Saturday, March 10, 2012

Seeking Clarity

Isn't it funny how we read about diseases and suddenly have the symptoms?   I must have cancer of the whatever because I felt a pain in the wherever.  My eyes were blurry yesterday - I must have cataracts.  I was extremely thirsty last night - I obviously have Diabetes II.   Your scalp starts to itch the minute you hear the word "lice."  But have you ever read something that really hit home... causing a discovery about yourself that makes your heart leap out of your chest? 

 Ten years ago, a friend gave me some books:  

You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit DisorderAttention Deficit Disorder in Adults: A Different Way of Thinking

My Oprah "A-HA" moment!  Had someone been reading my journals!?  
All the years of being labeled "Drifty"... "Chatty Cathy"... feelings of inadequacy... the dizzy, light-headed feeling in groups... always trying to be funny... my addictions... word vomit... the inability to relax... to just "BE".  Could the reason I talk incessantly (and often inappropriately) have something to do with my internal wiring? I remember after being married for a couple years (twin stepsons, and a new baby daughter) I told my doctor I felt frazzled... unable to concentrate... couldn't seem to get a handle on things.  

Diagnosis:  "Mommy Overload"  Solution:  Valium
I was given precisely 10 pills, cut into quarters, instructed to take only when I felt like killing someone.  Fear of addiction terrified me - it took me two years to finish that bottle.  They gave me a lovely "who cares" kind of high... helping me catch my breath when the struggles of step-motherhood were too much to bear.  Most of the time it was enough to know relief was in the bathroom cabinet...

My Brain on ADDTime went on...frazzles were my reality.  Relaxing on the couch caused unbearable anxiety.  I could function as long as I was busy.  I lived in the cycle of procrastinating until I could barely stand it.  The high of pulling everything together at the last minute was a drug in itself!  I realize I have always functioned that way - cramming the night before a test... term papers cranked out in three days... I just can't get things done unless the pressure is on.... I drove my mother crazy.  I drive myself crazy!

I called my doctor -
eager to share my self-diagnosis and get help!   
"Let's check your Thyroid levels."  I have to admit, my levels get out of balance easily - my thyroid gland was completely removed after a minor infestation of cancer when I was 38.  It just seems that it has become a scapegoat.  "Let's check your Thyroid levels" is the standard answer for everything!   

Apparently, ADHD is extremely easy to FAKE, and is a drug of choice for many college students pulling an all-nighter.  If you do NOT have ADHD, it provides a KICK in energy, and the stimulant aids in weight loss.  Hence, the reason for rampant faking, and why doctors are reluctant to jump to the ADHD conclusion.   
I begged her to take this seriously.  I told her about everything...  my side-tracked life...
my disorganized house... my need to procrastinate... my social ineptness... 
the bulimia... the drinking... 
I even broke down and told her my secret gambling addiction (which should have cinched the deal)
She just half-smiled and said "Let's check your Thyroid levels."    

It is now ten year later... 
My house is borderline hoard-ish... I've gone through Menopause... intensive outpatient therapy to kick my addiction... and am trying Amberen along with my Synthroid and Vitamins, chasing the allusive C.A.L.M.

This week, a perceptive new friend asked if I'd ever been diagnosed with ADHD (I guess it takes one to recognize one) and offered to let me try an Adderall.  It is tax season and I am crazed (procrastination is not a good thing for an accountant).   I called a psychiatrist friend, to ask his opinion.  He said if I do have ADHD it will help... I would feel calm clarity...within 20 minutes!  If I don't have it, I would become hyper (more so than I already am).  He assured me it would be safe to try one...

OK.  If I die, call my kids.

My heart raced a little at first, and I felt flushed.  (Could it have been the coffee chaser?)
Ten minutes later I was in a meeting.  I understood and followed the conversations.  
I asked relevant questions and took detailed notes.  
I looked in the eyes of my clients, feeling confident.  
No lightheadedness.  No anxiety.
Then it dawned on me - is his what CLARITY feels like?
O. M. G.
I almost cried.
I feel like I've been lied to my whole life!
What I've been missing... what I could have accomplished... what could have been avoided.
O. M. G.
Monday morning I'm making an appointment.
If she suggests "checking my Thyroid" I'm finding another doctor.

May 31, 2012
I received my first prescription of Adderall
After five minutes she said, "You have interrupted me seven times already!"
I was starting apologize profusely, as she got out her prescription pad.
"ADHD patients HAVE to interrupt - they are afraid they will forget their thought,
interrupting is their only choice!"
We will continue to talk... but I can tell you need help"
I feel vindicated... empowered... free...
My next blog:
My Adderall Adventure!!!

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