It was the winter of 2019, and my life was unraveling into chaos. I had been struggling for months to do even the bare minimum like laundry, dishes, and basic cleaning. I was falling behind in classes, and my relationships were suffering. Who could blame the people in my life for feeling frustrated with me?
My house was a mess. I was a mess.
In middle school, I had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, but when I started taking antidepressants in high school, they didn't make me feel much better. I tried to convince myself that my difficulties with school and chores were the result of my depression getting worse, but there was a nagging feeling inside me that something else was at play.
I have had low self-esteem for as long as I can remember and consequently, doubted myself at every major crossroads in my life. In high school, I doubted my intelligence and talents, which stopped me from being more ambitious.
At 18, I doubted my readiness to go away to college, so I stayed home and went to community college.
At 19, I had so little self-worth that I stayed in a relationship where I was constantly gaslit and manipulated because I felt unlovable.
It was this trend of self-doubt that caused me to delay getting psychological testing for over six months while I scoured the internet for evidence. What if it's all in my head? What if I made it up for attention? What if I'm just trying to get a scapegoat for my inherent laziness?
These thoughts have plagued me for most of my adult life but never more than immediately before my diagnosis.
While I'm by no means saying that I'm happy to have ADHD, it was so validating to hear from a professional that I wasn't making it all up. That every time I struggled to do the bare minimum to skate by in life, it wasn't because I was lazy. I was genuinely struggling with something I couldn't even put a name to until now. I can put my imposter syndrome to rest, for this issue at least.
Growing up, I knew several boys I went to school with had been diagnosed with ADHD, and I wonder if I might have turned out differently if I had gotten treatment earlier. ADHD is underdiagnosed in females — this phenomenon is theorized to occur because females are better at masking their symptoms.
How much better could I have performed academically if I had known? Would I have made different choices in life? I'll never know — all I can do is make sure that the knowledge I have now doesn't go to waste.