From time to time someone writes me and asks why many adults with ADHD find the diagnosis liberating.
The first thing to understand about diagnosis is that it helps explain our often confounding and misunderstood behaviors. We tend to do things which we know are not helpful and can be disruptive. Once we understand the why’s behind our actions and why some people react to us in certain ways it opens the path for us to forgive ourselves and learn to be less hard on ourselves. Knowledge is power in everything in life. The more we know about ADD ADHD, the better we can cope and modify our behavior. Not knowing why or how or what the heck is going on, especially when we repeat things over and over again drives us up the wall, creating emotional distress and quite often low self-esteem and depression.
Not everyone finds the diagnosis to be liberating and some are very upset by it and even more so that there is a label for it. Even so, by learning more about it, even if not willing to accept the label, there exists the potential for coping and overcoming.
I was personally gratified to learn I have ADD. I was tired of kicking myself and putting myself down for my behaviors and not learning how to control or correct my behaviors. Heck, when I was put down or punished for my erratic behavior I would go and punish myself twice as hard as anyone else. The reason I put so much punishing and damaging pressure on myself is because I had the belief if I suffered enough I would stop getting myself into jams. Knowing I have ADD has helped me learn about the common traits most of us share, why those traits affect us and how others have learned to cope with them. Knowing and understanding is so very important and at least to me it has been a very liberating experience. With knowledge of why I do certain things and how my mind tends to work things out, I have started accomplishing things I only faintly dreamed of in the past. I am no longer inhibited by own negative and self-defeating thoughts about myself and others cannot bring me down or stop me from creating something better for myself.
Just in that previous statement alone there is something of critical importance and that was the impression that others wanted to stop me from becoming a better person in my own right. That wasn’t the truth of it at all. I made mistakes, I said the wrong things, spoke impulsively and acted impulsively and people reacted to that, believing I was doing it on purpose. Just that understanding alone had a profound impact on my life. Forgiveness to self and others.