Late Diagnosis of ADHD

Hello my Zebras and Spoonies! Thanks for coming and hanging out with me today. I’m glad that you are here. Today I just kind of want to talk about parenting and ADHD, as well as some of the strange emotional things that come up when you are diagnosed as an adult rather than as a kid.

I watched a really good lecture by HealthyGamerGG on YouTube. If you want to watch the lecture, you can go to their channel and watch it over here. The lecture is titled “How Your Parents Can Make Your ADHD Worse.” It’s a really good lecture that talks about the different parenting styles and the way that those parenting styles can either better support the kiddo or can actually exacerbate the ADHD symptoms that the kiddo is experiencing. It also explores the complexities of the relationship in the way that the kid having ADHD actually will affect the parenting style and affects the parent. Having a child with ADHD puts the parent at higher risk for things like depression and anxiety. So it’s really complicated and it’s really messy and that’s just how human relationships really are.

When you’re diagnosed as an adult, a lot of strange things happen and one of them is that you start easily falling into this “what if” game. Like you start asking yourself “what if I had been diagnosed as a kid?” and “what if I had received treatments at a kid?” and “what if I had been raised differently because my parents had known?” Then you start to wonder if all these “what if” things would have made my symptoms better now? Would I be a more functional person that achieved more things? You can play the “what if” game into affinity. It’s a really easy trap to fall into and I think that most of us fall into that trap, at least for a little while when we’re first diagnosed because it’s really real. Being diagnosed as a kid versus being diagnosed as an adult will have a significant impact on the level of severity of symptoms that your ADHD has. If you’re diagnosed as a kid and your parents take you in for treatment and they get the parental training and you all go to therapy as a family and you like really do the work. The reality is that those treatment strategies work, and that having parents taught how to parent when their kid has ADHD makes an enormous difference.

And that truth hurts. Because when you’re diagnosed as an adult, you missed all of that. There was no chance for any of those improvements. And it wasn’t based on choices that you made. Yet, you get to be the one that lives with the consequences of those choices for the rest of your life. So, yeah, there is a ton of stuff to unpack when you get diagnosed as an adult. Some of that stuff can get pretty ugly.

Just like it is easy to fall into the “what if” game, it is also easy to fall into the “blame game.” There’s definitely something there when you’re an adult and you look back and there were definitely opportunities lost. There is no reclaiming those lost untreated years, you just have to dive into treatment where you’re at and hope that you can make things better moving forward. The “blame game” is this other reaction, this knee jerk response to feel like your parents didn’t do right by you. To feel like they didn’t do well enough. Like why didn’t they get your diagnosed?

I was the poster child for ADHD. I was getting in fights. I was never standing still. I never stopped talking. When I was a kid, I was the poster child for ADHD. And I honestly think that the only reason that I wasn’t diagnosed as a child was because I was female. Had I been a boy, I think that I would have been diagnosed as a child with ADHD because honest to God, as a kid, I really was the poster child for ADHD symptoms. It’s just insanity to me, like all the things that you think of when you think of the ADHD kid? I was that kid. But I wasn’t diagnosed. I was missed.

On the one hand, I had parents who tried to figure it out and had doctors tell them that there was nothing wrong with me, that I was fine. Doctors told them that I was a normal kid and that I was just being stubborn or defiant or whatever they told them but they definitively told them that I was normal. What does a parent do with that? They have a choice. They have a choice to believe this expert or they have a choice to kind of try to keep finding an answer that their kid is odd, that their kid is different or that their kid might be “broken.” What do you what do you do with that as a parent? And there’s no real great answer for this. Having been a parent, I don’t know how I would have dealt with this. I don’t know how I would have reacted had I thought something was wrong with my child. And then I got it all worked up and the doc said, No, she’s fine. I don’t know what I would have done with it. I don’t know if I would have kept looking or gone to a different doctor, etc. I don’t know.

