So, I thought I’d kick off with how I have found myself on this medical journey with these diagnosis/labels/whatever you want to call them.
I have always had trouble keeping to task/getting distracted, starting but (hardly ever) finishing projects without a lot of aggro from parents, forgetting stuff, loosing stuff, and being rubbish with money because “I sees it, I buys it!”/”Ooo shiney!”.
I went to university and studied a pure science at a well respected university in England, where I have always lived. These problems followed me there and I discovered that dyslexia can have these sorts of effects on one’s ability to work. So I went along to the disabilities service, got tested, found to be positive and got help with it. Well I found lectures easier to digest, but it did nothing with regards to my distractability, procrastination and things that normally get branded as “Laziness”. Having always been that way I didn’t know any different and didn’t make much noise about how difficult I found it to “engage brain” or “get my arse into gear”, because they’re the same thing as laziness, surely? I was intelligent enough to understand all of these new science-y concepts and found them really interesting and got on with many of my lecturers, but usually it wasn’t very long before their opinion of me would change and an air of impatience would hang in the air.
I would also like to add at this point that when I was reading a lot into dyslexia I only found one or two mentions of ADHD but no explanation as to what it really was. When I asked the disabilities service if it was a possibility in me, I was abruptly told “You’re not hyperactive, so therefore you don’t have ADHD”. I have since learnt this isn’t true. But more on that another time.
Well I just managed to scrape a mark that constituted a pass for my degree, with a lot of help from one person who took all of my distractions away and made me do intensive revision weekends. After this I moved in with them in a different part of the country and later became their legal life partner. (Awwww!) Because of the degree I had and where I got it from I managed to get a lab job quite quickly using really interesting instruments and working with really lovely people. For the first few months everything was fantastic and I really enjoyed myself. Then over time my forgetfulness become more worrisome. Not a day would pass when I wouldn’t forget something. It tended to be a different something every day. I also took longer than was expected to complete tasks. Life became stressful and my performance got worse with the increasing level of stress. Life at home was getting really difficult as my messiness was uncontrollable and my finances were a constant dark cloud.
Funnily enough my partner happened to have a friend who was as big a cluster-f*** as I was (swearing is totally appropriate here). Many mutual friends would regularly joke that I was the better looking version of him (he agrees with this by the way!). He was really struggling at university trying to complete a PhD but failing because of the overwhelm and paralysing anxiety. Every other area of his life just wasn’t paid attention to as his point of focus was purely to get his work finished – which he couldn’t do! It was a very dark time for him. Luckily he had managed to find his way to his university’s disability service, who had a rather bright spark who knew about inattentive ADHD. She proposed this as a theory to her colleagues and lightbulbs went up everywhere! He ended up with a diagnosis and appropriate treatment and managed to get his degree finished. His life is now much better and more successful to how it was before.
In the meantime I had changed jobs and was working for a different company. My problems followed me again and due to a few incidences my future at the company was being called into question. I was shouting and snapping at people, overreacting to stressful situations, forgetting things, not finishing tasks and getting distracted by problems I could see how to fix. When this friend had started treatment and I could see how well he was doing (and could therefore see the point of going through the “fun and games”), I started to look more seriously into it myself. My own lightbulb shone enough to light several light houses. I was lucky enough to have a good relationship with my team leader and manager and shared this information with them. They very much agreed that it was worth investigating and were VERY cautiously optimistic about finally getting an answer as to why I was so awesome at things I was interested in (and could not just hit specified concentrated targets but totally annihilate them), but be so disruptively annoying when I got involved with anything else.
Over 6 months later I had a diagnosis, with the help and support of my partner, NHS GP, employer and private specialist consultant psychiatrist. I then had a basic understanding of what was going wrong, and could find ideas of what I could do to help it.
Recently, with the relocation, I went to see my new GP about my medication (it’s not always available on the NHS depending on what the local CCG’s rules are) and a few other things including gut problems that I always happen to have had. She mentioned IBS. At the time I believed there was always diarrhoea involved, but having done some research since then it turns out I might well have that too – not surprising as I think it’s mostly brought about by stress and it appears I’ve been more anxious/stressed throughout my life than I understood at the time.
So how is it going to end? Well it never will, but now I know there are things I can do to make my life easier and more comfortable. I’m still messing up and learning from my experiences, as well as from the opinions and experiences of others and from the bits of science I come across relating to ADHD and mental health. This blog is a space I can express myself freely (with minimal swearing) and share information with others who want to find out more, or who just might enjoy what I write (pffft! yea right! (but you never know :S )).