Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Getting Diagnosed

Over the last year, many people have suggested that I see a psychiatrist and to check out if I have Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

My first reaction was, "WHY?"

I didn't question whether or not I had ADHD; my knowledge was limited, but the few things they told me about ADHD sounded like me. No, the WHY was more of, "How could it possibly help me to get diagnosed?"

My guess was that even with a diagnosis, I would still have a problem with clutter, disorganization and mess; I would still feel an urge to interrupt people and to finish their sentences; I would still...

So, why would it be in my interest to get diagnosed rather than simply addressing what seemed to be obvious challenges?

A Little Research
Just before Christmas, I decided to look more into ADHD. My first reaction to the information I found was a sense of confirmation; my second was grief.

I realized how much I have identified with being a messy person and how many self-judgments I've held. (Yes, Benevolent Warrior, even with all my training I can still hold self-judgments; just not while facilitating a dialogue.)

I realized how good it would feel to tell my friends and family that my habitual messiness came from not knowing how to be neat and from becoming extremely tired every time I looked at the clutter.

Imagine if, in preparing for her marathon, Iris' legs got extremely heavy every time she looked at her running shoes. It would be a loooooong way from where she is to finishing that marathon.

Well, that's how I feel about organizing stuff. Every time I look at the clutter, I get tired. Then I get confused as I try to stop myself from being tired, but can't figure out how to do that either. My confusion makes me even more tired and voila, it's a loooooooong way to a neat apartment.

Diagnosis for Whom?
I quickly realized that it was not my family I needed to tell this to; I needed to tell it to myself. As soon as I gave myself the diagnosis of ADHD, I started to let go of my self-judgments. For years I've tried an endless variety of approaches to cleaning based on my judgments that I should be able to clean my apartment. Now, having ADHD, I decided to just make it really easy: do 5-10 minutes and then take a break.

After taking some tests on the Internet, my next step was to get an appointment with a psychologist specialized in ADHD. She confirmed the diagnoses (it's still not official since only a psychiatrist can diagnose you with ADHD) and she gave me the name of a psychiatrist so I could try some medications.

So Now What?
What I did since the meeting with the psychologist (other than looking forward to trying some meds that might show me what peace of mind can be like), was to determine:
  1. which of my symptoms pose the biggest problems for me,
  2. what characterizes times in my life when I seem to have more problems,
  3. what characterizes times in my life when I seem to have fewer problems.
  4. what research is available on ADHD that could be useful to me.
What I have come up with so far is:
  1. I don't work well in noise such as sitting next to someone who is always on the phone
  2. I can do anything for five minutes
  3. I thrive in workshops and brainstorming sessions where multiple ideas are on the table at the same time
  4. Having my skin touched calms me down
  5. There doesn't seem to be connection with food and ADHD other than what is good for everyone
  6. Vitamin D might have a positive influence on ADHD symptoms (I want to learn more about this)
  7. Low estrogen increases ADHD symptoms
  8. Strenuous workouts can be effective in helping with ADHD; however, I'm not sure if this is only true for men, since I believe that it might also lower your estrogen level
It's Nice to have a Diagnosis
When I started to look into what ADHD was about, I also started find friends who had also been diagnosed with ADHD. They were all very helpful in listening to me and in helping me find more information.

As I talked with people about my diagnosis, I found a difference between people with firsthand knowledge on a subject and people without it. The ones without it rely on "experts" to know what they think. They would question my self-diagnosis until I told them that a psychologist confirmed it. Then they would stop.

Hmmmm... I guess that supports one of my original assumptions: if you have an official diagnosis, people will become more accepting, understanding and helpful.

Making It Official
In the end, outside of being prescribed medication, I could have done any of the things I've outlined above without an official diagnosis. I could have stopped judging myself for being messy. I could have paid better attention to what worked for me and what didn't. I could have identified situations in which I thrive and those in which I don't. I could have started researching my symptoms and experiences even if I'd never heard of ADHD.

And yet, there's something nice about having a diagnosis. I can relax in knowing, "yup, that's what I have." Information is easier to find. It becomes easier to find people who share my experience, people with a similar diagnosis. And people without the same diagnosis seem to become more accepting and helpful. Isn't that curious?

