Time has escaped me. Nearly two weeks since my last published blog entry. I sit here and momentarily mediate to the sound of instrumental music while I gather my thoughts. My thoughts have been scattered lately, trying to organize them has been my deepest trouble. I try to sit down to compose a creative, informational, and purposeful blog entry, but my mind goes blank then is flooded by different thoughts of where to begin. I get overwhelmed, I get nowhere. Minutes will pass and my frustration will begin to build, why do I struggle with this?
That golden question sent me on a journey to discover an answer. Why do I continuously struggle with disorganized thoughts? Why am I often plagued by an endless amount of thoughts that I seem to have little control over? Why do continuous thoughts hinder my ability to sleep? Why I am so easily distracted? Why do the simplest of sound of airplanes, chewing, or a buzzing sound bother me so much? A pin dropping on the floor could easily annoy me. Why do I get so easily irritated? Why can’t I focus? Why do I make impulsive decisions, or act without reason? Why do I seem to hyper focus on thoughts or task but never really seem to get anywhere? Why do I always take things so personal or out of context? Why do I have such a difficult time regulating my emotions and moods? Why does the smallest concerns turn me up side down, and eat away at me? Why do I have such a hard time making or sustaining friends? Why am I always so anxious? Why do I suffer from depression?
Could I be going crazy, or could it be Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)?
The answer is yes, to ADHD.
I was diagnosed with ADHD (multiple times) when I was a child and as an adult but never received medical treatment. As the years went by, it was forgotten about. As a child I was also ‘diagnosed’ with the learning disability “auditory processing disorder, and as an adult (in university) it was changed to “auditory processing – short-term memory – disorder”.
My parents chose to not medically treat my disorder out of fear, and a lack of available education and research. They saw energetic and bright children turn dull. They saw children who were were once sociable turn isolated and withdrawn. They learned about all the risks of medication, and found it impossible to see the benefit. Research and education about the medication Ritalin was minimal when I was a child. Ritalin, at the time, was the first (and only) line of treatment for ADHD. It was meant for hyperactive children, and I only suffered from mild hyperactivity. My problems were with inattention, and distraction. When I was a child, ADHD was predominantly a male disorder; it was “rare” for females to be diagnosed with it. It was thought that the ratio between boys and girls was 10:1. Girls went massively under diagnosed in their childhood, struggled throughout their lives, and if they were lucky, were diagnosed in adulthood. Fast forward to 2018, it is now almost as common in males as females with a 2:1 to a 3:1 ratio. Research has showed us that females tend to struggle with inattention, distraction, and emotional dysregulation, whereas males struggle more with hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
During my school years (Elementary to University), I had what was called an “Individual Education Plan” or an IEP. This was a plan, developed by the school in collaboration with my parents or me, which focused on my strengths and had strategies to optimize my success in learning by managing my ADHD and learning disability. The common theme in all of the IEP’s was the strategies for managing ‘inattention and distraction’. I was able to complete majority of in-class projects, or tests in a quiet room (free from distraction), with extra time to complete them in. I was always seated in the front row of the class, right in front of the teacher’s desk. I had access to learning materials and/or devices to help me with assignments or tests, such as a computer, speech-to-text software, a dictionary or calculator, tape recorder, or ear plugs. I have to say, my school and my parents really tried everything in their power to see that I succeeded. At home, my parents really focused on natural remedies for trying to manage my ADHD, through a structured lifestyle, and diet and exercise.
Unfortunately, it was not enough. Despite all the changes in diet and structure, and things I had access too, I still continued to struggle. My parents were told by my middle school teacher that I would only ever be an ‘average’ student. The psychiatrist that re-diagnosed my ADHD and learning disability in University said that I should reconsider my decision of pursuing a career in Nursing as I would gravely struggle with it.
I didn’t listen to either of them. Regardless of the diagnosis that has been given to me, when I want something bad enough, I will do whatever it takes to achieve it. I have always been hyper focused on goals, which has worked to my advantage in succeeding my highest potential and accomplishing my goals. I did struggle immensely (to the point of severe, almost daily, panic attacks), but I didn’t let it stop me. I had to keep finding and adapting ways to work with my mental health disorders. I had, and continue to have, an incredible support group that supported me and empowered me to keep going when I was struggling through the hardest of times.
BUT I did it. I graduated Nursing School (without having to repeat any courses), and obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. My greatest accomplishment thus far.
I do have to be honest with something though, as an adult, I have found it more difficult to manage and cope with my disorders. I tried for many years to self-treat, but eventually those strategies started to wear down, and I started to run out of options. I started to adopt maladaptive coping techniques, which is probably why I developed Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and relapsed with Major Depression, both of which happened recently. I will write a detailed blog about that journey, and how I finally was able cope and manage, another time. I am in a much better place now.
I now wonder if my ADHD contributed to the development to my Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depression, or are they separate disorders unrelated to each other. So far, I have read that it is common to be diagnosed with both anxiety and depression, and ADHD. Only a trained professional, a physician or psychiatrist, would be able to decipher if depression and anxiety is secondary to (or caused by) adhd, with a comprehensive physical and mental health assessment, and often trial and error of medication.
I wish I could offer some additional information about ADHD and some personal experiences as to how I successfully managed it, but I am still learning about it myself. Currently I remain untreated, but I will discuss a treatment plan with my doctor at my next follow-up.
Below I have attached pictures with some useful tips on how to ‘naturally cope with ADHD.
I have also included questionnaires that assess for ADHD, as well as Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. They are not to be used as a self-diagnostic tool, however If you answer “Yes” or “More than half the days” or “Nearly every day” for a lot of the questions, please consider seeking professional help from your doctor.
If you have any questions or mental health concerns please feel free to contact me through email, or through Facebook or Instagram.
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