Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that can make people behave in inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive ways – and it can have a significant impact on their lives. It is also sometimes known as attention deficit disorder, or ADD.
Professor Philip Asherson, who specialises in clinical and molecular psychiatry at King's College London, told BuzzFeed: “Although some [people] will have had full-blown ADHD with impairment (problems arising from the symptoms), some others may have only a few symptoms, [that are] not necessarily impairing.”
Being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult can be tricky – one criterion is that “several symptoms were present before the age of 12 years”. ADHD symptoms are also frequently mistaken for symptoms of other mental health conditions in adults such as anxiety, depression, personality disorder, and even bipolar disorder.
“There is more knowledge and awareness of ADHD in adults [now], but clinician expertise is still catching up with the current state of knowledge and understanding of this condition,” Asherson said.
We spoke to Gareth, 23, Maeve, 27, and Danielle, 24, about their experiences with ADHD in their twenties. Gareth was diagnosed when he was 22, Maeve at 27, and Danielle at 21.
1. Many people falsely believe that if you have ADHD you're out-of-control hyper ALL THE TIME.
2. ADHD can feel like living life on fast-forward.
3. Staying in the present can be challenging.
4. Getting diagnosed with ADHD can feel like a massive relief.
5. But it can be quite a lengthy process.
6. Many people with ADHD go on medication, but there's not one magic pill you can take.
7. General life organisation can be difficult, especially when it comes to juggling your work and social life.
8. Memorising things can be a bit tricky too.
9. Which makes university a challenge for some people.
10. Feeling easily distracted from doing your work is incredibly frustrating.
11. But talking openly to your employers could be a massive relief.
12. In terms of dating, ADHD can make it feel like it's hard to commit to one particular person.
13. A crippling fear of failure can seep in pretty quickly.
14. There's still an awful lot of stigma around ADHD.
15. But ADHD is totally manageable.
"I write a diary to plan my week, consult with my doctor, and I'm upfront with those around me if it's starting to affect my life before a situation snowballs." – Gareth
"I have an agenda that I carry around all of the time where I can jot my to-do list and make notes reminding me of things I want to remember. I am also kind of obsessive about using binders and folders to keep all of my papers for school and work organised (think Leslie Knope-level office organization!). I also set alarms on my phone so I am never late for appointments and classes." – Danielle
Tara McGillicuddy, a productivity coach who runs Living With ADHD, adds: "One misconception is that adults with ADHD can't be successful. With the right type of structure, support, and strategies, adults with ADHD can thrive. When adults with ADHD learn to work with their brains, life can be amazing."
16. In fact, sometimes, it can be fucking great.
For more information about ADHD see the NHS website, or speak to your GP.