What It Is Like Being An Adult With ADHD

From as early as I can remember, I knew I was different from my friends but didn’t know what made me so different. I was impulsive and I didn’t understand what I was learning; I thought everyone else was also struggling and was always confused. When I was in the second grade, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, called ADHD, and Dyslexia. I didn’t fully understand what that meant, and I didn’t know how much it would affect my everyday life.

 

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Throughout my years in a public school district, I was placed in speech therapy classes, separate math and reading classes, and at one point was in Special Education.

I continued to struggle in my pre-teens. Other kids in middle school found my disabilities as an easy target for endless teasing and torment. With the pressures of trying to fit in and be as invisible as possible, my grades started to slip. I went to four tutors a week for different subjects and even had after school tutoring. I eventually was in detention every Friday for late work. My ADHD caused me to have horrible time management, which landed me in In School Suspension for being late to detention. No punishments were working for me, I did not learn from mistakes and I continued to repeat my same careless mistakes.

 

I knew I was different from my friends but didn’t know what made me so different.

 

My parents decided I should go to a different school that I would benefit from. In the seventh grade I transferred to a private school that specialized in learning disabilities. As a prerequisite to attending the school, I had to be retested for my learning disabilities. I was diagnosed with other learning disabilities I didn’t know existed. Along with ADHD, I also have a non-verbal communication disorder, which means I lack facial expression or have a hard time voicing what I want or really feel; Auditory processing, which means it takes me longer to process words or conversations differently and I may hear things differently than how they were said; and borderline dyslexia, meaning I am dyslexic, but I don’t have all the characteristics that truly make me dyslexic, although I am still classified as dyslexic for accommodation reasons. After receiving this plethora of diagnoses, I finally understood what everything meant; I understood why I was the way I was.

Attending the private school made me succeed on my own, with the strong understanding of my disabilities. I struggled a lot with time management and organization as my two main struggles, and still do.

I recently returned to my high school, the same private school, for a college panel to answer some kids questions. I noticed how many parents were there and had the most questions. They were all so curious to what it was like to be an adult with ADHD, and how it is possible to manage it while living on our own. Most feared that their child’s impulsivity would get the best of them and expected the worst. This sounds like a horrible thing for any parent to think and believe that it would be true, but for parents of a child with learning disabilities, it is the most normal thought ever.

 

I understood why I was the way I was.

 

But as an adult, it has been the most learning experience of my life. I still don’t have the best organization and time management, but I have learned to advocate for myself and be proactive. As a teenager, I learned how to live with it and how to accept it, as an adult I learned how to manage it to observe what actually works for me. Adulthood in itself is all trial and error, much like adulthood with learning disabilities.

As I go through college, my time management has improved greatly within a semester. Once you’re late to a lecture hall and have to bear the embarrassment of 190 people staring at you as you walk in, you'll see. Believe me, you’ll only do that once.

College is different when you have learning disabilities because no one cares if you have LDs or not. They don’t treat you differently, because they are all here to go to college and get an education, the same as you.

As an adult, I have learned more about myself with LDs than I have ever known or paid attention to. Eventually I became more comfortable with my LDs and got to know them, like meeting new people and getting to know them, and soon they’ll be your best friend. I am able to function as an adult, with few minor slip ups. In fact, most people don’t know I have an LD unless I tell them, and most people are shocked when I do tell them.

 

College is different when you have learning disabilities because no one cares if you have LDs or not. They don’t treat you differently, because they are all here to go to college and get an education, the same as you.

 

The one thing I do struggle with is healthy balances and balancing education and social life equally. Sometimes I get so caught up in the organization and getting "ahead" in work, that I don’t spend time for myself. This year alone, I have gone to the gym maybe three times, and have had a handful of “healthy” meals. I also don’t keep healthy routines either. Like regularly keeping a skincare regimen, or regularly making my bed, or cleaning my room. My biggest excuse is that “I don’t have time,” but in reality I really do, but I tell myself I don’t have time.

To sum up the challenges of adulthood with ADHD, its not impossible, it just takes a little extra work.