Thursday, May 27, 2021

I had a virtual appointment with my psychiatrist today...

(written April 14, 2021)

yep, I said "psychiatrist." If you think psychiatrists are for "crazy" people, then honey, deal me in. 🤪

I've managed Generalized Anxiety Disorder since my late teens and it took until 2021 for somebody to figure out that the anxiety is a result of my having untreated ADHD. We think about ADHD  in terms of children (usually boys) who need to be medicated into sitting still. 👀 It's not that (and please don't do that), it's a neurodivergence as valid as any other. You know how people come in all shapes, sizes, and shades? Well, so do brains. When people are developmentally delayed or have certain types of autism, we recognize that their brains are functioning differently. With some types of neurodivergence, it isn't quite as clear, even to the person whose brain it is. We just know that we process things differently and at some point either have to expend an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to appear neurotypical (or "be normal,") or we just say "eff it" and be our weirdo selves, partying with the people in our heads. In my case, a head that is only quiet when I'm asleep. Being a sound sleeper has been my saving grace.

My way of coping has been to demand as much perfection as I can extract from myself. Of course, nobody's perfect, so yeah - I've never been quite satisfied. I did (and DO) a lot of "weirdo" things that I didn't know were right on-brand for folks with ADHD, like setting alarms all day long to remind me to do things because my attention wanders from one moment to the next. I leave myself notes where I can't miss them, like the closed toilet lid or on top of my shoes in front of the door. I clasp my hands together tightly to keep myself from fidgeting. I have to be up and moving for HOURS before I have to be anywhere because I need to allow myself time to wander around my home forgetting things and remembering them again. I also need to allow time to get lost on the way to wherever I'm going if I'm not positive about how to get there because I tend to get lost almost everywhere I go, even WITH gps sometimes. I'm so used to my brain hopping from one thought to the next in quick succession that only doing one thing at a time seems like a waste of time if that task doesn't require much mental energy. When I try to watch TV without doing something else at the same time, I fall asleep.

And then sometimes I can go into a state of "hyperfocus" (usually with something that I'm really REALLY interested in) and it feels like a superpower. I can push myself to get things done perfectly (there's that word again) in a ridiculously short span of time. I'm usually exhausted & pretty useless afterwards, but for one shining moment, I am a shooting star!

I have issues.

I R-E-F-U-S-E to be unreliable and unprofessional, so I've worked very hard at coming up with these and other ways to keep myself on track. It's a lot. Until I was diagnosed with ADHD a couple of months ago, it was just my life. I didn't understand why I was overwhelmed, stressed, and anxiety-ridden most of the time. I didn't know why everybody seemed to have "down time" except for me. IT WAS BECAUSE I WAS SPENDING SO MUCH TIME SETTING ALARMS, LEAVING NOTES, AND OVER-PREPARING EVERYTHING, because without these measures, I was sure that my bills would go unpaid, my home would go uncleaned, I would show up late (or not at all) for appointments, I would lose all of my friends, and my life would fall apart.

The very first time I took medication for ADHD, it took 3-4 hours for all of the noise in my head to quiet down. I actually sat down and started crying as I thought "Is this what 'normal' feels like??" I also felt a little woozy, so I went to bed early. The next couple of weeks- as my body adjusted to the medication- were rouggggh. With time, I found that I focused better. Didn't fidget as much. Didn't feel like I was listening to 7 different people shouting directions to me at once and constantly having to prioritize which to follow.

Mind you, I am not talking about schizophrenia. I know there aren't actual people in my head, talking to me, but this is how I've always explained away the fact that I have multiple thoughts at any given time. 

But now my crazy has a name. It's A-D-H-D. 

I'm learning to make friends with it and not be (quite) so hard on myself.



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