I don’t know if you know this, but October is ADHD Awareness Month. This is particularly significant to me this year, having just had my suspicions about having it myself, confirmed in the last few weeks – something I’ve suspected for a long, long time.

Because this has only happened very recently, I haven’t really spoken to many people about it, but those I have spoken to have justifiably not known how to react. And that’s ok! So, for the record, I’m genuinely really happy and relieved to finally have this confirmation.

I totally get it if you don’t know much about ADHD. I’m still learning too, to be honest. It’s something I’ve lived with all my life, so it’s a part of me. I’m just not yet sure which parts…

Anyway, let me formally introduce you! Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological condition which impacts, unsurprisingly, attention. There are three different types of ADHD – Inattentive, Hyperactive/Impulsive, and Combined. I have Combined-type, which in its simplest form means that sometimes I can be daydreaming and unable to focus on whatever I’m supposed to be doing, and sometimes my head is absolutely buzzing with thoughts and ideas and it’s like my brain is working too fast to keep up with itself trying to focus on a million things all at once.

I’ve found that I do my best thinking in the shower. Haven’t figured out why yet – that remains a mystery. Maybe it’s because there are no visual distractions. I keep thinking about getting a waterproof notepad and pen as there’s a very high chance I’m going to come up with the world’s greatest idea one day, and instantly forget it.

brown and black poodle puppy on green hammock

I was warned by a few people (and the internet!) that it’s completely normal when you get diagnosed as an adult, to go through a period of ‘grieving’ for what could have been, for what once was… I’m really curious about how other people reacted to finding out / having it confirmed, how friends and family have reacted to the news.

It got me thinking about when I changed career, and mental health-wise had the worst year of my life. I was absolutely consumed by imposter syndrome. I knew I struggled with focusing and paying attention, I’m easily distracted, I’m not good at listening and typing/writing at the same time, if I made a mistake I struggled to move past it (in a fast-paced classroom environment) without going over it in my head because I needed to understand what I’d done wrong… I remember finishing one module and moving on to the next and feeling like any new information I’d taken in and managed to retain, was being replaced and would be gone forever. I already felt like I was struggling to keep up (I wasn’t), and couldn’t imagine ever being good enough to get as far as the interview stage for a job at the end of it. That’s a pretty crushing feeling…

But, I’ve already dealt with all of that and moved on with my life. And so my ‘grief stage’ was very short-lived – maybe only a few hours. I don’t want or need, to relive what was a fairly traumatic time in my life. It always surprises me when I’m optimistic about things, and I hate cliches, but my life up until now has shaped the person I am today. And, I’m going to make a pretty bold statement here… I think I might like who I am! I think I’m pretty resilient. I’ve spent my life masking and finding ways to live in a society that wasn’t designed for the neurodiverse, and as a result, I always do what I can to make other people’s lives even just a tiny bit easier.

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I feel empowered knowing that I have ADHD. When the psychiatrist told me I had ADHD, I burst out laughing. Of course I did! There wasn’t a doubt in my mind! This wasn’t a diagnosis out of the blue, it was just confirmation. It was the validation I’d been looking for – the explanation for so many things over the years. I could finally take off the mask and just be my true, authentic self.

I now feel like I can ask people in meetings to give me a minute to write down what they’ve just said, instead of me furiously trying to write down what I’ve just heard at the same time as continuing to listen to the next thing that’s being said. And I’ll ask for a bullet-pointed list of instructions instead of a ‘quick call’. I can’t really follow verbal instructions as I won’t remember them, so if you want something done, PLEASE, write it down for me. You’ll only have to repeat it later anyway if you don’t! (You’ve been warned!)

Anyway, as I said, this is all still very new to me, so I’d really love to hear about other people’s experiences. How has it been for you, your family, friends, employer, colleagues? Are you taking meds, and how has that been for you? What changes have you made in your life to make things a bit easier? Any chat will be completely confidential. Please do feel free to get in touch with me – you can slide into my DMs, or email me at debi.skea@humansofcode.org

Debi 🙂

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Debi Skea
Debi Skea

Director & Co-Founder at Humans of Code

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