This Neurodiversity Celebration Week, Coops resident, Jade, opens up about what it's like for her to live with ADHD - and the difference a diagnosis made to her life...

For me ADHD isn’t a negative as some people may think it is, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Having ADHD is probably one of my favourite things about me.

I was officially diagnosed with ADHD in February 2022 at the age of 20. Before I was given my diagnosis, I had been fighting for nearly a decade to be tested, but I was constantly refused a referral - or I was told a referral was placed multiple times to eventually find out it still hadn’t been done.

Females are more likely to display different symptoms than boys when it comes to ADHD, so there is a common misconception around females with ADHD.

In addition to this, girls are more likely to mask certain behaviours and suppressing part of our natural behaviour to fit a society ideal can have a severe impact on those with the condition (although that doesn’t mean all people with ADHD are able to do this).

I believe the mental health challenges I now face correspond with being diagnosed late. Had I been diagnosed at an earlier age, who knows if my mental health would or wouldn’t be different now… but that’s something I’ll never get to know for sure.

Furthermore, getting a late diagnosis meant that I missed out on having support that could have been offered through school, which could have potentially led to me being able to achieve better grades.

Since being diagnosed with the condition I have learnt that some of the things I struggled with pre-diagnosis - and believed were part of my mental health - were actually my ADHD.

I was able to discover this when I started my meditation, concerta, which helps manage the condition a little and lessens some struggles that I experience.

Pre-medication my head would be so loud with thoughts, shouting over the top of one another – and most of the time these thoughts wouldn’t be nice things. My mind was running faster that I could handle, so naturally I thought it was due to my mental health.

I was so confused as to why all of a sudden, this loudness quietened until I was able to make the connection between my ADHD and the medication I am on.

I never fully realised how much more there actually is to ADHD, until I started to understand more about it following my own diagnosis. I have made so many discoveries around my own health and wellbeing, and I continue to learn more about myself and the condition every day.

My official diagnosis allowed me to understand why I have always been different from others around me. When I was a child, I would always be really hyperactive, and this would get me in a lot of trouble at home and at school as I struggled to sit still and concentrate on tasks that weren’t stimulating and allowing that energy to disperse.

Although I wasn’t always hyper, ADHD is more than just hyperactivity and a struggle with attention. There are also positive aspects to having ADHD.

An example of this - from my own experience - is hyper-focus. This is when a person gets really into a certain task or hobby. Over time I would put my all into buying resources or learning more about whatever that hyper-focus centred around, but eventually I would lose interest in that task or hobby and move onto something new - or go back to an old hyper-focus.

Through learning about this, I have been able to learn a lot of new skills and practised a lot of new things which helps me to find outlets to stimulate and calm me down when I am hyper.

Finally, getting the diagnosis and answers to why I am the way I am - in addition to knowing why I don’t fit in with most people and groups - changed my life on so many levels.

It has boosted my self-confidence as I came to learn more and understand myself, and it has allowed me to have more understanding around others, too.

One thing I would like everyone to know about ADHD is that it isn’t just something boys struggle with, anyone can have it.

…and that’s my ADHD and me…