'I was diagnosed with ADHD aged 42'

·5-min read
Photo credit: Rosie Parsons Photography
Photo credit: Rosie Parsons Photography

Victoria Richards struggled her way through life, making mistakes and being labelled 'scatty' for as long as she can remember, but being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity (ADHD) Disorder aged 42 was a pivotal moment in her life.

Here, Victoria shares her experience of being diagnosed with the condition in her 40s and how she's learned to happily embrace her whole self.

I had spent another morning frantically searching for lost keys, dropping unfinished tasks and starting new ones. Forgetting appointments and running upstairs to fetch things, yet returning empty-handed and bemused. Frustration at my total inadequacy had driven me to banging my head repeatedly against a wall.

From as early as I can cast my mind back, there has been a dense fog that shrouded my mind and I've found it increasingly hard to navigate my way through life. My school years were spent in chaos, in a state of permanent distraction, with a daily catalogue of forgotten school books, unfinished homework, extended deadlines and a complete inability to concentrate.

The label 'scatty' was firmly attached to me during these school years and followed me well into adulthood. My teachers despaired and my reports all echoed the same tired sentiment: "Victoria could do better if she would only apply herself." The art room at school was my solace. The only place I applied myself wholeheartedly and achieved success.

ADHD in women: What is ADHD?

'Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people's behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse,' the NHS say.

ADHD in women: How common is it?

Children who are between the ages of six and 12 are most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, according to the NHS.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists say 3 to 6 schoolchildren in every 100 have ADHD. For around 1 in 7 children with ADHD, the condition will continue into adulthood. They explain that boys are more commonly diagnosed as children, but in adults there is a more equal ADHD diagnosis rate between men and women.


I somehow managed to scrape five GCSEs together and with my eventual one A Level, I was accepted at art college. Art college was a breath of fresh air but I still struggled hugely with the academic parts of the course and would often find myself fighting to stay awake in lectures.

After graduation I found work life very difficult. I trod water for years as an insurance underwriter, stagnant and frustrated. Even in this low-paid role I was floundering; the same distracted work ethic. I was constantly making mistakes, I was anxious and increasingly ashamed of my ineptitude and life became increasingly difficult.

My home life was also in disarray. Too many late nights, drinking heavily and recreational drug use to escape the uncomfortable reality of my situation, I was unable to move forward — chasing my tail with endless lists that never got completed and tasks that were never finished. I was full of shame and became secretive with friends and family because I didn't want them to see the full extent of my failures.

When a relationship ended I retreated back to my home town in Devon and began working as an art gallery assistant, but again, the same patterns began to emerge. I have spent years presenting a glossy facade — sharply dressed, well-spoken and articulate — before watching the puzzlement of my employers, as a catalogue of mistakes began to mount up. My shame would grow and my self-esteem had hit rock bottom.

Jump forward to August 2019 and I was sitting in the lobby of a hotel with my mother. We had just spent a relaxing spa weekend together. I was reading the Sunday magazines and started to read an article about a woman in her 40s who had just received a diagnosis for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It was a pivotal moment in my life and one that I'll never forget. The penny dropped and I finally had an answer...

This was what had been wrong with me all along, I thought — It wasn't my fault! Following this revelation, I immediately made an appointment with my GP and after being told there would be a one year wait to see an NHS professional, I was lucky enough to be seen privately by a consultant psychiatrist, who — after a gruelling 3-hour session — diagnosed me with ADHD.

The initial relief was indescribable. Many feelings have come after the initial elation: anger at the time wasted, sadness for the little girl that could never understand why she couldn't just try harder and apply herself. But it's what's followed since that has been the making of me. An understanding of how my brain works, getting to grips with medication and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have all helped to clear the fog — and what a view...

'I married my partner Jarrod in 2017 and we have two beautiful girls, aged 4 and 7. I now run my own creative business upcycling mid-century furniture and accessories and I could not be happier. Managing my own business has given me the freedom to create a working environment that suits me and finally channel all that creative energy.

I've spent so many years trying to hide my darker parts and have realised that there is so much to embrace and be thankful for with my ADHD. It is the spark that fuels the flame of my creativity. For that I am truly thankful and would not wish for anything to be different.

For more information regarding ADHD in adults, visit the Royal College of Psychiatrists website. The UK ADHD Partnership has a full list of support services here.

You Might Also Like

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting