Knowing that something is wrong but not having an explanation for it can make you feel like you’re making excuses for yourself or imagining things. In fact, that’s probably what you’ve been told for most of your life. When you finally get a diagnosis of ADHD, perhaps you feel relieved. You can finally put a name to this thing that has caused you so many problems. It may be tempting to dash out and tell friends and relatives that you finally realize why you start projects but don’t finish them, can’t find things, are almost never on time, or why you collect clutter like other people collect coins. But, you might want to take a little time to sit with your new diagnosis before you rush out to tell everyone about it.
Not everyone understands ADHD. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so it’s probably a good idea to take some time to think about who you want to tell and how to go about it. Even though we’ve come a long way in our understanding of the executive functioning of the brain, there are plenty of myths about ADHD still floating around. Unfortunately, there are still people who think ADHD is a convenient excuse for behaving irresponsibly, which is ridiculous, but it’s still a view shared by many people.
Your family members definitely need to know about your diagnosis, but you first need to prepare to answer questions and provide websites, titles of books and other resources to help them understand how ADHD affects you and why. The best way for you to prepare for this conversation is to educate yourself, and there are many resources available. I recommend going onto www.additudemag.com to start your educational journey. There are numerous articles and blogs that will be helpful to you, and as an added bonus, it is totally free!
After educating yourself, organize your thoughts and ask yourself what you hope to gain by telling people of your diagnosis. Most likely, you want people to know that you are not lazy, crazy, irresponsible, or stupid. This is a perfectly good reason to want to tell the people you care about, but what do you hope will change? How do you hope they will react? What do you want from them? These are all important questions to ask yourself. You might decide to tell only your immediate family, or you might even try it out on your best friend first. You will know what the best course of action is if you sit with it awhile, journal in hand, and ask yourself the above questions.
After you’ve gained some knowledge about how ADHD affects you, you will be in a good position to advocate for yourself in the workplace. Exercise caution, however, when talking to your boss or co-workers. Be ready for negative feedback. You might even decide not to tell them of your diagnosis, but rather to ask for the things you need. You might need to be away from distractions. Instead of telling your boss that you want a different place to work because you have ADHD, you might just say that the nearby distractions are bothersome to you and you think you could do a much better job if you were moved elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with telling your boss about your diagnosis, but you don’t have to. This is your diagnosis and you can tell, or not tell, whoever you want. It’s entirely up to you!
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- You have plenty of time to tell people about your diagnosis, so take your time.
- There is no hurry. Go at your own pace.
- Educate yourself. Be armed with resources before you talk to them.
- Choose wisely. Not everybody needs to know, and you get to decide who to tell.
- ADHD is a lifelong disorder. You will develop strategies to deal with it.
- Hire a coach. ADHD coaches are trained extensively and can be one of your best resources. Your coach will be able to help you work through all the implications of your diagnosis, helping you develop systems and strategies to make your life a lot easier.
Just so you know, I happen to think that my ADHD clients are fantastic. They are smart, they are funny, they are entertaining, and they are sensitive. They are some of the most caring, gentle souls I have ever met. I chose to be an ADHD coach for these reasons. Please contact me if you would like a free strategy session.