26F Late diagnosis: any advice apprec... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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26F Late diagnosis: any advice appreciated

SeaOwl profile image

I spent my whole life trying to be neuro-typical when in all reality I had undiagnosed adhd the whole time. I had no idea I had it until my partner asked me if I had ever been tested three months ago when working from home made my symptoms worse. After working with my psychiatrist I got my official diagnosis, and took my first Adderall today and it was the first moment my head stopped buzzing, and I felt calm. I hadn’t ever experienced that before, and it was unsettling yet freeing at the same time.

When the medication wore off I was back to my old self. And it’s hard to not severely dislike that side of me.

For anyone who had a late diagnosis, how do you cope with that feeling of wanting to remove the adhd. I spent my whole life feeling like a lazy messy unmotivated failure and now I realize it was undiagnosed adhd.

I am continuing working with my therapist and psychiatrist to find the best path moving forward. I just would love some advice in the meantime. Not to mention I don’t know anyone who was diagnosed as an adult and feel like I am going through this whole life changing moment and can’t connect with anyone about it.

25 Replies

Hi sea owl,I sympathize a lot with your situation.Youre not alone though,it's easy to think you're abnormal in some way cos everyone else seem to be getting on fine.Im 51,I always knew since junior school that there was a problem.ive been to see different GPS about my "memory problem".I've had the scans,nothing showed up.Only in the last year,have I been diagnosed with adult ADHD.For decades and decades,I've tried to laugh about the constant brain fog moments but deep inside,I felt total embarrassment.Ive now been off work with other health issues also for sometime.But I have still not received any meds.I speak with a councillor every two months to assess my moods over the phone but I just want to feel "normal".I need meds to help me cope on a daily basis.Its so frustrating,I don't have any confidence in GPS and the last 40 odd years have been one long nightmare.Youre lucky sea owl in that people are still trying to fix you.Best of luck with your health and I hope you get back onto some positive meds for you.Heres hoping.

SeaOwl profile image
SeaOwl in reply to Jjflash

Omg memory problems, so me. Sometimes I worried that I was having early onset dementia or something like that.

I am the same way of trying to make light of embarrassing moments. I tend to want to avoid those feelings with humor.

Don’t stop advocating for yourself. There are doctors out there who will respect and help you. I have multiple autoimmune disorders on top of the adhd stuff. It was hard to find a doctor who believed in them and that a <26 year old was not in the prime of their health (even when blood tests proved otherwise).

It was an exhausting process but I finally found a team that works for me. I really hope you can find someone who does the same for you and am so sorry you are going through this.

Johela profile image
Johela in reply to Jjflash

I was diagnosed at age 55 and was so relieved to find out the reason for my feeling of inadequacy and not fitting in. I have studied ADD and recognize myself in so many symptoms. I have tried several medication and, although I have some success with them, have not found one that makes a big difference. I take St John's Wart to help with the feelings of anger, frustration and general unsettledness. Sometimes I feel like I want to climb out of my own sink, but the St John's Wart really helps. I find I have some regret about not getting help earlier, but am happy to find some relief now. Hope you are feeling better and welcome to the club.

I was diagnosed when I was 30. Married with kids and all of life's responsibilities.

My advice, don't run away from who you are. ADHD doesn't have to be a negative nor does it have to be a hindrance. You are still young and have plenty of time to find your way in this life. Now that you are being treated for your ADHD; take this time to figure out who you are, what makes you tick. Before, you struggled with symptoms that you thought were normal; now you can relearn yourself but in a new light.

If you dig around this website long enough you will find stories of people who were diagnosed in their 40's and up. These people lost friends, spouses, children, parents, jobs, etc along the way before being diagnosed. I am thankful that I was diagnosed at 30 and not later. Even though I can look back and see where a diagnoses and treatment would have saved me a lot grief, my life is what it is and it is what I make of it. I chose to move forward and learn from the past. Don't live in the past or allow the past to dictate your future.

You will find your way, I know it :) Good luck!

SeaOwl profile image
SeaOwl in reply to

I love this. My partner helped me figure out my diagnosis (thanks to the ADHD alien comic). We already did couples therapy to work through some tricky bits with family estrangement, I think it might be good to do it regarding the new diagnosis to help support him on the tough times. (Btw I strongly advocate couples therapy! So helpful especially when there aren’t problems, as it builds a strong foundation).

I worry about the impact it can have on him. That being said I am doing all the right things at this moment in getting treatment and being open with him. He says he loved me before and after diagnosis. He loves the adhd me and the Adderall me just the same and is just happy to see me be able to be relaxed finally with the Adderall.

If you are comfortable answering: How do you navigate the stresses adhd can have on relationships? I saw a lot of posts on here about how tough it is, and it honestly scares me a bit.

in reply to SeaOwl

It can be challenging. My wife is just now realizing just how much my ADHD affects her. I have spent the last few years trying to find my own way that I didn’t take the time to help her understand her role in all this. My ADHD has affected my wife just as much as it has me.

