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ADHD Diagnosis: Prison or Freedom Pass?

It’s my anniversary!

In August, 2006, I received my ADHD diagnosis. Since then, I’ve experienced mind-boggling changes in every area of my life. Okay, almost every area; I’m still short.

The one, singular change that stands out above all has been the key to the greatest happiness and peace of mind I’ve ever felt.

14 Comments to
ADHD Diagnosis: Prison or Freedom Pass?

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  1. I love it and can completely relate. Thank you for sharing and I hope that it encourages parents of younger kids today with ADHD to understand that letting them learn about who they are and what drives them is important and something they should learn to embrace.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Laura.
      I also encourage parents to love their kids (ADHD or not) just as they are; to be vigilant in finding out what their kids’ talents and passions are; and in supporting these, especially if the child has ADHD. By focussing on what we love, we can stay positive, motivated, and become a real force to be reckoned with. All it takes is love, support and encouragement, and we will thrive! And if that’s not a parent’s role, I don’t know what is.

      Take care,

  2. Happy Anniversary Zoe!
    My vote is definately freedom pass 🙂 I say this taking in the beautiful sunshine, in a empty parking lot with a nice wall I am laying on. I started a new job in July, got away from the place that was holding my happiness hostage. Now at this new place I am the new Kendra, post diagnosis Kendra. Taking it one step at a time from now on. I don’t want to let the past or the future stand in my way anymore. Today I finally went exploring since there isn’t anyplace at my office to relax enjoy the outdoors on my lunch break. A much much bigger office park down the street. That means even more opportunity to meet new people also. Here’s to another year!

    • Thanks, Kendra!
      Sounds like you’ve made some very positive changes in your life too; congratulations!

      Here’s to a wonderful life of freedom and making the best choices for ourselves. The more happiness we radiate, the more we light up the world!

      Shine on my friend!


  3. Hi, great sharing. As a middle school counselor I have frequent contact with that experience. When you had that sense of release, did it have to do mostly with the awareness of the condition or did it also have to do with a given treatment plan? Good luck and thanks again for sharing.

    • Hi there, Jorgemb.
      Thanks for your comment. To answer your question, definitely both had a role to play. Education about ADHD made a huge difference in my self-perception and self-acceptance, but of course without treatment it’s impossible to act on that knowledge.

      I keep learning, and keep building on my strengths and the positive reinforcement of all the great changes in my life keep me going. I want to live my life as optimally as possible, and the bottom line is, live a life of happiness and service to others.

      Take care, and all the best to you and your students!

  4. Hi Zoë.
    Thanks for sharing this. I am about the same age as you, and just found out recently that I might have ADHD. As I live in Thailand (not my home country), it’s a challenge to find a doctor who can properly diagnose and treat me, but just the fact that I now have a possible way out is really amazing.
    Thanks again.
    Ynze, a Dutch guy in Thailand.

    • Hi Ynze.

      Thanks for taking the time to read my post and comment. While you may have trouble finding an informed medical practitioner, trust me, the more you learn and read about ADHD, the more self-acceptance you’ll feel. You can still implement positive changes and strategies in your life while searching for the help and support you need. I’m glad you’ve found some of that here!

      Keep going!


  5. I still feel like I am in prison, only more so. Diagnosis has just amplified the feeling different stigma that I have spent, unsuccessfully, a lifetime trying to negate. Happy Anniversay Zoe and I am happy for you.


    • Drew,

      I’m sorry you feel like that. I don’t know how long ago you were diagnosed, but many of us go through a pretty rough time for a while at first (I sure did). Please give yourself time, it will probably change. I also don’t know your age, but I can say that self-acceptance is the most important acceptance of all – something I wasn’t able to achieve until a few years into my diagnosis.

      I’m wondering if you’ve read Kelly Babcock’s blog, ADHD Man of DistrAction? Kelly is a man with ADHD, and while our experiences are nearly identical, he might have some insights to offer regarding stigma; I know he’s written about it quite a bit.

      I also noticed a blog post by my colleague Gerti Schoen called “Stop Worrying About What Others Think” today. Perhaps that will offer some ideas.

      Finally, I found that the more I learned and read about ADHD, especially from other people with it, the more I realized, there are many others who experience life as I do – and they’re fantastic people with great qualities!

      Bottom line for me is, if we were all the same, the world would be uber-boring. And you know what they say boredom is for people with ADHD – kryptonite! And who wants that?!

      Drew, take care. I do hope over time you’ll come to love appreciate all your good qualities and the perks of being yourself – you’re the only one who can do that, and that in itself is a huge gift to the world. Surround yourself with those who appreciate that and I know your feelings will change dramatically. It may not be easy, but it’s totally do-able!

      Good luck!

  6. 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 acquaintenances 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.


    • Oh my.
      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 relationships 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 savour it!


    • Hi Drew.
      I am of the same age as you. I just found out recently that I might have ADHD and last week I finally found a doctor who confirmed the diagnosis and who can treat me. Started my medicine and I feel a lot better already. Maybe the fact that you tried to negate your problems for a long time is what is really stopping yourself. When I found out that I might have ADHD, I also had a tough time, but I already realized a lot longer that I had serious problems, so for me the diagnosis was more of a release, as I finally saw a way to SOLVE my problems. I have never before had that feeling. If you actually try to negate it for a long time, I can imagine it’s more difficult to handle it, but look back at your life and see where you messed up. Then look again at the future, and imagine what is possible. You cannot change the past, but you can create a whole new future, and it’s all up to yourself.

      Hold on, you will soon see the light at the end of the tunnel.

      A Dutch guy in Thailand.

      • Ynze,
        Just to add to what you’ve said here, I also tried every way I could think of to overcome my challenges, but was never successful.
        I too see my diagnosis as the key that unlocked the solutions I needed – in every aspect of my life.

        Thanks for sending in a supportive comment for Drew. I hope she knows we’re all rooting for her, and here to support each other too.

        Take care,


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