ADHD symptoms showing encouraging improvements since diagnosis and medication
Reading about ADHD has been a months-long “aha!” moment. So many of my traits line up exactly with the disorder as currently understood in women.
Even the symptoms that haven’t been relieved by medication are easier to deal with now I have some idea of where they’re coming from.
So here’s a little list of the main symptoms (I’m sure I’ll remember more and add to it) and the progress I am making/not making.
Sky high for the first couple of months. I put this down to a combination of things:
- The medication itself
- The relief/realisation that comes with diagnosis – the lifting of a lot of guilt and baggage, and a new ‘toolkit’ to work with
- Projects (like this blog, and my wedding) that I am personally invested in
- The tunnel-vision enthusiasm that always comes (for me) with a new area of interest
However, a truth which I have been steadfastly ignoring is creeping up on me… Motivation is a fickle companion. Give it a knock and it might not come back for ages. I need to keep working on discipline to get me through the low-motivation phases without the background despair that comes with weeks of no progress.
My self-inflicted distraction is much better – I find it far easier to recognise when I am going off track, although I doubt I’ll ever be tip top in this area. I quite often ‘fall down the rabbit hole’ and spend far too long working on minor-but-complex problems. However, I find it easier to find my way back to the initial task when said problem is a) solved or b) judged unsolvable.
Being thrown off, and angered, by intrusions beyond my control is still a major issue. My irritation and distraction in the face of staccato, unpredictable sounds (my boss’ chronic cough, Joe`s video games, doors creaking) is way out of proportion.
I far prefer working at home, in an empty house, for this reason – sadly, the opportunities for this are quite rare at the moment.
Being snapped out of a focus is a horrible sensation for me. I don’t know how to fix this.
If I get my sleep and food correct, I enjoy a physical sensation of happiness and affability throughout much of the day. This does dissolve by the evening, but my mood doesn’t get any worse than it was pre-medication so I don’t mind too much.
ADHD comes with a fun array of mood swings and disproportionate reactions (in both directions – I’ve been known to break down over slight frustration but remain stubbornly apathetic in the face of major life events).
I think my overreactions are much improved, although not perfect. My frustration threshold seems generally higher and I don’t sink randomly into melancholy quite so often.
My underreactions still trouble me a bit. While I am more cheerful in my everyday activities, I don’t think I’m feeling the reactive joy that other people seem to. This might be something I can work on with mindfulness.
Part of #ADHD is disproportionate emotional response. This is most apparent when we OVERreact to things, but I have also always struggled with NOT feeling things deeply enough. This has led to various unhealthy behaviours seeking an emotional 'fix'. Anyone relate?— The ADHD Diaries (@TheADHDdiaries) September 21, 2018
Very recently (in the last month) I can feel my mood dropping more often. I believe this is, in large part, down to the sleep reduction and lack of free time that has come with dog ownership. I expect this to improve as we all adjust.
In general, much better. Still present while driving, although not so debilitating as it was. Also still an issue when leaving the house (see Doorways), and this has only gotten worse since the puppy arrived. Now my nebulous ‘something bad will happen’ fears include losing a being that I love.
Still atrocious. Worse than before, if anything. I’m reliably late to work and just about every other commitment.
This ties into not being able to get up early, but also to an ability to always find something that needs doing before I leave the house (see above) and a reluctance to discard any of my usual routine (breakfast, coffee, pissing about on phone) even if I’ve got five minutes spare instead of 20.
Addictive tendencies are, as I’ve detailed at length, a hugely damaging area of ADHD symptoms.
I am definitely feeling less urge to drink, and my reliance on my e-cigarette has waned massively.
That said, this is a bit of a tricky one, as some would argue that my daily medication is an addiction in itself.
I would dispute that argument, as somebody who has experienced alcohol and nicotine addiction – I can feel the mental and physical difference in this medically-sanctioned daily chemical routine – but I can understand the point. I have replaced one method of dopamine boosting with another.
My tendency to almost forget (and occasionally forget entirely) to take my medication is my reassurance. I would never, ever have forgotten the first cigarette of the day; nor forgotten to pick up a bottle of wine on my way home from work.
I do still have a proclivity to overindulgence. I like my coffee more than I should, and I get through ungodly amounts of sugar free mints. Dry mouth alleviation turned oral fixation. Ho hum.
This could have possibly been filed under ‘addiction’, as my impulse eating was motivated by the same desires – short-term alleviation of dopamine drought. It was also something that really only appeared after I got sober.
I am not eating nearly so much as I used to. This is largely due to reduced appetite, but in part it is improved impulse control. If I am hungry, I do not obsess over it. Previously, I spent many afternoons at work thinking of nothing but what I wanted to eat. I would buckle on day one of any diet and end up cooking three times as much as I need. Now, even if I do this, I can stop eating when I’m full (most of the time!).
I’ll detail the physical consequences of all this under ‘side effects’, but the mental change is extremely positive. Not obsessing over food is a major relief, and frees up a lot of mental space.