Being Bruce -: How I discovered I have Adult ADHD

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

How I discovered I have Adult ADHD

If you've wondered if you have Adult ADHD, maybe my experience will help. I was diagnosed with the Adult ADHD very recently and the clarity and understanding I've gained have been wonderful.

Without question my life view has changed since my Adult ADHD diagnosis. That may seem extreme, but it's true. I now look back, all the way to kindergarten, with a different understanding of why I behaved in some ways. I've changed how I think about myself today and am adjusting some of my behaviors and a lot of my thinking. And the future? Wow, my future looks brighter than ever now that I have changed parts of my own self-concept.

Here's how I discovered that I have Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):

I'm a tech writer for a couple of online websites. In October 2016 I saw an article published in The New York Times about Adderall addiction and Millennials. Because I thought there might be an angle in the story about Millennials who work in tech companies (in the end there wasn't), I read that article and soon started clicking on every link I could find about ADHD and especially Adult ADHD.

Adderall is a medication often prescribed for ADHD in kids and adults. One of the points made in the original article I read was that people who actually have ADHD aren't as likely to have problems with Adderall addiction as those who take it because they were misdiagnosed or people who acquire it illegally to take as a "study drug" or for better concentration on the job. Anyway, in the course of the story the writer mentioned a bit about how people behave and what life is like for those who actually have ADHD.

And I saw myself. It was a total surprise. I had never thought of myself having ADHD as a kid or now as an older (no kidding, right?) adult.

So I read a lot. I found there were free online tests you could take to get an idea if you might have Adult ADHD. The first test I found was an all-or-nothing type. It listed several behaviors and you indicated that "yes" or "no," you did or didn't do them yourself. That seemed pretty crude for a test of human behavior, but I soon found other tests that were more granular. Rather than just answering "yes" or "no," the other tests let you choose among "never," "rarely," "sometimes," "often,", or "always." Click here to read the tests I took.

So I took the tests and, even though I consciously downplayed my answers -- under-rating how often I behaved in certain ways -- because I didn't want to overstate, the same end result kept coming up. In each case my score was in the range of, "you should probably see a doctor because your answers are similar to those of people with Adult ADHD."

So I saw my primary care physician - one I've seen for 13 years. I was able to get an appointment in just a few days. I told him my story and recalled some incidents when I was a child and in high school and college, and even recently. He said he was sure I had Adult ADHD but he wanted me to see a psychiatrist who specializes in it to be sure because he, my doctor, had never worked with an adult as old as I am (that visit was just before my 70th birthday).

So, luckily I was able to get an appointment with the psychiatrist in just another few days. He heard my story and said something like, "Well, it sounds like it to me, but I'd like you to take this test." And he handed me a paper version of the same test I'd taken online.

I couldn't remember exactly how I'd answered online, but again I tried to understate my answers. I mean, this was the real deal with a shrink and all and I didn't want to be diagnosed and treated for something I don't really have.

When I handed the test sheet to him (it's on just one page and very easy to evaluate because of the format), he took a quick look and actually laughed. He said (again I'm paraphrasing), "Yep. You've got it all right. So let's talk about treatment."

In the two weeks during which I started my own exploration through that final diagnosis, I had been doing a lot of thinking about my life. I found that I had many, many insights about my life. I began to get a lot of clarity on why I'd made some of the choices and why I behaved in certain ways. In many respects, that clarity was a wonderful gift.

So now I'm in treatment, but I don't see the shrink often and taking only a little bit of medication -- we discovered right off that I didn't need much. The biggest change is now I understand not only more about the disorder, but about myself.

And I am totally grateful for the diagnosis.

If you want to see the same Adult ADHD self-test I took online (and was given at the psychiatrist's office), there's a box on the right side of this blog. If you enter your first name and email address I'll send you the links to the test. Or, just click on this link.


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