A couple weeks ago I shared how I was diagnosed with ADHD last October.
For many people this wasn’t much of a revelation, but it was definitely a surprise to me.
In hindsight it’s obvious.
I just never thought about it that way. And nobody ever mentioned anything about it to me.
Until a couple months ago.
I have struggled really badly with organization for my entire life, and I just thought I was lazy.
But that doesn’t really make sense because I’m hardly ever not doing something.
When I was in middle school I played soccer and softball, swam on the swim team and played the piano and violin. All at the same time.
When I was in high school I played softball all 4 years (varsity for 3), was on the varsity swim team all 4 years and captain my senior year, and All-State my sophomore, junior, and senior years. And I got two of the biggest scholarships my school gave to students when I was a senior.
I ran my first marathon when I was 42 and ran a total of six marathons in my forties.
Lazy people don’t run six marathons when they have five kids under 10 years old.
Then I thought maybe I was just clueless or not smart enough to figure it out.
But I went to one of the best public high schools in Connectictut, I graduated from Lehigh, and then I put myself through grad school and got my masters in Elementary Ed so I’m definitely not stupid. Or uneducated.
If I wasn’t lazy and I wasn’t stupid, then I what the hell was wrong with me?
When I was around thirty years old I fell into a pretty deep depression. I couldn’t stop crying and I had really bad insomnia and I was smoking a TON of weed to self medicate and I ultimately ended up in a treatment center, and that’s when I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
I was definitely depressed. But most of what I was experiencing was unadressed and repressed grief from my younger brother’s death about fifteen years earlier.
There’s only so long you can keep that shit stuffed down.
So I was put on antidepressants and also some pretty hard core sleep medication and that’s when I started seeing a therapist consistently.
I waited and waited and waited to feel differently once I started antidepressants, but they never really did anything. I didn’t feel any different at all.
And so I never remained on them for very long. I tried Zoloft and Celexa and Lexapro and none of them did anything at all.
Every time I tried a new medication I just stopped taking a couple months later.
Ironically, this actually made me depressed. 😂
Because the medication was supposed to change my life and it didn’t do anything at all.
I couldn’t even be depressed the right way!
And I felt so shitty about myself back then in my thirties I wasn’t even really honest about it with my therapist because I thought I was just extra messed up.
I’ve also been super impulsive all of my life, but I thought that was just because I was really fucked up mentally. I didn’t think it was depression. I just thought I was too undisciplined to have any kind of self-control.
I thought I wasn’t trying hard enough.
I have expended massive amounts of energy trying to figure out what the hell my problem was.
And THAT is why being recently diagnosed with ADHD has been life changing.
Because I’ve spent over twenty years with a diagnosis that didn’t actually feel right. Once I started therapy and once I started sleeping better, I didn’t really feel like I was depressed most of the time.
I didn’t really have days where I couldn’t get out of bed. I didn’t have days where I didn’t want to do anything at all.
It was the opposite.
I had so many things that I wanted to do but I couldn’t make myself actually do them. I couldn’t get started. Because I couldn’t figure out where to start.
And being an intelligent, educated, not lazy person who was having a hard time getting started on simple tasks, well…
THAT’s what was making me depressed!
I was expending massive amounts of energy and not getting anywhere and feeling like a total loser for not being able to just do the shit that most other people can do very easily with little effort.
I couldn’t figure out what my problem was and I felt really, really stupid and this led to feeling completely hopeless.
I thought medication would be the thing that was life-changing for me.
Don’t get me wrong. It has been.
I can stay focused on things that require a lot of brain calories now, and my head isn’t constantly overwhelmed with racing thoughts (not during the day anyway). I can figure out how to get started on a task that would normally have me sitting for hours, paralyzed with indecision.
But what has been more life changing is that I have a diagnosis that actually fits me. It feels right.
I feel right. I feel relief.
Since being diagnosed, I have experienced exponential growth.
It’s not an exaggeration.
In the past two months my life has totally turned around.
Yeah, medication has helped a lot.
But the thing about being diagnosed with ADHD that’s been so incredibly transformative is that for the first time in my whole entire life I don’t feel like there’s something wrong with me.
It’s not that my brain doesn’t work. It’s that my brain works differently.
For the first time in my life, I finally feel understood.
And even more importantly, for the first time in my life, I finally understand myself.
Wait… did I write this? Are you me? I’m 44 and recently have done some research on ADHD and I can relate enough that I am looking into getting diagnosed by a professional. I’m happy you found some answers!
I am so thrilled for you! I have followed you for years even though I don’t have kids, I don’t even know how I found you, but I think I’ve stuck around because I resonated with your ADHD energy (you achieve amazing things when you are passionate about something, you have big goals, constant new ideas, and creative thinking). I actually remember thinking you had ADHD a long time ago. You were posting about starting new cleaning routines or posting every day and talking about how it was going really well and then once the novelty wore off or you broke the chain the routine would end forever. I thought about mentioning it but I don’t think it’s ones place to diagnose strangers over the internet!
I experienced a similar realization as you after my diagnosis. Yes, the medication helps a lot, but the biggest life changer is letting go of the life-long negative self talk of feeling like a lazy failure by understanding how your brain works. I like myself 100x better now and am much more compassionate with myself when I “fail” to do boring things things that don’t involve urgency. I too have a Master’s degree, but I was stressed every minute of it and did so much procrastinating until the adrenaline kicked in and then I’d write 20 page research papers in a few hours. ADHD super powers! I wish I had known earlier but so grateful to know now. ADHD is still very underdiagnosed in girls and women because we are more likely to learn to mask the social symptoms. Thanks for sharing your experience!