Saturday 6 April 2024

ADHD and me.

I did this collage a few years ago and it still feels relevant πŸ˜‚

Long time, no blog. The title of this post probably gives you a hint as to why, and might also explain much of my personality if you've known me a while. 

A year ago last week, after nearly three years of patiently waiting for appointments and meetings with doctors, I was FINALLY diagnosed with ADHD. I cannot stress to you the relief that this brought me, as it felt like I could finally start living my life like I was supposed to.

Speaking of which, this is going to be a LONG post, as I have rather a lot to say, so strap in, this isn't exactly a fun one as I'm pretty much putting everything that I've ever struggled with in my life out there which is, well, a lot. This genuinely isn't a plea for sympathy, and that's absolutely not what I want, but I would like to be as transparent as possible because I know that I felt incredibly broken until I realised that other people had the same issues as me, so if this post can help just one person feel less alone, I'll be happy. 

I wrote this post for a variety of reasons, one, to just get it off my chest and out into the world, and two, because ADHD is still so incredibly misunderstood and I know so many of my peers who have been let down by the system as much as I have, so making folk more aware of it as a condition is very important. 

Also, I don't own all the memes, credit to their creators, but I just needed to share some of them because it was honestly so affirming to realise I wasn't alone in feeling so hopeless at times.

ADHD was not a condition that was ever really on my radar, as like many people, I’d grown up with the erroneous assumption that it was something only really seen in hyperactive teenage boys, and the symptoms were all about aggression, hyperactivity and a lack of control. As I was none of those things, I never even considered it being something to concern myself with, and it was only really in the last few years that I came to learn more about the Inattentive form of ADHD and started to recognise just how many symptoms of that actually fit me. 

For those unaware, ADHD or Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, is a neuro-developmental condition which affects the brain's ability to focus and function correctly. Common symptoms include inattention and/or hyperactivity, a lack of focus and/or hyperfocus, time management issues, emotional outbursts, impulsivity and memory problems. It an be incredibly debilitating if untreated, and the Inattentive form is often overlooked, especially in women and AFAB people because the symptoms aren't as dramatic and are often masked so that people can fit in. 

The name is very misleading because it implies that everyone is hyperactive and off their face all the time, or treated as some quirky fad for people who are just a bit random or forgetful, when in actuality the truth for a lot of us is the opposite, we're actually craving dopamine all the time because our brains are under stimulated and cannot self regulate in the way they're supposed to. We're constantly seeking that feeling in whichever way we can, and anything that doesn't provide it is ignored, which is why it's so difficult to focus on things we aren't interested in and why hyperfocusing on things we are is so easy. It isn't a concious choice, far from it.


I kept seeing 'relatable ADHD memes' online that at first I found funny, but gradually began to find them far more relatable than I'd expected, as they seemed to be describing my everyday life and thought processes in a way I'd never been able to put into words before. I did a lot of research on it until I became confident enough to self diagnose, though I knew if I wanted any actual help or treatment I'd have to get it done professionally.

Back in 2021 I approached my GP in the hope of seeking a diagnosis, but as Covid restrictions were still a thing, I had to speak to him over the phone rather than in person and I panicked a bit and really didn't put myself over very clearly, (not helped by the call accidentally getting disconnected halfway through!) so what he then sent off to the mental health team was basically just 'Christine struggles with time and organisation - ADHD?' which obviously didn't cover even a fraction of my problems and of course they wrote back saying no. I tried again, this time writing out a huge essay (much of which is in this blog post) and this time they listened, although due to horrendous NHS waiting times, I didn't hear back until March 2022 where I was told it would be at least 18 months until I could get an appointment just to talk to someone about getting a diagnosis. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how devastating that was.

Going private was a possible option, but expensive, and even if I did get a diagnosis there was no guarantee I could get the meds through the NHS as not all private clinics are permitted to titrate meds through the health service. The waiting times were just as long so I decided to stick it out with the NHS. Finally, in February 2023 I got an appointment for March, where I'd have a face to face zoom consultation with a doctor. It was stressful, but he was very nice and put me at ease and I felt like I was finally getting somewhere.

Later that month I finally got the official diagnosis - Moderate Inattentive Type - exactly what I suspected all along, but there was a problem. Apparently medication was only offered to those considered 'severely' affected, and as I was considered 'moderate', no meds for me. πŸ˜’ I was told I could appeal it by going back to my GP, which is what I did, knowing I'd have another long wait. I was also told I could have joined a local talk therapy group but unfortunately it had been disbanded due to a lack of staff, but not to worry, in the meantime there was a self help app I could try...but it was Irish and none of the resources featured were available here.πŸ™ƒ

It felt like such a slap in the face after everything.

I don't blame the health service because the NHS is on its knees at the moment due to years of horrific Tory government mismanagement and starvation wages for the staff, but the frustration was unreal. I couldn't believe after all that time I had the diagnosis I wanted but absolutely zero help to deal with it.

Obviously I appealed and after more months of waiting I finally got to speak to someone else who seemed to understand things better; a psychiatrist, and after a month of regular blood pressure checks to make sure it would be safe for me to use, finally she gave me the OK to be prescribed medication. 

According to her, the waiting time for a diagnosis is now 32 months - nearly 2 years and 8 months. Yikes. 

I ended up not starting the meds until this year (2024) because I was visiting friends in October/November and didn’t want to add more stress to it all by being out of my usual routine. I’ve always struggled with swallowing tablets after nearly choking on one as a child, and when I eventually did decide to start them, I thought it would be a good idea to practice with tic tacs as they’re a similar size and I wouldn’t be wasting medication if I couldn’t manage them. Unfortunately this wasn’t the easy solution I thought it would be and I ended up getting myself even more stressed and panicked when I realised I couldn’t even swallow those! Eventually I managed it in January after several months of feeling incredibly defeated after my mental health took a severe nosedive after the high of spending time with friends and the shock to the system of coming home and being unable to do this one thing. It took time, but for the most part I can now take smallish tablets with ease, although big capsule types are still a no-go.

That's the other thing about the stigma of ADHD - the medication. Generally speaking they're stimulants, and for those without ADHD it gives them a rush, which is why they're so heavily controlled and difficult to acquire because they're so easily abused. For those with ADHD though, it simply brings our brains up to the same level as everyone else's. It doesn't give us any kind of advantage over neurotypical folk, it just lets us function as we're supposed to. I once read a post about a guy with undiagnosed ADHD who took stimulants at a party with his friends hoping to get high, only to find himself feeling more calm and peaceful than he'd ever felt in his life while everyone else was losing their minds. πŸ˜‚

One analogy I've seen is like it being glasses for your brain. Those with vision problems can finally see like everyone else, but anyone with 20/20 vision wearing prescription lenses is going to seriously muck up their eyes if they wear them too much. The only difference is, you don't have to wait a billion years to get your eyes tested.

 So, how did I first suspect ADHD? 

(here's the real essay portion of this post, lol,)

The Symptoms 

As I said at the beginning, ADHD has too often been mislabelled as something only kids get, specifically boys. During the process of researching it, I also discovered that many of my friends were diagnosed with it later in life, in part because many people assume ADHD is not seen in women, or indeed adults in general, and that it’s something you just grow out of. 

(All of which is categorically untrue and plot twist, nobody grows out of it, they just learn to mask the issues!)

Whilst looking at all the symptoms, I also came to suspect that my grandpa most likely had it, and to perhaps a lesser extent, my mum as well. He had far more of the classic symptoms – impulsive spending and poor money management, a hyper-focus on new interests which would fizzle out in a short space of time, and mood swings, especially when he didn’t get his own way. My mum has similar issues to me with regards to organisation and her list of obsessively researched and then abandoned hobbies has almost eclipsed my own over the years.

I know to some people the world is in black and white – there is only one way of doing things and it’s their way – anything differing from that is impossible, and they cannot alter that rigidity. It isn’t like that for me.

For me, it’s more like I’m trying to complete a jigsaw with missing pieces. Everyone else has the full box, and I’m trying frantically to fill in the gaps which don’t seem to exist for other people. I can see solutions to some of my problems, I just can’t make them work, it’s beyond frustrating


 My anxiety and depression first reared its head back in 2004/5 when I was studying for my exams - generally a stressful time for most people, but my issues stemmed primarily from the absolutely horrendous treatment I received from my Biology teacher at the time. She was definitely of the old school style of teaching, where she had a particular standard and anyone who deviated from that in any way wasn't worth her time. She'd do daily pop quizzes as soon as we walked in the door and if you got less than a certain percentage of questions correct she'd get right up in your face and tell you in no uncertain terms that you were worthless and that you didn't deserve to be in her class. I actually really enjoyed Biology, and I wasn't bad at it either, I was just struggling with one particular topic (fuck you Krebs Cycle!) and she provided absolutely zero encouragement or assistance to get me through it. It got to the point where I was literally sobbing in the middle of the class because I felt completely and utterly useless, and even when another student pointed it out to her, I vividly remember the teacher just shrugged and said 'So what?' and then continued to ignore me because she genuinely didn't care. 

