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Old 02-04-10, 10:23 PM
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35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

I'm turning 36 next week and was FINALLY accurately diagnosed during an involuntary commitment following a very nearly successful suicide attempt a little over a month ago. I'm home now and trying to adjust to a completely different brain, body and life. It feels like I've stepped through the looking glass backward and dozing in a tree with a book is surprisingly strange when all you've known is the Mad Hatter's tea party.
As a child I was labeled in kindergarten as extremely gifted and placed in the 2nd grade gifted program. I was younger, smaller and had a higher IQ than my peers. The typical gifted kid boredom (undiagnosed ADHD) rapidly became oppositional and behavioral (which I now understand is not typical for girls). By 10 I was diagnosed with bi-polar, borderline, schitzoid tendencies, depression, oppositional defiant disorder and several other sub diagnosis. The medications tried aggrivated whatever symptoms led to the diagnosis and a cycle of increased dosages/combintations was created. When I was 11(after taking 500 aspirin while on anti depressants) and 13
(after eating half a sheet of LSD) I was committed for nearly a year each time and run through a battery of tests and med trials. The first time I played the game until I was released but it didn't last long.
The second stay my IQ was found to be confirmed in the 160's and I was allowed to complete the inpatient school program at my own pace. I completed the entire curriculum through grade 12 in 3 months,
which only served to frighten the shrinks. I would try to reasonably lay out the evidence that they were on the wrong track with their treatement but they saw it as some sort of sociopathic manipulation tactic.
When my psychiatrist informed my parents that due to my IQ and plethora of mental maladies with atypical behavior for a female, I would most likely become something along the lines of a serial killer (a frighteneing plague
on society were his words) I escaped (necessitating a complete
overhaul of the hospitals security procedures and systems) and
hitchhiked to another state.
I knew something was wrong with me but only knew for certain
that it was NOT any of things that they were treating me for.
I stayed missing for a few years. It was a long battle but in the
end I was able to return with the guarantee that unless I
committed some crime/failed suicide, I would not be forced back
into the mental health system.
At 17 I had my son. Although they knew where I was, I was still
estranged from my family. There were concerns about my son's
safety but I used the 20 hrs. a day that I was awake (insomnia
since birth) to put myself through school (I have ALMOST 3 degrees but could never finish one entirely), work, care for an infant
and by 19 I had accidentally helped found and was Chair of a grassroots
social justice organization. I was an exemplary parent and community activist. Inside I was a tsunami of chaos.
I sought counseling on my own but each time the old labels
would find me. I tried some of the new medications but many of
them led to suicidal thoughts, increasingly bizarre sleepwalking
and neurological symptoms. Each therapist spent more time
trying to prove that I was mistaken and I really was that ill, than
actually listening to me.
By 23, I was done trying. After an extremely heated exchange
with a legislator regarding a bill that I'd co written, I made it to
the stairs of the Capitol and had my first adult MEGA meltdown. All of my
organizational comerades saw the incident as one of my effective yet "out there" tactics and belived that my meltdown only proved my passion for the issue. I saw it as a humiliating indication that it was all unraveling. The "tesla coil" that I always felt in my gut was overwhelming, I wasn't keeping track of meetings, bills or appointments and my sleepwalking (eating, cleaning, making phone calls and attempting to walk out of my apartment) and the sleep deprivation hallucinations had become so purvasive that even I was worried for my son's safety.
I quit, went on welfare and returned to school. In the first semester I developed a
heart arrythmia (atrial fibrilllation). They couldn't find a definitive cause and finally said it was some sort of unidentifiable electric malfunction, I believe due to sleep deprivation. I soldiered on and in the second semester due to my heart in combination with the neurological symptoms that were still measurable I was approved for disability.
Shortly after, my daughter was accidentally conceived through one of the chaotic relationships that I always seemed to find myself in when I had too much time on my hands. At 14 weeks I was hospitalized due to a pulmonary embolism and at 23 weeks went into labor. I considered relinquishing her for adoption but her biological father was extremely abusive and smart enough to stay just outside of the law. If I relinquished my rights, she would be his and that was a nightmare I could never sentence a child to. I had to make it work.
Over the next few years my insomnia and ADHD made it possible for me to maintain the schedule that a special needs child dictates and my occasional meltdowns were chalked up to the stress of it all. I developed a charting system to keep track of my daughter's meds and appointments but it took all of my energy and attention to accomplish just that,everything else fell into the cracks.
My family and I reunited and bonded over keeping my daughter alive and they went above and beyond to fill in the gaps and keep us afloat. My
sister moved in with me and assumed most of the daily care of my children and I attempted to go back to work to support us.
