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Impulsive or restless? You might have ADHD
Neurodiverse

Impulsive or restless? You might have ADHD

by Sarita RAO 4 min. 11.01.2023
Diagnosed as an adult, Antonia Quinton had to change her job and lifestyle, but says there are positives to ADHD, and now some support for English speakers
Photo credit: LW archive

Antonia Quinton first suspected she might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as an adult, in 2019. 

She had joined a personal development social media group, and the person in charge of the admin asked her the question outright.

She admits that “growing up, I felt a stigma around ADHD” so she had ignored any signs. When she looked at the website the person had directed her to, the former British police community support officer burst into tears.

“Having ADHD is a rollercoaster," she said. "It can be the most frustrating experience as well as the best. On a bad day it is severely debilitating. My brain just stops.”

ADHD is typically classified as having a short attention span, especially for non-preferred task. The hyperactivity may be physical, verbal, or emotional. Those who suffer from it can also be impulsive, fidgety, and restless. They have difficulty prioritising tasks and it can lead to poor time management and time blindness.

Quinton found it hard to find support in English for diagnosis and coaching for ADHD
Quinton found it hard to find support in English for diagnosis and coaching for ADHD

Quinton gives the example of going to post a parcel and subsequently being late to collect her parents from the airport because her brain does not order or process time.

Other effects are frequent mood swings, emotional dysregulation, and feeling rejected, which has resulted in Quinton sometimes thinking everyone, even her children, hate her despite them asking her to play with them. She also cites having a poor working memory and trouble multi-tasking, which is exacerbated by frequent procrastination and trouble completing tasks.

Diagnosis, medication and coaching 

“The first thing is to get a diagnosis. It can feel very lonely. The hardest part of discovering you have ADHD as an adult is knowing where to look for correct information,” says Quinton, adding: “There is a misconception that you grow out of ADHD. You don’t, you just get better at coping.”

People can be diagnosed either through a psychiatrist or a neurologist. GPs normally give two options – medication or support from a psychologist or coach, Quinton explains. The latter will delve into the patient's past to help figure out some behaviours. 

She also highlights that medications for ADHD in Luxembourg are not free for adults, and she says that medication considered standard in some countries isn’t available here.

Quinton says ADHD can have a significantly detrimental impact. “My brain is running at 100 miles per hour, 24/7. It never stops. Trying to sleep is hard because my brain doesn’t stop and I often have to take something to help me sleep. If I drink coffee, I can literally feel my thoughts and speech speed up. From a work perspective, you can be seen as unprofessional, annoying, hyperactive, bossy, and controlling. In the right job you thrive, but it’s hard finding that.”

The CHNP now has an ADHD clinic which can accommodate English speakers
The CHNP now has an ADHD clinic which can accommodate English speakers
Gerry Huberty

Today she works part time for her commune and as a coach. “I have the structure of having to be at a certain place at a certain time but also the flexibility of deciding when I can work.”

Her coaching is specifically aimed at  those with ADHD  and provides practical advice, a listening ear and access to tools like books or fidget aids. She also runs a Facebook group specifically for English-speaking adults with ADHD in Luxembourg.

“Often those with ADHD have anxiety. I have studied a lot of tips, tricks, skills, and hacks to get through life. I challenge the status quo and societal norms daily. I have dedicated my life to researching and finding the latest skills to help ADHDers.”

Anxiety is often co-morbid with ADHD: “When you forget things on a daily basis, struggle to focus, and your executive functioning skills are completely off, it’s hard not to worry about everything.”

It’s not all negative either. Her impulsiveness has opened opportunities, and she joined her local firefighting brigade as one of a few women, and the only one who is a native English speaker.

“I think outside the box. I am determined – I rarely accept no for an answer. I can also achieve things fast. Listening to a conversation among people with ADHD is amazing, because our brains are creative and fast,” she says.

Support for ADHD

If you think you have ADHD you can use this link to the CHNP (Centre Hospitalier Neuro-Psychiatrique) website's Attention Clinic, a project started in 2021. The clinic offers an assessment and treatment based on the recommendations of recognised international guides. 

You can find out more about Quinton's ADHD coaching and support in English here, and Alexia Hetzel offers ADHD coaching for adults plus psychoeducation for friends and family also in English here.

The Luxembourgish website for ADHD is www.treffadhs.lu

This article was first published on 18 December 2022. 


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