I know the feeling of finally getting the right diagnosis. Years and years of doctors – how did they all miss it?
I was 30 years old and unemployed. I thought I was too old to go to school. I thought my life was ruined. I thought I ruined my life by the choices I made.
As a kid, I had good grades until high school, and then everyone else seemed to understand things so much quicker than me. It was frustrating… I ended up dropping out of high school with a few weeks left to go in my senior year. Doctors said I was depressed and I had anxiety. I was prescribed Xanax, and my tolerance only grew over the years. My choice for the next 15 years was to self medicate with alcohol as well (which only made things worse… much worse). I never once took more Xanax than I was supposed to take because my anxiety was so bad that I wouldn’t know what to do if I ran out. But, I did drink… a lot. Mostly because of how depressing it was to feel how I felt. It seemed to make sense at the time.
My lucky break was meeting a woman who is now my fiancee. She gave me a reason (more like 100) to get my life together – I knew I needed to quit drinking and go to school. Turns out she had ten years of sobriety herself, and recently stabilized on the right meds. Anyways, Sept 29 will be three years for me without drinking. Honestly, not drinking was not that difficult for me; learning how to do things like socialize was much more difficult. Two or three months of sobriety went by, and I had thoughts that were all over the place, I couldn’t stay on task, you know.. all of the typical ADHD indicators. I NEVER thought I could have ADHD. Never crossed my mind. I knew I had anxiety, everyone did. That much was obvious. Only after trying about seven combinations of meds, did my psychiatrist come to the conclusion that it was ADHD.
It’s overwhelming, it’s confusing, I can’t help but wonder how it was missed by so many teachers as a kid. The good news is that there are medications which have allowed me to regain control of my life.
That was when I was 31. Here I am today at 33; I start at the university here next week. I got in as an engineering major after doing pretty well in community college the past two years.
I only recently discovered I had ADHD about a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, ADHD usually goes hand-in-hand (comorbidity) with other things like depression, anxiety, or bi-polar disorder. It turns out that I have been more recently (last week) diagnosed with all of the above… oh, and PTSD.
I used to be the person that would want a diagnosis, any diagnosis… I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t quite pin-point it. This summer (after months of feeling down and flat out worthless), at the advice of a mentor, I got a second opinion from a top psychiatrist in the area. Expensive? Absolutely. Worth it? Well, I can’t put a price tag on my mental health.
So to put that all together, that’s ADHD, PTSD, bi-polar II, major depressive disorder, and social anxiety.
They’re all labels, but they don’t define me. What those labels do is allow for my psychiatrist to prescribe a combination of medications which balance out my brain chemistry.
It gets better, and you’re not alone. Sometimes it takes a while. You asked us to be patient with you, and I am certain that you’ll meet a bunch of people that will not only be patient, but allow you to find some peace in knowing that there’s other people out there too that share the same discomforts.
I noticed you said “I can fix now at least.” I didn’t have that mentality at first, so I’m glad you can see it that way.
Keep your head up… you’ve got this.