I have so much to say—I’ll probably wind up writing a hundred posts today. This past year has been an absolute roller coaster of relief, grief, and anger. I’ll talk more about those emotions later…
After having that “a-ha!” moment, and discussing ADHD with my own therapist (who I’ve been seeing off and on for about ten years), I waffled for a few more months on whether I wanted to try medication management. There was a part of me that thought, “I’ve made it this long, why bother now?” But realizing I have ADHD has caused me to reflect on… well, pretty much my entire life. And I started “watching myself” throughout the day. During my evaluation, I told the nurse practitioner that I feel so stupid when I say everything out loud… because in hindsight, of course, it’s so freaking obvious that I’ve had ADHD all my life. But when you’re in it, you don’t realize how many adaptions you’re making just to manage the day-to-day. I’ve been all over ADHD forums, asking questions, reading other people’s experiences… there is nothing more validating than reading hundreds of experiences that mirror yours. The thing that finally tipped me to try medication was when I asked if they really make a difference, and someone replied that you don’t realize just how hard things are until they aren’t anymore. (I’ll talk about the struggles of the day-to-day, too. I’ll also talk about all the things I do to compensate, so that almost every who’s known me is surprised to hear that I have ADHD because I seem so “together.” I assure you, I’m not.)
My first hurdle was making an appointment with someone. My therapist is a psychologist (they don’t prescribe), but she told me that I could just go to a regular doctor. This was kind of a big deal because I have an individual therapist, my son has a therapist, and my husband and I go to a therapist. I really didn’t want to add yet another “therapist” to my life. I also wasn’t keen on going to a regular doctor, though, especially a man. All of my doctors are women because, as a woman, I’ve found I just don’t get the same kind of understanding from male doctors. I find male doctors to be dismissive, and they don’t seem to trust our knowledge of our own bodies. But I digress. I wanted someone who specialized in mental health and psychiatric conditions, especially one who was familiar with ADHD. I found an adult ADHD center in Seattle, worked up the motivation to email them, and got a response that they were on vacation and would respond in two weeks.
I waited, happy that I had gotten this far.
Two weeks passed, and they responded with, “Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, we aren’t accepting new patients at this time.” The act of reaching out to make an appointment was a major hurdle for me, so it was crushing to have waited two weeks only to get that response. I did manage to search again, a week later, and discovered the wonder that is a nurse practitioner. There are nurse practitioners who specialize in psychiatric conditions and medication management. They are wonderful. I was concerned about the process because I’d read that it can take a lot of time and work to get an official diagnosis and prescription. At this point, I was feeling hopeful but worn down. I texted my husband as I walked into my appointment, “I really just want to walk out of here with a prescription. I can’t take dragging this out anymore.”
After waiting a month for my appointment (which was fine because after a lifetime, what’s one more month?), the day finally arrived. The nurse practitioner had no doubts, after an hour of questions and going over my history. My own psychologist, who I’ve been seeing off and on for ten years, has had no doubts as we’ve begun talking about it. And every ADHD person and doctor that I’ve encountered in the last six months or so has seen it pretty clearly… Plus, I can point to the fact that my son and others in my family have been diagnosed—ADHD is genetic.
So I walked out with a prescription and, even though I’ve *known* I have ADHD for a while now, it’s still hard to believe. But I’ll tell you this: I took the meds for the first time yesterday afternoon. And when a client emailed me with a rush editing job, I just calmly got started and finished it in an hour, and I stayed on task. I just sat down and did the thing. I didn’t pace around avoiding it, I didn’t whip myself up into an anxious frenzy about doing it, I didn’t obsess over it for hours until I just had to get it done or risk pissing off the client. I stayed firmly planted between two browser windows: the Google doc I was working on and the French dictionary I consulted. Once I got started, I wasn’t zoned out and unaware of the passage of time. I got up once to go to the bathroom and then got right back to it when I returned to my seat. I wasn’t working at a lightning pace, I wasn’t feeling jacked up, I was just… normal. Or what I imagine normal to be. Mentally, I was calmer than I’ve ever been while getting something done.
Of course, that’s just one little incident on day one, but the fact that I got started on a task immediately, was totally calm, and didn’t have anxiety about it is pretty huge. That’s enough to make me think this could work.
PHYSICALLY, however, I’m not having the greatest time. But more on that next.