Gamechanger
Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the Toilet Seat

A Diagnooooooooooooosis

Well. It sure has been a WEEK. Or technically, it's been three-and-a-half days that FELT like a full week. It's also been a roller coaster of emotions and a water slide of productivity, and okay, that's enough silly metaphors for today. 

Sometimes, I'm like THIS!

But then I realize I need to change that first lyric from "For almost 30 years I knew something was wrong" to "For over 40 years," and suddenly I'm less at the 'I Want' Song portion of my life's imaginary musical and more like TIME TO ANGRY DANCE!

(I only said I was done with the silly metaphors. I still have plenty of oddly-specific yet thoroughly tortured ones left.)

"What if it was ALWAYS this?" I asked Jason last night, almost through tears. "What if everything, all of it, was actually just this?"

I was angry and frustrated because the Vyvanse was working. Because I could clearly, easily and unequivocally tell the Vyvanse was working, because the Vyvanse kicks in your brain door and flips whatever switch it needs to switch within a couple hours. As opposed to an antidepressant that you need take for at least a couple weeks before you can decide if you feel a tiny bit better or no, it's just giving you a lot of heartburn. 

Jason just gave me a big hug, and pretty soon I was back to feeling hopeful and cautiously optimistic instead. 

Thanks to all your lovely, lovely comments. I know I'm far from the only person to get diagnosed this late in life (or even later!), and many of you perfectly described the mix of OH WOW LIGHTBULB MOMENT and WTF TOOK SO LONG feelings. 

On the one hand: YAY MY TRIBE! 

On the other hand: HELLO MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT? MENTAL HEALTH DIVISION? I HAVE SOME SUGGESTIONS.

Before Noah and Ezra started medication, they were both exhibiting symptoms of depression and anxiety. But since the ADD/ADHD diagnosis came first, we knew that those symptoms were common for ADHD kids (like 60%! common. SIXTY PERCENT!), and that those symptoms would very likely fade or even disappear with proper supports and treatment for the primary problem. Likewise, identifying Ike's dyslexia alerted us to the heightened chance that he might struggle with mental health as well, and gave us a roadmap for how best to help him if he did.

I also know how fortunate they all are to have been diagnosed/identified as young as they were. And I know that most likely only happened because they are boys. 

Meanwhile, over in Girl Land, I was just anxious and depressed because of...genetics? or chemistry? or poor self esteem? or perfectionism? or a personality disorder? or childhood trauma? or PTSD of some kind? or I dunno, maybe it's just my crazy lady hormones? 

No one EVER mentioned ADHD as a possibility, not once.

And then on Monday I spent 15 minutes filling out a rating scale I printed off the Internet and my psychiatrist was like, "Oh, wow. Yeah. Let's give Vyvanse a try."

So. It's a lot to process. And I know it's far too soon to declare WELP I'M CURED TIME TO WRITE THAT INSPIRING MEMOIR I GUESS. I've had plenty of diagnostic/medication/therapeutic breakthroughs before. It's always tempting and likely foolish to be all, "But it feels different this time! It feels like this might actually be it!"

But. 

It feels different this time. 

It feels like this might actually be it. 

 

Comments

Karen

I'm so happy for you, Amy. May this time be different, may this actually be it.

Sarahd

Wouldn’t that be wonderful?! Good luck!!!

Joanna Moore

Omg please actually write a memoir I would totally buy it :)

Suzanne

I mentioned it last time, but you have boys. The ASD diagnoses came early and pretty much unequivocally YES. For girls? They're social, more so than ASD boys, to whom they are compared. When compared to other girls? Houston, we have a problem - a BIG problem.

The medical establishment has failed to realize that boys and girls present differently. This is why I didn't start medication until I was 46 years old. Medication that the FIRST day, made me cry because I could pay attention to one thing for a half hour without using all my energy to hyperfocus. That I didn't stay up until 3am, when exhaustion would finally allow me to sleep.

That was on Strattera. It was good. I started a new psychiatrist 2.5 years ago and he was convinced that Adderall would work better. It was 100 times better - but you can't take that and sleep. Due to other issues, we added Xanax to my world (boss from hell telling me multiple times a week she's going to fire me because I had a fucking STROKE and don't work as fast as everyone else). Turns out Strattera is used off label for anxiety and insomnia, so it got added back in. Using all three means I focus and sleep. Not a fan of the Xanax, because it feels like it sucks all the joy out of my life, but the other two? Very, very, very good things to have.

Julie

Question: can you possibly share the URL for the quiz you used? I would like to give it to my daughter.

Joyce

Girls our age are the 'missed generation' basically. They only recently discovered there is a difference between boy and girl adhd symptoms. Thats why 'we' got so many other diagnoses first. For me not as much as for you though. I hope this is it. Because this is something you can (learn to) live with.

