I have ADHD, now I know most people will immediately think of a seven-year-old boy bouncing off the walls and misbehaving when they hear about ADHD but it is so much more than that. Attention Defecit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurobiological condition where there is a chemical imbalance in the brain, mainly dopamine. It is a genetic and lifelong condition that affects not only my behaviour but most aspects of my life.
Living with ADHD is like being locked in a room with 100 Televisions and 100 Radios all playing. None of them have power buttons so you can turn them off and the door is locked from the outside. – Sarah Young
ADHD is comorbid with a lot of mental illnesses, they almost go hand in hand, it’s hard not to feel anxious when your mind is going 90mph and you’re struggling to sit still, but general anxiety over anything is also a massive problem in my life. I get worked up over the smallest, insignificant issue, you try to maintain control where possible when you don’t have total control over your own mind and body.
I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was 20 years old. All through my school years I exhibited symptoms of ADHD but I was never diagnosed because quite simply they didn’t usually test girls for ADHD. I missed out on any help in school and I was instead labelled as “bold” or “defiant” and left unable to articulate how I was feeling.
When I was 16 years old I fell into a deep, crippling depression, I don’t remember much bar my mother rushing me to the emergency room because I just could not stop crying. I was prescribed Prozac and just coasted through my final years of school, still struggling to figure out why I was the way I was.
When I was diagnosed it was like a weight was lifted, I finally had an explanation for the way I felt, I wasn’t all the things people had told me I was. I could finally get some help and I could finally try to explain my behaviour.
It is very hard to explain my personal struggle with ADHD, it’s like your brain is on overdrive, there’s no such thing as overthinking because the thinking never stops.
You are constantly full to the brim with nervous energy, you know you have so much to do but you just can’t remember what it is, even if its staring you in the face. You can’t give anything your full attention because your attention is divided amongst everything in your line of sight. That is hard for me, I want to give my son my full attention when he is babbling at me or when he’s playing but at the same time I can’t help but notice the sound of someone cutting their grass 3 doors down or the flickering of the light coming in through a gap in the blind.
I am impulsive, I don’t have the ability to filter my thoughts so I shoot from the hip without thinking, I am forgetful, I will flit from task to task, I rarely finish anything. I am restless, fidgety and I unintentionally make myself stick out even though standing out is my worst nightmare. I was taking Ritalin before I was pregnant and I’m yet to start back on it, it did help improve my focus but it increased my anxiety. (Update; I have started back on Ritalin, in the evenings when Adam is home to help out with Oscar as it makes me pretty anxious and I need to keep busy, it’s not easy but it’s getting easier)
It is a hereditary condition, the likelihood of our son, Oscar, inheriting it are quite high, that alone makes me feel guilty, but I will always make sure he feels accepted and good enough. I think my mental illnesses will affect him, but he will know that it’s nothing to worry about, his mammy loves him more than anything and on the up side I’ll probably be a good play mate, he won’t be bored of doing the same thing!
Even now I’m almost embarrassed to speak about struggling with these things as a parent, I worry that people will think that I’m not capable of taking care of my baby because I struggle to focus, Oscar safety is paramount to me, I tear myself to pieces for missing a smile, I wake up hourly to check that he is still breathing, I would never risk anything happening to him.
I know lots of parents are probably struggling with children who have ADHD or exhibit the behaviours associated with it, it is hard for the child too, they cant articulate that they are trying their hardest to sit still, their brain just won’t let them, they might not want to be the centre of attention but they can’t help it. Also, ADHD is an explanation and not an excuse, with the right help people with ADHD can reach their full potential and lead normal lives, it may take longer but its doable!
I originally wrote this for Mental Health Monday’s on the wonderful mumconventional.co.uk blog, check out the other posts there!