Being a member of Club ADHD is not exactly like being a member of a popular fraternity, well-known sorority or whatever the current in-vogue association may be.
Unlike the fame (real or artificial) of belonging to a noteworthy organization, those who belong to Club ADHD are all-too familiar with shame, humiliation and numerous ways in which to be told to hold still, be quiet, stop daydreaming, don’t, or simply stop it!
My only real familiarity with attempting to belong to a sorority happened in high school. The nonsensical, degrading demands of my taskmasters were beyond embarrassing. But my emotions during Hell Week were quite different from those of my friends who suffered alongside me. After being pushed to do uncomfortable things, they shrugged off any pending feelings of humiliation and embarrassment; they understood the process and just laughed. I felt as if everything was a personal attack and internalized most every shameful feeling experienced. Being ADHD, I was accustomed to it.
If I were I to repeat that process now, I’m confident I wouldn’t have any difficulty with it. I know who I am, and know how to overcome incorrect, shameful feelings. The memory of once trying to join a sorority, however, caused me to reflect on how one becomes aware of belonging to Club ADHD.
How to diagnose ADHD
There is no single test to diagnose an adult with ADHD; it’s not quite that simple. Personal history, co-existing conditions and observing how an individual has learned to mask or downplay various symptoms all play part in an accurate diagnosis. Properly trained physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists are in a great position to observe behaviors over time and come to the proper conclusion.
In my work as an ADHD Coach, I am frequently asked about ADHD diagnosis. Even after I explain the proper method, individuals frequently ask if there’s not a way to have an idea of what might be their diagnosis.
There are numerous lists of ADHD symptoms; I created one of my own in my online Journal, “You Might Be ADHD If…” There are also numerous online tests, questionnaires that provide an indication of what might be. None are conclusive, but often prove helpful in convincing someone they really should be properly diagnosed.
Online ADHD Test
The online test I prefer, Adult ADHD Self-Report Screening Scale for DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), was created by New York University and President and Fellows of Harvard College. The DMS is a formal classification of mental health disorders, featuring symptoms, diagnostic criteria, culture and gender-related features, and other important diagnostic information.
The fact ADDitude Magazine, an excellent resource for all things ADHD, uses the same online test lends credibility to its use. Unlike with the DSM site, the ADDitude Magazine online test does suggest next steps an individual might take.
No matter how an individual scores, if they suspect they have ADHD, my recommendation is always the same—seek a proper diagnosis by a qualified physician, psychiatrist or psychologist. A professional ADHD diagnosis can be both bittersweet and life-changing at the same time. It was for me, and I’m confident it will be for anyone who is so diagnosed.
When we understand our ADHD and take ownership of it, we can view ourselves in the same light as our neurotypical friends. They aren’t so self-critical, and we need not be either. One of my all-time favorite books is Anne of Green Gables. Anne’s view of life (below) makes me feel she was indeed a “kindred spirit,” and I sometimes imagine she may well have been ADHD.
“There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting.”
For many of us, April marks the first of spring, and brings with it new life, fresh outlooks, and a reinvigoration of our spirits. It’s a time to forget the cold of winter, the dreary days of being stuck inside. And if you belong to Club ADHD, it’s also a time for you to see our own self-worth. I'll wager you have some Anne in you as well, whether it be a high-spirited nature, creativity, or seeing life through a bright-colored lens--I guarantee there are positive qualities in you. I'd like to help you identify them!