Posted on 43 Comments

How An ADHD Diagnosis Transformed Me

An ADHD diagnosis can change your life.

My ADHD diagnosis certainly changed mine. Three years ago I wrote this post, and boy has my life changed. Since then, I have moved, changed my career, switched up my circle, and life is completely different. I still remember how it felt when I sat down at my computer to tell you the story of how one trip to the therapist changed a life that had been full of frustration, lack of success, and depression. It isn’t a unique story; people are changing their lives every day because of an ADHD diagnosis. I hope that hearing what happened to me inspires you to know that you’re not alone and that you CAN move forward.

Black woman against red brick wall with spraypaint in the background against a red background with the title "How an ADHD Diagnosis transformed me"

The pathway to my ADHD Diagnosis was long. Here’s how everything happened

It was 2010, and I was working for one of the largest health insurers in PA. Productivity was a struggle for me: I couldn’t concentrate, work was stacking up to the point that I was afraid for my job, and I had no idea why. Naturally, at first, I did the logical things to improve the situation. I tried harder: I stopped talking with coworkers, stopped taking breaks and lunches, and pretty much stopped being me, but even then I couldn’t produce. The work pile grew taller.

An ADHD diagnosis could be the solution you've been looking for Here is how my ADHD diagnosis changed everything after years of searching for answers.
At least she has donuts!

Undiagnosed ADHD made my life unmanageable

I had always struggled with waking up in the morning, but now it was impossible: I couldn’t sleep at all, and when I did sleep, I couldn’t wake up. My mind raced, and I kept thinking that if I would just go to sleep sooner that it would get easier but it never did and I couldn’t understand why. Instead of sleeping, I tossed and turned, I struggled awake to claw my way through an hour commute to get to a place that seemed less and less like a viable option for employment and more like a jail. My head ached; my eyes swam with tears at the drop of a hat. Emotions were fluctuating and I was irritable with people I didn’t mean to be irritable with.

After speaking with my family doctor, she recommended a prescription for anti-depressants. Obviously, I was depressed and needed to begin them as soon as possible to start feeling better. Along with the pills was a referral to a therapist and I scheduled an appointment with her. My appointment was a month away, and things kept getting worse.

I began to crack under the pressure of it all

One day on my way home from a friend’s house I broke. Weeks of frustration, striving and the futility of it all came overwhelmed me all at once. I wanted to lay down somewhere and just . . . stop. Stop working, stop moving, stop breathing. When I say broke, I mean I cried hysterically. . . full-on Kerry-Washington-ugly-cry broke. I had to pull over because my tears were blinding me.

An ADHD diagnosis could be the solution you've been looking for Here is how my ADHD diagnosis changed everything after years of searching for answers.
Kerry knows the gut-wrenching cry I’m describing.

That’s when I got scared. I took a sabbatical from work. I went to the therapist weekly, met with my family doctor bi-weekly to monitor things. My family tried, but they didn’t know how to reach me. They looked at me with sideways glances and tiptoed around me like I was a postal worker on the edge. Well-meaning advice like “everybody gets sad sometimes” and “you’re strong, you’ve just gotta be tough and pull yourself out of this” was served up, reheated and served up again. Nothing worked.

Therapy gave me hope but I still struggled

One day, as I was picking over the bones of my childhood again for the therapist, I saw her eyes light up with recognition for the first time. All I had said was that I had been diagnosed with ADD as a youngster and my mom had pretty much put a veto order in on the idea. My mother had this idea that people were attempting to drug minority children up, that this ADD thing was the excuse, and that was the end of it.

More on that later, back to the therapist: I had been speaking to this woman for weeks, yet this was the first time I felt like I had said something to her that she could use to help me. Before she had listened quietly and politely; she gave me a few exercises to help with my depression. I had questioned my family doctor’s choice in recommending this woman to me from the very beginning. She reminded me of Mrs. Frisbee from the Secret of NIMH — timid, easily flustered and skittish.

