Yesterday I was assessed and diagnosed with ‘chronic’ combined ADHD and whilst it’s not exactly a surprise, it’s also not the positive relief I thought it would be. I mostly just feel deeply sad. Sad that I’ve spent a lifetime messing up and not understanding why I couldn’t just be normal. Sad that I lost so many possibilities, that I jumped into situations I otherwise likely wouldn’t have, sad that I live with residual trauma, sad that I’ve hurt my family over the years, sad for the friendships I’ve lost because I just blurt what’s in my head, and also sad because I don’t know who I am anymore. How much of me is me and how much is symptoms of an executive functioning disorder? Where does ADHD end and where do I begin?
I realise that for anyone outside of ADHD it probably sounds dramatic, but its had such a profound and detrimental affect on my life. It’s not just being forgetful, or being a bit scatty; living in my head is like being trapped in a room with a loud TV on, a podcast playing, music blasting on the radio, a kettle boiling over, someone talking directly at you, whilst you’re trying to focus on an important phone call. All the time. It never stops.
It’s constant exhaustion. It’s intrusive, horrendous thoughts that you can’t control. It’s losing everything, no matter how expensive or sentimental or precious. It’s letting your kid down over and over and over because you forget things, little things, life-changing important things, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t control it. It’s tuning people out to such an extent you no longer hear their voice, and they know you’re AWOL, they can see it, and it hurts them. It’s missing critical information, sitting in a meeting with your kids mental health team and having no idea what the treatment plan is because you were too busy staring at an ugly painting. It’s spending your bill money on some random purchase and knowing you shouldn’t but thinking it’s Tomorrow’s Problem. It’s having an entire room full of discarded short-term hobbies - crochet, hiking, resin jewellery, baking, learning Korean, Japanese - all just collecting dust. It’s an ability to perform any task without having your back against the wall, panic stricken and stressed, promising you won’t do it again, you’ll start earlier next time, for the same thing to happen over and over. It’s a lifetime of living on 4 hours sleep. It’s constant stress and frustration and hurt and self hatred, a bone-deep exhaustion that never leaves.
Thankfully, the specialist has accelerated my case so I’ll get an emergency psych appointment to discuss medication options, but honestly, how much can they do? They can manage the symptoms but they can’t stop them. I’ll still be me, trapped in this room of screaming noise.