This is such a long story. Like, a lifelong story. I'll do my best to be concise. For those of you who have gone out with me in the past month or two, I apologize for talking so much about this! I have been kind of obsessed with self awareness lately and I let myself think that just because something is fascinating to me, it must be fascinating to everyone.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Here is the deal:
This Summer I figured out that despite creative strengths, I have some serious mental weaknesses. This revelation came after yet another job I thought I would be good at did not work out. I was extremely frustrated that certain things that came easily for others were near impossible for me (organization, time management, multitasking, focus, filtering stimuli, following designated processes, repetitive tasks).
So, I did what I always do and called my Mom. Her response was, "maybe you should consider treating your ADD."
Oh, the ADD I didn't even know I had? Yes. That one.
Justin directed me to some stories of adults with ADD and by the time I was done reading it, I was in tears (in a good way) to realize the things that frustrated me most about myself could potentially have a treatment.
From that point on, I was research binge-ing I read three books, countless forums and talked with people I know who have ADD. The whole thing was pretty enlightening and the more I learned about ADD the more I realized the zillion small and large ways it has affected my life. For example, The fact that I almost never drove because I was afraid I would run someone over turned out to be a reasonable fear because people with ADD are WAY more likely to create car accidents. Over the years, I'd developed dozens of coping strategies that I didn't even realize were coping strategies. I'm a compulsive list-maker, I set timers and alarms so I don't forget things, I've avoided tasks that I should do because I didn't believe I could complete them successfully.
After a long and nervous wait, I finally got an appointment with a therapist who sees people with ADD. I think I struck gold with her. She is so encouraging and optimistic and helpful. After she was able to give me her official diagnosis, I was so relieved to be validated.
My therapist convinced me that I would be a good candidate for medicine. I am usually not a pill taker so I was reluctant. But I was feeling desperate so I agreed to visit a psychopharmacologist. I was put on a stimulant that made me feel so sleepy it was like I was always moving through a pool of molasses (counterintuitive right?). The doctor told me to stick with it and it was expected of people with ADD to feel sleepy on a stimulant when it makes non ADD brains hyper.
I'm so glad I kept taking the pills because the tiredness diminished and I started to see myself improving slightly. Tiny little things. I started doing things in a more practical order. I remember calling Justin at work to tell him that something amazing happened, "I went in the kitchen to make Rice Krispie treats and one hour later, I had made Rice Krispie treats!" He declared it a miracle.
This is just sort of a progress report. I don't think my medicine is right yet and I hear it takes a lot of tweaking in the beginning to find out what is best. I guess I just wanted to share what I've been going through and how optimistic I'm feeling. Previously, I would get very hard on myself for house clutter, forgotten responsibilities and inability to keep a job. Now I feel like I finally am on my way to helping myself do well at the things that matter to me.
Also, the most profound difference is that I can drive so much better! I am not covered in sweat after a five minute grocery store jaunt. I am able to trust my brain more to not put me in dangerous situations.
side note: Yes, I act like "my brain" and "me" are different things. I used to talk to my brain all the time like, "hey brain, don't blow this for the rest of me" and now I see I was talking to my chemical imbalance and sluggish neurotransmitters!
Feel free to comment or email me about this... Especially if you are going through something similar. I'm happy to overshare.
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsenil/