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How My Adult ADHD Has Been a Learning Opportunity

It’s a warm June day. I arrive nice and early for my appointment. Bright paintings are lining the walls. Toys and books are spread throughout the waiting room. Parents and children are sitting patiently. Someone in this office didn’t belong. That someone was me.

I am a 27-year-old adult woman with a full-time job and a car. But yet, here I was sitting in a neuropsychology office with children and families waiting for my appointment. I grew up with a nonverbal learning disorder and dealt with anxiety and depression. I was looking to go back to school for the fall semester. It had been a long time since high school and I wanted to see what accommodations (if any) I was eligible to receive.

Seeing the kids and their parents gave me flashbacks to my younger years, sitting in various doctors’ offices with my parents. They would always tell me how proud they were of me, but somehow I felt like I was a giant disappointment even as an adult.

When I finally got called back, I spent the next five hours doing a variety of tests and filling out more paperwork than I could have imagined! There was a part of me that felt like a lab rat under constant watch — however, I was familiar with the process and was motivated. When I left, I was exhausted and anxious about what the results would find.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, my feedback session was scheduled via telephone. Two weeks later I received a phone call. Among other things, I was diagnosed with adult ADHD. My world was rocked. I began to think, “what else could possibly go wrong with me?” I texted my therapist in a panic. We have spent months navigating this new diagnosis and helping me learn that this does not change who I am as a person.

What I have discovered in recent weeks is that my new diagnosis could be used as a great “character building” opportunity. ADHD has taught me forgiveness. I have learned to make peace with myself and my past. I have learned to forgive others and discovered that through forgiveness, I have a new freedom I never thought would be possible. ADHD has taught me acceptance — accepting what is and knowing that no one is perfect and I am doing just fine. I am right where I am supposed to be and that’s OK. Thanks to my ADHD diagnosis, I have learned to love again. Love myself and love others. I have learned to be compassionate and develop empathy towards my clients, family, coworkers and friends.

There’s still a lot to learn for me since being diagnosed with ADHD in June, but I have a great support system behind me and I am grateful to be getting the help I needed. I still have a long way to go, but when I shift my perspective and use my ADHD as a learning opportunity, the possibilities are endless!

Getty image by Metamorworks.