Day 1 – After diagnosis

Pink and black coffee cup icon with steam

This is so damn long. One of the things people laugh about on ADHD forums is our ability to go on and fucking on when we get into a bit of writing – leading to great wall-of-text posts popping up on a regular basis – and our concurrent inability to stay focused on reading long enough to appreciate each others’ rambling masterworks. I’m going to try and add TL;DRs (Too Long; Didn’t Read) to these entries.

ADHD is shit, went to the doc’s, told life story, only cried once, got pills, wrote too much about it.

I’m writing this at the very beginning of Day 2 because, appropriately enough, I ran out of time last night and didn’t get around to it. I’ll try and write in present tense, though, because it’s all still very clear in my brain.

I’ve been hyping today up in my head for some time. I’ve been struggling with the symptoms of what has now been confirmed as ADHD for my entire life, and it’s only become more frustrating as the responsibilities of adult life – and the opportunities! – become more numerous. More of that later, perhaps.

I finally sought treatment through the NHS early this year and was trickled through the system (I bless the NHS with every atom of my body, but it can’t work scheduling miracles without the cash and manpower) until I saw Dr E yesterday. The two-hour appointment was not nearly as draining as I was expecting – I rather enjoyed the opportunity to talk, largely uninterrupted, and without a filter, about my life.

I rather enjoyed the opportunity to talk, largely uninterrupted, about my life.

Dr E was kind and understanding, although I felt a little bad telling her about some of the tribulations of my history, as she looked rather crestfallen at times! It’s not been all that bad, I assure you, and I assured her too. I was happy to stress that my life is lovely now, save the eternal frustrations that come with a foggy brain.

She was very pleased that I have a calm, supportive, unrealistically laid-back and generally excellent partner (Joe). I’m very pleased, come to that. It’s made life 100% easier. I fully recommend not trying to live with type-A people if you have untreated ADHD. It’s awful for everyone involved.

After the extended chin-wag, I am confirmed to have had a pretty “typical” experience of a woman with undiagnosed ADHD (somewhat different from that of a man with ADHD, it’s worth mentioning – and I was lucky to be assigned a doctor who has made it her business to know the differences). As much as I like being special, this is good to hear. It means that I fit comfortably under a label, rather than skirting around the edges wondering if I actually do have the disorder.

I finish up by asking, a bit sheepishly, if I might be medicated.

I’m worried about this, as I desperately do not want to come across as a drug-grabbing addict, especially as I was candid about my past problems with alcohol.

I’ve also been warned off accepting ADHD drugs by several people in my life, although one rather gets the feeling that they’re working off old horror stories about American children being zombified by Ritalin. My boss in particular worries, I think, about tamping down my individuality, which is sweet of him. He’s all for celebrating mental diversity, he says. I struggle to put into words my feelings on that – probably suffice to say that I feel it’s easier to take my boss’s viewpoint if one has the sort of brain which works profitably within our current society, which he does (as long as his wife is around to remind him to close the front door behind him).

I’ve been warned off accepting ADHD drugs by several people

As much as I adore the people who look out for me, on this subject I’m happier to take the word of the women I’ve spoken to who have got experience – both positive and negative – with ADHD meds, and from the articles and papers I’ve been inhaling for the past eight months or so.

In the event, my desire to fix the problem chemically is seen as standard – indeed, the first thing they’d recommend – and Dr E is happy to help. I am told that I will have every opportunity to switch up meds if they’re not working for whatever reason.

The only caveat is that, as I am getting married in a few weeks, I must reassure the doctor that I’m not going to immediately attempt to start a little family. The “path forwards” would have to be somewhat altered if I wanted to get pregnant in the near future. I am pleased to tell her that I have absolutely no intention of doing so. I would, I remind her, make quite an appalling parent as it stands. She tells me not to be so hard on myself, but I think she knows I’m right.

I was prescribed a newish pill: Elvanse. As I understand it, it’s a slow-releasing version of one of the old stalwarts, which suits me fine (a “hit” is probably not something I want to be experimenting with). I look it up later, and discover that the non-brand name is Lisdexamfetamine. Catchy.

I’m prescribed seven 30mg pills to get going with, to be followed with 21 of the stronger 50mg pills.

I walk off in a light mood – far less emotional than I was after my first assessment with a mental health nurse. I suppose I’ve come to terms with what’s going on.

Anyway, this was meant to be about how the pills are affecting me, and I’ve written 500 words before I even go to Boots. I do that the very same day, but they have to order the pills in specially. I won’t lie, I was a bit frustrated – it’s hard to hover on the perceived start-line of a new phase of life, even just for an extra 24 hours.

Still, I toddled dutifully back the next morning at around 11.00. My boss and his wife (H&H for short), whose house I have worked out of for the last six years (Christ, six years) are away for the day, and I’m grateful for that. One doesn’t like to experiment with medication in front of people whom one admires. Plus, it meant I could take a cheekily early lunch without putting anyone out.

One doesn’t like to experiment with medication in front of people whom one admires.

I grab a courgette fritter, roast veg and houmous from one of the vegan stalls on the market. Dr E said that eating before taking the pill was a good idea to start with, as it can irritate the stomach. Lovely and sickeningly ethical as the fodder is, I have to force it down as I sit outside Waterstones, hacking at the fritter with an ineffectual wooden spoon and staring into the middle distance. I suppose I am a little nervous. I really, really want this to work.

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