I've had a revelatory moment. The type where the lightbulb comes on over your head. Or when a choir of supposed angels sings a loud and ethereal "naaaaaaaaa!" to the image of you throwing your arms up over your head and gazing skywards with happy tears glistening in the corners of your eyes. A moment of "Eureka!" if you will.
Because two days ago someone cautiously mentioned four little letters to me and that person was a psychiatrist. My new psychiatrist. Who took a lot of time asking me a lot of questions, being generally very nice and seemingly professional. So after about an hour of asking me shit no one ever thought to ask me before he almost whispered (presumably so as not to shock me) those four little letters: ADHD. And it was like someone had finally given me the decoder sheet for my life that shifted everything into a new, much more sense-making position.
The rest of our conversation consisted mostly of me asking things like "So, the fact that I have to concentrate really hard right now to not drift, there's a reason for that?" and him smiling benignly and nodding yes. Years ago I had amateurishly considered ADHD, and even asked my parents whether they ever had me examined in that regard, especially since I was always told how fidgety I had been as a child. But they said they hadn't and not to be stupid and somehow I ended up dropping it. It didn't strike me as very serious especially since back then I mostly exhibited hyperactivity symptoms* - I still fidgeted a lot etc. - but was becoming calmer, and attributed it to the fact that I was leaving puberty behind.
But in the last couple of years other symptoms have been showing up. I grew more impatient, more erratic, more easily distracted, depression and burn out apparently bringing out the worst in me. Finn was getting really annoyed with me because she felt I didn't listen to her, when in all honesty I just felt that it took her way to long to get to the point - she wasn't to blame, I just didn't have the patience for it. And while I was really trying to listen to her my mind went off on tangent after tangent, I was trying hard not to look at anything so I wouldn't get distracted by nearby objects and the following thoughts and ideas.
I get that this is really annoying for her, but I don't actually mean to do that. I actually can't help that my mind sometimes feels like a highway with a myriad of lanes where everything seems to happen at the same time. But now I finally understand why.
- why I'm such a non sequitur person
- why I have a hard time listening to people who are talking slowly, for lengthy periods of time or saying things that don't interest me enough
- why I struggled so much with the reading I had to do for my thesis
- why I the structure of a University of Applied Sciences worked slightly better for me than regular University
- why I was a very impatient and fidgety kid that never could sit still
- why I have sleeping problems
- why I talk waaaay to much and way too fast for most people
- why I keep misplacing things and forgetting why I just walked into the kitchen or find myself walking around the flat still clutching that packet of sugar for my coffee
- why I could never get organised or grasp the basics of time management and no matter how hard I try chaos takes over soon enough after an attempt at organisation
- why I sometimes lose time doing something I enjoy
- why I almost never finish anything because something else catches my fancy, be it short term or long term things
- why I have such a hard time finishing my writing and have shitloads of half thought out ideas lying around but so few works that are actually done and edited and revised. Hell, I never even reread my exam essays in school because once written I found my own words way too boring to go over them again. I'm lucky that I'm very good at grammar and spelling so I got most of right the first time and editing wasn't necessary for getting good grades in language classes.
But all that is probably just a tiny fraction of my behaviour which has recently become obvious to me.
For example, I always wondered why people kept insisting that coffee was such an immense stimulant, and "Woah, are you sure you want to drink that coffee now? Because it's 7 p.m.!" Coffee always seemed to calm me down. In fact I've developed a habit of drinking coffee when I sit down to write but I'd assumed that was just a habit, a bad habit, a ritual. But I sleep like a baby when I drink a cup of tea in bed while reading at night. Well, it turns out I'm not alone. To ADHD people this makes impeccable sense. It raises our dopamine levels and we have an easier time focusing on one task instead of getting distracted by something shiny. I know that now.
So far, coffee is the only "medication" I'm using, at least for the ADHD. I'm still taking my antidepressants because they seem to be working well with the tiny amounts that I'm currently taking. And in October I'll be back at the doctor's and we'll do a test. Although he said he has pretty much diagnosed me but if I'm interested we can do the quiz. And then we'll talk medication. It seems like there are a ton of options - different kinds of meds, not just Ritalin, and different methods of taking them etc. What is helping me most at the moment is that I have stopped beating myself up about certain things. I still strive to be better and function as well as possible but at least I'm not dissing myself anymore when the Scatterbrain does show up. Take today, for instance:
I woke up and, still in bed, read my emails on my Galaxy tab. My fanfic had gotten a review that among other things proposed I insert more paragraph breaks to make it more readable. Driven by really wanting to do that so that many more people would be able to properly enjoy my story I managed to brush my teeth and take my meds and chinese herbs. I set out a cup for my morning tea and put the electric kettle on and then went to turn on my computer and start editing my story. At 1 pm I wondered where the hell time had gone and I realised that I was really fucking hungry. A further 20 minutes later I finally did get up and went back into the kitchen to find a rather lukewarm kettle and an empty cup. My second attempt at tea was more successful. I carried my breakfast into the living room and turned on a movie to watch while eating. After I'd put the food away I settled down on the couch, still watching the movie, but my attention drifted to the interwebs in all its glory. Merlin knows what I was doing, I can't even remember. Somehow the movie had ended and I was reading fanfiction. I remembered the fanfic I had been reading last night and went to get my Galaxy Tab from the bedroom. But the bed looked cozy so I curled up under the blanket to finish reading the fanfic. Once done I remembered I had wanted to write this blogpost but on my way to the living room I realised I was still in my pyjamas and probably should have a shower before Finn's imminent return home (by that time it was almost 6 o'clock). Post shower I finally made back it to my computer which was still sitting innocently on the couch and now I'm writing this but I have several tabs open in my browser because I had a couple of errant ideas that streaked past me. And I tweeted, and facebooked, and probably did some other stuff but I tried very hard to concentrate on this. Sure, it got done in the end but the fact is that I wanted to write this blog post this morning and it's now 8 o'clock in the evening.
Now, can you imagine what it's like in my brain?
Only two days ago a day like this would've driven me absolutely bonkers. The feeling that I'd gotten nothing done. The lack of control over my life and myself. The big fat "why" hanging over it all. Now that I actually know why I don't beat myself up over it. I can laugh about it. And I will hopefully learn to somewhat counteract it if I have something important that actually needs to get done in a time sensitive manner. I can learn to live with ADHD, take all that imagination and creativity and focus it. And it will be glorious when I finally do :)
But for the foreseeable future: If you meet me in real life and it looks like I might drift forgive me. And talk faster ;)
* I didn't know back then that my liability to inappropriate comments and unfiltered talking was also a symptom of impulsivity and thus of ADHD.