Diagnosis

The word is so finite. Absolute.

Diagnosis can be a burden. A secret diagnosis. Like when a boyfriend’s mother revealed her cancer just the two of us. She kept it a secret from her husband and everyone else for almost a year.

Diagnosis can be undetermined, like my shin splints. It’s been over six months and while rest is typically “prescribed” as a path to healing, it hasn’t worked in my case. At this point, I’m suspecting some kind of ligament damage. The outer part of my left shin swells before the pain on the inner side flares up. I have to return to the sports specialist and await another scan of my leg; likely after some running on the treadmill to really see the injury.

Diagnosis can be a relief, like my hyperhidrosis. Finally figuring out what all the excessive sweating was about came as a huge relief. I was no longer changing my undershirt multiple times a day–something I had dismissed as normal. I received the proper medication and treatment for it and it’s been a life-changer. I still sweat a bit more than most people, but it’s now during normal activity, like working out. That, I’m okay with.

Diagnosis can be all those things at once. A rollercoaster of emotions.

I’ve been officially diagnosed with ADHD.

I suppose on some level I knew, or rather, I’ve seen the signs. I think back to the handful of parent-teacher meetings where my teachers were trying to convey something to my parents without directly saying it.

A moment that comes to mind is when I was asked a handful of math questions from a test I had failed earlier. After answering the questions correctly, the teacher turned to my father and said, “See? He knows the answers.” The teacher turned back to me, “Why did you answer this way?”

My chemistry teacher in Junior High/Middle school telling me, “I know you know the answers. I know you know the material.” I thought it was a pitty comment, a sort of back-handed compliment, like saying, “Just keep trying. You’ll get there.”

I’ve worked with and around ADHD. Serving it to my advantage during high-stake, multi-fire drills at work; switching from one work crisis to another. I’ve worked around it by noticing the things that trigger distraction or creating things to redirect focus. It’s been my normal for so long I’ve just adapted to pushing through the struggle.

Things came to a head recently with my change in work, requiring a much more single-focused duty. Add school to the mix, which also requires that level of focus, and the signs were everywhere. When I couldn’t focus on a test, re-reading the questions multiple times, I knew something was wrong. I could feel the figurative wall, the unruly “thought tentacles” that wouldn’t allow me to focus. It was an unmovable object. Incredibly frustrating and defeating.

After a two-hour session with lots of questions/tests from a psychiatrist, it was clear. ADHD. The doctor admired the “creative” ways I had managed to cope with it during my life. Though the words weren’t all that comforting. I couldn’t help but look back at my life and wonder how different it could’ve been had I been diagnosed and treated earlier. I try not to linger too much in that head-space, realizing I can’t dismiss everything I’ve accomplished in spite of it all. I try not to think about being diagnosed so “late” in life.

I’ve started treatment and I have to admit I’m noticing certain things, primarily the daydreaming has decreased significantly. More importantly, I can tell when I’m being distracted and refocus. That is just… incredible. I can’t even begin to describe the relief. While on some level it does concern me what this does to my creativity and writing–that’s a whole ‘nother blog entry. A part of me feels all writers have some underlying psychosis.

The lack of daydreaming means I’m more aware of the present, my mind isn’t elsewhere spiraling down a rabbit-hole of thoughts. I feel more ‘grounded’ in what is happening, which in turn means I’m remembering more things. That’s a funny thing. I never realized how much I zoned out during conversations.

I try to be optimistic about the future and what this diagnosis holds. For now, I take it one day at a time and live in the present.

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