Self-diagnosis of ADHD IS VALID.

The problem

Summary overview

  • Self Diagnosis is valid!
  • Every few weeks, or even days people pop up on Twitter or other social spaces claiming that people are faking ADHD through self-diagnosis
  • They comment on advocate threads admonishing fakers
  • NONE of the ADHD advocates I know or have ever interacted with support this view
  • You could potentially make someone internalise ADHD symptoms as moral failings
  • People are already in denial
  • People with ADHD always have Rejection Sensitivity
  • Any self-dx person is welcome

Self Diagnosis is valid!

That doesn’t mean to say “everyone is a little ADHD”, or that if you took a quiz on BuzzFeed that said you might have it you have it. But there are a number of self-diagnostic tools – ADHD Self Reporting Scale (ASRS rev, 1.1), Wender Utah Rating Scale (WURS), Mind Excessive Wandering Scale (MEWS) – when taken with honest intent a high score on these tests should indicate that you might have ADHD, these tests are used as part of the ADHD diagnosis screening process.

I knew I had it, everyone I know who has been diagnosed as an adult knows they have it. The world is not the same as other people experience. People in your life are constantly frustrated at you for things and you don’t know why you do or don’t do them.

There are significant barriers to accessing ADHD diagnosis, until these are addressed – self-diagnosis is valid.

Expanding on the actual problem

I really wish I didn’t have to write about this.

Increasingly frequently we as advocates are wasting our time pushing back on this ridiculous narrative. Here’s a prime example of this absolute unsharpened pencil take – (PLEASE DON’T SEARCH AND ATTACK THIS PERSON. I MEAN THIS! I DELETED THEIR PROFILE DATA FOR A REASON /SRS)

JOHN B. PRIVILEGED MAKES A BAD TAKE

And here’s how we have to respond everytime:

Why this really sucks.

The medical profession has no knowledge of ADHD generally – it’s a huge issue

I knew I had ADHD for a while – nearly a year before I sought a diagnosis the first time. I had read up about it psychology text books, and then done research into presentations in adults. It was 2009 at this time, and the evidence of persistence into adulthood was slowly emerging.

I finally got up the courage to ask my doctor (you constantly doubt you have it – it seems to be TOO perfect at describing you). My doctor said it wasn’t likely and that they would refer me to public mental health services but only after persisting (this is the person who’s supposed to be on my team helping me manage my health…).

I get to see a psychiatrist in public mental healthcare about six months later. Because the DSM-IV at the time doesn’t have adult ADHD and the diagnostic guidelines in New Zealand don’t allow it. They tell me it’s depression – I am told I couldn’t have it despite bringing along all the evidence of having it since childhood. Such as this report:

A school report with a lot of comments about "having potential" and "needs to increase effort", "needs consistency"

Side note: I was burning out majorly at school by this point. This is the only report I still have for some reason. I lost them between house moves after being diagnosed. I wrote about my school experience at this school here.

I spent the next few years on bad medications for me personally, and I internalized everything that came from having undiagnosed ADHD as a personal failing. I couldn’t have ADHD the medical profession had told me.

I kept struggling. Life was so hard. I got worse every day and had to drop out of university. I pushed and pushed through incredible trauma before finally ending up in hospital for an intense Crohn’s disease flare that ended a term.

I was broken.

I finally revisited the fact I had ADHD three years later, after struggling in my new course despite having a hyperfocus/hyperfixation on study – certain subjects I couldn’t do – no matter how much I tried to focus – I couldn’t do it. It was 2013 by that stage and the DSM-V had come out.

I had a new doctor at this point, so I asked to be referred to the one ADHD specialist in Auckland, New Zealand. They told me that this person usually always just tells people they have it. I said ok but I still needed to know – they referred me.

I did a 3 hour diagnostic session involving a TOVA test, full medical history, full academic record, full employment record, interview with my wife alone, interview with us together. I got confirmed as having “moderate” ADHD-C.

The first time I went to fill my script, the pharmacist said to me – “Do you need this medication? This doctor just always prescribes it”

This absolutely wrecked me – I was trapped in denial about having ADHD until I got my second diagnosis in 2019 – and then I started advocating.

The main problem: denial of ADHD is already happening

You are constantly doubting you have ADHD. Even when you are diagnosed if you’ve been diagnosed as an adult. I have been diagnosed for nearly 9 years now and there are days where I still doubt my diagnosis. The length you’ve been diagnosed doesn’t mean anything, except you’ve been privileged enough to access care!

You’re whole life you’ve been gaslight about who you believe you are vs what everyone says about you.

It’s incredibly destructive to ever accuse someone of faking ADHD self-dx. No one does it lightly. Every adult I know who’s been diagnosed struggles with the idea they have it.

The last thing people with Rejection Sensitivity need – is to be REJECTED BY PEOPLE WITH NO UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR CIRCUMSTANCE.

This is so destructive and awful – you are an objectively bad person if you continue to do this – now is your chance to correct your position on this.

YOU COULD DESTROY SOMEONE. DO NOT DO THIS.

Finally if you have just been self-diagnosing:

You are valid. You are a good person. The things that have happened in your past to you are not fair, and the stuff you believe you’ve done that might be wrong can always be forgiven as you embrace a growth mindset, and understand your weaknesses. Things get easier. People with mental health conditions will love you implicitly. There’s a community for everyone. Don’t struggle alone. You are not the productive worth that capitalism has tried to define you as. You are unique. You deserve love.

Published by roryreckons

I am an ADHD/Autism Coach as well as ADHD/Autism/OCD/CPTSD advocate and independent ADHD/Autism researcher. I am an ADHD/Autism Coach who trained through the ADD Coaching Academy. I write mainly about ADHD/Autism/OCD/Mental health issues, but will also discuss morality, abolition, and current affairs occasionally.

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