You’ve Just Been Diagnosed with AD/HD: Now What?

Terry Matlen, ACSW Health Guide
  • "I am always losing my keys, cell phone, (fill in the blank)."


    "My boss is about to fire me- I can't get to work on time and never seem to finish what I start."


    "My marriage is a mess. I can't seem to give her the attention she needs or keep up with my share of the responsibilities at home."


    "Dinner? How can I figure out what to make for dinner seven days a week? I can't even keep it together at the supermarket; I get so overwhelmed."


    Finally, you've had enough! You've taken action by finding the answer to your chronic problems with procrastination; not paying attention; not finishing projects; not living up to your potential. After years of wondering about these lifelong challenges, you went for an ADD evaluation and you now have the answer. You have adult ADHD. Mystery solved! what?

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    As I mentioned in an earlier post here, that information alone helped me immensely- knowing that I wasn't stupid, lazy or crazy. I simply had an ADHD brain. But it also opened up the door to many other questions and concerns tormenting me; the main one being, "what next"? It's like the teen that is dying to get his first car, being handed a set of keys but not having had driver's training, yet. What do you do first? How do you drive the car? Now what?


    Many of you who have recently been diagnosed, might find yourself surprised that you find yourself grieving over the so called "lost years"- the lifelong years lost to your ADHD- the years of underachievement; the missed opportunities. Or your history of getting stuck in bad relationships and other less than healthy choices made due to impulsive decisions. The list goes on.


    What should you do when you first hear those words, "you have adult ADHD?


    First, it's absolutely normal to go through a period of grieving. In fact, those sad and often angry feelings might just reappear now and then, as you learn new skills and move forward with your life, only to find the inevitable bumps in the road that throw you for a loop. I find this grieving process, though painful, to be the first step in the healing process. Allow yourself to experience this.


    I typically suggest to newly diagnosed adults that the best things they can do for themselves are the following:


    • Learn everything you can about ADHD. Read, then read some more. With education comes power and with power comes the strength to move forward.
    •  Consider talking to a therapist. After years of frustration, and perhaps even numerous failures, ADHD often takes its toll on self-esteem and confidence. Find a therapist who truly understands ADHD in adults and begin chipping away at these issues.
    • If the person evaluating you suggests a consultation with a physician to explore medications to help with the ADHD symptoms, do find someone, again, who understands adult ADHD.
    • Find a support group where you can share your story and learn from the experiences of others. This will help to normalize your own behaviors once you see you are not alone.
    • Go to ADD conferences and workshops. You will be amazed at how helpful these are to not only gaining a better understanding of ADHD, but also to learn new strategies for living with it.
    • Many adults find that working with a coach specializing in ADHD is extremely helpful. Coaches help with the pragmatics of every day living and point out not only the roadblocks, but ways to get around them.

    You will find that there are many layers of learning about and living with ADHD and each stage often requires interventions. I hope this will give you a jump start in helping you get through that first stage of your own ADHD discovery.

Published On: December 11, 2007