Something I am grateful for is that my wife is very understanding and has taken the time to educate herself on what I’m dealing with. She loves me but also expects me to get the help I need to minimize the symptoms.

It is a team effort for sure. So far it is working and we are figuring it out.

Some advice though, don’t spend a lifetime defending yourself. Surround yourself with people who truly love you and accept you for who you are.

Hi SeaOwl. First of all, welcome to the Tribe! I was diagnosed at the age of 52, and it has changed my life. Things are so much clearer then they ever were before, because I'm facing the issues and challenges head on. It has taken some time and work, but its more than worth it to me and the people I love. I am taking meds too, but having a clearer mind isn't enough... I needed to learn about myself, what I like and dislike, what I want and don't want, and what is most important to me, and align to those as well. otherwise, what's the point of taking medicine, or learning ADHD coping strategies? I have to have a good reason for doing things, or I just stall out.

Personally, finding a good ADHD Coach, and getting involved in Support Groups, has been of tremendous help. CHADD.org and ADD.org are great resources and a tremendous value.

SeaOwl profile image
SeaOwl in reply to

How does the adhd coach work? And where do you find one?

An ADHD Coach works with you individually to help you clarify your intentions and how you want to show up in the world, and develop structures, strategies and skill sets that work for you so you can be successful. A good place to start looking for an ADHD Coach is at adhdcoaches.org/find-your-c.... I am an ADHD Coach myself, and would be happy to provide you with a free initial consultation if you are interested. That being said its important to be comfortable with anyone you are going to work with, so I recommend exploration and a few interviews to see who you connect with.

Hi SeaOwl, I'm new here as well, in fact this is my first post... I was diagnosed early, at 4, but never accepted it, I was in denial or just didn't believe it. However, I am 40 today, and I have finally opened up to my reality. Im just now accepting it, and its not easy.

I can relate to much of how you express yourself. The good news is you're young. You can save yourself anguish in the future. I would suggest that the first step forward is knowing and learning how to love yourself, while making peace with your new understanding. Learn as much as you can about it. Connect with others, being able to relate and knowing you aren't alone really helps. I haven't tried coaching, but I suspect that could be invaluable. Its good to have someone to lean on!

Just think, you struggled this far without any help. Imagine what you will be able to accomplish with this new knowledge. Integrate it with your desires and dreams. Own it and be kind to yourself. Some of the coolest, most sincere, and beautiful people I have ever known all have ADHD. This is the beginning!

SeaOwl profile image
SeaOwl in reply to hArDHeaDd

Thank you so much for this. I can not believe the amount of people who missed diagnosis as children, and am thankful I figured it out now. (Thanks covid work from home for making my symptoms worse I guess?)

I think if I hadn’t found out I would struggle a lot more career wise. Learning to love myself is a tricky path that I have been working with a therapist on for 2 years. Knowing I have adhd has been helpful because it allows me to be kinder to myself in moments that before I would get angry.

hArDHeaDd profile image
hArDHeaDd in reply to SeaOwl

Perspective is everything! Its really hard to know how we might perceive knowledge at any given point in our timelines. We are such complex entities of nuance. On the other hand, it's terribly easy to look in retrospect with our biased hindsight's and think things could or would have been different. Life has a funny way of exposing our true nature to us when we need it most, and in ways sufficient to our current perspective.

Consider this. I wish I would have received my diagnosis as an adult, not as a child. Maybe then, I would have understood it. Maybe then, I could have integrated with it. Maybe then, I wouldn't have put myself through so much unnecessary suffering. Maybe then...

Oh the irony! ;)

Good luck on your journey, SeaOwl. I wish you the best, and hope you are rewarded with peace and happiness! Till we bump into each other again!

I was diagnosed at 50. I greaved for my lost potential for almost three years. I had to educate myself and my family about my ADD, and it impacts, I still get accused of invoking an ADD preamble by my ADHD daughter. I apologized to those I harmed vocally during my reactiveness.

Being diagnosed is substantial, it's just the beginning.

Go easy on yourself, there will be setbacks.

Best wishes


SeaOwl profile image
SeaOwl in reply to DesertAl

It’s definitely a grieving process! I am so glad I was able to get diagnosed without the full childhood history. I am estranged from my family so they couldn’t fill out the forms (cause of estrangement is also probably why I was not diagnosed as a kid)

Yeah I think it hit me that while diagnosis is a huge milestone it’s really just the start of it all. I am relearning myself. Before adhd diagnosis I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety (now I know a lot of the cause of those was untreated adhd). I had come to terms with having to cope with those disorders for the rest of my life (started when I was 10) and then I had a whole other diagnoses thrown at me that I have to learn about, so exhausting.

That being said only I can write my story, and now I know more about me and my brain I can have more control on that part.

