Richard Cheesman

11 Apr 2022

So I have ADHD...

I have ADHD. And I’m okay with that.

After what seems to be a very long time coming, I have finally discovered what seems to be the root cause of many of my own personal mental health issues. I’ve struggled for decades with bouts of anxiety, depression, burnout, breakdowns and more. Multiple medications never helped. Therapy never seemed to be the thing to help me discover more - a lot of time was wasted going over things I already knew. I knew something was wrong with me, I never had anyone ask the right questions, or point in a specific direction for its cause.

Some years ago, I chanced upon the possibility of being autistic. Now, I did have some slight reservations, but scored highly in self tests, and a number of symptoms presented themselves throughout my adult life. Referrals were made, forms filled and the wait began.

It came back negative. Despite this blow, it did highlight one thing: I had the symptoms of autism, but having a different cause. Some research later, and ADHD kept coming up. Now I was fairly dismissive of this idea as to me it filled my mind with the idea of the restless boy who kept getting into trouble. Everything else I could find was either really really obvious in childhood, or due to rare genetic disorders which I couldn’t possibly have.

Finally I had to relent. I looked up “What is ADHD like in adults?” and found a reputable site for a list of symptoms. After I read them, I was in tears. I was certain I’d found it. So I made my wife take a ‘blind test’ - by which I asked her for examples or if she could see certain traits in me. She didn’t know what it was for. By the end of it, she was practically ready to throttle me to find out what had described me so well. She had provided examples, numerous at many points, or just simply flat out agreed with a number of traits.

So I told her. We agreed that I needed to speak to my parents, and got answers to them on numerous parts of the criteria. That was enough. I cancelled the ‘assessment’ from the CMHT and we got an appointment with an ADHD specialist. It would mean going private, running a risk of wasting money. The overall costs would run into nearly £1,000.

So I had to endure a wait of two months for the assessment. I scored highly on the 6-question and 18-question assessments. The assessment was what I could only describe as ‘being interviewed by your best friend’. They were friendly and polite, chatty, but there was this undertone of knowing this was a clinical assessment.

After a while, when I’d obviously been scored enough, they gave me the verdict. I had ADHD. By this time, I’d gone through the emotional mill so many times, all I could muster was a feeble ‘Oh.". Not only was there sufficient evidences in my daily home, work and social lives, but my presentation was also taken into account - how I answered, where I was looking, was I sitting still, etc. All factored into the overall assessment.

So there we are. I’ve since started medication treatment which I’m in the very early days of, but it’s been an eye-opening experience so far. Fortunately I’ve already been working on things to help myself - reminder systems, whiteboards with immediate stuff to do/appointments coming up, etc. Medication is but one tool in the pack of tools that can be used to help manage this. It’s going to be a long road, and it’s been incredibly tough and emotional one at times. My aim is to start properly documenting things here more frequently so maybe, just maybe it will help someone else.