Accepting ADD... how do you do that?
Different or normal?
Even as a child, I was 'different'. To this day, I hate that word in this context. Different - what is different? And does different mean something positive or negative? And what then is 'normal?' So when do you meet that normal standard?
I grew up with a sister and a sibling. And I was obviously so 'different' from them. I flew back and forth in my emotions, was easily distracted, but was unstoppable once I found something I liked, was always losing everything and my room was always 1 big mess.... My parents soon noticed this. But they always let me be myself; they would seek help if I got stuck in my life because of being different. I am very grateful to them for that. It did bother me that they laughed at me a lot. Not even laughing at me, but more because of the crazy things that could only then happen to me again.
School and study
I was in a small primary school in a small class. I felt very safe here. It was structured and clear. I also performed well at school. But I was a bit sloppy, messy and wanted to finish everything quickly. I read a lot and could get lost in books.
In secondary school, I was able to keep up reasonably well. I did start at HAVO but went to VMBO after 2 years. I got my diploma and went to college. As a 16-year-old adolescent, I couldn't cope at all. This was partly down to me, but also to the study programme at the time. It was very badly organised and there was no structure. I couldn't cope with that at all. I played truant, didn't do my homework and didn't feel good at all. After one year, I quit the course and went to another school.
Diagnosis of ADD and medication
My parents decided that this was the moment to seek help for me. I ended up seeing a psychiatrist through my GP and soon the results came: and if I had ADD. On almost all characteristics of ADD I scored positive. I went into therapy and received medication.
After therapy and some fiddling with the right medication, I managed to cope pretty well with the symptoms of my ADD. I decided that it was also time to stop laughing at me; laughing in my head meant that I had done something wrong. I made the choice to make sure there was no more room to laugh at me at all; everything had to go right. And that went pretty well because of the tricks I had learnt in therapy. But what I didn't learn; how do I accept my ADD? Why am I ashamed of it? How do I share people in my struggle with ADD?
I tiptoed around the house and hid all the traits (as far as I could) of my ADD. I was not different, I was 'normal'. Everything had to go well, I would no longer give anyone a reason to laugh at me. I kept this up for a long time. I got my MBO diploma on my second course (which, by the way, was 100 times better organised than the previous course), found a nice job and liked everyone around me, but still kept my distance from friends when things got too close. Together with my boyfriend, we decided to take the next step and move in together. We bought a house together and renovated it together. And then my body was completely done with the perfectionist stuff.
I got a lot of abdominal pain. During the day but a few times at night it was unbearable. So much abdominal pain that on two occasions I begged at the GP's office in the middle of the night for the pain to stop. I broke down in pain and really screamed at times. I was given morphine on these two occasions at the GP's office and on the other occasions I suppressed the pain with the painkiller diclofenac. After all these tests by different doctors, the result was always that I was healthy. Maybe it was stress, the doctor suggested. It looked like that from my blood (I had too many white blood cells in my body; this could indicate stress). I knew all along that this was obviously the reason. But I didn't want to admit it.
Learning to accept
After the second time I had a morphine injection for abdominal pain and many conversations with my boyfriend, I decided that this could not go on. I was 22 and spending whole days in bed with abdominal pain from stress! I sought help through my GP and got in touch with a psychologist. After some conversations, we found out that I was not doing well at all. I wanted to improve my quality of life and the only one who could do that was me. I had to start learning to accept myself, with the ADD.
And it is going very well now. It goes in steps. Now I can laugh along when I'm cooking and the kitchen has exploded completely and my boyfriend laughingly asks if a bomb has exploded. I no longer get angry when I can't do the housework, but tell myself what I have done and that relaxing is also important. I no longer lock myself up on Saturday evenings because I think I have to be fit for work on Monday. I no longer feel rejected when I blurt out something that makes someone else laugh. I try to open up to friends, to let them into my home, literally and figuratively. I'm writing a blog about my ADD and will pass it on to my dear family and friends, instead of always pretending my ADD doesn't exist. And maybe if I am very brave, even share it on Facebook. Gradually, I am becoming more and more proud of what steps I have made and that I have ADD. In other words, I think I am allowed to be there.
