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  • Episode 3

Do I have ADHD?

In today’s episode, I talk about how to figure out if you have ADHD.


Hello, hello, hello. This is the ADHD for the win podcast. I’m Chris Ferdinandi. Thanks so much for joining me. Today, I’m talking about how to figure out if you have ADHD or not. Let’s dig in. So, when I describe my ADHD, I often have folks reach out and say something like, So, uh, that sounds a lot like me.

How do I find out if I have ADHD? And that’s what I wanted to talk about today. So, um, I am obviously not a doctor. Uh, so I can’t diagnose anyone. But if you think you have undiagnosed ADHD, and that’s very common, by the way, Jessica McCabe over at How to ADHD has a really great video on this topic that I’m going to link to down in the show notes.

Um, and Jessica’s video, um, points to a self diagnosis tool, uh, diagnosis. I don’t know why I said that so wrong. Um, from Attitude Magazine that you can take. Um, and then they have another one specifically for women, uh, who often don’t exhibit the hyperactivity typically associated with ADHD. Uh, we talked about that in the last episode.

So, um, it’s also worth noting, uh, that You know, we’ve gone through a, a whole bunch of change over the last few years, right? With a global pandemic, cratering economy, multiple wars, um, and a lot of symptoms caused by anxiety and the general trauma of all that can overlap with ADHD symptoms. So it’s just kind of worth, worth pointing out.

But there are two self diagnosis tools or tests that you can take to kind of get a general understanding of, Oh, hey, maybe, maybe this is me. If you want to get an official diagnosis, uh, or if you find that your potentially undiagnosed ADHD is making it hard for you to get things done, um, you might want to pursue an official diagnosis, which you generally want done by a psychologist.

If you think you’d like to explore ADHD medication, you’ll instead need to see a psychiatrist for that, at least in the U. S. Laws around this vary from country to country. Um, and from what I hear, some doctors are great at diagnosing and helping with ADHD, but many are not. There’s a lot of outdated information, uh, and much of the official medical literature focuses on the easy to measure stuff.

Many of ADHD is more common symptoms are hard to measure and don’t make it into that literature. Um, so one thing you may want to do if your, um, if your insurance company or your country has a list of doctors who specialize in ADHD, uh, and not just general. psychiatric treatments, um, you might want to pursue those because they might be a better fit for you and better accommodate your needs.

Uh, the other thing that’s worth noting is that ADHD is a form of disability in that the tasks that a neurotypical brain can accomplish with ease might be a lot harder for someone with ADHD. Now I am extremely ADHD positive. I think having ADHD can be a beautiful thing. It creates some unique challenges, but it also bestows upon us.

Some gifts, but we also live in a world that was designed by and for neurotypical folks. And so it can make getting things done in a world that’s not designed for us challenging. So as such in the U S at least you were entitled to accommodations at work and school to make your life easier. And many other countries have similar laws and requirements asking for them may require an official diagnosis.

First, Jessica McCabe from how to ADHD also has a video on that, that I’m also going to link to. Down in the show notes, um, and so that’s probably worth a look as well. Now, one other thing I’ve, I’ve heard from when I, when I talk to people about this is that, um, some folks do not like to talk about their ADHD at work.

Um, so I am a cisgendered heterosexual white dude with a social safety net. And I am very open about my ADHD at work. Um, but I also have an immense amount of social privilege in the United States that allows me to comfortably do that. I have had friends who are women or black or some other sort of marginalized group In the United States who have specifically told me that they don’t like to talk about their ADHD at work and don’t want their employers to know because they feel like they are already under more scrutiny and judged more harshly than their white male peers and they don’t want to put another target on their back and I totally understand that.

Um, I, I think that’s totally valid. Uh, there’s a lot. Stacked against folks, uh, in, in the systems that we exist in, um, you know, the other piece of this, I actually was just talking to someone the other day who told me that, um, when they brought it up at their employer, their HR department told them that they didn’t even have a form for accommodations for ADHD.

