Hi, my name is Jalysa, and I’ve felt like a high-powered photon cannon, with no aim for a good while now. I was diagnosed today with severe ADHD. I’m 22, and I’m in my last semester of college, starting next week. I had been researching the symptoms for a couple of years before making the decision to search for a place to be tested in my area. I have lived for so many years feeling not enough, feeling like I could never do anything or remember anything as perfectly as I thought I needed to. When I was a kid, it was less obvious because I was the girl that would daydream in class, or more like just fall asleep (I apologize to every math teacher I’ve ever had, profusely.) I was well-behaved, and I wasn’t bothering anyone, but I did lose my books, binders, and notes. It wasn’t until college, when I moved on campus and started to manage my own space, sunrise to sunset, myself, that I began to really bump up against the challenges. You see, my mother had been my memory my entire childhood. I’d say “mom have you seen my ____?” and she was and is an awesome mom that knew exactly what I would lose before I even lost it! We’ll call it mother’s intuition. I was also gifted, and so my parents thought that I was easily bored just because I needed to be challenged, but I still had those challenges in my AP classes too. If I couldn’t see something I needed (notes, books, etc.) it may as well have not existed because I didn’t remember that I had it or where I put it.
My Steady Descent into UTTER CHAOS
In college everything kicked into overdrive. To receive student aid in my state, you have to take a minimum of 15 hours per semester. When I got to college I didn’t understand that 15 was plenty, so naturally I took 17 or 18 hrs/semester my first year. I got good grades, but I sacrificed my own health to do so. So I decreased my workload to 15 or 16 per semester after that, but then had a job my sophomore year in which one of my responsibilities was to run a children’s choir. I had no idea how much I didn’t know! Organization is HUGE there, and I just felt so tired and crushed under the weight of planning for them, not feeling like I knew enough to plan for them (I knew basically none of the songs my boss wanted for them, because I just didn’t grow up with them) and also dealing with my course load, as well as doing the music theatre production that 1st semester (which I dont regret it was so fun and taught me so much about myself.)
Anyway, around sophomore year I had a friend that mentioned to me that I seemed like I had some symptoms of ADHD, so I started researching. I never stopped moving, I was easily distractible, I couldn’t focus when we’d study in the dorm study nooks, I wasn’t retaining what I read very easily, it took me a long time to get through with the homework that my colleagues finished much earlier, I would leave my HEAD if it was not attached to me, and I felt so stressed with my lists of things but I never could narrow it down or choose what was most important unless it was due in like 6 hours. I forgot things that were in my hand, or that I’d just seen a second ago, or SAID a second ago. I could look my friends in the face and not remember ANYTHING they just said to me (and it really hurt me that I forgot a friend’s allergies and made her a dessert she was allergic to. It was okay though she just reminded me nicely.) I would also fall asleep any time I wasn’t allowed to move (concerts, as I music major I have to attend many of those, classes that were lecture-based, church services, really anywhere that it wasn’t socially acceptable for me to tap my foot or it made people nervous to see me moving all the time.) I thought I just needed to work harder, get a grip on myself, drink more coffee. I ended up studying long days and nights (although coffee STILL never kept me awake, I just had to take micronaps) , as well as forgetting to eat, and even passing out sometimes because of it.
I parked outside my now therapist/ADHD coach’s office today and I just had so many thought racing through my brain I took out my journal and had to write them. “Should I even be here? Am I just trying to blame my struggles on something else? What if I come out without a diagnosis and she says the worst, “you just need to work harder.” and do I really want to know if that might be the answer?” Well I went in anyway, partly because I decided I did want to know, and partly because if you cancel the day of you owe the place $120. If the first part didn’t work, THAT sure was an effective motivator. I went in, filled out some paperwork and handed her my intake form, and a letter I found that my mother wrote about me to one of my high school teachers about my losing things and easily bored tendencies. The clerk came back with a depression inventory for me to fill out and I thought “no, wait, this is not about depression, I’m here for ADHD, I know sometimes I struggle with that but I’ve been in counseling, walked through some things with my faith and my counselor, and I feel okay now for the first time in my life.” I panicked a bit because I thought, what if the depression or anxiety has me struggling this way and this appointment is in vain. I filled out the inventory anyway because I remembered the $120 then. She read it all over and invited me to her office, and she was one of the sweetest ladies I had ever met. She had such a kind soul. She felt almost immediately like an advocate for me. She talked me through the symptoms I’d come about, pretty much listened to my life story (of which this is a huge paraphrase) and told me my symptoms did sound like ADHD. She had me take another inventory, a scale, I don’t remember what the name was on the top. I scored an 85, and she said severe began at 70. She began explaining to me how ADHD works, affects the brain, and I stopped and cried and jubilantly raised my arms within a matter of seconds because of one thing. Everything else I’d heard and researched before so I knew it was part of ADHD; Here it comes:
*****She said to me that it could cause some trouble with retaining the information I’ve studied, with whether I remembered it in a week or month, and could retain it for my profession. I cried, and then was SO OVERJOYED. Ya’ll I thought that I just didn’t remember things I had learned in music theory and had trouble merging theory on paper with piano skills (because of memory) because I needed to study harder. I had the horrible, shame-filled thought turned inward that I just didn’t want this Music Ed. degree as bad as my colleagues did, and that must be why I’m like this, why I can’t remember things and get my life together. I honestly skipped out of there so happy about this one point. I’m not lazy, stupid, or not motivated enough. I don’t need to kick myself into gear with more anger against myself, and I don’t have to be so ashamed of myself any longer. I felt like a burden of shame, and so much self-hate and sorrow had been lifted off of my shoulders and like a page of my life had been turned, and like the rest of the days forward would be so much better than the days past. I’m so happy and so thankful for this day, this appointment, this diagnosis, because without it I would still be hanging my coat daily on the hook of shame.
If you made it this far, thank you so much for listening (or rather reading) a part of my journey. I’m so thankful for How to ADHD, and this community, because I really need some support to change my life. I want to be fully free from shame and that self-criticism I experience on the daily, but I know that I can’t do this journey alone, so I’m overjoyed after binge-watching Jessica’s videos (Jessica you’re literally my favorite ADHD youtuber, I watched many different and you’re just, my fave!) and finding this community. Thanks for bearing with my long-winded intro, I know I talk alot but I promise it all means something!