I met student Bianca Baron, a 3rd year Paramedic Student at a Shut Up and Study session. She revealed that she’d been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and I asked her the question of what it was like to study with ADHD. She wrote a great article as a response. I’ve included it below.
18 months ago I knew nothing about ADHD and to be honest I thought it was simply young boys bouncing off the walls and unable to pay attention at school – however it is so much more than that.
For as long as I can remember I have always wondered why I struggled more than others when it came to doing day to day tasks. This included keeping my room clean, sticking to a routine, not losing things, being on time, starting and completing homework prior to the car ride to school – the list goes on. I was also very forgetful and had trouble focusing on tasks, I was always perceived as being very sensitive and I had trouble regulating my emotions.
I always assumed I was just severely disorganised, unmotivated and lazy. I have struggled a lot with my mental health, starting in my early teens, which in combination with my negative self-worth and labels of “disorganised, lazy and unmotivated” ate away at my self esteem and negatively affected my health over the years. I constantly blamed myself and always thought “if I just try harder” then I will succeed.
Eventually flying by the seat of my pants was no longer sustainable and I was unable to cope any longer. I went from A level student and Deputy Head Prefect to high school drop out. I took a gap year before pursuing a pathway to university and studying paramedicine.
18 months ago I found out that what I thought was a lifetime of personal failures and simply not trying hard enough – was actually undiagnosed ADHD.
ADHD doesn’t just pop up once you’re an adult. It can be diagnosed retrospectively – meaning that your childhood and teenage years are taken into account, and that ADHD was actually there all along.. It is severely under-diagnosed in girls because we present differently to boys are able to “mask” and blend in with our peers in order to fit in. This means that we fly under the radar until significant changes or life events occur and we are no longer able to cope – which is when symptoms start to become noticeable.
The best way that I can describe ADHD is that it feels like being “chronically overwhelmed” or “living in chaos”. It is exhausting, debilitating and extremely frustrating. It’s like trying to live life walking through thick mud when others simply glide through water.
Once I was diagnosed I was able to seek professional help and treatment. ADHD can’t be cured however it can be managed. As soon as I started treatment it was like a light switch moment for me – for the first time in my life I was able to glide through the water like everyone else. It has been absolutely life changing. Prior to diagnosis I struggled with uni for years due to poor executive function and inability to focus in class – nothing to do with content or intelligence. After commencing treatment I was able to resume full time study and go back to achieving high grades.
It is estimated that 1 in 20 Australians have ADHD. Research demonstrates that if left untreated it can negatively affect someone’s mental and physical health, and severely impact their quality of life. It is easily treated with medication however unfortunately in Australia diagnosis is not an easy process. There are limited psychiatrists who are licensed to diagnose and treat adult ADHD so often waiting times can exceed 6 months – if you can even find someone taking on new patients. There are other options available such as finding an ADHD coach and simply researching strategies that work for us neurodivergents. Diagnosis is not an easy journey but I promise it’s life changing and absolutely worth it, and there is so much support available.
I probably should include some positives! I work extremely well under pressure whether that’s making quick decisions or racing the clock to start and complete a 2000 word essay masterpiece. I have a great sense of humour and I enjoy making people laugh – which in combination with random bursts of energy means that I can be quite entertaining (or annoying depends how you view it). I love learning new things and will research absolutely everything about it until I’m satisfied that I’m a self-proclaimed expert. I’m extremely passionate about things I’m interested in and people that I love – heart on my sleeve type of deal.
I am passionate about raising awareness and reducing the stigma that surrounds ADHD and mental illness. Since being open about my personal journey I have had countless people open up to me about how they have been on the same journey to diagnosis and how grateful they are to not feel so alone. If this resonates with you or someone you know, please know that you are not alone!
The attached article provides great insight into ADHD diagnosis as an adult. Hope you enjoyed reading my word vomit that I wrote as I continue to avoid finishing my assignment ✌️