Getting Diagnosed with ADHD at 20


At a young age, I was taken to a room and had to do a whole bunch of different tests to determine whether I was “gifted” or not. As it turned out, I was. This determination then sent me on an educational path of getting taken out of class and being considered “the smart kid”. However, I would talk a lot in class and procrastinate on my work. The talking always ended up in a comment on my report card almost every time. The procrastination caused me to plagiarize once and get a zero on my project. Yet I was still maintaining my grades.

(Photo by Olav Ahrens Røtne)

I was one of the “smart kids” until my junior year of high school when I wasn’t just struggling in english any more. It felt like I had hit a wall. While everyone continued to improve and become more intelligent, I just… stopped. I couldn’t keep and retain information and doing schoolwork came at a challenge even more so than usual. I did so much that I couldn’t balance my load anymore. Somehow, I still made it through.

Cut to college. I still feel like I’m at a wall. I know that I am getting more intelligent and learning. Or am I? People seem to be catching more concepts and understanding them at a deeper level. I keep missing the obvious and coming up with crazy, unnecessary solutions that only have a 50/50 shot of working. My creativity was definitely there, but I felt like I couldn’t apply it right. The heavier the course load got, the more I struggled to keep up with assignments. It got to the point where I was just playing catch up the entire semester.

(Photo by Christopher Lemercier)

For the past year, I had been taking medication because I struggle with anxiety. This was very commonly known and it seemed to help a little bit. Everything else just seemed like laziness or bad procrastination that I was choosing to take part in. But I wasn’t. Everything in my day took a certain amount of energy. However, my brain was really good at making every tiny little thing take enough energy that the task as a whole seemed like too much.

In July of this year, I went to a psychiatrist and got diagnosed with ADHD. Getting diagnosed this old isn’t uncommon, as ADHD remains very underdiagnosed in general, but especially with women. There are a lot of aspects of life that it can affect, but I mainly struggle with executive functioning. This is what allows your brain to time manage, rate tasks by importance, start tasks, and break them down so you can accomplish them. I have struggled immensely all my life with starting and completing tasks as well as time management. So it was a breath of relief when I found out that I wasn’t just lazy or severely ingrained in bad habits. My brain is just wired against me.

(Photo by Radu Florin)

Now I take a medication that helps me function on a daily basis and life feels so much easier. I can do more of what I actually want to do instead of feeling paralysed by my inability to just do. Though it’s going to take time and effort to build better habits than the ones I have now, I can finally take control and live the way I want to live.