‘I’ve finally been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and everything finally makes sense’

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is more common in children but it also affect at least 1.5 million adults in the UK. Charities say women are less likely to seek treatment..

Writer Simone O’Kane, 38, has shared her experience of being diagnosed as an adult.

She writes: “At the start of the pandemic, my world had been turned upside down. I lived alone for the first time in my life and was trying my best to keep afloat but knew I wasn’t coping like I should.

This made me realise that there’s always been something not quite right with me, but I didn’t know what it was.

Since being a child I have had terrible anxiety and over the years I have faced depression and have never managed to heal these symptoms only to run away from them, but after recently being diagnosed with ADHD, things have started to make sense.

I’ve always been a bit whacky, all over the place or impulsive and have lots of excess energy, these traits have been with me since being a kid, but as a 38 year old millennial, there wasn’t such thing as ADHD in girls especially – we were just daydreamers, a bit silly, naughty and school reports would always say ‘easily distracted’ and text books marked as SEE ME.

It’s sad that if the four letters that stand for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder weren’t more prominent in the 80s and 90s like they are today because my life would have been different and I would have been able to manage better and be functioning like a proper grown up.

Diagnosis
Initially I had to first self diagnose myself before getting the official diagnosis and I think it’s a shame that it had never even been considered that it was a condition with the amount of times I have been to my GP with problems linked to the neurological disorder. I practically had to give up everything and re-discover myself to find out that I had ADHD.

That’s why I took the decision to leave my full time job as a journalist, mainly because I couldn’t sit at a computer screen without being distracted I went back to Blackburn College and did the UAL foundation diploma in art and design which has been life-changing.

In the second unit of work we were given a project Make Art Not War ‘What Peace means to me’ . I looked at the brief and couldn’t answer, because I have never known what peace is because living with an undiagnosed condition has been a constant battle.

I worked with an image that ran throughout my work and that I captured a few years back. It’s a woman’s hand waving at the Lancaster Bomber flying over my hometown in Darwen. This holds a poignant message and I have used the theme because she is waving the war away and as I channeled my creative energy I started making garments with this picture. I used a sewing machine properly for the first time in my life and I was finding peace being creative as well as working with my diagnosis and reflecting on my own war.

Funny

Humour is another thing that has always been my armour. I am known for cracking jokes telling people about the scenarios I get myself into, for example I do drift off into a daydream and recently I was out with my son underpants shopping.

He wandered off and I was looking at the Calvin Klein display but zoned out. The shop assistant came over and asked if everything was OK.

I had to come back to myself and tell him I was just looking! Things like that crack me up and I always see the funny side of my condition.

Having ADHD has been hard for me in every way, emotionally, mentally and financially because I find the everyday tasks hard like paying bills on time and searching for the cheapest utility deals.

It is hard processing the normal stuff where as I’d rather just listen to music and distract myself from reality.

Looking back now, I can’t believe I managed to be a reporter for 15 years because I struggle with focusing and writing and I haven’t been able to read a book in years. I am talkative so that may have been the skill.

An old boss of mine used to tell me that I was a female version of Peter Kay, that makes me laugh, taking the mickey out of life and being a bit daft is all I have ever done to cope.

I am still waiting for NHS support but working with my symptoms through an ADHD Coach and networking with others.

I am a mum-of-three who has obviously always wanted the best for the children, but I have struggled being a mum with things like cooking, I forget certain dates and I always lose my key or leave piles of washing for days.

I wrote this article because I wanted to share my story to inspire other women especially my age to help them connect with themselves and if they have traits then to seek help.

I want women to follow their dreams, to remember that no matter what life throws at you there’s always a way and to remember that there is no such thing as being perfect and that your mental health matters more than anything.”