[00:00:00:] Thank you for tuning into another episode of the podcast. In this episode I wanted to talk about my life before being diagnosed with ADHD and the lead up to getting diagnosed. So I was diagnosed with ADHD at the end of January 2018 and after being diagnosed I wanted to record my thoughts and feelings so a lot of this episode is just the raw recording that I made for my own reference after being diagnosed. I didn’t plan on this audio being a podcast episode or to even use the audio recording other than for my own personal reference. It was originally just meant to be a personal journal about what I was thinking and feeling at the time. The audio might be a bit rough with some background noise as well. It starts off with my experience at school work and running an online business.
There were some details which I didn’t include and I wanted to clarify at the start of this episode before we jump into it. I was living with my girlfriend before I mentioned this in the podcast.
[00:01:00] So in the podcast I say moved in with my girlfriend into a small place. We’re actually living in a large two bedroom apartment with an office and we had a really good productivity routine. We then spent a year traveling and moving around constantly while trying to run and scale an online business and that led me to lose my routine and productivity and good habits. So it was very difficult to be productive while we were constantly moving and traveling and going to new places and trying to set up a new routine and then leaving before we had the chance to set it up properly.
At the time I’m referring to in the audio about moving in together, we had spent Christmas apart with our families and then we moved back in together into a tiny apartment in Bangkok.
[00:01:52] So yeah, we lost our good productivity routine and habits and we were always working within a few feet of each other all day so that’s when she became very aware of how much I had lost my productivity habits and how kind of distracted I was and how much I was working at the time. Having said that, let’s jumping into the audio recording and get started with this week’s episode. So this audio is the raw audio recording I made after being diagnosed with ADHD and I think I had just come back from being diagnosed and I just wanted to capture my thoughts and recorded this.
Alright, I just want to record this while it’s fresh in my mind; just about my experience of being diagnosed with ADHD at thirty-four. Basically, I’ve with my entire life with ADHD and I had no idea and I’ve just always thought I was unproductive, that I had chronic procrastination and that it was one more self help book or one more project management system or to do list or planner or something that would help.
[00:03:00]I was always bad at school. I mean, I got passing grades. I did okay in terms of marks but I always handed assignments in late or just on time. It would always base not doing any work until the very last minute then staying up all night to get it finished and then I guess in university I basically did my classes through distance Ed. I started working as soon as I could just because I didn’t really like to study, I didn’t like the assignments. I never really studied and so work just made more sense. You know, I can make money, I can get going and actually do something that I’m good at as opposed to feeling like I’m constantly just learning useless information and trying to get things done by deadlines.
[00:04:00] So I think I got enough good grades and passing grades and got through University that by the time that I was out of school, it was never really an issue that ever would have been picked up for a long time and when I was working, it’s not necessarily focused work, it’s more, you know, phone calls or meetings or things like that where you’re not really going to notice a lot of the time that you have ADHD. So what had happened is I worked in finance and worked my way up a little bit but I was always working all the time and I think I was always busy so I never really noticed that I was probably working way too much compared to how much I could have been. Now, an office is very busy. You’re going to have distractions, you going to have emails, you’re going to have messages, you’re going to have people at your desk.
[00:04:58] So in an office, there’s constantly distractions. It’s constantly more about showing up and being in meetings and that so a lot of the work within the office environment wasn’t really ever something that was picked up and so it wasn’t probably until recently I started the business I knew that it was a struggle to get any work done in my business because I was basically only making money based on the outcome of the work that I do.
So publishing content, publishing videos, getting tasks done each day, and I would set my task list for the week of what I should get done and I would barely accomplish any of them. I think starting my own business, it became very apparent how unproductive I was, whereas that wasn’t picked up in school and that wasn’t picked up in an office.
[00:06:00]So that became my kind of obsession with productivity of how can I become moreproductive. My business was doing well, but it was very much tied to trends and the cryptocurrency boom and then what happened was as that came down, my business income came down. I tried to expand my business and I tried to set up a lot of project management systems and I hired staff and so I had a really good run up in business so I thought, well, I need to diversify because the crypto boom is going to finish; I’ll expand out, I’ll hire people or create these project management systems. I’ll do that and diversify my income.
[00:06:45] Basically, at that point was where I got stuck and every project management system was aside, you know, staff project managers were asking me what to do and it was a real mess. So I reached the point that I just couldn’t scale my business and I’d been spending a lot of money trying to scale and so I decided to scale back down my business, keep it at a manageable level, just more as a like a fun side project. It still brings in some money but instead of trying to spend all this money to grow big, keep it manageable and slowly grow it at a sustainable level.
Then I decided to get a remote job, instead of trying to grow the business, related to finance related to online business so something I would enjoy. It was a very fast growing company and so there’s a lot of work and so I was working like twelve hours or more a day, seven days a week and this was kind of expected; I was new, quality checking a lot of stuff of my own work, which takes me time and so I wanted to be extra cautious. I was new to the role, so it’s taking me a lot of time, but it got to the point then when I moved in with my girlfriend where I had been doing the job for a few minutes and I was still working twelve hours a day, seven days a week and when I was looking at the work that I was doing, it should have been manageable within maybe fifty hours.
