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LAtest Wellness News
January 18, 2024
Robert Simms

Are You An Adult Newly Diagnosed with ADHD? Why It’s OK to Grieve

A serene yet dynamic image featuring a small, sturdy boat on a vast ocean. The sky is a mix of light and dark, symbolizing the mixed emotions of an ADHD diagnosis - with areas of bright light breaking through clouds, representing hope and clarity amidst uncertainty. The boat, occupied by a single individual, symbolizes the personal journey of navigating ADHD. The person is confidently steering, looking ahead with determination and a sense of discovery. The water around the boat is calm near the boat but gets slightly rougher in the distance, depicting the challenges and ups and downs of the journey. The horizon is visible, symbolizing the future and the new paths that open up with understanding one's ADHD. The overall tone of the image is uplifting, portraying a sense of empowerment and positivity in the face of challenges.

So, you’ve just been handed the ADHD label in your adult life, huh? Well, welcome to the club! As a therapist who not only chats about ADHD but also lives it (surprise diagnosis party in my late 30s!), I get how topsy-turvy this rollercoaster can feel. For me, it was a game-changer in every sense of the word.

Imagine living your life like a computer with too many tabs open and music coming from somewhere that you can’t find to turn off – that was me, pre-diagnosis. I was the master of starting projects (hello, new trim that wasn’t painted) and the king of ‘Oops, I forgot’. Then came the diagnosis, like a plot twist in the final act of a movie, making me rethink every ‘quirk’ I ever had.

I remember sitting in my living room, feel my whole world shift through the Zoom call with the psychiatrist. There it was, a label that suddenly made sense of the chaos, the missed deadlines, the restless nights, and the creative outbursts that seemed to come out of nowhere.

But with that relief, there came a wave of other emotions. Grief, for one. Grieving for the years spent battling an invisible foe I didn’t even know existed, grieving for the misunderstood past, and even for the person I thought I was. It was a rollercoaster, but who doesn’t love a good thrill ride, right? Honestly, in that moment, me.

And here’s where our journey begins. Understanding that it’s okay to grieve your ADHD diagnosis is key. It’s a process, a path to acceptance and empowerment. Think of me as your guide, or that NPC in your favorite RPG who gives you the quest items you didn’t know you needed.

So, strap in, and let’s dive into this world of late-diagnosed ADHD. It’s a world filled with challenges, yes, but also one brimming with unexplored potential, creativity, and a unique perspective that only you can offer. Welcome to your new adventure!

Understanding Your Diagnosis

Alright, let’s dive into the deep end: understanding your ADHD diagnosis. Think of it as decoding the secret language of your brain.

ADHD: Not Just a Kid’s Tale

First things first, ADHD isn’t just for kids. Nope, it’s a lifelong journey that, for most, starts at birth, and for some of us, the map only gets handed over in adulthood. It’s like playing a video game where you only discover that you’ve been playing on hard mode when you thought you were playing in easy. Frustrating? Sure. But also enlightening.

Symptoms: More Than Meets the Eye

The symptoms of ADHD in adults can often be trickier to spot than in kids. We’re talking about more than just the typical “can’t sit still” or “easily distracted” stereotypes. It’s missing appointments despite the best intentions, struggling with time management (why does time fly or crawl but never just walk?), and often feeling overwhelmed by the everyday tasks that others seem to breeze through, among many others.

For me, it was the realization that my need for last-minute adrenaline rushes (last minute essay papers anyone?) wasn’t just a quirky trait, but a symptom of my brain’s unique wiring.

The Diagnosis Journey

Getting diagnosed with ADHD as an adult isn’t like picking up a coffee at your favorite café. It’s a process – often exacerbating, frustrating and usually, eye-opening. For many of us, it starts with a moment of self-awareness, maybe a comment from a friend or family member, or perhaps a meme or video that hits a little too close to home. You begin to dive into the world of ADHD/neurodivergence and relate to EVERY THING (ok, maybe not everything, but a lot!).

Then often comes the professional help – psychologist/psychiatrist, therapists, maybe even an assessment or two that make you feel like you’re back in school. But this time, you’re not just answering questions; you’re uncovering layers of your own narrative.

Common Misconceptions

Let’s bust some myths while we’re here. No, having ADHD doesn’t mean you’re “doomed” in life. And it’s not a one-size-fits-all label. Your ADHD is as unique as you are – a flavor of its own in the grand ice cream parlor of neurodiversity.

