Zoë Kessler, Photo ©Michael McLuhan, 2012

Zoë Kessler, Photo ©Michael McLuhan, 2012

Sometimes I find my readers’ comments at least, if not more, interesting and informative than my blog posts.

My recent post ADHD Diagnosis: Prison or Freedom Pass? was but one example. A reader named Drew raises some very key issues for women (and men) who are diagnosed with ADHD late in life.

Particularly for women, who are more likely to be diagnosed with co-existing mood disorders and anxiety disorders and so on, I wanted to provide a little more information that might put your ADHD diagnosis in a more positive light.

Drew’s comment is below, followed by my response. If you’re suffering from depression, an anxiety disorder and/or ADHD, please read on! (and check out the rest of the comments at the original post for more insights from recently diagnosed men and women).

Thanks for the boost Zoe!  I am 53 and diagnosed 3 yrs ago after the collapse of a long term marriage. Trying to get a handle on lifelong depression, social phobic, and knowing that I was in the hands of ADHD and not my own just adds to the sense of imprisonment. No real friends, only acquaintances and a family that is less than supportive. Oh well, only 20 some odd years left to struggle. Maybe something will change or meds might eventually work.

Drew, thank you so much for writing again. Now I know things can only get better – and they will!

Did you know that undiagnosed ADHD can actually be the reason for secondary depression?

And that lots of undiagnosed women with ADHD end up with social phobia; and why not? We can’t keep up with our non-ADHD sisters, we suffer from lifelong criticism and don’t understand why others can do what they do when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed all the time, and we end up self-isolating because of shame, etc. You are so not alone!

Did you know that even if you DO have clinical depression, unless the ADHD is also treated, it’s darn near next to impossible to effectively treat depression?

Honestly, this diagnosis could be the key to the rest of your life – a much happier, more fulfilling life. I’m not just saying that to make you feel better (I’m not that nice. Ha ha – that was a joke, but seriously, I wouldn’t say something I didn’t truly believe, 100%) – You’re doing all the right things! You’re learning. You’re reaching out. You’re allowing yourself to feel your feelings – go ahead, grieve your losses, it’s only natural.

But – don’t get stuck there – because so much awesomeness awaits you! I’m 53 too! I totally get the feeling of having been victimized by this unnamed saboteur; I also have felt outraged that no one diagnosed me when I was a girl, but I can’t undo that past.

I’m still here now, and all I’ve got is the present and whatever time I have left on this planet, so I might as well learn all I can, and see how far I can go. And the results have been mind-blowing. I’ve never been happier, and it’s still getting better. And my ADHD diagnosis was what turned it around. I know this can happen for you  too.

Your ADHD treatment will let you live to your fullest potential, if you get the treatment, support, and expertise that’s needed to address your individual needs. If you don’t have that now, keep looking. It’s out there.

As for meds – they don’t work for everyone, but they work for most of us. If you’re on one that’s not effective, you can ask your doc to increase the dosage, or try a different one. There are many more, one of which may be just right. There are effective alternative treatments too, but meds (truth be known) do work wonders for the majority of us, with little to no side-effects.

Now that I know more of your story, I can also reassure you that relationship problems are absolutely common to most of us women with undiagnosed ADHD (I’m not in a romantic relationship, I’ve been focusing on my ADHD treatment, work, and using my new-found social skills with others, and I can tell you that my relationships with my friends, bosses, co-workers and colleagues, even with the public with whom I work, have all improved amazingly!) My finances have turned around, and I am in a stable living situation – in fact, I’m about to buy my first house. I never would have thought any of this would happen, and was at the end of my rope when I was diagnosed.

Finally, reading Melissa Orlov’s book (at some point) will help you understand what might have gone wrong in terms of the ADHD in your relationship, and help you tremendously if you ever decide to walk that path again. You can find her book at my website, The ADHD Effect on Marriage.

And an interview with Melissa here:

Meet Melissa Orlov

I don’t know if you can relate to this or not, but I wrote a guest blog post for Melissa’s website about anger in marriage. Anger was one of the things that killed my relationships in the past, but I’ve learned a lot since my ADHD diagnosis and it’s hardly ever an issue any more.

Hang in there.
Life is not over, it’s really just beginning, so savor it!



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