This year I was formally diagnosed with ADHD. Crazy eh? I’m almost 30 and I learn that I have a disorder typically diagnosed in young boys. I have slowly come to terms with the diagnosis and suddenly my life makes so much sense: The noise in my head , the feeling of being a bit much, the feeling of never properly connecting, or of feeling like chaos in human form all the time. Struggling to focus or being so intense I’m holding my breath, forgetting I need to eat and drink and continuing the task/ project until it’s finished or I am near collapse. I’ve always felt like I am either completely obsessed or totally disengaged. Here or gone, no in between.
I suddenly understand why I squirm when sitting still but heaven forbid someone else should tap their feet or worse accidentally nudge me more than once! I’ll never forget having a huge argument with my siblings in an airport because one of them kept touching me with their elbow… honestly even the thought of it makes me livid. Now I know that I’m driven to move but at the same time I’m sensitive to stimuli in my surroundings:- and I’m not a crazy lady who is weird about personal space , which is what I thought till now.
I have no sense of time or distanced , always being late and always getting lost. I now leave about an hour before I have to as I’d rather wait outside for the 60 minutes than relive the humiliation of being pulled up for my tardiness and inability to find my way out of a paper bag. My poor time management, why sometimes an hour feels like a second and 5 minutes can feel like 5hours makes sense. It’s not because I’m a bit think. It’s my brain.
It used to upset me how much I hated being around too many people , their noises , movements , pitch of their voices all muddling together causing me to be unable to focus on the conversation I am having. Causing me to struggle to engage. I wanted so badly to be a people person but they exhaust me.
I suddenly understand that my forgetfulness is not a sign of me being disrespectful or unfeeling . I’ll never forget being 20 and being told that my disorganised room and pile of ironing just showed how much I didn’t care. That the spoon I kept leaving on the side or the post I kept stepping over just showed how much of a crappy person I was: all that time it turned out my brain was really struggling to remember, it was distracted and just unable to focus on these things. I hated myself because no mater how many times I repeated “I will wash the teaspoon and cup up before I go to bed” I would wake up the next morning to angry looks , spoon and cup still on the side, the list of things I was supposed to pick up forgotten. Feeling stupid and 2cm tall. It would make me feel useless. I felt like although I cared with all my heart I just could not follow through. I just kept failing.
Now as an adult obsessed with keeping I tidy house I still have a cup in every room and a junk cupboard under the stairs. I still have no idea where my bank card is. I still can’t put that bloody spoon away.
I understand now that when I was small and couldn’t make friends because I would talk non stop: random chit chat unable to keep my thoughts on one track. I remember being told I had too much to say, I was too loud, too much, too random. I’ve always struggled to take turns, struggled to stay on topic. I was that child who wanted to talk and talk and talk never comfortable with silence. When I did make friends I had to watch my emotions as I was so quick to swap from one emotion to the other and would have to stop myself bursting into tears or shouting with joy or punching someone for being mean. I was an intense little child doing my best to keep it all squashed inside and not let it tip out in front of my family, friends and grown ups. Holding myself back in every interaction I had. Never really being my true self.
I understand now why I grind my teeth so loudly it wakes my husband and when I have a project in mind I have to start it even if it’s 2am. And even if I don’t have all the tools. I once painted my bathroom with a sponge as I didn’t have a roller… don’t judge me it worked in the end. My insatiable need to do what I want / need to do there and then without waiting: even if it isn’t something I want to do but something that’s on my mind. If that means making a pack lunch and taking it to work only to eat it a 10am because I know I need to eat it that day …. Even if I’m not hungry at 10am. My compulsive behaviour suddenly makes sense. My need for immediate gratification or results suddenly doesn’t feel so strange .
Having a Diagnosis has helped me so much: I understand my dopamine seeking behaviour, I understand more about my weakness and where my strengths come from. Most importantly I genuinely think ADHD has helped me to be more creative, I use my hyper focus to be able to redecorate my house the day we move it, I launch myself into projects even if I need help finishing them off.
As someone who has been diagnosed with anxiety, complex PTSD and fibromyalgia having another diagnosis was really worrisome. I felt like I would soon have the hole Alphabet of disorders , but my wonderful psychiatrist reminded me that I have created a beautiful life not through luck , but through perseverance, hard work and compromise. I have a wonderful husband, a good job, good friends and 2 lovely dogs.
So hi my names is Bella, I’m a wife, dog mum , public service worker, illustrator and I have ADHD.