Something I once wrote included the phrase “my father had a stroke before my unbelieving eyes, the day after Christmas, right before I turned four.” That event sort of set a precedent for my life. I faced many challenges, continually, at younger ages than most. I successfully managed the challenges that were too overwhelming by using denial as a tool of sorts. I think it helped me survive, but it thwarted me as well.
“Denial is good,” so I thought. When a therapist rather casually told me I was a battered wife, I chuckled, and never gave it a second thought. It protected me from facing something I wasn’t yet equipped to deal with. Now I will fast forward past one decade, and one divorce, because for this post, that’s all irrelevent. In my forties, another therapist, who was treating me for insomnia and anxiety, told me he believed I had ADHD. He encouraged me to go on Dr. Amen’s website and take the ADHD test. I did, but I don’t remember which type I had – I think I might have fit into more than one category. Still, I felt impervious to it, just like when I heard the words “you are a battered wife.” I suppose I wasn’t ready then either. Besides, I did not want to have one more stupid acronym to be defined by: CFS, ME, GAD, PTSD, and now this? NO!
I did not seek help for my ADD for years. I did not truly believe that I had it, or if I did, I thought it was a drop in the bucket compared to my other issues. The most recent addition was Hashimoto’s Disease. I was diagnosed with CFS at 29 in the 80’s – and eventually stopped admitting I had it, because the responses varied from snickers to pity. I have found that if there is not a definitive blood test for an ailment, people tend to blame or judge the sufferer. My Hashimoto’s was “real” disease, discovered by a thyroid biopsy. Yeah for me. Finally something I could admit to, but not much to be done for it.
Continually plagued with additional maladies, my doctor suggested trying Adderrall for the fatigue and slow metabolism from the Thyroid disease. I believe she had a suspicion that I had ADD, but was not sure how I’d react. That was a very wise move. I tried the drug without a feeling of stigma or shame. And suddenly, it was like a switch was flipped. It was astounding. I felt better, and I didn’t even care that I actually did have this disease that I considered questionable and bratty!! Maybe denial has not served me as well as I previously thought. I could have felt so much better so many years ago.
I didn’t realize that that was just the beginning of what has been, and continues to be a long strange trip, but a good one, because I am finally understanding that my quirky brain is not my fault and that there is hope for me. I still have my other health conditions, but they are easier to cope with. I don’ feel like I am in the middle of a confusing tornado anymore, but it is a work in progress. I am embarassed to say that I was one of those people who didn’t believe in ADHD. I thought it was an excuse for well meaning teachers to medicate difficult children. Conversely I thought it was the result of poor parenting. I realize now, I was pretty much a narrow minded ass about the whole thing. Sadly, we as humans, often don’t get perspective until we walk the path. Life has a way of humbling us. I have learned so much in the past few months, it’s hard for me to admit how unenlightened I was.
Whenever I face a challenge that I successfully handle, I want to share what I’ve learned with others. With ADD I am in the infancy of my joureny so I am hoping to learn from others this time, and also be a support for those who are newly diagnosed and struggling. I happen to be very blessed because I became acquainted with a woman recently We had so much in common and always lots to talk about. She immediately recognized me as “one of us” She shared her diagnosis with me, and I said “you won’t believe this, I have it too, but I don’t tell anyone.” In her slightly southern, charming way she said ” aw honey, I knew that!” She has been a God send, and helped me to look at the whole thing without shame, but rather as a puzzle to solve.
In the coming weeks, I will discuss what books and strategies have helped me, and what things I still struggle with. Maybe you have tips that can help me, as well as others on this crazy journey. I would like my blog to be a respite for others; a safe place to share comments and ideas. If you have an article about your own experience please let me know in the comments section. If you think you might have ADHD, you CAN feel better – your life can change. I wish I could scream that from the mountain tops!
Stay strong my friends.