A Dude Has (Definitely) ADHD

Discussions around ADHD, symptoms, effects and stories. Dispelling myths and telling truth.

I had my ADHD assessment on Wednesday, 30th August 2023. We are currently smack in the middle of moving house and that is… stressful. I dislike change to be honest. I am currently writing this from a sofa with very little around it. I have an extreme dislike of moving house, partly because nothing will be familiar for a while.

Anyway, I'd ensured I had time alone set aside for the assessment. Hopefully the outcome will not shock anyone who's read this blog previously, and certainly not myself—I have ADHD. Officially.

Told ya.

I'm 48, only a handful of months away from 49, so I guess you could call this a late diagnosis.

I'm not sure how much I can discuss, but there were self assessment forms I had to fill in ahead of the assessment, as well as some to be filled in by my wife, some to be filled in by my parents, (not possible in my case,) and an online test that involved essentially a made-to-be-especially-boring version of the game Snap, over a protracted period.

I had a nice chat with the psychiatrist, and I'd stuck with the same one who did my initial consultation because she'd come across as warm and down to earth. She felt like a real person rather than the rather clinical, distanced approach.

We talked a bit about my past, the difficulties I perceive I have, the difficulties my wife perceives I have and where they differ, and had a bit of a laugh about that. I explained that my wife disliked most of the questions due to being too vague, and every answer took at least five minute's discussion to the point where I would invariably end up pinching the bridge of my nose and saying, “I just need a yes, or a no. PLEASE!”

Here's the thing: I agreed with everything my wife said and had thought many of the same things, and I know that requiring more (nuanced at least,) information before reaching a conclusion is a very Neurodivergent trait but I HATE filling in forms, (also an ND trait,) and wanted to be done as quickly as possible, which really wasn't happening. I love her and that trait is definitely something I love about her, (I could write a book,) but that was the wrong time for me, and dopamine was definitely running low.

The psychiatrist asked me what I was hoping to get out of the session. I wondered briefly what other people might answer, but as per normal, it didn't occur to me to lie, so I said, “I'm hoping to get an official reason as to why I've had certain difficulties in life, and a new way to understand myself better. Maybe some new ideas for coping strategies?”

She seemed pleased with the answer. I guess some people might bring up medication, or hope for some sort of 'fix'? I dunno.

We talked about the results of the forms/questionnaires as well as the 'boring snap' test, and unsurprisingly… all signs point to ADHD! (If you need a minute, I can wait.)

Ok, now that you've recovered, here's the part that shocked me—I'm classed as having 'mild' symptoms. My symptoms—once I became aware of them, and after I'd stopped dismissing or otherwise ignoring/justifying them—have never felt 'mild' to me. This is a condition that has caused me to underachieve in life. Seriously, ask any of my school reports, which were liberally festooned with “could do better” and “if he just applied himself”. I had years of forgetting to do homework and paying the price for it. I've had a lifetime of lost friendships because “out of sight, out of mind” is literal with ADHD. Or due to my mood swings, irritability or other neurodivergent behaviours that weren't understood—even by me at the time.

There's been years of missed appointments; turning up to work on days off/not turning up on days I was scheduled (time blindness,); literal decades of being told I was “too sensitive,” (rejection sensitivity dysphoria,); and endless executive function issues: inability to plan/budget; impulsivity—particularly around spending; not being able to stick at hobbies for very long after spending money on them; and forever forgetting… well, pretty much everything I was supposed to remember.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg really. I've had health problems that are linked to ADHD as well, including co-morbidities like depression and anxiety.

People with ADHD are more likely to fall into addiction (I have,); are more likely to be homeless (thankfully not,); are more likely to choose to end their existence, or die young. They are more likely to have chronic illnesses and injuries. The downsides are very real.

And yet.

I have ADHD to thank for my creativity. I like to draw, paint, write, sculpt and take photographs. And I'm fairly decent at at least a couple of those. I can thank ADHD for my quick wit. For my unconventional thinking, (a blessing and a curse,) and many other things.

I just wish it had been picked up on when I was closer to 10 than 50, but here we are. There's no use in wishing to change the past.

Like I told the psychiatrist, an official diagnosis doesn't change me. I already knew I had ADHD, this was just a way of making it official.

I was told that medication would probably not be helpful in my case. Medication is used in more severe cases to bring them down to the level I'm at, apparently. Because my ADHD has yet to lose me a job, or cause me to fail academically, (apart from Sociology A-level, where I got my dates mixed up and ended up turning up an hour late to my final exam… which I then finished with an hour to spare. a 3 hour exam in an hour? Can't end well.) or otherwise fail to live a 'normal' life, (debatable,) I'm classed as a mild case. Apparently the side effects can be pretty bad too—depression and anxiety can be exacerbated, which I'm already medicated for and would rather not worsen.