Aery

I was diagnosed a couple weeks ago, at 52 years old. I relate SO HARD to this and your previous post. What if I'm NOT just a total fuckup loser who can't keep something in her head for 2 minutes and focus on a task SQUIRREL! What if it's that my brain doesn't have enough neurotransmitters? I said when I first was diagnosed, I don't feel like I *have* ADHD, I feel like I *am* ADHD. my brother was diagnosed when we were kids, but they didn't diagnose girls with it back then in the dark ages. HOW have I not known this? HOW have I not figured this out? It's SO OBVIOUS. WTAF. After talking to me for 20 minutes, my psych was like "This is clearly ADHD. CLEARLY." I may have heard him add "omgwtfbbq" in my head after the second "clearly," but it was definitely there in the subtext.

Started Concerta last week. Not the epiphany I hear comes with Adderall or Vyvanse, but a work colleague who knows what's going on commented yesterday about how they noticed how much I got done and how early in the day. So that's good. Still having issues with focus, effects of drug are maybe too subtle. Maybe I'll ask to change next month.

amalah

@Julie It's linked near the end of my last post, but it's ADD.org.

https://add.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/adhd-questionnaire-ASRS111.pdf

Would link but then my own comment section will think I'm spam :(

amalah

ALSO! ADDITIONALLY! TOO! @Suzanne The thing about staying up until 3 a.m. and only being able to sleep when utter, total exhaustion takes over? Also totally me, even as a kid. Had no idea that was another ADHD "thing" and not just me being a "Night Owl" or "Not a Morning Person" (how could I be, after four hours of sleep?).

Later I figured it must be more of an anxiety thing, and my doctors and therapists kept recommending Trazodone. Which I hate taking because it doesn't really help me fall asleep any easier AND I feel like extra groggy still-tired-as-hell shit in the morning.

But according to multiple doctors and therapists, Trazodone doesn't do that and I should feel fine in the morning. So. Probably all in my head.

Brenintx

I was diagnosed at 47. I had gone to the doctor for a yearly physical and told her I was having trouble focusing on tasks at work and feeling overwhelmed. I thought it was depression or anxiety too! I did a similar test and it was a surprise but also a huge relief to figure it out.
I was never diagnosed with dyslexia as a child (it was the 70s) but was reading about it in my early 30s and kept thinking I do that and that and that...oh my God this explains so much!!! I cried so hard because of the relief of finding out there was a reason I was the last kid in my class to learn my times tables! I don’t have a problem with reading but I mix up numbers, have issues with directionality, spelling, handwriting (almost failed 2nd grade!), and memorizing rote facts. I’ve learned to compensate for many things and thank goodness for spellcheck/auto-fill.
Sorry—didn’t mean to go off on a tangent but I truly do understand where you are at. I’m on a low dose of Adderall that has made a huge difference for me at work. I complete projects and follow through on things. I still keep a calendar, to do lists, and a million sticky notes but I’m marking things off. Good luck with your journey. We are here for you!

Kelly

It is hard to see in the moment but really the last 30-40 years (read: our lifetime) has had so many advancements in medical care both physical and mental! I am so glad that you may have finally found the thing and that you may finally be able to find your footing! Undoubtedly you had acquired certain skills growing up that gave a false cover and harder to detect - I believe you said so in your last blog. The balancing act that worked...until it didnt. I wish you all the best and keep blogging cuz I love your style! All my best to you and your family.

Niki

When approached Kaiser to explore an ADHD diagnosis, the screening doctor actually asked me, "Did anyone ever suggest, when you were a child, that they thought you might have ADHD?" I straight-out answered, "Weellll, I was a girl, in the 1980s, so no, that's pretty much not a thing that happened."

I relate so hard to that question, what if it was always this? It rocked my world for a couple of years, and even changed my career path. (The question I came to for that journey was: What if my sensitivity and ability to see connections in Everything could be a force for good and not just a source of constant pain? I could not have asked that question before understanding that I was neurodiverse, and I was okay.)

Carcharodonna

It was for me. Diagnosed at 38, put on Vyvanse and everything that has t felt quite right all my life suddenly evened out. Life changing.

Me Also

When I was in high school and read a Seventeen article and decided I surely had ADD, I went to the therapist. But then they heard that I had all A’s and I cried as soon as we started talking so it was Decided that I was Depressed so I got Zoloft and Blah. And Zappies when I went off it. And then I went to college and it was possible to be all “it’s pretty maybe I’ll just keep walking instead of going to class” and GOD BLESS (truly) the Ed Resource Center for just giving me the damn test and not questioning my motives or gender or anything and YES THE MEDS IMMEDIATELY MAKE A DIFFERENCE. And not in a “I stayed up all night studying because I don’t need this drug” this way but in a “WOW I got to the end of the day without realizing how goddamn easy it was that I was knocked over by the realization.” I’m like you but opposite; talking with people is like OH CRAP I CANT DO THIS BYE, and then I took meds and it was like Hello People (wait why was that so easy?) except I’m still super awkward and my jewelry is my fidget spinner still and the Leadership Experts day “don’t play with your jewelry it makes you weak” but really screw all of them.

