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My ADHD Diagnosis – Ruth’s Story

To mark ADHD Awareness Month, Ruth has shared her journey of getting an ADHD diagnosis. Our sincerest thanks to Ruth for sharing her experience and how it has impacted her wellbeing. For more information on ADHD, visit the NHS website.

What made you think you might have Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

As more awareness of ADHD in women became available and a recent diagnosis of a friend, I decided to do some research myself. I realised that many of the symptoms described fit in with how I was as a child and also, more importantly, explained why I struggled with certain tasks in my previous employment as a teacher. 

I really struggled with activities such as marking and other administrative tasks, but had also noticed that when I worked in a colleague’s room, I could get on with the task a bit better. My mind has always been hyperactive and so I hadn’t known any difference, but I also struggled with physical hyperactivity and would always need to keep my hands busy when doing more sedentary tasks, such as watching TV. 

As a child I was very active, cycling to and from school, being outdoorsy and always walking to places. I just got bored very quickly and this was before we had mobile phones that provide a more socially acceptable distraction. In school I was the kid that swung back on the chairs.

How did you approach getting an assessment?

A friend had told me about Psychiatry UK where you can complete a form which gives an indication if you may have ADHD or not. I had also been informed of the “Right to Choose” pathway and used this when I contacted my GP.  She was great, listened to my concerns and what I was hoping to get from our appointment. After some further paperwork, she referred me to Psychiatry UK.

What was the process like?

The process does involve quite a bit of paperwork; the initial forms that the GP sends off with the referral, and then further forms for you and an informant. Unfortunately, I did not have anyone who I could use as an informant but they were very accommodating and gave me a questionnaire to complete. Psychiatry UK registered me and sent me all of the information to be able to login to their system, which also sends me a text message and email when they leave a note for me. 

The appointment was online, which is my preferred method. It went over by 45 minutes but that was fine.  I received the clinic letter a few weeks after that and was referred to the titration service to trial medication. There was delay for the this service due to the number of referrals that they were receiving, but I was OK with this as it was still quicker than using my local ADHD service.

How has getting a diagnosis changed things for you?

Getting the diagnosis feels like finding a missing puzzle piece in my life. The things that I have struggled with all my life (but particularly in adult life) such as tasks in employment, running a home, and starting new projects but finding it a challenge to complete them, all makes sense. Understanding that some tasks can be difficult for me and how to work around this has really helped with work. 

I find the medication works really well for me. When I don’t take it, I will end up with executive dysfunction and take myself to bed, or pushing myself really hard to get through a task and feel completely spent by the evening. If my friend who also has ADHD is available, then we try and video call each other to support each other with getting on with the tasks that we don’t want to do, known as body doubling. 

Since the diagnosis I have continued to research ADHD and being neurodivergent, listened to podcasts and attended a talk about it. I now understand who I am, understand my needs, and feel able to advocate for myself.

Do you have any advice for someone like you who suspects they have ADHD?

I would encourage anyone who suspects that they may have ADHD to do some research and take the online self-assessment with Psychiatry UK. If this information makes it look more likely that you do have ADHD then speak to your GP who can support you with a referral.  

When doing tasks at home or at work which are difficult to start or to stay focused, then give body doubling a go.  It is difficult for employers to make reasonable adjustments until a diagnosis is given, but there are workarounds that can help.

The final thing I would say is: you are not lazy. I encourage you to change that narrative that may have been spoken over you or picked up and become an internal dialogue.

Posted on: 12th October 2023

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