A month ago or so I started treatment for my ADHD. I didn’t know what to expect but I was scared of the change. I am 34 years old and I was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as an adult but ADHD was mentioned way before that when I was in primary school. In the 80’s and early 90’s in Mexico ADHD was a taboo as any other mental health related illness. Parents were terrified to hear their perfect children weren’t ‘perfect’ and so it was brushed under the carpet in many cases. I coped well on my own for some years, my mum had more report cards for me than for my siblings and more parent-teacher meetings where she would hear things like “She’s very creative. She has an overactive imagination. She’s always in her own world. Her grades are good, the problem is she distracts the other children.” Then my mum would ask me nicely to please try to focus at school because I was distracting the other children, and that was it. In retrospect, it’s very obvious that my mum also has a mild form of ADD.
When I reached the 5th grade and we were moved to a public school I was quickly labeled as ‘the posh newbie’ and ‘the class clown’ but things got bad in 7th grade when I was moved to a very strict school and I started to get very bad grades and lots of bad behaviour report cards. I was accused of being rebelious and a brat and I hated school from then on and I dropped out in high school.
That’s when I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I just be like my sister or my brother and just behave and focus and enjoy school? Why did I hate it so much when everyone else was clearly having an OK time. I started to think I was the problem and I began self-harming and disordered eating as a coping mechanism. After a couple of years of suffering in silence, I started to read more about ADHD and noticed I never outgrew it. At that point I was also working as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator so I was taking advantage of the overactive mind and the creativity that I somewhat attributed to ADHD. I had terrible insomnia but I would use the night time to work and I didn’t think I needed treatment, well at least I wasn’t getting report cards anymore right? I never thought that being so impulsive and having a short fuse as well as getting bored with every single job and not lasting in any of them were signs that I probably did need treatment.
Then I met my husband and we started a band, and music making and performing took over my life for a few years which was good as there was no need to stick to a routine, my husband took charge of all the ‘grown up’ things like paying bills and stuff like that. So I thought that was ok, until we decided to move to the UK and I realised that without family around and with my husband working full time I had to rely on myself more which seemed very difficult. Suddenly I was unable to cope again and I felt very overwhelmed with responsabilities and normal life things. I went to my GP and was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, I mentioned the ADHD but the GP thought that CBT would help me with both things so I was referred to CBT. I found it interesting and it did help me control panic attacks and anxiety but the therapists agreed that the root of the problem wasn’t addressed and that I would benefit from ADHD treatment. I was referred to a psychiatrist but there was a waiting list of two years for the appointment, so I had to wait, and wait I did. I also found out I was pregnant literally two weeks before going to the psychiatrist so the Doctor diagnosed me with Adult ADHD/ADD combined, recommended I took Ritalin after I had the baby and stopped breastfeeding. Another two years passed until that happened and now for the first time in my life, I am on Ritalin.
The Doctor started me on 10 mg once a day for the first week and then twice a day for the next week. The first day I took it I felt like all the fuzz in my brain had been washed away and I was excited. I felt no anxiety and I had a really good sleep that first night. I don’t know if the relief of finally getting treatment also played a part on that happiness or if I was experiencing a placebo effect, but whatever it was, it was great. I even ordered Chinese food on the phone, without feeling terrfied of fucking up my order or that they wouldn’t understand me, etc. I felt like I knew exactly what I was going to say and I could focus well enough to make an order. I never, ever felt like that before so I thought it was a miracle. Then I noticed that after a few hours I was back to my normal self. Same happened when I started taking it twice a day. I would feel more stable, focused and less impulsive for a few hours after taking the pill and then back to my old self but with the added discomfort of getting incredibly sleepy in between doses. It wouldn’t be a problem if I could sneak in a nap but with a toddler in the house who absolutely refuses to nap, this is impossible. So here I am still taking 10 mg twice a day and I wonder if I should ask my Doctor to increase the dose, and I don’t know how to ask this. I suppose I just have to explain all of this to him in this way. I just get nervous with Doctors so I start more or less rambling. I guess he’s used to it, but oh well.
I decided to write this blog post so I can look back on it after a while and see what difference I notice from starting treatment and so on.