Hands in a heart shape holding an infinity rainbox. Underneath the words Sandra Bell ND Coach
#28 Late-Identified ND
  • You can feel more neurodivergent once you realise
  • Grief can follow relief
  • Self-compassion is key

You can feel more neurodivergent once you realise


Figuring out as an adult that you have always been neurodivergent can be quite the ride. You can swing from certainty to questioning if you’re not just wanting to be ND because it would explain so much. You can also swing from feeling relief, to confusion, anger and even feelings of grief. 

Once you have that lightbulb moment – I’m autistic, or I’m an ADHDer, or I’m dyslexic - you are likely to notice your neurodivergence even more as you unconsciously begin to let your mask slip, even though you probaby didn’t even know you had it in place. (You can read more about ND Masking in Blog Post #21  here)

The natural unmasking that can occur can lead people around you to think you are just “playing up” to your freshly minted diagnosis or self-identification. Instead your journey is just beginning as you start the process of reviewing your whole identity and how this new key piece of information is allowing you to be your authentic ND self rather than continuing to try and be neurotypical (NT). 

Grief can follow relief


As above, you can feel both relief and grief upon realising you are neurodivergent. 

The relief comes as you finally realise that you aren’t a broken NT, you are and always have been a perfect ND. 

Then the grief can come as you go back over all the times you judged yourself to be wrong or less than because you couldn’t meet NT expectations. As well as grief for all the missed opportunities that you wanted to do but knew that you would not feel psychologically safe so you cocooned at home instead. Or the criticism you received when you couldn’t live up to NT expectations, and you took it on board thinking there must be something wrong with you that you just can’t do the thing, or achieve everything else that others seem to achieve with ease.

Through all of this self-compassion is key. (You can read more about self-compassion in Blog Post #25 here).

All those times you were trying to live up to NT expectations and just couldn’t, it’s OK, you weren’t broken, you were ND. And all those times you were made to feel you were the problem, and took that on as your own internal narrative, it’s OK, you didn’t know any better, and hopefully those around you didn’t either. 

It’s also important to be compassionate towards significant others in your life. They too need to adjust to this new understanding of who you are. You may also need to extend compassion to your parents who didn’t pick it up, or who (hopefully) didn’t know any better when they tried to help you comply with NT expectations, and may have thought that you just needed to try harder.

How have you found realising you’ve been ND your whole life and just not known?

Thanks for reading.

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Please note all information and strategies shared as part of the blog are for information and educational purposes only and do not constitute advice for any particular individual or circumstances.