Bratty Brain

Posted: May 29, 2017 in ADHD, anxiety, Life, mental health
Tags: , , ,

“Well, I can confirm that you have ADHD.”

The feeling of relief was palpable and intense. After all these years, to finally hear a psychiatrist proclaim what I’d long suspected. It was overwhelming.

“Also, the testing you took also shows that you have anxiety disorder.”

Anxiety-cartoon

Wait. What?

Anxiety? Pfft. I’ve managed to deal with stress all of my life. Sure there were times when the stress got to be too much and I had to take measures to lessen it. But it wasn’t a disorder. It was just normal stress. Everyone has stress at one time or another.

I dismissed it. Didn’t give it another thought. That was seven years ago.

And the years went by.

A few weeks ago I found myself tossing and turning in bed. Normally, when I crash, it takes all of two minutes for me to drop into a deep sleep.

Not this time. As I turned over yet again, I realized what was preventing sleep: I was having trouble breathing.

I got up and watched a couple of hours of TV. That made me drowsy enough to finally fall fast asleep.

Unfortunately it meant I only got a couple of hours of shut-eye, and then I had to get up for work.

The next night it was the same. And then, during the following day during my waking  hours I found myself struggling for breath.

“That’s it”, I thought. “Something’s wrong.” And so off to the ER I went.

They triaged me, and decided my symptoms were serious enough to take me right away and run some tests.

Seven hours later, the doctor finally finished doing her final ultrasound test. She said “well your tests all show that you’re okay physically. Are you worried about something? Your symptoms would indicate that you’re suffering from anxiety.”

I frowned. “I don’t think I’m stressed out about anything. Thanks doc. I’ll think about it.”

The only thing that came to mind was the fact I had agreed to act as manager for a week. After acknowledging that, my symptoms seemed to lessen. I was pretty sure that was it. Every time I felt the heaviness in my chest, I just thought about my acting manager job, and the stress seemed to go away. Acknowledgement was the cure.

A few days later I had a conference call with my team. My ADHD was in full effect: I would be talking about a subject, but then these wayward thoughts would find their way to the forefront and interrupt me.

I’ve never had it happen that way before. The thoughts were so strong and insistent that they demanded attention. Picture a toddler screaming at you while you’re on the phone with a friend. That’s how it was with me.

toddler

The thoughts were so strong I had to stop, mid-sentence. “Sorry guys, it’s not that English isn’t my mother tongue; it’s that ADHD is my dominant language right now, and it’s having a field day.

My team laughed in understanding.

I tried again, and it happened again. It was bizarre. I’ve had ADHD symptoms all of my life but this….THIS was out of control, and embarrassing.

A few weeks later I found myself once again having trouble breathing. This time I walked around as much as I could, then sat down near a Starbucks, set a timer for 10 minutes, closed my eyes and attempted to meditate by concentrating on my breathing.

I was a model of meditation actually: I observed the little aches and pains and thoughts, let them wash through me, and kept thinking about my breathing.

meditate

It didn’t work. My thoughts betrayed me, and I kept falling out of meditation time and again. And each time I did, I struggled to get back to just thinking about breathing.

Finally, I called my boss. “Listen, I’m not handling things very well. I think my anxiety is back.”

Honest to God, if you have to work for someone, you couldn’t find a better boss than this guy. He understood immediately, and he talked me down.

We discussed the trigger at my job, and he lifted that burden from me. He honestly didn’t think it belonged with my group anyway. (I won’t go into details, as that would be a blog in itself).

Then he said “what you need to do now is take some time off. Stop thinking about this place. Get some help. Talk with your doctor. And then, come back to work only when you feel better. You’re no good to me, to your team or yourself when you’re not at your optimum.”

He was right. I took his advice.

It’s been years since I had therapy. Tonight’s the night I have my first session with a psychologist.

Comments
  1. First, I’m so glad you have such a cool boss. That kind of support and encouragement to take good care of yourself is PRICELESS. Most people wouldn’t be able to do what you did for fear of losing their job. But clearly, a great working environment! Secondly, I’m sorry you’re going through this, but so happy that you’re doing what you need to do to get better. I think too often many of us blow things off as unimportant or demean ourselves for issues like this instead of understanding that it is valid and real and oh, so significant to handle immediately and get help! Bravo! And thank you so much for sharing this personal story — it helps so much! Big hug. xo.

