Mum’s shock at discovering ADHD diagnosis at 43

A single mother says she and her mother have become closer than ever after discovering they share a similar trait after 43 years.

Alisha Burns, 43, found herself in an online community of other single mothers after deciding to mother herself.

A friend in the group was diagnosed with ADHD and autism and shared her symptoms—like constantly having voices in her head, having a bad memory, always picking up new hobbies, and never finishing projects—on her social media.

Mrs Burns felt marked, believing that many of the symptoms related to her, so when the couple and their children went on an overseas trip to Fiji, it was all they could talk about.

“I started doing a little more research about it and listening to some podcasts. I thought, ‘How did I not know that was me all my life’,” Ms Burns told news.com.au.

She was officially diagnosed with ADHD, but when she started listening to podcasts, she sent them to her 73-year-old mother.

“My mom found out that he also has ADHD and that it probably comes from his dad. This is just crazy. I didn’t know my brain worked differently than other people’s brains,” she said.

Some people may be filled with relief by the diagnosis, while others are disappointed that it took so long.

But Ms. Burns said she was lucky because when she first started looking for podcasts about ADHD, it made neurodivergence seem like an incredibly positive thing.

“I could see it as a superpower, but while I’ve said it to other people, it still has quite a negative connotation and I think it’s because a lot of us think of hyperactive naughty schoolboys,” she said. said.

“We don’t think about how it manifests in women. I think if you look back at my school certificates there would be no doubt. It was so much about being good but having to focus on myself and being easily distracted.”

However, one of the biggest benefits of discovering she has ADHD is that it has brought Mrs Burns and her mother closer together after she revealed the pair had not been close.

“There were a lot of things that annoyed me about her that I now know are ADHD. She is an older generation that is less self-aware and less willing to do something about it,” she said.

“Things like I would tell her something and she would always turn it back to a story about herself. Now I know it’s ADHD and she’s doing it to connect with the person, not because she wants to take the experience away from them.”

She said her mother was a people pleaser and had rejection sensitivity disorder – to the point where she would worry about stacking the dishwasher if Mrs Burns didn’t like the way she was doing it.

“But I don’t care how things are in the dishwasher. “Since I found that out, I can understand why he does certain things because now we know our brains work the same way,” she said.

“We talk so much about ADHD and how it manifests in us, and we’re much more open and honest. We can also call each other if we do weird things. We’ve become so close, which I never thought we would be, so it’s a really nice result of all this.”

She said she also keeps an eye on her daughter to see if she starts showing signs of ADHD so she can help her on her way.

Another huge win from her diagnosis was that Ms Burns left her corporate job and started her own business called Solo Mum Society after returning from maternity leave at her previous job and finding a completely different management style that didn’t suit her operation.

Her diagnosis gave her the courage to go out on her own and fill a niche for single mothers in terms of sources of support and what to expect.

“Last week I just published a book with 20 stories of other women who have been through it and created an online community that has 1,200 members,” she said.

“It’s this amazing community that’s come together just because we’re all single moms, and it’s something that I created. It gives me so much passion and drive.”

Ms Burns said she wanted people to learn from her story above all that being diagnosed with ADHD is not a negative thing.

“She really thinks she can be a superpower. I think for me, giving up my corporate job and being my own boss is creating an environment where my superpower can thrive because I don’t do well being told what to do.”

She said she doesn’t think she ever knew why she felt like she didn’t fit in until she was diagnosed.

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