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Readers Respond: Living With Adult ADHD

Responses: 67


Updated July 15, 2010

An About.com user recently diagnosed with ADHD as an adult made a wonderful request on our ADD/ADHD community forum. She became concerned after reading about so many of the struggles and frustrations faced with ADHD.

Her request: "I'm looking for the success stories. I want to read about people with ADHD who have turned their lives around and are living a life they never thought they could have."

Please help her (and others) out by sharing the triumphs and accomplishments in your life with ADHD. How has life improved since being diagnosed and involved in treatment?

Letting Go of the Fear

I was 27 when I was finally diagnosed with ADHD. After more than a decade of seeking help, after years of relationship disasters, job losses, drug addiction, alcoholism, and depression, I felt finished. I spent so much time hating myself, that I destroyed my relationships to avoid having others come to the conclusion that "well, yup, she sure is irritating, and really not reliable". Now, it's been a year and a bit since I started taking Ritalin. I went back to work in November, (I had not worked for two years since having had a nervous cocaine induce breakdown), and last week, I got a promotion and a raise. And now, I feel like life is okay. So, I guess my comment is that finally my potential and matches my ability, and finally I don't have to always feel like I failed to live up to what I could have been. I'm getting a chance to be who I could have been, and all because I take a couple pills in the morning. ADHD left untreated is an emotional cancer. Get help and live your life.
—Guest finally okay

You CAN be Successful

For me, diagnosis was the first part of success. Of course I had some mixed emotions about it, and sometimes even felt downright depressed. Overall though, there was a sense of relief that I wasn’t just a screw-up, or lazy, or irresponsible. The more I began to understand why certain things were such a struggle for me, the more I felt relief and began to be able to accommodate my ADD. In my humble opinion the second step to success is letting go of all the negative feelings you’ve been carting around about yourself for all these years. This is still a challenge for me sometimes, but it has gotten MUCH better. With the help of some therapy and ADD coaching, I was really able to change my attitude from ‘I can’t seem to do anything right’ to ‘Wow, I’m really learning how to get things done much better!’ Each small success (I got something in the mail on time!) gave me more confidence… so give yourself credit for the things you get right, even if they seem small.

Just Diagnosed Today at 46.

Wow, what a day....I too like most of you, am relieved in the fact that something was wrong. I never understood myself, and all the f***** up things I did through the years!!! I forgive myself today, and can't wait to do what I need to do to have a less chaotic life. Your stories have helped me very much. Thank you for sharing. I cried today, but it was a good cry. Waiting on EKG and CBC to begin meds.
—Guest Guess who?


As I read these entries I almost want to cry. As I read I am constantly thinking Oh My Gosh! Me too! Me too! I am 48 and was diagnosed last year. So, much makes sense now. Just in the last week my mom finally admitted she believes I am ADD after watching a Dr. Oz show on the subject Lol. I feel like shackles have been removed. I just started on an extended release of Ritalin because I will begin training for a new work position on Tuesday. For the first time in FOREVER I feel good about myself, because I understand myself finally. Thank you all for posting your stories you are all inspirational! Amen!
—Guest Tish

understanding the struggle

I was 23 years old when I discovered I had ADD right after one is expected to hold a bachelors degree. I had a very hard time particularly in High school with comprehension and alertness in staying engaged with material. My first year in college was a struggle because I did not know what was contributing to my failure to understand material well and particularly why I was having such a hard time. Upon discovering what I was up against 5 years later at the age of 24 I went back to college in January 2009 and graduated with my bachelors degree in May 2012. Currently, I hold a financial service with a set career path I am almost a lending officer with a Senior Financial Service Representative title. I am looking at going to the University of Chapel Hill for an MBA program. I have even considered UNC's Business Administration Ph.D. requirements. There is no way I would have been successful without the aid of an ADD diagnosis.
—Guest Leslie


There is no doubt that being part of a family with ADHD can be challenging. My 48yo husband and 16yo daughter have ADHD. We have some very challenging times, but we also have amazing times. We are finding strategies that work for us as a family, like smart phones, magnetic boards on our daughters door for notes and messages, a notice board on the back of the front door for final reminders, sticky notes of hungry looking cats above the cat bowls as a reminder to feed them, and a "please empty me" note on the dishwasher. We used to have much more reminders around the place, but as our daughter has developed her own methods of remembering things, we have backed off a little. My husband uses this amazing scheduling tool that is available on Apple products - it is called Omni focus - anything he needs to do is in this list, categorized, color coded and time-bound. Mostly it works, and at the very least it reminds him of the things he hasn't done (so I don't have to).
—Guest chelle

I can finally enjoy life!

At the age of 20 they told me I was an alcoholic.....I spent the next 25 or so years sitting in dingy church basements wondering why AA didn't work for me. I just couldn't "get it" the way the others seemed to get it. These same people told me it was my fault, that I wasn't doing it right. By the time I found out I had ADD (my daughter was diagnosed) I truly felt that everyone would be better off without me the big loser. It was only a miracle that saved me from myself, and that miracle was my dear daughter. Her ADD provided me with the right diagnosis.....I know today that I am good, that I am not bad person. I was misdiagnosed as an alcoholic....a too quick diagnosis in my opinion, and it almost killed me. I am turning 50 in March, and although I have some anger about the alcoholic label I was given at such a young age, I am grateful that I found a doctor who didn't dismiss me...one who believed me....one who didn't say that I was "In Denial".....This doctor gave me a life worth living!

