For the third time this year, I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor with my head in my hands, having what I can only describe as a meltdown of epic proportions.
The tears wouldn’t stop, I felt as if I was about to be sick. Someone handed me a glass of water, which I forced myself to swallow to steady my breathing, to reduce my heaves to gasps.
You’re probably wondering what happened. You probably think I’d had a really bad break up, or even lost a family member.
In fact, nothing happened. Not really. Whatever triggered such an extreme emotional reaction was so small it’s something I can barely remember.
The people around me wore faces of exasperation. They’d seen it all before; they still didn’t know what to do.
This is just one fraction of life with ADHD and, if left untreated, it’s unbearable.
What most people don’t know about ADHD is that there is so much more to it than just being distracted.
Research suggests it has to do with a difference in the development of the brain, and it impacts so many aspects of my life.
Spiralling into the darkest corners of my mind after a relatively minor event is something I am so familiar with, and I wish more people appreciated this.
I was diagnosed five years ago, at 27. Until then, I had no idea what was ‘wrong’ with me.
Because it was quite clear I was different from the rest of my classmates. I lost things constantly and fidgeted to an almost unrivalled degree.
Later, I became accustomed to affectionate eye rolls and friends lending me money when I’d misplaced my purse.
There was something pleasingly damsel-in-distress like when I lost my house keys on a night out and had to phone my boyfriend to come and rescue me.
It was all kind of adorable, really, but behind closed doors it was a different story.
A story of lows so crashing that they trigger the most destructive thoughts. Of self-harm in various forms, of insomnia and intrusive thoughts, and drinking for the wrong reasons.
It’s a story of being so desperately trapped in your own mind that you would do anything – and I mean, anything – to escape it.
I have found that the only way to cope with that pervasive sense of being different is to lean into it, but that is not always possible to do, largely because these differences can be damaging when it comes to others’ perception of you.
Like in work, when I fidget in meetings, or forget a task on my to-do list because I am hyper fixating on another.
Or with friends, partners, or my family. Borrowing money because I have no impulse control gets old, as does losing my sister’s clothes.
Relationships suffer due to my emotional intensity.
It becomes harder to celebrate what makes me different, and so begins the self-loathing.
Self-loathing, which is made all the more intense by the fact that those of us with ADHD often find it hard to regulate our emotions in the first place.
It wasn’t until I was 26 when I was working in a newsroom that it was suggested to me that I had ADHD because I moved around so much.
It had never crossed my mind before, but a year after my referral in 2018, I was able to see a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with the condition.
I was put on Ritalin, then atomoxetine, neither of which helped. I stopped medication and am now on a waiting list yet again, to try what I’ve heard from fellow sufferers is a good treatment: slow-releasing Ritalin.
At the moment, I manage my ADHD through exercise and mindfulness. But mainly, through talking about it.
My family and friends tell me that I am so many things: intelligent, charming, a wonderful conversationalist. ‘People love you,’ they exclaim, ‘you connect so well with others.’
I believe my ADHD makes me sensitive and empathetic, and for those reasons I consider myself to be compassionate and kind.
But I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t trade any of this for some inner peace, for an ability to function in a stable, mindful way.
For an ability to hold down relationships that last longer than a few months, to not break down in tears to people who don’t know me that well, to just feel content.
I wish, more than I wish to be special or intelligent or successful, to just feel normal.
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Platform is the home of Metro.co.uk’s first-person and opinion pieces, devoted to giving a platform to underheard and underrepresented voices in the media.
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There are, of course, rays of light. There is medication – I’m yet to find the right one for me, but I’m hoping there will be a good fit soon.
There is therapy and deep friendships and the people who understand.
There is the ever-growing community of people with ADHD reminding the rest of the world that it’s not just about being quirky and losing your keys.
There’s creativity, one of its strongest assets and a way to channel such profound frustration.
But ADHD is still not understood for what it really is. It is agony. It makes life incredibly hard.
And most importantly – it’s about so much more than being distracted.
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