Adult ADHD and why you should talk to your doctor.

This summer on July 17th I had a doctor appointment. I was at a point where I was just sick of how I was feeling. Nervous to go, because honestly I didn’t know what I was going to say. How do I list symptoms that aren’t really symptoms but more like personality traits?

Earlier in the day I tried to write out the main things I was struggling with, and have been struggling with for a really long time.

Tired? No, more like exhausted and completely unmotivated 85% of the time.

Depressed? No, not really depressed, just really anxious and feeling like I get nothing done and am failing. Which made me want to just do nothing because I couldn’t seem to get anything done, I felt like I was letting everyone down and just didn’t know where to start on getting any of it together, so I did nothing.

Anxiety. This one I was sure of. Because I feel like I am failing, and because I always seem to be a few steps behind on what I am supposed to be doing, I NEVER can grasp exactly what people’s expectations are of me unless they spell it out really clearly to me. Is there a word or symptom that sums up “at first people think I am smart and capable and should be succeeding in life, but then I feel like a giant let down because I cant seem to accomplish any real goals?”……I would find out later, that yes, there is something that sums that up perfectly.

Moody? More like sometimes I completely don’t care about anything and then my husband can not say hi to me within the first 2 minutes of him being home and I am crying the rest of the night. My moods are really hard, if I am sad, I am really, devastatingly, overwhelmingly sad. If I am happy, I am 100% optimistic, swept up, nothing-can-go-wrong happy. If I am stressed, I am nearly debilitated. I have always had to call my mom to talk through things because I can’t ever seem to talk through my emotions internally like most people do. I have gotten better at “handling” this and not letting the emotions show, but I will think about something that happened, good or bad, and play it over and over in my head.

Overwhelmed and Underwhelming. I always feel overwhelmed, like there is just entirely too much to do. Even when I make a list, organize myself, get it all lined out, STARTING feels like an impossible threshold to cross. In college when I had papers to write, I would wait until the last possible minute before I started. The papers usually ended up getting good grades, but it was a process that bled into things like studying, and retaining information while cram studying doesn’t do me ANY good. So even though I felt like I had all this promise growing up, “smart”, impressive test taker, I could talk-the-talk and make a great impression in every setting, but as far as walking-the-walk, it was more like stumbling, crawling, uni-cycling, falling head first. Even if I managed to pull off what I needed to do, I felt like a fraud and in a constant state of overwhelm.

These were the main things. I wasn’t sure I could even articulate these to my doctor without feeling and sounding crazy.

So I went in and explained to the nurse that I was struggling, and wasn’t sure what the cause was. She asked for symptoms, I started with the easier ones first.

“I’m just really tired.” I said. Trying to hold back tears, because tired doesn’t really cover it.

“Okay, and are you sleeping?”

No, not really. I lay awake playing on my phone until my body feels like it can settle, which can take 4-6 hours of laying in my bed.

“When was your daughter born?”

2017, she sleeps fine though. Like, 12 hours a night fine. Other than the occasional wake up early day, she is a sleeping champ.

“Okay, what else is going on?”

Cue: word vomit.

“I just feel like I am not getting anything done, I work full time, I am a mom full time, and a wife. My house is a wreck because I start cleaning and stop halfway through and forget to finish. I cant sleep, I get nothing done during the day, I am exhausted and unmotivated, but not I-need-a-nap tired, just I-don’t-want-to-do-anything tired. And my OB put me on anti-depressants after I had my daughter but they didn’t help and made me feel worse.”

[I think I forgot to mention that before..whoops! In 2018, right after having my daughter I had explained a lot of these stymptoms to my OB, who thinking I had baby blues, put me on Citalophram, starting at a 20mg dose, after a month I felt even worse, she upped the dosage to 40mg, same thing. No improvement, I actually felt WORSE. So I stopped taking them.]

The nurse then looked at me and asked “Have you ever been diagnosed with ADHD?”

I swallowed. No…I think my mom said she wanted to have me tested when I was in elementary school, but I wasn’t doing bad in school or causing a lot of trouble.

“Did you get told you talked a lot?”

That’s an understatement. I used to talk constantly and interrupt my teachers. I still talk to much, and interrupt, but I have really tried to stop because it’s embarrassing.

“Have you always had trouble setting goals, following through on things, and processing your emotions?”

…Yep. I’ve always kind of thought that was just my personality. Good ole’ Katelyn, doesn’t follow through on any dream, doesn’t remember any of her promises, generally just not a super responsible or reliable person. No matter how much I care about the dream, promise, or person. I just cant seem to remember to remember them.

“I’m going to go talk to the doctor and I’ll be right back.”

Didn’t really make sense, aren’t people with ADHD bouncing off the walls with energy all the time? Because that is definitely not me, it takes me a week to recover from socializing over the weekend.

So, I waited for the doctor to come tell me that I was depressed, or put me on anxiety medication, or tell me I was fine and just needed more Vitamin D.

The nurse came back in and gave me a sheet of paper.

