My energy level has been up the last week, as has my mood, and that’s a very good thing. For a long time now I haven’t felt 100% and I didn’t know why. I was always exhausted, and I’m sure a lot of that was because I forced myself to stay up way past my bedtime just because I hated the idea of having to get up in the morning and go to work. When I was at work, I wanted to be anywhere but. I was overwhelmed and unable to fully concentrate, I was easily annoyed by people and tasks I found boring or too involved. When I was home I was easily frustrated with the kids, prone to yelling at the smallest thing, and while I have all these ideas in my head of things I want to do more of (writing, photography, and other artistic expressions), I was so tired and unable to focus that I couldn’t do much more than watch TV, laptop on my lap, checking out Facebook, Twitter and any other mindless internet searching I could do. I never thought anything of it other than maybe I just need more sleep, maybe I just needed to eat better…I never considered ADHD.
That’s right. At the age of 38, I have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (clinically ADD doesn't exist, it's either ADHD with or without hyperactivity -- I'm not sure which I am).
I never even considered it at all in relation to myself, until recently. Watching my wonderful girl maneuver through grade school, there seems to be a running theme both in school and at home. My girl is a bit spacey. She tends to drift when her attention isn’t being satisfied by something of interest to her. She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s wonderful, but she’s also a daydreamer. Easily distracted by any external stimuli, whether she wants to be or not. In the last year or so, I’ve been watching her. For that reason, along with being very chatty, overly emotional at the little things, easily overwhelmed and frustrated and her rocking, I started to wonder if it was more than just being a typical kid. “ADHD” began to run through my head.
But at the same time, I often smiled and would tell myself and others, “Man, she’s just like her mama!” I think back to myself in school. I spent so much time daydreaming. Like…constantly! I can honestly tell you, I doubt I heard half of what most of my teachers said in most of my classes. They would talk, my mind would wander. Sometimes I’d write notes, or draw, or write song lyrics, but most of the time I would just space out.
So I started to wonder…I keep thinking she might have ADHD, but I also keep saying she’s just like me…what if I had ADHD? So I had to investigate, a/k/a Google.
I know it’s not always a good idea to try to self-diagnose, but I’m a Google addict, so of course I looked it up. I took several online quizzes and scored high enough to warrant a doctor’s visit, according to those quizzes. So I checked out a book from the library, “Delivered from Distraction” and started reading. There were so many times reading that book where I got tears in my eyes; so many things that suddenly made ME make sense. The tendency to daydream and drift off, even when I wanted to pay attention; all the ideas and things in my head that overwhelmed me so that I sometimes felt paralyzed and unable to do any of it; the frustration of feeling so overwhelmed by such small things; and so many other things that have made life feel like such a struggle recently. (Things I’ve always had, but have been amplified in recent months, I assume due to stress) I didn’t even get half way through the book and I knew it was me. I made an appointment to speak to a counselor, who was unable to actually diagnose me but believed there was something there. In order to get diagnosed, I went to a psychiatrist and poured out my heart about my struggles, my frustrations, all dating back to when I was a kid. By the end of the appointment, she had confirmed my self-diagnoses and gave me a prescription to help me with my most overwhelming symptoms – those listed above.
I felt the effects almost immediately. I was still me, but different? More aware, more in charge, focused, happier, energetic, motivated, less distracted, less overwhelmed, able to organize and handle my work… In many way, a better me!
I always joked about having ADHD, but I can’t believe that it took me 38 years to realize that it wasn’t just a joke – it was true. I have to say, I am very excited about it. I’m excited to see what I can do and accomplish now that I feel like I’m seeing things more clearly. I don’t feel like I’m walking around in a haze, I feel like I can finally take control and turn those daydreams into reality!
I know some people like to keep this kind of stuff private and may wonder why I'm putting it all out there. I've always been a bit of an open book, but I also feel like its a great way to create conversation and possibly help someone else -- and myself -- in the process. I know that I like to know I'm not alone with thinbgs like this.
I’m sure that I will talk a lot about ADHD on this blog now, as I work to find ways to better organize my life and to handle this diagnosis. While I am grateful for the effect the medicine is having on me, I am also searching for ways to make life easier and more manageable without the use of medicine. If you are reading this and you have been diagnosed with ADHD, I love to hear from you about ways that you’ve found make things easier for you.
I look forward to what lies ahead…and to more clearly seeing and appreciating love and the little things!