As I just revealed somewhere else, I have a condition called attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It's a developmental disorder. Yes, it's real. Yes, it can be very serious. Yes, it's probably at the root of all my other mental problems. No, I don't like being teased about it, or about any of the weird shit I do because of it. It's a likely explanation for all the different projects I've been responsible for over the years, as well as a good deal of the conflicts I've had here on the board.
I didn't intend to tell my whole story here, but it seems I have. Read on if you like.
Some symptomology is always present before age 7. My mother suspected I had it, and kindly did her best to sweep it all under the rug. I was massively unsuccessful in public school, dropped out of college, and have never had a real job. I've suffered from a host of anxiety disorders (including social anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder), clinical depression, and perhaps most consistently, binge eating disorder.
I smoked herb for about two years, and things were going better than they ever had, but that was only getting me so far. Despite a former girlfriend and a former boss trying to talk to me about ADHD, the message never hit home. They respectively broke up with and fired me, and it still didn't sink in. A lot of people, for various reasons, are suspicious of medication, and do everything they can to avoid it. A lot of people with ADHD also seem to make the mistake of assuming that everyone's brains work essentially like theirs do, and they just work around it. People often call us lazy, and we usually come to believe it. But there are well-established neurological differences between people with it and the rest of the population that are responsible for our inability to control our own actions, and even thoughts.
I took a self-report scale from Harvard Medical School late last year, and got a result "highly consistent with ADHD in adults." Hmm. I started to give it much more serious thought. But I still didn't understand how dire the situation was. One fine day, earlier this year, a pretty girl convinced me to try Adderall. That day, I had an epiphany. I realized just how real, and how perfectly treatable, my condition was. I took small amounts of it a few more times, and I saw tremendous improvements in every area of my life. I saw no reason I should have to break the law to treat my condition. I spoke about it with my primary care physician at my next visit. This was April 3.
I brought in the self-report scale I had taken, and told him about what I had recently experienced. He referred me to the department of psychiatry. I was to receive a call from their office to schedule an appointment. Fantastic. ADHD is a chronic disorder that causes superhuman impatience. I was advised not to take any drugs in the mean time, as my psychiatrist would be requiring drug tests. I recall going to the grocery store that night, as I had plans to cook dinner with my roommate, and on the way out, as I got into my car, I began sobbing profusely. I somehow made it home, crying the entire way there, and upon arrival, immediately withdrew to my room. He pulled me out, talked to me for a while, being simultaneously offensive and understanding, and made me cook dinner with him. It was really good. I am good at cooking food.
Psychiatry actually got to me within a couple days. I scheduled the first available appointment for April 30 at 8 a.m. It was a long wait. The day finally came. I weighed in with the doctor. I had gained 20 pounds in my one month of abstinence from drugs. I had returned to food, the only drug I've known for the majority of my life.
The doctor, a student who works under an attending physician, asked me some boring questions about my life, then spent a long time asking me leading questions so he could diagnose me with depression and anxiety. He asked some cursory, oversimplified questions about ADHD that might as well have been administered by a caveman, and consulted with his attending. They said they weren't sure if I had ADHD, and that "depression can interfere with your ability to concentrate." This might have made a bit of sense, except that I haven't had clinical depression in about two years, and I still have attention problems. I was informed that I would not be allowed to get prescription for ADHD medication without further testing, per the attending physician with the plastic face, but I was perfectly welcome to a prescription for Prozac. Thanks, douchebags.
But no thanks. My depression and anxiety are clearly secondary symptoms. I have, for the most part, defeated them myself, and any remaining traces vanish within 30 minutes of the administration of a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. I didn't have the four to six weeks to give Prozac a shot at conquering my symptoms. Since giving up the ganja and ceasing my self-administration of adderall, I had relapsed into my food addiction, become increasingly socially withdrawn, saw an increase in depressive moods, and begun to have major difficulties at work.
They referred me to Psychology, where I could have an evaluation done. I scheduled another appointment with the psychiatrist for June 13, who promised to use his super secret emergency time to see me if I could get the evaluation completed before that. I called Clinical Psychology, whose next available appointment was for August 7. I found this rather unacceptable. I called my doctor to see if I could outsource the appointment. He said this was okay.
