It has been a long time since I’ve been on here. We celebrated my daughter’s first birthday a couple weeks ago. She walks and talks and is even trying to potty train already. I can’t believe how lucky I am. But of course, as always, life brings its challenges.
I have not worked in over a year. Last August, I started babysitting my friend’s two little boys. Basically I was taking them to school and picking them up four days a week. It was a little income, and I felt like I was helping her out by saving her from daycare. Not long into the school year, the youngest started having problems, and was diagnosed with ADHD. He proved to be quite challenging about half of the days I had him. I began to understand why she was always so stressed.
By November, I was back on antidepressants. It took about a month to get the dosage right. She started me out at the highest dosage instead of the lowest. In fact, when I asked if there was a dosage lower than half of what she started me at, she had to look it up.
I inquired about therapy/counseling. I have been on and off of antidepressants for almost half of my life, seventeen years now, and never once has any doctor referred me to therapy, and I felt like it might help me. So I began my search for a different kind of help.
Melinda is a psychologist. Those are the ones who can’t prescribe medicine. The first few times we talked it was mostly about her getting to know me and what all was going on in my life, and how I had gotten to where I am today. I think it was the third visit with her that she asked me if I had ever been diagnosed with ADHD. Um, no, Melinda. I am about the least hyperactive person I know. In fact, since I stopped working, the most exercise I get it taking out the trash and bathing 25lbs of baby every couple of days.
She had some checklists, and, long story short, she thinks I have ADHD. I learned, while I was looking it up online (because I always research when something comes up) and found out that ADD and ADHD were combined years ago and they are both classified as ADHD. You can, however, have it without showing major signs of hyperactivity. You may see signs of impulsive behavior, instead. Such as answering a question before the person is finished asking it. Interrupting people. Things like that.
Okay, that sounds like me.
Wait, let me back up. First, to diagnose in an adult, there have to have been symptoms before age twelve. By the time I was twelve, I had been to (oh God, this is the first time I actually counted them) NINE SCHOOLS IN THREE STATES! Good grief, how was anyone to have noticed that I had problems? I was smart. I picked up on spelling words after seeing them only once or twice. I was a whiz at math. My dad explained squares and square roots to me when I was around eight and I totally understood them. I loved math. I was like solving a puzzle every time, and it was fun. I could always read years ahead of my age. I remember reading Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little when I was seven. I loved to read. I got good grades. The only time I was in trouble at school was when I finished my work before the other kids and started talking. To be honest, I have been moved to other seats by teachers to keep me away from the people I was talking to my whole life. Didn’t matter, though. I’d talk to just about anyone…
Okay. So how does this matter now? Here are the problems I have struggled with as an adult:
- Memory problems. I forget everything. Conversations I just had. What I had for lunch yesterday. My daughter’s diaper bag. Uh, my daughter… (which was the point that I sought help).
- I have quit school three times. College, anyway. I graduated high school with honors. I even had a full ride scholarship plus grants to go to school after high school. I had free meals, free housing, and about $3,000 a semester to attend school. I even got a student aide job to make more money. Before the end of the spring semester, I had dropped out.
- I can’t follow through on anything.
- I can’t decide what I want to be when I grow up. Mostly because…
- My confidence and self esteem and slightly more than zero. Very, very slightly. I think about doing one thing, then I tell myself that I’ll never be good at that. (Writing, for one.)
What does all this have to do with ADHD? Well, a lot, actually. I have trouble carrying on more than one train of thought at a time. So if I’m heading out of the house, and I’m trying to remember my purse, keys, phone, diaper bag, AND the baby, and I seem to be doing alright, and my mom asks me to pick something up for her, there is no way I will ever remember that she asked me to get something. Even if I heard her and acknowledged what she said. Unless she texts me as I’m about to pass a gas station, or as I’m approaching the checkout line at the grocery store, then I will totally forget what she needed. (Cigarettes. Nine times out of ten, it’s cigarettes.)
And it’s because I can’t. I literally can’t “record” her request while I’m on a set train of thought, focusing on the very “simple” (haha) task of leaving the house. My husband will tell me that he’s off on a certain day, or that he’s getting off early to go to the dentist, or something of that nature, and when that day comes, I have no idea why he’s not getting out of bed, or why he’s home at lunch time. And laundry? Forget about it. I probably did. I wash each load of towels an average of two times. Because when I do laundry, it’s the last load I put in. And since I don’t have any more piles of clothes on the floor to remind me that I’m doing laundry, I totally forget to put them into the dryer. It’s not until I can’t find my jeans and realize they’re still in the dryer that I think of the towels. And I don’t even want to talk about the clothes that I have destroyed by forgetting to run them on delicate. I could cry every time that happens.
So take that whole previous paragraph or two, and imagine how that makes me feel. I’ll help:
- I forget those people closest to me. I must be self centered. They probably hate me. I’m a terrible wife/mother/daughter/friend…
- I’m a failure. I can’t finish school and now I have student loans that I can’t pay and no degree to show for it.
- I’ll never be a career woman. I’ll probably only work a job for a year or two before I get burned out and start wanting something more stimulating. I’m putting a terrible financial strain on my husband and my family. I’m so worthless.
- I can’t even do laundry without f-ing up. What the hell is wrong with me?
- What kind of mother forgets her baby?
- I’m smart, so why can’t I get my shit together and pay my bills? I can’t even function like a grown adult.
- I’ve had depression my whole adult life. (It started at age eighteen when I was diagnosed with a thyroid disorder. I’ve always blamed it on that.) I’m always going to be dependent on antidepressants. I’m such a flake.
Okay, so what am I saying? I’m saying that maybe, just maybe, (and I really don’t want to get my hopes up too much, but maybe…) all these things might come down to one very simple diagnosis. Maybe I do have ADHD. So I took the test, and scored so, so, so, so, SO, SO freaking high, OMG, on the attention side, and not as high, but still high, on the hyperactivity/impulsivity scale thingy.
Melinda, God love her, can’t write prescriptions. But I have an appointment with my primary care doctor. She can confer with my therapist and confirm the diagnosis, and hopefully, I can start taking something for it.
Oh, and she wants me to write more. So hopefully, with any luck, I’ll be back on in a week or two with an update. I’d like to promise that I’ll be back sooner just to write, but I’m having major issues with my laptop. The only reason I can get on here today is because my mom is away and I’m using the computer in her room.
I’m going to leave you with a link:
Maybe you can learn what I did. And if your life sounds anything like mine, maybe you can talk to your doctor about it. And I’ll be back, with any luck, to let you know how I’m doing. And I’m going to leave you with some advice that my cousin, a kindred spirit, gave me: Sometimes you have to put everything on hold and take care of you. The universe will wait, and your family will still love you when you’re finished. You just can’t take care of everyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. Sometimes, I think, we all need that friendly reminder.
Thanks for reading.