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ADHD and Me

Dear Readers,
If you’ve seen my recent video on being diagnosed with ADHD and my first year living knowing that I have it then you’ll know that I’ve learnt a few things which I found useful or important. I thought I’d write a bit more to expand on some of that.

Lessons learnt:

In this year I’ve learnt quite a few useful lessons.

  • A lot of my ‘problems’ or ‘problem behaviours’ (especially when I was a kid) are not my fault, they’re also not problems in the way we understand the word normally but more they are just the way my brain is wired and are set of limitations and abilities that I have to recognise and work with. For example, while it is true that I’m going to struggle to concentrate the same as ‘neurotypical’ people (i.e. what people think of as ADHD, lack of concentration, easily bored etc.), I also have the ability to hyperfocus (concentrate and focus on one task for a prolonged period of time). I’ve also learnt that this, while useful, can also be dangerous. I’d never realised I was hyperfocusing to the point of forgetting to eat for example, or that this wasn’t normal.
  • I’ve learnt to identify and work with my ADHD rather than against it (e.g.   )
  • ADHD is more than just being hyperactive, much more; for example it affects emotions (i.e. emotional dysregulation. If you’re interested check out this video here. I’ll be talking about this channel later.).
  • How to view all this positively (this is primarily down to a certain Youtube channel which I will get to soon).

Useful resources:

  • First a quick note on what I think is a common frustration for those of us with ADHD. A lot of information is aimed at adults looking after kids, as if children are the only ones with ADHD; some even going as far as to make a difference between the two, calling it ‘Adult ADHD’ as if it were different or less prevalent. I personally find this frustrating as there are plenty of adults with ADHD who either don’t get diagnosed, ‘because its a kids thing’, or struggle to find help in their adult life because the frameworks aren’t there for them and the information lacking on how to deal with it yourself (rather than care for someone with it).
    With that slight negativity asside I now want to talk about the useful resource I found…
  • How to ADHD is an absolutely brilliant Youtube channel and anyone with ADHD (referred to as ‘brains’) or anyone living with them or looking after them (referred to as ‘hearts’) should check out! Jessica and Edward run it with Jessica being the face of most of the videos. They’re a positive channel which teaches about ADHD and about how to live with it covering everything from How to Prioritize when you have ADHD to ADHD and Emotions amongst many fine videos, including the Try Different song which is charming and uplifting.
    Everything from the content to the editing is perfect for ADHD brains and I’ve found this to be one of the most insightful and helpful sources out there. I always look forward to their updates and would highly recommend it to everyone!
  • And a final resource I found helpful as I’ve always struggled to sleep is an App called Relax Melodies. There’s a free and a paid version which comes with a mixture of sounds and melodies which you can mix together (adjusting the volume of each individually) into your own relaxing tunes which you can save and set to play (with a timer) to drift to sleep too. I found this very useful and it’s helped me sleep better than ever before. It might work for you too.

My Experience

(I did a shot post about this on my Tumblr last year shortly after being diagnosed.)

I’d never thought I had ADHD. I’d been told it just meant you were a hyper child, or badly behaved, so when I was already being criticised enough for just existing being labelled with ADHD was certainty not something I would have wanted added to my list of ‘problems’. I hadn’t even heard about ADHD until I was in my teens and had moved to England and certainly wasn’t tested for it. I grew up in France where ADHD is essentially not considered ‘real’ there. I struggled through my education, borderline dropping out at one point, and suddenly dong much better (grade wise) when I moved to England and could study fewer subjects that I was more interested in.

But all through my education, right up and through my Masters I was never once under the impression that my difficulties were anything other than my own. If I didn’t understand something that was just because I was a bit stupid; if I couldn’t follow something I’d be frustrated but the fault was surely mine, everyone else got it, everyone else could do hours of work and be fine so the problem was just that I wasn’t being hard enough on myself, wasn’t pushing myself harder. I sat up late, spending maybe an extra 4 to 5 hours reading something that probably was supposed to take half the time because a few pages in I’d realise I wasn’t registering any of the information, my mind was completely gone. I’d kick myself and start again. I exhausted myself doing my University, I flogged myself and I got my grade. A good grade. But I got it, so it must have been an easy grade to get after all I’d been called the ‘could do better’ kid so much growing up that anything less that total exhaustion seemed a cop out and even then, if I achieved something it must be easy to achieve surely?

So no, my ADHD wasn’t picked up at all during my education and while it’s frustrating looking back to realise I could have had help and support, and that I didn’t have to feel as guilty as I did (even guilty about my achievements) I don’t blame anyone really. It frustrates me sure but I suppose once you’re fifteen people assume that if there were any difficulties they would have been picked up on by then. Add that to the fact that in the UK ADHD is borderline treated like something only children get and it’s very difficult to get help or a diagnosis as an adult.