And of course, sometimes things still go wrong. For example, I also find this very exciting, that anyone can now just read this if they want to and then know this about me and form an opinion about it. And then I can get panic and stomach ache again. And if I don't manage to tell myself that one time, I have all kinds of sweet people around me who remind me that I am allowed to be there. Without me having pleasured them for it. ;)
I'm very curious how you experienced this. Were you okay with your diagnosis right away or did you have the same as me and fight it?
Would you like to respond to Roosmarijn's story? Then leave your reaction in the comments below....
Heey this is the first time I have shared my story on the internet , I am doing so because I am not really understood by those around me....
I strongly suspect I have HSP and ADD but need some kind of confirmation from peers, I am a young adult male aged 26 and this is my story ;
I had quite little trouble in my childhood until I finished high school at 15 , unfortunately not with a havo diploma but with a vmbo t diploma , because I had a lot of trouble with reading comprehension and listening ( especially listening , concentration in class , I can never remember lyrics to songs either)
As I got older I started noticing that I started to become different from my friends , such as being very sensitive dreamy and tired .
I am constantly busy putting myself in another person's shoes while constantly screening around me. This makes me so mentally and physically tired that I sleep longer than the average person.
Sounds all very depressing but it is totally not , I give my life a 10/10 , by using my qualities what I think I have because of ADD and HSP to the fullest in my life. I am super cheerful, loyal (hardly ever change confidential environments )have a lot of empathy and am very social.
I am a croupier at Holland casino and not everyone likes me ! These are learning moments for me because I think that an HSPer often wants to be liked and finds it especially important what someone else thinks of him or her.The work requires a lot of concentration, but I find it so much fun and great and have so much passion for it that my hyperfocus is activated.
And most importantly, I have a partner who complements my weaknesses by providing good structure , then I am talking about tasks , diary and sleep rhythm.
At times, this is exhausting for her and feel like she wants to change and improve me and she sees it as an excuse .
I think mostly the frustration is what I'm stuck with , I just want to be labelled. So that my surroundings understand me better .
I hope people recognise themselves in this.
Hi, great what a lot of responses and a lot of recognition.
Am 60 and got myself through psychiatrist to Prof Verhoeven via DNA test
had it diagnosed,was 55 at the time.
Somewhere it is hereditary..chromosome pair 16.
A lot of things are falling into place, but I'm still struggling...
I read your post and wanted to say that I think it is good that you have decided to choose your own happiness so that you can be who you are.
The way I read it, you come across as a very pleasant person and I just think you are allowed to be there with all your being. Even if the kitchen then occasionally explodes.
Handsome that you share this and I hope it gets easier and easier to accept how you are and enjoy it more and more.
I myself have ADD and I was not surprised by it, I always kind of hated it before but now I find that I have my life pretty much in order and there is nothing wrong with being chaotic at times and it is important to follow your own path and you can only do that well if you are yourself.
Thank you for the post and all the others. Great that you are sharing your story. I too have been struggling with the adhd label for a long time.
I didn't want to accept it, because many things worked out. Also by being very much on my toes. Once I was advised to go to framework. While my brother had vwo advice. How sad I was. Eventually, after hard work and a good cito score, I went to havo. I had to prove myself and this feeling comes back regularly now. Often enough I had to deal with an impulsive remark where others thought who is that weirdo. On the other hand, I think, everyone has a special thought sometimes, only many people keep it to themselves. I have more trouble with this, but I taught myself this more partly thanks to my studies in SPH. Still, this seems to take a lot more effort from me than from someone else. Furthermore, I am now a social worker. Which sometimes makes it extra difficult. I told my internship once, but was regularly told: he adhd'tje. As if it was something cute. I felt little understanding from colleagues. So now I don't really feel room to tell this at my new job. It feels very contradictory; because I want to give my clients more self-confidence and explain to them that a label is not a bad thing, I find it hard to say this to myself.
Fortunately, I am very open to family and friends about this and they accept me and often see the fun in my impulsiveness. Then I can also be completely myself.
I was never officially diagnosed with ADD but I recognise everything you say. I did 2 studies at the same time (sociology and philosophy) but didn't finish them. Then I did the Gerrit Rietveld Academy (art maker) and did finish. I made many short films that won awards. Now I write like crazy. My son is better than me and my daughter is a brilliant designer. 21 and 20 years old. I divorced their mother in 2012. My girlfriend is autistic and the love of my life.
