Diagnosed With ADHD At 36 Years Old

Wow!  My post over the weekend, which was my first in eight months, had nearly a record number of visitors on the ownsobriety.com website.  I’m sure part of that was from people expecting to read a juicy relapse story but it shows that people really do read what I post.  So thank you for that!

I thought I would go into some more detail on what all has been up over the past few months and my hiatus from blogging.  As I mentioned in my last post, life has taken a really great turn for the better after a rough patch last fall.  I am so grateful and proud of myself for not drinking when things got tough.  I am 100% for certain that my life would not be as good as it is now.  It proves that sticking to the path and having faith in your recovery process pays off even when you can’t see the other side.

Let me talk more about getting diagnosed with ADHD for the first time in my life at 36 years old.  My lack of focus and racing thoughts have been a problem my entire life.  I’ll skip any debate over not being diagnosed as a child.  I didn’t know how to verbalize the issues as a child and don’t blame anyone for not recognizing the signs.  Unlike most children with ADHD, mine didn’t show in doing poorly in school or some kind of outburst.  I was always quiet, shy, and introverted.  Plus, I’m an only child so that reserved nature seemed even more natural.

Then, as I went through adolescence, my drinking began.  In hindsight, it seems obvious why I thought alcohol was my best friend from the moment I took my first drink.  It calmed down all of those racing thoughts and was the first sign of any relief I had ever had from the symptoms of ADHD.  My drinking was pretty casual during my teenage years but I knew that I liked it more than my peers.  Despite the problems mentally, I was able to keep up the appearance of being a pretty typical teenager. 

Once I became an adult, drinking became a part of my nightly routine.  Eventually, that became a daily routine and then an all-the-time routine.  I had pretty good success as an entrepreneur and business owner in my early 20’s but alcohol was ever-present.  The problem was that’s acceptable for your early 20’s.  I didn’t do the typical going away to college since I was running a business in my hometown, but drinking is synonymous with the college years.  Personally, I believe that this is a major problem in our societal view.  Our 20’s are super important in forming our adulthood and when problems can be written off as “typical,” we are losing valuable time in becoming the best version of our adult self.

Regardless, I was already pretty far down the path to alcoholism.  It took a few years for it to fully manifest but it was already too late for me or anyone else to recognize a problem that could be attributed to anything but alcohol.  Mix in benzos in my early 30’s and there wasn’t a chance to diagnose anything but the substance abuse.  It wasn’t until I got sober for a decent amount of time that I could sort out any problems I had beyond the substance abuse.

Once I got sober, we (my treatment team and I) started treating anxiety and depression right away.  It took several months of adjustment to a sober lifestyle for me to start seeing real progress in those departments.  Once that major problem was minimized, then it makes sense that the ADHD became more apparent.  See, the problem with abusing substances for so long is that I majorly delayed the process of identifying and treating any real and treatable underlying conditions that I had.  I delayed myself the opportunity to become the best version of myself and start living my best life possible.

Everything makes so much sense now with the benefit of hindsight.  It’s a bummer that this is the way all of these years of my life unfolded, but I’m not really caught up on any of that.  I can’t change any of the past.  What I can do is be thankful that I’m in a better place now and focus 100% on living my life now in the present day.  That is the view I choose to take.  In the past, that wouldn’t have been the case but this is one of several huge benefits and changes in my mindset that I have developed through counseling.  Getting sober saved my life and counseling is the reason that I am still sober.  If I hadn’t put in all of the time and effort into fixing my underlying problems, I would not have stayed sober for nearly 2.5 years now.  I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face, the key to sobriety is to create a life that you want to stay sober for.  It doesn’t happen overnight but by setting small, achievable goals you will get there.

I remember when I had a few months of sobriety under my belt in the past and would think, “I’ve got this sober thing down.”  It’s almost (but not quite) funny now.  I didn’t have anything down.  At 2.5 years sober, I still don’t have it down.  I will never believe that I have sobriety down again.  I’ve talked to several people in long term sobriety that have told me that their life didn’t get good until year five, or seven, or even double digits.  That’s because there’s so much learning and growing to do.  Staying sober just gives you more time to figure out how to live a more successful life. 

So getting diagnosed with ADHD at age 36 isn’t a bad thing.  I don’t dwell on what could have been.  Each day is now an adventure and another chance to improve my life.  As I also talked about in my previous post, I have a job that I love now.  Being able to focus and sort out my thoughts has given me an opportunity to excel at work and make the most out of this great job opportunity that I have been blessed with.  Doing well at work has given me a sense of purpose and optimism that has run over into all areas of my life.  In my next post, I will talk about some of the progress I’ve made in other areas.

I know I promised to share more details on my grand vision for OWN Sobriety and the blog too.  I’ve been working really hard on planning that all out and I’m not quite ready to share yet.  Knowing how I am though, I will probably give away little details over the next few days.  Spoiler alert… it’s all about sharing the things I have learned over my 2.5 years and counting of living a sober lifestyle with others on a grander scale to help them feel the way I feel about life and living a successful sober lifestyle. 

Please share any thoughts, reactions, or comments.  You can comment below or reach me via any of the major social networks.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… I check them all daily and will respond to every message I get. 

What’s something in your life that you never would have discovered if you hadn’t gotten sober? 

Love Y’all,

Mike

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