Therapy and an ADHD diagnosis

I have been seeing a therapist many times in my life. The most recent is since January’ish of 2019 and for the first time ever it seems to be working at least partially. This has come as a complete surprise to me and has actually benefited me in several ways.

Before my most recent therapist, I had tried going to three different therapists over the decades and one group therapy. None of them worked out. They almost uniformly would get so caught up in my childhood and not help me with what I needed to do now. One of them grilled me about my past enough I am fairly sure she was thinking about writing a book about my family. That therapist didn’t last long.

Although in truth, I never cried for those therapists.

The group therapy was even worse. After the first couple of sessions I was literally asked by a couple of the other patients and the therapist on the side to maybe tone down my stories of my childhood/teen years. Evidently there was too much trauma that it disrupted the group. Needless to say I left after that. I never lasted longer then 3-4 sessions with a therapist.

I will be honest, I always mistrusted talking to people, its the way I grew up. Also I could talk around any of the therapists when they went somewhere uncomfortable for me, and I didn’t want to deal with it.

I mistrusted therapists for almost a decade after all of this. Then I transitioned. I had to go to my current therapist for my informed consent assessment. I had picked the therapist because they had walked my hubby through the informed consent requirements. When I was done with my single obligatory therapy session, my therapist asked if I would come back at a later time and maybe see them about everything.

A couple of months later I ended up going back. It was at first because of my frustration at my body’s reaction to HRT (it wasn’t going well at that time), but now a year and a half later we talk about everything. Suicidal ideation/thoughts, PTSD, CPTSD, anxiety and depression. I am not sure when it became a full sets of therapy, but I am glad it did.

My current therapist never pushes, but always is insistent enough that they worm their way past my defenses. They are the first non-binary/non-cisgender therapist I went to and so they understood that part of me (in all fairness I didn’t think I would ever transition when I saw the earlier therapists so that never came up with them). They specialize in violence trauma with transgender patients. Evidently I fit right in with gang members (no surprise) and soldiers dealing with flashbacks and PTSD. That is what they specialize in and I lucked out into falling into their practice.

I had my computer take a couple of random selfies of me during therapy (due to covid restrictions we are doing it via telemedicine). I was curious what I looked like, honestly,I thought it wasn’t too bad. Well… all the rest are horrible pictures, but one came out sort of cute.

There is a lot I do want to talk about here about that, but I think I want to start today with the most surprising, ADHD.

I have always been scattered when I did projects, school work or projects at work. My teachers in school always commented I was one of their smartest students they have worked with, but my attention never stayed and never focused. One teacher said in one of my yearbooks that I would have the world by the tail if I would focus. Some of them noticed there might be something wrong and tried to get me into special classes or be seen by doctors, but I was a welfare child, meaning no one would take our medical and so it never happened.

In my mid twenties I worked for a doctor’s office and one of the doctors asked if I knew I had ADD (I think this is before it became ADHD as a diagnosis). I told them it had been suggested before but never pursued it. He shrugged and said “If you have gotten this far, there isn’t much we could do for you.” Once again, I didn’t have medical (yes and I worked at a doctor’s office) so I couldn’t afford to pursue it, and I figured it would be useless anyway. Besides, it didn’t seem to be too bad a thing.

Fast forward twenty some years and it turns out I am suffering pretty bad. I also cut down all my caffiene in the intervening years which turns out was me self-medicating. Up to a few weeks ago I would have a half a dozen projects I would spend a few minutes at a time on, but never really finish anything.

That is when my therapist asked me a month ago if I knew I had ADHD. I shrugged it off and said I was told I might decades ago, but I was too old for them to do something about it. They were surprised by that response and shook their head. Evidently adults can take medication as well. I knew that, but for whatever reason even though I knew other adults who took medication for it and it worked, I always believed I was too old.

So my therapist pushed me in the direction of approaching my GP. My GP listened to me (he is the greatest, which is why I went back to him after the horrible Dr. Mawby incident, even though he is 60+ miles away). He put me on a low dose of Concerta and within a day it worked.

My first few hours were weird though. I took the pill and expected to be pumped up… in fact the opposite happened I became incredibly exhausted as my brain sped up to catch up to my body’s exhaustion of only sleeping two hours. There has been no sign of it being an upper for me (I don’t take more than the prescribed dosage… my father would take the whole bottle over the course of a week… or weekend sometimes as speed). No sense of urgency or anxiety hit me when I took the medicine, just a calmness that led more to the desire to go back to bed than anything.

I finished my first project by working on it without stop for 8 hours on the second day of medication. It was the first project I have completed in years (it was learning and developing final cut transitions for my TYSK channel). In the last three weeks or so it is easier to focus at work. In fact, for the first time in years, I find myself spending hours running solo games for the hubby.

That for me is the biggest example of the change. When we first got together I would run games for him for entire days and never blink at the clock. I had never realized that over the last couple of decades, our solo games have dropped down to maybe a couple hours at the most, mostly because I couldn’t concentrate.

I didn’t understand why it had dropped off so much until he pointed out it dropped off about the time I stopped drinking 3+ pots (not cups, pots) of coffee a day. I used to be more focused and capable but I never realized when I cut back on caffeine my focus had drifted. I had evidently been self medicating with caffeine as a teen/early twenties but as I got “healthier” I stopped drinking it and it made things harder.

This also explains my memories as a late teen. I had participated in some questionable (actually not questionable, frankly bad things) and some of that included taking uppers (no meth, it was always speed or coke) and I remember falling asleep easily after taking some. Over the years I had thought maybe I was misremembering, but evidently that is not true.

Ever since I have started taking Concerta, I sleep longer. Lately I have been averaging five or more hours a night (with several nights being longer than six hours and one night almost 8). Before this my average was 3-4 hours a night. I still sometimes have 2 hours of sleep in a night (very bad nights) but they were the same back then. I suspect that is when I am hit by whatever the CPTSD/PTSD comes up. The therapist and I have started working on that, but that will take years and can’t be fixed with a pill. The ADHD being addressed though should hopefully make the rest of it easier to deal with.

Oh and one other unexpected side effect, I think I am posting more now.

I am frankly surprised that it works. It was also unexpected that it is fairly hard for me to take the meds. I worry I will end up like my family (they like uppers in many cases, especially meth and some of my family graduated to things like horse). It is the same reason for decades I didn’t drink or smoke pot.

I am just surprised that therapy worked enough to identify and convince me to pursue the ADHD. I have a lot I want to talk about with that, but I can already tell this has become a huge post anyways so we will leave it here.

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