ADHD, PTSD and looking forward

I mentioned a few months back that I was getting tested for ADHD. I’ve since completed this test, and the diagnoses was a clear indication that I at least demonstrate the qualities of “inattentive” ADHD, the modern term for ADD. In other words, I display qualities of attention deficit disorder without the hyper bit.

The test involved three hours of two therapists questioning both me and my mom (about my present and past, respectively). The questions seemed to circle around the same concepts, but some of them seemed pretty random. For example at one point, they asked my mom if I climbed trees a lot as a child. I interjected, asking what kind of child wouldn’t if she were presented with a perfectly good climbing tree. The senior therapist responded with his standard questionnaire rebuttal: “Is it normal behavior for children to climb trees?” My response was that yes, actually. Where I come from, it is very normal to climb trees. At least, it was thirty years ago.

But I did love to climb trees. I loved my grandma’s tree in particular, because it had three branches spaced in such a way that I could sit on the middle one, lean my chin on the top one and tuck my feet behind the lowest one. I would perch there for ages on warmer days, away from the world, the tree keeping me a secret in its leaves.

Despite that ADHD symptoms are strikingly similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and despite that I do have experiences that might warrant a good look into PTSD as a possible reason for having a scattered approach to daily life, I decided to explore this ADHD path first. My therapists just don’t know for sure, and I’m glad they’re honest about it. There is currently no physiological way to diagnose ADHD. I will therefore never be 100% convinced that I have ADHD, PTSD or any other mental illness/disorder. I only know there is a strong indication that my way of existing can be associated with a group of qualities that they have labelled within a profession called psychiatry and a book called the DSM-5. And that’s enough for me to understand myself better, and that’s enough for me to move on in this whole therapy thing and say OK, this is where I stand. Moving forward.

Being “labelled” as such doesn’t make me feel bad. Not at all, actually. What it’s actually done is allowed me to really reflect back the perpetual difficulties I’ve had with remembering where my keys are, studying (although I did do it, and not that badly), and creating fruition with my ambitions. It’s allowed me to acknowledge that yes, I was like that, and no, it doesn’t make me a unintelligent person. I hadn’t even realized that I was labeling myself as less than smart, but all those moments where I was labelled “ditsy”, “space cadet” and “daydreamer” by an assortment of friends and teachers adds up.

While doing research on inattentive ADHD, I read that it’s more common in girls than in boys, which has triggered me to reflect upon my growing up a girl and being a woman again, something I’d ignored for years while pursuing a gender-neutral success path in my career and health. It also spurred me to look into the positive sides of inattentive ADHD, which include being energetic, spontaneous, inventive and hyper-focused.

I can really identify with being hyper-focused, and I’m happy that I’m that way. Just yesterday, the CEO of my organization approached my head described me as being “incredibly efficient”. I was very pleased with that compliment, and I do agree with her – I am very productive and efficient when it comes to my job. I love diving deep into something until I sort it out, much like putting a puzzle together.

My therapist told me that my intelligence has allowed me to not only manage these ADHD qualities, but to actually thrive.  I think she’s right. I’m happy that I’ve been smart enough to overcome what has admittedly been really taxing tendencies throughout my life. And so I will continue, without any ADHD medications by the way*, and push onward and upward.

Since then, I’ve reduced the frequency of my therapy to every three weeks, just to check in and continue down my path of trying to manage my life at an ever more organized level. And yes, to potentially delve into some of the more traumatic issues from the past, should the occasion arise in my our discussion. I won’t say these memories won’t come up. I will say it’s not my ambition to bring them up.

And moving forward I am. Since I’ve had my daughter, I’ve learned to be more organized. I’ve Marie Kondo-ed the shit out of my finances, wardrobe, books and apartment. Having children forces you to get organized or go slightly bananas. At least, that’s that’s my truth.

Lastly, I’ve hired a life coach. I want to look forward with an inspired approach to where I can go from here. My first three sessions have been pretty great. I will share more soon.

Thanks to the few of you who still read my blog!

*I may talk about my decision to not take medication at a later date, but for now I’ll say that I’ve decided against it. 

4 comments

  1. I also suffer from an unfocused approach to life. I just came across a book called “Refuse to Choose” by Barbara Sher which talks about “scanners” – people who have a hard time choosing one thing to do in life. This doesn’t really sound like you. You actually sound pretty focused to me. But it’s something you might want to check out before you label yourself as ADHD or anything. It’s nice to read your diary again. 🙂

    • Hey there Visionaries Will Prevail – that book looks pretty interesting, and I’m going to check it out. I think we’re trained to believe we’re supposed to do one thing at a time (and traditionally one thing for our entire lives), but why must we? I think we all have the potential to be Renaissance men and women. Of course, it’s not as easy as rolling out of bed and dragging ourselves to the same place each day.

      That’s nice to hear that I sound focused. In some ways I really am, but I just lost my temporary work badge one day after I lost my permanent one. 😛 Thanks for reading!

  2. Adi

    Wow… yes I still read your posts and will continue to read them. I personally think you are an amazingly strong personality and very inspirational. No matter what kind of label they or you put on you. I have been through a number of coaching cycles and struggles myself but am truly inspired to read how you deal with the challenges life throws at you. Thank you for sharing…

    • Heeey, Adi! Wow indeed – that’s a blast from the not-so-distant past! Thanks for reading and for your lovely, encouraging words….I suppose there is more background to all of this therapy stuff, and I hope that I will get there in some of my upcoming posts. Coaching: I have never really had a personal coach before, but I really like it so far – curious to know if yours also helped you out in a way that you still benefit from. I hope you’re doing OK otherwise, too! 🙂

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