ADHD Voices: CG

Photo courtesy of CG

I grew up in a suburban town in the 80s and 90s, when ADD and Ritalin were only for rambunctious boys who couldn’t sit still. Not for smart, talented girls with quickfire brains who were destined to go places, who were lost in thought all the time and who couldn’t seem to not make silly mistakes on tests or ever clean their rooms or make any real friends, but that’s not a problem, right? If she’d just try harder it’d all be fine, right?

My undiagnosed ADHD was a problem all along, even if the adults in my life either didn’t see it or were in denial that it was anything other than my own poor self-discipline. It became a major problem when I went off to college and found things like going to class and starting homework to be absurdly difficult. I could barely manage Cs in most of my classes.

Mounting problems

I’d always had problems with this sort of thing, but nobody else I knew seemed to have these difficulties, and I didn’t understand why. But I hadn’t felt particularly attached to my major, so I transferred to another school closer to home and tried computer science. I had the same issues there, so I moved 500 miles away to be with my internet boyfriend and got a job. As it turned out I wasn’t any better at making myself go to work, pay bills, or even maintain basic self-hygiene. Plus the boyfriend was awful. 

After I had a nervous breakdown, my dad told me that if I moved back home and tried college again, he’d pay for an apartment for me, so I did. I went to class for maybe a week before I fell into a deep months-long depression that scared my dad so much that he forced me to go to therapy and get on antidepressants.

This was around the time when all the kids I went to high school with were in their senior year of college and preparing to graduate. But I felt like I had missed some sort of “how to be an adult” class somewhere along the way. What I couldn’t understand was that if I was so smart and talented like everyone had always said, how was it that I was the one who floundered around, getting nasty voicemails from temp agencies I’d ghosted and avoiding opening the yellow bills I received in the mail? It must’ve just been that I was a lazy failure, right?

The antidepressants lifted my mood, and pretty soon I met my future wife (though at the time I thought she was my husband). We had a whirlwind romance and were married within 18 months. She and I were the best of friends but she was (understandably) very frustrated about being married to someone who couldn’t remember to do chores or pay bills. She didn’t understand why I couldn’t just do things, and I continued to hate myself because I didn’t understand why either. 

The argument that changed everything

We eventually bought a house and later had a son who is fantastic. A few years into that part of life, my wife and I were arguing about how she’d never heard of anyone other than me who didn’t want to go on walks because they were boring.

In frustration I Googled, trying to find a defense, and found a forum where someone asked about this exact issue and a commenter responded, “Have you looked into ADHD?” I scoffed, but looked up the symptoms for ADHD, fully expecting to immediately rule them out. To my shock, I realized I matched nearly all the symptoms for ADHD-Primarily Inattentive. The next week, I told my therapist, “I think I might have ADHD!” and she responded, “I was starting to think that too.”

I went to my doctor, who after some discussion prescribed me a small dose of plain old Adderall, and I was astounded at the difference it made. Doing boring stuff wasn’t easy per se, but it was much easier for me to at least get started. I was much more mentally present at work and in conversations, and my wife said for the first time she could actually talk to me and feel like I was truly listening. And the weight of “lazy failure” finally started to lift, because I no longer had to view these things as a personality defect or a moral failing; it was a treatable mental health condition.

It has not all been smooth sailing since then. We got laid off from our jobs at almost the same time. Our house got foreclosed on because I forgot to pay the bill, a lot. I estranged myself from my entire biological family over a period of ten years, for reasons that could get an entire blog of their own. We moved to a new city in a new state. The first doctor I found shooed me away as a drug-seeker and it took me 3 years to remember to find a new one, which coincided with (for non-ADHD reasons) an extremely rough patch in my marriage. Eventually my wife came out as a woman, which prompted a lot of thinking on my part, and as it turned out I was nonbinary.

And I think I’m actually ADHD-Combined Type—I just at some point smushed all the hyperactive parts deep into my brain, or into small subtle body movements, so that they wouldn’t pop out and annoy everyone. But knowing I have ADHD has given me explanations for so much of my history, and I’d encourage anyone reading this who feels the way I felt to give the symptom list a glance. It might change your life. 


