Adult ADHD West Cumbria Support group
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Rachael Hannah

Adult Chair

Rachael Hannah

This group was founded in 2002. I chaired the group for 10 years before successfully passing it to Marie Steele for 6 years who has now passed it on to our new Chair Sarah-Jayne Thomas. I was inspired to start this group due to my children, 2 of which had ADHD.

One of those with ADHD also has Autism, Polymicrogyria, Worcester Drought syndrome, Chromosomal Disorder as well as mild Cerebral Palsy and severe Epilepsy, the latter of which is now under control.

I have 4 children. The 26 year old was diagnosed ADHD at the age of 12, my youngest has not a full diagnosis, but everyone knows she has it, but all the other issues needed addressing first.

On the back of being Chair of ADHD West Cumbria, which was formally called ADHD West Cumbria Family Support, I was then asked to be a Trustee for ADHD North West. I did this for 5 years.

I have been a Chair of Governors at a local school, which led to being able to join the scrutiny panel for children and young people for the County Council, this then led on to being a representative for the Voluntary Sector Reference Group. I neglected myself on my quest to ‘change the world’s perception of ADHD’ and I made myself quite ill. Now I look after myself as I know if I don’t I will be unable to look after others.

I have since been diagnosed firstly with Asperger’s syndrome then on the 20th December 2017 with severe ADHD.
Now I Chair the Adult ADHD group which is presently only on a Facebook page, hopefully this will progress to greater things. We are campaigning for better Adult ADHD services as currently there is little or NO adult service in Cumbria.

Adult ADHD Signs and Symptoms

Some adults with ADHD have never been diagnosed because many people think that it disappears as soon as the child becomes 18. ADHD affects about 5 percent of children, and about half of them will carry those symptoms into adulthood, says the American Psychiatric Association.

Untreated ADHD can cause numerous mental and physical problems that can put a strain on relationships and cause difficulties in many aspects of everyday life. It important for the signs of ADHD is recognised. You can then get the right treatment for yourself through your Doctor.

I found 14 signs and symptoms:

1.

Lack of focus

The most telltale sign of ADHD, “lack of focus” goes beyond trouble paying attention. It means being easily distracted, finding it hard to listen to others in a conversation (this does not help if you also have a hearing disability!), overlooking details, and not completing tasks or projects. The flip side to that is hyperfocusing.

2.

Hyperfocus:

While people with ADHD are often easily distractible, they may also hyperfocus. A person with ADHD can get so engrossed in something that they can become unaware of anything else around them. This kind of focus makes it easier to lose track of time and ignore those around you. This can lead to relationship misunderstandings. Oh definitely!

3.

Lack of organisation:

Life can seem chaotic for everyone at times, but someone with ADHD typically has a more hectic life experience on a regular basis. This can make it difficult to keep everything in its rightful place. An adult with ADHD may struggle with these organisational skills coupled with time management. This can include problems keeping track of tasks and trouble prioritising them in a logical manner. On the flip side of this I find I am very good at organising others as well as delegating because I know other people will finish the task either quicker or better, thus I can be getting on with other mind numbing projects!

4.

Time management:

This issue goes hand-in-hand with disorganisation. Adults with ADHD often have trouble using their time effectively. I for one think I can do everything in 10 minutes which includes driving a 1 hour journey. They may procrastinate on important tasks, show up late for important events, or ignore assignments they consider boring or they may hand it in many months later (guilty as charged!). They may have trouble focusing on the future or the past — the “now” is often more top-of-mind for them (this is good I think as there is a great promotion of mindfulness which focus’ on the now.)

5.

Forgetfulness:

It’s human to forget things occasionally, but for someone with ADHD, forgetfulness is a part of everyday life as it is with me! I can forget what I am saying half way through a conversation or forget where I am going when I reach the end of the street so I have to write things down or use SAT nav. This can also include routinely forgetting where you’ve put something or what important dates you need to keep i.e. birthdays at the appropriate time remembering 3 weeks before doesn’t help or days or weeks after doesn’t either. Sometimes forgetfulness can be very annoying, but unimportant; other times, it can be serious. The bottom line is that forgetfulness can be damaging to careers and relationships because it can be confused with carelessness or lack of intelligence.

6.

Impulsivity:

Impulsiveness in someone with ADHD can manifest in several ways:

  • Interrupting others during conversation (because you will forget what you need to say!)
  • Being socially inappropriate (I always think that this is other people’s perception and its time they changed it why should we?)
  • Rushing through tasks or taking too long because you get distracted!
  • Acting without much consideration to the consequences or you may have no fear of consequence.

A person’s shopping habits are often a good indication of ADHD. Impulse buying, especially on items the person can’t afford, is a common symptom of adult ADHD.

7.

