Adult ADHD: My Assessment and Diagnosis Experience
I had my adult ADHD assessment last week and wanted to share the diagnosis journey with you.
It was a shorter road than some have experienced, but still long, as I was first referred seven months ago.
ADHD wasn’t something I’d ever considered, as society depicts it as that hyper boy you had in your class at school.
I wrote a post about what ADHD looks like in adults and children, because it’s much more than the media presents.
What Prompted Getting an Assessment?
It began during a call with the Wellbeing Team who worked with me when I wasn’t doing well last summer.
We talked about my high anxiety and I mentioned behaviours like pacing, restlessness, poor sleep and constant racing thoughts.
She asked about ADHD and I immediately said unlikely, as I knew so little about it.
So she asked six questions, and I scored four, which indicated I could have ADHD.
This led to many Google searches and I was shocked of how it can present in females.
I ticked so many boxes, from nail/skin biting, insomnia, high anxiety, sensitivity to crowds/ sounds/ light, social anxiety to forgetfulness.
As a child, I’d get lost in books, rarely socialised, couldn’t make eye contact, was called ‘shy’ and daydreamed scenarios with Barbies for hours.
Being snappy and irritable over things most people aren’t was also a symptom, as your brain is overloaded so reacts.
I suddenly felt seen.
Being able to know that my behaviours might a neurodivergence I was born with changed my perspective of myself.
The thought of being able to not just view myself as being an awful person or bad mum was an interesting one.
So naturally I needed to know if this was true.
How the Process Started
Thankfully the nurse from Wellbeing explained I could get funding through Right to Choose.
Waiting for an NHS assessment in my area is currently around three years, so this was great news.
I read up on Right to Choose and called my GP that week.
He completed the online form and within two weeks in early July I was added to Psychiatry UK’s waiting list.
I had to complete some in-depth forms about my struggles with life up to now.
A person who knows me well also had to complete a similar document, so I chose my partner to do this.
They gave me an appointment for my assessment, but it wasn’t until February 2022.
This shocked me, as I was hoping it would be much sooner.
Patience is not something I cope with, as not knowing is anxiety-provoking for me- another trait!
I then got a call asking if I would be willing to be seen earlier as they’ve hired new doctors.
Of course I said yes, and it was then booked for a week later on January 19th.
Suddenly I felt excited but also scared, and went from completely identifying with the condition, to fearing I’d be misdiagnosed.
As expected, I got even less sleep than usual in the days leading up to the assessment.
I was on edge and my nails and skin around them were sore and broken from the increased anxious biting
But the day came and bizarrely, I managed to be there on time (was a near miss though!).
The first thing the psychiatrist asked was for me to show him some ID and a six minute panic ensued.
This hadn’t been stated before the appointment so I had nothing in front of me, and my head went blank as to where my license was.
After scrolling through photos on my phone and laptop I found an ancient photo of my license and my head calmed.
If the way I acted at that point didn’t give him enough information, I don’t know what did!
We then spent over an hour talking about my life and the symptoms I find tough.
It wasn’t as doctor-led as I had hoped, with just the occasional question, but mainly me having to talk freely.
I struggle to make conversation unless I know what I’m supposed to get from it- I need direction.
Childhood memories on the spot weren’t easy to access, but I recalled my love for reading books fast, exhausting the children’s library by aged nine.
Strangely, he said ADHDers can’t read books to the end, but many ADHDers have told me as kids they read lots, but now (like me) they struggle to complete a chapter.
Oh how I miss reading. The stack of books by my bedside have been there unread for three years and counting.
He diagnosed combined ADHD, but went on to say it could also be childhood trauma, or autism, or all three.
The diagnosis left me more confused than ever.
I wrote a detailed post on Instagram about how this left me feeling, because I’d been waiting for the day to finally know, but didn’t get this.
Since then, I’ve been doubting myself as to having ADHD, but then noticed Imposter’s Syndrome is common with the condition.
Reminding myself of my symptoms is helping assure me that ADHD is definitely part, if not all, of my condition.
Looking at my family, I see some convey ADHD symptoms, and those people didn’t experience the same trauma as me.
Trauma can only do so much, so I feel I’m that mix of both, with maybe a sprinkle of ASD.
He advised trying medication and if some symptoms reduce or go, I’ll know for certain ADHD is there.
But there’s a four month waiting list to discuss medication, let alone trying it.
For now, I’ll accept the ADHD diagnosis until proven otherwise, and see if there’s an option for ASD testing.
And as for childhood trauma, if you’re a long-term reader you know I’ve been working on that for years and won’t stop!
All opinions on this post are honest and my own, and are not here to diagnose. If you suspect you may have this condition, seek advice from your GP.