CG can be found as @boundariesmfer on Twitter


ADHD Voices is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of folks like you and me who have ADHD. Posts in the series are written by guest authors, sharing windows into their lives and struggles, written by them, for you and me. If you’d like to share your story, please contact me on social media or through my email, ADHDsurprise @


Looking for more great ADHD content?
Check out all of Jamie’s platforms:

ADHD Voices: Jamie V.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Vasilyan

TW: Self harm, suicide attempts, drug use

Today I live an interesting and wholesome life. I’m probably not as “far along the path” as I should be, due to the “fall out” from a life of ADHD. But my mood is generally good, I can focus for long periods of time, and I have found ways to persist with the “boring stuff.” Part of my recovery was in finding a career path that I am passionate about and which brings me a deep sense of purpose.

I work today as what I call “The Hypnosis for ADHD Specialist,” helping other people recover and even master their ADHD. But it wasn’t always that way. Permit me to take you on a tour to the hellish underworld of my own Dante’s inferno.

“First, before I tell of the good,
I must tell of the other things I saw.”
~Dante’s Inferno 

ADHD Hell 

I was always an “oddball” growing up. I didn’t seem to fit in with the other kids. On the playground I would prefer my own company, or the company of adults to fellow children.  And from the age of 7, it was clear that something was wrong. I would only do one thing at school: draw killer whales on the blackboard. If I was asked to do anything else, I would throw a tantrum and destroy the classroom but forget what happened. 

It was only in later years that I came to understand that when you go into a blind rage, your “fight or flight” (reptilian) brain takes over, and your memory for details becomes a bit foggy! On the other hand, I was very bright, but school reports typically said, “Jamie has a lot of potential, but is distracting and distractible.” 

I also struggled throughout my school career with bullying, and was moved schools. But as they say “better the devil you know than the one you don’t.” Because the bullying at the new school was worse. 

I had a psychological assessment at 12, which reported that I appeared depressed, and that I needed to be moved into higher classes due to good intelligence and a need for more mental stimulation. There were some positive outcomes to this, e.g. I had worked hard to get out from the bottom maths class and they moved me up, and for the first time I was in a quiet classroom where I could focus easily. 

But that didn’t last long. I was moved schools due to the bullying, not just by older students but also teachers, including the one who I confided in who told me “Bullying doesn’t happen in this school.” When I moved schools again, for some reason they put me back in a low class and I gave up all hope. Maths became my worst nightmare. 

It wasn’t long after, suffering from childhood depression and undiagnosed ADHD, that I attempted to take my own life, by hanging myself. Not once, but twice. The first time I did it as a “cry for help” in front of a friend who got me down; the other time on my own, and miraculously I was able to swing my legs back and grab hold of the trunk behind me to hold on to and then release the rope. Children with ADHD are much more likely to attempt suicide, and males are much more likely to physically act on it. Luckily, I survived.

ADHD In-Between (Purgatory) 

In 2004, at the age of 24, I realised that my life was falling apart. I wasn’t able to hold down a job and be on time. After coming across the book, “Driven to Distraction,” my life changed forever as I sought a diagnosis. 

The psychiatrist diagnosed me with ADHD, and despite not wanting to take medication, that was all that appeared available for treatment options. So I took the 5mg of Ritalin in the morning, thinking to myself, “beggars can’t be choosers.” Despite such a small dose, I had a lot of side effects, including dehydration, dark eyes, Tourette’s syndrome, and I also fainted at one point. 

My psychiatrist recommended a second daily dose to counter the “rebound effect” (which is the negative state of mind that ensues after the medication wears off) but I decided enough was enough and stopped my medication.

During this time I had also become homeless and was incredibly depressed again, making yet another suicide attempt at the Salvation Army where I was staying. This time I threw myself at a fourth story window, but luckily the staff had broken in to my room fast enough to stop me falling through. I got away with just cuts and bruises. They say it’s better to know you have ADHD than not know. I’d agree. But it was still painful. 

ADHD Heaven – Well, almost! 