You are definitely not alone. My sister and I are in our 30's and both recently got the diagnosis. I experienced a similar feeling when I first started adderall and it was incredibly freeing. I never realized how tense I was literally all the time and it was a weird but good feeling to feel relaxed and to just do things when I know I should.I am on XR so it lasts all day, so I haven't experienced much of the falling back to my old self.

SeaOwl profile image
SeaOwl in reply to Sweetbannas

Ah yeah I am on the short release one so I definitely feel the crash. My doctor wanted me to do that one because of a bad history with bupropion causing nightmares. It’s such a challenge deciding when to take the meds because I only have 4-5 hours of calm/focus and I want to be able to use it for work but also want to be able to spend time with my partner and relaxing with it now that I am able to do so 😬

I think there are lots of adults who are being diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood, partly because there was not much known about it when we were young. Also because , back then, and even today, GP's and many others who could help with diagnosis think that smart people don't or can't have ADHD. If you cope and have a career, even though you might have issues, you are not seen as possibly having ADHD except by the experts, who can sometimes be hard to reach without a referral.

Same here, wasn't properly diagnosed until my second year of college. Adding insult to injury I started having issues in elementary school and they literally tested me for everything OTHER than ADHD. My mother kept all of the testing information and it is a GIGANTIC folder. They even gave me a CAT scan for tumors, but no ADHD testing.

So frustrating. I can't help but wonder where I would be right now if I had been properly diagnosed earlier.

Johela profile image
Johela in reply to Bynddrvn

If you show any intelligence at all they disregard ADHD thinking you cannot possibly have it as they mistake intelligence and ADHD as being mutually excusive.

Hello all, I was diagnosed at age 50 and have been "recovering" for 2 decades. The first effect was the realization about why I had to work harder than others and things took me longer than most in my field, (I wasn't lazy, crazy, etc.). I've been taking ADHD meds off and on, and discovered that they do help me focus better and increase my energy level, but they don't cure ADHD and instantly make life "normal". In fact, I realized that even on meds I needed to learn to apply behavioral methods taught on Chadd (like putting things away in a designated place, writing things down in an accessible list, scheduling tasks and other time management strategies, etc., to make the biggest and most long lasting improvements. In fact "structure" is most helpful. I realized how much, when I retired and no longer had it. When I regained some structure my life became noticeably better, more productive, less stressed and more relaxed. Being on ADHD meds isn't the answer especially when one is getting older, so I'm relieved to have learned how to deal with my ADHD with the behavioral methods. It has definitely made my life so much better, but is an ongoing effort. I personally think that my efforts to apply the behavioral methods utilize the "plasticity" (alternate pathways) in my brain that will continue to help as I age. Best of luck on your individual journeys. ADHD is treatable, managable and has it's blessings too.


I took my first Ritalin (methylphenidate HCI 10mg) and it allowed me to stay calm and actually have my brain remain cool too. I didn’t feel a whole lot different, but now at 12:22pm my head is beginning to have the familiar hum that I have been accustomed to.

For anyone else or for SeaOwl: I am looking for an accountability partner that will take a minute or two at the time we are waking up (choose a set time and keep it regardless of circumstances) to share our goals/plans for the day. This will do two things 1) reenforce a good sleep-wake schedule, and 2) keep us accountable for making a daily plan the night before.

SeaOwl, I am in a similar situation, although I am 10+ years your senior and just realizing. Most of my life has been wasted by occupying my restless mind with tv, because everything else feels to "overwhelming".. even brushing my teeth -- wow, I just admitted that... I feel like the laziest person in the world, and that is because I have become that person due to not having the resources and guidance to realize the core of my many issues.

I am here if you ever want to talk and please know you are not alone.

SeaOwl profile image
SeaOwl in reply to MouseInH

Same on brushing teeth!! Omg 😱 I started using Brilli and it’s been so helpful in getting me to get tasks done that are usually like pulling hairs

Mini-S8 profile image
Mini-S8 in reply to MouseInH

Don’t even mention flossing haha 🤯

Hi there. You are not alone. I am a 30 yr old female and I was diagnosed at 28 yrs old after years of feeling like and being told that I didn’t care or wasn’t trying hard enough.Anyone who has ADHD knows the effort we go to on a daily basis - trying so hard it’s exhausting.

I am still in the process of accepting or not accepting my diagnosis. I need some help with it so I joined this group. It’s hard to un-do the years of feeling like a failure but there is hope with the diagnosis and we have each other on this group.

You’re seeing a therapist, on meds and reaching out in this group. That’s amazing and you sound like you’re on the right path! X

I have been listening to a podcast called “I have ADHD” by Kristen Carder. She has ADHD, is now an ADHD coach and talks about general life stuff on the podcast. It helps me and she has a good sense of humour like most of us! 🥰

Thanks for sharing, it helps me to identify too. X

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