I Can’t Believe I Was Diagnosed with ADHD at Age 36

I Can’t Believe I Was Diagnosed with ADHD at Age 36

Yep. That’s me – diagnosed with ADHD at age 36. Within the neurodivergent world, there are MANY adults receiving a diagnosis of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) right now. Have you seen the news reports of the nation-wide adderall shortage? Why is this? I think it comes from a few factors.

First, definitions, detections, and diagnostic criteria have expanded SO much since we were in school in the ’80s and ’90s. Doctors know so much more about ADHD now, which leads to easier diagnoses.

Secondly, many of us have children who have ADHD. Being the mama bears we are, we have entrenched ourselves in learning every single thing we can about how our child’s brain operates. We are their advocate, protector, and cheerleader.

So it makes sense that while parenting in the neurodivergent sphere, some of us saw characteristics of ourselves. What we thought was normal, might not have been as normal as we thought.

My ADHD Symptoms

I am here to share my own personal experience. Keep that in mind. No two people have the same story. But here are some things I learned are actually characteristics of ADHD, and that I saw in myself:

  • Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. This is an overwhelming emotional sensation that someone experiences due to actual or even perceived rejection or criticism. I have a really difficult time when I think someone doesn’t like me, misunderstands something I’ve said, or critiques my work. I have to pep talk my way out of these intense feelings.
  • Difficulty with Task Initiation. It can be INCREDIBLY difficult for me to start something. It’s an odd feeling; I’m not going to lie. I know in my head that the task (folding the laundry for example) is important, not hard, won’t take a lot of time, and/or really important. But if I don’t want to do the task, then my brain cannot make my body do the task. I know. I know it sounds insane, but it’s real.
  • Task Switching. This looks like multitasking, but task switching is moving rapidly from one task to another. I do this often, especially in things that my brain considers “work”. This can occur on a bigger scale, where it is obvious because a person has multiple projects going on at one time. Or it can happen on a smaller scale, which is how task switching manifests for me. For example, I might be in the middle of meal planning, then all of a sudden need to switch to lesson planning. Or when I’m writing, I will write a little, then so search for images, write a little more, then switch to making a pin, and so on.
  • Hyperfocus. This is a more common characteristic of ADHD. If there is something I want to learn or a task I am excited about, then I can spend HOURS on it. Easily. Need help with breastfeeding? I can give you some pointers. Want to know random facts about homeless orphans in North Korea, I got you. Interested in the historical context of some of the more controversial verses in the Bible? Let’s chat. I could go on, haha!
Accurate image of me trying to make sense of my brain. Image Credit: Womanlog

So, What Happened?

I operated well in my daily life. I used planners and organizers to keep things moving efficiently from day to day, and I accomplished my daily tasks well enough. Sure, some days/seasons were hard. But that’s life, right? That’s adulting.

Then the pandemic happened. I suffered from long haul covid, and it changed me. I experienced neurological symptoms like brain fog, insomnia, depression, and memory loss. Covid changed my brain. I really believe covid tipped the scale for me. Systems in my life that worked well before no longer worked.

All of the symptoms listed above became more pronounced and problematic in my every day life. I couldn’t plan or organize my brain out of the struggle I was feeling. My days became harder and harder. I was moving through mud. Every thing took so much effort, and I was oh so very tired each and every day. Finally, I decided to talk to my doctor, and he diagnosed me right then and there.

Keep In Mind

Many things I listed above are not “official” ADHD symptoms. They aren’t listed in the DSM-5. However, they are all characteristics many people with ADHD have in common. Many doctors agree these are unique to ADHD and other neurodivergent diagnoses and take them into consideration.

Additionally, these characteristics are easily masked, or they can be overlooked if someone is functioning well in their day to day life. They can look like anxiety and/or depression as well. So many women were given an original diagnosis of anxiety, then were later diagnosed with ADHD. Fun fact about me: I had panic attacks in college and was on anxiety medication for about five years.

Treating My ADHD

After bing diagnosed with ADHD, I knew I wanted to try medication. My ADHD children have had great experiences on medication. After a discussion with my doctor, we decided on the non-stimulant Wellbutrin.

Now, I know many people have strong opinions on Wellbutrin. I know some have experienced horrible side effects. Yet, for me, it has been WONDERFUL. It is hard to describe, but my days are just easier. I am back to cooking dinner for my family most nights because I am not as tired at the end of the day. I can maintain my home in a way that I prefer. Most importantly, I don’t feel like I am moving through mud.

