What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.Glenn Close
So. I just found out that I have ADHD-I (and a bunch of other stuff !) and I’m pissed. I also felt something else, though, besides the anger. I had hope! Real hope! ADHD is misunderstood and often underdiagnosed and undertreated. But one thing is certain, it is treatable. With medications and behavioral modifications, ADHD can be controlled for most people. So, what’s next for my mental health recovery?
Appointments, doctors, and pills…Oh, My!
With my newfound hopefulness, I started making appointments. My therapist cannot prescribe medication, so two years ago I had gone to my primary care doctor to help me manage my medications. He had always been supportive and kind when discussing my depression and anxiety and treatment thereof.
I had already made an appointment with him before I got my diagnosis. My anxiety had been at its highest level, 12 hours a day, every day. For weeks. I was struggling and barely existing through it. I also felt that my antidepressant was starting to lose effectiveness- something I have experienced with many medications before.
To make a long story short, his entire demeanor toward me changed when he learned of my ADHD diagnosis and I left feeling as though my needs were not met. I was still excited because I had read how life changing medication could be for people with untreated ADHD and I was ready for “life changing.” In the weeks after my appointment, I called the office because I felt the treatment was not effective (like, at all) and I was again dismissed.
A month later I went back, and I was worse for the wear. The anxiety had not subsided in the least and I was depressed. The medication had not helped my focus issues at all. I again received a dismissive attitude and left feeling like I was not provided an appropriate level of care. I went home with a new medication and started it the following morning. The medication caused my already extreme anxiety to soar. Then, my brain decided to remind me who was boss.
L’appel du vide
I spiraled into depression. I want to make something clear here, because I don’t think this is acknowledged enough about depressed people…you couldn’t tell anything was wrong with me. I was not in bed, inconsolable. I was working and taking care of my child. My brain had a hold on me like a vice grip. It was dark and sinister. I had made an appointment with a new provider to manage my medications, but, in the meantime, I didn’t know if I was going to make it that long.
I could feel an ominous shadow, breathing down my neck. All of the time; threatening to swallow me up. I was having intrusive thoughts that were terrifying, though I knew they weren’t thoughts of my own. Intrusive thoughts are a symptom of ADHD and OCD and they can be torturous. You can’t control them; you can’t stop them. The anxiety was like white noise in my head almost constantly.
For reasons I won’t get into, the new provider/patient relationship did not work out, either. However, before I moved on she did prescribe me a medication to help treat my severe depression and my intrusive thoughts and it worked well. I started feeling more like myself- the dark shadow gone again for another day. It marks the first time in my life that I was actively in treatment and got help before I fell into the abyss.
On the road to mental health recovery
Which brings me to now. I’ve finally found a doctor to manage my medications and I start seeing them in a couple of weeks. I’m still working diligently with my therapist. My ADHD coach has already mentioned several compelling tools and therapies he would like to use. I’m writing again and actively engaging in my hobbies. I research a little each day and I’ve learned so much about myself since September. Getting a diagnosis was definitely the right step in my mental health recovery.
I’m still filled with hope. Hope that I can get better and manage my mental health. Hope that I can finally live up to a potential that everyone always told me I had, but that I never saw in myself. I have hope that I can be the kind of woman and mother my daughter can look up to and be proud of and hope that I just might be able to help her navigate this world with her own ADHD brain. I have hope, people!
A diagnosis like this, especially at my age, can be very validating. I am amazed by the amount of forgiveness, kindness, and love it has allowed me to show myself since I found out. It made me let go of what other people think about me because, guess what? They were wrong! The whole time, they were wrong. I wasn’t lazy, flaky, or flighty. I was disordered and I didn’t have the right tools to function how they did. It did not mean I was not able to function as they did, but that I wasn’t able to function how they did. I am capable of so many things…I just need to get there on my path, not theirs.
It is important to always remember that ADHD exists on a spectrum. That means that some people are affected deeply by it, some only vaguely, and everything in between. Some people with ADHD have bad tempers. Some of us are extremely anxious. Some of us are hyper. Some of us are tired. Our life experiences are varied, so our symptoms and our ability to keep them in check are varied. My story is my own. I hope that it is relatable and helpful to someone out there, but it is only my experience.
Once again, thank you for reading and supporting me. It means everything. If you want to follow my story, subscribe below to receive email updates!
Writing about living with ADHD and mental illness and my journey down a thriving path forward. Breaking stigmas and creating community, one post at a time.