I didn’t get my ADHD diagnosis until I was 25. I always suspected in college that I was but I was too scared to do look into it for the fear of the stigma. I graduated from college and I wanted to go for a higher degree but the idea of sitting in MORE classes was just too much for me to bear. I jumped from one bad relationship to another, ones where I always felt like I was barely making it work thanks to my charm and wit but that only works in the beginning with most women not seeing those as enough for a serious relationship. When I broke up with an on-again, off-again girlfriend, she begged me to go look into help. That’s when I got my diagnosis. I got on meds, started working out and really focused on my self. That’s when I met the woman who would become my wife. She has anxiety and was one of the few people I had ever met that understood that I wasn’t lazy and that I just couldn’t help some of the things I did. Somehow, we managed to balance each other out. When I start getting distracted, she pulls me back in and when she’s too terrified to start, I am jumping in feet first so that she just has to follow. We also divided the household responsibilities with what plays to our strengths. She pays our bills and makes sure we have a savings account because the last time I was in charge of just one of our bills, I ended up getting our jeep repoed because I kept forgetting to make payments, even though we had the money.
As for work, I have never stayed at any place for more than two years with the average being a year. Constantly changing companies means that my meds constantly got disrupted. By the time I am allowed to get health insurance and I’ve gotten a doctor to believe me AND my health care provider to cover it, I’ve gotten a solid 6 months without meds. By then, I have gotten a certain reputation and it’s hard to dig yourself out of it. I once confided in a manager that I had adhd and I think that was what fast tracked me to getting fired as all of my little mistakes became a big deal.
Currently, I am working for my dream company doing what is in my wheel well (I am a project engineer at a construction company). I am in three different divisions and I am constantly looking at new projects with short deadlines. It’s a lot of work but the constant change of projects and scopes keeps my brain from getting bored. I bought our health insurance outside of my company so that both of us can get our meds from the exact same provider without having to worry if I get fired. It’s more money but I suspect that health insurance companies share certain information with your company.
I am not on a stimulant medication but an antidepressant that has been shown to help the brain get more of the dopamine that it craves. It curbs a lot of my fidgeting and I use caffeine to help with the rest of the stimulation that I need. The last time I had health insurance with a company and my provider approved my meds, I got a letter from my company explaining some options for helping me if I ever got depression or just needed to talk. It’s a random letter to receive in the mail shortly after my med approval. It might be a coincidence but a little too convenient one if you ask me, especially when you have a regional manager starts asking me how I’m doing at home.
Getting mental health in this country is a nightmare. The only piece of advice I can give is to get an HMO like kaiser. Trying to get a psychiatrist under a PPO was almost impossible anywhere in California. Either they aren’t in my network, they aren’t seeing new clients OR the wait list is a year. At least with an HMO, my primary doctor listened to me about my needs and put in a referral to see a psychiatrist within a month.
I hide my diagnosis from everyone unless they are family. My mom thinks I am just a fidgety person, my youngest sister (who ironically has a bachelor’s in psychology) believes that I don’t need my meds and I just need to become more disciplined. I constantly try to kill my emotions and do everything in my power to not let them out. It’s funny to say it but I was always jealous of Mr Spock on Star Trek because I always wanted to be cold and logical as my temper got me in more trouble than I’d care to admit. If my family thinks I should be able to control this, I hate to think what the rest of the world thinks. Oh wait, I do. Just look at the comments section of any adhd meme that you come across.
The truth is that I like my adhd brain and I wish we could live in a society that loved my quirky brain. I see a problem from so many different angles and I see solutions that no one else does. I can get groups of people to work together when they don’t want to. I just get so bored with the small repetitive tasks that it feels like pulling teeth. It’s funny to write that as this would literally be the only group of people that actually understands just what I mean. I don’t want people’s pity. I am clever and witty and can talk circles around most people. I have increased revenue size at every organization that I’ve been a part of and have secured repeat business. I just wish that the stupid little details just didn’t keep me from stumbling at the finish line.
If you’ve gotten this far than kudos to you! I am going to start group therapy on Tuesday (over zoom because of covid) and I wanted to get my thoughts in some kind of order. I got the courage to get this extra help from the videos on how to adhd. Just undertaking a little more about adhd and that it is normal makes me feel like I’m not alone with this thing. Talking to a therapist is nice but I don’t 100% feel like they get me.