ADHD Voices: Delaid

Photo courtesy of Delaid

Hi my name is Delaid and I am 45 years old and amongst many other things diagnosed throughout my lifetime the most recent was a diagnosis of ADHD in September of 2019. The diagnosis of ADHD in my case is quite interesting from an objective perspective and I thought it might be of interest to other people who are late in life receiving an ADHD diagnosis.

Let me go back a few years to when I was 13 years old when I was diagnosed and treated for narcolepsy with dexamphetamine (Adderall in the USA). In July 2018 this stimulant therapy was ceased due to complications with other health conditions which appeared around that time. Absolutely nothing prepared me for what was about to occur when the stimulant therapy ceased. 

The first thing I noticed were tasks that I previously could tackle on my own and competently were falling to the wayside, to the point that I found myself in bed with Netflix on yet not watching anything just inside my head panicking about what the hell I was supposed to do and what was happening. 

I was not able to articulate to my psychiatrist or my medical team what was occurring because I had never experienced anything like this. All I could communicate was that in the last six to nine months I felt my depression was becoming so bad that I was unable to do even the most basic tasks. 

From July 2018 though to June 2019 I had multiple admissions for severe depression to a mental health unit. Each time I would describe simply that my depression was getting worse. Finally in June 2019 my husband advocated for me confirming that there was just not usual depression. 

Let me give you some examples of what was presented to my doctor:

● In the space of about six to nine months piles of paper that contained bills, important documents such as birth certificates mixed up with all sorts of other documents appeared 
● Baskets of unfolded laundry 
● Family members asking me for items and I had no idea where they were 
● Constantly running out of food in the house as I would forget to do the shopping 
● My home had become chaos and despite support from family members it would return to chaos
● I was being charged fees for missing medical appointments
● Some of my medical team discharged me as I was not turning up and therefore losing out on much needed support 
● I was constantly re-purchasing items because it was easier than the anxiety of searching for them 
● Hours spent in bed distraught as to how to fix this despite being surrounded with to-do lists 
● Yet I could plan a perfect snowboarding holiday & this seeming paradox really confused me and added to my deepening depression. 
● I would get deeply focused on an activity and easily angered if interrupted. 
● I couldn’t explain where hours of time had gone and got very distraught if asked about it 

It was noted that although there were elements of these aspects before my medication was discontinued, this was a huge change in my life that was noticeable by my husband. 

Discovering ADHD

During my June 2019 Admission my psychiatrist performed what I describe as a “reverse diagnosis”. I was prescribed Modafinil and monitored for 6 months and provided information on ADHD, Executive Dysfunction, Hyperfocus and Hyperactivity. 

Whilst Modafinil is not as effective for me as dexamphetamine, it has fewer side effects and has made a huge difference to my life. It treats both ADHD and narcolepsy. Immediately I was able to manage my day to day appointment schedule, which was a huge win for me. This meant no more missed appointment fees and I could rebuild my support network, including a peer ADHD life coach who has been awesome. 

I was no longer confused why I could organise some activities and not others, which lifted my mood. I joined an ADHD Discord group, and rather than sit in bed in angst I surrounded myself with support and ideas and I am slowly overcoming the challenges that medication doesn’t resolve.

I gained more confidence in asking family members (all adults) to take responsibility for their own important belongings. I accepted that sometimes it is just easier to order a new certificate if needed than to put myself through the stress of finding it, and then I put the new certificate in its new home. I have learned the art of throwing stuff out, ruthlessly. 

Yes my house is still Chaos. There are still baskets of laundry to be put away. There is still decluttering to be done. Each day I do at least one small thing to make my home a cleaner, more organised space. Yes some days it still gets me down, however I find the use of photographs really helps me see the progress. 

In September 2019 I was formally diagnosed with ADHD with my psychiatrist adding that I place the “H” in ADHD. 😀 

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If you’d like to connect with Delaid,
she can be found as @TheRealDelaid on Twitter

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ADHD Voices is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of folks like you and me who have ADHD. Posts in the series are written by guest authors, sharing windows into their lives and struggles, written by them, for you and me. If you’d like to share your story, please contact me on social media or through my email, ADHDsurprise @ gmail.com

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Looking for more great ADHD content?
Check out all of Jamie’s platforms:

ADHD Voices: Kristin

Photos courtesy of Kristin Paulson

I have always had this “I don’t care what anyone thinks” but also, “why does it seem like no one likes me” internal struggle as long as I can remember. I was a generally happy, active kid. I did dance, scouts, sports, etc. I did average to well in school. I struggled with friends, I had trouble “fitting in.” I had big ideas. I wanted to be a professional baseball player, President of the United States, or an author, to name a few of my elementary career choices.

