So, diagnosis update. I have been formally diagnosed with ADHD, inattentive type. It's been a long journey to get this diagnosis, both before and after I suspected I had it. It really sucks that I had to realize it myself before I could try to get formally diagnosed because it's something you have for your whole life and is usually diagnosed in childhood. But, because I wasn't a 'behavior problem' when I was young, and I got good grades, no one saw any reason to test me. I'm not sure that they completely understood ADHD in girls when I was young. My mom says I could never sit still, but I could sit still in class. I think I was always so scared of getting in trouble that I was able to minimize some of the symptoms. But, I wasn't really living in the world for a long time. I would daydream and stare into space a majority of the time but I was smart enough to not need to pay attention in class and I read books every chance I could get, so I was intuitively good at english and spelling. My mom worked with me on many concepts outside of school and made her own worksheets and lesson plans. I think the tendency to daydream was not only a result of ADHD but because I was being bullied in school and my dad was struggling with his own issues and would get really mad sometimes. I learned to be quiet and to not set people off. And I learned to be in my own little world and just endure what was happening in the real world. So, briefly I will say that I also have been diagnosed with PTSD, because of my childhood and then abusive romantic relationships as well as several assaults in my adult life. I think I also have PTSD from dealing with undiagnosed ADHD. I have had these symptoms all my life and have been asking for help with them for over a decade.
- My struggle with being on time
- starting tasks
- completing tasks
- being very sensitive to any sign of rejection from other people
- strong, overwhelming emotions
- not being able to understand people when they speak at first - sometimes it seems like they are speaking another language and then if I'm given a few seconds, I can process what was said and suddenly I understand it.
These have been very scary to deal with and I always just thought there was something particularly wrong with me. I thought I must be lazy because everyone was telling me that I just needed more self-control, more will-power. I was told by a therapist that "you'll be on time when you want to be on time." It was always assumed that my struggle with being on time was because I didn't want to go to that particular place, even though I've insisted that it wasn't true and that I wanted to be on time. No one believed me. Even my own mother thought I was lying to get out of doing things when I said that I forgot to do them. Both my parents thought I was extremely passive-aggressive and that being late to family things was some sort of manipulation tactic.
Especially the auditory processing disorder. I have always thought that I was just stupid. Or that it was anxiety. I say "what?" a lot. So much that I get embarrassed that I haven't heard someone and I just pretend that I did hear them and I try to guess what they said. That doesn't always work and it gets really awkward. Sometimes they repeat themselves several times and I still don't have any clue what they're saying. Sometimes I just give up and get quiet. Just go back to my fallback of enduring the situation until it's over.
My current theory is that ADHD and PTSD are at the root of my other diagnoses. I think I get depressed because I can't do things that other people can do so easily, and I didn't know why until now. It's hard for me to relate to other people, because I don't just do things because I want to and when I think of them, and I have trouble participating in conversations because I can't understand what's being said and sometimes the conversations move too fast for me to process, especially if there are a lot of people involved. It's so alienating, and I've developed social anxiety because of that and because I wasn't a normal kid and spent so much time in my head. I've always been anxious about sharing too much with people about my daily experience because they will reject me. My boyfriend in college lost a lot of respect for me when I said that I watch TV to shut off my brain. He told me he couldn't believe that I would admit that, because he just didn't understand why you would want to shut off your thoughts, and he thought that was something only lazy people would do. I have too many thoughts. Sometimes I get into a thought loop and it just repeats the same thing over and over and over.... Sometimes I think about something in my past that is really upsetting, actually for much of my life that type of thought has been almost constant. It's really hard for me to get on a different track cognitively, and switch to thinking about something else once I start thinking about negative things, and TV is a great tool to help me shut things down and get into a different headspace.
I just want to feel ok. Like I'm not a failure and a screw-up. When I don't have to do things right away, I watch TV and I get on my phone and cuddle with my cats and just revel in the feeling of not having things due and not having anyone demanding anything from me. I do that every chance I get and the result is unfortunately that I end up not getting things done.
I don't think I deserve condemnation for using TV to medicate. Or for using sugary foods and binge-eating to help with my emotions and then gaining a ton of weight, or for developing OCD to compensate for forgetting things all the time, or for developing dermatillomania because I'm restless and anxious, or for developing a strong freeze response when I feel threatened, or for being a really quiet person because I want to avoid upsetting other people and/or making them angry at me, or for developing this weird thing where the expression on my face doesn't match what I'm feeling - which is an effect of trauma.
I am frustrated that I was not diagnosed earlier, and that I was misdiagnosed with bipolar and took lithium for so long which I didn't need to be taking. I'm frustrated that my symptoms were ignored by so many people including my parents and several different mental health professionals. I am frustrated that I feel like I still can't talk to people about this in a way that will make them actually believe me that I'm struggling with these symptoms and not being lazy or trying to manipulate someone.
I am happy that my parents finally believe me and are finally beginning to understand me better. I am glad that I have this diagnosis now so that I can try to get treatment and so I can finally understand myself and work toward a solution to what is the root of my problems.