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    10 Things That Make So Much More Sense About My Life After Being Diagnosed With ADHD As An Adult

    Yes, I asked for an extension on this article.

    Hey, world! My name is Kelly. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), and I'd like to talk about it.

    Fox

    Before we get into it, let me just preface that my own experience with ADHD is in no way meant to be representative of every single person's! I'm also not a professional medical expert, and this article is not meant to diagnose anyone. Cool? Cool!

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    I also have OCD and generalized anxiety disorder, and my symptoms sometimes overlap.

    I was diagnosed with ADHD a little over a year ago, when I was 23 years old. When the pandemic hit, I noticed significant changes in my mood and found it increasingly more difficult to focus on important tasks. I initially just attributed it to all the changes the pandemic had brought, but over time, I realized there was more going on.

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    My diagnosis was honestly life-changing in many ways. First, because it meant that I was able to get the help I needed. But it also just explained SO much.

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    The Pokémon Company International

    My experience isn't uncommon, either. Research suggests that women with ADHD are especially likely to not be diagnosed until later in life, if at all.

    So, without further ado, here are 10 things that make much more sense about my life after being diagnosed with ADHD:

    1. First things first, mood swings!

    meme of Bart Simpson yelling "I am so great" alongside him looking sad in bed
    Fox

    People with ADHD may struggle with regulating their emotions. This was honestly the biggest thing for me. Before I started taking medication, my emotions were much more difficult to manage. The smallest thing could shift my entire mood in an instant, and I was overly sensitive to criticism. I cried a lot and honestly just felt frustrated so much of the time, and I didn't know how to control it. I still consider myself a pretty sensitive person, but now I'm much happier and calmer.

    2. School was pretty difficult, actually.

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    I think part of the reason I slipped under the radar for so many years was because I didn't have the "typical" ADHD symptoms — I wasn't disruptive in class, I didn't constantly fidget in my seat, and I got pretty good grades most of the time. But school also just never came easily to me. My mind wandered constantly in class, even if it looked like I was paying attention. I definitely procrastinated on my assignments and found it hard to focus and stay motivated, even if I wanted to do well. There were also certain things that just wouldn't click for me, like memorizing dates and formulas. 

    3. When I say my mind is always wandering, I mean my mind is always wandering.

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    Not just when I'm sitting through a boring presentation or stuck at a traffic light. Even when I want to concentrate on something, like an episode of a TV show, I have to actively work to make myself pay attention. I also can almost never do just one task at a time — I'm always listening to music, checking my phone, etc.

    4. Food is hard!!!

    Fox

    I'll literally just forget to eat sometimes. Or, if making food — or even just deciding what I want to eat — seems like too much work, I may just give up entirely and grab some string cheese or something for dinner. I actually do enjoy cooking and have definitely gotten better about it, but it's often still a daunting task. And I always, always look up the menu of the restaurant before I get there.

    5. One word: hyperfixations!

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    TeenNick

    Just to be clear, hyperfixations are not considered an official diagnostic symptom of ADHD. However, many people with ADHD identify with the experience, so I think it's still worth mentioning. Definitions may vary, but in simple terms, a hyperfixation is a bout of an extremely strong interest in something — a piece of media, an obscure subject, etc. — that goes beyond the level of just liking something. For example, when I was a kid, I often went through phases where I only wanted to watch one specific movie over and over again. During quarantine, I got so into Animal Crossing that I would play for hours and hours on end to the point where I would actually forget to eat or sleep — but now I haven't even touched the game in months. I can go from being utterly obsessed to "meh" very quickly. 

    6. Motivation: Where the heck is it?!

    SpongeBob: "nah I don't really feel like it"
    Nickelodeon

    Everyone struggles to getting motivated from time to time, but people with ADHD may consistently have trouble with following through on tasks. There are bad days where I find it difficult to do even basic tasks like shower or get the mail — I know I need to, and I want to, but I just can't get myself to do the dang thing already. Medication has definitely helped me with this, though.

    7. Impulsiveness affects a lot — especially relationships.

    TeenNick

    Again, I can't speak for everyone, but I definitely feel like my ADHD affects my dating life. I've been in a couple of serious relationships, along with my fair share of casual things, and I've found that I have a tendency to either a) hyperfocus on the new relationship, or b) get bored quickly. It's easy to pursue something new and exciting in the moment, but sticking it out for the long term is harder.

    8. Sensory. Freaking. OVERLOAD.

    The CW

    It's not uncommon for people with ADHD to struggle with sensory issues. I'm personally fine with putting up with crowds and loud noises for a certain amount of time when it comes to things like movie theaters, concerts, etc. But after a certain amount of time, I need to go home and decompress. 

    9. I can hear you just fine — I just don't understand what you said.

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    Invincible_bulldog / Getty Images / iStockphoto

    Just like sensory issues, some people with ADHD have difficulty with auditory processing. As a kid, I had lots of issues in school with understanding verbal directions. I could hear the teacher perfectly fine, but I just literally couldn't comprehend what they were saying. Imagine watching a movie, but the dialogue is in a language you're not familiar with — that's what the sensation feels like to me. 

    10. And finally, some positives: creativity, passion, and a unique outlook on life.

    Netflix

    Now, I'm stuck with ADHD whether I like it or not. Would I choose to deal with the above issues if I didn't have to? Of course not. But I don't consider it to be all bad. For starters, people with ADHD are often very creative. Hyperfocus allows me to really immerse myself in projects, like writing several pages of my novel in one sitting. I also find I get more excited and passionate about little things, like new seasons of a TV show or the cute keychain I bought on Etsy, than a lot of people do. At the end of the day, this is how my brain works, and I make the best of it!

    Now it's your turn! If you were diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, tell us about your experiences in the comments below.