A Damn Hard Diagnosis – ADHD

I am not a doctor. I am not a nurse. Heck, I’m not even a mental health professional. So as such I have no professional knowledge on the subject matter I’m about to discuss. I do on the other hand have a lifetime of experience suffering from what was once ADHD and I am here to tell you, that shit is over! I will suffer no more. I deserve to feel my best and I will advocate for my physical and mental health until I find what works best for my well-being. To those of you who say ADHD is a made-up disorder to line the pockets of pharmaceutical companies, we will agree to disagree. This isn’t the place for you.

I am totally a self-proclaimed PRO crastinator! I’ve never liked this about me; it just comes naturally. I used to think it was a character flaw and I hated that I was unsuccessful in changing that aspect of my personality. I’ve been pretty self-critical and have been learning to show myself grace for attributes I have no control over. It’s empowering and exhausting.

In October my friend Heather posted on social media a series of graphics regarding ADHD; I read the graphics, more than once. I chuckled at some of the symptoms thinking we all have that but as I continued reading and re-reading all of them, I was overcome by sadness. I began to sob uncontrollably. Each of those graphics specifically described me as if the writer knew me personally, knew my brain, and how I was wired.

The one statement I seemed to resonate with the most was this:

“Trying to manage her thoughts is like playing wack-a-mole.

“It can sometimes feel like she doesn’t have control over where her thoughts go or when they go. The day dreaming sounds lovely, and sometimes it is. Other times, her mind is playing out how bad it would be if the police came to tell a person that their spouse died. And she’s feeling all of the emotions as if it were happening right now.” ~Little Miss Lionheart

After reading her blog I did a deep dive down a big ass rabbit hole of all things ADHD. Podcasts, books, audio books, blogs, Facebook groups, you name it. I was pretty sure my entire effing life had been masked. I have suffered all these years from ADHD and had no idea until a month after my 54th birthday. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

I shed a lot of tears over the coming weeks, then began the daunting fight of being tested and diagnosed. Up until this point I was self-diagnosed. My official diagnosis came on November 26, 2021 at 3:03:19 PM. I spent the next six weeks learning all the hacks to help manipulate my brain, to try and create habits that made life easier and helped with organization but I just couldn’t manage the thoughts. I couldn’t turn them off.

To medicate or not to medicate? There is so much stigma around ADHD medications, especially the stimulants. I made the decision to try them. If I didn’t try, I would never know.

On January 15th, I met with the Doctor to explore medication options. Her initial suggestion was Adderall. It seems to be the go to for most adult ADHD patients. I picked up the prescription on Tuesday, January 18th and took the first dose as instructed early the next morning. I had no expectations because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. In the same breath I was quite apprehensive. There was a long list of potential side effects and I’ve managed all this time just fine. Did I really need medication at this point? The only way to know for sure was to take the pill. I took the pill and went about my morning getting ready for work. I couldn’t help but wonder, would I feel different? When? How would I know?

The difference in my head after starting ADHD medications.
From a tornado of thoughts to peace and quiet with one single dose.

Well, I am here to tell you, if this medication works for you (for some people it doesn’t and that makes me sad for them) but if it works for you believe me when I say you will know! It was as if I went from a tornado of thoughts about all sorts of random things to quiet. Peace and freaking quiet? Where has this been all my life? You know how when you have a bad screen inside your faucet and the water comes out all willy nilly and splatters all over the place. That WAS my brain. Now it’s a smooth flowing stream of crystal-clear water. Here come the tears again. THIS, this must be what normal feels like? The tears are from a multitude of places, but the most monumental feeling is that of what could have been? Had I known, how different would life have been? I’d have been a better mother, better wife, better friend. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a self-pity party and I’m not seeking sympathy, there is no “woe is me” going on here. I’m just sharing the experience, the feelings and thoughts. It’s a process I need to go through to help myself deal with the emotions and the acceptance of the diagnosis. I actually am very blessed and thankful for everything I have and have accomplished; I just know now I could have done better and going forward I will.

To summarize day one of medication: Adderall 10 mg 2x a day. Unimaginable mental clarity. Energy, an odd sense of energy. The second pill made me feel nauseous and made my heart race so tomorrow I’ll take just one and give it a week before adding the second dose. I like the freedom of being able to control what I’m taking and when because there is no build up period. It works right away, and it leaves almost as quickly.

Sidenote: I am a music lover, and it is my go-to for all the moods. You know your focus and clarity have hit a new level when your mind is quiet enough to really listen and then you sing along to Slim Shady for the first time medicated! Did he just say Clitoris? I’m dying over here!

I’m going to end here because I keep wanting to add, oh one more thing and I just need to save it for another post. You see medication doesn’t fix me completely, it just helps me have better control. It is a tool to be utilized with new habits to create a better version of me.

Until next time…..

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Image Credits
Unless otherwise noted, all the images here are my own.