Guest Blogs

“My Invisible Disorders: ADHD and Depression”

Physical ailments are tough, but at least they inspire compassion from others. ADHD and depression are the invisble disorders that no one knows about but you. Alone.

A little after midnight a week ago, the grandmother slipped and fell in the bathroom. She has been hospital- and bed-ridden since, which is akin to torture for everyone involved.

At 89, the grandmother is feisty and impatient and hates her roommates, the doctors, and the hospital food. She badly wants to walk again and the aunt doesn’t have the heart to tell her that she won’t be nearly as mobile as she was before the fall. The entire landscape has changed since that fall, and it’s hard not to think “What if…?”

The timing is rough since the relatives from hell, the cousin, her fiancee and that whole clan has arrived. Under the premise of “giving them more space,” I have moved into the school dorm for a month – until the grandmother returns home, the annoying relatives leave, and I can gain some grounding. Maybe a change of routine and scenery will help, I think. It simply has to because this rough patch that I’ve hit – the abyss-like funk and bouts of depression – now seems to be infecting those whom I love, and it feels overwhelming.

To make things even worse, the sister rang recently and shared some unfortunate news: The white coats say she definitely needs a hip replacement this year. All those years of medications from her transplant have taken a toll on her bones. “The knee is now breaking down from the hip,” she said, and all I can do is sigh and think: “My life is like whitewater rafting down a river that just gets rockier.”

I’ve offered to take care of her and help out this summer. I don’t mind, but at times I wish that my breakdown were more visible and that I could get an ounce of sympathy in the same way the sister does.

The most beautiful thing about having ADHD is resilience, though, and my feisty nature remains. After months of Internet surfing and research, I finally found an MD in Hong Kong who specializes in ADHD. American educated and Chinese, she seems like a ray of sunshine illuminating the bottom of a deep well.

I have a lunch meeting set up with her and I’m all ready to meet this woman. In the meantime, I’ve put the British counselor on hold, especially since our sessions have felt rather unproductive, and more like a trip to the Catholic confessional. I had spent the last few sessions spewing out my litany of complaints as she nodded and sipped tea. The sessions had lost focus and her mantra of “God helps those who help themselves” was now stale.

Bring on the MD and the medication I say to myself – and to no one else, of course.