Diagnosed ADHD at 24
This morning I decided to get back on the horse. After months of leaving this blog to wither to the ground I decided that I wanted to post again. I’m trying to view this as something fun; a hobby, but it’s so hard when the community are so good at frequently posting interesting pieces. In the last 24 hours I had a brainwave. I’d just post one of my old blogs that I’d written a few months ago and left to rot in a folder on my desktop. This morning? They’re gone.
So, here’s my attempt at getting back at blogging and we’re starting with a topic that I’ve wanted to discuss for a while: Getting help for Mental Health.
Mental Health is something we all have. Good Mental Health or poor, our brains need attention and looking after. I’ve had bouts of anxiety and depression in my life, but luckily, nothing ever too extreme so I’ve never officially been diagnosed with anything.
So, what happens when at 24 you’re diagnosed with ADHD?
Now, I know that ADHD is not something that everyone can relate to. It’s not a Mental Health condition either, it’s a neurodevelopmental condition, however, many of the symptoms can often be mistaken as poor mental health. However, one thing that I think many of us can relate to is the frustration that comes with trying to get help and the stigma that comes with a hidden disability and mental health.
When I first realised that I might have ADHD, as weird as it might sound, I was excited. All of these various issues that had presented themselves in my life since childhood might actually have an explanation – maybe I wasn’t the problem. Maybe 24 years of feeling bad about the way I do things could be explained. But at the same time, it was terrifying. I have a degree, I’m a teacher – how on earth could I have ADHD if I had managed to get through all of those things without help or without someone realising? The sad truth of it is: ADHD and many disorders that are hidden do get missed.
I ‘hyper focussed’ on research for months, all whilst plucking up the courage to tell a professional. When I finally did, I was passed from person to person and from team to team, all without any referral or an answer. It was exhausting and I felt like an imposter. Maybe I had made this all up. Maybe they all laughed at me secretly when the phone was put down. I pushed it to the back of my mind and got on with my life.
It wasn’t until I started struggling at work did I realise that I was in desperate need of help and support.
Getting the Diagnosis
Once I finally pushed through (and this meant countless letters, emails and phone conversations) I was finally referred to a private company through the NHS for an ADHD assessment. The whole process was draining. Why are hidden disabilities and Mental Health problems still treated with a horrific amount of ignorance? Before I was diagnosed, I wrote a four-page long blog post (unfortunately, one of the ones that was deleted accidentally – oops) about how frustrated and lost I felt, wondering if anyone else felt the same. It’s isolating to see yourself in just about every symptom but not being able to access the necessary help and support. And even before we get to the support, just having an answer as to why I am a certain way, why I always feel different is a start.
So many young people are going under the radar when it comes to Mental Health conditions and Hidden Disabilities, and it’s incredibly dangerous if we keep palming vulnerable people off, ignoring them, not being proactive and only being reactive.
One of the reasons I wanted to become a teacher was because of how passionately I feel about helping young people with their mental health and if my step towards helping myself gives other young people or even my students the confidence to believe in themselves and their own bodies, then at least that’s one less person that has to go through a quatre of their lives feeling ‘wrong’.
Well, I don’t have much of an idea of what I’m truly going to do with the information that I have ADHD but I felt as though sharing it on my blog would be a good place to start. I love talking about what I’m learning about life, and this is just another of those learning curves.
What I find the hardest, though, is living in a world that doesn’t accommodate me. I have my own standards for myself, as living to please other people doesn’t work – whether you have ADHD or not. I’ve already learnt that I know myself more than anyone else in the world and that I need to have the confidence to stand up for myself. I’ve also cut myself a bit of slack. If there’s something I can’t do or don’t want to do, I don’t force myself to do it. I think that’s super important for everyone to realise that though. I am doing things my way and there shouldn’t be external amounts of pressure forcing us to be a certain way, to do things the same as everyone else.
If there’s a lesson to take away from my experience it’s that you should always always ALWAYS advocate for yourself. Push for answers. Push for help. If you’re struggling in the world in any form: physically, mentally or you’re just a bit stuck, there is help out there, albeit in a small capacity, but it is there. The current resources for Mental Health and Hidden Disabilities like ADHD may be lacking, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. It means you have to fight for your right to use them. You deserve to live a comfortable and happy life just as much as anyone!
Now, if this post seems a little all over the place, that’s because it is. My brain has been absolutely fried for the past few months as I’ve been going through the diagnostic process as well as getting a new kitten and being asked to be my best friends Bridesmaid…!
I would absolutely love to keep this blog up as frequently as I can, and coming into the summer term at school may mean that I have a bit more time. But I cannot promise anything as thanks to my findings about my wonderful brain, I find it difficult to do things like this on a regular basis.
So: Here’s me promising to try not me promising to do. Loopholes, right?
Again, like always, thank you for following me on my journey as I Navigate my Twenties, and this, like many of my stories, is just another brick in the wall.