(I'm laughing that it's been a while since I've published a post and now the subject of this blog post is ADHD. Well played, Universe. Very funny.)
I was diagnosed with ADHD last year at the age of 56.
I'd probably had it for most of my life but it presents differently in girls/women and I'd always compensated for it even when I didn't know it. Even when I was in grad school, I had this elaborate system of color coding my notes and I am still the Queen of Mnemonics.
Growing up, I was a pretty good student overall, except in the classes that required daily study, like math and Latin. It makes me a little sad because I wonder what I would have been able to do if someone had noticed my struggle and correctly assessed it. And then once I kind of figured out what was going on, I was really afraid to be assessed for fear of being judged as drug-seeking. Which I WAS, actually, just not in the way the medical field makes people feel.
There are a lot of surprising things about what the research shows about the link between ADHD and chronic illness. And trauma, actually --which is really interesting to me. I've always thought that ADHD was an evolutionary response to the relentless influx of information in our world right now. There may be some element of that, but I suspect there is also an element of it that is a defense mechanism --a means to keep us safe in a world that feels increasingly unsafe. Most of the people I work with as a trauma therapist are people who have developed hypervigilance in response to trauma, and hypervigilence looks a lot like ADHD.
I'm still uneasy with Western Medicine, but ADHD meds have changed my life. The first one I took made me feel just...this is hard to explain...like myself. Like, "oh, wow, hi, good to see you," and then I just very calmly went on with my day, my life. I'm a better therapist, a more present partner, and life seems a bit easier now.
I've been writing every day but I couldn't find a conclusion or point to this blog post and I realized that perfectionism was keeping me from finishing this piece. And then I took a training about the difference between empathy and compassion, and Thich Nhat Hanh died and I wanted to talk about other things so I am just putting this out into the blogosphere as is.
Lots of gratitude going on over here but that is probably not very interesting so I'm just leaving it in my journal. I missed a few days because once work started up full time again, I was pretty tired. But I try to end my day with thinking of the three things I am most grateful for even if they don't always make it to the page.
I had a thought
It went away
Where it is, I cannot say
Maybe someone else is thinking it
I'm 52 and I haven't been diagnosed officially yet. When one of my offspring was being assessed for it, I took a detailed online test and recognized myself and the unofficial test results confirmed it. Why haven't I gotten an official diagnosis? Because, like you, I've developed compensatory habits to keep my life in order. Also, because I know the diagnosis would be part of a larger conversation that would need to include OCD and anxiety. And, quite frankly, even now I'm not ready to tackle all this yet.
My younger was diagnosed at 6. She described her meds as "eliminating all the background noise in Grand Central Station so that I can focus in peace."
My older was diagnosed in college and is still working to gain some balance and peace in her life.