Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Adventures in Diagnosis Land

So last Wednesday I received my official diagnosis of ADHD Primarily Inattentive with accompanying anxiety and depression. The docs (there are two of them, one therapist and one MD who work together) think whatever anxiety and depression isn't explained by life circumstances is most likely explained as a reaction to untreated ADHD.

That would make this my 4th diagnosis, making 3 prior diagnoses not exactly wrong, but not complete either.

At first the MD was cautious, because sometimes stressful life circumstances can cause ADHD-like symptoms, and because I clearly displayed depression and anxiety. Gee, really? So he put me on Wellbutrin and sent me over to the therapist to suss out which was the chicken and which was the egg.

The Wellbutrin definitely helped even me out, but it wasn't sufficient.

Now, 6 weeks later, diagnosis in hand, I'm on my 2nd week of daily ritalin.

Yes, I've heard all the arguments, ranging from "smart drug" to "dangerous" to "you don't need it."

Well, as it turns out, I actually DO need ritalin. Or something like it at least. It's made a huge difference.

See, everything about ADHD is about keeping a sleeping brain awake. The classic example is the little boy who can't sit still in class, but there's far more ways to cope. Daydreaming, thinking too hard (overfocus), adrenaline addiction, all other kinds of addiction, intentionally creating drama... there's a reason people with ADHD perform their best when life is at its worst.

Too long doing that however, and the physical effects catch up to you.

What ritalin does (and why it's so badly abused by those who don't need it) is "wake up the brain." That's why it helps the symptoms, because every symptom of ADHD is a futile attempt to keep the brain awake.

So now my brain is awake for about 12 hours a day, give or take.

Life looks very different now. I look very different now. I feel very differently now, because I'm in more control of my thoughts and reactions. That's a very big deal.

As part of the package though, and as part of the diagnostic criteria, I've ended up looking at my entire life through a different pair of lenses. Being undiagnosed sucks, because all you know is that you're different and struggling inside, with no explanation as to why.

Now I have my explanation, and that makes a world of difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment