By Adult Diagnosis Stories
As a child I was drawn to cartoons about mutants and superheroes. I wished that the real world was filled with both. I felt like a mutant. I didn't know of many other children like myself. I wish I had more information about Autism and ADHD when I was younger. I remember being very young and only learning negative things about both from what family friends would say to the movies and television shows I watched which only showed Autistic children being bullied.
Did you know that when you meet one person with Autism, you’ve only met one person with Autism? It is a spectrum and individuals are affected differently despite sharing some common traits. Did you also know that 80% of adults with ADHD have other comorbidities such as anxiety and depression? The stress, anxiety, and depression are associated with both conditions because we are consistently told that we are not enough, but think how much lower these numbers could be if a little grace and patience were utilized.
When I was in school, I remember hearing, “Why can't you sit still?” Why can’t you remember your assignment? Why can’t you keep up? Why is your area not organized? Because not sitting still helps me focus. I can’t keep up because my short-term memory isn’t the same as a lot of people's. My area isn’t organized because I’m trying to find something for an assignment. That I overshare so there isn't a miscommunication but end up confusing people anyway. That some days I can remember better than others.
At 45 and 47 I was diagnosed with both types of ADHD and autism and everything made sense. I finally understood why I felt like an outsider. Why I feel I am too much but not enough at the same time. There are days when I see piles of laundry I should have put away or the dishes I should have put or removed from the washing machine. There are times when I want to do everything at once…or can't do anything at all and feel paralyzed. No matter how early or how prepared I am, I keep losing track of time and am often late. I only feel good if I can spend the day finishing all my work and feeling exhausted. I feel lazy if I rest.
With the help of therapy and a lot of soul searching, I accepted both of my diagnoses and let go of the anger of being missed. Also, the more I educate myself on both topics, the less I feel invaluable. My life is not perfect, but I see my value. At times, it isn't easy to live with either diagnosis because at times they feel like total opposites. But at my core I wouldn't be me without either. I wouldn't be as adventurous. I wouldn't be able to have an amazing bullshit detector. I wouldn't be as creative. I wouldn't be as organized.
Autism and ADHD are just different ways of looking at the world, and I would like the world to be more open about learning about neurodivergent people. I don't want to hear how everyone's a “little ADHD”. If that was true, the entire world would be more accepting. I would like to see a positive representation of individuals with learning differences. These are key to making them feel accepted. People learn empathy only if they are open to learning. Being open to different ways of thinking helps us unlearn bias and judgment about groups of people.