[00:08:00] If I was working fifty hours, it was easily done. Perhaps I could have done it in forty but the amount that I was working was completely unrealistic; it was unreasonable and excessive for the amount I was working. So my girlfriend started to help me; let’s just work on being productive together. So we would do our focus sessions, we would go through all the strategies that I had learnt throughout my life of having ADHD and not really knowing how to manage it over the last year of the business. We were doing a lot of focus sessions, we were doing a lot of work but she just noticed I was always distracted like I’d be lusting thought, I would be daydreaming, I would be just walking around, getting away from my desk just way too much so then she had suggested that perhaps I have ADHD and that perhaps I should look into it.
[00:08:55]At first I thought, well no, the symptoms you’re talking about, everyone has these symptoms. I’m introverted so there’s all those symptoms that go with introversion and everyone struggles with procrastination and productivity and things like that. I then ended up researching what is ADHD. I’m not hyperactive so I mean that was another thing that was never flagged. I was never hyperactive at school, I’m not hyperactive now, I’m very quiet.
After reading, I realized that ADHD is not what I think it is. ADHD is not the kid running around, throwing stuff and destroying things. ADHD is perhaps what I attributed to being introverted, attributed to daydreaming, to having your thoughts racing where someone’s talking to you and you’re thinking about something else. They mentioned, you know, talking about what you want to do for dinner and they say let’s do Sushi because I like Japanese and then suddenly you’re thinking about Japan and then you’re thinking about the Japanese Olympics in 2020 then you think, can we get tickets.
[00:10:00]They ask you what you want and suddenly you’re snapped back into this conversation that you were completely removed from. It’s chronic procrastination; just struggling to get anything even though you want to get anything done, you can’t force yourself to start, you can’t force yourself to finish. So I looked into it a lot and then she said, maybe you need medication. I was very against medication. I thought no, I’m not going to get medication, I can manage this myself, I’ll see how it goes and what they say.
I went and did the test. A mental psychiatrist or psychologist, whatever, did the test. There’s a test, TOVA test, where they basically monitor your attention. It’s a scale of negative ten which is extreme ADHD to positive ten which is no ADHD. I scored a negative twelve which is basically extreme ADHD.
[00:11:00]A lot of the areas and characteristics in my life and my personality, which I just assumed were my personality or being introverted, were ADHD. I love coffee, I drink an excessive amount of coffee and barely affects me and that’s because my brain needs the stimulants. It’s the love of like things that release dopamine and those experiences and that excitement and things like that. The inabilities made a lot of sense and then when looking back on it and looking back on my life, realizing this was never picked up. After being diagnosed, I think that was the first feeling of this makes so much sense.
I have tried to be productive my entire life. I have struggled with chronic procrastination. I’ve struggled with productivity and yet I have been able to do it through strategies but I feel like I have had to eat well, exercise, meditate, cut off all distractions.
[00:12:02] Basically, every productivity tip that you could implement, I’ve had to implement to reach a level of productivity that most people would consider okay. I kind of got to the point where if other people were implementing these, they would be immensely productive and I’m not, and I’m not finishing things. So then it just made a lot of sense of okay, this explains a lot; this is why even when I’m implementing all these strategies, I’m struggling to stay focused, I’m struggling to pay attention. My thoughts are always like a jumbled mess and it takes a very long time to clearly get out what I’m trying to articulate or what I’m trying to think. I have to really focus hard on tasks that require a lot of attention.
[00:12:55]I think at first I was relieved when I was diagnosed and then I went to the doctor and spoke about medications and trying some and then tried some medication along with the productivity strategies that I had already been using and I was amazed; the difference of how I was able to think clearly when doing tasks which before, I just couldn’t focus but I still need to implement productivity strategies. Productivity is still incredibly important and it’s not just as simple as you just take this pill and suddenly you’ll be productive. It’s okay, this is the one aspect that you are missing in this whole puzzle of why you can implement all these productivity strategies and yet still you’re unable to really focus on certain things and you still struggling despite having implemented all of this.
[00:13:55]Then I think I felt a little annoyed and sad about the fact that this wasn’t diagnosed and picked up earlier. Like why did it take so long? Like all these failed projects or these things that I’ve started and never finished, the chronic procrastination, at school, just never getting an assignment done by the deadline, always staying up late at night. I thought that was just everybody and I think everybody is affected by this at some point in their life. People struggle with attention, people struggle with distractions, people struggle to get things done on time and so it’s something that is hard to pick up and unless it is a continuous thing that is occurring over the course of your life or it’s picked up very early. So I think I had just got through school and then it was never an issue. Suddenly, you just think your responsible for your life; you’re not productive, you’re not working hard enough, you need to work harder, you need to be more productive, you need to procrastinate less.