So I had stopped my medication but in all honesty didn’t have a better plan. As luck would have it, my diagnosis of ADHD and depression meant that I was offered a flat by the council shortly after that last incident. I lived alone for a few years, out of work, on disability benefits. I became addicted to socialising with the wrong people, and addicted to drugs which seemed to numb the pain of an “overactive” mind. 

But then, in 2006, I went to a Mind, Body, Spirit event and met someone very special, Sara Bailey. She was one of those people that you feel instantly at ease with, like you’d known them forever. She became my best friend, and to be honest I’d never had one of those before. She was also a trained Master of Hypnotherapy and NLP. Due to my own interest in this area, I asked to learn. She taught me how to hypnotise and coached me to become more positive. 

By 2008 I decided to volunteer with autistic/ADHD children, with the view to start a new career, moving from my old work in sales to care work. I volunteered for two years, and then went back to work. All this was possible with Sara’s help. When the going got tough, I’d remember the words she quoted from Tony Robbins: “Change happens when the fear of staying the same outweighs the fear of change.” 

Despite my fears of changing, the fear of being stuck where I was eventually became unbearable. Sara got me to focus on what I wanted and what truly switched me on. What gave me purpose and passion? It started with helping those autistic and ADHD kiddos. Then in 2011, I had my big breakthrough. After two and a half months of daily meditation and taking up weight training for the first time in my life, I overcame my depression and my ADHD symptoms began to improve. 

Not only did I go back to work, but I was also taken off disability benefits and was considered in remission and fit for work. I retrained in the same year as a Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapist, and began to help other people. I began to live the dream that Sara had re-awoken in me that I had given up on: to help other people find their purpose and passion in life. 

It still isn’t easy, but I have progressed from then to work for a decade as a support worker for children with learning disabilities, and also specialise as an ADHD hypnotherapist and coach. Whilst the lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, meditation, as well as learning about my uniquely wired brain and how it works, made a big difference, it was finding my niche as a specialist in ADHD Hypnotherapy that became my “ADHD dynamite.” 

Today, I still have ADHD, but I don’t let it hold me back anymore. I’ve found my dynamite, and I’m capitalising on it. I hope you, too, with the right support and information, will find your way through the jungle of ADHD.  


Jamie Vasilyan, also known as The Hypnosis for ADHD Specialist, can be found as @AddvantageH on Twitter and you can check out his website as well.


ADHD Voices is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of folks like you and me who have ADHD. Posts in the series are written by guest authors, sharing windows into their lives and struggles, written by them, for you and me. If you’d like to share your story, please contact me on social media or through my email, ADHDsurprise @


Looking for more great ADHD content?
Check out all of Jamie’s platforms:

Why I Saw a Psychiatrist About ADHD

Photo by Burst on

I started with therapy

If you’ve been with me for a few days, you’re familiar with the struggles I had at work prior to being diagnosed with ADHD. Years of feeling inadequate for my teaching and principal jobs had come to a head when, two years in a row, I found myself pressed into looking for a new job. This, combined with continued frustrations with my shortcomings at home, finally convinced me that I needed to talk with a therapist.

Early in my third visit, just as we finished my personal and family histories, my therapist asked if anyone had ever talked with me about ADHD. She felt pretty strongly that I had ADHD-Inattentive, based on the types of struggles I’d described at home and at work, as well as the fact that my brother had been diagnosed with ADHD-Inattentive (ADD back then). So we began operating under that assumption.

I immediately learned all I could about ADHD. I took to the internet, connected with the ADHD Twitter community, read several books on ADHD, and began to process all of this information in a journal that I’d bought months before, but (shockingly, I know) which had remained unused. Now the pages came to life with reflections, lists, notes, plans, fixations, symptoms, etc. In short, I filled that journal to process, and remember, all I could about ADHD and my life.

Having learned what I had about the symptoms and having processed the major parts of my life through that lens, I was completely convinced that I did, in fact, have ADHD. The books I read and resources I found online guided me to make some immediate changes in my life for the better. Because simply being aware of things like time blindness and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria (RSD) has helped me understand myself so that I can anticipate some of my struggles and plan for them. But as G.I. Joe was fond of telling us, knowing is only half of the battle.

