ADHD, Health

Let the Journey Begin

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The wheel have fallen off again…

There’s been a lot of discussion and misinformation about what ADHD is, whether it exists and how it’s treated in the press.  I’m not attempting to address these arguments, but rather offer my own experience and how I came to seek a diagnosis when I was 46.

A little about the name ADHD.  I believe ‘Attention Deficit’ is misleading.  I certainly don’t suffer from a deficit of attention – nope!  I just find it hard to pay attention to what I’m meant to be paying attention to.  Much to the annoyance of almost every teacher, employer and pretty much anyone who has tried to have a conversation with me.

As a girl (the ratio of males to females diagnosed with ADHD is 3:1) I was always either a gobby motormouth that wouldn’t shut up, or I’d be daydreaming with very little perception whatsoever of what was going on around me.  Neither of these things were a deficit of attention.  In fact, I could cover about 82 topics of conversation (one sided) in only a few minutes with no trouble.  And when it came to daydreaming, I was able to focus for hours on the clouds drifting above my classroom window, or the grain in the wood on my desk, or my pencil, or my ornate doodling as my teacher’s boring, monotonous drawl melted away to nothing.

Another thing about the name ADHD is the hyperactivity part.  From what I’ve read and know of my own experience, one of the reasons girls sometimes slip through the net is because they don’t necessarily act particularly hyper.  They aren’t bouncing off the walls (like my son), or unable to sit still in a chair (like my son).  But instead tend to have very little impulse  control and maybe have a restlessness that presents differently, inwardly rather than outwardly.

So, it seems, there may be a lot more adult women out there that have struggled since a young age but have managed through, perhaps, good relationships, social networks, their own sheer bloody minded determination to keep going with ADHD but never get diagnosed.

That was me – when the planets aligned and all was calm and good, things were manageable.  I have had some exciting and rewarding jobs and several careers.  I’m a successful photographer and an author of two books.  I have three lovely children, a good marriage, a loving supportive family and a lovely home, great life-long friendships.  But these manageable periods are always short-lived.

Then there were the times when things were not alright.  When life was extremely hard. The wheels first fell off with the onset of teenage hormones.  Then the inevitable relationship breakups and on into my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s – divorce, eviction, post natal depression, redundancy, bankrupcy, professional rejection and lack of success, loss of friendships, bereavement, a child with serious mental health problems, a child with a disability.  All these life events can and do happen to anyone and everyone, yet with each of these to a lesser or greater extent, it seemed so much harder than it should have been to recover or just cope.   I watched friends and acquaintances deal with far worse, but didn’t go into a total tailspin.  All of which just makes me feel even more like a total loser.

It has been the latest one that has finally driven me to seek a diagnosis though.  This last one, the femme-fatale of female physiology, mid-life’s biggest shitty stick – the bloody menopause.  Since 2015, once a month, my brain has felt like a clown’s car – collapsing, falling apart and disintegrating until it’s just a heap on the floor.  I can deal with the night sweats, the acne and the migraines.  But not being able to string a sentence together, or organise my housework, or simply work, I can’t put up with.

Clown cars collapsing are amusing.  This is not.

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ADHD, Health

Bored, not Bad.

When my son was about three and regularly going beserk, I Googled his behaviour and came across the term ADHD.  My husband and I read the diagnostic criteria, nodding and ‘hmm-ing’ at how similar it was to our little firebrand and then my man said something that was to change my life – ‘That’s you that is,’ he said.

Although, it turns out, without the hyper bit. I’m just talented at day-dreaming…. Like when I had to fly home from my family holiday in France to potentially ‘say goodbye’ to my mum.  I managed the trip by thinking about lipstick.  Matt lipstick, mainly.  Principally, it meant I didn’t cry in public, and that’s good.  I’m an ugly crier.

Well, she survived and I continued to muddle along, not really achieving what I wanted to achieve.

Hyper focus can be an ADHD skill and this blog is all about the ups and downs of life as a differently wired person.  Hyperfocus can also be a massive hindrance, partlicularly if say, I was thinking about matte lipstick in a job interview for example.  Whilst ADDer’s have some great skills and talents, but we do also get bored.  Everso, everso BORED.

I’m an anomaly.  I’ve also got to 47 and not got sectioned, arrested or committed suicide, which is popular in my family. I sought diagnosis for many reasons.  One, because I believe my son has the same set of traits – some brilliant, some unhelpful.  I wanted to go through the process before him – he’s  10.  Another because as an optimist,  I’m hoping a diagnosis will help me finally meet my potential – something my teachers warned would never happen right from the age of 5 unless I ‘learned to concentrate’ and ‘got organised’.

I’d like to share my diagnostic story with you and maybe his.