In short: doing something nice for yourself.
Regards, Wim Jongedijk.
So recognisable and so clever of you. So good that you write it down because that way you help yourself but also other people. For me it is an eye-opener. I also try to hide everything at work but so much energy goes into it. Pfffff. It's great how far you've come.
It is so recognisable, that struggle with the diagnosis. I was diagnosed with ADD and then given the diagnosis of ASD as a gift. Whether I have ADD and ASD or an ASD diagnosis with ADD features. It's all not that important. I was happy with the diagnosis and on the other hand I struggled to live with it. When do you tell and in what situation do you not tell? I read a lot on the subject so I could recognise how it manifests in me. I see myself as HSP who is extremely high-sensitive in many ways and then it may have a name within the DSM-5 that is used. It is no more and no less...
Very recognisable for me too! I am now 48 years old, I have only known I have ADD since my 41st birthday, I was also diagnosed by a psychiatrist...everything suddenly fell into place; the chaotic, (sociable) cluttering, not being able to plan well, concentration problems, impulsivity, difficulty with some rubbish noises! and above all difficulty providing structure to my 2 children (who clearly also suffer from this...that is just not possible!)
I also FEEL that I am different,
But that's just as well right?
Thankfully, people can laugh at you, at your unplanned, but really funny, silly stupidity...it's pure YOU! Nothing is played at all, you don't want to attract attention with it...it's just ?real'.
I am quite positive, even though I am also quite bothered by some things, e.g. that I just can't manage to have a tidy house. My family and surroundings think I like this myself...no, I don't. I prefer (for myself) to have a nice tidy house too!
And of course, I would prefer to give my children a good structured upbringing as well.
I try to see the positive in it:
ADDers can't be happy by default, it's never boring with an ADDer (I think), and they live completely from their feelings, so experience really intensely happy moments too....
Andnuh...as an ADD-er raising children who are the same...good structure you can't provide, but you can do your best...and sociability, unexpected things, and above all giving love and attention...you might be much better at that as an ADD-er.
Please be kind to yourself....it's just nice that there are people like you and me
How well you have written this! I myself have NLD (non verbal learning disability). But this is similar to ADD in many ways. I also had so much trouble from high school onwards with everything they ask of you. Had all the detours but finally got my MBO degree. I started at Havo but this didn't work out for me. It was so much too much! For years, I felt like a failure. Teachers thought I was the 'ideal student' because I was always quiet in class but I was drowning in the stress of lots of homework and projects and everything you need to have an overview for. People called me lazy for so long. If only I tried a little harder I could easily pass. Because of this, I developed a lot of fear of failure and failing Havo and going on to MBO instead of HBO equalled the end of the world. Because I had not met expectations. Fortunately, this was never seen as inferior from home and was mostly insisted that I had to do what was achievable, but still.... It didn't feel right at first! On the other hand, I never felt I couldn't accept it. I mostly saw it as a relief that I knew it wasn't down to me. That I am not lazy and do my best! I can also laugh about it when I do something that is 'typical of me' according to others. I find it very difficult now, especially at work. I notice that I often still struggle with that, but it's getting better and better!
And oh yes, that cooking; one big mess! Every single time!
Much love, Saar
Thanks for your response. I very much recognise myself in your story about your fear of failure. Work is still a difficult issue for me too, how do you deal with it? Greetings Roosmarijn
Over the years, I did learn to inform people a bit about how it works in my head. I found this very difficult in the beginning because it shows weakness. But after I came home from work crying a few times because I was being overcharged and, at least to my mind, overestimated, I thought it would be better for me to inform them. That helped a lot. I was much less afraid of doing it wrong or asking something for the 10th time because now they knew that my head works like a sieve and I could see it as new information the next day. I am also trying to set the bar a little lower for myself. That also takes some time but I am increasingly accepting that I do 'work differently'.
