This is a collaborative post
Regular readers will know that I was diagnosed with ADHD in December
Yes, at the ripe old age of 44 I found out that all these years of depression, anxiety, self loathing and more could well be the result of one thing – ADHD.
Getting the diagnosis was not easy, not by a long stretch. In the first instance I was not convinced myself. During lockdown there seemed to be more awareness of ADHD, I think there are a lot of reasons for this. One because we were all forced into a situation where we had to literally live with ourselves in a way we never had before. Another because we turned to social media for support and people were sharing their stories of ADHD, what else was there to do?
Deciding to ask for an ADHD referral
I already followed fellow blogger Pink Pear Bear and it was her blog post about ADHD that really struck me. I thought to myself “she can’t have ADHD, she sounds just like me and I don’t have…Oh!”. The thought went round and round. I did an online quiz from Additude which confirmed that I certainly had a lot of the symptoms. Eventually I bit the bullet and requested a referral from my GP.
However, my GP did not do the referral. I spent months chasing them before they eventually confirmed the referral and then things happened pretty quickly. Different counties use different companies for ADHD referrals, here in Kent we use Psychiatry UK. With them you have to fill out a lot of forms online, ask someone who knows you to fill out forms and then you have an online video call appointment with a psychiatrist.
Your face to face ADHD appointment with a psychiatrist
The appointment is for an hour, or at least it is supposed to be but within 20 minutes he confirmed that I have ADHD and suggested an ADHD drug called Elvanse. I asked how long it would take to work and he said it works almost immediately but you start on a low dose and work up.
As the drugs are stimulants you have to be carefully monitored, including your blood pressure, this it called titration. Unfortunately, due to the number of people undergoing diagnosis and the lack of nurses there is currently a 5 to 6 month wait for titration so I have not started the drugs yet.
The feeling of limbo after an ADHD diagnosis before titration
I have to say, there is something that feels a bit cruel about diagnosing someone then saying “I’m afraid you’ll have to wait 6 months until we can even think about starting to get you better” – imagine leaving someone with a broken leg that long. I know it’s not the same but you get where I’m coming from. At this point I would be tempted with private psychiatry, I really feel that there is a lot to talk through following an ADHD diagnosis, even with medication.
Being diagnosed so late in life is a bitter pill to swallow (if you pardon the pun). I know I am not alone in looking back at all the years where I put myself down, didn’t feel like I fit in, was bullied. So many missed opportunities, so many lost friendships or wasted time trying to be friends with the wrong people. Looking back I do feel grief.
I suffer from RSD (Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria) which is quite common in ADHD patients. This has been debilitating for me. Due to the fear of rejection or ridicule I have passed up on many opportunities. As a teen I was asked to sing in a band but I was too “shy” I didn’t even try for fear of not being good enough or laughed at, I didn’t go to university despite having had decent grades, I didn’t do A-Level art because I got a D at GCSE and thought what’s the point if i didn’t do well at GSCE. I always worked local jobs because of the fear of traveling too far from home. It goes on.
I hope this has not put anyone off asking for an ADHD referral. I just feel that had I known the pitfalls and stumbling blocks following referral I would have been in a better place to deal with it, psychologically. Forearmed is forewarned as my mum would say!