Late Diagnosis ADHD: Can We Heal the Past?
I’m so nervous! In about a half hour, a friend whom I haven’t seen or spoken with in over seven years will be here to visit. Did I say nervous? I feel like I’m going to throw up.
This isn’t just any friend; this was my closest and dearest confidante. She was like family to me. In fact, I lived with her and her family for over a year. We stood by each other through thick and thin until the day she told me she didn’t want to have anything further to do with me.
That happened just before I got my ADHD diagnosis. Sure, I’d left a train wreck of broken relationships behind me over the years. But this one was different. Losing this friend completely ripped my heart out.
My dad had died recently, and he adored her. She’d visited him in the hospital and rubbed his feet days before he died. I knew my dad felt better about leaving me, knowing I was in good hands; the hands of this amazing friend who had helped me through so much.
I wouldn’t be friends with me, either
My friend and I had had a heinous blowup. She had good reason to cut ties with me, and I fully respected and understood her reason for doing so. What I didn’t understand at the time, was that I was dealing with extreme ADHD symptoms caused by a number of factors: my dad’s illness and death; suddenly losing my full-time job; having recently lost a live-in romantic relationship; and being about to lose my apartment.
I take full responsibility for my actions. That said, I know that I was incapable of controlling them for reasons beyond my control. I had a lot to learn.
After my diagnosis, I debated whether or not to contact her. It felt so unfair, and so heart-breaking, to learn about ADHD after I’d already lost the best friend I had. In the end, I respected her wishes and did not reach out. Besides, I didn’t want to appear to be making excuses for my behavior. There were no excuses. But I felt so cheated that I didn’t even get to explain.
Time changes everything (or does it?)
I never thought I’d hear from my friend again. When she heard about Samantha’s recent illness, she reached out. When we were still friends, she’d help me out enormously by taking care of my two dogs, one of them being Samantha. She was the one who taught Samantha how to shake a paw, high five, and any number of tricks that I never would’ve taught her myself.
What do I say? What do I do?
I have so many questions about this reunion. Should I apologize after all these years? I’ve replayed our horrible argument over and over in my mind, even though I tried not to, and felt a great deal of shame and horror at what transpired. I’m sure I apologized profusely at the time. Still, I couldn’t explain adequately why I’d behaved the way I did. How could I? I didn’t know why myself. The sad thing is, I know that if I had been able to handle myself better, it might never have happened.
My diagnosis was only months later. The more I learned about ADHD, and how extreme stress and anxiety can exacerbate one’s symptoms, the more I began to regret what had happened. If only…
It’s not that ADHD is an excuse; but it’s an explanation and one that came too late for this friendship.
Or did it?
It ain’t over ’til it’s over…
I’ve learned this lesson before. When I was writing my first book, Adoption Reunions, one of the most striking things I learned was how important each individual’s timetable is. I interviewed dozens of adoptees and birth mothers (amongst others) for this book, which explores the emotional aftermath of a reunion. One adoptee had found her birth mother only to be told by the birth mother that she wasn’t interested in a reunion. The adoptee was crushed. She perservered, however, continuing to send her birth mother a birthday card every year (with the birth mom’s permission).
Nine years later, her birth mom was ready. Not only did they meet; their reunion was wonderful. Timing is everything: and not everyone’s emotional timing is the same.
There’s always hope
It’s minutes away from my reunion with a long lost friend. I have no idea what the outcome of our meeting will be. I have no idea what I’m going to say, or what she’ll say. But the fact that her initial note to me said her getting in touch with me was “long overdue,” is hopeful.
Anyway, gotta go brush my teeth and preen. Wish me luck.
And, oh yes, there will be a post-mortem. I wouldn’t leave you hanging forever!
FIND OUT HOW ZOË’S REUNION WENT HERE…
Kessler, Z. (2012). Late Diagnosis ADHD: Can We Heal the Past?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 19, 2017, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-zoe/2012/03/late-diagnosis-adhd-can-we-heal-the-past/