Saar (aged 24)
Recognisable! Not for myself, I am very structured... but my 13-year-old daughter is not at all. Of course, we have also laughed about it when she ran upstairs for a pair of socks and comes downstairs 10 minutes later with a plug... Room 1 big mess always, can get completely absorbed in creations on paper (drawing) and crafts. Find it incredibly difficult to plan. We haven't put a sticker on her as far as ADD is concerned. But my suspicion is that she just is. Her father is too. We would like to give her some handles but nothing sticks. I have now signed up for the tips. Because I think ADD also comes in more forms and degrees. And so far it's all manageable....
I had to laugh a lot about the sock story; so recognisable!
As for the sticker, I have always found it so nice that my parents did not immediately want to put the sticker on it, but that just being Rose was more than enough for them. I did benefit a lot from talking to someone at school, a social worker, for instance. Perhaps your daughter also has such a person who can give her some guidance? If that is what she ultimately needs, of course. Greetings Roosmarijn
Thank you for sharing your story. I can imagine it is exciting to expose yourself to the whole world like this. Perhaps it is another step forward in your process of being visible and accepted?
What Tamara writes and Roosmarijn... I personally advocate looking at what each child/teenager/person specifically needs. Don't problematise behaviours. If someone can deal with it and the person functions normally, then it's just okay. Any person can be labelled though when you do research from A to Z. That does not mean that that person (and/or the environment) is experiencing burden or suffering.
That you, Roosmarijn, write that you liked that your parents saw you as Joú, who you really are, without the need for a label, I can well imagine. Perhaps this is what I missed myself. That acceptance of being allowed to be the way I am. Tamara, perhaps you could have a conversation with your daughter, and find out how she experiences the whole thing herself. If she (and you) need support, seek help. What came to mind so quickly is the centre ADHD Netherlands with Catharijne Wildervanck (author of 'ADHD how to get it out of your head'. But there are many options.
I myself was diagnosed with ADD when I was 29. A diagnosis in adulthood often leads to either a major meltdown or jumping in the air. For me, it was the latter. All my life I thought I was "wrong", and I just couldn't manage to change it. Then suddenly I realised it was something in my brain... A vulnerability I had been battling all along. So again, need for acceptance. But it was an explanation for the struggle I was always having, with the outside world but especially with myself. I could suddenly look mildly at myself. And allow myself to Be myself. Now, six years later, those around me still struggle with it. They don't understand where my vulnerabilities lie. I can't explain it.
Ever since I was 13, I have not been doing well. After many years of counselling, 16 years later the hammer fell with the label ADD. I am convinced that an earlier diagnosis could have saved me a lot of suffering. Like Roosmarijn, I had to learn ways to deal with the situation. Denying myself and trying to keep my head above water and meet society's wishes and standards. I became depressed several times, overworked, and was treated for tig diagnoses. Inferiority and self-confidence problems, perfectionism and high demands, the feeling of never complying and always failing... These are things that have become ingrained in my personality during adulthood. The road to recovery is long but not impossible. In recent years, I have been doing better and better and I assume that I will eventually recover. With that comes full acceptance of myself and my vulnerabilities. The other side of the coin is beautiful. AD(H)D and related labels describe people with many gifts and peculiarities, places where we excel and are actually strong. Your wrongness is your strongness. We have superpowers. But like "the X-Men", we are often misunderstood. Not understood. Find your strength and shine. The world is more beautiful with us!!!
Hi hi Rosemary,
So recognisable. And good of you to share it. IK am 55 years old now and I still go down on my "mouth".
I still have to learn (accept) that I have ADHD. I am different from other people and have to learn that I am allowed to be there and not have to apologise every time for my appallingly out-of-control behaviour. And still have to learn that I need to set my boundaries.
I am already running up against my limits so brakes on it,
So this is how I deal with it, still tricky.
So recognisable! I am almost 53yrs old and both I and my eldest have ADD. We both suffer immensely from it. I had a huge burnout and am now going over my limits again too ? Find it so hard!!! My daughter luckily sought help, after I spent years looking for her. When I was young it didn't bother me as much, thought life was one big party. But as I got older and had children, it all became harder and harder to keep everything in order. The older I get, the harder ? Wondering how you guys do this!
What you state, the older the harder, I do recognise that. I have been running into things for a long time but since my children came along, it has been impossible to keep all the balls high.