I found a job in an area of IT called Electronic Data Interchange. I learned the systems and code language quickly and moved into a job without a lot of interraction with others and very defined and easily measurable responsibilities. As always, I was quickly recognized and pushed into several promotions. Soon the meltdowns became weekly, then daily, then a contstant state of being. Over the next few years I changed jobs every year or two when the cycle would repeat and I became convinced that my incompetence would be revealed.
I moved from IT into the Title & Escrow side of real estate and just as the pattern of achievement/promotion/responsibility/meltdown was reaching
the 2 year mark, the market crashed and I was gratefully laid off.
I had unemployment benefits and my daughter's health was nearly perfect. I had met and married a man that accepted my "quirkiness" and actually pegged my ADHD pretty early on. Not knowing anything about the disorder I accepted that it was a possible factor but was unaware it was anything more than fidgety kids in school. I didn't see treatment as an option because I knew that if they saw what was underneath the
overachiever/soccer mom facade I would be committed and my children taken away. I looked for other options for my future.
Within 2 weeks of my usual 20 hr. days without a job to go to everyday, I had created a non profit resource organization for artists. It wasn't as high pressure and emotional as politics and while I was not an artist, I was an art lover. Within 6 weeks we had our first benefit and it was a smashing success. Everything looked like it would finally work out for me, on the infrequent good days that is.
I was still spinning 20 hours a day to keep on top of everything and it seemed to be slipping faster and faster. My children began havingdepression and behavioral issues and my husband's anxiety and depression became overwhelming.
Two weeks before our second benefit, in partnership with another non profit, all but one of my artists backed out. Not seeing any other options, I went to the art supply store and bought every kind of paint, canvas and supply I could find. I couldn't see any way to find and coordinate a new set of artists successfully and I had promised at least 15 pieces for the event. I had never painted in my life but I figured it was worth a try given
some of the seeming crap that sells. If I failed, game over and I would be exposed for the crazy mess I worked so desparately to hide from the world.
I locked myself in our spare room and began the same manic, deadline panic action that ADHDers know so well. I did not sleep for 5 days straight, lost all track of time and reality and finished 19 pieces in different mediums and styles so as not to appear that I had done them all. I sold 7 the night of the benefit and was invited to join a booth at our local farmers market. I began to use painting and photography to stop fighting the "tesla coil" and the cacophony of thoughts in my head. I began to hate everything I painted because I couldn't make it look like it did in my head and after nearly 10,000 pictures my 3rd owner used camera began to conk out. Not a bad thing considering our mortgage was behind from
the money I had thought perfectly rational to use for film & developing. I didn't feel justified in charging people because I didn't feel like I was really as good as everyone said.
My unemployment had run out and I was working, though part time, in a call center to pay for my creative "therapy". I thought it would be cake compared to my previous careers. As my performance began to be noticed and murmurings about promotion to the technical support side began, I started ripping open.
I began to feel like all of the extreme euphoria over my recent artistic discovery, my inability to keep up with the administration of the non profit, my crumbling family and increasing symptoms (paranoia, hallucinations and perceived worthlessness) and feeling overwhelming stress in a job that the "average" people around me seemed to do so easily were all too familiar. I considered the possibility that all of the Dr.'s had been right.
I tried to methodically remove all of the stress I possibly could, in a last ditch effort before resigning myself to completing the "escape plan" (suicide) that had been pushing itself into my every waking moment or worse, an overmedicated, court ordered life of drooling and throwing my own feces in some dickensonian facility.
I started with divorce, a decision that I feel even now was a sound one. I stopped anything creative and took the promotion with the thought that machines and rapidly advancing technology soothed me so maybe it would be easier to succeed if that's all I did all day. I threw away all but one set of dishes, towels and bedding for each of my children and myself to eliminate laundry and housecleaning as much as possible. I slowly and methodically dropped out of friendships with even friends I'd known over 20 years to try and consolidate my energy and honestly, to make it easier on everyone in case I ended up with the "escape plan" which was now an almost constant inner monologue. The harder I tried, the worse it got.
I took up drift racing, initially to try and bond with my 18 yr. old son. Once I felt the peace that came after the adreniline spike I became addicted and eventually began street racing as well. Cars and engines became my art. I only felt peace at the helm of a controlled explosion. 35 years old and the oldest person I hung out with was 20 and I was calling in sick to work (which I was barely hanging on to by this point) to go drive so I could feel "normal" for even a few minutes at a time.
My kids essentially began living with friends because I constantly forgot to buy groceries, would space out and sometimes just get up and start doing other things in the middle of them talking to me (that had to be horrifically painful for them). I blew through all of my alimony on car parts and it all started to crash for real.