Reframing Past Experiences

This part hit home for me. Understanding your ADHD diagnosis often means re-evaluating your past. Those “why can’t I get this right” moments? They weren’t failures; they were battles fought without the right armor. It’s like watching an old movie with a new perspective – suddenly, the plot makes more sense. There were A LOT of aha! moments looking back.

Embracing the New Normal

Accepting your ADHD diagnosis is like adding a new character to your personal story. It’s not a rewrite; it’s an expansion pack. It brings depth, understanding, and believe it or not, often a bit of relief. You’re not alone, and the quirks and qualities you bring to the table? They’re part of the rich tapestry that makes you, well, you.

The Grieving Process

Embarking on the journey of grieving your ADHD diagnosis as an adult can be a complex and deeply personal experience. Unlike a clear-cut path, it’s more like navigating a labyrinth, where every turn brings a new realization and emotion. Here’s a deeper look into this process:

The Initial Shock: “I Have ADHD?”

It often starts with the initial shock, that moment of revelation. There’s a sense of disbelief, of bewilderment. You might find yourself questioning the diagnosis, doubting its accuracy. This phase is about coming to grips with this new information, like adjusting your eyes to a sudden change in light. And it can be short, or very long, or anywhere in between. It depends on the individual,

Reflecting on the Past

Following the shock, you might start to reflect on your past through a new lens. It’s like replaying old memories with a different soundtrack. Suddenly, past challenges, struggles, and even successes take on new meanings. You begin to understand your life’s narrative in a different way, recognizing the role ADHD has played all along. For me, it was finally understanding why I often struggled with holding onto a job. I now realized that there were aspects of my, at that time undiagnosed, ADHD that made it very difficult for me to hold onto jobs. I wasn’t “broken”, “incompetent” or “useless”.

Emotional Ups and Downs

The emotional rollercoaster that follows can be intense. There can often be a mix of relief, frustration, sadness, and even a sense of loss. You might feel relief in finally having an explanation for your experiences, but also sadness for the years spent without this understanding. It’s a bittersweet realization, acknowledging both the struggles and the resilience it took to get to this point.

The Process of Acceptance

Hopefully, acceptance begins to dawn. This isn’t about admitting defeat; rather, it’s about embracing a new aspect of your identity. You start to see ADHD not only as a challenge, but also as a part of what makes you unique. It’s about integrating this new understanding into your sense of self, like adding a new chapter to your life story.

Finding Empowerment

In this journey, there’s a point where you can begin to find empowerment. It’s when you start to look at ADHD not as a limitation, but as a different way of experiencing the world. You recognize your unique strengths and how they have contributed to your resilience and creativity. This can be a turning point, where the narrative shifts from one of only grief to one that includes empowerment and self-discovery.

Why Grieving is Important

Understanding the importance of grieving your adult ADHD diagnosis is crucial for healing and personal growth. It’s a process that encompasses a range of emotions and reflections, akin to reading through the chapters of your life story with a new perspective.

Acknowledging Lost Time and Opportunities

Firstly, it’s common to feel a sense of loss over the years spent without a diagnosis. This might include missed opportunities or struggles that could have been approached differently. Grieving allows you to face these feelings head-on, acknowledging the impact of ADHD on your life. It’s a necessary step towards healing and making peace with your past.

Validating Your Feelings

Grieving also serves as a vital process for validating your feelings. Every emotion, from confusion to sadness, is an important part of your journey. Recognizing and accepting these feelings is crucial for your emotional well-being. It’s about giving yourself permission to feel and understand the depth of your experiences.

Reprocessing Your Life Story

With the knowledge of your ADHD, you can re-examine past experiences and reframe your personal narrative. This reprocessing is not about rewriting your history but understanding it with a new lens. It’s a chance to see past events and personal reactions through the context of ADHD, which can be both enlightening and healing.

The Healing Power of Grief

Grief, in its complexity, is inherently healing. It’s an emotional process that allows you to confront and gradually release the pain and confusion associated with years of undiagnosed ADHD. Through grieving, you can start to heal from these past wounds and move forward with greater self-awareness and acceptance.

Preparing for New Growth

Finally, grieving can be a preparatory stage for new growth and development. After acknowledging and working with your grief, you can become ready to embrace your ADHD as a part of your identity. This acceptance paves the way for personal development, self-acceptance, and a more compassionate understanding of your journey.