Life in school

Middle school was okay. Same issues, just more hormones in the mix. I remember my biggest struggle academically in elementary and middle school was being assigned something to read that I did not particularly enjoy. It was so hard to read it; I found it literally painful and unable to be completed. I often got caught up in gossip in middle school amongst friends. My intentions were to be a peacekeeper but I seemed to have a knack to cause turmoil amongst my social groups.

High school was fun. I was in the marching band, I had some boyfriends, and I had a core group of friends throughout high school. One moment that sticks out in my mind is at band practice, we were practicing our routine and needed to freeze at a particular spot, like literally freeze and not take another step….I couldn’t do it. I always took one more step. The instructor was livid. Everyone was cracking up, and I had no idea why I could not freeze when I needed to. It literally felt like I had no control.

I struggled in school a little more. Things that did not interest me were awful. I struggled, resisted, and tried to make it work. At some point, my mom pondered if maybe I did have ADD and took me to be evaluated. I went to a psychologist or something and in one session, they concluded I did not have ADD so that was that.

Again, I had friends, I graduated high school with honors, I was accepted at Michigan State University. When I reflect on my childhood at home with my parents and 3 younger sisters, I was an asshole if I did not get my way. I would attempt to make everyone miserable if I was miserable. I would trash the house, yell, scream, etc. My mom could generally keep her cool, my dad, a fellow ADDer, would not always remain level headed. I was grounded quite a bit.

I did have the oldest child thing going for me, I had such an urge to attempt to do everything my parents asked me to do, that I did not often challenge major decisions, and usually respected rules and such. I often was accused of “parenting” my younger sisters. My next sister and I basically hated each other from middle school until we were adults. It was a working hateful relationship but we definitely did not respect each other until much later.

Finding my niche in college

My freshman year of college was really hard. I went away to school so I was learning how to manage my own time, going to class with 300-400 other people, and not having to show up if I didn’t want to. I struggled the first two years, netting a 2.0 GPA, and then I found my niche and became a Social Work Student—the program that required the least amount of science.

I graduated with honors, had an amazing internship in the Mayor’s office in Lansing, MI, and I got a grant job at the College of Nursing that had social work students and nursing students working together. I liked what the nursing students were doing better. I joke I went to college the first time to learn how to be an adult learner. I started chipping away at my science classes I needed to apply for Nursing school, they were so hard, but I wanted it, so I made it work. I graduated with my BSN in Dec. 2007 and have done well as a nurse…for the most part. 😉 You know, ADHD struggles.

Adulting

Here I am hyperfocused on my school story, during that time, I also got married and moved back to my hometown. ER nursing was my career choice. As my primary care doctor says, “I think most of you that work in the ER have ADD/ADHD, you can’t sit still!” As a nurse, there is always an opportunity for overtime, I could easily work 50-60 hour work weeks.

I burnt myself out. I started thinking about having kids and not wanting to be pregnant and working 12 hour shifts. I had a vacation request denied, and well, ADHD, abrupt decisions based on one heated feeling. I got a M-F nursing job at the same hospital in informatics, I helped build, train, implement, maintain the new Electronic Medical Record application for the inpatient setting, it was an amazing experience.

But I missed the ER and hated the Monday through Friday monotony. And I popped out two kids in 4 years. It was so mundane to get the kids to daycare, go to work, pick the kids up, go home, make dinner, put them to bed, do laundry, etc. (my husband was present and supportive, but this story isn’t about him). I kind of hated life and wanted to go to grad school. So I went back to the ER part time, and 5 years later made it to grad school!

I found out through parenting

My son struggled with school in 2nd grade, falling behind for the first time. After the first half of the year, his teacher was always redirecting him. I took him in for ADHD evaluation. Then I read it.

OMG, I am him, this is me, I have ADHD.

This explained so much: impulsivity, over-emotional response, ability to hyperfocus, messy house, hating cooking dinner or taking the time to eat, and so on. I got myself some Adderall and connected with some online resources like ADHDSurprise, ADHD Alien and much of the ADHD Twitter community. I also enjoy The ADHD Mama, Dank ADHD Memes and Authentically ADHD on Facebook. It feels so good to know I am not alone, the struggle is real, but it is not impossible to manage and be successful. The kids and I have all started counseling to give us the tools we need to be successful in life. I am getting my daughter, who is in first grade, evaluated this summer. I’m often tempted to toss one of her brother’s Adderall tablets in her mouth just to check. 😉

ADHD is a superpower if you can make it work for you and embrace your differences. It feels so good to know I am different and that is okay. Instead of feeling like I am wrong, I just acknowledge I am different and that is okay. I also feel like in the last few months with the Adderall, I have been able to slow down, not be so quick to respond, while letting stupid things go instead of getting fired up and firing off.