I was overweight in the beginning of the end but had lost 14 sizes in 7 mos., was losing my house which had become party central for my race crew who were giving me grief to no end about not eating and I couldn't make them understand that I didn't mean to (I just honestly forgot anymore), I had creditors suing me, I had used up almost all of my sick time because I couldn't work an entire day without falling apart and I'd had to sell all but one of my cars. I didn't have a drug or gambling problem so I was convinced that I was everything, and more that all of the shrinks said I was.
Plan B took over. I took a hike up one of the local canyons in below freezing weather with a fifth of Johnny Walker Green Label and some Salvia to smoke at the end to prevent me from ripping all of my clothes off as is often the case in hypothermia. I drank the scotch, waited until I got warm and sleepy, smoked the Salvia, went on a fantastically horrifying trip that was supposed to disable my visual and motor centers and carry me to the other side.
I found myself many hours later at a convenience store close to the mouth of the canyon. I was soaking wet, frostbitten and to everyone's shock given my blood alcohol content, holding a conversation with a police
officer and my brother. It's still a mystery as to how I ended up
there.
I was committed and shipped to an inpatient facility in another city. Once I'd physically recovered, the psychiatrist who was managing my care talked with me for an hour or so about my life history to that point and had me answer about 60 specific questions. At the end he looked at me and informed me that he didn't believe me to have any of the previously diagnosed illnesses and that it was in fact, one of the most wicked cases of ADHD he knew of.
I laughed outloud. I thought this guy should have been the one on the couch. He said that we would try amphetimines in the morning and see if it helped confirm his diagnosis. Me on speed?!?! I told him to get the restraints ready.
He started me on close to the highest dose of vyvanse. After about an hour I noticed my "tesla coil" wasn't humming as loud. After 2, I was reading a book. By hour 4 I held a conversation with a nurse that didn't ramble or shoot off into the strange "eccentric genius" areas that I typically tumbled into. It didn't last much past that & shortly I was back out in my crazy universe. I slept only 2 hours that night.
The next morning he upped my dosage to the maximum allowable.
I began to feel the same peace as I had mid drift/post race. I
nodded off during lunch so I went to my room and took a 4 hour nap. I don't remember the last nap I had taken before that. Diagnosis confirmed.
I'm home now. My diagnosis and medication are at once a miracle and challenge. Wrapping my now quiet (for most of the day) head around what just occured, what I was capable of doing and the last 36 years is overwhelming. Luckily my company has a comprehensive disability and insurance plan so I'm not completely destitute. My son moved in with his girlfriend and my daughter livs with my mother. I had to try a few therapists until I found one that I clicked with. Now comes the task of retraining my brain.
I'm working on the basics of routine day to day life. Sleep before the sun comes up, wake up at least 5 hrs later, shower, eat, etc. It's more challenging than I thought possible but I refuse to give up now.
The simple daily schedule seems to disappear sometimes in my new hyperfocus (writing a day long diatribe on my life to strangers on the internet without getting up to pee for example) but I have hope for the first time and I'm going to keep searching for tips and trying different methods until I get it.
My meds don't seem to be working as well or as long and I'm not sleeping again. I know there will be a certain amount of experimentation and time necessary before I get it all working smoothly.
The bigger, scarier part of it is getting to know this person that's been
caught in a robot with short circuted wiring for all these years
and learning to operate like the 90% of humans with non ADHD
brains.
I've become sort of agoraphobic and can't take noise, crowds or even the grocery store sometimes (I was always the loudest craziest chick in the middle of everything). I haven't painted yet because I'm not convinced it wasn't some sort of by product of my ADHD brain, I've already packed up my photography equipment, sold my last car because I'm afraid to drive(yeah that's a weird one) and I'm grateful that I discontinued my overwhelming number of friendships because I really don't like talking to anyone anymore. The crazy, fun superwoman with a lust for life is gone, she never really existed in the first place. Sure there are parts of me that are still there but I pray that I never see her all the way again. No one but my Mom can seem to grasp it no matter how I try to explain.
All of the things that used to keep me tethered to "reality" are gone, my biggest rush now comes from walking my dog to the buddhist temple near my house and I'm okay with that (and not even buddhist, it's just quiet and empty).
Slow and lots of therapy is the order of the day for me right now & I am grateful for it. Sometimes I do feel like a not-quite-bright child trying to pretend I'm an adult because I'm struggling to move from one thing to the next or generate thoughts rather than stem the tide of them when my medication is working. Conversely, when my meds wear off I work to ease the rebound and stay as present as possible.
I'm alive, I'm now certified "not crazy", have a fantastic therapist and nothing but time on the internet searching for answers and tips from people that have walked in these ill fitting shoes. I have nothing but
faith that the rest will come in time.