ADD - a very painful life

My son was diagnosed many years ago and sent to a vocational school which his friends called a "retard school”. Didn't learn a thing but has suffered his whole life.
—Guest marilyn


I used to talk in gibberish...no one understood me...I couldn’t control myself....something wasn’t right...I made it thru high school with a scholarship but couldn’t keep it. I went thru several doctors before finally finding the right treatment....and now I’m doing so much better! People in my town perceived my diagnosis in different ways...some hung their heads...some were supportive. I used to think from the first doctor I had that I had to hang out with other ADHD people...Nope! I can do anything, my behavior has improved as well as my quality of life...different processes and different things work for different people...I have a great therapist that has guided me through my diagnosis...I used to be afraid of the kids that used to laugh at me in school and tell me I need to take meds...that there was something wrong with me, but now I know I am going to be okay. Not being able to concentrate sucks! Good luck everyone and keep going!
—Guest xt

Its OK

I made it all the way through medical school with bad ADD. This is actually a great field for people with ADD because each patient only requires about 15 minutes at a time and it's never boring for me. I made it through school because someone taught me a few tricks. Always sit in the front row, never ever miss a class, take notes in outline form, and study study study study. It takes work and determination. I had very poor grades when I was young. Dealt with relationship problems, substance abuse, depression and every other thing that goes along with ADD. When I got on medication and learned how I needed to learn, it worked. Get serious and you can do it. Now I believe ADD is a gift that only a few have. Find what you love and it will keep your attention.....
—Guest Ike

This has given me hope

I must say reading these success stories have given me hope for my son. You guys have really made my day also, I am now wondering if I have ADD.
—Guest susan

It's Never Too Late To Live Again

I was diagnosed at age 27. After a string of therapists/psychiatrists who outright denied that ADD/ADHD is a valid diagnosis, or missed the symptoms completely. I'm now on meds and it changed my LIFE. I managed to still get into medical school without any diagnosis or medication, but I was killing myself getting through life. Social life suffered, as did my inner peace of mind. I had anxiety because I'd spend 18 hours doing what a normal person would do in about 4. Even in med school, I got average grades. I was deemed gifted as a child, but never was able to make the 'top of the class' grades in med school. I resigned myself to thinking I'd never get to specialize in what I wanted because I'd have average grades. The last psychiatrist I saw told me he didn't believe in ADD. I wasted 2 months doubting myself sitting in his office for weekly visits. To those seeing a similar doc, seek help elsewhere, you'll find it and you'll become the human being you were born to be and shine!
—Guest Guest

Now how do I start over?

I live on a small island and worked in a small sector that is controlled by a handful of very powerful individuals. I have a bachelors & masters degree and a skill set deeply rooted in this sector. I am competent in what I do but I was always undermined by simple errors of omission that came with ADHD. I have fallen out of favor with this group. Bad news travels fast, and even within an organization where I was respected, I no longer have a foot to stand on. I have watched my job prospects dry up completely as a result. Now that I am managing my ADHD with Ritalin, how do I start over?
—Guest Omar

Always knew that something was off

I was just diagnosed with ADD at 28 years old. I am in a graduate program and nobody believed I had it because I had come so far in school. But, my school history was so unpredictable. It took me a long time to get through undergrad.... straight A's one semester, D's and F's another semester. Same all through primary school, middle and high school. I would excel wildly in "my" subjects, but barely pass the classes I didn't care about, and sometimes I would not pass. I know this sounds silly, but I would "forget" to study for those classes and then try to cram wildly at 3 in the morning when I finally became unabsorbed in whatever stimulating activity had stolen my focus. I am oversensitive to people making comments about my lateness, sleeping habits, focus, or talking too much. I can't be around any televisions, because I get so absorbed by the noise that I cannot focus on anything else. I have been on medication for a year, and I feel like I finally have control over myself.
—Guest Relieved!

less is more.

I'm in my mid 50's and have been ADD my whole life. eye contact and nodding never worked for me; I tried it because it seemed logical, but I found myself totally focused on the act itself, and would not have enough attention left to remember the instructions that I had just be given. I have learned that LESS IS MORE; the less attention I'm giving to something else, the more I have for the issue at hand. Esample: when given instructions by an employer I'd do my best to maintain eye contact and nod affirmatively, then when the employer would leave I would stand there and realize, "what the heck am I supposed to do?" What helps me is to direct every bit of my attention on what the actual instruction is, if I have an attention laps in the process, I stop and ask for a repeat. making the instruction itself the only priority. I have found it less embarrassing to ask someone to repeat a sentence than to repeat an entire instruction; they seem to even appreciate the effort to 'get it right'
—Guest steve
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