Avocado Odacova

June 20, 2009

Back in April I placed an avocado stone in a hyacinth vase and waited for it to grow. The same week, I went to my GP and asked for a referral for ADHD. For what seemed a very long time, nothing happened, and sometimes I thought it was dead, incapable of growth.

About three weeks ago, just before I was diagnosed, I noticed the pale tip of a root splitting the base of the stone. This grew remarkably quickly and in a few days it had lengthened and thickened until it brushed the bottom of the vase. I planted the stone in a small tub of compost, leaving just its nose exposed. I imagined its root going from strength to strength, splitting and branching into a complex network, and knitting the loose earth together, bound and anchored. But if this was taking place, it was in secret, below the unchanging surface.

A few days ago, I went back to my GP to pick up a prescription for Concerta 54mg. He asked me if I had noticed any improvement since being on the meds. Not dramatically, I answered. But there is definitely some difference. In two weeks, I have experienced little victories each day. An email that previously would have gone unwritten, unfinished, or unsent. A returned library book. An article read and understood. A completed to-do-list. An empty laundry basket. A remembered birthday. A little question answered not ignored. These improvements are almost so small that they risk insignificance. But under the surface a bigger change has been taking place. I don’t feel I am on a treadmill anymore, always playing catch-up and never making progress. I feel less anxious, more in control and that there is some time that is there to spend as I see fit, burning a hole in my pocket like a shiny fifty pence in an old sweetshop. I never felt this change happening. It is only when I compare now with two weeks ago that I recognise how significant a change it has been.

Look what appeared yesterday:

New Growth

New Growth

Diagnosis

June 7, 2009

This week I was diagnosed with adult ADHD. After 26 years of life and 8 years of university, I finally found the answers to some questions I had. Questions like:  why does my brain seem to sabotage my best efforts to do anything with my time that is more meaningful than watching endless ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ auditions on Youtube? Why does my partner Jamie (hi,Jamie!), have to put all our bills in his name in order to keep the bailiffs from the door? Why do I forget I am running the bath and flood the flat downstairs? Why is it only when I get to France that I realise that I have left my suitcase at home?

It has been a funny old week and each day since the diagnosis has been like pulling a different reaction out of a lucky-dip bag. On the first day I felt a huge sense of relief. Since April I have been trying to convince Jamie and my parents that I probably have ADHD. I have thrown a couple of tantrums along the lines of ‘You’re just not taking me seriously!’ and combined that with careful explanations about how you don’t have to be hyper to have ADHD. So had I come away from the psychiatrist with a diagnosis of ‘You’re just a loser’ I would have felt more than a little bit silly. And quite like a hypochondriac. Which is never good because we all know what happened to the boy who cried wolf. Because what if I didn’t really have ADHD and but actually had some other kind of neurological developmental disorder? Well, then I’d have been in trouble. Anyway, I was glad that the diagnosis meant I didn’t have to go home with my tail between my legs and say ‘Oops, sorry, my mistake. Actually I am lazy, crazy, and stupid’.

But I also felt a bit weird about having a professional confirm it was ADHD. Because however much I was convinced I had it, it doesn’t prepare you for a psychiatrist diagnosing it. All of a sudden it becomes very real and you feel that even though you have lived for 26 years without this label, somehow it is a really huge part of who you are. It’s kind of like going through life with this unscratchable itch on your back that you are aware of every single day and can’t understand why nobody else seems to be itching. Then one day you turn round and see this pair of wings or a tail and you think, ‘Shit, so that’s what that was – how did I never know that was there?’ Er…where was I going with this?

Now, after a couple of days, I am pleased. Unlike many many undiagnosed people, I have got where I wanted to be, and have not fallen through the gaps in society because of the difficulties I have with successfully navigating through everyday life. But what I have achieved has been at a huge cost to my happiness, my self esteem, and my relationships with others. The effort of seeming to cope has been sooo huge and in the past few days I feel as though I have been able to set aside the weight for a moment and catch my breath. Now I  have medication, I have a plan, and I have a strange bubble of optimism rising in my tummy… and it has nothing to do with that second can of Becks I just finished.

This is the start of my blog. I won’t forget a single day…