Reply To: Benefits to being clinically diagnosed?

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Themodemo – I understand much of what you say. I have lived with ADHD, undiagnosed, most of my life. I was in and out of therapy in HS and college and developed a deep distrust for Psychiatrists and meds that affect the brain due to a fact that often doctors prescribe them like throwing spaghetti against a wall waiting to see what sticks. I did not want to risk loosing “who I am” while doctors played a guessing game with meds. I had found ways to cope (pause for a 10 min., helper cat cuddle break – resume now) through out my life, but I was often at odds with the world around me. I made poor life choices, got angry when the world did not spin the way I thought it “should” and in almost every performance review I got knocked for poor interpersonal skills. I managed to get through HS, graduate from college and spend 12 years in the Army Nat. Guard Infantry, but it was all much more difficult for me than for many. I entered into a bad marriage that lasted 3 yrs, but only half that was living together. She is not a bad person, we were a bad match. So in a nutshell I can relate to what you are saying.
I was not diagnosed until my mid 40’s and only because I got a co-worker with ADHD worse than mine and we got to talking. Up to that point I thought ADHD was an over-diagnosed and over-medicated excuse for kids just being kids and parents not wanting to be parents. I still think there is some of that, but I digress. Once I was diagnosed with a mild form of ADHD, medicated and started Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) it all started to make a whole lot more sense. The meds gave me that split second to decide to do/say something before my impulsivity kicked in. My attitude changed at work and I was able to interact on a more professional level. This did not come without some costs. My ambition (high energy drive) is nearly gone and I have much less ambition. I do not have the drive to workout and stay in shape. In the year prior to meds I trained and completed a 1/2 marathon and a Tough Mudder. Now I am 50 lbs. heavier and my back hurts. Some of that may be due to age as well. YMMV. There are side effects from these meds so I would have to disagree with newenglandrose on that score. They can heighten anxiety alter your sleep, eating and sex habits.
I would recommend getting the diagnosis, finding a med that works for you and working with a therapist. ADHD has some symptomology of other cognitive disorders and can amplify anxiety. Getting a professional diagnosis can help determine the unique cocktail of cognitive disorder(s) you may have. Yes the meds are scary, but, for me, it was like a moment of clarity when they kicked it. So may things made sense and I was able to get better control of my life. My performance reviews have improved and I no longer go into my crazy, high stress “beast mode” when the poo its the fan at work. I don’t feel like I have to be everything for everyone when I am covering for my boss. I can dial it back and just do what I can do.
I am not cured, but I have found tools to help me live a better life. I still struggle, but knowing my situation helps me put it into perspective, when I have calmed down. I have been in and out of CBT sessions as my situation evolves and have tried group therapy. Sometimes sitting in a room full of strangers who can relate to your experiences and share mutual struggles is somewhat cathartic. I have gained useful insights and tools from fellow ADHD people. If nothing else I do not feel I am walking alone.
In short, get the diagnosis and then decide what to do about meds and the like. Start simple and get therapy so you have a safe place to talk about where you are, how you feel and what you want. If nothing else, you will be able to relate to your son and help him as he works through his ADHD plan for a better life.
All the best and good luck.