I was diagnosed with ADHD at 36 years old, not long after our 7-year-old son was diagnosed. Although surprised, I didn’t see it as a problem as I had easily taken advantage of my ADHD strengths and was very successful as an entrepreneur. I have always been really great at working with other people and advising them on creative ways to start or grow their businesses. I managed to keep the business part of my ventures streamlined by setting myself up as a consultant. By doing so, I was able to keep all my income under one umbrella.
A few years ago, I decided to close my business. It was exhausting. My son really needed a lot more attention and of course he was our priority. So, I just stopped. I told my clients I was taking a break, got rid of my accountant and closed my bank accounts. When it came time to file my taxes, I just followed the previous returns using the current tax year’s numbers. It was all pretty easy until I got a letter from the IRS notifying me my return was incomplete because I was missing a form I had never heard of before.
When I went to look for the copy of the tax return, it was gone. I searched everywhere but somehow I managed to not save it properly on my computer and also forgot to print a hard copy. And so it began, endless hours waiting on hold to find out how to request a copy of the return, and two more months to receive it only to discover I did include the right form, but failed to check and initial one little box. ONE…LITTLE…BOX! On top of all this aggravation I was also informed I could possibly be fined thousands of dollars a month in penalties due to delays and inaccuracies.
It was agonizing to deal with these problems. Not the least of which was that it made me a true nightmare to live with. I was so angry with myself and stressed out. I was embarrassed to tell my husband I had screwed up. Before I was diagnosed, I probably would have just told him and we would have dealt with it together and eventually laughed it off. But now I felt flawed and stupid. I was afraid that my ADHD would always cause me to make mistakes and prevent me from ever being successful again.
Well of course, I was wrong. When I told my husband, he was very understanding and thankfully took over dealing with the problem. Everything turned out ok and I didn’t have to pay any fines.
For a few years after this I felt that any little mistake put a great big spotlight on my ADHD. I think that’s probably something everyone diagnosed as an adult goes through.
But I don’t feel flawed or stupid anymore. I’m becoming very successful in identifying my strengths, (I’m a whiz at creating and growing a business) and my weaknesses, (there is no way on God’s green earth I will ever be good at boring details). Most importantly, I’m successful in knowing that asking for help is a strength and not a weakness.
One last thing; every year at tax time we do look back and laugh. My husband always reminds me that most newly diagnosed adult ADHD’ers begin to put the pieces together by realizing how many times they’ve lost their keys, or left the ice cream in the car, but not me, I have to be the over-achiever and take on the IRS!