I don't know how anyone with adhd could or would want to read all of that but I'm grateful for the opportunity to release it and look forward to learning in this community.
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Old 02-05-10, 12:29 AM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked

I read a few of the first lines in your post and then I immediately skipped down to the last sentence. I took that last line as a challenge. My brain likes challenges, so I scrolled back up to the top and, slowly, read your whole post.

Thanks for writing all of that. You choked me up. I can relate to a couple of details in your story.

I don't think I've ever told anyone this before, but one winter night, feeling overwhelmed and crazy, I walked out of my apartment and started climbing Y Mountain (you probably know the mountain I'm talking about). I didn't just climb up halfway; I climbed up and around the cliffs at the top. The ground was covered with snow. I could barely see in the dim glow of a few stars and the city lights below. I was alone. The mountain almost killed me. I never understood why I went on that midnight climb, many years ago, until my recent diagnosis with ADHD.

I'm glad you survived your hike up into the canyons. Take care of yourself. It sounds like you have many gifts to share with this world. I hope your life continues to get better and better.
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Old 02-05-10, 12:42 AM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked

Thank you a million times back for your kind words!!! Amazing job rising to the challenge of my biography of crazy (or I guess not anymore)! I don't think I could have if it were not mine. Maybe when they adjust my meds again . Very glad you made it down the mountain as well!!
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Old 02-06-10, 02:10 AM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked

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Originally Posted by carped1em View Post
I don't know how anyone with adhd could or would want to read all of that...
I managed to! (And without reading it backwards paragraph by paragraph like I have to read almost all non-fiction...) Got every word. You remind me a lot of both me and my mother... A lot of similar combined experiences, in similar places, even. (That, and you have some delicious metaphors in there--"It feels like I've stepped through the looking glass backward and dozing in a tree with a book is surprisingly strange when all you've known is the Mad Hatter's tea party." But that's beside the point.)

Gosh, your story, it's just... bittersweet and epic. I was physically relieved near the end to hear that things are settling down for you. Things really can work out, can't they?
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Old 02-06-10, 02:44 AM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

Hello, and welcome to ADDF!
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Old 02-06-10, 03:04 AM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

welcome. it's nice to meet you
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Old 02-06-10, 03:58 AM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

carped1em, I want you to know that I read everything, from top to bottom

I don't know how to explain my feelings here but I've sort of connected to your story. Thanks for taking the huge step of trying to ink 36 years of unanswered questions in a couple of paragraphs.

