Living Life with Undiagnosed ADHD
To get some perspective on Don's experiences, it's important to get some background on ADHD in adults. ADHD can be a very isolating condition, especially for those with undiagnosed ADHD. The struggles in childhood, adolescence, relationships and at work can all be confusing and exhausting. It is often helpful to know that, if you are an adult with ADHD, you are not alone in your feelings and experiences. Life can be better, more hopeful, and more joyful with a greater understanding about ADHD, and with appropriate diagnosis and treatment.
Don's Personal Story
Don is an adult with ADHD who has felt these emotions. Childhood was filled with rejections and negative admonishments from the adults and peers around him. His self-esteem and self-worth felt battered and, as a result, he isolated himself from others. Because those around him did not have a clear understanding or awareness of ADHD symptoms, his behaviors were attributed to a lack of self-discipline and motivation, and he was often referred to simply as “lazy.” The negative labels quickly took their toll.
Undiagnosed adult ADHD created career problems for Don. Impulsive job-hopping and a lack of career choice pervaded his life well into his thirties. Once settled into a career choice, his distraction in work meetings and training sessions hurt his chances for moving up in the company. He began to question his skills and the subsequent lack of self-confidence affected other areas of his life, particularly the ability to make and maintain friendships and intimate relationships.
Though Don is a natural left hander, he was forced to use his right hand in school as a child. This concerted effort to change a natural movement left an indelible mark on him. Rather than embracing his strengths and interests, Don spent life trying to fit into roles that simply did not work for him. It was like struggling to fit a square peg into a round role, and it left him feeling miserable.
The Turning Point
Don was finally diagnosed with ADHD at age 44. He became involved in treatment and joined a wonderfully accepting and supportive group for adults with ADHD, which helped him understand the ways his ADHD symptoms affected his daily life. He jump-started his career by following his true vocational passion and talent, which was writing.
“I am more focused than I was 10 years ago. My mind does not race at the rate and frequency it did when my ADHD was at its apex,” shares Don. “I minimize distractions by refusing to own a cell phone. I still have a difficult time maintaining focus in a group setting where I listen to one or more speakers. Church services have always tested my ADHD, and the hour-long service can [still] test my attention span unless I make it a point to sit in one of the first few pews.”
With the help from his support group, Don has developed various strategies to manage his symptoms. He avoids settings and situations that exacerbate his symptoms, and he has become more accepting and understanding of himself and of his strengths. Adding regular exercise to his daily routine has reduced restlessness and improved mental focus. Educating the important people in his life about his ADHD has resulted in more understanding and greater feelings of acceptance. Open communication with others has helped diminish his tendency to isolate from others.
- Work and ADHD
- Time Management
- The Importance of Accurate Diagnosis and Treatment
- Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Source: Don K. Potochny. Email interview/correspondence. Feb 16, 2009.
Don K. Potochny. Email interview/correspondence. Feb 16, 2009.