Sometimes you know something is wrong, but don’t know what. My symptoms were not as bad as most, in fact subtle enough that I thought it was just my basic personality. I spent years feeling like a bad friend and bad wife, and even a bad driver, until it got bad enough to recognize a true underlying issue.
I’ve always been inattentive. Don’t get me wrong — I want to pay attention, but I often can’t. Sometimes I become obsessed with one thing for days or weeks, to the exclusion of all else. This may be accompanied by manic energy and moods. My self-employment is a means of coping with my inability to focus on the tasks and time frames my supervisors expected of me.
Focus problems aren’t the worst issue. I have extreme difficulty listening to people. My husband might tell me something, and I’ll look him directly in the eye and think I’m listening. Suddenly, he’s done talking and I had no idea what he said. My responses come out stilted, and the exact words I want to use are often lost. People get angry and accuse me of not caring what they said, or of being too self-absorbed to offer anything to anyone else. This puts strain on all relationships.
One incident stands out, which I thought wasn’t connected. I was driving home, with my best friend in the passenger seat. Next thing I know, the passenger side window explodes inward and the side of my car is scraping against a fence at 35 miles an hour. My friend later told me that I suddenly got a glazed look in my eyes and dropped the wheel, remaining unresponsive for about 15-20 seconds.
A number of doctors in varying specialties told me that nothing was actually wrong, and maybe I needed more sleep. Finally, one doctor asked me if I had ever heard of petit mal seizures. He told me not to worry, that they’re rarely harmful and there’s nothing that can be done about them. These are often called seizures of absence, and those who have them may seem to “zone out” or daydream frequently. They’re common in adults with ADHD.
In recent years, experts admit that ADHD tends to be over-diagnosed. This means that children seem to grow out of it, and the reality of adult ADHD is often overlooked. In fact, researchers now know that adult ADHD is often more severe and has a more profound impact on everyday life than childhood ADHD.
While I had been diagnosed with ADHD as a child and been on Strattera through part of high school, it never even occurred to me that my issues in adulthood could be attributed to the same cause. The hyperactivity died out to some degree with age, and I was not previously aware of the changing symptoms associated with the disorder going into adulthood.
Experiences in the medical community
Thankfully, my past medical history helped shed some light on the problems I experienced. My doctor knows that I’m not given to overreacting or exaggerating. He still sent me to two other professionals after diagnosis to confirm his findings.
I believe that any unknown issue should be subject to several opinions before settling on a diagnosis. Doctors don’t know everything, they can only diagnose based on their training and experience. By checking with multiple doctors, you benefit from their pooled expertise. The most important thing is that if you know something is wrong, don’t settle for a doctor who says it’s not. It usually means they don’t know, and don’t want to admit that they don’t.