There are a multitude of stories of folks who “had ADHD as a kid.” Now grown up, they manage to navigate the day to day without too much disruption by flying ever so slightly below the radar. Then, when “adulting” gets too hard, I hear from them. 

I recently received an email from a new dad who found himself “having an extraordinarily difficult time with a myriad of work-related issues that didn’t used to be a problem —-focus, time management, energy, motivation–since becoming a parent.”

He asked whether he might have “adult-onset ADHD” and admitted being diagnosed, but never treated, as a child. 

A change in circumstances… and less sleep!

His predicament was not unusual, especially considering that adding a child to the mix means a huge change to your typical day to day responsibilities, often including a lack of sleep. Lack of sleep is brutal if you have ADHD and can cause a sense of overwhelm, leading to increased feelings of anxiety and depression, low self-esteem, and self-criticism.

Sound familiar?  If you were diagnosed with ADHD as a child it would serve to stand that you HAVE ADHD. Generally, ADHD is not “outgrown” as an adult, but rather managed, and can become more apparent when the usual mechanisms put in place for adulting are no longer working. 

What are my options?

According to the website, awareness and diagnosis of adults with ADHD has recently risen significantly, especially in women, minorities, and gifted persons.  Decades of research indicate that ADHD is a life-long neurological disorder usually best treated with medication. Counseling can help with the feelings that often come from having ADHD, and coaching is an effective means to develop routines and systems of organization that help day to day. But treatment of the actual symptoms comes from medication. Stimulants have been researched and used as an effective treatment for ADHD for almost a century, and today there are almost three dozen different medications available. Some people cannot take medication or find the typical medications do not work for them, but for the most part it is an effective treatment that works and can restore a sense of balance back to your life. 

Whether or not you decide not to seek treatment, go easy on yourself. ADHD’ers tend to be incredibly hard on themselves and have extremely high expectations of what their lives should look like. Scale back. Learn to be ok with what YOUR life looks like and pat yourself on the back for “adulting” with a neuro-diverse brain. You got this.