Monday, 11 April 2022

Have I got ADHD?

Have you been seeing a lot of posts about adult ADHD and how it presents in women? How it presents so differently to boys and can be masked so much that many women are only now just discovering they have it?
Dopamine Chasing on a swing, or am I???

According to my newsfeed of Instagram, TikTok and Facebook, almost every adult woman I know is seeking or has got an ADHD diagnosis. How could it be that prevalent and so badly missed by medical science? *Hollow laugh* I mean, we know the answer to that don’t we. #womensproblems

However, it’s very possible you can’t relate at all to what I am writing. You’ve not seen many, if any posts about adult ADHD and you definitely don’t relate to the characteristics that can nod to a diagnosis. The wonder of the algorithm!

One of the things about ADHD is that people diagnosed have lower levels of dopamine, the reward-pleasure chemical in your brain. And one way of seeking dopamine hits is social media. So, my chicken and egg situation with “how have I suddenly got loads of friends with ADHD on my Insta feed” is now clearer. It’s those of us who endlessly scroll, like, share and gorge on memes for the sweet dopamine vibes who are most likely to be posting about it too. A big chunk of my real-life friends have no social media and if they do, they aren’t on there 24/7. And they most definitely aren’t diagnosed with ADHD.

So, after clicking and liking and reading more memes and watching TikTok’s where I was like OMG THAT’S ME! And even listening to podcasts where people talked about their diagnoses, I began to think that it was something I should consider too. The one that stood out for me was Shappi Khorsandi talking about going to festivals (skip to 12:24 to hear) and staying to the bitter end. This was a bit of a light bulb for me. I have actually told several counsellor’s that I was always the last one standing and I “never wanted the party to end”. I would drink bully people to staying up with me all night because I just didn’t want the fun to stop.

I had dismissed a potential diagnosis initially because one of the main characteristics of ADHD is disorganisation and being messy. I am super organised and tidy. I have lists and budgets and calendars and a paper diary that I manually fill every year with every birthday and holiday. I write down all the kids school things and the days they need to be wearing a green jumper for “football saves lives” or whatever shiz the school have got their begging bowl out for that week.

But the more I read the more I thought… hold up. Could this be the reason why at the ripe old age of 45 I’ve never had anything remotely resembling a relevant career? This March marks the 20th anniversary of working at a job I started temping in back in the day. *Embarrassed groan*. I’m being flippant about it but the relief actually made me cry. The thought that it might not be all my fault that I felt useless, lazy and shit in school and colossally embarrassed about the fact that I’ve never managed to work in a field remotely related to my degree let alone carve out any sort of successful career.

So, then I wrote a list of other ways I could relate to the symptoms:

Inability to concentrate on anything, ever.

Not being able to sit still (this is especially annoying in a cinema or theatre)

Even if I am watching a film, reading a book or watching a concert I am LOVING I will count down the minutes until I can leave/finish.


Impulsive shopping / terrible with money

Binge eating disorder / drink too much


Addicted to social media

Terrible short-term memory

Impulsive blurting…. I’ve got into endless trouble as a blogger when I write about things/people without thinking properly about the repercussions. I even have a blog post “Big mouth strikes again”. ☹ Especially not fun if you actually hate confrontation.

Short tempered and no patience.

Finishing people’s sentences

Talking over people (I try not to do this because I know it’s rude, usually I do it but apologise and try really hard to keep trying to remember my point whilst they finish talking)

Can’t do one thing at a time, always doing multiple things.

In school all school reports were “easily distracted, always talking, disruptive” “capable” but “not reaching full potential”.

Would spend more time devising elaborate revisions schedules than revising. Revising was horrendous. (Classic procrastination)

Cannot stand monotony. Cannot do things repetitively without losing my mind.

I hate being alone. I always need people or noise. If I am alone, I have the radio or a podcast on. I can’t do boring jobs like cleaning the kitchen without listening to the radio or a podcast.

I think you’ll agree, if you know anything about it, these seem pretty definitive, don’t they? So, guess what guys, plot twist!!!! I went for a referral. Filled in a huge questionnaire (as did my parents), it took me a week to fill in because, you know, concentration is a bust for me! And I ended up writing 3k plus words. And they wrote back within 2 weeks to tell me they weren’t sending me for an assessment. BUMMER.

I was gutted. I mean, I do understand. The NHS is under huge pressure. They don’t have the money to send everyone who decides they’ve got a diagnosis from Facebook through a costly assessment process. Especially when there are people who really need extra support. I just wanted to be told I’m not shit. I don’t want medication and I don’t know how a diagnosis would help me going forward other than boosting my self-esteem. In those terms it’s super easy to accept the non-referral. But now I just feel stuck in a kind of limbo.

But. One of the things I am the worst for is labels. I like to find big fat labels for things and stick them metaphorically on to the “thing”. It helps my brain sort out the world into understandable bits. But this is a very black and white approach. And the world isn’t black and white. There is nuance in everything, and I need to be more accepting of this. So, I don’t have a label for myself and my weird ways. Ok. Now I need to just accept it and move on. And I am definitely not immediately picking up my phone and looking at ADHD TikTok’s right now….

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