G is for Getting Diagnosed

The diagnostic process can be stressful or simple, and it varies from clinician to clinician.

It can be as simple as an interview or as complicated as complete neuropsychological testing.

It can be as easy as describing your difficulties in detail to the first clinician you see or as difficult as explaining yourself fifty times to as many clinicians.

The reasons you might be denied a diagnosis are many.

  • You might be (or appear to be) female.
  • You might be a person of colour.
  • You might be autistic.
  • You might have other psychiatric diagnoses already.
  • You might get (or have gotten) good grades in school.
  • You might be Predominantly Inattentive, rather than Predominantly Hyperactive/Impulsive.
  • You might be poor.
  • You might have parents who don’t believe in ADHD.
  • You might have parents who don’t want you labelled.
  • You might have parents who don’t want to deal with the stigma of having a child who has “something wrong with them.”

And that is just a partial list (and the most common ones I see).

The choice to try to obtain a diagnosis is not simple. There are a lot of factors to consider, from how the diagnosis might benefit or hinder you, to your history with psychiatric professionals, to your financial means.

It’s okay to get a formal diagnosis if you just want to know for yourself that you aren’t imagining things, and there’s a real reason why you struggle with so many things.

It’s okay to avoid a formal diagnosis if you have a history of trauma at the hands of medical and/or psychiatric professionals.

It’s okay to get a formal diagnosis if you aren’t struggling as much as someone else.

It’s okay to avoid a formal diagnosis if you can’t afford it and can’t access funding to pay for it.

It’s okay to get a formal diagnosis if you think treatment will help you better manage your life.

It’s okay to avoid a formal diagnosis if you think it will negatively affect how people treat you.

What matters is that you make an informed decision and explore your options. Just remember, the label doesn’t change who you are as a person.

It just helps to explain some of why you are who you are.

D is for Disability

ADHD isn’t always a disability. It always causes difficulties for the people who have it, and part of the diagnostic criteria is that the symptoms cause distress in two or more areas of life. But no, it’s not always a disability.

Except when it is.

And that’s not me saying it’s horrible and evil and wrong or whatever, it’s me stating an objective fact.

If I cannot meet my work deadlines because my ADHD-skewed sense of time means I don’t start things until too late, that’s a disability.

If I don’t have clean clothes to wear on a regular basis because my ADHD-provided executive dysfunction means I almost never do the laundry, that’s a disability.

If I can’t maintain friendships because I always say the first thing that pops into my head and it usually offends people, that’s a disability.

If I don’t eat regular meals because I forget to eat even when I’m hungry, or because I forget I’m cooking food and ruin my meals, that’s a disability.

If I can’t maintain friendships because I keep forgetting to reply to e-mails, that’s a disability.

Many ADHDers are not disabled by their ADHD once they are receiving appropriate treatment and have found the thing they are able to hyperfocus on consistently enough to make a career in it.

Some ADHDers are disabled enough that they require support staff in order to maintain their homes and keep a job.

Both types of ADHDer (and everyone in between) are valid and worthwhile.

Don’t shy away from admitting that ADHD is often disabling. Don’t lie about it. Don’t add to the stigma of disability. Rise above that impulse and promote the idea that we are all worthy as we are, regardless of how much support we require. Push the narrative that “success” is as individual as we are, and that we should define our success ourselves and decide how we’re going to get there based on our personal abilities and disabilities.

Is your ADHD disabling? In what way(s)?