As you can imagine this didn't exactly help my mental health very much, and it got to the point where I physically couldn’t attend school for a few months as my anxiety had gone into overdrive and something as simple as misplacing my hairbrush in the morning would trigger a full-blown panic attack which could take hours to recover from.

It was horrific, and to this day I blame that teacher's actions and lack of empathy for kickstarting many of my issues with anxiety, and the general decline of my mental health.

This person's post pretty much sums it up.

I saw some mental health professionals at this point while I was away from school, and it was during these consultations that I was diagnosed with Dyscalculia. (a learning disorder connected with numbers - kind of the numerical equivalent of Dyslexia, and, which I learned later, is exceptionally common in those with ADHD) This was obviously a relief, as I'd spent my entire scholastic career at this point struggling desperately with maths, but being diagnosed in my penultimate year of school was, frankly, 12 years too late. It was around this time I had a pretty traumatic fall from a horse which really impacted my confidence, and was also diagnosed with PCOS, which had its own impact on me for a variety of reasons.

Afterwards I did get a little help via the Learning Support dept at my school, however, it was more humiliating than helpful, as seemingly the only thing they had for maths problems was a very basic computer game aimed at much younger children, where whenever you got a correct answer, a little animated rosette or thumbs up would pop up, like, ‘yay, well done!/you’re a maths champion!’ πŸ˜’

It was incredibly patronising, and while I know the teachers meant well, and obviously weren’t familiar with Dyscalculia at the time, it honestly just made me feel even more useless, and far less open to asking for help in the future if this was the kind of aid I’d be given. When I asked for help with regard to taking efficient notes, the only suggestion I was given by Learning Support was to learn shorthand, something which might have been useful in years previously, but certainly not at this point in my education when exams were looming, and when I definitely didn’t have the time or mental capability to essentially learn a whole new method of communication. Suffice to say, it wasn’t much help.

After a few months, I was able to get back into school for a couple of classes, dropping down a set in Biology so I could have a different teacher (incidentally, the problematic one (who was head of the department!) suffered zero consequences for essentially bullying a student into a mental breakdown) and over time was able to take my Highers and Advanced Highers the following year, doing well in English and Art, but mediocre in everything else. This still angers me to this day, because if I knew then what I know now, I could have achieved so much more, and I do resent the fact that that potential was lost due to a lack of knowledge by the education system.


I went to college after leaving school to do a Photography course, (and a few years later, a three year Modelmaking one, which I absolutely loved) but I was struggling to stay on task and my mood was all over the place. It took me a very long time to agree to start on antidepressants because I was labouring under the horribly false and damaging assumption that somehow taking medication was showing weakness and that I was better off trying to cope without them. Thankfully, I eventually saw sense, and felt much better after a few months on Fluoxetine. 

On that note, to anyone in the same boat, please, please consider medication if you are offered them. It isn't a reflection on your personal strength or ability to cope, it's literally just that your body isn't working as it should. 

Would you tell a diabetic not to take their insulin because they 'should be able to power through?' or refuse an asthmatic their inhaler? Of course you wouldn't, and it's the same with mental health. Your brain is just another body part and if it isn't working correctly there's no shame in treating it. I know I would have had several much happier years if I'd accepted this a lot sooner and everyone deserves to be happy.

In the following years the medication has definitely made a huge difference in quashing the depression, but the anxiety can still be a problem. Missing a train in an unfamiliar station once had me in floods of tears as my whole schedule had relied upon it and I felt completely adrift and out of control. This sums up my usual response to stress which is basically - get overwhelmed > get upset > run away from or ignore the problem and hope it goes away. I did manage to get help from the station staff and it all worked out, but the initial panic was horrific.

Emotional Dysregulation

There have been a few times over the years where I’ve said something wrong or accidentally upset someone, and as soon as I realised my mistake I got really upset – beyond the normal response to such things. I still feel huge guilt for what are genuinely not very important faux-pas online - a joke which didn’t land properly or a statement I made which turned out to be incorrect. Nothing huge or offensive, just everyday mistakes, but I fixate on them regardless. I can still recall specific moments from years and years ago, where I wish I’d said something else, and they still make me feel incredibly guilty. 

This is a very common aspect of ADHD called Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and to say it's hellish would be the understatement of the century. It's like a pathological fear of failure, and even the slightest criticism or negativity sends me spiralling. Something as simple as forgetting to do something I was told to do, or not being able to complete a task feels like the end of the world, even when I know it isn't. I once had a full on meltdown when I cut up baked potatoes into the wrong number of pieces to split between three people, and had to go to another room to have a cry because it felt like I'd ruined everything. Imagine that, a breakdown over potatoes?! It's ridiculous, and I knew it was while I was going through it, but it was as if the stupidity of the situation didn't quite reach the logical part of my brain and just went straight to the nightmare/panic section.