That day, I called a leading mental health provider in town, an employee of which informed me that they could perform said evaluation. I won't go into details, but I called them just about every day for two weeks, visited three times, only to eventually find out that they have no psychologists. Their first appointment with a staff psychiatrist was in July, and I would have to stop seeing my other psychiatrist in order to see one of theirs. Alright, not really what I was looking for. This was Friday, May 11, around 4:00 p.m.
I frantically called every psychologist in an online directory. I found an office in town that does ADHD evaluations. They do not accept any form of insurance, and charge $4800. But it's only $3600 if you pay up front. You go in for two full days of testing, owe $2000 the first day, schedule another appointment, usually the same week, and pay the remaining $1600 that day. Then you come back in a couple weeks and get your result. The upside is...they can usually get you in within one to two weeks, which is a lot less than August.
Uh...I called the rest of the psychologists in Gainesville. Nothing. It was Friday after 4:00. A lot of offices have shorter hours on Friday, provided they are even open. I gave up. Then figured I had the power to persevere somewhere inside me. I put the phone down. I picked it back up. I put it down. I picked it up. I put it down again. I picked it up and decided to call psychologists in Ocala. It's only about 40 miles away.
I found a psychologist in Ocala that did the testing. They don't take my insurance anymore, but this is my evil insurance company's fault, not theirs, and they only charge $450. For one day of testing. A lot more than I'd like to spend, but considering it's less than ten percent of the other guys, I was intrigued. I asked when they had appointments available. "Tuesday and Thursday of next week," said the receptionist. Now that is a lot better than August. That sounds more like healthcare to me. When you call my workplace up to get a pizza delivered, we don't say, "Eh, we can probably work you in next month." Why is this acceptable in the medical field?
I called Monday to book for Tuesday at 11 a.m. I left a message with my psychiatrist, to let him know I had booked my evaluation, and asking him to please call me back and let me know when he could work me in. I woke up early on my day off and drove to Ocala. I paid $450 cash for a dude to ask me some questions, have me click on a computer for a while, hook electrodes to my head and examine my brainwaves, and have me fill out a piece of paper. I should be getting a report in the mail within a few days. I still haven't heard from my psychiatrist. I will be calling him again as soon as I get my report.
Despite not having the report in my hands yet, my own research had led me in this direction for a long time. I took a computer test that substantiated that I had an attention problem. And particularly awful auditory processing. But it still wasn't certain that the cause was neurological. After the psychologist hooked up the electrodes to my earlobes and forehead, he made me stare at a dot on the computer while the speakers beeped at me intermittently. Apparently, they look at the ratio of theta waves to beta waves in your brain. He said you need at least a 3 to establish a neurological basis for the attention problem. I got something over a 4 on the first test. "It looks like you got it," he said. I got around a 2 when reading (I did not retain any of what I read. I wasn't able to pay attention to what I was reading. I guess my brain was too busy celebrating,) and again, over a 4, when he read to me. People with ADHD can do some things very well some of the time, but there are many areas and many times where they simply "fall apart."
It's well-established that untreated ADHD is implicated in causing all kinds of other mental problems. Testing for it is not a very difficult process. If it turns out that you have it, regardless of what your mental health professional has been telling you, I suggest you treat the ADHD preferentially. It's at the root of your other problems. Anti-depressants might make you feel good or whatever, but the side-effects sound really stupid and awful, and they probably won't do too much to help you focus. I've talked to too many people recently that have symptoms remarkably similar to mine, and they are being treated for bi-polar disorder, or some other condition. I've also talked to a lot of people that have told me that ADHD is not real, or that they know what it looks like, and that I don't show any signs of it. Luckily, I have little to no regard for the opinions of other people.
But I do have regard for their well-being. If you've never been diagnosed with it, but have the slightest inclination that you might have it, (and I think some of you could...ahem,) please get evaluated. You might want to start with one of these:http://www.hcp.med.harvard.edu/ncs/ftpdir/adhd/18%20Question%20ADHD-ASRS-v1-1.pdfhttp://psychcentral.com/addquiz.htmhttp://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/adhd-health-check/default.htm
No, I still don't have meds. No, I can't just score some. I could be drug tested any day, and I won't get any if they are already in my system. Yes, I lost at Nur Ein. I have to work tomorrow, and I'm not looking forward to it. But the nightmare is almost over.
"81 songs and 569 posts in 4 months. You don't mess around when it comes to messing around." - fluffy