Neurodivergence: ADHD Now Official
I had my ADHD assessment on Wednesday, 30th August 2023. We are currently smack in the middle of moving house and that is… stressful. I dislike change to be honest. I am currently writing this from a sofa with very little around it. I have an extreme dislike of moving house, partly because nothing will be familiar for a while.
Anyway, I'd ensured I had time alone set aside for the assessment. Hopefully the outcome will not shock anyone who's read this blog previously, and certainly not myself—I have ADHD. Officially.
I'm 48, only a handful of months away from 49, so I guess you could call this a late diagnosis.
I'm not sure how much I can discuss, but there were self assessment forms I had to fill in ahead of the assessment, as well as some to be filled in by my wife, some to be filled in by my parents, (not possible in my case,) and an online test that involved essentially a made-to-be-especially-boring version of the game Snap, over a protracted period.
I had a nice chat with the psychiatrist, and I'd stuck with the same one who did my initial consultation because she'd come across as warm and down to earth. She felt like a real person rather than the rather clinical, distanced approach.
We talked a bit about my past, the difficulties I perceive I have, the difficulties my wife perceives I have and where they differ, and had a bit of a laugh about that. I explained that my wife disliked most of the questions due to being too vague, and every answer took at least five minute's discussion to the point where I would invariably end up pinching the bridge of my nose and saying, “I just need a yes, or a no. PLEASE!”
Here's the thing: I agreed with everything my wife said and had thought many of the same things, and I know that requiring more (nuanced at least,) information before reaching a conclusion is a very Neurodivergent trait but I HATE filling in forms, (also an ND trait,) and wanted to be done as quickly as possible, which really wasn't happening. I love her and that trait is definitely something I love about her, (I could write a book,) but that was the wrong time for me, and dopamine was definitely running low.
The psychiatrist asked me what I was hoping to get out of the session. I wondered briefly what other people might answer, but as per normal, it didn't occur to me to lie, so I said, “I'm hoping to get an official reason as to why I've had certain difficulties in life, and a new way to understand myself better. Maybe some new ideas for coping strategies?”
She seemed pleased with the answer. I guess some people might bring up medication, or hope for some sort of 'fix'? I dunno.
We talked about the results of the forms/questionnaires as well as the 'boring snap' test, and unsurprisingly… all signs point to ADHD! (If you need a minute, I can wait.)
Ok, now that you've recovered, here's the part that shocked me—I'm classed as having 'mild' symptoms. My symptoms—once I became aware of them, and after I'd stopped dismissing or otherwise ignoring/justifying them—have never felt 'mild' to me. This is a condition that has caused me to underachieve in life. Seriously, ask any of my school reports, which were liberally festooned with “could do better” and “if he just applied himself”. I had years of forgetting to do homework and paying the price for it. I've had a lifetime of lost friendships because “out of sight, out of mind” is literal with ADHD. Or due to my mood swings, irritability or other neurodivergent behaviours that weren't understood—even by me at the time.
There's been years of missed appointments; turning up to work on days off/not turning up on days I was scheduled (time blindness,); literal decades of being told I was “too sensitive,” (rejection sensitivity dysphoria,); and endless executive function issues: inability to plan/budget; impulsivity—particularly around spending; not being able to stick at hobbies for very long after spending money on them; and forever forgetting… well, pretty much everything I was supposed to remember.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg really. I've had health problems that are linked to ADHD as well, including co-morbidities like depression and anxiety.
People with ADHD are more likely to fall into addiction (I have,); are more likely to be homeless (thankfully not,); are more likely to choose to end their existence, or die young. They are more likely to have chronic illnesses and injuries. The downsides are very real.
I have ADHD to thank for my creativity. I like to draw, paint, write, sculpt and take photographs. And I'm fairly decent at at least a couple of those. I can thank ADHD for my quick wit. For my unconventional thinking, (a blessing and a curse,) and many other things.
I just wish it had been picked up on when I was closer to 10 than 50, but here we are. There's no use in wishing to change the past.
Like I told the psychiatrist, an official diagnosis doesn't change me. I already knew I had ADHD, this was just a way of making it official.
I was told that medication would probably not be helpful in my case. Medication is used in more severe cases to bring them down to the level I'm at, apparently. Because my ADHD has yet to lose me a job, or cause me to fail academically, (apart from Sociology A-level, where I got my dates mixed up and ended up turning up an hour late to my final exam… which I then finished with an hour to spare. a 3 hour exam in an hour? Can't end well.) or otherwise fail to live a 'normal' life, (debatable,) I'm classed as a mild case. Apparently the side effects can be pretty bad too—depression and anxiety can be exacerbated, which I'm already medicated for and would rather not worsen.
So I guess it's business as always then. I'll continue to struggle in some areas of life and there's not a lot I can do about that. Recently I've been starting to practice gratitude in little ways and that helps.
For now I'll sign off, but I have lots more posts planned around symptoms, effects and other stuff.
If you're affected by ADHD yourself, I hope this blog helps you understand yourself in a new way, or perhaps it spurred you to get your own diagnosis? Let me know. I also welcome feedback.