health

"In that moment every single dot of my life joined." Susie was diagnosed with ADHD at 50.

ADHD is not normally a condition that comes to mind when you think about 50-year-old women. But six months ago, I was diagnosed with ADHD. I've been receiving treatment ever since, and it's completely transformed my life.

As the sole parent of my six-year-old son Harry, who was conceived via IVF, I have a big mental load, so this has been a huge relief.

I first realised I had ADHD when I read an article about what it looks like in young girls after a friend mentioned she was having her daughter assessed.

In that moment every single dot of my life joined.

The problems with jobs, relationships, terrible anxiety and depression and my complete lack of being able to rely on my memory for appointments, dates and times, names and more all suddenly had an explanation.

Watch: Many mental health conditions also involve anxiety. Here are five lifestyle hacks to help. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

Initially, I experienced a huge amount of grief for the life I could have lived if it had been picked up when I was a child, but there was also a huge amount of relief. I suddenly found that pretty much everything became so much easier.

ADHD affects different people in different ways, but for me, memory has always been a huge problem. In the day to day organisational side of things, imagine going to the fridge three times for three different things in a minute because you simply can’t focus on more than what is happening in each specific moment. Staying on top of things as a mum and running a business was so incredibly hard.

What makes things harder is that my son Harry is autistic and most likely also has ADHD (he is currently being assessed). I would estimate I spend 8 to 10 hours on appointments, planning, admin, research and more every week to help Harry thrive.

Somewhat ironically, I teach people about stress management. Realising that there weren’t any others available, I've just launched a free stress management course for parents of kids with special needs.

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For so many parents of kids with special needs, stress is a huge problem. And many of them also have disabilities because many disabilities are genetic to some degree. Learning how to look after my own mental health was a game-changer. As this is my work, it was a natural progression to provide a course for parents in a similar boat.

I'm also an avid advocate when it comes to educating others about people with brains that work differently to most of us.

Neurodiversity is a term that has come to mean that we all have different brains, and that just like biodiversity, it makes the world a better place - so long as difference is valued.

Eighteen months ago, I didn’t know what neurodiversity meant.

Now I know both my son and I are neurodivergent. And as time has passed, I’ve come to realise that neurodivergent people are some of the most amazing, resilient and brilliant people I know. If we are understood and supported, we can move mountains.

Currently, there is no way to be diagnosed with ADHD as an adult in Australia in the public health system unless you become so unwell with related mental illness that you end up in hospital. You pay a huge amount out of pocket to see a psychiatrist privately. 

Though things are changing, sadly, people with ADHD shockingly have a life expectancy of 13 years less than people without the condition due to a number of factors including increased risk of car accidents and suicide.

A recent Deloitte Access Economics report estimates that the total cost of ADHD in Australia is $20.4 billion, which comprised $12.8 billion in financial costs and $7.6 billion in wellbeing costs.

If you feel as though you can only focus properly on certain things and have struggled in work, study or with depression and/or anxiety but feel there’s more to it, you can call the adult ADHD helpline for support.

But also know you're not alone, and with the right help you can thrive. 

Susie Hopkins has been teaching people evidence-based ways to manage stress for nearly 10 years. She is the founder of Lilo Wellness and has a Masters of Public Health, a Registered Nurse and a qualified mindfulness and yoga teacher. She has also completed ADHD Professional Certificate Training and is an avid advocate for neurodiversity.

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