After the dust settled on my postpartum depression and I returned to the land of the functioning human, I decided it was time I actually put in some foot work and found myself a therapist who could confirm that I was now normal and could get myself off the Zoloft and return to my previously scheduled life.
Friends. I did indeed find a therapist, but as it turns out, my life wasn’t ever “normal” to begin with? I suppose I had some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression my whole life. I come from a family rife with addiction struggles (those genes missed me, thank Jesus), codependency, and both diagnosed and undiagnosed anxiety disorders. Throw into the mix two years of IVF, a miscarriage, and a horrible pregnancy and it was basically twelve sticks of dynamite strapped to my back that were all fizzling down to 2018.
The first couple times I saw her I’d joke the hour away and she’d laugh along and then with five minutes left be like “so your dad’s an addict, huh?” WOOF. Way to ruin the jokes, lady. Then one day I went in and announced that I had stopped taking the Zoloft that they gave me for the PPD. She furrowed her brow and said, “do you think that was a good idea for someone with depression?” Who has depression?! NOT ME HA HA HA. Or… wait. Do I?
A few weeks later I was talking to a co-worker and she was talking about all these symptoms she was having: forgetfulness, impatience, quick to anger, inattentiveness, inability to get organized, inability to listen for long periods of time, chronic procrastination, unable to focus on a task. I wanted to shout IT ME! but one of the other symptoms was interrupting and I didn’t want to be rude. She said her doctor told her she has ADHD, and that it’s far more common in adults than people think. I shared the diagnostic with Jay and he was like, uh, yeah. That’s all you.
So back to the therapist I went and sheepishly mentioned the co-worker conversation. “I… I think all of those apply to me?” I truly thought she was going to brush it off as silly. Everyone procrastinates! No one likes long work projects! Everyone leaves stove burners on and forgets conversations and drives past their exit on the highway! There’s no way I could have ADHD and be a functioning adult who excelled in school, who has a Master’s, who planned a wedding and had a baby and has worked in the same job for fourteen years. ADHD is for kids who are bouncing off the walls. But now I keep remembering times like when my roommates would be watching TV on a Saturday morning and I would get up in the middle of a show to clean the bathroom and my brain goes “oh”.
So anyway, in addition to having ADHD I am also dumb. Obviously these things are on a spectrum, and I am high functioning enough to pull my shit together when I need to, to hyper focus, in fact, when I need to. But no, it’s absolutely not normal to leave stove burners on or to completely forget to listen when your boss is talking to you. It’s not normal to feel like you’re failing at everything you attempt because you just can’t complete it. And it goes hand in hand with anxiety – the anxiety is a byproduct of feeling like you suck because you can’t get yourself to do what you need to do.
Therapist lady did not brush me off as being silly. It makes so much sense, she said thoughtfully. And ADHD meds are easy to give a trial run; you can take them as needed. So now I’m sitting with this diagnosis and trying to decide how I feel. On the one hand, the thought that my diagnosis could be ADHD makes me SO UNCOMFORTABLE; much, much more so than a diagnosis of anxiety. On the other hand, I also feel wildly hopeful that amphetamines could make everything feel clearer. What would it be like to not live in a fog? I really had no idea that everyone didn’t just exist with 4000 things running on a constant loop in their brain. Isn’t that just how it is to be a mom and work full-time? APPARENTLY NOT.
Co-worker friend says she looks at her Adderall as putting on glasses and being able to see clearly, except she’s putting the glasses on her brain so she can think clearly. I like that image. I also like the idea of making jokes about taking speed (I’m picturing a lot of Jessie Spano gifs), so I think in the end it’ll all work out.