I'm guessing the benefits of getting diagnosed go beyond ADHD. I imagine parents of children with Autism or people with acid reflux or any number of others may experience the same thing.

So, what's your diagnosis?

19 comments:

  1. Hey Joy, As someone with an official diagnosis, I notice that I've had many of the same experiences. One of the funny things for me is that I responded to the experts in the same way as some of the other people. When the experts told me, "Yeah, you've got a classic case of ADD", I started being less judgmental of myself. On the one hand, it's kind of dumb on my part; on the other, well, it was nice to hear that someone who at least has some knowledge would tell me that what I was experiencing wasn't that weird.

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  2. Hey, choosing to be 'dumb' is simply a choice. Everyone is free to make their choices. The only purpose of a diagnosis is so that psychiatrists can go to their drugging book, wherein one has their thinking aparatus interfered with, and without liability, prescribe drugs to those that wish and choose external interferance with their thinking aparatus. Please~~~~ continue to dialogue the beliefs one buys into. I am one of many who are continually shocked at the seemingly blissful way in which people accept being sheep, and lulled to sleep by legalized drugging. Many are taking it to the pharmaGiants how they corrupt the FDA, with bogus interpretations of testing results, in order to get a license to print money, inventing 'fake diseases.'

    I can only suggest Joy, if you're choosing to be unorganized, messy, it is a choice, and there is a reason or belief which supports your choices. I have no idea why a mentor would choose to be more judgementally harsh on themselves than they would be with a paying client. Is the mentor not worth as much to be accepting with themselves, or am I still out to lunch in your judgement of me? (ps thanks for the mention) bw

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  3. Wow, BW, I'm trying to figure out whether you're just putting us on or you're serious. You talk about unorganized being a choice as though it were "true". You just screwing with us or did you really mean what you wrote above. Sorry if I'm being dense. Hugs, Tef

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  4. ummm, if it isn't a choice what is it? I suggest to choose to deny it is a choice is to deny one is free. One embraces instead being the victim of a pretend disease. One of the many pharmacology relies on to peddle drugs. Ask Richard Banton if the so called disease of alcoholism exists, or if it is but a choice. For that matter, why not ask Bears himself? Asking if I'm serious, what do you think? smiles, hugs, and gratitude bw

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  5. BW, I love being on the other side of the position I would normally take.

    Let's go with "it's all a choice". So, we can talk about ADD being a choice or alcoholism being a choice or starvation being a choice or death being a choice.

    We can say, there's no need to starve, just choose not to be starving. Someone might come along and suggest an alternative to "choosing not to starve" and call it "eating". So, you can either "choose not to starve" or you can "choose to eat something". In the end, if your goal is to not starve, then it doesn't particularly matter how you do it, by choosing or by eating.

    I would see the same being the case for ADHD. You can choose not to experience it or you can take medication that leads to the same result. Either would be fine by me.

    Now, one might argue the merits of each approach, but these types of discussion often degrade quickly due to judgments about things like taking medications.

    Simply because we CAN choose doesn't say we MUST choose. It's just an option.

    In fact, Bruce DiMarsico said that option is the second best way to be happy and that the best way was simply to choose happiness. Nonetheless, many of us pursue this option stuff (quite energetically). Should we stop pursuing option simply because, it would be better just to choose happiness?

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  6. Hi BW,

    Your comments are often giving me an opportunity to re-think what I have
    been writing. At times your questions adress something which wasn't my main
    focus - such as relating me beeing a mentor to several topics. - and
    actually it might be that using your brain in an adhd way can be helpfull
    in mentoring (this could be a new blog subject).

    Can I chose to be messy or not messy: Absolutely.
    Do I - as a mentor - have the choise to be non-judgmental of my self in any
    instante: Absolutely.


    I believe that taking mentor certification - and also re-certifying - has
    given me a high level of knowledge of the Option Process, and I believe
    that I do use it very self-reflective.
    I actually think that being self-reflective - means being able to not only
    observe how I am functioning, but also resonate about the "how come I'm
    doing as I'm doing" - and as a result I can accept it and find ways to
    change it.

    Many people are highly skilled in "spotting" what others are doing, but
    being trained in the Option Process I have become skilled at "explain
    myself to myself".
    Reflecting on your comment if I as a mentor can be non-judgmental, I want
    to mention that I don't think that I have more self-judgments than an
    average person, but I belive that I am more aware of my self-judgments than
    most people are.


