I am not the problem, it’s ADHD. The ADHD diagnosis

The one with where we find out it might not be anxiety, it might actually be ADHD…


If you have read my blog or followed me on social media for any length of time, you will know that I have dealt with anxiety and mental health issues for most of my life in one way or another.

From early childhood I remember feelings of intense anxiety and worry, and incidents where my anxiety over what other people would either consider nothing to worry about, or in some cases, completely illogical dot my memory. In my late teens and early adult life I dealt with intense anxiety and mental health struggles after the death of my mother, and then an eating disorder followed. After the birth of my first child I had severe post partum anxiety and when my second child was three and diagnosed with hearing, speech issues and sensory processing disorder I had a mental health breakdown. (The two are linked because the relief I felt when we finally had acknowledgement that his sleep, behaviours and speech were not normal, led to me needing mental health help, having carried the burden of mothering him with no support for three years)

My anxiety tends to revolve around health, the health of my family, death, loss, and loosing the people I love, but also around feeling safe and in control of my life. Yes, most people struggle with some anxiety around those things, but when it’s every day, every thought, every waking moment, and illogical thoughts, catastrophising and living in permenant flight or fight mode, it can be fairly brutal on your mental health.

Over the years I have had:

  • CBT therapy both one to one and in a group
  • One to one psychiatrict support
  • Group and one to one therapy for eating issues
  • Counselling for grief and trauma
  • medication attempts (with little success)
  • More group and one to one therapy
  • Support from local mental health services

And whilst some of it was helpful, in that it temporarily gave some relief and some skills to deal with life, it didn’t help or actually “cure me” or make me feel like I was ever going to stop being anxious or mentally unwell. I have spent a long time just accepting that I have anxiety and that I need to live with it, but no why or how to feel better.

My diagnosis tree has been:

  • mild to moderate anxiety disorder
  • depression
  • post partum depression
  • Acute Anxiety
  • anorexia
  • bulimia
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Post traumatic stress disorder

Some of them make sense, but the why and the what have been a puzzle piece we have never been able to find.

Fast forward to 2019. My husband had just recovered from a horrible heart infection, and we were all, to put it mildly, a little traumatised. We had a complicated summer with lots of issues arising personally for both of us. I was very damaged by the impact of his illness on him, and our family and the potential that at one point he might have died. My worst fears, played out in front of me, in real life, and those memories stayed and I was having flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks.

I trundled on until one day, I needed some medical attention for a cat scratch on my hand that had turned infected. I went to the local walk in clinic, suspecting I might need some antibiotics. I was right. But what happened at the clinic set me off on a path to something we hadn’t expected. I had a panic attack in the clinic when they suggested that my wound was not looking good and they wanted to send me to A&E to have it looked at and possibly stronger antibiotics than they could prescribe. The idea of going to the place where I had experienced trauma and where my husband had been so ill, triggered flashbacks, a panic attack of some violence and I ended up sobbing on the floor in a treatment room. The staff were kind, compassionate, in fact, excellent. They calmed me down, they sat with me, they talked me through everything and eventually we agreed i would take medication they had, and would go straight to my GP to get the wound checked within 24 hours.

I did what I was told and saw my GP the next day. An emergency appointment came my way very easily for once and I sat down in the chair in their office thinking I would just get a wound check and be on my way. She looked at the wound, and told me she thought it was fine, healing ok and I didn’t need stronger antibiotics, but to come back in a week for it to be checked. Then she opened my file on her computer, and said “so what happened yesterday?” and I knew I was going to have to talk about the contents of my head and what was going on.

We had a long chat, and she felt that I was clearly a bit of a mess as the result of what we had gone through and she suggested a referral for some specialist trauma therapy. It was a trial option and she could access that for me. I would have to wait a few months but she felt it would help. She offered me anti anxiety medication, but we both know it doesn’t work for me, so I refused. I went home, and figured that this would just be another tick in a box attempt to fix my apparently very broken brain.

I finally got an appointment to be assessed for the therapy which is a kind of EMDR treatment for trauma and PTSD and went expecting very little but curious.

It was a lengthy assessment. She went through my history, my mental health journey, the things I have dealt with, family history (including my children’s, my son has ADHD) and what happened when I had the panic attack that triggered this referral.

She asked me lots of questions and by the end of the session I felt exhausted and rather empty.

She then wrote some notes and said:

“I don’t think this will work for you. I don’t think I can help you at the moment. I need you to go back to your GP, because I think you have ADHD and that is why you have struggled so much and that is the underlying cause for all of your issues, and we can’t deal with those, until we have a proper diagnosis, and a plan”

My reply was:

“what on earth do you mean, I don’t have ADHD, I am a 45 year old woman, how can I have ADHD, I am not hyperactive, I can’t have that?”

Her reply to me was:

“ADHD is mostly genetic, where do you think your son got it from?”

To be continued….

Posted in ADHD & Me.


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