ADHD Symptoms Ambassador

This campaign is initiated
and funded by Takeda

Amber Pessoa

I think as a woman I have to advocate for my health, for the allowances I need in life, and to be unapologetic.

I look back at my life pre-ADHD diagnosis and see a piece of my puzzle that was missing. I remember feeling like I wasn’t meeting expectations or that I was doing badly academically. I was messy, forgetful and wasn’t always responsible, but my grades were relatively good and I got what I needed to go to university.

Throughout my degree I lived with both anxiety and depression and, as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, what I now know to be signs of ADHD were getting more prominent.

I knew there was something else going on aside from the depression and anxiety and I wanted to get help, so I went to my GP and they referred me to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) services. While waiting for a CBT appointment it was social media that prompted me to look into ADHD. Over a few weeks, I saw a collection of tweets, and the scenarios people were talking about were just too specific. The more I read, the more I realised the tweets weren’t coincidental; I could’ve written them about my own life. While I wasn’t totally sure I had ADHD, I decided to do some research.

I procrastinated and didn’t go in search of help straight away, but eventually went through the “Right To Choose Scheme* and after six months of waiting, I secured an appointment in autumn 2021. I was very nervous before my appointment because I wouldn’t know what to do next if I wasn’t given the diagnosis, because I was so sure I had it! The psychiatrist asked me to look back at my life – I had to rely on my family and friends’ reflections to complete the puzzle. As we reflected with the psychiatrist, I saw the signs that had been staring me in the face. I would zone out during lectures or long conversations but was able to hide it and work out what someone was saying, even if I wasn’t listening. Another sign was the detailed lists I made every day to make sense of the day, otherwise it would feel like I was living in a maze; I would write down when I needed to wake up, get ready and carry out various tasks throughout the day. If I didn’t do this, I would be completely lost. Looking back, these were coping mechanisms I used to deal with undiagnosed ADHD.

I was diagnosed with ADHD in November 2021 at 23 years old. One of the first things I felt was validation because before this point I had no choice but to blame myself.

The diagnosis was a real full circle moment – until this point I was always scared of the future but now the world is my oyster!

I have learnt a lot throughout my ADHD diagnosis. I didn’t even know adults could have ADHD or that labelling it as a learning disability was a gross oversimplification. Post-diagnosis hasn’t been easy; while I had a lightbulb moment, everyone around me was still the same. I advocate for myself every day and remind those close to me about my ADHD. I have landed in a place where I accept that I can’t make someone understand me that is committed to misunderstanding. I choose to make my environment as kind to myself as possible, surrounding myself with those who support and love me for who I am, even when inconvenienced.

I’ve had to work on my self-awareness and now realise that I can’t rely on others supporting me in the way I think they should. I think as a woman I have to advocate for my health, for the allowances I need in life and to be unapologetic. I will not let a neurotypical world shape me into what it wants me to be. I am not a burden because of who I am. I want to mould the world around me and my ADHD!




Research Analyst




Key symptoms Depression, anxiety and low self-esteem

Sound familiar?

Do these stories sound familiar to you? If so, you might want to consider speaking with your doctor about ADHD. Visit our symptoms page to learn more or download our discussion guide to help you prepare for your appointment..

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