This blog is a continuation of a series of one writer's experience with ADD/ADHD. Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 can be found here. Part 3 can be found here. Part 4 can be found here. Part 5 can be found here. Part 6 can be found here.
When I left that particular place of employment, it would be several more months before I realized that there had been a pattern in law school and at the two jobs that followed where high anxiety and high stress would lead to the occasional mistake, the occasional overlooking of something, the forgetting keys, wallets, laptops, chores, laundry, pens in pants. I realized I had ADD. When I applied for my promotion at my current place of employment, I was asked what my biggest challenge was. I was up front and honest that my biggest challenge was dealing with my ADD. Some days were better than others. And eventually, I decided to make the decision to seek professional help.
It was a tough decision, because I thought I could do it. I thought I was strong enough. I thought I could handle just taking steps to correct ADD-like behaviors with just a handful of blogs and a lot of sharpies. That wasn't going to work.
I was (and am still) dealing with the loss of my cousin and my grandfather in 2012 and 2013 and so the stress became too much. In military terms, attempting to fight a battle on multiple fronts is a great way to end in disaster. If I could get help for my ADD, I would be able to function better and deal with my depression better.
And I did.
I don't regret the decision to do it, either, because it changed my life for the better.
Prior to the medicine, sometimes dealing with emotions was tough. My mind would have this big amorphous blob of emotions. I'd be happy and sad. I'd be bored and determined. I'd be anxious and sad. Or a mix of all of those things.
ARTIST RENDITION 1
With the medicine, I was able to focus on just one emotion. It added to the intensity, but it felt much more pure. I was able to really get in touch with how I was feeling and say, "You know what, I'm feeling this right now." Sometimes it was weird, like, I'd find something that made me really angry and I'd feel so angry but I'd have this big shit-eating grin plastered on my face because it was just anger I was feeling. It anger and sadness. It wasn't anger and happiness. It was unadultered anger.
The focus definitely improved, too. I'd see a distracting thought float up over the horizon, and then my brain was suddenly able to zap it, immobilize it, and send it into low-orbit around my brain until I was done with the task I was doing.
ARTIST RENDITION 2
Side effects were a loss of appetite and an inability to consume alcohol or caffeine whenever I took the medicine. Which, all things considered, were not bad side effects. I just had to remind myself to eat. But it was crazy seeing one of my coworkers having a nice big bowl of food and my stomach being like "shrug w/e lol"
I was afraid I'd feel different, robotic, like I had lost my creativity. But I didn't! I was just able to sit still and hammer out a few pages instead of just a few sentences before having to stand up.
That's where I'm at right now, and I find myself wanting to take part in ending the stigma this country has about mental health. It's really a battle on multiple fronts and it goes back to why I want my collection of short stories to be published. I want to reach out and help people understand what mental illness is. I'm not a victim, I'm not a warrior, I'm an average person with a blog. I have a mental health disorder that a lot of people have.
Having ADD/ADHD doesn't excuse my mistakes or some of my personality quirks, but it does explain things.
And I do have to say, the cost of medicine is way too high, the cost of doctor's visits is way too high even with insurance. Is it better than being uninsured? Yeah, but what if you are uninsured? What if you were terminated from a job because you were unable to function on certain days, which therefore deprives you from the ability to work, which then deprives you from an income, which you need to pay for medicine in order to function. How is that fair?
Y'all know I try not to get too political on this blog, but we care too much about some guy sitting down from the national anthem or where someone's flag decal is on their car but we don't say shit when we lose around 22 veterans a day to suicide?
We need to talk about these things, even if they make us uncomfortable. We shouldn't be ashamed of having to take medicine for a mental illness any more than we should be ashamed of having to take NyQuil for a cold.
I was a bit hesitant just opening myself and my story up but I don't want to sit around and wait for an agent to pick up my book. I want to help now.