How’s It Going?

There have been two occasions where I have unintentionally missed a day of medication. Both times, I didn’t realize it until the end of the day, but it was definitely a hard day.

The first time was a day that I had a long to do list. I started multiple tasks all at the same time, and I kept bouncing from one thing to another. I felt extremely frazzled, but I couldn’t slow my pace down to concentrate on one thing at a time.

The second time I missed a medication dose was a normal day filled with normal responsibilities. Yet I was EXHAUSTED. I could barely speak at the end of the day because I was so tired. I realized how much harder my brain had to work.

Pin it!

Final Thoughts Getting Diagnosed with ADHD at Age 36

My overarching thought on my ADHD journey is I am so glad I sought help. I have what would be considered as mild ADHD, yet my medication has been extremely beneficial. Even though most would look at me and think I was functioning in life just fine, things were harder for me than that of a neurotypical person. My brain had to do more than others to maintain the same baseline, if that makes sense.

I hope you found my journey helpful and enlightening. Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult? I’d love to hear about it! Make sure to share this post with your friends if you found it helpful.

The 15 Best Gifts for Your Young ADHD Child

The 15 Best Gifts for Your Young ADHD Child

Shopping for the holidays is overwhelming enough. But as a mom of two ADHD children, I know there is a *special* level of chaos surrounding the holidays. To hopefully make things a little easier on you, I’ve compiled a list of all the gifts your young ADHD child will not only love but also use. Say goodbye to toys that are played with for five minutes, then tossed into the black hole of a closet – never to be seen or heard from again.

This post contains affiliate links, which help support my time and effort. Happy shopping!

Hello stocking stuffers! This fidget set is great if your child likes variety, or you’re not sure which type of fidget would be helpful for them. We have these set up as a fidget station in our homeschool room.

This vibrating cushion is wonderful for proprioception and sensory input. My kids really enjoyed it when they were feeling unregulated. I like this one because it is a little bit bigger than some of the others, and it is easy to clean.

Hoverboards are just plain fun. They are also helpful in developing coordination and balance. This particular hoverboard connects to bluetooth, so your child can enjoy music or audiobooks while they cruise around. It also comes in a variety of colors.

My kids LOVE soft blankets. This might be the coziest weighted blanket I could find, and I am definitely adding it to my cart. The stitching ensures equal weight distribution, which I appreciate. As a general rule, you want your weighted blanket to be about 10% of the users total weight.

My kids love figuring out how things work. Gears are a great way to do just that. I like this set because there are plenty of pieces for multiple children to play with at the same time, and it comes with its own storage container.

My kids found this ball in a Sunday school room at our church, and they were instantly obsessed! This ball has some weight, but it is also soft and squishy. We now own three of these!

An oldie but a goodie. Jump all those wiggles out, please! Bonus points because kids can use these indoors.  

Have you heard of the game Hues and Cues? This is a favorite board game in our house and is meant for the whole family, regardless of age. I really love how the game encourages the players to root for each other’s success. 

This book is actually part of our homeschool materials, but it is WONDERFUL. It has helped my four year old learn to take deep breaths when upset, which you know is an extremely helpful skill.

Legos. All the Legos. This is a great little starter set and includes an instruction booklet to make a variety of things. Plus you can use the container as storage. Can you tell I like things that come with storage??

This is a beginning chapter book series that my girls love. The illustrations are bright and colorful, that really holds their attention.

For your aspiring artist. This light-up tracing pad is perfect for kids who are learning how to draw or who need some extra fine motor skills practice.

Who didn’t love this thing as a kid? This is a great gift for an ADHD child because it’s not only but it gives great vestibular stimulation.

Tools AND dinosaurs? What more could a kid need? And your child gets to work on their hand-eye coordination!

Check out this cute robot! Coding activities are so popular these days, and they’re so much fun. This little guy can be programmed by your child to make all kinds of art.

Here are some other great websites to check out:

Kid Made Modern

Green Craft Kids

Montessorri Services

Epic!

You can also check out my gift guide from last year here.

There you have it! Great gifts for your young ADHD child this holiday season. What toys and activities have your ADHD children loved? Tell us about them in the comments below. Happy Holidays!