Diagnosed at 40 with ADHD

Disco D(x) M40 with BPD & ADHD

I’ve been going on a three month journey to confirm my Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis. I’ve been actively trying to figure out why my mind is so chaotic, beyond some of the BPD behaviors. After months of scheduling a series of sessions to determine diagnostically that in addition to the big bad Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), I also had ADHD. I finally was diagnosed. I was validated. My brain was different. I had ADHD. That’s is the reason that for the past 20 years, I’ve failed to get a degree, throwing myself at college math, art, theatre, film, graphic design, art history, literature and writing courses. I’m often unable to even start work and often I drop the class after realizing I can’t perform up to my own exacting standards. This week my DBT team has prescribed me Adderall for the first time. I was born in 1977, and this is the first time I’ve ever been medicated for ADHD and thought some observations could be valuable.

My mind has always been pretty disorganized. It always seems like I need to spend way more energy than others to keep my mind on one task without spiraling into rumination. I’ve learned to compensate for my mind leaving at awkward times in a variety of ways. The most detrimental, and what I expect is the root cause of my BPD is that I use shame to try and regulate and control ADHD. I shame myself into some action or inaction or berate myself for my own inattentiveness. Feeding the voices of worthlessness to try to compensate for an erratic and unregulated mind. I’ve used a variety of self harm methods to try to control the ADHD, or more precise, the shame I felt from feeling broken and inadequate. I am hyper observant, extremely critical and am painfully aware of my own condition.

 I like to visualize ADHD as a multiplying of thought. Like every sound in my mind can bounce against a wall and change losing or gaining in energy. My attention will wonder to people or interests rather than my job, school, family whatever. I was desperate to feel some relief. I have always covered up my dysregulation from ADHD, and later BPD, by trying to sound as knowledgeable as I can or if that’s not the right track to try to cover up my inattention and odd behavior through some kind of humor, or through painfully shy silence. I forget when I stopped being able to read for hours at a time but it was a huge loss. But even when I devoured books I would often skip paragraphs becoming board by too much description and not enough movement in the story or dialogue from the characters.

On Saturday I took Adderall for the first time. After taking the adderall I noticed a slight headache and some nausea that quickly passed. A difference started happening. I was anxious. I’m so hopeful for Adderall to be some sort of silver bullet. Slaying my mental health problems like the end of a werewolf movie. In this analogy like a film, after a couple of pills I could attempt to move on and process the horror that my mind experiences.

After a half hour I wondered if the 5 mg was enough or if my body wouldn’t tolerate the medication. I always have a bit of the imposter syndrome running through my head. What if I’m just lazy? What if they are wrong? Did I present myself accurately.  I took my daughter to the park, after dropping of my son for a playdate and I noticed a difference. I started to feel calm. All the out of focus, kaleidoscopic of thoughts of my head decided to sharpen and line up and wait their turn.

The biggest change was the absence of restlessness. I could sit and observe my daughter playing and not feel the need to do anything or rush on to the next task. I was able, without effort to relax and watch my daughter play in the creek. We played their for about a half hour. Her rushing to one side of the bridge, washing her hands and then getting up and walking over to the other side. I was pretty content to observe and to feel the weather. I was still waiting for that mental health switch to flip to normal. I envisioned an anime montage,  rigid carapace forms around me and I would turn into EFFECTIVE MAN master of my own ADHD brain.

I observed the little calm that haven’t been in my life. I found something I needed through the drugs something I was missing. But it wasn’t super powers, it was silencing the chaos, muting the troubled thoughts. Being able to stay on task for longer. In short, it was more sublime than overt. There wasn’t a big hit for me. I was a little nervous, felt panic and then calm.

The oddest point was in the evening saying goodnight to my brain. After 4 pm I’m not to have any pills to avoid sleeping problem. At about 8pm or 9pm I started to notice the calm leaving. The peace I had felt for hours was starting to leave.  The thoughts in my head started bouncing around and confusing me again. I was witnessing a return to a tragic baseline. It felt sad to feel that calm and confidence leave me. I missed it. I was able to meet up with some friends and play games online later. Distraction and attention can get me through anything, and it was comforting to be around safe people online while my brain slowly started to split and fracture and become confused. I found it helpful for processing to share the experience, and resist the temptation to isolate and hide myself in shame and unworthiness. I’m done with those behaviors. They are not effective.

I have a lot of hope with this diagnosis.  I’m hoping to become more dedicated to writing. Using some of the strange ways I’ve adapted to share how I see things. There is a power to being able to focus. It’s not a superpower, but it makes a significant difference.

ADHDisco