How ADHD Treatment Helped Me
Allow me to start this post by acknowledging that the picture I am about to paint is mostly positive, but I initially planned to write this TWO MONTHS AGO and that’s a great example of how treating ADHD doesn’t magically fix everything! 😂 But having those two extra months of insight should technically mean I have more to report on, right?!
Although I was diagnosed with combined type ADHD, my symptoms tend to lean more towards the hyperactive-impulsive type, so that’s where I’ve seen the most improvement.
As I mentioned in my previous post about my diagnosis, the first significant effect of my medication was the newfound ability to relax. I’ve never been one to enjoy “just chillin’”, so it was an unfamiliar yet pleasant feeling. Though I’m still learning to fully embrace it, I have managed to reduce the guilt associated with not being able to do certain things all the time.
This shift in mindset has helped me break free from a cycle of self-criticism, where I used to beat myself up over feeling “useless.” Allowing myself to rest and relax, even when tasks are pending, has surprisingly made me more productive when I do eventually tackle them.
The reason I pursued an ADHD diagnosis in the first place (anxiety) has also improved. I’m still concerned about the state of the world, but I’m no longer existing in a constant state of anxiety. I’ve found it easier to move on from feelings of despair and continue with my day, without dwelling too much on negative thoughts.
Managing my physical symptoms from chronic illnesses has become easier. While my body may feel tired and painful, my mental capacity to deal with it has expanded a lot. I still have challenging days especially after inadequate sleep, but I generally feel accomplished by the end of each day which is something I didn’t experience before.
Another noticeable change is how I handle my reactions. While my husband may disagree, I believe my responses are now more appropriate and controlled. Previously, something as simple as my dogs stepping on my feet while playing would trigger anger, but now I don’t overreact like I used to.
I’ve also stopped drinking caffeine. I still drink decaf coffee and cola out of habit and the little dopamine tickle carbonation still provides, but less caffeine has likely contributed with the reduction in anxiety too! This is something I am particularly proud of because I was once someone who needed to drink at least 500mL of energy drink every day (on top of A LOT of coffee) just to exist.
My few inattentive symptoms have also improved. I had a rough routine before treatment, but it’s now a lot more refined. I can now handle chores without waiting until the last minute, especially with tasks like the dishes and laundry. It’s nice to have a choice in what to wear instead of just “whatever’s clean”.
There are a few things that haven’t really changed since starting treatment though.
- I still tend to put off certain tasks or take too long to complete them (such as writing this blog entry!), because I still strive for perfection and feel like I need the right amount of energy to even bother starting something.
- I am still a chatty Kathy, even though I try to control it. Sometimes, the words just want to come out and who the hell am I to tell them no!?
- My physical health hasn’t seen much improvement, and I had hoped that being a more relaxed person would help my chronic illnesses ease up, but no such luck. I did have COVID early on in my treatment though, so I might just need some more time to recover properly from that.
- Although my snacking habits have improved due to reduced dopamine-seeking behaviour, my appetite is still large and in charge and I still eat a lot. I wouldn’t call it binge eating, but it’s not exactly the reduction in appetite I expected.
- My sleep is still not the greatest. It makes sense. I’m unmedicated during sleep so my brain is going ham on the REM and not so much on the restorative sleep. I don’t know how to fix that though as I already follow all the sleep hygiene rules I can.
I highly recommend pushing for a diagnosis so you can access treatment if you suspect that you have ADHD. It’s definitely not a cure-all for life’s problems, but it can make a big enough difference that it’s totally worth the fight you may have with medical and mental health professionals to get it.
Also, if you’re interested in learning more about ADHD (and chronic illness) on a more informational level, I am about to launch a resource for people who are chronically ill with ADHD and I would love to share it with you.