wellbeing

ADHD diagnosis: Six months on

It’s been about six months six I was diagnosed with ADHD. Here’s an outline of a few of my thoughts and experiences.

Losing things

When I first started taking medication I noticed certain behaviours of mine. For example I’d put something down, and then five seconds later not remember where I’d put it. Was this the drugs doing this? Or was my mind always like this and the drugs made me aware of it?

I’d started my Things David Has Lost blog only shortly before starting medication, and during the early stages of medication I made plenty of entries.

More recently, I’ve been losing less stuff. I couldn’t say that’s a product of medication or otherwise improved habits, perhaps in part due to starting the blog.

Sleep and focus

When I started the medication I found I could also drink a lot of coffee (five coffees a day!), and that the coffee, as well as the medication, appeared to help with focus and productivity at work with no negative side effects – I was sleeping fine. The early stages of medication appeared to cure my insomnia and that was awesome.

More recently though, the insomnia has come back.

My hypothesis is that in the initial stages of medication there was a period of mental calm that allowed me to relax in the evenings.

Now, if I’m honest I’m spending more time on social media and I’m simply not as mentally exhausted in the evening. Fixing this I imagine is a matter of changing my habits and being more productive at work.

Anxiety

One major negative effect is that recently I’ve been experiencing anxiety attacks, which is something I haven’t experienced before.

It is similar to past patterns. In the past I’ve swung between periods of manicness where I’ve been motivated and energetic, but also feeling intense emotions and stress. The stress usually triggers a depressive episode where I feel unmotivated and numb, but the stress and intense emotions are lacking.

The difference now is these intense emotional experiences feel a lot more pronounced, and cause hyperventilation.

This is something I’ll probably address by changing medication.

Identity

There is the issue of personal identity. Being diagnosed with ADHD allows me to put a label on my brand of crazy, rather than putting it down to ‘he’s just a bit unconventional’.

But I’m cautious about adopting an identity this way. I expressed this caution in my initial post when I mentioned the Barnum effect – where specific sounding, but actually pretty general descriptions of one’s personality sound tailored to an individual.

For example there’s this list: 19 Illustrations That Sum Up Being In A Relationship When You Have ADHD.

7. Making plans can get a little crazy sometimes.

Not all of them resonate with me, but a few do:

1. What people think ADHD partners are like vs What they’re actually like
3. First date distractions
4. Start of a relationship.
5. Reasons why non-ADHD partner is annoyed.
Definitely not 6. I don’t ignore messages
7. Making plans. Omg.
11. Listening to someone tell a story.
17. Benefits of dating something with ADHD.
19. Partner as the centre of the universe.

There is a pleasure in reading these lists and identifying with them. But at the same time, I think it is sensible not to allow lists like this or any description of personalities define you, or let yourself project certain of your own behaviours into fitting the prescribed behaviours.

I think this open but cautious approach is the right one to take – it allows you to take pleasure in relating to other people, while also keeping an accurate impression of yourself and your influence on your surroundings.

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