When I got my life-changing ADHD diagnosis, I didn’t realize just how long it would take to adjust to my new reality. At first, it felt daunting to take in all that information — what ADHD is, how to manage it, how it affects me personally, learning that there was no cure. It was a lot to absorb. It felt like my entire life changed after a series of tests and one very important conversation with my doctor. Then began the process of learning how to live my everyday life with this new “companion.”
I had so many questions back then — and the truth is, I still do. I spend a lot of time reviewing what my life was like before my diagnosis in an attempt to understand how ADHD affected my past. But what about the future?
I don’t talk about the future very often, and maybe that’s because sometimes I have some serious concerns about my future with ADHD. I try to look on the bright side, but I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t admit that ADHD can make me feel like I’m on shaky ground, which doesn’t lend itself well to building a strong foundation for the future. I’m sure I’m not alone in these fears, but I have a feeling that others have a similarly difficult time talking about it.
We can put a lot of energy into putting a brave and positive face on while living with a chronic disorder, but if those of us who are raising our voices to spread awareness have difficulty facing our fears, how much more so does it affect those who are still keeping quiet? I don’t know what your questions about your future are, but here are mine.
Will this get worse as I age?
I forget and lose things. All the time. I can’t remember where I said I was going to be or where I’m going for the next week. I have to look at a calendar for every single event of my life now, and even getting to this point was difficult. It felt like a defeat; like I was relinquishing control of my life to external forces when I should be able to remember, but I can’t.
If I have those problems now at age 34, what will that mean when I’m older? Will my ADHD symptoms become worse as I age, causing me to forget even more than I do now? Will I have to rely on more people or tools for help?
I don’t know what aging means for me, but I do know I’m not prepared for my symptoms to become worse. I’d rather imagine a future where things improve.
When will I completely exhaust the people I love?
ADHD doesn’t just impact my life, it also affects the people I love. My irritability, my forgetfulness, my need to cancel at the last minute once in a while — those things aren’t just happening to me, but also to the people around me. I get frustrated with myself, and I know that there are times when I am absolutely getting on the last nerve of the people I love.
Will it ever end? Will a day come when my loved ones just totally give up on me? I hope not, but sometimes it’s hard not to feel like my ADHD symptoms will push everyone away at some point.
Am I willing to pass this on to my children?
One of the things I learned when researching ADHD during my initial diagnosis was that your genes may play a role in whether or not you have ADHD. That was a huge discovery for me — if I decided to have children, that could mean passing along ADHD. Making the decision whether or not to have kids is already hard enough; this just complicated it more for me.
I have debated it with myself for a while, and I believe that recognizing the signs of ADHD early can give us the opportunity to teach children skills so they will be able to understand and function well with ADHD. So maybe it won’t be as much of a challenge for my future children as it has been for me.
How can I expect to find a life partner with this disorder?
Just like it does with friendships, ADHD can cause friction in romantic relationships as well. I’ve been there — my marriage ended in part due to ADHD, and since the divorce I’ve struggled with finding the right partner. I don’t know if I am prepared to go through that type of rejection again, and that fear can keep me from actively seeking out new relationships and potentially finding love.
These are just a few of the questions that swirl around my mind, but there are always more. I think a lot of people might share these questions, whether or not they have ADHD, but living with a chronic condition can make things a bit trickier.
While these fears may come up from time to time, I try my best not to get caught up in thinking about the what-ifs and instead focus on the things I can do something about. I focus on taking good care of myself, managing my symptoms, and showing up for my community. And I know whatever happens, I’m going to be OK. You are too.
For more information on how to manage ADHD, reach out to your doctor or healthcare team.
ADHD-US-NP-00055 JUNE 2019