Lisa

I have read, although not the first-hand research, that women are treated completely differently in all areas when they seek health care. (I follow Patti Digh, for example, and the story of how doctors perceived her symptoms that turned out to be heart disease? Disheartening to say that least.) I am so glad you've finally found your way here, and, excuse my language, but eff the patriarchy. It's bad for women, and for many, many good men. Probably bad even for the selfish and greedy men, only they don't see it that way.

Michelle B

My 8-year-old daughter already has the anxiety diagnosis, and I'm convinced now she also has ADHD inattentive type. We have the Vanderbilts filled out and submitted to her therapist, and I'm hopeful we can work on a plan for her. I also would never have thought ADHD until I read your and other accounts of adult women who had the same symptoms she is showing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart that she won't have to wait until she's 40 to get the help she needs.

Stephanie

This was a revelation for me. I have long thought that my 21 year old daughter has ADD or ADHD, but she was...mostly fine. Except, not really, and especially this past semester (she's in her senior year in college). She has some issues with anxiety, and it all really ramped up right before finals. I clicked on the link and read the questions, thinking about how my daughter would probably answer them. And, yes, she quite possibly has ADHD, but I just might, too. WTF? I'm fifty freaking years old. How? What?
But it does maybe explain some things.
I've been saying that I really should get some therapy for nearly a year now, but I haven't done anything about it yet. This is my wakeup call, for sure.
And I had a conversation with my daughter tonight suggesting that she might want to ask her therapist about ADHD. (I'm really hoping she listened, but since she's an adult, I can't really do more than that. Ugh.) I wish, very very much, that I had listened to my gut 10-12 years ago and sought out some help for her, but the stigma was bigger then--especially for girls--and I really did think she was coping just fine.
And damn it, WHY is it so hard for women and girls to get the proper diagnosis and treatment for this kind of thing? (I mean, I KNOW why, but still.) Step up your game, medical establishment!
Amy, I'm so glad you'r e feeling hopeful, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this. I really needed to see it, and I didn't even know it.

Carla Goodrich

Hi Amy,
So happy for you! :) I had this Eureka thought this week, too. I just totally 'seem' to act like my ADHD student mixed in with alittle what you describe of Ike. And, like Ike it took me forever to figure out how to read...but now, I love it...but I do get all caught up in the *visuals* in my head.

I have forever fought depression to the desperate level that took you to overdosing. Idk. Just like you said it is a rollercaster of hell and ecstacy to calm 'normal' moments.

My daughter informed my Curcumin supplementation has helped with major depressive disorder & that antidepressants only work thanks to the 'placebo effect.'

Do you have any thoughts about this?! I am just curious if you have heard anything about this or know anything more than maybe we know. Everything regarding 'mental health' and learning disorders, disabilities, etc. seems to be kept under wraps and it is very hard to find the truth or a Dr. to trust.

Thank you for your blog. I am a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher in a Tribal School in Kansas, so I love your stories that include what your boys do at school & your prep to get them there in one piece with a lunch in hand and clothes on! :)
Happy Snow Full Moon!
Carla

Marebear

I’m really glad you found meds that are helping. I’m still trying to find one. I was diagnosed in my early thirties but it took forever because none of my doctors took it seriously and kept thinking I had anxiety, and were hesitant to prescribe any medication for it. I haven’t had that switch moment yet on meds which sucks but I’m still hopeful.

Sarah

Just wanted to say I'm super, super happy for you and sending you all kinds of positive vibes that this is your breakthrough :)

Hopeful

Thank you so much for posting this. I'm 40, and feel like I'm doing ok on paper, but really just holding on to struggle through with work tasks to the point that it is taking my energy away from family time. I know what I need to do is not that hard, but I just can't do it. I've finally scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist and am going to ask about ADHD medication as everything you have written resonates completely.

Kimtoo

Late to the comment party, but that’s par for the course. Got my diagnosis on the heels of my first grader’s. I was 47. OTOH, my grandmother was 94 when I called her. She’d had electroshock therapy for hers.
I’ve given both you and Mir so much credit over the years; your experiences with your kids, and your willingness to share them, have informed my parenting tremendously. That first grader is now in middle and my youngest is on the spectrum and in an SDC, where they are thriving. I find it really interesting that yours are the two blogs I’m still following, and now all three of us have our DI-AG-NOOOOOO-SIS!
(And yeah, no, not surprised. You wrote something once about how much energy and effort it took to get to a play date on time. I knew you were in my tribe back then)

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