Monday, June 4, 2018

A calmer, less scattered future....maybe

This past Saturday I took medicine for my ADHD for the first time. I was nervous and scared and hopeful all at the same time. Would it change me? Would I still want to dance? Would my superpower of hyper-focus be gone? Would I still be able to do 3000 things at once? I just don't know. But I do know that I hope it gives me more clarity and peace. I hope it makes me more reliable. Forgetting to pay bills isn't cute in your mid forties. Neither is being completely scattered so much of the time. Hormones have amplified my ADHD which has mega-amplified my anxiety and made me a complete, I took medicine and now I wait and hopefully still dance but worry less.

My post medicine selfie. I think I look calmer, maybe?
I know for sure that I really will only take selfies laying down from now on. The gravity pulling my worry wrinkles back definitely makes me look calmer and a tad younger.

I've always been pretty fun. I like to laugh and dance and talk. Most of the time I'm pretty easy to talk to and be around. Most people like me or at least don't have a problem with me. Unless you are the people that I forget to call back. Or the people I let down because I commit to something and then don't do it. Or my kids when I am the last mom at pick up or totally forget (lose) the sign up sheet for everything.  Or my husband when I have a panic attack because I just can't calm my brain down and it scares me and I pick a fight or cry to him.

It wasn't until my brother and I took a quiz on vacation about eight years ago in a magazine that I thought I might have ADHD--attention deficit hyperactive disorder. He and I were laughing and checking boxes on the quiz until we weren't laughing. "Holy shit, this is us," I said to him. I threw the magazine across the room and we went to the beach. We didn't want to have a disorder. We didn't want to think about 'what if we had known this years ago and gotten help....maybe I could have...maybe I would have..." Um nope, we wanted denial and the beach.

Then a few years later my son, JT, was diagnosed in third grade. The similarities between the two of us are/were undeniable. It was like taking that magazine quiz. Do you get lost in daydreams, like really lost, like you don't hear or see what's happening around you? Check. Do you like routine but also want freedom to do what you want? Check. Do you have a lot of energy and feel happy when you are moving/running/jumping/being active? Oh yes, check that. Are you loveable but moody? Yup. Do you lose everything? Um, yes. Do you feel like you are always trying to play catch up? yeah. Do you lack follow through? Uh-oh.

The more I learned about ADHD, the more I was convinced I had it for sure. 

This past winter it all came to a head. I was tired of being "flaky" and forgetful. I was exhausted by losing things. Everyday I felt like a failure. Everyday I worried I was letting everyone down everywhere. Ahhhhhh.  Then I got an opportunity to go back to school and knew that if I was going to do that and work two jobs and keep up with four busy kids, I was going to need help. I decided to go to  a psychiatrist and get some help. Actually I had gotten a referral two years earlier, but you guessed it, I lost the paper with the name and number on it. 

The doctor suggested extensive testing to rule out mood disorders, personality disorders, and depression. The test involved IQ testing and a whole bunch of questions and pictures and it took hours. When I went to get the results I was nervous. My mother has been diagnosed with bipolar, depression and personality disorder...that could be me. It was all a bit overwhelming. The doctor walked into the room looking at a file. He said hello and then he said the most shocking thing I ever heard-- "You are an incredibly intelligent woman," he said. 

I laughed and blurted out, "No one, I mean no one, has ever said that to me, ever."

He went on to tell me I also had ADHD, but nothing else based on the testing. One word on the paper was highlighted under the personality-- "turbulent." Which was exactly how I'd been feeling the past few years in my head...turbulent. 

I explained to the doctor how I have tried everything to try to think clearly and feel less turbulent--running everyday, meditation, diet changes, oils, vitamins, running more. Those things helped but not all the time. 

He suggested medicine. "I'm nervous," I admitted to him. "I understand," he said.

After the appointment I sat in my minivan and I cried. It all felt like a very big deal...the testing, medicine, the acceptance, the fact that I hadn't been dumb and flaky my whole life. My inner child was doing a happy dance and saying "I knew it, I told you I wasn't stupid." All those years of extra studying, losing papers, stressing, failing, apologizing over and over..."I'm smart," I whispered out loud to no one. I wiped away my tears, smiled at my wrinkled middle-aged face in the mirror and put the car in drive. I felt nervous, but ready to face the future.