You're a strong person, I'm sure you know what I mean.
I'm in the same boat (35 years, DX this year) but with a less severe ADD if I may say so

What I know is, as I wrote it in this same forum, trying to control my disorder is not helping me at all.
I think I have to let it go, in the sense that if you ask yourself the right questions, the right answers you will get.

I'm still searching my true self and I went through the same steps you described:
- better sleep
- regulate my daily activities (wake up early, shower, balanced breakfast, work, exercise, no-more-computer-after-10PM, ...)
- alternative treatments

I know the solution is somewhere around: it may no be a completely logical one as people like "us" are enticed to look after but I'm sure you are on the right track to rebuild yourself and your life: welcome here.
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Old 02-06-10, 05:44 AM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

I'm sitting here absolutely mind blown and choked up reading all of your posts!
I was feeling extremely frustrated over the last 3 days & kicking myself a bit for doing nothing more than reading & posting on this site & reasearching suggestions or tips that I found in various threads or post conversations (for 12 & 18 hours at a stretch).

The one item in three days of my brand spankin' new therapist reccommended "routine calendar" that was accomplished, was paying my utility bills. That was just to make sure my internet didn't get shut off again. The other bills got paid by default.
**items referred to on the afore mentioned "2010 Zen Photography Calendar" may include but are not limited to; shower, eat (insert meal here), 1st "activity" (not to exceed 2 hours), walk dog...it's that specific...

I also realize that, as usual, I am a living breathing extreme in the spectrum.

I'm grateful that the chemical side has remained unbalanced during this time so I could use my hyperfocus to speed to this point of realization.
Now I have some strong knowledge to work with and a valuable resource if I have questions along the way that nobody seems to "get".

Thank you all for anything you've shared with me or anyone else on this site that I've stumbled across!!! I can't find words to completely describe my gratitude & appreciation for anyone who comes here, for any reason, with any perspective. That's a typical impossibility for me.
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Old 02-06-10, 07:13 AM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

When I saw your post and scrolled down, I said holy sh*! It's 6am here. I should've gone to bed 6 hrs ago! But then I started reading and couldn't stop. Glad you're here. I love the way you write! Now I'm going to sleep!
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Old 02-06-10, 06:41 PM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

Good luck! I'm so sorry about what had happened to you in your childhood! It's great you have so many talents, keep exerting those that you find fun. (With digital photography, you have no film and development costs, btw.)
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Old 02-06-10, 06:58 PM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked

Quote:
Originally Posted by String View Post
I read a few of the first lines in your post and then I immediately skipped down to the last sentence.
Yeah, I can't read a block of text like that.

I'd have to spilt it up.

But hang in there! Sounds like you've already been making some good progress.
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Old 02-06-10, 07:34 PM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

Thanks there carped1em, you brought back a lot of memories that I thought I had forgotten. It is amazing how many years and how many different doctors that totally MISS the correct diagnosis. Best of luck to you!!
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Old 02-06-10, 11:11 PM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

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Good luck! I'm so sorry about what had happened to you in your childhood! It's great you have so many talents, keep exerting those that you find fun. (With digital photography, you have no film and development costs, btw.)
-Good suggestion with digital. Sadly one that I tried to get to but never could.

Some may identify with the lump sum cost as a factor but my MAIN reason was that I was too afraid that I would delete every picture immediately after taking it because it wasn't exactly what I thought it should be at that moment. I ruined a few really cool paintings that way. I hope that will change.

Film forces you to take a distanced second look, a third, and so on. By the time it's developed, I have no idea what I envisioned when I took it and I appreciate much more of my work.
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Old 02-06-10, 11:57 PM
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

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Originally Posted by carped1em View Post
Film forces you to take a distanced second look, a third, and so on. By the time it's developed, I have no idea what I envisioned when I took it and I appreciate much more of my work.
If you make it a policy to download everything to a new folder, dated, treat them as raw data - something to start from - then you can go over each with as fine a lens as you like later and fiddle with it, you can make it whatever you like! It's like a combination of photography and painting. There are some decent photoshop apps out there as free downloads now.
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Re: 35, just diagnosed and completely shell shocked - carped1em from UT

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