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ADHD: What a Difference a Diagnosis Makes

ADHD: What a Difference a Diagnosis MakesThere I was in 2011, ready to hang myself in the cold, dark basement as my wife worked upstairs in her home office. I was wearing my robe, crying profusely, and had quietly walked down to the bottom floor where our home gym was. The cold cable that was used to pull weights down while working out felt horrific as I put it around my neck — as my brother had done three years before.

He was successful in killing himself, and a piece of our family died that day as well. Perhaps I hadn’t gotten the help I needed from a counselor after my brother’s death, since the statistics of family members who commit suicide rises once another does it.

Sure, that played a part. But the deeper issue was that I had been living with undiagnosed adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And it almost killed me.

After the pain became too much for my neck, and something deep inside kept me from leaning any further into the cable, I unwrapped it from around my throat. I went upstairs slowly, feeling shame and guilt for being a terrible husband and friend. I had had enough of getting in my own way with jobs, school and my racing mind.

My wife and I immediately went to the local hospital emergency room, and I said “I need help – I’m suicidal.” Wow, was it ever hard to actually say it, even though I had researched ways to end my life for the past few weeks. Thank goodness I did say it, though. Otherwise, I might still be living without a diagnosis, or worse, not be here today to share my story.

As a result of going to the emergency room, I spoke to a psychiatrist and was referred to an outpatient program starting immediately. That is where a team diagnosed me as having acute depression and adult ADHD. The team was made up of a psychiatrist and mental health nurse and it was in conjunction with my family physician, who also had her suspicions that I had ADHD.

She was right. Heck, even my mother-in-law said “do you have ADHD?” in a more polite way one of the first few times we met. It all started to make sense: my flunking out of university, having a ton of jobs in my past, spending a lot of money spontaneously at times, and pushing away girl after girl in relationships over the span of my life to that point. I finally had an answer to why I was the way I was. I wanted to scream from the mountaintops, but I wasn’t anxious to share my new diagnosis with the world just yet, since I didn’t want to be labeled ignorantly.

Since 2011 and that life-changing time, I have completed a memoir about my experience, and I’m on a mission to get a book deal to really help get the word out. I am also the creator of The Adult ADHD Blog, which I started in September 2013 to shed light on my struggle to survive and be successful with ADHD.

A year ago, I had a major setback with depression, and had to commit myself to the psych ward of that same hospital I had visited a couple of years before. I was again researching ways to end my life as a result of my ADHD symptoms getting in my way at work. That’s a whole other story.

ADHD does come with “gifts” such as intuitive, creative thinking and the desire to achieve goals and motivate others in life. That’s what I’m finding, anyway. Some of the symptoms can potentially cause havoc in our lives. But I have found that as long as we can relax our minds daily and rein ourselves in when our minds begin to race, we can achieve wonderful successes.

After coming out of the hospital, I was briefly on medication before deciding to slowly go off it and take my life back. This is what has worked for me, and is only my two cents. I always advise to listen to your doctor when it comes to medication.

I am now a security guard just like the ones who escorted me to the mental health ward in the hospital a year ago. I have the answers I need at the age of 37, and I make time daily to calm my mind, live in the moment, and let go of the obsessive need for control that has hurt me so much in life. With fitness, creative arts, music, meditation, yoga or whatever else works for you to calm your mind, you are truly a force for good.

Medication is a miracle for many, but whatever the case might be for you, please know that you can live a happy, satisfying life when you make the investment in yourself. Life is moving at a rapid pace, but stepping off society’s treadmill and re-connecting with your own inner peace and gratitude truly sets you free. It just takes regular focus and effort.

ADHD: What a Difference a Diagnosis Makes

Jeff Emmerson

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APA Reference
Emmerson, J. (2018). ADHD: What a Difference a Diagnosis Makes. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 19 Nov 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.