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The ADHD Grief Cycle – 5 Stages That Will Happen After Diagnosis

06/08/2018
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After enduring a life full of struggle and embarrassing moments, most adults who have carried their ADHD symptoms will often have trouble accepting a late diagnosis. Because of that, they typically go through a cycle of post-diagnosis emotional reactions, during which they will try to come to terms with their mental health condition. Known as the grief cycle, this article will serve as an ADHD-inspired take on this grief process or guide to surviving the post ADHD diagnosis period.

The grief cycle was originally created by a Swiss-American psychiatrist, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross to describe how people cope and face any mental illness they may have. The concept has been used to describe the process that people go through as they try to accept any major life change. It can also be used to describe the challenges that people go through after being diagnosed with ADHD. A person diagnosed with ADHD will eventually work their way through the following stages if they want to move on with their lives and eventually dominate overcome their ADHD condition. Listed below are the phases and challenges that an ADHD patient will encounter as they progress through their own ADHD-influenced grief cycle and on towards self- acceptance.

Phases and Challenges that a Newly Diagnosed ADHD Patient may well encounter

Stage 1: Denial

The first phase is going to be the initial reaction that a person will naturally draw out when they found out that they have ADHD. The denial stage and will instantly happen the moment the results come up and tell you of your ADHD symptoms. While relief is also the initial reaction to realising your ADHD symptoms, the reality of it will eventually cause you to make denials and even continue to question if you really have it. Despite knowing and (to some degree) accepting that you have ADHD, it will be difficult to accept this fact in a positive and meaningful way.

a woman wearing a skyblue polo shirt raising her hand which relates to denial

When your ADHD symptoms creek up, you may even choose to attribute them to personal failings instead of acknowledging them as a result to your mental condition. You might say something like, “I’m stupid and irresponsible,” instead of, “It happened because of my ADHD got in the way.”

Despite all of these complications, it’s important for you to know that all of this is a natural occurrence that can be associated to any change or life-altering event. The person having it often goes through a period of sudden shock, which is a reasonable reaction considering the seriousness of the condition that you actually have.

Stage 2: Anger

An ADHD diagnosis can also give you the realisation that the failures and misfortunes that you went through were direct results of your mental health condition. You will often start revisiting your past to see just how ADHD has deeply affected every area of your life. At this point, you will go through a series of anger episodes where you get frustrated over lost opportunities in the past and wish that you could turn back time and redo everything. You will tend to focus on the moments where you think your ADHD started and feel a sense of remorse towards the people that let you down before.

an angry woman wearing a skyblue polo shirt raising her hands with her fist close which relates to anger

This could be family members who doubted your ADHD condition, teachers who didn’t misunderstood you, or simply other people who blamed you for being who you are. You may also feel angry because life has been hard for you. Similar to denial, anger is a natural part of the ADHD grief cycle, and the only way to overcome it is to deal with it.

Stage 3: Bargaining

The Bargaining phrase is where people will acknowledge that they do have ADHD and start looking for solutions to help cope themselves moving forward. Once you start understanding the condition you have, you will naturally look for ways on how to manage it. You’ll eventually come across various ADHD treatment program, which includes therapies, one-on-one sessions with your therapist, and medication. While there are various effective treatments for ADHD, what most ADHD patients fail to understand is that these treatments are not magic pills that will instantly alleviate your ADHD symptoms. It’s a long and gradual process, and the longevity of treatment might get to you. Often the reason why ADHD patients quit their treatment is because of how long it will take.

one hand wearing a ring and the other hand wearing a watch while shaking hands with each other

Stage 4: Depression

Even if you’ve went through the grueling process of treatment, and have done almost everything just to get better, you’re still likely to have difficulties adapting this new lifestyle. Keep in mind that ADHD will is incurable, but it can be managed. When you realise that your ADHD is still causing problems in your life, you may often feel a sense of frustration and discouragement. You can then start feeling depressed as you get caught between two worlds. You want to move one and just forget about your ADHD. But at the same time, you also want to get back to the way things were since it was a lot more familiar to you.

an angry man wearing a black shirt while holding his head which relates to depression

You’ve been told about the long and rocky road ahead of ADHD treatment, and you’re fully okay with that. However, the process is just too way much for you to deal with. To make things worse, you’re also not getting enough support from the people closest to you. All of these factors will make you feel isolated and lonely, which contributes more to your depression.

Stage 5: Acceptance

Acceptance is considered as the last phase of the grief cycle. But since it’s a “cycle,” the ADHD patient will tend to either stop here or fail and repeat the entire process all over again. With the right amount of peer support, counselling from a certified ADHD expert, and proper education of their condition, most ADHD patients will eventually move to the acceptance phase. Acceptance comes when you have fully and deeply integrated the idea of you having ADHD. Instead of thinking about your condition, you stop thinking about it and go on with your life as it is.

a smiling woman wearing a gray and black sweater which relates to acceptance

You will no longer think about ADHD as a moral failure or weakness of willpower. You finally accept the truth that while you can manage your ADHD symptoms, they will still exist no matter what. However, you’re prepared for this and have already made adequate responses to ADHD. You’ve made the necessary modifications so that your internal and external reactions won’t make things worse for you.

While it’s commonly thought as an easy, straightforward and achievable stage, acceptance is actually harder to achieve than what most would believe. While you may have accepted the reality of your ADHD, it won’t take long for you to achieve true acceptance and live on with your life.

Get Expert Help Now!

Your ADHD is the reason why your life is going a different path. That’s why you need to get help in trying to manage it. If you’re faced with having ADHD as an adult, the grief cycle is a common process that you go through. But you can overcome your ADHD with the right tactics and the right people to help you.

If you want to start getting organised and avoid being forgetful, it’s crucial that you get help right away. So book an appointment to your nearest local ADHD clinic today and get to know more about grief and get a proper diagnosis as early as possible. If you live on or near London or Manchester, you’ll be relieved to know that the ADHD Centre is currently operating in these areas.

The ADHD Centre offers holistic ADHD treatment packages and cares for both children and adults. We are also affiliated with other ADHD clinics and organisations to maximise our services. Are you living within the UK? We have centres in London, Manchester and Milton Keynes and we also offer online assessment via Skype. So wherever you are in UK, know that the ADHD Centre is always available for your ADHD needs.

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