Diagnosis of ADHD Can Be Upsetting — ADD Tip O the Day 725

Late ADHD diagnosis

  • I got a message from someone recently diagnosed with ADHD.  They were struggling with anger that they had been diagnosed late, and thinking how much better their life could’ve been if diagnosed sooner.  They asked how I handled the anger when I was diagnosed. (That was at 64, by the way).  Here is my response:

    Anon -I didn’t have much anger. I was so relieved and excited to get the diagnosis and to finally make sense of all the problems I’d been struggling with, and I jumped into strategies right away.

    I did have a little mourning and regret, but briefly and not much.  I have seen this response with many psychotherapy patients  – when they get better, there is relief and joy, but often it is briefly overwhelmed by the sense of loss and regret at how things might have been. Yet, could things have really been that way, or did they have to go through their stuff to get where they got?

    If you get seriously  stuck and feel bogged down with the anger and regret, then I would recommend therapy or counseling, with someone who clearly understands ADHD. But if it’s not so bad, I’d suggest focusing on strategies plus learning everything you can about ADHD.

     Glad you got the diagnosis. Your future is brighter and your life can be better.

    Best wishes


    (maybe more on this later)

    Bonus Links:

    Diagnosis of ADHD


    Bonus Quote:

    “My brain is a giant garbage pit, with some good stuff buried in it.  As the wind blows over it, constantly shifting the garbage, occasionally it uncovers, however briefly, something of value.”

            Doug Puryear

    Question O the Day:

    When did you get diagnosed and what was your reaction?

    @addstrategies #adhd #add @dougmkpdp



About doug with ADHD

I am a psychiatric physician. I learned I have ADHD at age 64, and then wrote two ADHD books for adults, focusing on strategies for making your life better. I just published my first novel, Alma Means Soul. Your Life Can Be Better; strategies for adults with ADD/ADHD available at amazon.com, or smashwords.com (for e books) Living Daily With Adult ADD or ADHD: 365 Tips O the Day ( e-book). This is one tip at a time, one page at a time, at your own pace. It's meant to last a year. As a child, I was a bully. Then there was a transformation. Now I am committed to helping people instead abusing them. The Bully was published in January, 2016. It's in print or e book, on Amazon.
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15 Responses to Diagnosis of ADHD Can Be Upsetting — ADD Tip O the Day 725

  1. SouthernHon says:

    I am 52 years old and currently seeing a psychologist for my diagnosis. As I look back on the “lost years”, it is difficult not to be angry. I am angry mostly with my parents, who are still living. They did not know about my difficulties in school and just felt, I assume, that my intelligence would somehow compensate for my inability to pay attention, lack of completing work, etc. My GPA in high school sucked. I was the poster child for underachievement and still hold those feelings today. Feelings of shame, anger and regret seem to haunt me.
    Getting back to my parents again – I sent them the paperwork to complete about what I was like as a child. My mother was totally freaked out and swears up and down that I didn’t exhibit any of those behaviors as a child or as an adolescent. Well, frankly, she doesn’t know half of the things I did and didn’t do. I was a pro at lying and hiding. I hid it so well. However, I clearly remember my father always telling me to slow down and recently remarked to me that as a child, I seemed to make decisions without thinking of the consequences. So, why are they in denial? Why does the mere act of me seeking professional help freak them out so much? They are not helpful. I. know that as a 52 year old, I should not hold this against them, but I feel that they didn’t do enough to help me and their current state of denial is continuing the cycle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SouthernHon says:

      I apologize for not answering the question. I really needed to vent today.

      Liked by 1 person

    • southern – good you got the diagnosis. hope you will also be getting counseling to work out those negative feelings about yourself. they are so common for us.
      sorry about your parents. they were clueless but now they need to be supportive, and they are failing you again. do you think they deny because they feel guilty?
      one strategy is to write them a letter, or maybe individually, and blast them. then the next day tear it up. it doesn’t sound like you can expect much from them so you might want to just avoid the topic with them, to save yourself more hurt and disappointment
      please don’t do the “should – it doesn’t work. sounds like your feelings are justified but you wish you didn’t have them – that’s not a “should”.
      best wishes

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Ann says:

    I was diagnosed when I was 65, and it hit me like a brick. I was enraged that I was now officially one of “those people,” people I didn’t like being around, people that acted in ways that were generally irritating to the populace as a whole. Connecting w other adults w ADHD felt as if I was being consigned to a leper colony.

    And talk about poor self-observation! I wasn’t even aware that people learned to observe their own behaviors, evaluate and make needed adjustments on their own. Performance evals at work were very scary for me, and half the time I didn’t even understand the feedback I was getting, let alone figure out how to adjust. It was just so frustrating; I needed someone to show me exactly when and how I was acting in a way that needed changing.

    The point was, I didn’t realize how much I was struggling, how much harder everything was for me. It didn’t help that my domain of excellence was in school – the place where most of us struggle. I did struggle, but in different ways. It took me hours to settle down and do my homework. The upside was that I was bright enough to get the hpmework done in the relatively short time I actually spent on it.

    I was never popular, never had great clothes or good skin. Being smart was my source of pride and achievement. So now I was being told that my PhD intelligence was housed in a brain that was more like that of a 5th grade boy.

    I began to understand my particular deficits and discovered that I can do almost anything w text on a page, but am pretty pathetic in real, live 3-D space and time. I have developed a little self awareness, but it’s mostly how awkward, disorganized, and clumsy I am.

    I am also easily overwhelmed by complex, nonverbal perceptual fields. I can’t handle group dynamics of any more than 5-6 people. No wonder teaching was difficult and stressful! Another perceptual/ cognitive impairment: I can’t “see” organizational structures or connections. I have little sense of that whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

    So I go thru the world feeling as if I am watching a snowy BW TV while everyone else has widescreen HD cable/ satellite/ FiOS.

