” Have you ever been tested for ADHD?”
My wife and I were in a counseling session when the counselor blurted out this question. I immediately dismissed it. I had only ever associated ADHD with elementary school-aged children. I was definitely not a child. I was a full grown man in his 30’s who was on the brink of losing his marriage, and here was this therapist associating my behavior with a disorder that only hyperactive kids on Ritalin have. I was insulted… But I was also desperate.
After we got home, I fell into a web MD vortex of self-diagnosis. The scary part was that everything I was reading wasn’t just applicable, every case study was like reading my own story…
- Disorganization and problems prioritizing
- Poor time management skills
- Problems focusing on a task
- Trouble multitasking
- Excessive activity or restlessness
- Poor planning
- Low frustration tolerance
- Frequent mood swings
- Problems following through and completing tasks
- Hot temper
- Trouble coping with stress
For the first time, it seemed like things were making sense. There was potentially a reason as to why I couldn’t be content with the positions at the churches I had worked in. There was a reason why I was a strong starter, but couldn’t keep things together over the long term. There was a reason why I could never remember to bring milk home or show up for supper on time. I was frustrated with myself. My family was frustrated because I was letting them down. Something needed to change and maybe, just maybe there was something to this whole ADHD thing.
I found a psychiatrist who specialized in adult ADHD assessments. I made an appointment and tried not to throw up every time I thought about how badly I was screwing up my life and the lives of the people I loved most.
On the surface, things looked ok, but I couldn’t keep anything together. I never remembered important info, I was late for everything and my wife felt like she had a fourth child. She not only had to keep everything together for our three kids, but she also had to deal with the fact that her husband was completely unreliable. My kids were constantly having to put up with a dad who would either show up late or not at all for their activities.
The lead up to the assessment was awful. Carrie was convinced that if I was diagnosed with ADHD that I would use it as a justification for all the neglect and pain that I had caused her over the years. I was scared. I was lost. I knew that if the results came back as positive, I had no more excuses. I couldn’t hide behind being a busy dad or an overworked pastor. If there was finally a reason for all of it, there would have to be a major overhaul in my life.
It was three sessions in total. I shared every detail of my past, the struggles I had experienced as well as the patterns that seemed to reoccur over and over again. We talked, I did tests and then… I waited three weeks for the results. Those weeks were awful. There were so many “what ifs” rolling around in my brain.
The day finally came. I met Carrie at the therapist’s office. She read out the results. It definitely was ADHD. I found out that ADHD is the umbrella term. There are three different kinds: Attention (ADD), Hyperactivity ( in adults it shows up as impulsivity) and finally, a combo of the first two. Of course, I have the combo and on a scale of mild to severe, I’m three-quarters of the way to severe. It was bad. I was in shock. Carrie was crying and said: “I wish we would have gotten this diagnosis three years ago!”
She was done, I felt like a failure and only God could clean up this mess.
Part 2 tomorrow.