The not-so-timid therapist who spotted my ADHD at last

After relaying what I believed to be useless information, I watched her transform. This woman was no mouse; she was a predator who waited patiently for this type of information. I had given her a taste of blood. She interrupted me mid-sentence, gave me a recommendation for a gentleman in her practice who would “talk things over” with me, and ended the day’s session.

An ADHD diagnosis could be the solution you've been looking for Here is how my ADHD diagnosis changed everything after years of searching for answers.
Mrs. Frisbee, she was not!

A week later, I had an ADHD diagnosis and a prescription in hand. Certain that this wasn’t the answer, I filled the script, went home and waited for the medicine to take effect. On that point I had been inexorable: I wasn’t going to take more medicine if it, like my anti-depressants, would take six to eight weeks to take effect. I would try this medicine, if it did not work then I wouldn’t try anymore. They told me it would take an hour, two at the most.

Taking ADHD medication was an “aha” moment for me

What happened next still amazes me. I felt like my brain “switched on”. I became the most productive I could remember being ever in my life. Within three hours, I turned my bedroom, a place that could kindly be called cluttered but at its worst really looked more like an episode of “Hoarders” into an organized and neat living space. I made phone calls and handled business I had needed to for years.

As a storyteller, people ordinarily expect me to exaggerate a bit for purposes of the story, but when I tell you I accomplished two years worth of work that day, it was the truth: two years worth of work I had procrastinated on was done in three hours, and I had a plan in place to accomplish everything that couldn’t be done right then. After such an experience, I did what any mature adult would do: I called my mother and told her everything.

A solution after years of searching

That day, for the first time I realized that I finally knew “what was wrong” with me. I wasn’t lazy and I didn’t lack motivation. I wasn’t undisciplined or stubborn; I was just different.

EVERYBODY I cared for heard about my diagnosis, like a convert to a new religion. Lots of my time was spent driving my relatives bonkers describing how ” people with an ADHD diagnosis are more likely to have credit problems or lose their driver’s license;” I made them listen while I described my experience with the medication as if I were recollecting a chance encounter with the Blessed Virgin.

An ADHD diagnosis could be the solution you've been looking for Here is how my ADHD diagnosis changed everything after years of searching for answers.
Have you heard of the trials of our brothers and sisters with attention deficit disorder? If I could just have a few moments of your time

Fourteen years of my life felt wasted

Even though my loved ones were annoyed I kept drilling the truth about ADHD into them. Why? Because I was elated, I was overjoyed, I was FURIOUS. At the age of twenty-five, my original ADHD diagnosis was fourteen years prior to the one I had just received.

For fourteen years, I had struggled to apply myself to tasks in a way that was NEVER going to produce results for me. I was ashamed of my past failings. My poor grades, my lack of responsibility and what I always believed was a lack of willpower when it came to making life changes, embarrassed me. After fourteen years, I found out that I was wrong, and from there I was reborn.

Living your life after an ADHD diagnosis

What does it mean to receive a diagnosis of ADHD later in life? It is confusing, for starters. You might be angry. You’ll definitely be sad. Many of us feel relieved to finally find out, that we aren’t lazy or incorrigible. There are answers out there, but you have to be ready to go get them. If you’re anything like me, you aren’t going to sit and wait for someone to give those answers to you. Here’s what I did: I began to work with an ADHD coach. I continued to take my medicine, I saw a therapist and I learned how to forgive myself and others for the past. Receiving an ADHD diagnosis (which, by the way is a little more difficult if you’re a girl) comes with a great deal of baggage to unpack, including the way you perceive yourself. Here are a few pointers for dealing with an ADHD diagnosis.

Tips for life after an ADHD Diagnosis

  1. Don’t blame anyone for your late diagnosis: A late diagnosis is unfortunate, but you can get lost in finger-pointing and miss the larger issue here – you have an ADHD diagnosis, it is here to stay, and you’ve got to begin treatment.
  2. The past is the past, and you can’t bring it back: I have wondered who I would be without ADHD. It is perfectly ok to take your time to mourn for that person, but remember, your life isn’t over yet.
  3. You are going to need support: Take your time to grieve, and be angry if you have to. You’ve earned that right, because living with untreated ADHD is hell, and I know you are suffering. Don’t alienate the people who are ready and willing to help you make the journey into living well with the disorder. You’ll need them. Read my ADHD guide to get a wealth of post-diagnosis info!
  4. Read everything you can: You have the disorder, so go learn about managing it! Take your time to search out treatment methods, symptoms, and ways to make your life make sense. Find yourself a support group, read a book, and talk to people who you can trust. You’re totally going to get through this. An ADHD diagnosis can’t ruin your life, you simply have to learn to think and behave differently than you have in times past.

Get ready for big changes

Once you’ve got your ADHD diagnosis, your whole life WILL change. Get ready, it is going to be even better than you imagined. Since my diagnosis, I learned to manage my up and down emotions, get places on time, I lose fewer things (ok, I don’t, but I have strategies to help me find lost things more quickly) and I’m generally a happier person than I was seven years ago. Have you gotten your ADHD diagnosis? How did it change your life? Leave me a comment and let me know how your journey is progressing!

Until next time,


P.S. If this post helped you cope, share it with some friends!

Read more from BGLK!

5 Ways ADHD Relationships are Remarkable

Finding the Right Professional For ADHD Therapy

You’ll Absolutely Love These Fidget Toys For ADHD

An ADHD diagnosis could be the solution you've been looking for. Here is how my ADHD diagnosis changed everything after years of searching for answers.An ADHD diagnosis could be the solution you've been looking for. Here is how my ADHD diagnosis changed everything after years of searching for answers. An ADHD diagnosis could be the solution you've been looking for. Here is how my ADHD diagnosis changed everything after years of searching for answers. An ADHD diagnosis could be the solution you've been looking for. Here is how my ADHD diagnosis changed everything after years of searching for answers.

43 thoughts on “How An ADHD Diagnosis Transformed Me

  1. Amazing… It made me laugh, tear up but mainly it made me understand.

  2. BOOM!!!! LOVE your story!!! And your storytelling!!!

    Go Jacinta!!!


    1. Gina I’m so glad you liked it! I am heading through to check out

  3. Thankyou for sharing. With two sons having ADHD it is so important to understand and get the right meds. They DO work !
    Lists are crucial in our lives!

    1. Larger I owe you an apology. It seems I just got your comment! I am so glad you enjoyed the article; meds are ESSENTIAL for me.

  4. […] fingers. Why is that? Well, to put it plainly, the medication works for me. In my very first post, Diagnosis and the Conversion Experience, I detailed how I completed 2 years worth of procrastination in roughly 8 hours. What’s not […]

  5. Thank you for writing this. I just stumbled across it, and the whole acting like a convert thing — it’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Telling everyone, posting to social media, I don’t care who knows I just want people to be aware of what ADHD really is so no one suffers for decades like I did. I was just diagnosed at 41 and it was such a relief! And yep, the meds do work 🙂

    1. Hi Holly! I bet you can tell from the SUPER LATE REPLY that ADHD has gotten the better of me once again! When you receive a late diagnosis, it is IMPOSSIBLE not to share it with everyone, isn’t it? It’s such a relief to finally have an explanation for all of these confusing behaviors. Now we just gotta manage it — but that’s an ongoing saga. Thank you so much for reading.

    2. As someone whose ADHD was diagnosed in first grade but who was severely under medicated until 5th grade, I definitely agree that we shouldn’t blame anyone for delayed diagnosis or treatment. That said I think early screening needs to be implemented. I recognized my early childhood symptoms in my son(4 at the time now 6) and mentioned it to my doctor, he immediately set us up to get my son checked. His practice uses a very scientific approach to determining the right dosage and I can already tell my son getting the proper treatment and medication dosage about 5 years earlier than me means he will never struggle with his ADHD as much as I have.

      I very much agree that being medicated at the proper dose for the first time is very much like having your brain properly on for the first time.

      1. I totally agree with the idea of doing an early screening. I think it could be life-changing for many people. So glad to hear that your son is getting what he needs.

