Anonymous Guest Blog
by an adult woman with ADHD
Rick Green here. Now and then someone sends a very heartfelt message through our Customer Support angel, Pam, and I ask, “This is so good. Let’s find out if she would allow us to share this as a guest blog.” And sometimes someone writes out of the blue and offers to write a guest blog. So I’m delighted to share this wonderful humorous and heartfelt essay by an amazing woman. Enjoy.
I have ADHD. I am also a doctoral researcher, trying to understand more about ADHD. I’m interested in discourses. (That’s a fancy way of saying that I basically talk about how people talk. I’m okay with that.)
I tend to waffle on and on, so talking isn’t a problem for me, and somehow it’s easier to talk about how other people talk than actually listen to them…
Joking apart, I’m listening. And it’s harder than I ever imagined it would be. We’ve all experienced it. That ‘moment of crisis’ you so clearly demonstrated in your blog. The moment someone tells you they don’t believe in ADHD. Sometimes it’s a stranger, and that sucks. but it’s nowhere near as painful as when it’s someone you really thought ‘got it’. And it’s in a lot of the papers I’m reading.
Angry That I Was Angry
I was 38 when I was finally diagnosed. I was so ANGRY. Seriously? 38 years of utter chaos and it could have been avoided if I’d had the right sort of help?!
I read about the anger on the TotallyADD forum. It was a natural and understandable part of a grieving process I was going through. I was angry at people calling it a grieving process. I was angry that I was angry. I was angry that I really was grieving and I was angry that I had had to wait until middle age to find out why I was not able do what I was told I could do if only I just got on with it, tried harder, made an effort.
It didn’t help that I had no access to medication (or any other help for that matter) for quite a while after my diagnosis. While I was waiting, my diagnosis was on my mind pretty much all the time. And, I am sure I am not alone in this experience, if something is in my head it is going to come out of my mouth, whether I want it to or not. So, basically, I told everyone, randomly and inappropriately, that I have ADHD because I didn’t know (yet) how NOT to do that.
Disclosing My ADHD Didn’t Go Well
I got a lot of reactions. For example:
The head-tilt. (Oh you poor broken thing. What a shame!)
The unconvinced sympathy nod. (Yes, yes, I sometimes lose my keys too.)
The ‘More fool you!’ (You’ve fallen for the drug industry spin.)
The ‘That can’t be right. ‘(But adult women can’t have that – that’s a naughty boy thing.)
The ‘I can fix you.’ (Have you tried fish oils/cutting out gluten/rubbing kale on it?)
The Smarties question. (Do you eat a lot of E-numbers?)
‘The horror! The horror!’ (I’m just making sure my child doesn’t come near you.)
The NO ENTRY! (Turns out we’re full. We’ll let you know if a place becomes available again.)
The price hike. (We’re doubling your insurance premiums.)
Guess how many times people said, “Oh, I’ve heard Ritalin is great for that!” or “I’ve heard that a diagnosis can be really helpful.”
If you’ve got ADHD you probably guessed right. Not once. I’m lucky though. A few close friends and family knew my journey and celebrated with me when the diagnosis came.
The Power to Pause, Think, And Choose Wisely
So, how people think about and talk about ADHD fascinates me. More so since I got the medication, and I can choose how, or whether, to tell people, because it gives me a brief moment of thinking space before sound starts tumbling out of my mouth!
My husband says that using a label gives the other person control of the information you think you’re giving them. I think he’s right. I say ‘ADHD’ and people don’t hear MY story of ADHD. They don’t hear about the forgetting to take all my clothes off before getting into the shower, or getting back out with shampoo still in my hair. They don’t hear how I would drive somewhere and get the bus home, not realizing I’d forgotten the car until the next time I wanted to use it.
They hear whatever they think ADHD means, and they place that information onto me, regardless of whether it’s relevant or not. Maybe they think I can’t control my temper. Maybe they think I’m a drug addict. Maybe they think I’m just lazy and using a label to get away with it.
How many times did I blurt it out to an acquaintance and have their initial reaction be genuinely helpful? I can count them on the fingers of one hand.
AND THEN, A MIRACLE unfolded… slowly. Bit by bit, I found that there were lots of people who were prepared to understand, and willing to help. Bit by bit, I stopped being angry and began to accept what this all meant to me. I don’t mean the label. That was easy to accept. The wasted years NOT having the label were what I was angry about. But in time I wasn’t angry about that any more.
The medication gives me time to think. That means that I don’t lose things as often. I can carry a handbag for the first time. I even have a phone now. (I lost every phone I had and had given up on them.) It’s a LONG time since I wore odd shoes (though I guess odd socks are here to stay!)
The diagnosis has been nothing but helpful. The treatment has been nothing but helpful. They have changed my life beyond measure. There are many people who are helpful and understanding and they more than make up for the few that have treated me badly, or used my label in negative and hurtful ways.
The Fight Is Not Over. It’s Ongoing.
But every time I read or hear that phrase – “There is no such thing,” I feel like I’m tumbling back again into the world of chaos and frustration. The one where I was never believed when I said I didn’t understand, or couldn’t do something. The one where I was never trying hard enough no matter what I did.
So my research is taking me to some pretty dark places. I’m reading work by people who think the diagnosis is harmful, and who are fighting to take the medication away from us. That frightens me.
They think ADHD medication is about drugging kids into compliance at school. But it’s not about that. It’s about remembering to stop and look before crossing roads. It’s about getting to the end of each day without a trail of devastation behind us. It’s about remembering to shut the front door, and lock it, and remembering where we’ve put the key. (And when you’ve gone on holiday and left the front door open onto the street that’s a pretty big deal!)
Even The Dog Had Trouble Adjusting
My dog was confused when I first got my meds. We’d leave the house and walk out together. That’s it. Nope. That wasn’t his routine and he knew it. He’d sit right down a few yards from the house and refuse to budge. He knew I was supposed to go back. Maybe for keys. Maybe for a doggy bag. Maybe because I realized I needed the loo. Maybe I’d turn back 2 or 3 times before we finally got on our way.
Leaving the house, and not turning back for something?! Nope. That took some getting used to.
Remembering To Remember
I’m sticking with my meds. They can pry them out of my cold, dead hands. They might use that to prove I’m ‘addicted’ to them. And all the ADHDers I know start laughing at this point. Because surely we’d remember to take them if we were addicted to them?! The dog will remind me. Now he sits down if I try to go back home. And then I remember I didn’t remember to take them. And then all I need to do is actually remember them while I am remembering why I was turning back in the first place…
It’s a work in progress. And that’s okay.
Rick here again. Pretty wonderful, right?
If you want to know more about medication check out our 5 video collection. It answers every question and concern I had. And a score of things I never considered.
If other people’s denial, dismissal, or ignorance is undermining your resolve and sabotaging your progress, Facing The World will make you bullet-proof.
And if you’re suffering the anger, upset, and regret that is usually triggered by receiving a diagnosis in adulthood, you’ll find comfort and clarity in our video Now You Tell Me?!