Authored by: Michelle Beckett on May 21, 2018
Ten Reasons Why I’m Lucky to Have an ADHD Diagnosis By Michelle Beckett, Founder, ADHD Action
“And this gift or this curse I have inside maybe at last I’ll know why” Elphaba, The Wizard and I, from the musical Wicked
It’s been just over a year since my life-changing diagnosis. The first in forty-five that I’ve accepted who I am.
Given I have a neuro-developmental condition that is considered highly impairing, why do I feel as if I’ve won the lottery?
1) I survived when many don’t
ADHD nearly took my life, as is the case with many undiagnosed adults.
2) I’m one of the few adults with a formal diagnosis
ADHD awareness is really poor. In the main, most people don’t know what ADHD is, how it presents, nor what causes it. Many even deny its existence, blaming poor parenting or diet. More surprisingly, the same applies to many professionals such as some doctors, teachers, social workers, prison officers, even psychiatrists. I’ve seen quotes from GPs: “ADHD is just for kids” or “you can’t have ADHD, you are successful and have a degree”.
This means that out of the 3% of the adult population that statistically has ADHD, most will be unaware of it. They may be facing challenges with mental health conditions that aren’t responding to treatment, or perhaps struggling with work, money, relationships, or substance abuse.
3) I’m fortunate ADHD came across my radar
If ADHD is chanced upon, when someone then seeks support and diagnosis, there is another obstacle: a postcode lottery. One NHS waiting list for adult ADHD diagnosis is 33 years long. At least that region has a waiting list. Some areas have NO PROVISION FOR ADULTS WHATSOEVER.
4) I was able to access a private diagnosis and GP shared care
This is despite one NHS psychiatrist recommending me for referral (my wait would have been a mere 2 years), but this was blocked by another team member who “didn’t think I had ADHD, so no need to refer”.
My GP agreed to a shared care arrangement, so I didn’t have to pay private prescription fees for very long. There are many cases of desperate and struggling adults, stuck on long waiting lists, going out on limb to pay for private diagnoses, to then be turned away by their GP and unable to access NHS prescriptions.
5) ADHD is one of the most treatable conditions in medicine
ADHD treatment has been life-saving for me. I feel far less overwhelmed, less emotionally volatile and more able to focus, without losing any of my personality or creativity. ADHD meds work really well for about 80% of patients.
“When medication works, it’s as dramatic and as effective as eyeglasses” says Edward Hallowell, MD.
6) I’ve embraced my diagnosis enough to want to learn about my brain’s different wiring and plumbing
This is so I can work with my ADHD, not against it.
I beat myself up for so long knowing something about my brain wasn’t the same as everyone else, believing it was my fault. I was ready to accept my condition and get answers, so I didn’t waste another minute of my life. Many are so ashamed of the huge stigma, they understandably bury their diagnoses.
I firmly believe that to flourish, it’s important to learn all you can, put ‘scaffolding’ in place to support the stuff in life you don’t do well, and fly with the unique gifts that ADHD brings. There’s lots of great information available, such as on the ADDitude website.
7) I feel comfortable being open
If you aren’t ready to be open with family, friends or in the workplace about your wonderful neuro-diverse brain, then at least seek others in your new ‘tribe’, by joining online communities of ADHDers or local support groups.
8) I wouldn’t switch my ADHD off for all the money in the world
(Having said that, I’m quite skint, so don’t hold me to that if someone does offer) But genuinely, I would not be who I am without my ADHD. This is controversial. The condition left undiagnosed can cause so much misery for individuals, their families, and a huge cost to society.
But I, like many others with ADHD, can use my “Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes” (Dr Hallowell) to my advantage when I need to. I can be brave, outspoken, quick thinking, creative, passionate, driven, great in a crisis, emotional, inventive and interested in so many different types of people and subjects.
The key here is to recognise ADHD early enough for kids to feel good about themselves and be steered towards careers that are ideally suited.
The rapper Loyle Carner describes his ADHD as a superpower,3 along with hundreds of entrepreneurs, inventors, innovators, sports stars, writers, politicians, performers and singers.
9) I’m able to use my ADHD traits to fight stigma, raise awareness, and push for change
I recently used my ADHD trait of impulsivity to make an unplanned speech about how the
I then formed the charity ADHD Action, and we now have an All Party Parliamentary Group, with many MPs now acting as advocates for ADHD in Westminster.
We also educate NHS commissioners, businesses, parents, patients, medics, teachers…and we are about to begin our next phase of projects to further raise awareness, offer support and push for change.
But we really need everyone’s help to grow, so please do get in touch and get involved.5
10) I’m proud
Whether or not you see ADHD as a gift, a curse, or both: one day soon, I hope everyone can feel proud too.
In a world of understanding, with no stigma, filled with support that is desperately needed by so many
1 ADHD Action: Michelle’s Story. Available at: http://www.adhdaction.org/ADHD-Stories/Michelles-story. Last accessed June 2018
2 Live Science: People with ADHD May Have a Higher Suicide Risk. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/46532-suicide-risk-adhd.html. Last accessed June 2018
3 NME: Loyle Carner hails ADHD as “superpower” during Best British Solo Artist speech at the VO5 NME Awards 2018. Available at: http://www.nme.com/news/music/loyle-carner-hails-adhd-as-superpower-during-best-british-solo-artist-speech-at-the-vo5-nme-awards-2018-2242119. Last accessed June 2018
4 ADHD Action: Michelle’s speech on BBC Parliament Channel that sparked off ADHD Action. Available at: http://www.adhdaction.org/the-speech-at-conference. Last accessed June 2018
5 ADHD Action website, available at: http://www.adhdaction.org/. Last accessed June 2018