The woman I spoke to (also from the UK) had been totally dismissed by a mental health nurse who wouldn’t even assess her for ADHD because she was sitting still during their initial conversation(???). He was the kind of man, it seems, who didn’t even believe that woman can have ADHD.
The two acceptable options for her problems were depression or anxiety. Lots of women with ADHD get misdiagnosed with one or the other, and have to suffer years of ineffectual and awful treatment.
She’s now having a hard time finding the time and mental resources to fight for a second appointment. She has children, and her symptoms are difficult to manage.
How luck and privilege helped me with my ADHD diagnosis
Now, as I say, part of the reason I breezed through the diagnostic process was luck:
- I had a short waiting period (six months total from initial GP to diagnosis). This is a postcode lottery situation.
- The GP, mental health nurse and psych consultant I saw were ALL well-educated on the subject of ADHD presenting in women. Often the people who assess patients in the UK aren’t even trained in the subject of ADHD (see above).
However, there was also a lot of privilege in play:
I was brought up without much money, but still within a middle class family. This might not make sense in some countries… we have weirdly ingrained, hereditary class prejudice in the UK to the point where it transcends economic reality.
Because of this I have a posh voice and a large vocabulary, having been brought up by parents who were both university-educated (although I didn’t go myself).
It is easy to get people to take me seriously. I can explain symptoms eloquently. Most medical staff are also middle class, so there’s a subconscious affinity bias.
Ableism within the system definitely plays into this. ADHD is often comorbid with dyslexia, autism and anxiety.
I do not have dyslexia, probably don’t have autism, and my anxiety is under control these days.
This means it was easy (comparatively) for me to do lots of research and reading before going to any of my meetings, so I knew what to highlight. It was easy to type up notes and present my case. I was able to make the phone calls to ask for appointments. Not everyone can do all of this, and the system does not adequately cater for them.
I am white. There are reams of material on why this was an advantage when it came to being believed about my disorder.
I had the time to research, to go to appointments, to make follow-up calls and to start this blog.
This is because I don’t have children, I am not a carer, and I don’t have to work three jobs to make ends meet.
I think it would be excellent if those of us who have been through the diagnostic process (and are now doing well) could lend a hand to those who are struggling.
We’re now better-positioned to do so, because we’ve been through the system and know what to expect; and if we’re being treated we probably have better control of our symptoms, so we can research, write and organise.
- If you are struggling with the diagnostic process, I’d like to offer to help (for free) with
- Writing emails, letters, and scripts for phone calls
- Gathering any research and data you think might be helpful for your appointments
- Answering any questions I’ve failed to answer on this blog (or just any you haven’t found yet)
- Just drop me a line.
- If you are already diagnosed and doing much better these days, it would be super cool if you could offer the same to others.
Have a fantastic weekend, all. x
Featured image: original image by Elionas, Pixabay