Practical Tips for Coping and Moving Forward

Navigating life with an adult ADHD diagnosis can be like learning to steer a ship on a new course. It’s about finding strategies that work for you and embracing a journey of continual learning and adjustment. Here are only a few practical tips to help you cope and move forward:

1. Create Structure and Routine

ADHD often thrives on spontaneity, but a bit of structure can be a game-changer. Think about establishing routines that anchor your day. This could be as simple as a morning ritual or a nightly wind-down routine. Scheduling regular tasks can also help in managing time better. Remember, structure doesn’t have to be rigid; it’s just a framework to help guide your day.

2. Embrace Tools and Technology

In today’s world, there are countless tools and apps designed to keep us on track. From calendar apps that send reminders to to-do list apps that break down tasks into manageable steps, these can be invaluable in managing ADHD. Even traditional methods like planners or sticky notes can be effective. Find what works for you and use it to your advantage.

3. Break Tasks into Smaller Steps

Large tasks can feel overwhelming. Break them down into smaller, more manageable parts. It’s like solving a puzzle – start with the edges (the easier parts) and work your way to the more challenging center. This approach can make tasks less daunting and give you a sense of accomplishment as you complete each step.

4. Seek Support

Remember, you’re not in this alone. Support can come in various forms – from therapy and ADHD coaching to support groups and online communities. Sharing experiences and strategies with others who understand can be incredibly validating and helpful.

These tips are not exhaustive but provide a starting point for coping and thriving with adult ADHD. Remember, what works for one person might not work for another. It’s all about experimentation, patience, and finding what uniquely works for you in your journey forward.

Looking Ahead: Embracing Your Future with ADHD

As you embark on this journey with adult ADHD, it’s like stepping onto a path filled with both challenges and opportunities. It’s a journey of self-discovery, growth, and embracing the unique individual you are. Let’s look ahead and wrap up with some thoughts on moving forward with positivity and empowerment.

Embracing a Positive Future

Your ADHD diagnosis is not the ceiling of your potential; it’s a door to understanding yourself better. Looking ahead, envision a future where your ADHD is not a barrier, but a unique aspect of your identity that you navigate skillfully. Set realistic, achievable goals, and celebrate each milestone, no matter how small. Remember, every step forward is progress.

Lifelong Learning and Adaptation

Living with ADHD is a continual process of learning and adapting. Stay open to new strategies and approaches for managing symptoms. The world of ADHD research and support is always evolving, so keep an eye out for new information and resources that can aid in your journey.

Building a Supportive Community

Surround yourself with people who understand and support your journey with ADHD. This community can include friends, family, therapists, and support groups. A strong support network can provide encouragement, advice, and a listening ear when you need it. You can find more information and resources at www.embodiedresilience.ca.

A New Chapter

As we wrap up, remember that your ADHD diagnosis is not the end of your story; it’s the beginning of a new, more informed chapter. This journey is about understanding and embracing all parts of yourself, including your ADHD. It’s a path filled with learning, growth, and self-acceptance.

You have the strength, resilience, and creativity to navigate this journey. With each day, you gain more insight and tools to help you thrive. The future is not just something to be hopeful about; it’s something to be excited for. In your hands, ADHD is not just a challenge to overcome; it’s an aspect of your life that, with care and understanding, can bring unexpected gifts and strengths to the forefront.

In conclusion, your ADHD journey is uniquely yours. It’s a path of discovery, growth, and empowerment. Embrace it with an open heart and mind, and remember that you’re not alone. The road ahead is bright, and you have everything within you to make your journey a fulfilling and successful one.

About Us

Our practice focuses on 4 distinct areas: navigating the journey of adult-diagnosed ADHD, fostering healthier communication between couples, unraveling the complexities of people-pleasing to establish firm boundaries, and addressing Indigenous issues alongside the intricate challenges of complex PTSD. What sets our clinic apart from others is that all of our practitioner’s have lived experience in the area of service that they are providing.

We understand what you are experiencing BECAUSE we have experienced it ourselves, and are still living/dealing with it. This practice was started and has grown on the idea of authenticity, transparency and connection. These values are the bedrock of our practice and the guiding principles in our interactions with you. We invite you to join us on this journey of growth and self-discovery, as we collectively strive towards realizing the fullest potential of our lives. Let's all work together towards building our best life.

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