Updated: Mar 5, 2022
I'm back after over a year. It has been an interesting year, to say the least. I have been through a lot of self-reflection, and my mental health journey is still only just beginning. I'm excited, however, and more optimistic than I've been in a while. I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea, though. Even though there have been struggles with my mental health for a long time now, the journey I've been on in the last year has been about clarity instead of focusing exclusively on struggles. You guys know that I've been a pretty open book on here, and that is not going to change.
In about March of 2021, I was diagnosed with ADHD and started on medication. I've been researching ADHD in women off and on for the past few years, and although there isn't a perfect differentiation between men and women when it comes to ADHD--1) gender isn't binary, and 2) it presents differently in everyone--there were definitely things I didn't know about when it comes to the diagnosis of ADHD in girls and women. I've always thrived in structure, especially when it came to school, and as a "gifted" kid, I kept myself busy from a VERY early age. By the time I got into high school, my schedule was full of extracurriculars in the performing arts (band, choir, speech, etc.). I didn't have a whole lot of free time, so I'm not surprised that my ADHD was undiagnosed and not even a thought at that point.
By the time I started college in 2014, things began to break down slowly, and by the time I was in sophomore year, I had one of my first memorable breakdowns, calling home at 1:30 in the morning. This is when I finally went to a doctor and was diagnosed with generalized anxiety (if you know me, this is absolutely NO surprise) and major depressive disorder. Without going into too much detail, there was a lot going on in my personal life at this point that contributed to this first breaking point. I started going to therapy, but because of the limited amount of sessions provided by my university, I wasn't able to stay long-term. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and I can also admit now that I was not ready to deal with some of the emotions I was feeling, and this contributed to my inconsistency when it came to therapy for the next almost five years.
Since I graduated in 2019, I've had a hard time adjusting to "the real world." Full-time jobs have filled my time, but it somehow wasn't enough, and I still struggled with focus and anxiety that contributed to major procrastination (though I've had issues with procrastinating my entire life, this was where it really ramped up). Through various circumstances, I ended up back home with my mom (where I live now) and I'm grateful for the people in my life that helped me to see when my depression had landed me in a dark hole that I couldn't crawl out of on my own. There were moments when people were afraid for my safety--including myself. I started coming across articles about ADHD in women (can't quite remember why, but I've always been interested in researching these kinds of disorders) and I began to notice how many boxes I ticked. For example:
-I thought I was sometimes spacey and forgetful. This is one of the symptoms that I basically explained away as a part of my personality for a LONG time.
-Hyperfocus to compensate for inattention. Growing up, I hyperfocused on music and performing arts. This doesn't mean I don't genuinely love these; I do. But I can see now that I tried to keep myself busy in order to keep from getting bored. This also had to do with trying to control myself when I felt like my life was in chaos and "normal" everyday tasks seemed impossible to complete.
-IMPULSIVITY. This is a huge one with me. I've always been impulsive, often saying things before thinking about them. This was another point of hyperfocus for me, as I try to control conversations and often interrupt people when I have a point to say. For some reason, my brain thinks that if I don't say it right then, I will somehow forget in the next few seconds.
-And finally, sensory issues and sensitivity. This is an interesting one because I know that others with anxiety also have this issue. I get overstimulated relatively easily by excessive noise, crowds, technology, etc. I've been able to work through some of this and learn how to ground myself both by myself and in therapy. I tend to show overstimulation by getting irritable or disassociating altogether (though this is not the only cause of disassociation for me, it is a more common and public symptom when I'm overstimulated), so using grounding techniques gives me back a sense of control.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the ADHD symptoms that I present. These are just a few that I've found the most interesting after gaining hindsight. I'm going to keep working with my therapist to do the work I need to do, not only to understand/deal with my ADHD but to work through a lot of my personal issues as well. I'm finally ready to work through a lot of these things, and I've been doing the work in order to do that. I've also found many new ways to provide self-care, with the most surprising one being working out at the gym every day. I'm not only losing weight, but I'm giving myself a way to release all the extra built-up energy and relief some of my stress. I honestly never thought I'd say this, but I love it!
My new lease on life isn't without its challenges, but overall, I'd say I'm on a better track than I've been on in years. I'm still working on writing my book, but it's turned into a completely different book since last year. I'm also applying myself by learning new skills in writing to broaden my job search in new and exciting ways.
I don't know how often I'm going to post on here, to be honest, but I'm going to try and make it once a week if I can, if not every other week. I'm glad I was able to share this story with you all, and I hope everyone has a great weekend!