Later-Life ADHD Diagnosis: Life Sentence or Turning Point?

I had a textbook adult ADHD diagnosis. Like many women with primarily inattentive ADHD, I did not receive a diagnosis until after I started researching ADHD for my daughter. The more I read, the more I thought, “This is me!” I took an online quiz and found I scored well above the threshold for adult ADHD. The next step was to receive an official diagnosis from a local psychologist.

Receiving a diagnosis later in life left me with mixed emotions. On one hand, I finally understood why I was so disorganized, why I couldn’t pay attention, and why I struggled in social situations. It provided a tremendous sense of relief to know that there was a reason for all these issues. It wasn’t just me. I wasn’t a failure.

On the other hand, I felt a sense of regret and sadness, because I had struggled for so long, never realizing that ADHD was holding me back. I wondered what I could have accomplished and how much better I would have felt about myself if I had known about my ADHD earlier in life and had the tools I needed to overcome the many obstacles.

After many years, a tremendous amount of research, coaching, and coach training, I can now focus on the present and the future. I learned how my ADHD affects me, what I could do to minimize the impact of symptoms, and how I could build on my many strengths.

    • Roseanna Diaz
    • November 7, 2017

    I have two sons with ADHA one thirty yrs old and other fourteen youngest got diagnose at 9 yrs oldest never my got my oldest dignose .problem is with my eldest has drug and alcohol problems in able to keep job stealing jail in and out no care attitude need to get him help any suggestions

    • Sal
    • January 11, 2016

    I’ve always been the “wingnut” in my family and group of friends…the one who’s always late, the one who blurts out wacky stuff, the one who does and says quirky, funny things at inappropriate times, the one who goes with the flow and lets stuff slide off her back because she forgets everything, the one who avoids confrontation, the one who goes first because she thinks best on her feet. The one who can hang because she’s a kid at heart. In reality, I’m immature, selfish and inattentive. I was diagnosed years ago – at least 20 now, but I’ve recognized ADD as something that’s always been with me, for as long as I can remember – back to first grade or earlier. I’m medicated (Adderall) but feel like Ritalin is what worked best for me. I get migraines and Ritalin brought out the worst in them, so I stick with my Addy, but it’s become ineffective. So I procrastinate, I don’t prioritize, I chronically underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to do ANYTHING, and I wait until the last minute to do EVERYTHING. I’m usually either one step away from being fired or promoted. I can talk my way out of the deepest hole, I’ve learned how to perform the most intricate balancing acts and over my lifetime I’ve found myself in many intense situations. I’ve been to beautiful places, met amazing people and find it hard to comprehend a different way of life. Most days I just wish it wasn’t so…complicated.

      • Allison
      • October 16, 2016

      Hey, I know you left this post nine months ago but I felt a need to reply. I felt as if you were describing me when you described how you always underestimate how much time and effort a particular task will take. I can totally relate to this and to the procrastination issue. I always tell myself that, “next time I won’t wait until the last minute” but no matter what, I always procrastinate, most recently it was waiting until the last minute to pack for a trip, and of course at the very last minute I was scrambling around my apartment, desperately trying to find things and feeling like a crazy person who can hardly think straight. I was diagnosed at age 24, 12 years ago, and at least now I know why I struggle in some areas, but you are very accurate when you use the word “complicated” to describe these struggles.

    • Wendi Paul
    • November 22, 2015

    Oh my gosh! Melissa Holmes you are living my life! I was just diagnosed as well. I am 39. Of course, my psychiatrist initially thinks it may be a symptom of Bipolar-disorder (but that will take further analysis). I am taking Vyvance for now and have seen some benefit. I struggle everyday if this one failure this day is going to get me fired tomorrow. I have issues dealing with my family. I struggled with my mom and dad as a little girl. I never thought I measured up to their expectations and I acted out with them and to my friends. Hence I never had friends that lasted. I had issues with my son who also suffers from the same issues. My marriage has definitely lasted through some tough times (not completely ADDs fault). You don’t even want to be in my near vicinity during PMS. I finally just decided one day that life shouldn’t be this difficult and there had to be some kind of help. My PCP prescribed Prozac and then Zoloft. I was a Zombie and a flustered irrational one at that. I am so glad I found this site. I am adopted so my access to my medical history is nan. My son is the only genetic history and he is worse than I am (Not enough room or Vyvance for that discussion). I am glad to know I am not alone in my mixed feelings about my past.

  1. Reply

    I’m glad I found this website! My youngest son was born with ADHD,he drove our family ,insane,& he just has always felt like a pos,not liking himself,we tried him on adderall,ritalin & they made him feel worse, now he is 26 ,& still struggling, with him self,I didn’t think at all,that maybe I have add,but I was diagnosed with add ,in my 40’s.I also was prescribed,adderall, & it made my brain function worse, I currently now take prozac,it helps my brain able to focus, I’ve tried many antidepressants & mood medications.I think family genetics, should be considered when ever doctors prescribe any medications. I always felt so stupid,so out of place,so at cross purposes with my self & never knew why,it will always be a part of my persona, for better or worse, its what I make if it. My comment really is about finding the correct resources for my son? I know there’s a better way for him to succeed,He doesn’t want to take medications for ADHD,I would appreciate any comments for the right assistance, that would benefit my son’s quality of life .

    • lawrence
    • October 27, 2015

    I was diagnosed with ADHD about 20 years ago when I was 47 years old. I had a suspicion that I might have it because I saw myself in my daughter who was diagnosed at a young age. We were both re-diagnosed within the past two years and once again we were told we have ADHD, no shock to either of use.
    I look at it as a gift now but I sure didn’t for many years. I felt so different like most ADHD children and adults. So many times I felt inadequate and stupid and lonely. But now my life has changed I have more information and tools to manage all that go with ADHD. Now I see most people as a little boring, lacking in energy, creativity, imagination and compassion. I feel special now and don’t look back but forward. I still have to deal with my ADHD, it will never go away but it’s manageable. I never gave up hope and never gave into it. I tell my four children never give up hope and never give up on yourself.

  2. Reply

    Maggie Read – Coach Linda Walker is offering a FREE self-coaching series right now. It’s 12 weeks of videos, also available in audio and text with specific tasks for each week. The idea is to build new habits and routines. Take it as slow as you need to. Small changes add up. See:

    • Maria Arduino
    • October 23, 2015

    This is my story. Well…the middle part is my story. The first and the last paragraphs don’t apply to me but the middle two sure do. Thanks for sharing!

    • maggie read
    • October 22, 2015

    I too was diagnosed late in life. I never felt relief at the diagnosis just regret, sadness and anger at missed opportunities due to my ADD, (I too have inattentive type). I am considering a coach but they are so expensive. Did you find having a coach worth the money?

    • Melissa Holmes
    • October 22, 2015

    Amazing. I feel the same way, sadly. I was just diagnosed 3/31/15. Yup, I remember the exact date. I’m struggling with every aspect of my life. Most times my chronic anxiety and feeling overwhelmed from a myriad of emotions, low self-esteem and everything else under the sun, leaves me unmotivated to do anything, including going out with my spouse, friends,etc.

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