“He wants you to take this test real quick, just answer true or false.”

I looked down at the paper and began answering the questions. It was like reading my diary for a lot of the questions.

A lot of them were scenario and personality type questions. I felt really embarrassed for some of them because it felt like circling yes, even though it was true, was basically saying I was a lousy functioning adult.

I finished the test, gave it back to the nurse, and then sat back.

I knew what this meant. If they give you a test and you have to answer almost all the questions with a yes, that usually means that the answer is yes to whatever they think you have.

The doctor came back in pretty quickly and went back over some of the questions with me, asking me to explain with experiences or scenarios.

I remember a really sympathetic look in his face. We love our doctor. He made me feel a lot less embarrassed.

When we got to the part of our discussion about the whole baby-blues, depression medication thing after my daughter, his expression changed.

“Who was the doctor? Your family doctor?”

“No, my OBGYN. It was a check up after having my daughter.”

“Well, that makes a little more sense.”

He sighed and said “you have adhd, I don’t think you are depressed, or sad. ADHD can make it nearly impossible to motivate yourself to get things done and in turn is probably very frustrating for you. You’re tired because your brain goes in a million different directions with no gas to prioritize which way to go. So you feel very tired, stressed, agitated, and moody because your brain doesn’t process everything the same way most people do.”

“So….I have a brain disorder???”

He smiled, “You just have a different way of processing things, I want to put you on medication and give you some materials to look over, and I think you will start feeling a lot better.”

He told me about Vyvanse, explained that it would help me focus my energy and be able to prioritize to get more things done. That medication, in combination with some research, learning tricks for my brain, and changing my habits, could help me be more productive, less tired, and less stressed.

So, we filled the prescription. I took the materials he gave me and went home.

Now, it’s November. It has been 4 months since my diagnosis, 4 months on medication, and 4 months of a serious change in my life.

I don’t want to sound over-dramatic here, but there really isn’t another way to say what the last few months have been like. So to spare the word vomit, I am going to give you a quick overview of what my last few months have looked like.

First few weeks- I got a lot more accomplished. The first few days were really interesting because I felt like I had soooo much energy, which helped because we were in the midst of moving (different blog post). A surprising difference was also my mood. I was more patient with Zoe, it didn’t frustrate me so much when she didn’t listen or when she interrupted a task I was on.

After two months- Huge difference. I had the added benefit of going through a psych evaluation during this time for a ministry process I am going through. Going through such personal questions, I had to ask my evaluation host if I was supposed to answer based on current situation or before my diagnosis and subsequent medication and changes. It was during this evaluation that I realized exactly how different things had become.

After three months- By no means will I say I was a powerhouse of productivity but habits were starting to form, and when I made a to-do list and prioritized, those things got done. As a result, our finances, my work, our home life and relationships, were all definitely getting a lot better.

Now, at 4 months- Like I said, I can’t say that I am a completely different person. But I can sure as heck say that I am incredibly excited to see where I am a year from now. It is still taking some time for me to adjust habits and schedules. But I will say a lot of that probably has to do with all the other changes going on in our lives that we are adjusting to. I can also say that 6 months ago I could not have imagined a time where I would be getting up every day between 6:30-7:30 AM, getting Zoe and myself ready, making breakfast, getting her packed and ready for school, and then bringing her to school and myself in my office before 9AM and then working all day, getting home and taking care of house things, keeping an excel sheet of our finances, painting, crafting, DIY-ing things for our home, and all the other things that I have always wanted to do but could not seem to get myself to do.

So, at the end of this long post. Why should YOU talk to your doctor?

I am by no means a doctor, but I am an advocate for adults with ADHD. Especially women.

If you have ever been diagnosed with baby-blues, anxiety, depression, and put on medication that didn’t help, or feel like you are stuck in a never ending rut of having the best intentions with no motivation to follow through on them… talk to your doctor.

I am incredibly thankful that I was diagnosed. Even more thankful that I was diagnosed in a time where there is SO much information out there that you can read. I am linking some of my favorite resources here below, including a “test” that you can take to see if you might need to go talk to your doctor about ADHD.

I am thankful that my doctor took time to look past the easy diagnosis of depression and anxiety, especially because I am a woman. I have heard so many stories of doctors that were way less interested in discussing Adult ADHD, so if you feel like this resonates with you, bring your information with you. Advocate for yourself!

It is okay to seek an answer, it is okay to advocate for yourself, it is okay to want to feel better.

If you think you have ADHD, my inbox is always open.

My heart has been broken open for all the women that think they are less of a person, less of a mom, less of a wife, because they have never been diagnosed, or misdiagnosed.

My next post will be all about medication, diet, and habits that I have changed since my diagnosis!

Until then, thanks for sticking with me through this journey. I am praying for all you out there that might have related with any part of this.

Until next time,

K

My favorite ADHD Resources

I Have ADHD

I Have ADHD Podcast

A list of Adult ADHD Symptoms

ADHD Test

Another great resource and test

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