Better Late Than Never

Celebrating late diagnosis in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) with Author and Journalist, Emma Mahony.

It is not everyday that an author is invited to talk about a new book on telly, or to be an advocate for ADHD with the invitation. So, I was thrilled when Channel 4 approached me to do just that on October 14th, during ADHD Awareness Month in October 2020. What a welcome surprise it was to see Dr. Tony Lloyd, CEO of the ADHD Foundation, sitting in the Holiday Inn, preparing for our joint appearance on the lunchtime programme: “Steph’s Packed Lunch”. I was relieved that the responsibility did not fall entirely to me, and it felt good to have Tony arriving with a briefcase full of science-based evidence to help back me up on live TV. He was deemed ‘the Expert’ and referred to as “the Doctor”, whilst I was there to discuss my memoir of having ADHD diagnosed as an adult.

For anyone unfamiliar with the daytime programme, on Channel 4, it is hosted by Steph McGovern (formerly a BBC Presenter) and sympathetically tackles human-interest stories; as well as the usual cooking and gardening format. Tony and I made it into the large, socially distanced, warehouse studio, like a true double act: he provided the expert comment, and I was able to provide examples of where ADHD had appeared in my life. It turns out that this wasn’t actually the first time we had crossed paths! Three years earlier we had met after a performance of ‘Late to the Party’ (a play of the book), at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to discuss donating to the ADHD Foundation.

The media, now, seem ready to listen! I have been able to have an article in the Daily Mail, and take part in a challenging interview with Jane Garvey on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s hour’.

The challenge, from the media, comes in the traditional cliche? that those with ADHD are just describing problems that all people have to tackle at some point in their life (and so, why the fuss?), and the reactions from readers and listeners has proved just how under-diagnosed and troublesome ADHD can be. According to the statistics, kindly provided by Dr. Tony Lloyd, it is estimated that 1.3million people in the UK are living with undiagnosed ADHD. This is having a social and emotional impact on their lives.

Amongst some of the more common comments, I have received from readers, are undiagnosed women writing that they “feel their life is being described exactly” and putting the book down in disbelief at this.

Funnily enough, this ‘clicking into place’ doesn’t surprise me that much. I had that same lightbulb moment at a conference, in Liverpool, back in 2013. For me, talking to women diagnosed with ADHD at that conference, and realising that we all shared similar teenage/childhood experiences. Even childhood nicknames confirmed that there was something above and beyond going on. That was the moment I realised that perhaps the heritable aspect of ADHD (I was at this conference because of my son) had come down the line through me – and not my husband after all!

I sincerely hope the book goes on to help others, especially women, to see a diagnosis; and therefore, to get to know their strengths and their potential better. I have had a few pleas for help among comments on my website, and it has been helpful to have organisations like the ADHD Foundation to refer people on to for more advice.

There is no doubt that ADHD is a disorder, and it’s time has come to be understood better in society, as well as for people to educate themselves around it; without feeling a stigma or shame.

As mental health issues go, there is much that can be done to support those with the condition. An adult diagnosis deserves to be the beginning of something hopeful, as well as an end to a lifetime of struggle. For those diagnosed late, like myself, I still believe that it is better late than never…

‘Better Late Than Never’ is published by Trigger Publishing and is available on Amazon. Other blog posts about ADHD can be accessed via Emma Mahony’s website.

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