    On ADHD and messyness:

    It's interesting that you adress "why do you chose to be messy" rather than
    "how do you chose to let your brain work in an ADHD way".

    ADHD medications seems to adress a) the ability to regulate the use of
    dorphamin and noradralin. b) the part of the frontal cortex which allows
    you to organize stuff.
    Another ADHD issue which means that you tend to treat all stimulus equally
    doesn't seem to be affected by the medication.

    Instead of answering your quesiton I would like to ask you "how come you
    are not being messy/ acting as an ADHD person" ?

    To make it easier you could answer the following questions:
    1) How do you do, when you prepare your brain for the next step, such as
    closing the closet door after taking a sweater, cleaning the knife after
    you made your sandwish etc.?
    2) How do you decide what to do first?
    - if you are talking to someone, someoneelse is calling you and your
    phone is ringing
    - if you are standing infront of the milk in the supermarket, how do
    you decide between getting all diary products you need, all breakfast
    stuff, anything related to drinking coffee with milk?
    3) How do you decide to be alert rather than be tired?

    - or you could try for the next days to make a list of all the acts you do
    during a day which leads you to be tiedy rather than messy. Then you can go
    back and find out if there were things you did not do, because you actually
    spend your time and energy on being tiedy?

    Big hugs

    Joy

    PS In "Happiness is a choise" By Barry Neil Kaufman one of the six pathways to happiness is also "Choosing Happiness" - so if I chose to keep thinking my ADHD way or I want to change it with medication or in anotherway - this has nothing to do with me choising happiness first

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  7. I love your stimulating involvement in exploring this Joy. This I choose.
    I see, (volitionally) lots of tangents I could dialogue with, lots of questions you ask.
    I'm a little overwhelmed with it and the abundance this day presents, and, wanting to give your questions the value I see in them, the time they deserve~~~I will take a little time to compose, towards being clear....

    thank you, for being with me.......

    Ps, about your PS I agree it has nothing to do with whether you choose to be happy first, or unhappy about your behaviors some would lable as ADHD. Why do you choose to believe you can only change it with outside interferance? How come you don't trust yourself enough to do it for yourself? without co-dependance on something 'out there?' bw

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  8. I actually wrote: if I want to change it with medication or anotherway - to me that included to with OR without outside interferance.

    Right now I while I'm trying to find a good specialist on the matter, I'm also studying litterature and I'm observing how my brain works in different situations. - you can chose to see it as co-dependence on something outthere - I chose to see it as gatherning information from inside and outside - to make optiomal decisions.

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  9. I give you the question, even though you consult with 'specialists,' who ultimately is the best expert on you? bw

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  10. If you had cancer would you then consult a specialist before deciding what to do?

    I migth be a specialist on me, but I am not yet a specialist on how the brain functions.

    I value intutions and inner knowledges - but I believe that it strengthens by talking to people who are dedicating their life to the matter. If I hadn't start looking outside myself I would think that constantely switching between multiple thoughts was the normal way for the brain to function.
    Joy

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  11. Did I suggest NOT consulting?
    Like the story Bears shares, I believe it was with a family member about cancer, consult yes, but Bears encouraged research the statistics on the drug choice, and yes, seek to learn about how ones brain utilizes the messages we give it, that is the information it acts upon the way it does, and reveals itself in the choices we make. Our brains seek to harmonize the information it is given. Who gives it the information? Where does it come from? Who programs the brain?

    By all means pick the brains of so called specialists make-believe sense of why some have autism, adhd, etc. or choose to live amidst clutter, and study and decide if is really the most useful strategy to buys into their beliefs or not, that something is wrong with your brain....only WE can fix/repair/help you, change you by tampering with your ability to do so, with drugs. YOU can't do it for yourself. Isn't recovery from Autism enough of an example? bw

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  12. LOL, you just reminded me that I do have beliefs and judgements regarding some therapists - and that is why is takes time for me to find someone I want to work with.