  6. […] talking about and why. . . but I have a point, stay with me. Entering the world after you?ve been diagnosed with ADHD is a lot like entering an unfamiliar territory, like a prison. The problem is, we don?t get […]

  7. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell your story. You are brave and amazing 🙂

    1. Awww, thank you so much! I appreciate you reading. ???

  8. Thank you for sharing. I actually started watching someone on YouTube who used meditation to beat his diagnosis of ADHD and it was really interesting.

    1. Thank you for reading! There are so many good coping mechanisms out there, I?d love to check the YouTube channel out and learn more.

  9. I thank you so much for sharing your journey! Often times we are taught to be strong, while we suffer in silence! You are amazing and I enjoyed reading this ?

    1. Awww, thank you for reading it! I completely agree, there is a time when strength is admitting there?s a problem to be addressed. ?

  10. Wow! You really have me thinking about some things. I go to the doctor for the first time in a long while tomorrow. I am expecting a ton of referrals. Thank you for sharing.

    1. I am SO glad the post was helpful to you! Please keep me posted on your journey, I would love to hear how it works out for you.

  11. This post really moved me. For a long time, sleep was elusive for me too. And yeah – when I did sleep, waking up was impossible. I chalked this up to me hating my sh*tty job. So, I took action. I found a new one that I’m excited to start. Already, I’m sleeping better. Secondly, I started personal training. The difference in my mood and overall outlook is amazing. I’m sleeping like a rock, not hating my life anymore, and I’m looking gooooood. Now, I don’t have ADHD, but I empathize with you so much. So glad you are on the road to manageable recovery!

  12. This is such an eye-opening post. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I had no idea that late diagnosis were even a thing. I can’t imagine the frustration you felt before but I am so happy for the relief you have found since.

  13. WOW. What a great post although it makes me sad that sometimes people suffer so much before they can get the right help that they need.

  14. Wow!! What a story. I can see why you were upset. I am glad your therapist listened to you and you took the medicine. It’s amazing how you describe that after you took the medicine, you woke up. I am glad you got the help you needed and are now thriving!

  15. The last GIF made me HOLLER! I love your approach to your diagnosis, and I love that you are sharing the information with others. Black people have all too often held conspiracy theories about EVERYTHING and sometimes I feel like its to our detriment. I appreciate your candor and transparency.

  16. Thank you for sharing your truth. Sometimes I struggle and wonder if it is something more than just getting older or being tired. I am definitely planning to chat with my doc about this.

  17. This was a great read! I never got to really read from this type of perspective before. Very eye-opening and insightful. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I really appreciate you reading, thank you so much!

  18. I’m so glad you got that diagnosis and were able to turn your life around! Thanks for sharing your story, I’m sure it will help many who are dealing with ADHD!

    1. Thank you so much for reading, I appreciate you!

  19. Even with the diagnosis you can thrive. People stigmatize ADHD but with proper treatment you can gain focus and accomplish endless dreams.

    1. I completely agree!

  20. […] is like navigating a funhouse, full of mirrors, floors that spin, and other obstacles. Living with ADHD isn?t so bad, all things considered. . . that is until I do something that requires focus and/or attention. […]

  21. I really appreciate you telling your story. It sucks to feel like you have wasted some of your life, especially since that is time you can’t get back. Great post.

  22. […] A life with untreated ADHD is a life with many inconsistencies. We are more likely to have bad credit, wrecked marriages, messy houses and ruined careers. We have difficulty showing up on time, following through when we say we will, and being prepared. This is a burden not just on ourselves but the people we love too. A few of these failures is embarrassing and frustrating. A lifetime of them leads to many of us struggling: we fail out of schools, find ourselves in divorce courts, battle addictions and stand in the unemployment line. […]

  23. […] a new disorder, but there sure is a lot of REALLY BAD information out there about it. After all, if you?ve read my story, you know that my pediatrician?s advice to my mother post diagnosis was ?give her more […]

  24. I am 31 years old, and for many years, I’ve felt like I may have ADHD. In the last year or so. I’ve spent a lot of time reading articles and taking all those online quizzes, and have realized how many things that I thought were just flaws in my personality are part of ADHD. I originally thought that I would be fine with just self-diagnosing but have recently been thinking that I do really need to go in and actually talk to my doctor about this. It’s uncomfortable and I’m terribly nervous about it, but your articles have really inspired me and helped me to better understand what a diagnosis would mean. So thank you!!!

