I received an ADHD diagnosis in my late 60s, and as I learn more about ADHD, I see many past behaviors that have deeply affected my son, who has “had it up to here” with my patterns.
I have not maintained friendships and have given away ⅓ of my income. I have apologized profusely in the past but realize that since my ADHD behavior is unlikely to change.
I’ve stopped apologizing. But I feel the need to explain myself to all my former friends, relatives, co-workers & bosses.
Do you recommend that I pursue that quest? Or just let it go?
I was sent this question earlier this month. It’s like other ones that I’m asked frequently…
How do I move forward now that I understand my behavior resulted from undiagnosed ADHD? What do I do now?
Whether in our 60s or still in elementary school, finding out that some of our behavior has been due to undiagnosed ADHD often opens possibility and hope. The ADHD diagnosis can provide answers to many “whys.” We are eager to share answers with others in the hope they provide the chance for forgiveness and new beginnings, especially with those we might have hurt in the past.
Unfortunately, many people with a new ADHD diagnosis are not greeted with open arms, a listening ear, or a shoulder to lean on for support. Instead, the people and relationships previously impacted by the misunderstood behavior are not so quick to believe that anything is different or that things have changed.
And, the older you are when diagnosed, like our writer, the longer our lives and the lives of others have been impacted. Trust can be so damaged that wounds have festered and may be slow if ever, to heal. This kind of hurt takes more than apologizing or explaining to be repaired. It takes seeing you change.
Having ADHD means that we might be forgetful, impulsive, disorganized, abrupt, and inconsistent. Whatever your ADHD symptoms are, the impact this has had on other people varies. For many, the years of broken promises, patterns of not following through, or forgetfulness are not easy to forget or forgive.
So, what can you do when you are newly diagnosed with ADHD and feeling alone? Just realizing that friends, family, and even business relationships doubt you could ever change and are reluctant to start fresh?
First, realize that your behavior can change. You have complete control over this. (Whether they believe that or not, you have no control over it.) Now that you know your behavior resulted from undiagnosed ADHD, you have choices about what to do next.
You must know how your ADHD impacts you. What specific symptoms of yours damaged these relationships? Do you have memory challenges, time awareness challenges, or impulsive behavior? Each person with ADHD is different.
When you know your ADHD, you know what symptoms create your biggest challenges. Then, over time, you can address them one by one. You will create new habits, structures, and systems that will begin to change old negative behavior.
Newly diagnosed as an adult with ADHD can mean that there are many, many things we want to change…right now! It is important not to tackle all of them at once. It’s more likely that approach will feel overwhelming, add to your frustration and tempt you to give up. Instead, pick three things you would like to be different in your life. In the case of the writer, she mentions lost friendships, a poor relationship with her son, and financial dissatisfaction. Those might be three areas to focus on.
It doesn’t matter which challenge you start working on as long as you do. Next, decide what specific small behaviors you want to change. This will take time, persistence, and determination.
Remember, success now depends on what you do, not someone else’s response. Or whether someone else notices the changes right away. This is about focusing on what you will do to better manage your ADHD challenges for the long haul.
We can only change ourselves, and even though ADHD causes symptoms and behaviors due to a medical condition, we are still responsible for our behavior. Other people may or may not choose to accept that.
Eighteen years of being an ADHD Life Coach has shown me this: Trying to explain to anyone about ADHD, if they are reluctant to listen, does nothing.
It is up to you to make the changes in your life that you want others to notice, understand or experience about you. It will take time. It may be frustrating and lonely having to prove yourself over and over again.
There is no cure for ADHD. Your ADHD is not going to go away. It is part of who you are; there will be times when your symptoms will get in the way again. Moving forward, you must welcome relationships that accept you and your ADHD.
Yes, undiagnosed ADHD explains a lot. And now that you know what the problem has been, you can begin to work on making the changes yourself. Others that matter will notice and even become some of your most staunch supporters. Those that don’t, I am sorry because it hurts, and you have no control over them.
Knowing you have ADHD, whether you are 6 or 60, allows you the benefit of having answers. Having answers empowers you to create new habits that work with your ADHD brain. You might even realize one day an appreciation for your amazing ADHD brain as you move forward and create a new life.