I am now 41 and have been diagnosed since 2017. In my early childhood, I was very dreamy, quiet and basically unremarkable. When I went to secondary school, my teacher said, " She should be able to do havo but send her to mavo because she is not yet focused on school. If it's in there it will come out later." Actually quite nice because my teacher was right. Mavo with two fingers in my nose, never did a day of homework. Because I didn't know yet what I wanted to do, I decided to do havo. I succeeded, fairly easily too, but there came the first problems. It turned out that I really had to learn now and then. Summaries of chapters became longer than the chapter itself . Tricky when you can't distinguish between side issues and main issues. After 1 or 2 chapters, you do give up. Then I started doing Pabo and that's where the first panic set in. They say most teachers are very organised. Well I am not. All those assignments, I enjoyed my internship, but the production work on those assignments was beyond my planning and concentration. The result was a big delay, an extra year and a big dent in my self-confidence.
I did go to a primary school reunion once and when I told my old teacher that I also went into teaching, her mouth fell open with surprise. She had expected a lot, but not that. Because of my absent character probably. Still, a class full of children like that where something is happening all the time is the place for me. You are constantly activated and receive a lot of stimuli at the same time and only then do I have an overview. I know exactly what needs to be done.
So far, things were running somewhat. Now so many years later, 2 broken relationships, financial and administrative problems, a burn-out and 2 children further. I can say that I am starting to get a grip on my life. The father of my children has ADHD and the two of us combined was not a success. The passion and love were bursting forth, never a dull moment, but the chaos was too much. I now live alone and we have co-parenting. That is going very well. With medication and training, I have laid a solid foundation for my children and myself . Contact with my ex is good and we have co-parenting. And there is a new love. But what I did learn ... living together is not necessarily the answer for me. That's why we keep latching on. Your relationship stays fresh and surprising, nice for an add'er . And all the mess is your own, in your house, head and administration. Sometimes an evening of nothing, no one around you, in your own bubble sorting out everything in your head is very important to me. Necessary to keep functioning. I did have to struggle for that for over 40 years in retrospect. And I've also succumbed to it, only to come out of it much stronger now. This is really due to the diagnosis. Which gave me the right help and insights. Add and living with it is an ongoing process. You never fully master it. And sometimes when it suddenly hits you in he rear, you have passed yourself by again. But I can say now that it is starting to look like something. I often used to say, " later when I grow up!" I believe that time has come.
Well written and very recognisable.
Now 36 and still battling with myself daily.
What I regularly encounter is the feeling of not being understood by those around me. People who are very close to me find it very difficult to understand what I struggle with on a daily basis and sometimes don't understand why I deal with certain situations. Still get labelled as uninterested and lazy at times. No idea how to pierce through this.
How does everyone deal with this anyway?
Thank you for your response. I do partly recognise myself in your reaction. Although I was so reluctant to share it with other people out of shame. I think it's also just sometimes simply incomprehensible. In my relationships with others, it helps a lot to indicate cause and effect and especially to indicate how I feel about it (this was the situation; this is how you/I reacted and this is how I feel about it). Maybe this will help you? Greetings Roosmarijn
very recognisable... I have stitches in my heart instead of abdominal pain
At 30, I discovered my add....
Also in response to all kinds of complaints.
As if all the puzzle pieces fell together.
The description of add is a description of me.
In due course, I meet myself. I don't want to use the add for that but in the back of my mind I know it does come from there.
I think the problem of acceptance does not just come from accepting add... the problem is that I am also a perfectionist, have a poor ability to say no and therefore cannot get things done how I would like.
After taking an add course, reading a lot about it, I started to understand myself better.
And that makes it easier for me to let go.
Meanwhile, an additional difficulty factor has been added.
My 10-year-old daughter also has add and it is quite complicated.
My girl thrives on a good structure, but yes.... that is exactly what I am struggling with myself right now!
The trick is finding your way in the things you do. And some days this goes better than others!
Seek proper guidance and dwell on the add... By reading exactly the instruction manual, you understand better how things are and can make better adjustments to function fine.
And helps acceptance process.
It just so happens....
Thank you for your response! And indeed, read the instructions carefully.... Then you have come a long way. Greetings Roosmarijn