The other half of the battle

Continued therapy has been crucial to improving my life. I still see my therapist most weeks. We are working on strategies to counter some of the more impactful ADHD symptoms at home and at work. She also helps me understand some of the mental and emotional walls I have built which keep me from initiating certain tasks or conversations. Therapy has been and will continue to be a crucial part of reclaiming my life from ADHD.

But there are things therapy cannot do. And after talking with my therapist, we decided that also seeking medication was an important step to take for my treatment. Specifically my hopes were that medication would help with things that therapy had a hard time reaching, like my ability to accomplish tasks that are more mundane or which I am compelled to do (as opposed to things I find interesting). I also hoped that medication would improve my ability to keep my mind focused, and by so doing it might improve my memory, albeit in a roundabout way.

So I set up the appointment with a psychiatrist. You can also go through your regular doctor who may or may not refer you to a specialist. For me, setting up this appointment was for two reasons. First, I was looking to confirm the suspicions of my therapist as well as my self-diagnosis. A psychiatrist would be able to give me a professional diagnosis. The second reason I went was with the hope of receiving treatment through medication.

I was worried that the psychiatrist might be inflexible. I didn’t want to end up working with someone who was going to give me a “my way or the highway” approach. I wanted to be able to give input, working with someone who was knowledgeable of ADHD and its various sub-types and courses of treatment.

Seeing a psychiatrist

In the end, I got the more important of my two wishes. I did find someone who was very flexible, and who was actually willing to consider all currently available medications as we weighed the various treatment options and side effects together. What he was somewhat lacking in was the depth of knowledge regarding ADHD. But I had also done nothing but study ADHD for about a month at that point, so I felt comfortable enough in working with him.

At that first visit, I brought my journal along. I knew from some of the books I’d read what my psychiatrist would need to know to diagnose me. I had prepared sections in my journal around what you now know as recent posts on this blog: how ADHD had impact home and work, how ADHD had impacted my childhood, and also, reasons why I felt I hadn’t gotten diagnosed earlier. I also brought along a self-reporting scale that I’d found online.

In the end, I was probably over-prepared. I could tell I had perhaps overwhelmed the poor fellow as I was listing off impacts of ADHD on my home life and he cut me off saying he didn’t need to hear any more. He indicated that he’d already heard more than enough to move forward with a diagnosis and, based on my symptoms, he supported exploring treatment through medication, which we would look at on our next visit. He did say that the self-reporting form was the same one he’d have had me fill out if I hadn’t brought it.

Tips for your diagnosis-seeking visit

As you consider taking the step to seek a professional diagnosis and medication, I recommend preparing yourself. You will need to be able to answer questions regarding the impacts of ADHD in the major parts of your life. Home and work or home and school are probably sufficient. If you’re an adult, showing that ADHD impacted your childhood is another important thing that will be considered.

I was afraid that I’d forget what I’d thought to share in these areas, so writing them down and bringing the notes really helped me. If you’re one who is forgetful and gets flustered in somewhat stressful situations, you might consider writing down these things as well. And although it was slightly awkward when he cut me off and said he had enough, I still think it’s a situation where it’s better to have more information that is needed rather than not enough.

The other thing to keep in mind is that even among medical professionals, some symptoms of ADHD are not widely known. I am glad I was prepared to describe things like time blindness and RSD, because with both my therapist and psychiatrist, they heard both terms from me first. This can be somewhat disheartening, but remember, your whole life may currently be wrapped up in ADHD, and it might’ve been a chapter in a text book for them once. You will hopefully find someone with more knowledge than that, but it’s best to go in prepared.

I recognize that this step isn’t for everyone. I fully support self-diagnosis. You know yourself better than anyone. And I knew I had ADHD from the moment my therapist first brought it up. Because it finally made the struggles of my life make sense. But I wanted a professional diagnosis in order to pursue medication and also to make me feel better about potentially requesting workplace accommodations.

Have you gone to a psychiatrist to seek a diagnosis? Are you considering it? If so, please comment below or find me on social media to share what your experience was like or to ask any questions you’re thinking about as you move forward.


Looking for more great ADHD content?
Check out all of Jamie’s platforms:

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