[00:14:55]I thought what would my life be like if it was picked up earlier, if I had known I had ADHD at a young age and I had been able to address that, if maybe, you know, I wasn’t partying so much for the dopamine release, I was able to get assignments done on time, I was able to do better at school and university and better in the workplace and I wasn’t working ridiculous amounts and with my business, I was able to grow my business more like I had the chance to like grow it and scale it. So I think I was at what would my life have been like in this picture and I think I was also spending my entire life just blaming myself for my lack of productivity; that it’s my fault, I am responsible for it.
[00:15:50]Having ADHD, yes, it helps to be able to have some medication or that it’s diagnosed and you can address that and understand it but you still do need to manage like your productivity. You can’t just not do any work and still be productive by taking a pill. You still need to meditate you still need to do focused work and make deadlines and things like that. I think it explained a piece of the puzzle that was missing into why I could implement all this stuff and still struggle to focus and attention and still work an excessive amount of hours and not get as much done as people who were not as productive, but what I thought was not as productive was watching TV and not working as many hours.
[00:16:45]It’s been a relief and it’s been challenging to just think back that it’s only being diagnosed now. What would have happened had I been diagnosed earlier in my life? All the things I thought were introversion were perhaps ADHD. What would my social life have been like? What would my relationships have been like? What would every other aspect of my life have been like had this been addressed a lot earlier? Those are my thoughts on that; how I got to the point of, I guess, going to be diagnosed and then my thoughts and feelings afterwards.
[00:17:40]Okay, that was the audio recording of my thoughts and feelings that I recorded after being diagnosed with ADHD. An area I wanted to go into a little more detail on what was the TOVA test. So TOVA stands for the Test of Variables of Attention. A low score on this test like I got the negative twelve when the score is only meant to go to negative ten, it doesn’t mean you have low attention, it just means that your attention and response time varies a lot throughout the test. I’d read a lot about ADHD before deciding to go and take the test and was fairly certain I had ADHD before I took the test. However, the day of the test I was still very nervous. The thought that kept going through my head was what if I don’t have ADHD which is strange, I guess, to kind of want to have ADHD but I think at the time I was fairly certain that I had all the signs and the symptoms and so I think my concern there was what if I go to the doctor and I’m just lazy or not motivated.
[00:18:40] What if I go and I do the test and the doctor tells me you just need to work harder or not be so lazy or why don’t you just read a book on procrastination? This is a neurological condition and you’re wasting time and this isn’t you. So yes, that was kind of my concern there and just kind of being worried that that was what was going to happen and yeah, after being diagnosed with ADHD it was a relief to know that there was another factor that I was missing and why I’d struggled with procrastination, focus, attention, productivity, group conversations and just being in environments like restaurants and bars where there’s a lot going on and I can’t block it out.
It’s not an excuse. I’m not trying to use ADHD as an excuse for not being productive or struggling with things, but it is an explanation and it’s an explanation that helps me better understand myself and manage my ADHD better. Since being diagnosed, I haven’t had much medication. I have nothing against medication now. I think I mentioned in the audio recording that I had concerns about taking medication; I didn’t want to do it. I just found that I needed to get used to the medication and get the dosage right. I’m also traveling a lot still so it’s hard to travel with prescription ADHD medication and it’s difficult to obtain in each new country.
[00:20:00]So since being diagnosed, I have been focused on productivity without relying on medication. Also, it wasn’t just a simple fix of just taking a pill and then suddenly I’m productive.
It’s not like Limitless with Bradley Cooper where you just take this pill and magically you’re productive. The saying I’ve heard a lot in the ADHD community is that pills don’t give you skills and I think that’s very true. They certainly do help, but they only really work as long as you already have other strategies in place. I will be covering a lot more of those productivity strategies for ADHD in future episodes. I just wanted to cover my story of being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult first and a bit of the backstory behind that. I hope some of what I’ve covered in this episode has resonated with you and your own experience or someone close to you that has ADHD.
[00:20:50] Thank you for tuning into another episode of the ADHD productivity podcast. Please subscribe to the podcast to receive updates on future episodes. I’d love to hear from you so please feel free to get in touch with any questions, comments, feedback, or let me know the challenges you’re facing with ADHD. Also, if you’ve got a story about your diagnosis, what led you to be diagnosed, how you found that and your story around that, I’d love to hear that as well. So please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there are topics as well that you’d love me to cover in the podcast, in future episodes, anything you’d like people to know about ADHD, anything that resonated with you in this episode, or even if you disagree with anything that I’ve covered in the podcast, I’d also love to hear from you. Don’t be afraid to email or feel like it’s a big task. Seriously, I’d love to hear from you. So feel free to just send an email with one sentence or even the word “hi”. For the above show notes, resources, links, and more information about this week’s episode you can visit adhdproductivity.com/podcast. Thanks again for listening.