I Need a Lifeline

Imagine if I were misdiagnosed. Deep down, I know it's not true—but in dreamland, I don't have ADD.
ADHD & the City | posted by Jane D.
Jane D.

"Lifeline please..." I had a good laugh watching the Saturday Night Live skit a few nights ago where Tina Fey does Sarah Palin, and Amy Poehler does Katie Couric. I cackled when Palin asked for a "lifeline" when asked a question that she either wanted to dodge or couldn't answer.

Either way, the word spin-cycled in my head today. I need a vacation—a lifeline—some certainty in a clearly uncertain life.

In desperation, I went to see the psychiatrist woman for our monthly session yesterday. I almost canceled.

She's a sea of calm while I am a complete wreck. "How have you been?" she asked. In the real world, I would nod and smile, and say "Fine, oh just fine." But behind closed doors, on this couch, I pay $35 for the right to say, "Shitty, things are horrible."

Things have been horrible. In all truth, yesterday at the weekly meeting, the boss chewed me out and asked why in the world had I not handed in the assignment yet, especially since we'd already talked about my needing to meet deadlines.

She asked me – in the way one would ask someone with a very low IQ – where the assignment was, given that I had said I nearly completed it the other day.

“Isn't it common sense to complete a task that is nearly done?” she asked. Yes, yes, I want to tell her, but I don’t. In the real world it makes sense—but in my mind it doesn't.

Then there was the sense of doom and gloom that has transformed me into a sour puss. I go into work and mope. I cannot, just cannot, bring myself to read, work, complete tasks. I feel like I have no motivation.

The psychiatrist woman stopped me as I rambled. "I could be reading you wrong, but you sound more irritable today, as if you were irritated at me," she said.

"That's what I mean," I said, close to tears. I am much more irritable, and I am not sure if it is the Adderall gone awry.

Somewhere in this whirlwind conversation, she said something that stopped me in my tracks. “Adderall is a stimulant, and stimulants should work on people with ADD.” When I didn't take them, did I feel better, happier? Were my moods more in check? She asked. It certainly seemed that way.

She asked who diagnosed my adult ADHD, and I responded, the Buddhaman and the Ph.D. people at the hospital. For a split second, there was a ray of hope, even if, deep down, I know it's not true. Imagine if this were all a mistake, a misdiagnosis. I didn't really have ADD. I had once again drifted into dreamland.

The ADD medication problem has driven me close to tears anyway. And there isn't a single thing I can do about it. Every month I spend $80, plus another $150 to see the shrink, and take these drugs that make me feel unhappy and sick.

This morning I actually lay in bed long after the 7 a.m. alarm sounded. I wrapped myself tightly in the blanket, badly wanting to fall back asleep and sink into a sweet dream. I just don't want to deal, and yet the psychiatrist woman's questions were an awakening to me. "I understand that you don't like drugs and medication," she said. "But you need to let me know how I can help you."

I told her I was sick and tired of not understanding whether what I had was a chemical imbalance of ADD or a personality issue; I was tired of this trial and error with the meds.

If I had a chemical imbalance, I would be happy to take drugs, and I hoped that one day I could find the root of the problem – the genesis of the mood swings and sadness – and control symptoms without drugs. "Or maybe in the end, nothing will help," I said. "It takes time," she said. "Even with the drugs, you need to give something new at least two weeks." I told her that I appreciated this concrete information. I didn't know that I needed to give a new med two weeks; before I dumped it like a bad boyfriend. My impatience was my demise.

I told her that I wished the Buddhaman had given me more concrete answers to the multitude of unanswered questions in my mind. "I hate to tell you this, but the two-week time frame might be the most concrete thing you will ever get."

"Things related to the mind take a lot of time and patience," she said. "It's like trying to turn a freighter around—you can only do it slowly."

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