    Retirement took me out of the structures that helped me function, and my ADHD symptoms exploded like an airbag. I have since become acutely aware of my childhood symptoms and how I really did struggle to do what my peers did so naturally.

    So my diagnosis has finally brought relief, as I identify areas of struggle and bring compassion to the situation that is otherwise met w anger and frustration. Those reactions simply reinforce all that negativity from childhood. But I still feel the impact of the diagnosis w some grief and pain. I cry a little as I look at the chaos in my house and start a list of what I need to do to make some order. Learning stratgies for dealing w my deficits makes them very real and reinforces the need to accept myself as a person w a disability.

    ADHD is sometimes referred to as a hidden disability. Our struggles much greater than what others can see, in part because our symptoms are the quirks and the difficulties that everyone has from time to time. What is hard for the to understand is that we struggle w ALL of them, all the time.

    It’s the easiest thing in the world, it would seem, to decide to do something and then go do it. After all, isn’t that ability the very basis of life as an adult? Yet, that is exactly what people w ADHD cannot do, or do w great difficulty. We can’t just DO it. There are too many intervening neurological events that get in our way.

    I am almost totally time blind. I can’t see 30 seconds ahead of me. I’m also spatially myoptic, w no sense of anyone else within the reach of my conscious awareness. I live in a little box that has two sides labeled “Here,” and the othe two sides labeled “Now.” I go through the world w all

    Liked by 1 person

    • ann – thank you for your comment. its rough. i will repost if you dont object, but it wasnt complete. could you finish it?


    • ann – that’s a great explanation, thank you. i will repost some unless you object. we all share a lot of the same difficulties, although different mixes and different severities. so welcome to the colony. but we have another word – which i cant remember – club? family? something good.
      youve done an excellent job of identifying some of your difficulties. the best next steps are to pick the one or two that cause you the most trouble, get very specific about the problems they cause you, and then create strategies for those problems. your life will get better.
      more generally, you realize that in retirement you need to recreate structure in your life, a basic foundation for getting along.
      thank you for contributing


  3. Pingback: Living with ADHD and Getting an ADHD Diagnosis — ADHD Tip O the Day 727 | ADDadultstrategies

  4. Jeff says:

    Hey Doug, I answered your Question of the Day, but you didn’t reply. Would you please? I am interested in your comments!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeff says:

    Hi Doug. I have a different perspective from Ram’s that I thought I’d share. And my reaction to realizing I had ADD was more similar to yours. I learned I had ADD just a few years ago, when I was about 25 years older than Ram. I had been to see several neurologists in an attempt to learn the cause of my frequent migraines and memory problems. Unfortunately, these doctors only appeared interested in treating my migraines. I ended up self-diagnosing myself with ADD, although I don’t remember exactly when this was, or how it happened. I just remember that it was as though I had just solved a very difficult puzzle after the pieces just happened to come together and I had an eureka moment! Realizing I had ADD, and learning many of the tips for living with ADD, has made my life much easier. I have many of the classic symptoms, quite a few of which you’ve described as having yourself, Doug. I didn’t get upset upon learning I had ADD, just happy that I finally knew what was causing many of my problems. And maybe it was for the best that I didn’t learn I had ADD when I was in school, because perhaps I would have thought I was unable to accomplish some of the things that I DID accomplish. I graduated from college, but had many difficulties caused by ADD. Not only was I a slow reader, but I found it difficult to study, etc. So, to combat these problems, I just worked harder than other students. Unfortunately, my social life suffered, as I had much less time to devote to having fun. However, instead of being upset over the problems I’ve had due to my ADD, I try to focus on making my life better in the future. It’s a long process, but I find it a challenge to learn new tactics to combat the effects ADD has on me. Thank you, Doug, for your involvement in improving my life, and the lives of all of those who follow your posts! Jeff

    Liked by 1 person

    • jeff – sorry i missed your excellent response, and thank you for giving it. I will try to figure how to use yours and rams in a post together if you dont object.
      your story and mine are quite similar – especially struggling through college, having to work harder than others just to stay afloat, not to do well. then i got into courses that i was truly interested in and at the same time learned how to study, so i did well after that – fortunately the course i wasn’t interested in were behind me.
      thank you for contributing.


  6. rammkatze says:

    Hi Doug, I’ve told you before about my diagnose, but I’ll recap for the sake of sharing.
    Got my diagnose a year and a half ago; I was 32 going on 33. My sis often told me she was sure I had HAD adhd when I was a chilld – had! – which even I didn’t believe. When I got the diagnose, I thought adhd was a serious children’s affliction, maybe too overdiagnosed, but serious and real and well… for children. I thought my shrink was pulling my leg when he told me about it and prescribed me the equivalent of ritalin – something with a prescription pad that was very threateningly take out of a special pad that had to be filled by hand and everything, a different colour than the other pads and saying the words “It’s a different prescription because this medication counts as a numbing narcotic, but don’t worry, it’s not in the very least addictive.”
    First I was puzzled, then I googled “adhd grownups” and realized it was actually me; then I spent the next few days crying in relief everytime I thought of it – I thought I had “spoiled” my head into being lazy and distracted during my teens; then I did consider how different my life might have been – I did drop out of college because I couldn’t focus and thought I was too dumb – and I was also slightly outraged that no one had diagnosed me – family always said “you just need to focus” and years of therapy with a psychologist did nothing for my impulsive eating and horrible mood swings (like 10 times a day). I even ended up having a depression despite it all.
    But in the end, what helped me go over those thoughts of “what might have been” was the mantra I had luckily already developed for my overthinking of the past: “It all happened the way it had to happen”.
    I’m not a fatalist. Except when it comes to the past. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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