Helen's blog: Think you might have ADHD? My tips for the journey
Updated: 2 days ago
For me, wondering whether I had ADHD or not was a huge deal. I was a grown up with two kids and it wasn’t a direction I expected to be going in! It was a shock initially to think that I might be different from other people in such a significant way and I didn’t know what to do about it or how to process that information at all. I didn’t really know a great deal about ADHD, especially not about how it presents in adult women which can be very different to the stereotypical hyperactive little kid that many of us associate with ADHD. I like to learn about things and I really wanted to know as much as I could about it to try and figure out whether it was a part of me. I’ve put together some suggestions of things that I found useful in those early days. I hope they help you on your journey too.
One of the first places I went was the brilliant ‘How to ADHD’ YouTube channel. There are loads of videos about different aspects of ADHD. There’s one on executive function friendly ADHD recipes that I cried a bit watching because it resonated so strongly! Have a little watch and see what you think.
I watched A LOT of these videos. I found them great because they were light-hearted and upbeat and reading big long serious articles can be, quite frankly, depressing and boring and not what I want to do with my evenings!
This got me wondering and I moved on to my next phase which was “take every ADHD quiz you can find”. There must be millions out there. I took most of them, with varying results and convinced myself that I did and didn’t have ADHD at different times. It’s important to remember that they are just quizzes and they can’t diagnose you, but if you want to try one, this one from the ADDA (Attention Deficit Disorder Association) is easy and doesn’t take long. ADDA is an American organisation that helps adults with ADHD. You’ve got to put in an email address to get the results and it sends you a chipper little message about it which I found pretty reassuring! You can unsubscribe if you don’t want to hear from them again.
Soon after this I decided that I really wanted to know, either way, whether I had ADHD or not. You’ve got options if this is where you end up. You can go and see your GP and chat to them about referral for a diagnosis, but I didn’t even attempt this route because I had heard that the waiting lists are long and I am super impatient (that would be the ADHD)! So the other option is contacting a private clinic, which is what I did. The one I used was called The ADHD Centre www.adhdcentre.co.uk and they offered me an appointment within a couple of weeks. There are loads of other places that offer assessments as well so shop around. I think it’s important to know what will happen during your assessment so make sure you ask and then you can be prepared. I was hugely stressed about the whole thing but in hindsight it wasn’t so bad and I’m very glad I went through with it. My assessment consisted of three questionnaires to fill in before the appointment. There’s one for you, one for someone who knows you now (your partner or a friend maybe) and one for someone who knew you in childhood (a parent or sibling works well). These were reviewed by a psychiatrist and then we had an online consultation which took about an hour. The psychiatrist that I saw was also an NHS consultant and she was extremely nice. I was a bit of a wreck but I guess she was used to that and I did chill out a bit as the consult went on.
And that was it! I had my ADHD diagnosis. But that was just the beginning really. I was incredibly lucky to have some fantastic friends that knew a lot more about neurodiversity than I did who I could talk to during the whole process. Somebody recently asked me what helped me the most around the time of my diagnosis and it was definitely talking to these guys. The chances are that you know someone with ADHD, so try reaching out to them for a chat or a laugh or a cry. If you don’t, there are lots of great online communities that you can tap into for support.
There is so much to know and understand about ADHD and it takes a while to get your head around it all but there are a few pages that I follow on social media which regularly publish interesting articles. ADDitude magazine www.additudemag.com and ADHD Foundation www.adhdfoundation.org.uk are my top two.
So, there you go. Those are my top tips to help you through what can be a difficult and confusing time. For me, the diagnosis explains a lot and now I know that I have ADHD, I am able to figure out how I work best. Which of my coping mechanisms are useful and which are really unhelpful. This isn’t easy to do alone and I’ve been working with a coach www.danielkrcoaching.com to try and make sense of it all. I would definitely advise that you do this, it helps to untangle the brain spaghetti and I’m in a really good place as a result of it.
I hope you enjoy your journey, here’s to the next chapter!
Do you want to find out more? Starting 18th January 2024 The Vet Project is running ND Thinkbox. These are FREE fortnightly group coaching and peer support sessions. Sign up on our website at www.thevetproject.co.uk or drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org