This aspect of the condition is so incredibly difficult to describe to someone who doesn't deal with it because on the surface it sounds like a tantrum or someone trying to act pathetic for sympathy, but I cannot stress to you enough how horrible it feels to go through. At times it almost feels like grief in it's intensity, and when it happens over something really mundane it's somehow worse, because you know you shouldn't feel like that, but you do, and not being able to stop feeling it just compounds the issue.
This is one of the many reasons I so rarely sell my work or offer commissions - I cannot deal with the thought of disappointing someone, and my own standards are ridiculously high as a result. 

I once filmed and edited together a huge hour long tutorial video for one of my model horse customs, but when I went to render the final video, I realised the program had messed up the audio and added a stupid watermark. It was unsalvageable. I still have all the video clips and the script I read for the voiceover, but it's been six years and I still can't face restarting the project because the feeling of defeat is still so intense.

Throughout my childhood I had a couple of very intense friendships with very toxic people who ultimately rejected and bullied me, but I was so desperate for connection that I put up with it, not thinking I could do any better. (Luckily adult me has some absolutely phenomenal friends who would have bitch slapped the hell out of those eejits and in hindsight I absolutely deserved better) That feeling of rejection has definitely stuck with me over the years though, and
while I'm working through it in therapy right now, this aspect of my ADHD makes that incredibly difficult to come to terms with.

Time Management/Time Blindness

When I say that I struggle with timekeeping, it goes much further than simply being late all the time. To be perfectly frank, I don’t have much of a sense of the passage of time – I can tell someone I’ll be with them in five minutes and an hour later I’ll go to find them, completely oblivious to how long it’s been. If I’m particularly focused on something, multiple hours can fly by, and it feels like no time has passed. I'll forget to eat, drink, and only remember I need to pee because my bladder physically hurts. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to keep to a schedule my entire life. I’ve tried alarms, going to bed early, having people wake me, but it just never sticks. I’m always late, and it isn’t as though it’s only for things I don’t like or want to do - even for meeting up with friends, cinema trips etc, I either have to leave much earlier than I should need to, get picked up/dropped off by someone else, or I’ll be late, end of story. It’s incredibly frustrating, and only makes me more anxious when a deadline of any kind is looming. I had the same problem at school and college; deadlines crept up on me all the time, and I definitely handed in multiple assignments late or not at all.

When it comes to planning any trip which involves public transport or appointment times, I just can’t work out the timings, e.g. how long I’ll need to get from A to B to account for travel etc. This leads to huge levels of anxiety about leaving myself enough time, so even if I have, say, a doctor’s appointment at 4pm, which gives me the majority of the day to get there, I’ll be in a constant state of stress from the moment I get up, and can’t settle on any other activities until it’s all over, because I know if I do, I’ll end up losing track of time and miss it. 

  I lose things all the time as well, and even though I try to keep things organised, it doesn’t come naturally to me, and my workspace gets cluttered and messy incredibly quickly, which causes extra stress when it reaches a stage where I can’t cope with it. Something as simple as tidying my room can take days, as either I’ll get distracted by something partway through and go and do that instead, or I’ll get frustrated by a lack of progress, get overwhelmed and give up. I’ve been getting better at keeping things stored on my workspace, which has definitely helped, but unfortunately, I can’t organise my brain in the same way. The irony is that I actually really enjoy organising things, and all my craft supplies are well stocked and arranged for ease of use, but as soon as I don't put one thing back in the right place, it all turns to chaos and it just gets worse from there.

On that note, I have an absolutely terrible memory, especially when it comes to dates and times. I’ve never been able to remember phone numbers or people’s birthdays, and even though I always put appointments straight into my phone when I get them, and try to set alarms, I’ve missed so many over the years because while I know they’re coming up, I always forget to check and then realise too late. If it wasn’t for my mum constantly reminding me, I’d probably miss most appointments I make. If I’m asked to do something and don’t get to it immediately, nine times out of ten I will completely forget about it, especially if my focus is on something else. This leads to a lot of frustration as you can imagine. It isn’t a conscious decision; the words just don’t seem to stick in my head long enough to sink in.

Executive Dysfunction

Probably my biggest issue is with executive dysfunction, or as I’ve also heard it described as ‘choice paralysis’ which is an incredibly accurate term in my experience.

I always thought it was just normal, that other people also sit there for ages, constantly telling themselves that they need to go and do something and yet somehow are completely unable to do so. Realising that no, that’s not a thing most folk struggle with on a regular basis was eye-opening to say the least. 

Case in point; recently I was trying to organise my craft supplies, (of which I have a lot!) and found some storage boxes with individual compartments that were ideal for a particular thing I wanted to sort neatly. I only had one, but the shop was temporarily out of stock, so I knew I’d have to improvise and use something else in the meantime. I had plenty of other boxes that would have done fine for the interim, and there was nothing stopping me from just dumping the whole lot into these temporary containers, and yet, I spent a good hour just sitting on my chair, looking at the supplies and the boxes and doing absolutely nothing.

I just kept thinking about the process – pick up objects – put in box – simple, but somehow, I just couldn’t physically make myself do it. I couldn’t stop thinking about how they weren’t the boxes I wanted, and that the initial plan I’d had for everything had now changed. It’s as if everything just spiralled into ‘what ifs’ and hypotheticals and I was overwhelmed by it all.

Logically I knew that it wasn’t the end of the world if things had to live in different boxes for a while, but that didn’t seem to matter. There was just something about this particular situation that had me in this constant loop of indecision. 


It's never a conscious choice, and it isn’t like I’m terrible at compromising – many of my hobbies for instance require creative thinking, and I’m pretty good at coming up with solutions to problems like this, but it was more like there was a kind of mental blockade in place and I physically couldn’t take the next step. That was just one incident, but it happens all the time, and it can be for things as simple as wanting to go downstairs to get a drink. I’ll physically feel thirsty, the trip downstairs would take a couple of minutes at most, there’s nothing challenging about the process, but I just can’t do it, and I’ll sit there with ‘go get a drink’ cycling around in my head for ages until either I’m interrupted or something else takes priority and the loop gets broken. 



This ties in with my seemingly chronic procrastination, which would be funny if it wasn’t so debilitating. I always put things off until the very last minute and despite my best attempts to organise myself, I miss out on things; deadlines, appointments, opportunities – there’s always time to do them later…right up until there isn’t. 



I know a lot of this also ties in with my time management skills (or lack thereof) but it’s one of the things I wish I could change the most about myself because it really does ruin so much of my life.  I’ve had exactly the same issue with deadlines at school and college – things I know are important and require my attention, but it’s as if the importance of it makes it even more difficult to confront, so I put it off and then have a mad panic when I run out of time. The same goes for making appointments. Ironically, I find it oddly stressful to have everything done on time and well in advance. I don’t know if that’s just because I’m not used to it, so it feels weirdly unnatural, but I feel like I thrive on the last minute rush, at least with certain things anyway, because then I can be sure that I’ve done everything, and I haven’t forgotten about things I may or may not have done earlier.

In a similar vein, I often have days when it’s like I’m hungry for an activity, but nothing I do satisfies that appetite. I’ll jump from art to gaming to reading, to movies, to sewing etc etc yet nothing feels right, and it’s like I’m constantly on edge trying to find something to fill that void. I’m sure we’ve all had that experience when browsing Netflix and found there’s just too much choice, and it becomes overwhelming, and this feels similar; like a craving, only you can’t settle on what exactly it is that you want, which leads to intense feelings of restlessness and anxiety. I’ll end up frustrated because I’ve wasted literally my whole day just trying to decide on something to do, and if in the end I can’t, I feel even worse. 




It’s horrible. I hate feeling unaccomplished, and days spent doing nothing are far from the enjoyable break most people would see it as. I need to do something to keep my mind and hands occupied and when I can’t settle on anything it’s like an itch that just can’t be scratched. I’ll sit there for literal hours on my phone just scrolling and flicking from app to app even when there’s nothing new to see, but it’s like instant low effort stimulation for my brain and so the cycle continues. 

I hate it.

(click below to embiggen; this comic by 
Hyperbole and a Half is so painfully accurate, and their posts about depression are the closest thing to someone being inside my own brain I've ever seen.)

Often fun things; activities I want to do, films and tv shows I want to watch, I feel like I can't, because it isn't being 'productive' and isn't a valid use of my time I could instead spend doing something useful. Obviously a lot of that is down to guilt at not working, and the feeling that I don't 'deserve' to enjoy myself when I haven't done all the things I ought to be doing which are more important, but it's just so difficult to get past that. I've got several unfinished posts on this blog I started years ago, but still haven't finished because their priority somehow ended up below something else, and it feels like I can't make it skip the queue even if the task that's 'ahead' of it in the line isn't as important or interesting.


Hyperfocus and Impulsivity

When I’m ‘in the zone’ and have focus I’m unstoppable. I plough through projects in days, spend every waking hour fixated on what I’m doing, completely oblivious to the world around me. It’s perhaps not healthy, but I love the feeling of accomplishment when my muse is co-operative, and I can actually get things done. The downside is that often this feeling of inspiration only lasts a couple of days, and it’s like someone’s pulled the rug from under me – one moment everything’s going perfectly, the next I can’t summon up any motivation to do what just days before came as easily as breathing. 



This is frustrating in more ways than one as I’ve always wanted to be able to make a career out of my art, but when I can’t rely on myself to stick to deadlines or be able to keep going when I’m not motivated, it renders it all somewhat pointless. 

Any time I’ve tried to do artwork to commission for example, I’ve become such a perfectionist that as soon as something goes wrong I just back off completely, leaving projects half-finished for months because it isn’t good enough to hand in. If something goes wrong in a personal project it’s annoying, but not the end of the world, but as soon as I know it’s for someone else it has to be perfect or it isn’t worth doing. At the same time, while I thrive on knowing exactly what I’m supposed to do, I also deeply resent being told what to do, and being given too many constraints. If it's something that doesn't interest me or give me the happy brain feelings, I just won't do it, which isn't ideal when boring but necessary tasks need doing.

I’m the horrible combination of a procrastinator and perfectionist, and I hold my own work up to an impossible standard at times; something which ultimately stifles my own creativity and confidence. I like structure, and knowing what’s expected of me, but at the same time I have a crippling fear of failure. (This also leads to just not beginning certain projects at all, because you can't fail at something if you don't start it!πŸ™ƒ)

As a result, I also have a huge amount of abandoned, postponed or perpetually WIP projects from when my motivation just evaporated. I know I’ll get round to finishing them one day, but many of them are nearing the decade mark now and remain incomplete. I often find that if I stop halfway through a project, it’ll crash and burn, so instead I must ride the wave of motivation in one go, which can lead to burnout and sleepless nights if I do too much. Sometimes I’ll find myself getting side-tracked halfway through with another idea, and while I’m sure for most people they can put that thought on the back burner and come back to it later, for me, it will suddenly absorb all of my time and attention, and whatever I initially set out to do gets cast aside.

 I often find that my train of thought will leave the station in what initially seems like a logical fashion, only to completely derail partway along the journey as I get distracted. When tidying for example, I could begin by thinking about clearing my desk, putting certain things away, throwing out scraps etc etc, but then I’ll remember that I really ought to order up a new desk light because this one isn’t working properly, and while I’m on that subject, perhaps I could do with some more scalpel blades, and before I know it I’m painting something, because I got distracted by the materials in front of me, and all attempts to tidy are forgotten. This happens all the time.

I definitely also have issues with interrupting people when I’m excited or really engaged in conversation. It’s one of those things I often don’t realise I’m doing, but I’m more aware of it now that I’m having more video calls with people via playing D&D, and I can actually see myself talking over folk. I used to do it a lot when I was a kid, but over time, and a lot of bullying, I learned to repress that, and ended up doing the opposite, staying quiet and unobtrusive most of the time in class. By not asking for help or causing problems when I struggled, I effectively faded into the background, which was great at avoiding bullies and being picked on, but absolutely terrible for seeking help when I needed it most.

If I have money in my pocket, I'll spend it, and while I'm very careful not to spend beyond my means, its all too easy to do, especially when it comes to hobby stuff. I've never been risky with my money or gambled, and anything that costs more than about £40 I consider a Large Purchase and something that I'll have to save for, so from that point of view I'm quite sensible with my spending, but a
simple trip out to buy one specific thing usually ends up being expensive as I'll find other things to buy en route, and all these little purchases start to add up. 

I wouldn't spend £50 on one thing, but £50 on lots of little things? Absolutely. πŸ™ˆ


Unless I’m constantly working on something I will forget how to do it, likewise if I’m given an instruction, without it being reinforced somehow, I’ll completely blank it out. During school I could never remember my timetable and was forever losing jotters and worksheets and turning work in late, but as I wasn’t kicking up a fuss about anything, it wasn’t seen as much of a big deal. 

I can remember a ton of obscure facts about films or nature or something that happened years ago but ask me what I went into the kitchen to do or fetch, I couldn’t tell you. I often find multitasking really difficult, and while I can happily listen to a podcast or documentary while I’m working on something else, like painting or sewing, as soon as I have to read or write anything at the same time, it’s as if the audio has been muted and I don’t take any of it in. This kind of thing was something I really struggled with at school, when I was supposed to be taking notes while the teacher gave a lecture, but I couldn’t listen in and write at the same time, or if I did, it would, as the saying goes, go in one ear and straight out the other. The irony is that since playing D&D every week for the last two years, I've become a pretty in depth notetaker, but only when I'm not the focus, in which case I can either roleplay or take notes, there's no compromise! πŸ˜‚

When I’m under stress I find it even harder to concentrate – I’ll be perfectly focused and responsive during a doctor’s appointment for example, but if someone asks me what they said to me a few minutes after I’m out of the room, I couldn’t tell them, I just forget all the details. The same is true if it's something I'm not interested in, even if its important, I just can't retain the information.

The Future?

The future is a constant worry for me, and with each year that goes by I’m painfully aware that it’s another year of no work experience to put on a CV. I know I have skills which could be useful in a job, but my worry is that they are overshadowed by all the negatives.

Because I’ve never had a job, I don’t even have anything basic to work up from, and I don’t blame potential employers from passing me over in favour of those with more experience, it just makes sense. This always leads to so much apathy, and a kind of ‘why even bother’ attitude towards employment which obviously isn’t great, but it just feels like I’m stuck in a horrible cycle of stagnation. With no experience I can’t get a job and I need a job to have experience etc.

I hate that things other people do without thinking is so impossible for me, and I’ve internalised a lot of negativities about myself and my place in the world. On the one hand, I happily reject conformity for the sake of it; I’m proud of being a bit weird and it’s taken a long time to embrace that fact, having grown up being teased and excluded for it, but there’s always a part of me that resents not being able to do things like everyone else. I can’t help but compare myself to other people my age, and what they’ve done with their lives, and while I know I’m exceptionally lucky to have the support I have from my family and friends (and believe me, I know!) I just feel so incredibly unaccomplished, and the more time that passes, the less likely it feels like I’m ever going to get a job or some form of independence. I keep remembering that I’ll be 35 this year, and in another 5 years I’ll be 40, and that terrifies me. I feel like I should have my life together by now, or at the very least have some kind of vague plan in place but unfortunately the opposite is true. 

I know so many people with serious health conditions far worse and more debilitating than mine who just…carry on with their lives, somehow managing to work and keep going throughout all their problems. Obviously, I know I shouldn’t be comparing my life to theirs but it’s difficult not to when I’m more or less able bodied but apparently incapable of functioning like a ‘normal’ 34-year-old should.

I started seeing a counsellor/therapist recently who has already helped me challenge a lot of these heavily ingrained and negative thinking patterns, so I’m hopeful that she’s going to make a big difference because she just gets it. Some things are hard to confront, but eventually they have to be, and now seems as good a time to do so as any.

 I’ve been on the ADHD meds since the 7th of January, and while I haven’t noticed any major side effects or issues, my sleeping pattern has definitely changed. I’ve always been a night owl, with bedtime around 1 or 2am, and waking up around midday but now I start getting sleepy at 10 or 11pm and getting up at 8/9am which is definitely taking some getting used to! I’m more aware of myself in conversations which is helpful to curb my impulsivity, and I think my working memory is a little better, so that’s something. I’ve also found myself getting emotional over things far more than I used to. I had a full blown crying spell the other day just thinking about the fact that cats exist, and the fact that I don’t have one. πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚

(For context, I haven’t had a cat since I was about 9, and while we’ve always talked about getting another, it’s never quite happened, and staying with my friends and their four cats for a fortnight back in November made me realise just how much I’ve missed having one) 

Crying isn't always a bad thing, and there's a certain kind of healthy catharsis in just letting your emotions out like that, but it's still a bit of a novelty at the moment, especially when I can pretty much do it on command now.

Overall, I think the medication is helping, but it's still early days, and the worldwide shortage of it is always weighing on my mind, because every time I go to get my prescription filled there's no guarantee that they'll have them in stock.
As far as future goals are concerned, getting a job is right up there at the top, as well as being more independent in general. I'm still living at home with my long suffering but greatly appreciated parents, and I want them to be able to enjoy their retirement without having to constantly worry about me at the same time. Finding a girlfriend would be a bonus too; I'm so incredibly tired of being single, but that's much easier said than done. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜…
One thing I definitely want to achieve this year however, above all others, is getting a cat.
It's been 25 years(!) since I last had a cat, and any time I get to hang around with those of friends, I immediately feel my mood lift, so I think I can legitimately say this would be a treatment for my mental health. (not sure the NHS would prescribe me a kitten though sadly πŸ˜†)

There are a lot of things that need to be done in the house before that can be a reality, but its the kind of achievable goal that I think I've needed for a long time, because I do tend to push away anything that I think is going to challenge me or potentially lead to failure, but in this case, the failure would just be continuing to live a catless life, so it would just be more of the same, but the success would be having a cat, and that is definitely worth trying for.

