ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a psychological disorder that is often associated with children but can persist into adulthood. However, many adults with ADHD remain undiagnosed and are left to struggle with its symptoms on their own. Two university students from Sri Lanka recently shared their experiences with undiagnosed ADHD, which affected their day-to-day lives, self-esteem, and confidence.
This article sheds light on the challenges faced by adults with undiagnosed ADHD and emphasizes the importance of seeking professional help for the proper diagnosis and management of symptoms.
“I’m always, and I mean always distracted,” said Vishmika. “I thought I was incredibly careless because that’s what everyone, even my English teacher, told me. My mother used to be extremely frustrated with me as well because she was fed up with all the complaints.” Vishmika and Dileepa* are two classmates from Wattala and Colombo studying together at a private higher education institute. Both of them were recently diagnosed with ADHD.
ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is mostly famous as a psychological condition seen in children. But according to medical research, ADHD is a common disorder that often lasts into adulthood as well. People with ADHD may seem restless, have trouble concentrating and act on impulse. According to medical professionals, there are also several situations where symptoms of ADHD only get recognised as an adult. According to those diagnosed, this psychological condition can tamper with an individual’s day-to-day life to great lengths and would never be overlooked or mistaken for something else.
Vishmika told us that it never crossed her parents’ minds to get her professionally diagnosed, therefore she was constantly pressured to fix her behaviour and was constantly told that she has potential and talent but is lazy, unmotivated and careless. Vishmika said that all these complaints harmed her confidence growing up.
She continued to explain the paralysing brain fog that confuses her and consequently causes her to act on impulse as well. “I have amazing ideas and visions when it comes to projects and work but because of ADHD, I have very poor execution and tend to procrastinate a lot.” Vishmika recalled how she used to suffer from extreme indecisiveness too, which she has taken somewhat control over now. Making simple daily decisions such as choosing a quick dinner order used to be psychologically torturing to her.
It’s also very difficult for her to pay attention to several things. “If I have an event today, I shouldn’t be doing anything else for the rest of the day,” said Vishmika. “If I have an outing with a friend in the evening, I can’t have any plans at night or in the morning because that one event takes up all my attention. So a simple plan or an event that might not even last an hour can swallow my entire day and keep me unnecessarily overwhelmed and occupied. This made me feel like I’m incapable of handling hard work and thus, confidence in my potential and abilities declined rapidly.”
Vishmika also shared with us that she speaks way too much and sometimes way too fast because of ADHD. She often loses her train of thought and jumps from one conversation to another very quickly in mid-conversation to a point that the person listening won’t understand anything she says or what she is conveying, to begin with.
Meanwhile Dileepa got diagnosed with ADHD a few months back and was actually inspired by Vishmika to seek professional guidance. “I always thought I was too sensitive but I realised later on that I’m suffering from it more than the regular sensitive person.” Dileepa explained how he needs step-by-step instructions for everything or he would get confused and forgetful the next minute. He also suffers from hyperfixation, which is researched to be a symptom of OCD patients as well. “I would hyperfocus on a hobby or something that interested me until it would consume my entire day and affect my productivity in other areas of my life like studying and getting enough sleep,” he said.
Dileepa also mentioned that he constantly fidgets with something and is very impatient when it comes to waiting. “I can’t stay calm if I’m about to do something. When I get an idea, I need results then and there else I would get mentally exhausted by waiting,” he said. Dileepa also noted that forgetfulness is another symptom of ADHD. “I get so nervous when my mother or someone else tells me to do something important because if I don’t take precautions like keeping an alarm or reminder, I would most often forget it. Dileepa said that his eyes would collectively ignore unlocked doors and uncleaned plates and that he used to get scolded a lot. “Sometimes people think I do such things on purpose to make them mad,” he said. Dileepa explained how he is regarded as someone who can’t be trusted with anything important and is often subjected to complaints. It is the need to identify and manage his symptoms that he had to seek therapy.
Both Vishmika and Dileepa are attending therapy and are receiving therapy techniques to identify, monitor and manage their behaviour. “Getting a professional diagnosis helped us understand the condition properly. It helped us be more aware of our symptoms and gave us more control over ourselves,” they said, adding that their quality of life has improved gradually.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Let’s talk about mental health is a series of articles intended to share patient perspectives of their struggles with mental well-being. Through these articles, we hope to inform, educate and reduce the stigma around mental health discussions.
DJ Sunday, 21 May 2023 10:50 PM
Thank you for highlighting mental disorder. May God help the Mental patients in Sri Lanka.
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