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The diag-do’s and diag-don’ts of diagnosis.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Aberdeen chapter.

You can never really tell when you know yourself properly if one ever can. We are constantly coming across little surprises within ourselves. Most pass by undisturbed, but what happens when we discover things that completely change how we see ourselves and the world?  

This is an experience we all should be prepared for, at some point life is going to send us something we aren’t expecting, for me it was an ADHD diagnosis at twenty years old. I like to say I always knew because it was painfully obvious, but I didn’t. When I made the effort to get diagnosed, I knew what they would say, I thought I had come to terms with it, I’m still me right!? It won’t affect me that much. I was wrong, it really did hit me like a truck. That isn’t to say I’m not glad for it, it helps me understand myself every day whereas I would once beat myself up for behaviours I couldn’t understand. However, it’s not easy adjusting how you see yourself, especially at uni when (although none of us does) we convince each other we know who we are.  

It is particularly frustrating because women are so drastically underdiagnosed not just with ADHD but with autism, and across the entire medical landscape. So I know there will be other people experiencing very similar things, which I think we should try and find comfort in instead of indignance.  

It took me a while to get to this point, but now I’m even close to acceptance here’s some completely unasked for advice: 

Don’t be afraid to look into yourself and find how this affects your behaviours and mind, but don’t over-analyse. You haven’t changed as a person since before the diagnosis and if you begin to pick at yourself for how you present symptoms you will head down a rough path of self-hatred and criticism. When I found out I was suddenly looking back at my school years as though my eyes were open for the first time. For years it was missed and overlooked, and it resulted in a vaguely horrible experience for me. I used to wonder how different things might have been if I had had some support to help me navigate what is already a terrifying social environment even without a slightly different brain. But I’ve quickly learned that there is no point dwelling on the past, I’ve become someone pretty cool and putting a diagnosis to my behaviours only gives me tools to understand them. It doesn’t make them any worse or make anyone likely to reject you. All you can do is look upwards. 

Make friends with similar experiences. Having people who understand what you’re going through is important! Not only does it remind you that you’re not alone, but it can give you great coping strategies and tools for living with your new diagnosis. Also, who doesn’t want more friends! Surrounding yourself with people who love you and not isolating yourself is imperative, you need to be reminded that you are loved no matter what label is put on you. 

Most importantly though, as long as it’s healthy, deal with it how you want to. If you want to write articles and put them online for whoever to see, do that. If you want to keep it private and only tell a select few people, go right ahead. Don’t let anyone tell you how you’re supposed to be reacting or behaving, everyone’s experience with this kind of thing is different so although we should support each other through it, it is ultimately up to us how it affects our life.  

The best thing about your twenties is everything you get to try and learn about yourself, so just embrace that with all its swings and roundabouts.  

Maeve Topliff

Aberdeen '24

Currently studying English at The University of Aberdeen. I like writing about films and women and quite often women in films. I am passionate about using my voice for change.