Matthew wandered into the living room. The TV was on and he caught the last few minutes of a documentary about adults having ADHD. He felt excited because the description on the TV sounded just like him. In fact, it was as if the documentary cameras had been following him around his whole life.
When the show ended, Matthew ran to his laptop and started Googling Adult ADHD. The more he articles he read the more excited he got.
Next, he went onto Amazon and ordered 6 books about ADHD. The last time Matthew had read a book was in school…3 decades ago. However, when the Amazon box arrived he snatched the box from the delivery man’s hand, hoped he didn’t seem rude and read each of the books from cover to cover.
He felt so validated and happy that there was a name for why he was the way he was.
Should I Get Tested For ADHD?
By the time Matthew was half way through the 6th book though, his mood changed and he started to feel unsettled. He wasn’t sure what to do next. Finding somewhere locally to get tested for ADHD seemed like the next logical step, but for some reason that didn’t feel appealing. Part of him wanted to know if he had ADHD, and the other part didn’t want the magic of the last week to end. What if he didn’t have ADHD after all? Would he just go back to feeling different from the rest of the world again?
This is why he reached out to me for some advice. All of his concerns are common, and here is what I tell the Matthews of the world.
Burning Desire to Make it Official?
Do you have a burning desire to know if you ‘officially’ have ADHD? Then it is easy to know what to do! Start making inquiries to find a professional in your area that has experience testing Adults for ADHD.
If you are a student, no matter what your age 18 or 64, it would be highly beneficial for you to get tested. If you do have ADHD and have an official diagnosis for ADHD, you are eligible for student accommodations. This includes extra time with exams, sitting exams in a quiet room, help with note taking, etc. Having accommodations isn’t cheating. Studying with ADHD is still a challenge; however, the accommodations will help you to reach your academic potential.
If you are on the fence and can’t decide if you should get tested or not, it means you don’t have enough information at the moment to make your decision. Here are some common concerns people have when they aren’t sure if they should get tested for ADHD.
Don’t want to take ADHD Meds
Some people feel uneasy about being tested because they think that once they are officially diagnosed with ADHD, they will automatically have to take ADHD medication. This isn’t true. Getting a diagnoses and taking medication are 2 separate events.
If you have ADHD, then taking ADHD medication is one option to explore. Meds are an effective way to treat ADHD. They are also one of a broad spectrum of treatments. Take it one step at a time. Find out if you have ADHD first, then research the treatment options.
People in your life aren’t supportive.
The topic of ADHD triggers a lot of people. Even people who know very little on the matter have strong opinions about it! If you bring up the topic of getting tested for ADHD, people close to you (partner, parents) might say things like:
“You managed this long without knowing, why do you want to know now?”
“I don’t believe ADHD exists.”
“Well, it doesn’t change your day-to-day reality.”
By moving ahead and getting tested for ADHD, it can feel like you are rocking the boat and upsetting these relationships.
Still, getting tested is a personal decision and one that could have very positive affects for you on a practical and psychological level. It might mean being brave and doing things other people don’t agree with, perhaps for the first time in your life.
What if I don’t have ADHD?
A big concern people have is what if I get tested and don’t have ADHD?
Part of this concern stems from not wanting to ‘make a fuss’ or waste people’s time.
To help with this, there are many online quizzes that help as a screening process. These quizzes can’t diagnosis ADHD but they can give you the confidence to speak to your doctor about getting a formal ADHD evaluation.
A well-recognized tool is the Jasper/Goldberg Adult ADD Questionnaire. If you Google it, it is available on many websites.
Here are 2 more just for good measure 🙂
Another reason is, like Matthew, for the first time in a long time you feel hopeful that you have found the answer to your problems. In your mind, if you are told you don’t have ADHD, that hopefulness you had enjoyed would disappear. Like a burst balloon you would feel flat and deflated. Would that mean you are lazy, unmotivated and all the other names you have been told throughout your life?
In order to be diagnosed with ADHD, the clinician has to rule out the possibility that ADHD-like symptoms are due to another condition. Sometimes during this process, you can discover you have something (perhaps an unusual learning disability) that you would never have discovered if you hadn’t initiated the ADHD testing process.
If the diagnosis is negative (and we don’t know it will be), it just means you are one step closer to solving the mystery of what you do have.
If You Decide No
If you decide not to get tested at the moment, that is totally ok. You can re-evaluate at any time. In a week’s time or 5 years of time – it’s totally up to you!
Getting an official diagnosis can be empowering. It explains why you are the way you are and why aspects of life are more challenging for you than for other people. It can increase your self-esteem and confidence because now you know your struggles aren’t because you are lazy or careless but because you have real, neurological differences in your brain.
It can also be the start of a roller coaster of emotions! Read more about that here