wasn’t diagnosed in the end. And now I’m afraid that’ll happen — that I’ll seem to be dealing with my life too good to have a diagnosis.

As usual, I’m worried I’m not enough — now I’m not ADD/ADHD enough. My brother and sister and dad had worse problems than me, so I can’t have ADHD because it’s not as bad as it was for them.

Do you get what I mean?

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I totally get this feeling! I’m currently on a long waiting list for diagnosis, and I’m starting to get scared about what if I don’t have it after all and I’m just flaky…

I get your mum’s point of view, but I would say that please go get an assessment as soon as possible, even if you have your life together now!! You really don’t want to wait until things go wrong.

I’m 26 now and wish I had known when I was 18, that way I could have got accommodations at college instead of losing interest and dropping out!!
I also had my life pretty much together when I was your age because I still lived at home with parents who forced me to do the things I needed to do, but as soon as I moved out to live on my own, life turned a lot harder. Of course it was hard before too, but when I didn’t have anyone at home checking if I was actually going to school on time or doing my assignments, it started becoming impossible to actually do those things, which eventually led to me dropping out and that’s a point in my life I regret a lot but I can’ t ever get back to it and change things…

So the earlier you know the more heartbreak you can save yourself! And it will keep your image of yourself more positive too when you can forgive yourself when things go wrong, you know it’s not you but the ADHD… And at least you don’t have to keep wondering anymore. :slight_smile:

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I’m so sorry for you @violet , that you didn’t get help in time and that you’re still waiting for help. I really hope you’ll get help as soon as possible!

And I strongly agree with you – I want to get help before I go to uni and move away from home. I’m afraid that I’ll have quite a hard time dealing with the change if I don’t get support, help and accommodations. And I’m getting more and more nervous for my gap year next year, when I’ll hopefully go to Canada and work as a snowboarding instructor. What if I can’t take care of my apartment or get myself to work every day?

Thank you for sharing your story :heart:

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Welcome to the forum! I only got diagnosed a year ago at 25, after it had been causing much distress in my relationship and possibly even affected my job performance. I worried over it to myself for quite a while before deciding to tell anybody, which I think was a mistake. I was so full of anxiety leading up to my test, worried I had made the whole thing up and was just seeking excuses. Even after receiving the diagnosis I was worried they only gave me the label because I told them I had the symptoms, similar to how I was treated for depression in my teen years because I presented as having depression, but no one looked beyond that for any other issues. (I am not recommending this next part) but once I finally saw a therapist for it and then once I finally tried some medication for it, I finally felt some validation in the diagnosis. The therapist said “yes, I see these symptoms in you” and the psychiatrist said “yes, these medications seem to work for you.” I am NOT recommending you try medication just to see if the diagnosis is legit!

Talking to your mom can be really helpful in identifying “symptoms” from earlier in your childhood. I have a terrible memory and couldn’t remember much from my grade school years, so my mom was able to help with that a bit. If you have any friends from childhood, they might be able to help also. I worked on putting a list together before I went for my appointment to help illustrate that the issues I was having were not just from the last couple years and possibly stemming from anxiety (which the doctor said I might also have.) Getting diagnosed now can also help you develop tools for handling the changes coming up, like getting yourself to work on time.

I’m not sure how the process works where you’re at, but the way I did it was apparently not everyone’s experience. I scheduled a blind appointment for a psycho-educational evaluation, which involved 6 hours of terribly boring IQ tests and a brief history evaluation, and then I waited a month for a poorly-written report that explained how my results on the test indicated ADHD. I’ve since read that meeting with a therapist might have given a diagnosis in one session, just from talking to someone who knew about it! Whatever you choose, I would suggest doing your research on the process and make sure you find someone who knows about ADHD in adults.

As mentioned before though, even if it isn’t ADHD, or there’s more on top of that, knowing what the thing is that’s causing you distress in life can really help you address it and learn to manage it. One of the biggest things I found was that I could stop beating myself up so much for all my “stupid” mistakes, because I knew the way my brain worked was different instead of stressing myself over not being “normal enough.” It helped me learn to work with my brain instead of against it.

I’m sorry this ended up being so long. I want you to know that we are all here for you. Let us know how things go!

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Hey eliszem!

Everyone has already given some pretty awesome advice, I just wanted to say I have the exact same worries about going for a diagnosis (I’m currently on a waiting list). However those worries probably won’t entirely go away until you start doing something about it. It’s awesome that you talked to your mum well done! And I think that’s not bad advice about talking to your school nurse but remember the nurse may not know so much about ADHD so
may not give you the correct advice. You could always do both - get on the waiting list for a psychiatrist and also see the nurse? Another reason for it is that waiting list aint getting any shorter! The quicker you get on it the quicker you’ll be seen. There are also lots of online tests that you could take if you haven’t already which can give you an idea (there’s a good one on ADDitude). As someone else said to me - truly lazy and careless people tend not to worry about it. So the fact you’re worrying about it most likely signifies something else is going on.
ADHD affects everyone differently so don’t worry about how it’s affecting your family members seemingly ‘worse’. Maybe their symptoms are just more visible than yours, it doesn’t make yours any less valid.

Good luck! Keep us updated.

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Thank you @elleon! I’m from Sweden, and here I think it’s most common to do an evaluation with a psychiatrist and a psychologist. I’ll probably do it at a private clinic, as the waiting times can be up to a year otherwise… Thankfully, as almost my entire family has been through the process, my mum knows where to go and not to go to get good help.

I think that looking back at your childhood is quite a large part of the investigation. I plan to kind of chronologically write down what I remember from my childhood, but I find it quite heavy to think about my early school years – it was a tough time for me. Unfortunately I don’t have any friends from that time, as I barely had any friends back then…

The more I read on this forum, the more I realise how supportive you all are!! It’s SO great to know that you’re all here, diagnosis or not. So thank you again for your support @elleon!

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Yes @Lucy1, the waiting lists are pretty long… I hope to do a private evaluation but I still need to wait to see a psychiatrist first. I’ve looked it up a bit, and there seems to be several for young adults in my city, and I really hope the waiting times are shorter there!

And yes, I am worrying about the things I have trouble with quite a lot. It seems to be the only thing I can think about…

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