On a progressive foster/adoption board I’m part of the topic of ADHD and being diagnosed as such came up. Most of the following is what I wrote, edited only for minor details. I wrote this, and made it so personal, for two reasons. First, people were being so flippant about it. Things like, ‘I have it so bad, I have to take an herbal twice a day!’ and ‘I have to write lists and keep a calendar!’ Also, because of the ending, drawing it all together, to and with the kids:
I have ADHD Inattentive type. This is absolutely comorbid (if not causal) to my anxiety, in that the haphazard processing, executive functioning impairments, distracted thinking, and Swiss cheesed-concentration and memory. I am absolutely not joking that I have very limited memories of major (read: stressful) moments of my life, especially before I started taking medication. It impacted - and impacts - every facet of my life, from friendships, to relationships, to family, to academics, professional life, home life, and my internal life.
The hardest part for me is that there is and was no place to escape from “it”, and by “it” I mean my own brain. Audra says that it is part of what makes me me and is a huge part of what makes me kind, but long before I knew that the forgetting, distracting, flightiness, panic, and making connections were all part of the same thing, I hated it. Absolutely and completely. It is exhausting to feel your burn restlessly from both ends.
I know that ADHD had given me plenty of gifts, but I’ve only been able to come into them recently, with the medications (Adderall XR 15mg & Strattera 60mg). Even then, it takes A Lot to keep myself operating the way I want myself to. For example, I’m back in school for occupational therapy and at the end of this quarter, I just fell apart. Concentration, attention, memory, breath and calming skill, recall, the ability to put two words together: all scattered apart. Not a good thing for the required Anatomy and Physiology class. Another example: this morning, before I took my medicines, I was taking Lexy to school. I took her lunch out of the fridge but left my phone and her iPad/talker in the fridge. It would be comical if it weren’t a pattern of dysfunction, as in things like this keep happening and it’s not funny anymore.
The kids I’ve got to work with, including LM, I feel for. I know exactly how hard it is to feel absolutely different, because you operate differently than everyone else. People discount the shame involved in being different. If I had a dollar for every “you need to try harder” and “forgetting is not a real excuse”, I’d never be without ice cream. But I don’t; I just have the shame that prevents me from asking student services for accommodations.
[Here is something new and more]
I do have things easier now, but this is a relative ‘easier’. The panic attacks I get, though now much rarer, are from freezing with indecision and too many thoughts of all the possibilities. Some days are better, some are not, and it’s less causal than I’d like it be. My wife says that I have a disability and that’s okay. It is, I know that. But I know that abstractly. But that’s far different from either accepting it or working with it. Far far different.