I’d just gone to grab a cup of tea before my next guest on Radio 5 Live. I was sitting in on the Drivetime show with Tony Livesey and had been enjoying my first few days. I got back to the seat and Tony was finishing with his interview (something to do with strikes), when the producer buzzed on talk back to say your guest is there. I started the script which read something along the lines of “ADHD affects over 1.5 million people in the UK, but in women it presents differently and is under diagnosed ”. I started talking to this lady who was a professor of something or other and had been diagnosed recently. She started going through her ‘a ha’ moment. I was listening, blissfully unaware that mine was just around the corner.
She described such a familiar feeling of enthusiasm and excitement for life, of great delight when meeting new people and talking (a lot), times of great creativity and boundless motivation, impulsivity, obsessive tendencies, mixed in with clumsiness, total disorganisation, forgetfulness, being bad with money, a worry about talking too much, or saying the wrong thing, worry about how she was perceived, zero attention to detail (unless in the flow state-then it was hyper attention to detail) poor time management skills… being known as the ‘drama queen’ and at times in her life crippling anxiety, particularly about her health and a nagging feeling that she wasn’t living up to her potential, despite the fact she’d studied hard and was now a professor.
I quickly ignored the suggested questions in the script and began probing her, desperate to hear an answer that didn’t resonate. Unfortunately for me it didn’t come. I glanced at my phone, my husband had been listening and had sent me a WhatsApp, the message read: “I know exactly what you’re thinking!” As is (annoyingly) so often the case he was right, but it turned out so was I.
About a month later I was assessed (because I have no patience obviously) and had it confirmed that I’d been going about with combined ADHD for 38 years. Even though I knew it had been coming, it was like being hit by a big ADHD-shaped train, with stigma playing the role of the fat controller (one for you Thomas fans out there).
Every single thing I’d researched made so much sense. My search engine resembled a first year psychology student trying to get extra marks on an exam. I wanted to know everything, but I didn’t all at the same time, because it seemed all the little things that I thought were my ‘quirks’ were in fact ADHD and that shook me to the core. I started a bit of a tailspin into the abyss of who am I?
I didn’t know where I ended and ADHD began. All the things that made me who I was, were taken away in the time it took the Dr to say, “Yes, it’s ADHD”.