I was thirty seven years old when I found out I have ADHD
Getting diagnosed made my reality make sense.
I came home and gave my wife the letter the psychiatrist had sent me. After months of suspicions, reflections, and then tests, proof of my condition had finally arrived. I said to my wife, “Look, there you go, honey — meet your husband. If you really want to know who your husband is, that’s what’s going on in his head.”
Chaos. Inattentiveness. Unbridled creativity. Anger.
But at last, I had an explanation. At last, I had a set of reasons, in black and white, clearly printed out for me to wrap my head around.
And since that day, I’ve been dealing with it.
After my ADHD diagnosis, I realized my life was about to change. It had already been happening, but now, I understood why.
I’ve always been quick to get the gist of things. Sometimes, I see the full picture, and even the parts outside the picture that don’t exist yet. But usually, the details are what I miss, or where my brain cuts out.
But the words on the page were the truth. One I’d always known, but somehow, never believed. Suddenly, I thought about all the years I’d wasted. Anger, and a sense of remorse overcame me. It should’ve been at age sixteen that I discovered who I was. But my mother, bless her, hid the results of a positive diagnosis from me, because she considered it a disadvantage. And instead of getting help, I got kicked out of high school; already the “ADHD teenager” back then with an entrepreneurial yearning.
My diagnosis shocked me too; I read things I’ve told no one else, battles, which I face daily. In addition to my ADHD traits: inattentiveness, impatience, difficulty completing simple tasks, and hyperactivity — the H is an especially big one for me.
I now had insight into my successes and failures, too. And a reason why I needed other people to do the “boring” stuff for me (stuff, even, like writing this article, maybe). And finally, I could see why my daughter was just like me.
It’s because of her that I reached that point. She was three years old when I first noticed the signs. All the familiar expressions of typical ADHD behavior; exactly the way I had been at that age.
When I spoke to my wife about taking our daughter to get diagnosed, she was fully on board. She’s always been supportive, along for any venture I’ve wanted to try. We met in Israel and went to Italy together, which is where I started my first business. Being a qualified lawyer abroad, I had no alternative but to be an entrepreneur — and I haven’t looked back since.
But I look to the future a lot; I worry, all the time, because that’s a big part of ADHD. Hundreds of conflicting and varying thoughts, ideas, concepts and never-ending worrying. I do a lot of NLP work to ease my worries. It helps free up my creativity, which I’m lucky to have in large amounts. And emotion, too. I tend to get personal very quickly, as my employees or wife will confirm.
Emotion isn’t always best for business. It leads to rushed decisions, which in my case, can lead to costly mistakes. But anyone who’s been an entrepreneur for over twenty years (over ten when I was diagnosed) will face ups and downs.
The difference is now I understand the extra challenges unique to me. I’m better prepared. I use assistants. I organize my life according to rules, which are the foundation of my book.
I’ve learned to keep mastering my ADHD to empower me, and might’ve done so even without that diagnosis. People with ADHD have exceptional creativity for solving things. But because of that diagnosis, I understand the cards I’m playing against; now, the chaos actually makes sense, and I can take steps to manage it.
By knowing myself, I am a better husband, father, and entrepreneur. I can deal with the world empowered. I can channel my ADHD toward success.
I’m glad I discovered this at thirty-seven, rather than ninety-eight.
Hadar Swersky is an award-winning entrepreneur and author of Winning in Business with ADHD: 13 rules to make ADHD work for you. Sign up to his mailing list to discover how to leverage your ADHD traits in business.