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Like Sheridan Smith I was diagnosed with adult ADHD – just don’t call it ‘fashionable’

When I saw a headline last year in which the psychotherapist and author Philippa Perry called ADHD “fashionable”, my heart sank. I admire Perry immensely. I gave her book on parenting to my brother when he had his first child, and I follow her on Twitter/X for all her brilliant advice. But I had just written a book on adult ADHD diagnosis called It’s Not a Bloody Trend, and here was one of the people I would have least expected to show just why I had given it that title.

Perry’s full quote, that having ADHD-like symptoms doesn’t mean you have it, and that labels can give people an excuse not to take responsibility, is absolutely fair. But it was her suggestion that ADHD was somehow trend-led, or “the mental health term on everyone’s lips”, taking over from “bipolar disorder that was once the ‘fashionable’ condition to have” that made it so upsetting to many people with ADHD because getting a diagnosis can be intensely hard, as hard as living in chaos without one.

And I should know because three years ago, aged 37, I was diagnosed with combined type ADHD in 2020, after spending years struggling with depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, eating disorders, insomnia, and an overwhelming sense that there was something deeply wrong with me.

Xural.com

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