    Liked by 2 people

    • wolfshades says:

      Hi Carmen! Yeah, you’re absolutely right about my boss. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have him. Really thought I had a handle on my thought life, but my body is saying something completely different. Just had my first session with the psychologist. Should be an interesting ride over the next little while. : ) Glad you stopped by, and thanks so much for your support and thoughts!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. darlenebloggityblogger says:

    So sorry you are going through this, but am glad that you are able to take the time off work to get help without worrying about your job. I developed anxiety immediately after the election last November. It’s a good thing I’m retired because I know it would have been really hard to have to handle a job on top of this stress. Fortunately, my doctor understands how much our last election has affected people in the US. He told me he has prescribed more anxiety meds than ever since last Nov. My anxiety meds are working wonderfully and not interfering with my quality of life. In fact, I feel like giving in and taking the meds has improved my life. I was in therapy in the late 60’s. It didn’t work for me or I had a bad psychiatrist. He asked me the same questions all the time. I decided that I could ask myself those questions. “What are you feeling”, “how do you feel about that”, etc…. Asking myself those questions worked as well as hearing them from the psychiatrist. Sometimes just plain old introspection is better than a trip to the psychiatrist. I hope you feel better soon. Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • wolfshades says:

      Thanks Darlene. I can well imagine a lot of people suffering from anxiety after the election. I know it affected me too, not in a good way – and I don’t even live in the U.S.!

      Having had therapy years ago and having gone through years of introspection, I truly felt I had a handle on who I was. Evidently my body felt otherwise.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I can relate so much to your ADHD because I have it too. I’ve always heard there are wonderful bosses out there like yours but in my lifetime I never had one of those. My anxiety over the election is due to the fact that I may lose my health care. The ACA (Obamacare) saved my life because they found out I had an aortic aneurysm and provided excellent healthcare. Because I had weight-loss surgery 16 years ago and lost 130 pounds and kept it off, I am considered to have a pre-existing condition. I am 3 years away from Medicare but who knows what that will be like then. I try to focus on the many things I have to be grateful for. One of my favorite quotes is “worrying is praying for what you don’t want”. So happy for you getting help!

    Liked by 2 people

    • wolfshades says:

      It’s amazing to me that I get to work at a place where health care is an assumption, not an optional jewel over which to fight. I like my union-fought benefits too, one of which includes my ability to take time off for mental health reasons – I mean *actual* mental health issues – and that it was my boss who suggested taking advantage of that benefit, for my own health’s sake.

      I used to think about finding a way to move to the U.S. and pursuing U.S. citizenship. The health thing pretty much puts the nail in that coffin. No way would I want to be in your position, or suffer the fate of so many other hard-working Americans like you who through no fault of their own became ill or injured.

      Thanks for sharing, Yvonne!

      Liked by 1 person

    • bariatricgirl, I have been on Medicare for almost 5 years and it is wonderful I just hope trump doesn’t muck that up too. I did keep my health insurance from my employer when I retired. Between medicare and my private insurance, I only pay for prescription drugs. I don’t pay even one penny for anything else. Medicare has never denied treatment. The only problem I had was that my long-time doctor worked in a practice that did not accept medicare patients, so I had to find another doctor. But, I ended up with a far better doctor. Best wishes.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. westy11 says:

    The fact that I can’t relate to your problems makes me think I might have a problem. Thank you for sharing this as I do have students that undoubtedly go through these same feelings and therefore you have given me some insight.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. contoveros says:

    You got balls man. Not many guys I know will admit to having an anxiety disorder. Just think of the word itself. “Disorder.” To many it means crazy. Like the PTSD that I have . . .

    But don’t we all have some sort of disorder in our make-up? None of us are free if we take on the challenges and the stress of daily work and daily living.

    It is only the courageous ones like you that can help millions of others with their sufferings. By admitting to the problems you show the strength in how to overcome them. You take the lead and not care what some assholes might say or do.

    —————–

    It makes for a helluva read too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • wolfshades says:

      Thanks, Michael! I truly don’t feel all that courageous – though I thank you for the compliment. I think as I get older, the notion of what people may think of me has become less and less of an issue. It’s kind of ironic in a way: the one thing that used to give me such anxiety (i.e. what people think) no longer causes any stress at all.

      You’re right when you say that a lot of guys won’t admit to such things: it’s the way we were raised. Guys always have to be strong no matter what. And having any kind of mental health issue therefore means we’re not strong (which I think is utter BS by the way). It’s past time us guys tore down the stigma about this. Once we do, we get to live a little longer, I think.

      I’ve followed your blogs and read about your issues with PTSD. Revealing that kind of struggle makes you a far more interesting and readable – and relatable – personality, I think. People really like to relate to each other, and they just can’t if we just stick to polite surface-level stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

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