In focus

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

As more famous people share their mental health problems, it should make it easier to talk about your own, says Kat Brown. But it becomes a lot harder to admit to a diagnosis when others just think you’re jumping on a bandwagon...

Sunday 05 November 2023 06:30 GMT
Robbie Williams has discussed his ADHD diagnosis and other mental health crises that he has struggled with
Robbie Williams has discussed his ADHD diagnosis and other mental health crises that he has struggled with (Netflix)

When I saw a headline 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.

Nobody’s brain is the same, as I have discovered while researching my book, It’s Not A Bloody Trend: Understanding Life as an ADHD Adult, which I have written as my response to the kinds of attitudes that Perry has given voice to. Not for nothing was the 1993 hit self-help book for adults with ADHD titled You Mean I’m Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?!

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in