So I guess it's business as always then. I'll continue to struggle in some areas of life and there's not a lot I can do about that. Recently I've been starting to practice gratitude in little ways and that helps.

For now I'll sign off, but I have lots more posts planned around symptoms, effects and other stuff.

If you're affected by ADHD yourself, I hope this blog helps you understand yourself in a new way, or perhaps it spurred you to get your own diagnosis? Let me know. I also welcome feedback.


I’ve said to my wife on many occasions that there are three ‘spheres’ of time in my life:

  1. The first sphere is “Now”. This is the most important sphere. Generally this encompasses today and anything up to a day or two either side, but can sometimes be as little as a few hours or even minutes surrounding the current moment.

  2. The second sphere is “Before”. This encompasses my entire life’s history. Before is patchy at best, but there are some vivid moments. Don’t ask me what I did yesterday or the day before though, as I’ll need to think & work it out.

  3. The final sphere is “Later”. This sphere encompasses all future events. This is the most dangerous of the spheres. You might think that Before is the most dangerous, what with it’s patchy recall and almost complete inability to confidently state what year anything happened without serious working out—but no. Later, is essentially a large, seemingly bottomless hole that I throw all of the important stuff I need to do, usually with the real intention of doing it ‘later’. The issue is that usually I forget, due to both working memory issues and because Later has no real scope.

Once something goes into Later, I almost instantly forget when it has to be done, especially if it’s further in the future than the next few days. If it’s in more than two weeks, the likelihood I will forget is very high. If it’s in several months, it’s about 99% likely I’ll forget, plus or minus a percent or so.

Occasionally the pit of Later will throw out a few oddments—a hazy feeling that there is an appointment coming up, or the bones of a half-explored idea. More often than not however, the sinkhole of Later hoards everything thrown at it, and defends it mercilessly.

In real terms, ADHD impairs a person’s ability to perceive time in a useful way.

People with ADHD are often late to things, in part because we cannot judge time accurately. We think things will take less (or sometimes more,) time to complete than they would, due in part to time blindness, but also to executive function issues. This makes planning and organising difficult at best. For some it’s almost completely impossible.

For me it’s meant things like turning up to work on days I’m not scheduled, (this has happened several times, usually because I forgot when I booked time off,) and also I’ve not turned up on days I was supposed to work, and then had to rush to get on a train.

This can also be exacerbated by working memory issues;

“Where did I put my keys? Gets phone notification “Wait, what was I looking for?”

Add in object permanence issues—like forgetting that keys are even a thing until the last minute, then scrabbling to look for them—and you have another challenge for ADHD’ers to navigate.

So what we think will take five minutes to get ready, will invariably take much longer, making us late.

Personally, I’m not often late, due to a dread of tardiness being instilled in me as a child. I can’t remember a specific thing that caused it though.

I am also utterly useless at quiz questions like, “What year was this film/song/whatever released. Most of the time while people around me are saying things like, “Well it must have been around (x) year because… (lists memories of that year,)” while I sit blank-faced, unable to contribute.

Time blindness can seriously impact an ADHD’ers life, especially when in conjunction with working memory issues and executive function issues.

“You’re too sensitive!”

If I had a pound for every time I heard this between the ages of 5 & 18—I have no idea how much I’d have, but I’d certainly be less worried about my finances.

In another of a long list of I told you so’s that have come up since I discovered I have ADHD, it turns out we were both right.

To everyone who told me I’m too sensitive: parents, teachers, friends—you were right. I AM too sensitive. It’s part of my ADHD and it’s called rejection-sensitive disphoria. It’s a bit of a mouthful, so I’m going to acronyse, (that’s not really a word,) it down to RSD from here on.

RSD is, essentially, heightened sensitivity to rejection. No one really likes rejection, apart from a small group of kinksters, (no judgement, you be you,) but people with ADHD not only take rejection harder than neurotypicals—feeling the sting of it that bit sharper—it also triggers on just the perception of rejection.

This means that even if someone didn’t intend any rejection, the ADHD person may misconstrue events, convincing themselves of rejection, and take a kick in the feels anyway. This is the “Are you mad at me?” effect.

I also couldn’t put a number on the amount of times I said “I can’t help it,” during those years. It turns out I was right too—being too sensitive was not my choice or fault, and it wasn’t for lack of willpower or character that I was, and continue to be.

“Give me the child until age seven,” wrote Aristotle, “and I’ll give you the adult.”

The child with ADHD is said to receive twenty-thousand more negative messages than a neurotypical child by age twelve.

Not twenty-thousand total. Twenty thousand MORE. Each one like a cut on the psyche. Each felt deeper than the neurotypical child.

So during the crucial formative years, the ADHD child has repeatedly been told they are clumsy, forgetful, tardy, lazy, difficult, disruptive, or uncooperative, among other labels and terms—usually thousands, or tens of thousands of times.