I feel like now that I recognize my thought process is different, it allows me to pause and reflect that whoever I am working with is often taking a different path. It is so important to recognize that because it allows me to have flexibility and not be upset if they don’t get my idea and also recognize why I may not understand their idea or thought process. I feel like my future is so much brighter and I will succeed with some of my big goals since ADHD gives me guts to dream big and go for it, and Adderall helps me think about it and make an effective plan!

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If you’d like to connect with Kristin,
she can be found as @EDRN_Mommy_KP on Twitter 

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ADHD Voices is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of folks like you and me who have ADHD. Posts in the series are written by guest authors, sharing windows into their lives and struggles, written by them, for you and me. If you’d like to share your story, please contact me on social media or through my email, ADHDsurprise @ gmail.com

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Looking for more great ADHD content?
Check out all of Jamie’s platforms:

ADHD Voices: Laura

Photo courtesy of Laura @adhd_curl

My name is Laura. I was born in Japan, grew up in Texas, moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University and didn’t leave. Leave Utah, that is. I have a degree in English Language and a minor in Editing, which I mostly use to tell self-described English experts that Shakespeare’s English sounded more like Captain Barbosa than Captain Picard. I am also married and have two children.

I have ADHD, and here is my story *insert Law and Order dun dun.*

Talk to me

For starters, I didn’t talk until I was 3 ½ years old as the result of ear infections. Because I was speech delayed, I received special education services through my school district. I had speech therapy from preschool until I was in second grade. In second grade, I was struggling in the normal large classroom setting and I was placed in Resource (small group classes) for specific subjects. Honestly, the fact I was struggling in my normal classroom for those subjects should have been a clue, but it was all (understandably) swept under the “speech delayed” rug. 

I had teachers call me a daydreamer. I also kept a messy desk. More clues. I still remember my second grade teacher dumping the contents of my desk into my lap when I was struggling to find a pencil for the spelling test. With enough guidance and engagement, I did quite well in school, especially in my Resource classes. In fact, I was transitioned out of the Resource program in fifth grade when it was decided that I was doing well enough. 

Then I started struggling again. Mostly I struggled with verbal instructions from the teacher. I would get in trouble for not paying attention, when I really was. I also got in trouble for forgetting small supplies, losing papers, or not getting something signed. In fact, my fifth grade teacher once kept me inside for recess for an entire week because I didn’t get a spelling paper signed. Let’s just say my second and fifth grade teachers were not very nice people.

Silence isn’t always golden

My family moved into an inner city school district the summer before I started seventh grade. That school district didn’t care about my history, which was kind of a blessing because I could have a fresh start. This district already had its own problems with behavior, overcrowding, and finances.

I became “the quiet kid” and the teachers LOVED me. All I did was behave myself and do my work. There came a point after I got to high school when I decided I wanted to try a few advanced placement classes because my regular classes seemed too easy, and I wanted to look good for college applications.

Ooooh boy did I get in over my head. You know how my “quiet kid” label was good for regular classes? Well, in these advanced classes, you actually got graded for how much you contributed to class discussions! Sometimes for as much as a test grade. WHAAAAAT????? This…was not ideal. Somehow I did enough to get passing grades, but I certainly didn’t excel. 

There was also the note taking. I had a hard time paying attention to the teacher and taking notes. How do you take notes when a teacher is talking? What do you write down? How do you decide what’s important enough to write down? These are just a few of the thoughts that went through my head when trying to take notes. Let’s just say I could never be a court stenographer. 

Put your shoulder to the wheel

College was another beast. I struggled. A lot. I had more than one college professor say, “You’re clearly smart, what the heck is going on?!” I had no explanation. I started going to the college counseling center, where I was sort of diagnosed with anxiety. I got talk therapy for two years, and I guess it was better than nothing. Did I mention that I got on Academic Warning not once, but TWICE?! I struggled with time management and getting my priorities straight. Also again, the note taking problem.

“Laura, you’re better than this!” I would tell myself. I would also wonder, “But…am I really better than this? Maybe I am just stupid.” My friends and roommates also commented on my ability to completely zone out, like I was in my own little world. Especially when I was using my computer.

I somehow managed to graduate from college in four years with under-treated depression and anxiety, and undiagnosed ADHD. My GPA was pretty bad and I had been in academic trouble more than once. How did I manage to graduate? Extreme stubbornness, most likely. I also got married the day after I graduated. Yup, I did that.