    1. Heather this made me so happy. I?m so glad that you?re able to get some help. ???

  25. Thanks for sharing. Great to hear your journey with ADHD has been positive.

    I got diagnosed yesterday, aged 44, having spent the previous month reading more about ADHD and having a few ‘that’s me’ moments. Similar story, therapist treating me for anxiety issues made a comment about possible ADD ‘might be worth getting tested’. Got medicated as part of the testing process – within 20 minutes it felt like I’d been on a week long meditation retreat. More focus, more relaxed, tension dropped away and clarity. I haven’t done the Marie Kond-ing yet. It’s needed though!

    And here we are. Lots of researching and reflecting, but trying not to judge. Reading others stories, I’m grateful, I seem to have had support and some semi-effective coping mechanisms over the years to survive this far, relatively unscathed. Frustrated to think of all the anxiety and depression and mental energy that’s been wasted. But hoping that journey will help define the next part of my path. Looking forward to my CBT course and learning how to manage this super power.

    1. Welcome to the club! I hope everything goes smoothly with your course. 🙂

  26. Thank you for sharing, René. And also, everyone in the comments. ♥

    Found out two months ago, age 43. No official diagnosis yet, though therapist promised to set it up for me with one of their in-house psychiatrists.

    I started CBT last year because of the deep hole I had dug myself into with my procrastination, and I kept doing it, again and again and again. And again. This is what a fly must feel like, buzzing against a clear glass pane, thinking it is its way into freedom. I am currently being treated for my super low self-esteem, which makes my procrastination a LOT worse because it keeps me from asking for help. I have massive trust issues fearing I wont be taken serious, called childish, or made fun of. Because it’s happened, and it’s HURT, and I don’t want to deal with that pain again.

    But stuff came up, from childhood, that made my therapist perk up and ask follow up questions, eventually asking if I’d ever been taken to a psychologist as a kid (this was the 80s, I was a girl and quiet, so, no) if I’d ever considered a neurological cause. If I’d ever considered I might have ADHD.

    And I’m just, like: “Uhm. But I’m not hyperactive? At all?”

    And that’s how I found out about inattentive ADHD.

    I’ve read a TON since then, and honestly, it explains so. very. much. It’s like someone shone a light on my life, it’s changed my world already. I was finally able to stop blaming myself for every little mistake and slip up.

    Therapist is certain it’s ADHD, and thinks a diagnosis isn’t wholly necessary, since it would only be to determine the degree of impairment, especially since I have developed coping mechanisms that work. That is true, but it is also very stressful, and it eats a LOT of what little free time I have. And she hasn’t *lived* the s***pile my life was five years ago, when I was last suicidal, close to losing my job, drowning in debt, dealing with massive anxiety from getting bullied at work, and heavily drinking to be able to somehow cope with it. I *know* how quickly things can fall apart for me.

    So if I can have proper treatment, as in: medication, I *want* it. I want to at least give it a try and see what it can do for me. And for that I need a proper diagnosis. And for *that* I feel I need to communicate some urgency to her.

    Back to low self esteem and procrastinating and being afraid of asking for help. Ugh. And being afraid of: “What if it turns out it isn’t ADHD after all?”

    1. Hang in there, an answer is coming. I’m holding space for you too. 🙂

  27. I love your story! I was diagnosed with ADHD 3 months ago and I’m 27! Years of absolute frustration! I love your advice for grieving for the person that you could’ve been if you didn’t have ADHD, I have certainly been there! My life has completely turned around since I started my medication, it’s wonderful to know that someone else knows what I’ve been through. Thank you for sharing your story!

    1. You’re so welcome, I’m glad that it was helpful to you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *