ADHD and Me, My Wicked Little Friend

From Mommy of Mayhem and also drunkenlore.

Thursday, June, 26, 2008

You can blame this one on the hormones that accompany my “this means you’re not pregnant even though I don’t need you to tell me that because I know it for various other reasons” friend that is visiting this week. All my LAYYYdies….you feel me? (That last line SHOULD have been read using the sing song voice in your head, so if you didn’t, try again. Thank you.)

I am here today to talk about my one and only flaw, which is my inability to have one single day, with one single organized thought in it. I have two reasons for writing about this. I was growing a bit tired of all of you thinking that I am perfect ALL the time, but most importantly, I needed to capture the topic in writing before a certain best friend of mine beat me to it via a blog entry based on her visit to my circus house of horrors yesterday. (Love ya GUUURRRL!) I am mildly exaggerating. VERY mildly. I was diagnosed with adult ADHD at the age of 28. This diagnosis came after several attempts to name “it” something different. There were doctors who treated my symptoms of ADHD as the main issue. By products of this, such as depression, impulsive behavior, aggression and anger were thought, by several, to be my “sickness”, when in fact, they occurred as a direct result of the as of yet undiagnosed ADHD. In an attempt to combat any and all of the above mentioned issues, doctors doused me with drugs left and right, adding and subtracting like bad mathematics when yet another failed to do it’s job.

Antidepressants left me feeling soul-less. Instead of extreme highs or amazingly extreme lows packed with crying and long periods in bed, I felt nothing. I cannot imagine I could have continued that way for very long. I never discussed it with my parents, and I still haven’t to this day. This is partially because I believe this condition, or variations of it, run in my family.

Around the age of 13, I remember us driving home from Sunday lunch in order to make ready the house for my grandmother’s visit later that afternoon. As we pulled into the drive, the entire family was surprised to see my grandmother crouched over on the front steps of our house, silver head bowed, sobbing into her Sunday dress . Thinking that something was terribly wrong, my mother rushed to her. I will recall her words for the rest of my life. “I thought you all were never coming back. What would I do if you never came home again?” She was 3 hours early.

My brother and I had a lovely childhood, given almost anything we wished for. I know that we were both loved (and still are) deeply by my parents. The only sadness I can really recall came from my mother, and usually from the front seat of our car as my brother and I sat, not so quietly, on the drive back from church. We would cross a bridge that arched over the cemetery where my grandfather had been buried over 20 years before. I soon came to silently accept the tears that ran down my mother’s cheeks each time we made that journey, though we weren’t exactly sure what they meant. I now think she was weeping for the childhood that ended when her father and grandmother died in an automobile accident when she was only 13. My mother was in the car. This could also explain why my grandmother lived the rest of her life afraid that people she loved so much might never come home.

This knowledge leaves me wondering if I was born unable to accomplish ordinary tasks that come so easily and naturally to others, or if I learned it (or didn’t) due to the fact that the women in my childhood did not model those behaviors for me because they themselves were too busy suffering. Whatever the reason, “it” has plagued me for as long as I can remember. I didn’t know how to explain the frustration, simply because it had always been the way I “worked”; I just thought everyone operated on the same level. I liken my brain to a television that is continuously on, though changing channels at a maddening pace. Sometimes I am paying attention to things that I don’t even care to pay attention to, all while ignoring something or someone very important, right in front of me. I do not do it on purpose, though I sometimes come across as snobbish or unconcerned. I often interrupt others in conversation with a seemingly unrelated comment or topic, though in my mind it has relevance and should be shared immediately.

I have had to learn how to think about how my actions impact not just myself, but everyone around me. Note: it is not a good idea to take credit card to MAC cosmetics counter. My organizational skills are non-existent. If I do not make a list before going to the grocery store, I may come back with two packs of vacuum cleaner bags and no milk, or peanut butter and not jelly, though they’re right beside each other, and we’ve been out of jelly for 2 months. I know that people forget things at the grocery, or buy two of one and none of another, but this is an every time sort of deal. I have not mastered the “I know what goes in everything I cook, so I don’t need a list, let’s go shopping with a purpose” method. Without a list I will spend $800 on food that looks cool. Truffle butter and frozen ostrich burgers, anyone?

My mother didn’t raise me with “instructions” on how to do household chores. OR, maybe she did and I just missed it. I don’t see a natural order in how one’s house should be or look, and I can spend an entire day trying to clean one room. The majority of this surfaced when Leonidas and I (bless his big heart) first started dating. We lived together before we married, and he would “bring to my attention” the fact that, should I start trying to help clean our apartment around 11am (before kids wake up time), at 6 pm, things just looked “moved around”, due to my inability to focus on anything for longer than 2 minutes. Start laundry in one room, walk to another to put away said laundry, spray Lysol on bathroom counter. Go begin another load of laundry (that I will remember and have to rewash tomorrow) then decide to clean out the pantry as I walk past… get it? He wasn’t complaining, just commentating. He is a master laundry doer.

My frustration at knowing I was a fairly intelligent individual (I always did well in school without ever having to study) who was incapable of completing everyday tasks finally led me to seek help from a psychiatrist. After diagnosis, I was put on Adderall for the attention deficit, Valium to lessen the aggression that resulted from the Adderall, and a couple of other drugs whose names I don’t remember anymore. After starting the Adderall, I could focus SO well that I was up at 3 a.m. scrubbing the baseboards of my house with a toothbrush. I folded my underwear. One might say I became obsessive. At 5’9, I went from 170 lbs. to 109 lbs. in 5 months. I was happy to be shopping in the pre-teen section of stores for the first time in my life. I would move my food around on my plate during meals to disguise the fact that I wasn’t eating it. My heart raced each time I stepped onto the scale, only to find I had dropped yet another pound. I argued and resisted every time Leonidas suggested I may need to stop taking this medicine, or at least get a 33rd opinion from a different doctor, one not so willing to dole out drugs to a walking skeleton every month for my $20 co-pay. I avoided my parents and brother, who were all, at the time, still in South Carolina.

Then I cracked. One day, irritated that my toddler wouldn’t sit still and my infant would not stop crying, (go figure), I put them safely in their cribs, walked to the kitchen and proceeded to remove all of my plates from the cupboards. I carried them to the enclosed patio out back and methodically smashed them into the concrete floor. I then took a pair of kitchen scissors out of the drawer, walked to the bathroom, climbed into the sink, and began cutting my hair off, bit by bit, until I felt I could breathe again. I believe that fate intervened at that point, in the form of a phone call from my father. I calmly told him what was happening, at which point he instructed me to stay put. They were four hours away, so he called my husband who was home in what seemed to be under 3 minutes. After checking on the babies, he swept up the glass, brushed my hair, and put me to bed. My parents and brother arrived not long after. I underwent a quickie intervention and unwilling detox, thanks to my husband and family. My brother took me home where he and his wife force fed me for a week, allowed me to paint, draw, write, go for walks in the woods and be silent. When he told me one day that he was afraid I was dying, I told him I was. I hope that he knows his love saved my life.

A week later, my husband held my hand and brought me home. With clear eyes I looked at my children for the first time. It was at that moment I decided, that no matter what I had to deal with in regards to ADHD, I would do it drug free. I have managed this condition with humor, tears, and lots and lots of support. In a selfless gesture of love, my parents sold their dream home and moved to North Carolina to be with me and to help with the babies. My family has made sacrifices that I will be forever grateful, and alive, for. I make lists that I never complete, but at least I have a starting point. I still leave my coffee somewhere until it’s cold, then reheat it in the microwave only to forget where I put it. I bake muffins for my children and forget they’re in the oven until the tops are burnt because I forget to set the timer sometimes….like this morning. But now, instead of smashing things, I cut the tops off and add sugar free whipped cream and berries. Now, I can laugh. And I do.

Originally published here.

Posted by guest writer on April 13th, 2009
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2 Comments a “ADHD and Me, My Wicked Little Friend”

  1. Holly says:

    Thank you, thank so much for sharing your story. You had me in tears because everything you described is exactly what it’s like to be me. I was diagnosed 2 years ago with adult ADHD at 22 years old. I am still struggling with how to handle it, trying to deal with it off my meds, and then crashing and going back on my meds. I’ve recently went back on Adderall, and I hoping this time I will make some kind of progress. Your story is very encouraging.

  2. Kelly says: will change your life. Has helped with adhd as much as any medication. Houskeeping tips, assignments, (sounds like baloney, but works, I swear)

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