I was diagnosed with ADHD just after my 41st birthday, and I am close to turning 44. At first, the diagnosis and treatment brought relief and understanding to a lifetime of struggling, anger, and lost relationships. I read every book about ADHD that I could, applied behavioral and medicinal treatment (and still do), drastically improved my diet, and worked with an ADHD coach (who said, "Stop reading books about ADHD."). A few months after diagnosis, an awareness of how others perceive, treat, and talk about me began to create a vicious cycle of self-doubt, anxiety in all relationships, pervasive depression, and thoughts of giving up completely.
The sad part is that I like so many things about who I am! I like being free-spirited, creative, innovative - a "see the beauty in life" kind of person. I like researching and trying new ideas and hobbies, although I have to put checks in place because of cost (my husband was relieved when I researched Minimalism a while back). I love being with children - I am a preschool teacher, and I thank God every day that I am able to work again - but I also live in constant fear of losing my job because I might be distracted, say something wrong, or annoy the wrong person, and lose my job.
I fight guilt from the past - memories of raising my two wonderful children, who are grown and successful, because I wasn't the mother that I might have been, with treatment. When they are distant from me (I do respect their independence - I'm talking about apparent avoidance of me), I am sad and hurt, but feel that I caused that because of periods of hyperfocus that took my attention from them when they were younger.
When my husband, children, close friends, or coworkers are annoyed with me, or treat me like a problem they need to work around, I begin withdrawing and spiraling into depression. I avoid leaving the house, I question everything I am doing, I feel like no one can see past my ADHD to the person I really am, and I am devastated.
I am genuinely hurt and humiliated when others criticize or make sarcastic comments about me (but not surprised anymore). My husband tells me to ignore those who do that, but I am not that way; I have an open heart that enjoys encouraging and loving others, and the person might be a family member or someone I dearly love. Since my diagnosis, I make an effort to avoid friendships with other women, but ultimately, it might happen before I am aware of it, because initially others see me as a fun person they want to be around, and I am excited and interested in this new person. Later, though, the ADHD me comes through - although I try SO hard to manage it! - and they get annoyed, disappointed and distant. I have tried putting checks and reminders and codes in place to keep these things from happening - my ADHD catches me off-guard, and before I know it, I am criticized, blamed, avoided or treated like I am a goof. When I address this with those I am close to, I ultimately have to admit to myself that my ADHD behavior is the cause - I don't blame them for wanting to distance from me.
I am caught in a self-loathing cycle. I am afraid that it will become a "self-fulfilling prophecy", and I will lose everyone I love so much. I am not whining or being overly dramatic - it has taken me 2 years to reach out to anyone about this, but I need help because I am scared and don't know what else to try. I need an ADHD therapist or coach or group, and I don't know who to trust. Please help.