officially neurodivergent

A few months ago, when I started my new health plan that came with my new job, I started looking into things again like acupuncture–which was now covered by my plan. I’ve been feeling a push, off an on, this year to get healthier. My mental health has been a big focus and continues to be. Considering all the nonsense in the world, I’ve been doing pretty well in that regard. But I noticed a repeated thing that was causing me a lot of misery–and it was absolutely my fault.

Or so I thought. Two things were happening on a pretty constant basis: I was procrastinating to an inch of my life and I was feeling constantly inept and overwhelmed by routine household chores–which was why I was procrastinating. The problem was that the overwhelm, which caused the procrastination, would spiral into this vicious cycle where things that were somewhat manageable truly became unmanageable and then I’d feel ashamed for being such a lazy ass. Things would be okay when life wasn’t too busy. But when I started my new job and barely had time to pee–let alone clean–it was a LOT. To the point that I would actually almost have a breakdown because I was behind on laundry. I’d even have nightmares. Then I’d feel paralyzed and would procrastinate more–feeling worse and worse about everything–like an utter failure. People would get mad at me because of my seemingly willful lazyness. And then I’d resent them.

I thought all of the above was just me being a person with two chronic illnesses that affect energy levels. And yea–some of that was probably why. But when I had to do something, I’d always do it. And I’d feel so much better. I noticed a trend about my overwhelm and my ability to get things done. If it was for someone else–if I was disappointing someone else–I always came through. But if it was just for me–or for someone very close to me–I’d always fuck up.

I realized this was a theme in my life. It was why I was such an overachiever in school, but had a hard time completing my own writing projects. It had nothing to do with desire to want to do these things. There were clues all over my behavior. But the thing I started going a-ha with involved executive functioning. Because I realized that–even when I had all the time in the world–I still couldn’t get things done. It wasn’t about being busy even. I wasn’t about energy–even if I slept all day. It wasn’t about not wanting to. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t even express why. It was like a block–some pre-verbal thing. So, I went down the rabbit hole (as I do) and started wondering–huh, do I have ADHD? People who had it–trusted friends–had told me many times that they thought I did. I had always poo-poo’d the thought because I wasn’t hyperactive as a kid. I was high achieving and quiet–obedient. The opposite of those spazzy ADHD kids. But then I read something about how it affects girls. And I became convinced I had inattentive ADHD. Suddenly, shit I dismissed as trauma related or illness related were seen in a whole new light. All my quirks. All the shit I could never explain. The reason I had such a hard time not interrupting people when I was excited. Hell, how I learn–how I’m excited.

So, I went on this quest months ago to see about it. There were no psychiatrists available, so I had to get on a long wait list. Finally, I got to see one in late July. He felt like I was probably ADHD, but it was hard to say with my illnesses because there’s lots of overlap. So, before trying medications, he recommended more testing–if I was comfortable–which could help inform what would help me most. We talked about me taking Wellbutrin and possibly a low-dose ADHD drug. I wanted to wait for the testing to discuss it more–mostly because I’m scared of meds.

Today was the day. I met with my psychologist, and we did a whole day of tests. It was interesting because I definitely struggled. I’m a smart person, and I felt myself strategizing to get through the exercises. At the end, based on the raw data, she said she felt that I have a mild form of ADHD inattentive type, and that I’m extremely high functioning. She said that my very high IQ really helped me and that she could tell when I was running mental gymnastics to get through things. She said–“sometimes, you did just fine–but you were clearly not happy and struggling very much–but you’d do it.” She said it was clear that I’ve really relied on my creativity a lot. At the very end, I felt almost comatose–barely able to stay awake.

I left feeling vindicated because I knew something wasn’t quite right. That things were always so much harder for me, and that I always felt so different. I always felt like I thought in ways the people around me could never understand. And I was right.

It made me pretty emotional, to be honest. And grateful. It made me wonder who I would have been had I always known this was me. It felt pretty big to me–as big as my thyroid diagnosis–and how it made me finally stop blaming myself for my struggles with weight and energy. I’m not lazy. I’m not a shitty person who lets everyone down. I just think differently, and I have actual inefficiencies in my brain that actually stop me from being “normal.” But those same things have made me a million other great things.

I was grateful because I finally had the means to take care of myself in this way. But also grateful that I know myself well enough–and am honest with myself enough–to seek out help. I was grateful for my parents who helped me with so many things and probably saved me with all the time they spent teaching me ways to live. These coping strategies allowed me to be high functioning, and now, most of the really problematic things only really affect me–and are things I can learn to deal with. It’s not fun by any means, but I’m not paralyzed routinely–all because they did that for me. It makes me wonder if both of them had forms of it–especially since it runs in families.

I’m going to set up an appointment with my psychiatrist in a few weeks, after the full report is available. I think I’m going to ask for a low dose med and try the Wellbutrin. I’ve never felt truly supported by anyone in my life, so maybe it’s time to allow this as an open door into bigger steps toward facing my own needs and asking others to meet them.

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