Hi! I’m Pauline and I have ADHD!
See how easy that is to say now that I’ve had six years to get used to the idea? That’’ right, folks. I was diagnosed at 34 and realized that my brain could operate on more than one speed when I started taking medication. It. Was. Life-changing.
But if you’d asked me what I was thinking when I heard “Diagnosis: ADHD,” it was a lot less “go with the flow” and a lot more total Muppet flail.
These were my reactions when I got diagnosed with ADHD.
1. “Wait — what did you just say?”
My doctor smiled at me from the other side of his desk. “You have ADHD. I recognized it almost immediately. It’s not that hard for me to spot in a patient since I have the condition myself.”
My mind raced through a montage of my life. I couldn’t decide if I was relieved to have a diagnosis or if I was annoyed that the diagnosis meant I wasn’t “just quirky.”
2. “My husband is not going to believe this”
I grabbed my iPhone and texted my husband to come in from the waiting room. “You tell him when he comes in,” I said to my doctor.
“He says I have ADHD,” I blurted out the moment my husband walked into the office with our daughter. Behind me, the doctor chuckled. “OK,” I said, turning to my husband as he sat down beside me, “I told him you wouldn’t believe it.”
My husband laughed. “Actually…”
3. “Let’s multitask!”
So, I was sitting there trying to listen to the biggest and most life-changing news ever, and suddenly my hands felt empty. Fidget spinners weren’t sold at gas stations yet — because they weren’t invented yet — so I went with option No. 2. The moment my iPhone was in my hands and my right thumb was speed texting like a pro, the world was beautiful again.
4. “Self-regulation, people!”
My husband glared at me for having the attention span of an over-caffeinated squirrel for needing my iPhone while the doctor explained my diagnosis.
“Don’t worry,” I said to him and my doc. “I am totally listening now.”
And guess what? The doc had my back. He told us that people with ADHD focus better on one thing when their brains are doing multiple things. Doing just the one thing, like listening to a whole bunch of new information at once, could result in overstimulation. Self-regulation tools FTW! I tried not to gloat as I sat taller on my seat, no longer hiding my iPhone while the appointment continued. My husband glared at me again when I blinked prettily at him.
5. “You said you cleaned!”
“Let me guess,” the doctor said to my husband, “When you get home from work, you see your wife looking exhausted and proud of all she’s accomplished during the day, but the house looks like a hurricane hit it.”
My husband nodded carefully. “Is this a trap?”
“No,” said the doctor.
“Yes,” said the wife.
6. “But I did all the things!”
“And,” the doctor said to me, “when he asks why you’re so tired, you get angry because you did all the laundry, put some away, vacuumed, put the dishes in the dishwasher away and filled it back up again with the dishes from dinner last night. You even squeezed in a workout, talked to your mom on the phone, caught up on family news back home and started working on a blog post after you got the frozen lasagna in the stove for dinner.”
I lifted an eyebrow. “Are you stalking me?”
He laughed again. “No, I am you.”
7. “Points for trying!”
“You started all of these tasks,” the doc said, “But you didn’t finish them. The washed clothes were put in the dryer, but you forgot to turn it on because you decide to put the clothes in the dryer away first. Halfway through, you remembered you needed to vacuum, leaving the basket on the bed and all of the dresser drawers pulled out. You finished the bedroom and were about to vacuum the hallway when your daughter said she was thirsty and needed a cup. So you emptied the dishwasher, gave her a cup, put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and forgot to turn it on. You worked out, but you can’t find the DVD case, so you put it in a Barbie movie case, which means you aren’t going to find it the next time you need it. The battery on the cordless phone is dead because you set it near but not on the charging base after talking to your mom. You didn’t blog because Facebook distracted you, and dinner was not going to be lasagna because it takes an hour to cook — it’s dinner time right now, and it’s frozen rock solid in the stove you never turned on.”
8. The good, the bad & the ugly
The good: I realized I was relieved. This was great news! I wasn’t an unfixable mess!
The bad: Wait! How am I supposed to remember to take the pills that help me remember?
The ugly: And suddenly, my great-aunt from Mexico serving a warm cuppa joe at bedtime when she babysat 5-year-old me made just as much sense as that time I left the witch hazel in the freezer.
This post was brought to you as part of a sponsored advertising collaboration. A version of this article was originally published in September 2017.