Screen shot of the video “When you forget to take your ADHD Meds” by BuzzFeed

The thing that actually got me and my partner talking was, of all things, a Buzzfeed video. It was about ADHD and I think it must have autoplayed or something because I just sat there, watched it and then called him in joking that our cat did the quick movements looking from one thing to another that the lady did in the video. Then I stopped and said “actually I sort of do that, and that… Funny that.” But he didn’t really find it ‘funny’ not funny haha and not funny strange. You see I’d just dismissed it with that “funny that”, after all I was just me, baggage and strange brain but nothing to stop and consider. But he considered it and said “No, you do a lot of that… You do ALL of that.” That stopped me to be honest. There had been a couple of things I’d laughed at because of a sense of “Yeah, I know how that feels” but actually it was “yeah! I know how that feels!” but without him stopping me my brain would have just left that aside and carried on. Now, though, I asked him questions “Do I really do X? What about Y?” and we I realised there was a lot more that I was not consciously aware of that was like the traits shown in the video. We left it for the most part though we’d occasionally debate it; should be talk to someone? Was there any point? I’d finished my education after all, was there any help it could provide in day to day life if I got a diagnosis? The answer to that was a categorical YES. Many things that I thought just quirks or odd behaviour that were ‘just me’, even things that worried my partner, I just dismissed but, after some research we found they were all connected to ADHD and had potentially serious meanings.

A massive help in me realising that I probably had ADHD and should see someone was the YouTube channel How To ADHD. With the help of her videos we recognised more things that I did that were ADHD behaviour or ways of thinking, my partner understood that some of the things I did which he’d previously found annoying were not actually my fault but were because I had a different brain. And when we tried a couple of the solutions, tips and tricks suggested in the How To ADHD videos and found that they worked we were almost sure I had ADHD and so it became apparent I needed to speak to someone.

Screenshot of the “How to ADHD” Channel

Stage one was going to the local GP. It went surprisingly well, my doctor listened to what I had to say, asked me some questions and then refereed me on to a different service which would help determine if I needed to see a specialist.

This was stage two in which I had to call a triage service. This was done to semi-diagnose me and to decide if ticked enough boxes to need to go for a diagnosis with a specialist or if I was just… odd I guess. They also asked me questions both for ADHD but also to check if I was on the Autistic Spectrum. It took 45 minutes which is long phone call and I was pacing and fidgeting the entire time but the man I was talking to was really nice and helpful. By the end he’d surmised I most probably had ADHD and needed to go for a formal diagnosis so refereed me on and now I just had to wait.

Several months passed and I heard nothing, eventually calling the number he’d given me after the time he’d suggested I’d be seeing in had passed. I spoke to a woman that said they were just really busy and that it could be anything up to 6 months or a year (this is about 5 months after the phone call). I was staggered but then the NHS is struggling and mental health isn’t prioritised so I just said “thank you” and resolved to wait.

As luck would have it though they got a cancellation and I got called back the following day to ask it if could make it later on in the week. Me and my partner looked at each other, checked the trains and just said “yeah! we’ll be there”.

The thing is we’d been moving by that point so actually had to take the train back down, leaving early in the morning, legging it to the surgery for the diagnosis and afterwards legging it back to the train.

The surgery itself was stressful inasmuch as any long period of time sat in front of people asking you lots of questions is. My leg was tapping more than it had in years and my brain was on overtime but I managed to answer every question and they also asked my partner questions, seeing what he’d noticed about my day to day behaviour.

By the end of it I had my diagnosis and a lot of leaflets to read.

As we were moving though I couldn’t be put on any medication because they’d need to monitor me. I was instructed to bring this up once I’d registered with a new doctrine which I dully did (though about half a year later when I actually remembered to go!).

Not long ago I got an appointment to talk about medication. They had a quick chat with me and took my bloods, I’m now waiting for an ECG (I think that’s what it was called) and when they get all those results back they’ll talk to me about if I can/will be put on medication and what dosage. That’s where it stands for now so we’ll see what happens.
In the meantime I’m continuing to work my own way and use my tools and tricks to help me work efficiently.

Hope you found this little post useful.
If you have any more useful resources let me know and I might add them to this post in an update. If you check out any of these resources let me know what you make of them.
And if you have ADHD or live with someone who has it let me know your experiences.

I will see you next week for another post, until then I hope you have a great week!
See you soon!
Lifelong Scribe

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