40 & DIAGNOSED WITH ADHD

EMOTIONAL, MENTAL HEALTH, THOUGHT-PROVOKING

If you don’t already follow Jess aka @thehotcrossmama then you should: hilarious memes on her grid (do people even call it that any more) plus not hole-barred stories. And most recently those Stories have documented her diagnosis with ADHD and how much that diagnosis has meant to her:

  • Until 3 weeks ago, I had gone through life with undiagnosed ADHD. 

  • Some symptoms of ADHD are:

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings

  • constantly fidgeting

  • being unable to concentrate on tasks.

  • excessive physical movement

  • excessive talking

  • being unable to wait your turn

  • acting without thinking

  • interrupting conversations

  • I loved school despite lessons and exams being hell

  • I could never focus in class and remember teachers getting angry with me, when I was trying my best

  • As a result, I taught myself alternative ways to learn which did not involve long hours sat reading

  • Instead I would role play, talking out loud to myself as I was the teacher explaining things to another pupil

  • I would be mischievous

  • I had little or no sense of danger combined with a problem with authority 

  • I would do outrageous things as they would get me attention

  • One example of this would be when I was at primary school, and I tried to drive my mum’s car

  • I would go round friends’ houses to play and be so excited and hyper, that I would act out anything that would pop into my mind

  • I would throw their parents belongings into their swimming pools, cut all the heads off their flowers, start fires, dismantle their toys…the list goes on 

  • As a result, friends’ parents would rightfully stop me from going around their houses to play which upset me and made me feel like it was because I was a bad person

  • Fortunately, at school I would excel at art.

  • Despite my struggles, I managed to leave school with 3 x C’s at A-Level, and 9 GCSE’s

  • I had a super gifted sister at university studying to be a doctor, yet no one would agree to put their name on my UCAS form as they deemed me not intelligent enough

  • As a result, I had to ask a neighbour to be my reference

  • When I started my art degree, I was diagnosed with acute dyslexia  

  •  With the assistance of a learning support tutor, I thrived

  • I went on to graduate at masters level as a university lecturer in Art, and applied for a PHD

  • The older I was becoming, the worse the ADHD would get. 

  • I’d had enough of academia, and went to work as a designer which is where I met my husband and best friend

  • Both became integral to helping me reach my full potential – without either of their support, I’m not sure where I would be today 

  •  Then I became a mother. The complete / obvious change in lifestyle meant my old coping mechanisms were out of the window

  • I would barely leave the house, scared that someone would throw acid over my daughter

  • To manage my emotions, I would clean & exercise manically plus restrict my food 

  • 10 months later I was admitted to the Bethlem Psychiatric hospital with acute Postnatal Depression (PND)

  • Several NHS psychiatrists said they suspected a personality disorder, but had no one to formally assess me.

  • Instead they gave me antidepressants / anxiety medications and sent me away 

  •  I not only had undiagnosed ADHD, but PND and psychosis 

  • I would call the police on my husband as I was convinced he was trying to have my daughter taken away from me, plus of having affairs 

  • After a very extended maternity leave, I went back to work.
     

  • My career means everything to me. After being written off throughout school, the world of work was my chance to change those perceptions

  • I did very well at work, however, this was due to the number of extra hours I would put in unknown to everyone else 

  •  Work meetings I would zone out in a bid to stop myself getting up and moving around

  • As a result, I appeared distant and not engaged

  • At work I perform best in the following ways:

  • For companies who champion diversity – you won’t get a solution to a problem if you employ 50 people all from the same background

  • Meetings must be no more than 10 minutes long – I ask ‘just tell me what needs actioning’ and I stand by that as a great way to draw focus collectively    

  • In an operational role – don’t put me in front of a client as I’m not a ‘yes person’ and I don’t sugar coat s**t

  • Being across a variety of projects – I can’t focus too long, and in great detail on one project

  • In a chaotic environment – I love nothing more than creating organisation

  • Managing people – I really care about my team, their development and helping support them, as it was something I never had.  Aware I sound like David Brent, but they’re like extended family – and should be treated like it

  • Shortly after returning to work, my husband’s father was diagnosed with cancer and sadly passed away 4 months later 

  • During this time, I would work, and support us as the best I could, but I couldn’t cope

  • Thankfully I was working with my best friend again, and had the support from an incredible boss and team which I will never forget

  • It really did take a village and some, to help keep us as a family going 

  • I’m so proud of how we protected our daughter during that time

  • We never faltered in her care and love her beyond words

  • After a few years of working my way through a variety of antidepressants / anxiety meds, nothing was improving

  • I still felt manic

  • One drug would make me feel so disassociated that I wanted to take my own life

  • My coping mechanisms were now out of control

  • I would go through a cycle – binging and then restricting 

  • I felt like I was getting into a lift, and each time I stepped back in, I went further and further down 

  • Things weren’t going to end well. I was going to die – either accidentally or by suicide 

  • In the midst of everything, my husband was still fighting my corner, playing diagnosis detective

  • He got me a private assessment with a leading psychiatrist in personality disorders  

  • He taught me what it is to really love. It’s not ‘you’re too this/that, you need to change’. Its acceptance. 

  • During my assessment, I was expecting her to say I had Bi-Polar, but she could see my behavior as classic ADHD within the first 10 mins  – blunt, figgety and inappropriate
     

  • I had 2 face to face assessments, and 2 questionnaires (1 for me and 1 for my husband) as well as her looking at my medical history 

  • I’ve been on ADHD medication for just over a week now, and the impact they’ve had already has been life changing, and not just for myself, but my family too

  • I’m due to increase the dose tomorrow.

  • It’s early days, but so far, I’ve been able to do the follow which I couldn’t do before:

  • Stand still and hug my husband 

  • Read to my daughter without losing my place in the book

  • Watch TV without needing to get up

  • Not obsessively look at my phone 

  • Have control of my emotions

  • Be in the moment

  • Rest

  • Not felt the need to self-medicate to slow my mind down

  • Not binged or restricted food 

  • Exercise gently 

  • Finish a task I started, for example, sitting and writing this 

  • Have the mental space to think about my thoughts, feeling and how I communicate with others .

  • I feel calmer, happier, and like I have been given my life back

  • This last 4 years has been a journey and I want to thank you all for your kindness and support

  • Some might remember I came off Instagram for a while. I didn’t feel I fitted on there. Believe it or not, I’m a very private person

  • So why do this?

  • I heard a saying recently that ‘you’re only as sick as the secrets you keep’ and wanted to take this opportunity to use my diagnosis to help others

  • Please know you are not your coping mechanisms

  • They are an indicator someone needs help

  • I’m so exhausted from being misunderstood and just want to say to those on the fringe, I SEE YOU! 

  • Thank you for listening.

  • *If anything I’ve written rings true, and you wish to contact my doctor here are their details https://www.psychiatry-uk.com/

 

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