Article Link: When Adult ADD/ADHD Goes Untreated

I read this article in the beginning of the year and it was pivotal to me in that I related to it strongly. And, with this article I had something I could refer back to, an anchor I could hold onto, to keep moving forward and taking the necessary steps to find help .

When Adult ADD/ADHD Goes Untreated – Adult ADHD Expert NYC

There is a lot of (internal) head nodding material in here. This bit definitely gave me an ‘ah, yes’:

ADHD doesn’t start in an adult. It starts during childhood. However, people with ADHD are often poor self-reporters and historians and may believe they had no trouble with attention or focus when, in reality, they did but the structure of their environment helped them to compensate.

And this stuck with me too, strongly (and it refers to medication that might lower dopamine levels – read article for context):

…during my training at Massachusetts General Hospital, I was taught a VERY IMPORTANT PEARL. Never, never, never take away someone’s dopamine.

The whole article is quite lengthy (or just think of it as a very short book…#reframe), but was worth the read to me. I hope for you too.

Sticky Notes

There is a bunch of post-it notes sticking on the table next to my laptop. Quick scribbles from web searches and my own ADD wonderments, as I’m getting to understand more of myself. I can feel how it addresses a void in me…or how it speaks to a part of me that is interested in health, science and for a lack of a better word, spirituality…that word feels so off to me (like I’m spitting on someone’s grave…huh…weird) even though it’s all I have to point into a general direction. Anyway, let’s just go with it for now.

I never thought I would write down the words ‘left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex’. But there you have it. And I did it twice. Once on a post-it note, and now here again. And now I feel I’m just bragging. But just having a very very general idea of what it alludes to, is enough for me. It gives me a direction for exploration and observation in my own body. Because it is already helping me getting a bit more of a sense where in my head things are over/underactive/frozen, and how it pings to other parts in my body. Which hits important points in my natal chart (yes, astrology. Virgo North Node, Virgo Saturn and Uranus in the sixth house).

God, the word ‘spirituality’ is still bugging me. It makes my stomach queasy (Virgo) …that’s actually pretty funny.

So one thing that I really missed and that poked his head out a few days ago, is exactly the researching, exploring and studying part of me, that has been over-neglected for years and years. But it made so much sense to me when I was reading a list of signs of dopamine deficiency (associated with a myriad of mental health problems, including ADD/ADHD). I came across this which I’m still contemplating whether it makes me cry or not:

Learning problems: If you’re a person with low dopamine and are attempting to learn new information, your ability to learn is diminished. It may seem as if you’re reading or hearing information, but it’s going in one ear and out the other. Almost like you cannot absorb the new informational stimuli that you’ve presented your brain.

Yes! And…yes!

It’s like seeing a unicorn for the first time…you know, that first time is always special.

Until reading that I didn’t know how much I had been struggling with that and how heavy it has weighed on me. Never had I been able to put my finger on it, what it was that information most of the time didn’t really stuck or clicked. Crystalized. It took an assessment test, earlier this year, to remind me that I’m pretty smart, even compared to peers in the college degree bracket. But I had forgotten. Or it had lost its meaning, because my actual real life output/impact has been basically zero for years. But seeing those test results gave me some of my confidence back.

So, a few days back, on the train (where I wrote my previous blog post), I got this feeling of wanting to explore/study/learn, but now with this budding new sensation (direct effect of the medication) of being able to focus and synthesize what I’m actually wanting to learn. I feel it will open a whole new world for me. So far, with studying (high school, college) …now I see how I did it mostly on discipline, intelligence, passing tests…but I never actually enjoyed it. Wow, that is actually a new realization, but pretty true. And now I understand why. In this department for years I also felt like a slacker. Or not being ambitious.

And why it often irritated me seeing happy-peppy people talking about how they love to grow and learn new things. It made me feel like ‘spirituality’ 🙂 But that’s because I associated that with a totally different process, than where they were coming from…Hmmm, I need to sit with that for a bit. Once you’ve seen one unicorn…

The Fog Clearing

‘Yes, you do have ADD’, the psychiatrist said.

Last week I got some test results back. Not for a test you can fail or pass. Or which outcome is either good or bad. Well…no, to be honest…it was good. I absolutely needed to hear that, that’s how much relief (and also pause, more on that later) it is giving me. Even though it’s still sinking in ( hence, the pause). So yes, I didn’t realize until after I heard those opening words how grateful I was for the outcome. 

I think on a very subconscious level I’ve always been afraid of some diagnosis of a mental/psychological nature. But now, 38 years into my earthly existence, it actually is giving me strength. I’m seeing myself and my life so far in a different light. In a kinder, more understanding way.

ADD … Attention Deficit Disorder. Something that a while ago was a distant concept, now has become personal. Not as in a badge of honor, or that I necessarily feel part of a group or something. No, it actually feels very close and personal. Like two parts in me that are connecting. ‘I’m happy you can see me’ I can hear the ADD part say to the brainfoggy, lost boy in me. ‘I’ve been here all along, but you didn’t know.’ And when I open myself more to that reality, I don’t feel so different, so out of place anymore. Although I also feel I’ve just begun to climb out of a black hole. But it doesn’t feel like a long stretched out, heavy path. Most of that path is in my rearview mirror. It’s like the streetlights suddenly came on, and I can see where I was coming from. 

That’s where the ‘it’s giving me pause’ part comes in. Suddenly seeing that travelled road with the lights on, brings about waves of grief. Which brings relief. Healing. I get to see myself from a clearer, more true perspective. I see how I’ve been beating myself up. I see very low self worth. I see isolation. No accomplishments. I see painful confusion and loneliness. And then I want to go back to that past-me, and wrap my arm around him. In silence. I feel for him. I wish I could have protected him more. 

I feel like I hopped over a fence, and from that vantage point all the ADD symptoms are now so blatantly screaming out at me. That surprised me. Before when I would read lists of signs, and personal experiences of others…yes I could relate to a degree. But applying it to myself there also was a lot of ‘Yeah…I guess’. But now, after the diagnosis and the first trial of medication, they make so much more sense to me. I can relate to it. But that’s also because I’m starting to see my personal expression of those symptoms.

And that a lot of it has been internalized, repressed and put into time-out into some dark corner. And I’m still figuring this out. Just to give an example,and I’m still feeling this one out, is ‘interrupting other people in conversation’. And sure, it happens somewhat outwardly, but I wouldn’t give that a confident ‘yes’, looking at myself. But when I look at my internal chatter, even while talking to others, yes, that would qualify as interrupting conversation. If I just imagine the conversation being telepathically, with no way to hide your innermost thoughts and impulses in that moment, it would be pretty obvious.

I hope to share more of my ongoing new understandings and insights. I feel it’s an important part (meaning the rise in number of ADD/ADHD’ers) of a broader change going on in the world today. 

I’ve been writing this post while on a full train, with tons of distraction around me. But thanks to my medication I’ve been able to stay very focused, comfortably in myself. Being able to do something I really enjoy, writing. It has never felt like this before. 

And if it wasn’t for my wife, I don’t think I’d ever found this (part of the) way to myself. Being ADHD’er herself, she recognized this in me and encouraged me to take the necessary steps to find that out and get the available help. Thank you, my dear. 

Now I think I’m gonna stare out of the window for a bit.