The next few years were one struggle after another. Partly because of the Recession, and also because I do not interview well AT ALL, it took me nearly a year to find a job, only to get laid off a few months later. Despite living in a small, one-bedroom apartment and having no children to chase after (except for the boy I nannied for a time), I still couldn’t seem to keep a consistent cleaning schedule and clutter was a problem. This was on top of adjusting to married life and everything that came with it. I finally started taking antidepressants during my first pregnancy, which helped.

When my first daughter was almost two years old, I decided to go back to therapy. This time, I found out I had moderate depression, severe anxiety, and symptoms of PTSD. I started doing EMDR, which honestly was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I was able to make peace with some things and I was better able to manage my depression and anxiety. I also believe that this got me into a place to eventually accept that I have ADHD.

Despite the psychotherapy and antidepressants, I still struggled with basic daily living. Housekeeping was still an unending battle and the clutter was still taking over. I could have a really good day/week where I would be on top of everything, and then I would fall into a deep depression where I couldn’t do anything. Now I know that those “good” days were actually me forcing a lot of energy into doing the things.

While my daughters were loved and cared for, establishing and enforcing consistent boundaries were my weaknesses. I vacillated between being overly permissive or overly strict. I thought it was just my anxiety and depression, it didn’t occur to me that there was something else.

You think I have what?

My mom was the one who suggested that I look into getting diagnosed with ADHD, noting our extensive family history. I have a brother who was diagnosed with ADHD during childhood because (a) he was clearly “hyper” and (b) young boys in the 1990s were more likely to get diagnosed than girls. Several members of my extended family (even going back generations) have symptoms of ADHD as well, though few have been diagnosed.

At first I scoffed. How could I possibly have ADHD? I’m not hyper! I have depression and anxiety! Out of curiosity, however, I decided to do some Googling. The more I read, especially by and about women with ADHD, the more I saw myself. “Wait a minute, could it be ADHD?!”

So began my search for someone who could test and treat me (if I did indeed have it). Then there was actually making an appointment and then GOING to the appointment. I was so nervous that I wouldn’t be taken seriously because of the stories of women having a harder time getting diagnosed. I was also worried about being accused of drug seeking, since many of the drugs used to treat ADHD are controlled substances. 

I feel incredibly fortunate that I was taken seriously. Both by my nurse midwife, who told me her husband had just been diagnosed himself and by the psychiatric nurse practitioner who evaluated me. The moment the words “Yes, you have symptoms of inattentive ADHD” were uttered, I felt so much relief. My entire life made so much more sense! I wasn’t lazy, stupid, or crazy…I had ADHD! 

However, there was also a grieving process of sorts. Missed opportunities, my failures and shortcomings, damaged friendships, etc. Also the anger over not being diagnosed sooner, but I try to remind myself that I grew up in the 1990s, and the phrase “it was the 90s, we didn’t know anything” applies.

What happens now?

I am currently taking medication for ADHD. We’ve had to tweak it a bit, but now I am seeing how good life can be. I am learning more and more about my diagnosis, and how I can better live my life with my diagnosis rather than fighting against it. My house is getting cleaner. I can honestly say that I am a much happier person.

Of course, I know that medication doesn’t always work for everyone. Even people who are related. Remember the brother I mentioned earlier? He tried all the available ADHD drugs in the 1990s (stimulants, mostly), but the side effects were much worse than the actual ADHD. As a result, he went unmedicated for about two decades. In the last few years, he has gotten on a non-stimulant drug that has been great for him. Me? I’m on an extended release stimulant that is working great. 

My point is, no two ADHD cases are alike. Sure there are the common traits, but everyone manifests them differently. If you’ve met one person with ADHD, you have met ONE person with ADHD. I personally don’t exhibit a lot of the stereotypical traits of someone who has it, which I will elaborate on at another time.

In conclusion….

If you suspect that you or someone close to you has symptoms of ADHD, I would look further into it. If it’s for say, a loved one, approach the matter with sensitivity. Respect their choices and be supportive. 

If it’s you, be kind to yourself. You are not defective–your brain just works differently, and that’s OKAY. If you are worried about taking medication, I would like to gently remind you that it’s no different than needing insulin for diabetes or an inhaler for asthma. It’s a tool to help improve your quality of life. 

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If you’d like to connect with Laura, she can be found as
@adhd_curl on Twitter and @curlymamaonabudget on Instagram

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ADHD Voices is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of folks like you and me who have ADHD. Posts in the series are written by guest authors, sharing windows into their lives and struggles, written by them, for you and me. If you’d like to share your story, please contact me on social media or through my email, ADHDsurprise @ gmail.com

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Looking for more great ADHD content?
Check out all of Jamie’s platforms: