I was diagnosed with ADHD at 39: A new beginning?

Abir
5 min readSep 5, 2023
Photo by That’s Her Business on Unsplash

It’s official, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

I still don’t know what to think about it. I’m still processing the news, even though it wasn’t a surprise to me. I’m not sure if I should talk about it now or wait.

I wouldn’t say that this difference (or disorder) has had a significant impact on my life. After all, I’ve done pretty well in my life so far. I work in one of the big five companies. I did well in school. I got the degree I wanted, and I work in a field I like.

I also think that not being diagnosed as a child actually helped me. I grew up in Tunisia, where this kind of disorder is not well-known (at least not when I was a child, in the 80–90's). I don’t think knowing that I was different would have helped me. In fact, it probably would have held me back.

Should I ignore it and continue to live my life as usual?

I want to continue living my life as usual. I don’t want to live with the idea that I am not “normal”. I think I am still in the denial phase.

Even this post, I am not comfortable sharing it. I’m torn between two emotions. On the one hand, I’m relieved to finally know and understand what’s going on. I feel like I have a better understanding of myself and my situation. And I want to talk about it. On the other hand, I’m also afraid of being judged. I worry that people will think I’m exaggerating or that I’m making it all up.

How it started?

It all started about one year ago when I saw a post on Instagram by Mel Robbins about ADHD symptoms. I didn’t know she had ADHD when I followed her, I just liked her content. The symptoms were very familiar to me, so I shared the post in my Instagram stories. One of my friends, who is very knowledgeable about neurodivergence, replied to my story with the simple question, “Do you think you have ADHD?”. We started discussing it, and she told me that she suspects that I have ADHD.

That was the first time I thought I might be neurodivergent.

I did some research and found that I have many of the symptoms of ADHD, such as: Overthinking, depression, messiness, forgetfulness, procrastination, hyperfocus…

I talked to my therapist about my doubts about having ADHD, and he took note of that information. After many discussions and few months, he decided to give me a test, and that’s how I was diagnosed.

What does this change for me?

Now, I will wait until I process the news. I will do some research. Read the books recommended by my therapist. And then I will decide if I want to talk about this around me or not.

I am sure of one thing: I am not ready to talk about this at work yet. And I am not sure if I ever will. Even though the company I work for is very inclusive, I don’t want to bias myself with judgment.

Photo by Google DeepMind on Unsplash

The good news is that knowing that I have ADHD as an adult can only help me. Understanding better how my brain works will help me fix some issues in my daily life. I can apply strategies that are better suited to my brain to be more productive or to declutter (my major problems in life).

Note to my self

I need to be vigilant about one thing. Up until now, I have been trying to become more organized and less messy. I’m afraid that my diagnosis will give me an excuse to stop trying. I don’t want to stop, on the contrary, I want to find the right ways to work with my brain.

And now what?

As I mentioned earlier, I will start by reading and researching more. And I will talk to my therapist more about the options that I have.

I’ve tried a lot of things, and instinctively, I’ve kept the strategies that work for me without knowing that I have ADHD. Now that I’m diagnosed, I think finding the right information will be easier. My research will be more targeted.

Photo by Minh Pham on Unsplash

And … some productivity tips on the go…

To finish on a positive note, whether you have ADHD or not, if you are quickly annoyed by tasks and/or are a procrastinator (like me), here are some productivity tips that work for me,:

  • The Autofocus productivity method: This is one of the best task management systems that I have tried so far. It is based on the idea of focusing on the tasks that you are most motivated to do at the moment. You don’t need to prioritize your tasks or create a to-do list. Just scan your list of tasks and start working on the one that you feel most drawn to.
  • Breaking down a big task into smaller ones: It seems very easy, but sometimes I even get stuck when trying to divide a task into smaller ones. I will talk about this in a dedicated post.
  • Gamification: Turn your tasks into a game by setting goals and rewards for yourself.
  • Taking notes: I literally take notes on everything. Especially in meetings, and if I don’t take notes, there is a high probability that I will forget what was said once the meeting ends. Taking notes helps me stay focused and engaged in the conversation, and it also helps me remember what was discussed later.

I hope this post helps someone, and especially makes you feel less alone.

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Abir

IT working girl. Interested in many topics such as project management, self help, tech and trading. Writes in French and English