When you are first diagnosed with ADHD it is common to feel a cocktail of positive emotions, such as relief, excitement and total happiness. You finally understand why you are the way you are and why ‘simple’ things that other people do effortlessly are difficult for you.
In those heady first days, it is tempting to share this new piece of information with everyone.
Before You Do, Proceed With Caution!
Once you have told someone about your ADHD diagnosis, you can’t ‘untell’ them.
There are still misconceptions and prejudices against ADHD, and not everyone is going to be happy to hear that you have ADHD.
In an ideal world, if you told someone you have ADHD, they would say
“I am so happy to hear that you have found the root cause of your struggles. That must feel amazing. Now you can start treating and managing it! Please let me know if I can help in any way”.
In reality, what often happens is that people will question your diagnosis, dismiss it or give you their opinions about ADHD medication. This can lead you to feeling undermined rather than supported.
Common comments include:
”But you are an adult I thought people grew out of it”
”How come you are only just finding out now, surely if you really had it, you would have found out sooner”
“You don’t have ADHD, it’s just for boys”
“It’s the drug companies that are trying to sell more drugs”
“You are doing ok. What difference does an ADHD diagnosis make? ”
“I don’t think you do, my cousin has ADHD and he behaves nothing like you”
“ADHD is just an excuse”
If someone says one of these comments, it lets you know they are not informed on the topic of ADHD. These are all outdated stereotypes, and anyone who has recently read a book or an in-depth article about ADHD would not be saying these things.
Do not take their comments to heart. Do not let their words derail you, or question your diagnosis, even if you love the person or respect their opinion on other topics.
After being diagnosed with ADHD and the initial happiness has worn off, it is common to go through a variety of emotions, including anger, depression and denial. I wrote about all the stages here. Before sharing your diagnosis with the world, give yourself some space to process these emotions.
You can use this time to learn as much as you can about ADHD (without overwhelming yourself). You are already an expert because you have been living with it for all these years. As you are reading blogs and books or listening to podcasts, the information from those sources will validate your real life experiences.
The knowledge you gain will also empower you, so if people say a typical uniformed ADHD statement, you won’t question your self.
In the meantime, rather than telling people about your ADHD, what you can do instead is address your symptoms.
First develop a really good understanding of how ADHD affects you.
Next think of things that will support you to perform at your best.
For example, if you know your memory for details is poor, and a work colleague asks for some information as you are leaving for the day, say,
“Would you mind emailing me that request, my mind is so full right now, and I really don’t want to forget it?”
If it’s difficult for you to pay attention in meetings, take notes and explain to everyone that it is because it is an important topic and you want to have the key points in writing.
If early morning appointments are tough for you because it takes a few hours to ‘come round’, explain to people that you are not a morning person.
No one will argue with any of these points because they are things we can all identify with. They make the person feel respected, and you are honoring your ADHD symptoms so that you can perform your best.
Having ADHD is nothing to be ashamed about, and we want to set you up for success. After getting a diagnosis, tell your nearest and dearest, but pause before you tell the rest of the world.
Want to learn tips like this one?…check out this mini book Adult ADHD 101 that answers all your questions when you are new to ADHD.