I am often asked how I went about getting an Adult ADHD diagnosis and to save having to constantly rewrite it, I have decided to add a blog post here so that you can read the story and I can include all the links you need.
It all began with a meme... A friend of mine from the slingy world shared a meme on Facebookin August 2019 that hit me like a tonne of bricks and got me thinking. I did these online tests and they all came out with a very strong indication of ADHD.
Then I checked the NHS website and read through what they said about ADHD. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on the NHS
Next step was to book an appointment with my GP to get referred. In the UK, your GP isn't qualified to determine whether or not you a) have ADHD or whether b) you qualify for assessment. They HAVE TO refer you if you request it. I took along the online tests I'd done and the NHS criteria which I'd highlighted what applied to me. My doctor asked why I wanted a diagnosis at this age as I'd managed so far without one (PS this is ableism and very inappropriate). I explained how my history of anxiety, depression, alcoholism and binge eating could all be explained by untreated ADHD and that if I was treated for the ADHD then these issues may disappear with medication.
She gave me a tick sheet to complete which I scored 100% on indicating ADHD. She referred me to Arun House in Worthing sending this sheet as evidence. I was rejected. I called Arun House to ask why and if I could be re-referred. They said that the panel needed more than just a tick sheet in order to give me a diagnostic appointment and if I gathered more evidence then they would consider my referral again.
I wrote a letter, giving examples from my life outlining times in my life where I had met the NHS criteria for ADHD. To get a diagnosis as an adult, you also need evidence form your childhood. I got my mum to write a letter detailing times from my childhood where I had met the criteria. Neil wrote a letter too. My GP resubmitted them and I was accepted for an appointment. Tuesday 31st March 2020, I had a phone call with an ADHD Psychiatrist. He asked me questions based on the evidence we'd submitted and at the end of the call he diagnosed me with ADHD. I started medication with Atomoxetine as the NHS prefer to try all patients on non-stimulant medication to start with. However, after 5 days I developed severe suicidal thoughts and ideation and my psychiatrist advised me to stop immediately. I then started on Concerta (methylphenidate) and as we titrated my dosage my head fog cleared.
I wept for how hard I had been struggling all my life, with no idea that it didn't have to be like that. I felt anger that my intelligence had helped me to mask my symptoms even from myself which is why I succeeded despite my ADHD. It was a lot to process however I have made peace with everything now.
ADHD is genetic so if you have it, it's very likely one of your parents have it too. It also means you have a 50% chance of passing on ADHD and/or autism to your children. If you have a diagnosis, it makes getting them one so much easier. I was very lucky that my GP referred me without any issue, that we have adult ADHD services in my NHS trust and that the waiting list was only 4 weeks when I was referred. Across the UK, the situation for adult ADHD diagnosis is awful. Many trusts have no provision for adult ADHD at all. If the trusts do, waiting lists are on average 2 years long. Thankfully, the NHD Right to Choose Act exists and has helped thousands of adults get their diagnosis via online clinics. Below are some links to help you too. Adult ADHD UK on Facebook - as well as being a supportive community, they have template letters for GPs to refer, links to tests, information on legal precedents and NHS guidelines
NHS Right to Choose - a starting place to understand your legal right to choose where your GP refers you for your diagnosis PsychiatryUK - the leading ADHD referral online clinic, they have existing NHS contracts and so your GP can refer you. They also have template letters your can download for your GP
Shared Care - if you end up going private for your diagnosis, make sure your GP will accept shared care for your medication otherwise you will pay full market rate for your meds instead of the subsidised NHS prescription rate.
I hope this helps you with your journey towards ADHD diagnosis. Being diagnosed has transformed my life and helped me understand myself in a way I never have before. My depression has gone, I still suffer from anxiety however I now know this is due to rejection sensitivity dysphoria - a symptom of ADHD - and I'm learning to manage it better.