It wasn’t even a thing they really kind of thought about. Um, so, uh, you know, this is one of those things where I’ve been really lucky a lot of times when I bring this up, I find that my managers are like, Oh, hey, I have ADHD too. I brought this up during a job interview once and the person I was talking to was like, Oh, I also have it.

And so does the person who would be our boss. Um, so we’ll all get along great. Um, you know, your mileage may vary. Um, it can be a very positive thing. It can be a very negative thing, depending on where you work, who you work with, what country you’re in. Um, some of, uh, you know, the other kind of demographic considerations that might work against you.

So, uh, you know, just things to consider. Uh, one other thing that I get. Asked a lot is why so many people are just getting diagnosed as adults. Um, I’ve had a few folks recently note that it seems like a lot of the folks in their circles are people just getting diagnosed with ADHD in their late twenties, thirties, forties and more.

Um, so here’s the thing, right? In the eighties and nineties, ADHD was relatively new and poorly understood. It was thought of as the hyperactive kid who can’t sit still thing. And medications for it were new and often over, over prescribed. Um, so there’s a, there’s a stigma around it. And as a result, a lot of people weren’t diagnosed when they were younger.

Or sometimes people dismissed it as not a real thing. Others wanted to avoid having their kids stereotyped or over medicated. Uh, And so they just never pursued a diagnosis, even when there was a lot of obvious symptoms that maybe they had it. And because many women with ADHD don’t display the hyperactivity that’s typically associated with it, ADHD is often missed in women who have it.

Uh, you know, they’re perceived as, um, you know, really talented, but not living up to their potential or like just flighty. Um, and today, and particularly in the last few years, there’s been a big push from folks with ADHD. be more open about it, how it affects them and what it looks like. And so people who have had ADHD their whole life and didn’t realize it are suddenly connecting dots with stuff they’ve struggled with and a potential reason for that.

And then they’re seeking the diagnosis for the first time as adults. Um, so from, from my perspective, knowing is empowering. Having ADHD symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have ADHD, but if you discover that you do have it, it can unlock a whole suite of tools to help you understand yourself better and live life the way you want to.

And you’ll also find yourself part of a community of amazing people. Um, you know, just as an example, right? I’ve had ADHD since I was a kid. Uh, I got diagnosed. My mom did not put me on medication. Uh, Because, uh, you know, she as a teacher had seen a lot of kids who were overmedicated and didn’t necessarily want that for me, but it was never like a, Oh, you have it and it’s a bad thing because we didn’t really talk about it all that much or do all that much with it.

It was just a fact of who I was. Um, I, uh, You know, I did not kind of go through the normal, um, or the experience that some folks had of being overly aware of it. It was just kind of this background aspect of my personality and from when I was a kid till now, we’ve learned about a lot of things that ADHD affects that they didn’t understand Back then.

And so I have learned a whole suite of things about myself that I always just attributed to me being weird and quirky are actually kind of part of my ADHD. Um, you know, things with like how you respond to emotional situations and, um, you know, like anxiety and, um, you know, it’s not just, it’s not just hyperactivity.

Uh, and there’s just so many aspects to ADHD that I now understand like a lot of, a lot of who I am has been formed by the ADHD. Uh, and, uh, I, I didn’t know that until recently. I also firmly believe ADHD doesn’t need to be fixed. Um, and for me, it’s about understanding like, Oh, I suck at this thing because of ADHD.

What sorts of things can I do to make sure that doesn’t negatively affect my life? Or, Oh, I’m really great at this thing because of my ADHD. Let me use that strength to my advantage more. Um, and you know, for me, it means doing things like folding clothes and batches or avoiding dishes that aren’t dishwasher safe, uh, or putting reminders in my watch so I don’t forget to bring the trash to the curb with systems in place.

I can focus on throwing all of my energy into the things I’m actually good at. Um, so, uh, anyways, that’s it for today. Um, if you feel like your ADHD is holding you back, I send out a short email each weekday on how to unlock your neurodivergent superpowers. Head over to ADHDFTW. com, that’s ADHD for the win, to sign up.

That’s it for today, and I will see you next time. Cheers.