Living with ADHD: Early Diagnosis

I vividly remember, when I was ten years old, sitting in a fifth-grade classroom waiting on a message over the intercom.

Every day right before lunch, I would be summoned to the main office.

Once I walked in the office, our school secretary would reach into a file cabinet and grab a medicine bottle labeled with my name and address. She would open the bottle and politely ask me to extend an open hand. Afterward, she would very carefully shake out one little yellow pill and then hand me a small paper cup of water. She watched me swallow the pill, instructed me to go to lunch, and encouraged me to have a great rest of the day. I remember a very similar procedure carried out by my mother before I left for school each morning.

At a very early age, I was diagnosed with ADD/ADHD.”

During my elementary through high-school career, I knew this. I knew that I was on a regimen of medicine that included Adderall, Ritalin and even a few natural supplements. I knew that the diagnosis had a lot to do with impulse and the inability to control those impulses at times, but I never understood ADD/ADHD.

Understanding ADHD

To be completely honest, I never really cared to understand the diagnosis. Until recently, I had only recognized ADD/ADHD in two perspectives: as an excuse to get out of a little trouble in high school and as a superpower that would allow me to get things accomplished as I got older.

However, today is different.

You see, once I graduated high school, the medicine and counseling sessions all went away. It was not long before I forgot I had been diagnosed altogether. But the truth is I needed to continue to work through my issues even as an adult.

To say I struggled in college would be an understatement. I would find myself completely bored in classes and constantly on my phone to find something else to entertain my brain. In fact, I remember writing a list of things to do while I was in class to help make the time go by quicker. I needed help then, and I didn’t even know it.

“Living with ADHD”

Fast forward a few more years when I had finally come to the understanding that the traditional college experience was not for me. Still with little understanding about the ADD/ADHD diagnosis, I was able to finish my college education in a nontraditional fashion.

Somewhere in the mix of my attempts at completing school, I met the love of my life. After nearly five years of marriage, we had a beautiful baby girl — and also filed for divorce.”

In all of those years of being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as a child, I did not have a clue — or an interest — that it would rear its ugly head years later and allow me to completely destroy a relationship I worked so hard to obtain. After spending what both my ex-wife and I could now call our worst four years together, it was only recently that I read an article that let me know I need help.

The article is called “20 Things to Remember If You Love a Person with ADD.” After reading that article, I realized I easily qualified for nineteen of the twenty characteristics listed. It was at that point that I remembered this is something I have struggled with my entire life.

The only problem with my newfound epiphany was that it came too late for me to salvage my marriage.

The Reason for These Words

So why am I writing this article? Well, I honestly feel that it can help you or maybe someone you know before it is too late.

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This article came from the great minds at
Thriveworks Therapy, Conway.

I would like for you to take three things from this article:

1. ADD/ADHD does not automatically disappear once you reach adulthood.

2. The characteristics and impulses you experienced as an adolescent are very similar to the ones you will experience as an adult, only the stakes are a lot higher. Leaving it unattended or suppressing the symptoms can and will threaten your business relationships, relationships with friends, your children, and, as with me, your marriage.

3. There are several solutions to help you gain control of ADD/ADHD. My advice is to find a reputable counselor and begin to talk about it. You will be surprised at how far a single conversation with someone who has an understanding of ADD/ADHD will take you.

In closing, my challenge to you is simple. Take this diagnosis serious because it can turn your life upside down. Then take control of it by speaking with a reputable counselor in your area.

Does ADHD have some hidden advantages? Psychologist Dr. Jessica Pena believes it does. Click to watch her webinar with Dr. Anthony Centore, where she lays out the often overlooks advantages of the ADHD mind. If you only want audio, visit our Soundcloud page!

If you’d rather listen to the audio version, see below:

Do you have a mental health story you’d like to share? Contact us today to let us know, and we may feature you on the Thriveworks blog!