I'm 34. I was diagnosed with ADHD about a month ago. I have suspected having it for probably about two years. Now that I better understand some of the symptoms and how they play out in day-to-day life, I can see that I have probably had it for my entire life and simply managed to "cope." It was probably never caught when I was young because I generally did very well in school (with a few isolated exceptions) and I was never a discipline problem, though I was known for my smart mouth and "strong will." My family pegged me as a future politician. I finally went for professional help and started taking Concerta about 11 months into my first job as a full-time litigator. In previous jobs, my ability to move early from crisis to crisis and to effectively deal with short, intense bursts of work-related pressure was a huge asset and caused me to be labeled as a "rising star." My shortcomings were readily overlooked (though I have them all catalogued in my mind along with scores of failed attempts to "fix" them), and what I now know to be symptoms of ADHD never held me back (even though I always felt a little "fake" because I could never live up to my own hype, and someday someone might call me on it). None of any of my allegedly positive qualifies have translated well to the traditional practice of law. In fact, for the first time in my life, I'm not standing out for the right reasons. I'm always in trouble for low billable hours, so much so that I'm genuinely in fear for my job, and that causes tremendous anxiety like I have never experienced before. The nature of my job involves a constant stream of deadlines, both internal and external, half of which I miss. While I have not missed a court-imposed deadline (yet), the consequences of missing such a deadline are pretty severe (like loss of your client's rights). It's an on-the-spot job ending offense and the anxiety of that prospect has nearly paralyzed me on a few occasions. I've pulled more all-nighters in the last 4 months than I did through all of college and law school combined. I've wept, unexpectedly and uncontrollable, more than a few times in the middle of desperately trying to finish a brief. And since I'm in my first year of this stuff, much of this is new. I don't have a bank of experience to draw from yet. I think the medicine is helping. I'm not sure. But the simple fact that I need medicine at all has only made me feel like more of a failure. Talking about it at work isn't an option. I believe they'd just work me out as a result. Not a single thing I've found or read about lawyers with ADHD suggests that you tell your boss....unless you really, really, really have to. Even the ABA recommends not telling anyone and, if you're forced to, they stress that ADHD is not an "excuse" for anything. That's how supportive and understanding other lawyers are.
Problems with my job caused me to seek a diagnosis and treatment, but the hardest impacts have been on my personal life. I found the person I want to marry six years ago. We've been living together for four years. We love each other. We support each other. But living with someone has been really hard - mostly because I had lived alone my entire adult life and was comfortable with a standard of living that would embarrass most people. He works long, long hours, like me - and we make the most out of the time we have together. But so much of our time together lately is fighting over things that, in the last month, I've come to understand as symptoms of ADHD. I finally broke down and hired a cleaning lady to help us because I can't keep on top of my share of the responsibilities. Sex has become a huge problem. Neither one of us believes we have enough of it, but we never seem to be able to work more in.
I've started to resent him for how he is constantly reminding to do things -- like to change the wash, to get an oil change, to pay a bill, to call my parents. I've started to really resent him for saying that we're not ready to get married because we can't manage our lives. When I frustrate him beyond comprehension, he says things like "you say you love me, but you don't show it" or, even worse, "I'm just tired of caring so much; I'm tired of trying." I want children very, very much, but he says that we couldn't have a kid right now because our lives are too stretched and in chaos. He really does support me 100% when it comes to understanding and getting treatment for ADHD. Before that, we even went to couples therapy for a while before I finally decided to get help on my own. But I'm 34. I'm tired of feeling like I'm in a state of crisis. I'm tired of feeling like a failure. I'm tired of putting off the things I want. I'm goddam 34. According to the stats, it will get harder and harder for me to have a normal pregnancy every year I wait. I've got some deep-seated anger at having to deal with any of this. I've got a lot of anger over where I could be in my life if someone, anyone -- me included -- had just noticed the ADHD sooner. I'm brimming with anger that the person who supposedly loves and supports me will, for all intents and purposes, use my situation to say that we can't have kids anytime soon because I couldn't be a good mother.
I'm at a loss these days. Overwhelming isn't even the right word for all of this. I desperately want my life to move forward. Time is not on my side and I'm just tired of waiting. My patience has run out. I'm consumed with a sense of loss and failure. And I don't know what to do.