Emotional problems:

Life with ADHD can seem chaotic, because also your emotions are constantly in flux. You can easily become bored and go looking for excitement on a whim (adrenaline junky yep!) Small frustrations can seem intolerable or bring on depression and mood swings. It helps if you don’t take yourself too seriously. I find if I take a physical step back that helps and also to remember to laugh at every opportunity as I am one to trip over my own feet as I am laying there in a crumpled heap I have 2 choices, 1 is laugh and 2 is cry I choose to laugh it’s good for the soul!

8.

Poor self-image:

Adults with ADHD are often hypercritical of themselves, which can lead to a poor self-image due to always having being told when they were younger what they were doing wrong or told that they were naughty, useless or stupid the list is endless to be honest. This is due in part to their inability to concentrate, as well as other symptoms that may cause problems in school, work, or relationships.

Adults with ADHD may view these difficulties as personal failures or underachievement, which can cause them to see themselves in a negative light thus they end up unable to make informed choices because they think that whatever they choose it will be wrong! I find ignoring others negativity works a treat these days!

9.

Lack of motivation:

Whilst you might be open to doing everything at once, you also may feel unmotivated this could be due to that you sense that someone has a lack of faith in you. This is a problem commonly seen in children with ADHD, who often can’t focus on schoolwork. It can also happen with adults this definitely happens to me.

Coupled with procrastination and poor organisational skills, this problem can make it difficult for an adult with ADHD to finish a project because they can’t focus for long periods of time or that they have got bored half way through and it feels like a pain in your head to continue!

10.

Restlessness and anxiety:

As an adult with ADHD, you may feel like your motor won’t shut off. Your yearning to keep moving and doing things can lead to frustration when you can’t do something immediately. This leads to restlessness, which can lead to frustration and anxiety.

Anxiety is a very common symptom of adult ADHD, as the mind tends to replay worrisome events repeatedly and it feels like it’s on a loop and it won’t stop.

As with children, physical signs of restlessness and anxiety in adults can include fidgeting. They may move around frequently — tapping their hands or feet, shifting in their seat, or being unable to sit still I understand this as I sometimes feel that my muscles and tissues cannot cope with being still so they get numb in fact I get numb!

11.

Fatigue:

Although this may sound surprising given that restlessness is also a symptom, fatigue is a problem for many adults with ADHD. There could be several reasons for this. It may be due to hyperactivity or sleep problems that can come with ADHD. Or it could be due to the constant effort to focus required by adults with ADHD. Or it could be a side effect of ADHD medications. With me I can go for hours without sleep then all of a sudden I drop i.e. can sleep on a clothes line so to speak, but only for 4-5 hours.

Whatever the cause, fatigue can make attention difficulties even worse.

12.

Health problems:

Impulsivity, lack of motivation, emotional problems, and disorganization can lead a person with ADHD to neglect their health I have done this often. Your body is a temple and you should look after it! This can be seen through compulsive poor eating (yep!), neglecting exercise, or forgoing important medication (yep!). Anxiety and stress also have negative impacts on health.

Without good health habits, the negative effects of ADHD can make other symptoms worse.

13.

Relationship issues:

An adult with ADHD often has trouble in relationships, whether they are professional, romantic, or platonic. The traits of talking over people in conversation, inattentiveness, and being easily bored can be draining on relationships, as a person can come across as insensitive, irresponsible, or uncaring. Always being told off by your partner can also wear you down as they are not your parent they are supposed to be equal to you. Constant negative remarks especially if you are also clumsy can take its toll on your self-image and esteem.

14.

Substance misuse:

This issue may not affect every adult with ADHD, but adults with this condition are more likely than others to have problems with substance misuse. This may involve the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. I smoked for years, but have stopped for 21 years now.

The research isn’t clear on what the link is between substance misuse and ADHD. However, one theory is that people with ADHD use substances to self-medicate. They may misuse these substances in the hopes of improving focus or sleep, or to relieve anxiety. This is why you need to see a doctor straight away and go down the referral pathway! You need support now!

Other Symptoms:

Other common traits among adults with ADHD include:

  • Changing employers often. Yes I would often walk out as I like to be treated as an equal. I hate being told what to do.
  • Having few personal or work-related achievements. I struggled to be consistent!
  • Repeated patterns of relationship issues, including divorce. Oops! I have done this twice.

If you find that you have most of the above signs and symptoms and that they are disrupting your life then you must try to get a diagnosis. There is no definable pathway at present but at ADHD West Cumbria we are liaising with statutory services to create one. At present you need to be referred by your doctor to the Commissioners of the NHS mental health directors and they will offer an online service.

Stay positive as in my mind these are superpowers! Because if you are told that you lead people astray this is a leadership quality lol!

Rachael Hannah.