What It’s Like To Live With: Adult ADHD
What It’s Like to Live With explores the stories of people who see and experience every day a little differently.
I’m 31 years old, easily distracted, move around all the time — and these are not the only problems I have as an adult suffering from ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder].
I’m pretty convinced that I’ve had it since childhood but it went undiagnosed. I wish my parents had got me checked earlier, but they kept brushing my restlessness under the carpet as something that every child has. I regret that because, had I been diagnosed earlier, I’d be better equipped to deal with my struggle by learning coping skills earlier.
Looking back, in school, I’ve always grappled with finishing assignments and projects. But that was never a red flag for me because everyone around me found them boring and were finding ways to slack off.
The problems started — or, let’s say started getting noticed — once I started working when I was 24. I was constantly being told that I was disorganized, couldn’t prioritize or multitask like everyone else around me could.
For the first few days, I thought it was from the anxiety of having a new job. I thought drinking and smoking would help. Let alone help, I just started getting dependent on them to calm my nerves.
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In a few work meetings, I made impulsive decisions. I couldn’t meet deadlines because I was restless and distracted, and things didn’t go as per plan. I knew there would be repercussions, and they came in the form of warnings. It was frustrating because none of this was in my control. On the inside, I just felt like I just wanted to run. I felt so energetic, but I wasn’t being able to channelize it into producing something useful. It felt like the world was in slow motion, while I was moving at 100 km an hour.
Not only did it affect my work, my relationship with my girlfriend of six years also hit an all-time low. All the above symptoms persisted when we started dating, but we always dismissed them as problems that arose only because I was young or may have been immature, and [thought] they would take care of themselves once I began working. But then, we were the same age. Why was she so organized and was able to manage things so perfectly? She did help and wanted to help more, but it couldn’t go on longer. More than her, I wanted to be out of it because I felt inferior and inadequate all the time. I didn’t want her to feel like she needed to help me out of guilt. It wasn’t her fault; I had to manage things myself.
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It was time to seek help. I went to a psychologist who helped me diagnose my condition as ADHD. And being diagnosed with it changed my life. Suddenly, all the behavior started making sense. I felt like I didn’t have to wing it any longer. I had an explanation, the medicines were changing my life and most importantly, my dependence on alcohol and cigarettes was reducing.
But being on medication doesn’t mean it can get the ADHD out of me; it can just manage the symptoms. And this is something that has been hard to accept, but it makes me happy. I’m in a better place, but I’ve understood that I can’t rely just on medicines.
Small things like making attainable to-do lists have helped me. So have sustainable workout plans. But it’s still incredibly tough to manage everything together — work, home, relationships with friends and family and my own health. I may have lost out on time, lucrative job offers and other milestones, but the one I regret the most is losing out on my girlfriend, which was my decision. I pushed her away by blaming myself instead of letting someone help me when she was willing to. I wish I had realized this earlier; I wouldn’t want my life to be any different from what it is today except that one person.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. As told to Anubhuti Matta.