So, this post about signs of undiagnosed ADHD showed up on one of my fibro communities and so much of it seemed PRETTY FAMILIAR, and I also found out that fibromyalgia and ADHD are highly comorbid, and then I was realizing that I stopped being able to focus on work and Getting Stuff Done when I had to go cold turkey on caffeine when my panic disorder started in 2011, and, wellp.
From this perspective, three defining features of ADHD emerge that explain every aspect of the condition:
- an interest-based nervous system
- emotional hyperarousal
- rejection sensitivity
People with ADHD often say they “get in the zone” or “hit a groove.” These are all ways of describing a state of hyperfocus – intense concentration on a particular task, during which the individual feels she can accomplish anything. In fact, she may become so intently focused that the adult with ADD may lose all sense of how much time has passed.
Instead, practitioners should ask, “Have you ever been able to get engaged and stay engaged?” Then, “Once you’re engaged, have you ever found something you couldn’t do?”
Anyone with ADHD will answer along these lines: “I have always been able to do anything I wanted so long as I could get engaged through interest, challenge, novelty, urgency, or passion.”
“I have never been able to make use of the three things that organize and motivate everyone else: importance, rewards, and consequences.”
Most people expect ADHD to create visible hyperactivity. This only occurs in 25% of children and 5% of adults. The rest experience an internal feeling of hyperarousal. When I ask people with ADHD to elaborate on it, they say:
- “I’m always tense. I can never relax.”
- “I can’t just sit there and watch a TV program with the rest of the family.”
- “I can’t turn my brain and body off to go to sleep at night.”
Children with ADHD know they are “different,” which is rarely experienced as a good thing. They may develop low self-esteem because they realize they fail to get engaged and finish what they start, and because children make no distinction between what you do and who you are. Shame can become a dominant emotion into adulthood as harsh internal dialogues, or criticism from others, becomes ingrained.
Clinicians should ask, “When you are upset, do you often ‘get over it’ quickly?” “Do you feel like you can’t rid your brain of a certain thought or idea when you want to?”
Rejection sensitive dysphoria (RSD) is an intense vulnerability to the perception – not necessarily the reality – of being rejected, teased, or criticized by important people in your life. RSD causes extreme emotional pain that may also be triggered by a sense of failure, or falling short – failing to meet either your own high standards or others’ expectations.
Anyway, they have a self-test which I should try but it’s like 1 AM and I was supposed to be in bed 1.5 hours ago but I was so intent on working on artwork for GeekGirlCon while also juggling trying to pay attention to YouTube videos and an RP on SpinDizzy and …
and that’s a normal night for me so
Oh and did I mention I get distracted very easily? This has always been a problem for me (even as a kid).
Anyway the article has some great coping mechanisms and suggestions for things including medications to try but also just like… processes to try. Given how many meds I’m on already I’m gonna try the processes first. Also a Slack I’m on has a channel for ADHD which might be helpful. And this is something I can discuss with my therapist too.
EDIT Of course I looked at the self-assessments anyway and I am feeling incredibly called out by all the questions
EDIT: I should also add that this comic by ADHD Alien was also incredibly helpful and ridiculously well-timed.