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  13. Most who refer and sell themselves as best experts of others, I too question this chosen perspective. Often times I sense a sort of arrogance in this regard, that really is not particularly useful to the exporer, towards realizing all the possible solutions to the symptoms. Take Autism as the symptom most of us I would think can relate this to. bw

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  14. As for getting a diagnostic label affixed to ones forhead, I share what I just posted in response to Bear's announcement congratulating the newly accredited Mentors and that there now have been (at least)103 so far certified:->

    This is fantastic. Now how about a contact list? I don't want to hear about respecting peoples privacy as an excuse. Are mentors encouraged or invited to be public about their gifts? and peoples names, contact info kept private only if specifically requested? or is there a distinct emphasis taught on keeping the public in the dark? Don't most schools make public names of graduates? Wouldn't a mission statement like a hypocratic oath be useful at graduation time, speaking to a responsibility to go forth, and to 'infect the population' with 'Option-Ease"?

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  15. Joy, you commented: It's interesting that you adress "why do you chose to be messy" rather than
    "how do you chose to let your brain work in an ADHD way".

    The HOW is because we are free to choose. Free to choose how we picture, and experience everything. We instruct our autonomous wiring buy our choice of interpretation, or judgement. As a group, well steeped in Option-Ease, I would think it is a given as to HOW.

    The WHY is, like what for?
    does it help? really? (towards motivating an individual to actually look at and to appreciate their choices....the choice one is freely making in their visualization and resultant experience of everything.

    What I'm suggesting is, Every time one looks outside themselves, one is invariably weakening their power.

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  16. I would not let a how trumph a why unless I needed clarifications, so the question is:

    is it what do you see as a general or specific question? is being messy more general than having a ADHD brain?

    if it had been a dialogue you would alwasy go for specific and I see being messy as one of several symptoms of ADHD - so that would be the question I would look at.

    I generally knows what it looks like for me to be messy and I would usually have a specific example in mind, so I would go with the why question.

    I find it very useful to be Looking outside yourself for information - and to me it is not either I look outside or I look inside - I do both - to gather more relevant information before drawing any conclusions.

    What is it about getting informations from a psyatrist that bothers you? would you also have an issue getting information from a dietist or personal trainer?

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  17. Actually, we use the understanding of specific symptoms to get to general solutions. One of the reasons that many people never seem to make progress in their self explorations is they start seeing specificity as an end rather than as a means to an end.

    If after exploring a specific example (or symptom), we don't step back to a general conclusion and solution, then we find ourselves returning to the same problem over and over again, patching... patching... patching... We treat the various pathologies without ever addressing the core disfunction: the symptoms, not the cause. We live in a world of self-exploratory bandaids.

    The messiness is simply a symptom of something more general. If you already know the cause (or at least a view of the cause from one perspective) and if you have a solution, why keep exploring specific symptoms? (He asked rhetorically.)

    I will point out that my dear friend Mr. M. Kaufman does indeed enjoy his explorations so thoroughly that he actively avoids the general conclusions, abruptly stopping any discussion that begins to lean precariously over the precipice of resolution. But, if you indeed WANT to move on, then why not go with a general solution that works (for you). Why worry about it being the "right" solution or even the "best" solution when you in fact have a "working" solution?

    Teflon

    PS I think the outside/inside discussion is just a distraction. Empowerment is not derived from the source of inspiration, it's evidenced by what you do with the inspiration.

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  18. I believe that there are times when it's useful to go from specific to general and times when it isn't.


    Exploring messiness helped me change my feelings around messiness and other adhd symptoms - which were pretty useful.

    Changing these feelings gave me more energy and I found inspiration to look deeper into what I would call my adhd - brain.

    So you could say that my emotions around some of my symptoms held me from looking at why I had the symptoms.

    Reading BW's comment a few times I realised that I probably DID go for some version of "how do I do adhd".

    My adhd is not a single rooted issue (or to me it isn't) - there are some related to food - and other related to fear (which results in overstimulation in certaion situations). Both seems to end in similar reactions. Both can be calmed by ritalin. The first can be avoided - the second can be changed.

    If I have now come up with a number of solutions to different reasons for adhd behaviors - and I believe that these solutions -which are solutions to specific examples - are actually covering all my adhd behaviors.

    Am I then in general or specific?

    Joy

    PS: the outside inspiration lead me to a huge improvement in my trust of my inside knowledge - and several specific actions.

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