The End (of this massive post) Is Nigh!
If you read this and your first thought is 'holy shit, this is ME!' welcome to the gang, you are definitely not alone. <3 Help is out there but you really do need to fight for it because the health service isn't working as it should, but just getting that bit of paper that confirms it helps more than you'd think.
I'm so glad that kids are getting diagnosed much earlier these days, and that mental health in childhood is being given the attention that it deserves, but those of us who haven't had that luxury are still struggling. It isn't a case of just taking some pills and then suddenly you're fine, your entire worldview changes when you get diagnosed, and coping strategies you've relied on for most of your life suddenly don't work anymore, especially when you realise they never really did in the first place and you just got better at coping. There's a sense of grief for the life you could and should have had if you'd been given the tools to help you when you needed them, and anger at a system which let you down. 

The modern world is not designed for those of us who are not neurotypical, but that doesn't mean that we're built wrong, it's society that needs to change to accommodate diversity in all its forms.
I know things will get better, and starting therapy has already made a big difference, but I'm not counting my chickens (or cats!) yet, it's still early days. Still, I'm happier than I've been in a while, and that's always worth celebrating. Hopefully I'll be posting more on here soon as there's so much I've been doing but haven't posted about, but you know my track record on promising that, lmao! (I meant to post this on the 28th of March so it would be a full year since diagnosis but oh well XD)


Anyway, this was an absolute behemoth of a post and kudos to anyone who actually made it to the end because damn, that was a lot. πŸ™ˆ Here's a photo of my childhood cats, Ben and Tilly, as a reward and one final post for those suffering along with me on the long road to mental stability.. <3


1 comment:

  1. Okay, I never leave comments on things because of ADHD related hang-ups (if I only lurk around I can't do or say things I feel bad about later, and if I don't have an online presence I can't feel bad about neglecting said online presence), but I've been following your blog for a long time and keep checking in now and then to see if you've posted something, and I realise posting things online and not getting much response sucks, so here it goes:

    I just wanted to tell you what you've probably heard hundreds of times already, because I think it's important. IT GETS SO MUCH BETTER! And even if you think you've got everything out of it, it KEEPS getting better! I am thirty-one years old right now and got diagnosed after much hassle during the first COVID lockdowns.(Apparently the magic words are 'I think I have ADHD and can't do my job and are probably gonna get fired from my dream job if I don't get help', which... yeah...)

    So much fell into place. I could finally explain to my parents and to myself why I struggled with things others did easily. It was like I was finally handed a manual for my own brain. It was happiness at finally understanding, rage about not having known this earlier and also sadness. Things have gotten easier with knowledge and medicine, but I will have ADHD for the rest of my life, and I have struggled through a large part without knowing that, and that sucks sometimes.

    The thing I wanted to write to you about is this: I am done with the therapy and the acceptance and and the 'help I have ADHD now what' stuff, and I feel like it finally gave me what I needed to grow and keep growing as person. It's at my own pace, and I absolutely can't force it to go faster, but years after my diagnosis I am STILL regularly having moments of 'huh, this used to be so hard for me, I didn't know I could do this now, neat'.

    For some people, my life will never be what they consider succesful, but right now, I am the happiest and most content I have ever been in my life. I have friends I see regularly, I have hobbies that I actually spend time on (which feels magical, I can just start doing them when I feel like it and I don't have to wait until the stars align), I have a job I like, it pays me enough to not have to worry about money, I still live with my parents (extremely sarcastic hurray for the housing crisis!) but my relationship with them has changed completely and it's mutually beneficial for the three of us.

    A year ago I started and finished a big DIY project (making a large paved outdoor living area for two rabbits) on my own, in two weeks, in a normal way, without emotional ups and downs and on top of my regular workdays. I cried. I had never before been able to do that. In the past, if I even managed to start a project, I never was able to finish it, it just kept laying around forever for me to feel guilty about. But this time I did it! And now I have rabbits again!!

    Being patient and kind to myself, taking my time and finally understanding and accepting that I am like this made such a huge difference and, counterintuitively, enabled me to do things that weren't possible before. Our situations are not the same, but comparable enough that I feel I can tell you this with confidence: It will keep getting better. Good luck on your journey, you are not alone.

    (I don't know if you're through the 'Oh, that's an ADHD thing too?!!' fase already, but being unable to write short explanations is apparently also an ADHD thing. Of couse... My apologies for the wall of text, I did my best.)