In the end, I genuinely believe that my parents did the best that they could with what they had. So on the one hand, there’s that real big truth. That’s super important. Parents don’t get a user manual for their kids. When their children are born they are just given to you. It’s all like “good luck!” It’s not like buying a car or a computer where you’re told how to best take care of this product. With an cool new electronic device, you get a user’s manual that tells you all the things to do for it so that it will have the best performance. Well, parents don’t get that when they get their kid. You’re given this bundle of joy with this huge amount of responsibility. And you go home and you just do the best she can. And many of us parents have never taken care of a kid before and now we’re given that responsibility. It’s a whole new world. So, yeah, you do the best that you can. And the inevitable truth is that as a parent, you’re not always going to get it right. You’re not going to have all the answers. You’re not going to know all the things that you need to know to do everything perfect by your kid. That’s what’s true. And that’s what’s real. So on the one hand, yeah, my my parents absolutely 100% did the best they could with what they had.

But there’s this other truth that’s equally valid. And that is that I had ADHD that was undiagnosed. And because of that, the way that I was raised was harmful to me as an individual. And that was not recognized throughout my whole childhood. That was never heard. That was never seen. And my experience as a kid was never valued. That’s also equally real. And I think that there’s this weird, disjointed reality just kind of sitting there in your lap. And when you’re first diagnosed you just have to look at that and it’s hard to know what to do with it. How do you put these two truths that are equally valid together?

And I think that we sometimes have to understand that you can honestly go into things with the best intentions and you can honestly go into things, really doing the best that you can and have really crappy results and have less than ideal outcomes. And I don’t think that that makes my parents bad parents. And I don’t think that that makes them the villains of my life. But I do think that it is important to recognize that both sides of this strange dichotomy are both true and are both valid. That on the one hand, my parents did the best they could with what they had. But on the other hand, I really wasn’t well cared for because of my neuro divergence and that how I was raised was harmful to me.

The way that I was raised made my ADHD worse and it made a lot of things growing up and being a young adult and even now in my 40s a lot more difficult than they had to be. So both of those things are equally real. So how do you take these two truths and bring them together to some kind of peace? And the answer is that I think that it’s complicated, and I think that those types of conversations are really difficult. You have to decide first if that’s a conversation that you even want to have because it’s going to open up a lot of wounds, and it’s going to take a lot of energy and it’s going to take a lot of time. And the other person might not be interested in investing that effort. And, you know, you can throw yourself into that effort as much as you want but if the other side isn’t interested, it’s not going to go anywhere.

Then you kind of just have to reconcile it on your own. And that, to me, looks like acceptance. That this is just what it is. And it doesn’t have to be good or bad or right or wrong. It’s it’s just the thing that is and I think that sometimes we have to accept that our parents are imperfect and that society has set parents up in kind of a negative way. If you think about how, culturally we’ve become more isolated. More and more, we’ve become more individualized. So we have less exposure to the process of rearing children like we don’t necessarily babysit anymore. We don’t have the community raising children. We don’t have older children watching younger children. We don’t have neighbors watching children. We don’t have this integrated community where children are a constant presence, in which you can learn new numerous parenting styles vicariously by observing the parenting styles of numerous adults. You get just your parents parenting style, because there’s this isolated closing off. And a lot of parenting happens behind closed doors.

We don’t get any kind of education on how to be a parent. Nobody talks to us about what a parenting style is and what the good kinds are. And I’m really glad though that a lot of this is coming up online. And I’m seeing a lot of conversations on Facebook and in blogs, talking about different parenting styles and what the research is showing in child psychology in the different pros and cons to various parenting styles and approaches with our children. And I’m really excited about this social dialogue that we’re having, and I’m hoping that it will lead to us as a community in general, being better parents to our children.

But we have to be open minded for that. And these are difficult conversations. We have to be able to let go of the emotional investment of what we’ve always done and how things have always been. And we have to recognize that part of making things better is the necessity of change and doing things differently. And yeah, change is hard, but you can’t improve without change.

I don’t know those are my thoughts after having watched this this lecture. I think it’s a really good lecture and worth spending the time. I think you should go over to YouTube and check out healthy gamer GG in general. All of his lectures are fantastic. He is very thought provoking. He lays out his ideas fantastically.

Thanks for coming in hanging out with me and stay well.

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