ADHD tends to set us up for failure. Concentration issues often lead to avoidable, (to the neurotypical,) but inevitable mistakes and/or accidents. Issues with working memory means we often forget tasks or assignments. Time blindness leads to lateness. Executive function issues leads to poor planning and execution. Object permanence issues lead to more forgetting. Demand avoidance makes us seem obstinate. Then there’s burnout, and overwhelm, and everything else.

Combine all of these and you have conditions that would exasperate any parent/teacher/friend.

Is it any wonder that depression and anxiety are common co-morbidities with ADHD? (See my co-mobidities series when available for more.) Childhood trauma rarely makes for a happy and well-adjusted adult.

And yet even I, with a lifetime of experience of being on the wrong end of this seemingly endless stream of criticism, occasionally lose patience with my daughter, who shares my condition, and raise my voice.

So, if you know someone with ADHD, try to remember that they’re not doing any of this on purpose, (forgetting things, making silly mistakes, etc,) and certainly not to annoy you. So be kind, be patient, and be aware of your wording and tone because it may affect us more than you realise.

I don’t like the name “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.”

People with ADHD don’t have a deficit of attention. If anything, we have a surplus. We have so much attention it gets in the way of our daily lives. The issue we have is with regulating that attention. (Also the hyperactivity may be absent, or subtle, or even mental rather than physical, and thus difficult to observe, but that’s a whole other post.)

For example, a neurotypical person might be working and see a cool-looking bug. “Huh,” they’d think, “that’s a cool-looking bug. Well, back to work!”

Us ADHD’ers would not be able to do that. We would likely look the bug up online, learn about its mating habits, diet, and any number of fascinating facts about the bug, apropos of nothing—just because we find it interesting. When we snap back, hours may have gone by. We’re behind on our work. Shit.

So really we’re less like Doug from Pixar’s “Up,” (Squirrel!) where a distraction is fleeting and temporary, and more likely to start researching whether Sarah Silverman’s assertion is actually true that squirrels forget where they hide 80% of their nuts, (Maybe squirrels have ADHD too?) and end up causing forests,.

Sounds easy to remedy right? Just concentrate on your work and forget the bug. Except that’s exactly what we cannot do. We cannot regulate our attention. We flit from one interesting thing to the next. Like a butterfly in heavy wind, or a ship in a storm we can try to steer and navigate as best we can, but the wind and sea have their own agendas and may push us off course.

In fact ‘interesting’ is our primary, and in some—ONLY, motivating factor. If we don’t find a task interesting, no amount of persuasion, cajoling, threats of punishment, offers of money or anything else can spur us to do the task. We just can’t, our brains pretty much forbid it.

I really can’t explain how impossible it is to try and do a task when we don’t find it interesting because, (in my experience,) neurotypicals can’t imagine it and so cannot empathise. Neurodivergents will be nodding along here though, trust me.

This is why ADHD’ers are often branded as “Lazy”, “Difficult”, or “Uncooperative”—even after diagnosis and often by those we love.

The flip side of this coin is Hyperfocus— where we find something so fascinating that we lose track of time while doing it, or become irritated if interrupted from it. During hyperfocus, we may forget to eat, or use the bathroom, (until it’s no longer optional,) or even put off sleep because we HAVE to continue whatever we’re working on.

So if we don’t find something interesting, wild horses couldn’t drag us to do it, whereas if we do, you have to crowbar us away from it.

(Btw, I saw a meme that said that people with ADHD tend to use more parentheses when writing, because every thought comes with another supplementary thought, (which may also have its own spin-off series of thoughts and so on,) which is both true and funny. Case in point. QED. Whatever.)

So imagine a situation where you have a lot on your mind. Your brain is already going 90 to the dozen, and every 2 minutes someone comes in, interrupts your train of thought with a new task that comes with extra information and is marked “Urgent!” that you really have to deal with then and there. Repeat ad nauseam.

That’s kind of what having ADHD is like .

So here I am, sitting close to the penultimate year of my forties, and I’ve finally decided to seek help and a diagnosis for what is absolutely a lifelong, (give or take a few years,) struggle with ADHD.

As long as I can remember, I’ve know that I think differently than others. That’s often left me as an outsider.

It’s only become clear to me that I have ADHD within the last 10 years or so, and it’s only recently that I’ve decided to seek help.

I’ve had an initial consultation with a psychiatrist, and now am at the point where I need to book an assessment.

I joked with a manager at work several years ago that if I’d been tested for ADHD at school, I would have been diagnosed, and it was this comment that started me down this road to diagnosis.

Due to exhaustion stemming from ADHD and other issues, I now only work part-time, and even this is overwhelming sometimes.

Anyway, I’m British, male, cishet, late forties, a husband and father, and I work in IT.

And I most definitely have ADHD.

Hopefully the rest of this blog will be funnier.