Because I have lived my entire life with until-recently-untreated ADHD, I have developed many coping mechanisms for my complete lack of memory.
A few of these include: constantly striving to organize everything and minimize clutter/distractions to control my surroundings since I can’t control my scattered, racing brain, keeping a daily planner in a central location of my home that I walk past and consult constantly, multiple dry erase boards and to-do lists placed strategically around the house, and a backup mini-planner in my purse.
My memory is so bad that when I’m not on Adderall, I will often forget what I was going to write down to remember while walking the 10 feet to the nearest to-do list. Before I was diagnosed with ADHD and Generalized Anxiety and Panic Disorder with Associated Agoraphobia, and learned that both of these conditions cause brain fog and memory problems, I was seriously considering seeing a neurologist.
I have also developed an anxiety disorder from living my life in a constant state of “What am I forgetting this time?” Before medication, I constantly worried, was neurotically 15-30 minutes early for every college class, job, and appointment, and had panic attacks.
I’m sharing my stories because:
1. I’m Somebody’s Mother–
I’m officially in my 40s now. I have a 7-year-old little boy. I’m getting older, and that’s what old people do; we talk about our ailments.
2. Relating to Others Helps–
Reading about other people’s ADHD and anxiety disorders was what made me feel like I could finally seek psychological help and/or medication for my issues, which has changed my life in more positive ways than I can count.
3. Open Discussion Helps–
Every time I discuss my anxiety or my son’s and my ADHD issues on Facebook, multiple people come forward to tell me they’ve dealt with or are presently dealing with the same things. I also get just as many private messages about ADHD and anxiety disorders from people I would never have guessed were in similar situations.
4. The Need Exists–
I have a Pinterest board about anxiety that is the most often re-pinned and followed aspect of my Pinterest collection, which tells me that anxiety issues are more common than anyone realizes. It’s time we all talk about psychological and neurological differences openly, and without shame.
5. Atypical Neurology Needs to Be Taken Seriously By Doctors–
My psychiatrist told me that far too many psychiatrists and other medical professionals don’t take anxiety disorders seriously and often prescribe anti-depressants when they’re the exact opposite of what an anxious person needs.
He placed me on a low-dose daily regimen of Xanax, and told me the pharmacy might give me a hard time about my prescription, which has proven true.
6. Atypical Neurology Needs to Be Taken Seriously By Pharmacists–
After my pharmacy cancelled the prescription my psychiatrist gave me that allowed for 5 refills after I’d only refilled it once, I asked to speak to a pharmacist on the phone, prepared to chew him/her out for not taking my disorder seriously, or for thinking I was abusing the medication that has completely eliminated the 4-5 panic attacks I was having a week that was turning me agoraphobic.
Instead, I got a kind pharmacist who said his father also had an anxiety disorder, that he completely understood what I was going through, and he immediately refilled my prescription, with apologies. This once again reinforced to me that anxiety disorders are not taken seriously, but that anyone who has dealt with someone diagnosed with one (such as PTSD) understands that they are very real and debilitating.
7. My Friend Changed My Life with the Courage of Shared Words–
My intelligent friend and fellow empath, Nanea, who now runs the beautiful website http://sweatpantsandcoffee.com/ opened up on Facebook about her anxiety issues, which gave me the strength to finally seek professional help. I decided that if she could be brave enough to go to a doctor and talk about her fears, then I could do that too (admitting weakness, especially to a stranger, seemed like the most daunting task ever, and I avoided it for years). Because she was brave enough to share, it made me brave enough to share, and it gave me back my life. No hyperbole. So I want to pay that forward here for anyone I can.
8. Feeling Alone Makes Everything Worse–
Feeling alone is the worst thing in the world. If my words can make one person feel not alone and give someone hope that there is help available, or at least a shoulder to lean on and another human who truly understands what they’re going through, all of my writing will have been worth it.