THE BLOG
07/12/2018 08:59 GMT | Updated 07/12/2018 13:31 GMT

This Is How It Feels To Be Diagnosed With ADHD As An Adult

My mind was so unrested and overactive that when I finally gathered the discipline needed to begin something, I would feel physically worn out, emotionally weak and confused

David-Prado via Getty Images
HuffPost UK

“I click on to one of my favourite blogger’s latest posts, excited and so expectant as I’m about to read it, then I flip away from the page and pick my phone up. I dive into it head first and can’t look away. It’s like an excited frustration that makes me want to run away from the very thing I’m about to enjoy or embrace.

“Then I go back to the web page and quickly print it off before reading it so of course I can also read it on the tube or wherever I am – a bag full of print outs that never get a second look in.  Then as I sit back down to read it and receive the encouragement and edification I know will immediately follow, I weigh up whether I’m using my time effectively by spending two minutes on this. I’m at work and I need to be a good steward over my job. How can God bless me through deals at work if I’m not working hard and I’m using my time to do other things? My manager is probably in a meeting discussing reasons to sack me right now.

“Wait - it’s lunchtime. Oh yeah. Overthinking...

“Ok so it’s definitely not a waste of time and this hour is MY time but let me quickly get my notebook and make sure I write it all down or I will just forget it all and then it won’t count and then it won’t properly sink in unless I’ve committed to sharing it with others after. Maybe I will send it to a few of my mates now quickly, so we can all read it at the same time. Actually no, let me check my WhatsApp groups and write a list of who I need to send it to. I know it’s going to be a great post!!

“30 minutes later, something irritates me on Whatsapp so I close it and stare at my phone blankly.

“What was I even doing before this? Why am I avoiding doing what’s good for me? Why am I feeling nervous and anxious when I think about or begin to read this blog post I’ve been so excited to read?  It’s the highest level of frustration ever and I don’t understand why I’d rather do so many other silly little pointless things!

“Now I’ve started, I can’t relax. Instead of enjoying this blog post which is even more amazing than I expected, I am now thinking of lots of lists of things that I need to do or want to do to be better at taking all of this wonderful stuff in. I’m getting frustrated and unable to receive because my mind can’t process the goodness I’m feeling hearing and excited for. I’m getting all practical and wanting to write, write, write like I am now. I wish I could calm down. I wish I could close the tabs.”

The journal entry above was written in 2017, just before I was diagnosed with Adult ADHD, a condition I didn’t know existed because I had thought ADHD was a ‘behavioural problem in attention seeking children’.

Being diagnosed with ADHD felt like a joke but it turned out to be one of the most liberating and life changing things I have ever experienced. No exaggeration.

Prior to the diagnosis, as you can probably tell by my journal entry, I was in a very odd and frustrating place mentally. I felt I should have been smooth sailing through life after letting go of people and habits that I felt were holding me back. There were things I wanted to do and was more than capable of accomplishing, yet I couldn’t ever get around to starting even the smallest of tasks attached to these things. My mind was so unrested and overactive that when I finally gathered the discipline needed to begin something, I would feel physically worn out, emotionally weak and confused. I didn’t recognise my thoughts and behaviour a lot of the time and I constantly argued with myself about why I felt or did certain things or why I couldn’t commit to or stick to doing things that I was passionate about. I carried a lot of guilt and shame when I found myself choosing to watch cartoons instead of starting a blog that I had been meaning to launch for months. I felt I was fake and half-hearted for not being able to push, motivate or force myself and when the guilt got bad enough to make me start, I would have zero consistency or forget that I started. I felt like my own worst enemy at times. It felt like I was running into a brick wall over and over again.

I now know I was struggling with some of the symptoms of ADHD that I have since identified and learnt loads about. These include; inattention or distractibility, procrastination, overthinking, empathy, low self-esteem and anxiety.

There are so many different traits displayed by someone with an ADHD brain but by learning to understand mine and knowing that it is always in search of stimulation, I no longer walk around riddled with guilt and a feeling of failure. I can manage my day, tasks, goals and emotions a lot better and have found some awesome benefits associated to the condition that I am extremely proud of. My favourites are the fact that I am a great multitasker despite not always finishing every single task that I juggle, and I also have the ability to hyperfocus on things that I am interested in which means undisrupted focus for several hours. Basically, a superpower if you are a creative, which most people with ADHD are.

Penny Jarrett’s ‘The joy of having ADHD’ is part of Life Lessons, a podcast and video series from BBC Radio 4 and BBC Ideas.

How It Feels is a weekly blogs series which aims to shine a light on people’s stories, covering subjects where voices are rarely heard. If you want to get involved, please email ukblogteam@huffpost.com