Get Your Teen Weekly Newsletter in your inbox! Sign Up
YourTeenMag Logo

Getting An ADHD Diagnosis In College: “I Used to Think I Was Stupid”

Growing up, I used to think I was stupid.

I didn’t know why I could never understand what my teachers were teaching in class, why I could never remember anything I was supposed to be doing, or why I was the weird girl who couldn’t hold an appropriate conversation. I spent 18 years of my life in a constant fog of confusion, and no one but me had any clue.

To read more first hand accounts of living with ADHD:

Before I was diagnosed with ADD my freshman year of college, I had terrible anxiety that counter-balanced my ADD symptoms. I knew I would forget everything. So I wrote it all down on post-it notes. I color coded the notes and hung them all over my desk as constant reminders. I knew it took me a long time to grasp concepts or finish a reading, so I set aside multiple hours in the day to teach myself calculus or French.

My anxiety got me through the high school workload.

I still thought I was stupid, but I’d figured out the work around.

But, my first semester of college turned that assurance upside down. I found myself forgetting entire lectures. I knew I went to class, but I couldn’t even remember being in the classroom. My notes looked like brand new material. I spent the semester teaching myself all the material for my class. I worked my butt off to keep up with my course load, but the amount of work I put in didn’t translate into good grades.

With a Diagnosis Came Help

Finally, I sought help. I was diagnosed with ADD my freshman year of college, and life hasn’t been the same since. I began seeing a therapist who helped me understand how differently my brain works and how to manage it.

My ADD medicine lifted the cloud from my brain; I can now see in color. I’ve realized that I’m not stupid at all. I’m actually quite smart. My ambition and confidence has increased ten-fold now that I know my capabilities. The nightmare I used to call college is now a dream come true.

To get expert advice on how to live with ADHD:

In the three years since my diagnosis, I’ve worked with my therapist to understand the world of ADD and my place in it, and that has made all the difference. I could have stopped at the medication, but I wanted to know why and how I was different and how to use that to my advantage. I wanted to learn how to rely on myself, and not just my medicine, to get by. Three years down the road, I can now see the world in color, with or without my medicine, and all because I made an effort to understand instead of simply treat.

Heather Brandenburg

Heather is a senior at the University of Kansas studying exercise science.

Related Articles
GET YTM IN YOUR INBOX!Receive our weekly newsletter with the latest articles, media, and resources.
Could It Be Depression?How to Know When to Worry, and Steps Parents Can Take to Help