Unlocking ADHD volunteer Sharon Chin shares her story about the moment when she realized that she had ADHD in her 40s and how she plans to move forward after her diagnosis.
In 2019, I felt that my life was falling apart.
My senior dog required daily medical attention and frequent visits to the vet. On top of that, I was struggling to cope with my work and personal commitments. The tipping point came when the Covid-19 pandemic peaked in 2020. I began to realize that my existing coping strategies were no longer working.
Two hours of daily workout at home could not quell the bottomless energy within me. I was frustrated as there was no outlet to release my energy. Working from home and the closing of gyms affected my mental health.
Gradually, I realized that my attention span was very short. I had difficulty sitting through hours of zoom and classroom training. Carrying out administrative tasks was a pain. Ironically, I could hyperfocus on solving problems that were complex and dynamic, like solving puzzles, some of which require unconventional or critical thinking.
This epiphany led me to my search for answers. As I was researching on YouTube, I came across Dr Russell Barkley, a renowned ADHD expert. After watching his videos, I realized that I exhibited most of the behaviors and symptoms he described. I decided to seek a diagnosis in mid-2020.
Making Sense of ADHD: Grief and Relief
My diagnosis is both a Grief and a Relief.
It brought about grief as a late diagnosis meant that I had lost many years of my life that could have been better. Had I been diagnosed earlier, I would have struggled less.
Yet it is a relief because I finally understood why I behaved the way I did, which is consistent from my childhood to adult life. I am also relieved when I see the positive traits in myself. The qualities of independence, self-confidence, critical thinking, risk-taking, resourcefulness and being multi-skilled are strengths of ADHD.
In recent months, I realized I could handle the emergencies for my very sick dog. I have a high stress threshold for life and death situations that require quick decision-making skills. Looking back, I was also the calm one in the family in times of crisis.
I have come to learn that the ability to stay calm in times of crisis and yet make the right decisions to save lives or situations is one of the ADHD traits. Of all things and ventures, namely various sole-proprietary businesses since age 21, private tutoring, event videography and photography, fitness training, real estate, and being self-employed since 2006, I performed the best in times of emergency and crisis, solving unusual or complex problems, and anything that requires a spontaneous response.
I believe it is never too late to obtain a diagnosis of ADHD. Though the runway might be short, I now understand myself better. This is who I am. I am no longer trying to fit into the majority and finally see that all that I have accomplished over the past 40 years were achieved by harnessing my ADHD traits!
Thus, I encourage suspected ADHDers to seek diagnosis, regardless of age. The discovery of ADHD can bring about healing and closure!
(Sharon wishes to thank fellow Unlocking ADHD volunteer, Reuben Yue, for helping to edit her story