Something happened to me lately that has changed my life. I want to share it as I believe it may help others who have faced similar issues to me. A couple of months ago I was diagnosed with ADHD.
I have struggled with anxiety and depression since I was a child. I had been going through a particularly bad period of anxiety and was recommended a psychotherapist by a good friend. Whilst talking to her she asked if I’d ever been assessed for ADHD.
“No. I don’t have ADHD” I replied.
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, I’m not hyperactive”
She explained that it doesn’t always manifest in hyperactivity, particularly in adult women.
She asked if I’d be assessed even just to rule it out. According to her the treatment she’d offer me would differ based upon whether I had it or not.
So, anyway, I went to my GP. The first GP I spoke to told me to increase my anti-depressants as it’s just anxiety and the waiting lists for assessments are really long. When I told my therapist about this she suggested that I might want to persevere. So, I went back and saw a different GP at the practice who was incredibly supportive. He listened to what my therapist had suggested in terms of possible symptoms. He agreed that it was worth investigating and referred me to my local mental health team for assessment.
After a few months the assessment day arrived. I went along still thinking I was ruling this out. The assessment involved an hour and a half of questions and tests. As the questions came I had a really strange sensation that these questions had been written just for me. It was like they were describing my personality. They looked at my school reports which always described me as a chatterbox who distracted other pupils and was “bright but careless”. They asked abut all areas of my life; family history, relationships, work, leisure, hobbies.
At the end of the assessment I was told I have combined ADHD. In other words I have problems paying attention and controlling impulses. I also have issues with mental hyperactivity – it’s hard to switch off my brain.
After the initial shock I started to feel relief at a sense of recognition. Much of what I have struggled with can be explained by my ADHD. I’d always felt that there was something wrong, now I knew what it was I could do something about it.
I was prescribed medication which I started soon after diagnosis. I was reluctant at first but the nurse explained that I needed a rest after 54 years of coping with this condition. It has been exhausting, I must admit.
The first day I took the medication it was pretty amazing. I felt like time had slowed down for me and I could get things done. I can focus on things more clearly and I’m less likely to procrastinate. I loose things less, I can relax more easily. My partner, Jo, has also noticed changes. I’m calmer, happier and less irritable than before.
I have been thinking about writing this post for a while. should I? Shouldn’t I? I know it’s a very personal subject but I feel that it’s important to share. I have already discovered 4 or 5 people I know also have ADHD. Most of them are in the creative industries. It seems that we are attracted to design-based jobs. And computers are a bit of a god-send for anyone with ADHD as they offer an endless source of excitement and problem-solving for us to hyper-focus on.
In terms of my work, I’ve always had difficulty getting things finished and maintaining attention to detail. Now I understand why that is and I can stop battling against it. Instead, I can find ways to work to my strengths.
For my friends and family, it explains why I have a need to lock myself away and hyper focus on my work. And why I find social situations extremely difficult (surprising for those who have always thought of me as an extrovert). I’m hoping I can find ways to get out and about a bit more.
Anyway, I plan to write more about this subject as I discover more. I hope that sharing this will help some other people who may be struggling unecessarliy. I don’t plan to stay on medication forever. Once I’ve had a rest I want to explore other ways of helping my symptoms and I’ll share my successes and failures here.
Please get in touch if you have anything to contribute but please focus on support. At this point I don’t really want to enter into debates about whether or not ADHD exists. All I can say is that I definitely have issues that have been helped enormously from the treatment I am getting from my therapist and the ADHD team. I am very grateful to them for getting me here.
If you recognise any of this as being you or are worried about a friend or family member, there’s a self test you can do. If it comes up with a high score, take the test and results along to your GP. There’s also a separate test for women and girls as their symptoms tend to be different.
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