Diagnosis comes with the realization that I have symptoms ...

Diagnosis comes with the realization that I have symptoms …

It’s been a couple of years now since I was diagnosed with ADHD. I guess I’m used to the idea of my diagnosis, but I haven’t forgotten what it was like before my diagnosis either.

In some ways, life was better in the first half century of my life. Lack of self awareness meant that I could go from faux pas to faux pas with little realization that I was consistently a text book example of a mental health disorder.

Ignorance was bliss.

Okay, maybe life wasn’t blissful. But it was a life that I thought I’d figured out. It was one I thought I had a plan for, a plan I thought I was making progress on. I didn’t have the recurring nightmare that now plays in my head every five minutes:

“Oh yeah, ADHD, I have ADHD. That’s why I … ”

In the last two years, I’ve learned some new things. For instance, if I go to a workshop or seminar I’m better off not sitting at a table. Working on my lap means I deprive myself of the necessary requirements for an impromptu drum kit.

Another thing I’ve learned is if I’m going to an evening course or meeting, I need to take my ©®Concerta later in the day. This past Tuesday, I attended my first Improv Comedy Workshop. I took Ritalin at 8AM. The workshop started at 7PM and an hour in I began commenting on everything that went on. I’m sure no one else noticed – I was just being comedic and improvisational – but I noticed, and two years ago, that might not have been the case.

And still another thing I’ve become aware of: if I don’t eat something first thing in the morning, I’ll make very little progress… until I do eat something. I’ve experienced sudden ambition while eating breakfast that seems to arrive with a moderate quantity of focus… even before I’ve taken my meds.

Contrary to popular dogma, sugar seems to help. That figures, it’s a stimulant, but I can’t just eat sugar or I’ll crash in half an hour from the stimulation ramping down quickly. I guess that’s two things I’ve learned: eat something and make sure it’s more than just sugar.

But there’s more to diagnosis

While these experiences have all been part of my post diagnosis life, there is more to having a diagnosis than learning new things. Having been diagnosed means that I get to say “Damn!” a lot – every time I realize I’ve missed an appointment or forgotten a deadline, for instance. It means that I can curse myself for my wandering thoughts, and my indelicate statements, and my piles of stuff and my 132 unfinished projects…

The other side of the coin

It also means being able to accept myself for who I am. It means no longer having to accept other people’s assessments of who I am. It means I’m different, unique, unusual. Deal with it, I do.