ADHD: I don’t even believe it is a real condition. It’s made up. All the symptoms basically describe all of the terrible behaviours in my life. And how fucked up I am. The diagnosis means I’m a terrible, awful, disorganised klutz and fucked-up person.

Me, 2022

My greatest weakness is my inconsistency.

I am black and white. I can’t stick to something forever. I am a magpie easily distracted by shiny things.

I’m glue. I’m efficient. I get things done. I’m different. I’m special. I’m spontaneous. I’m impulsive. I’m static. I’m late.

I have anxiety and panic attacks at random moments. I’m simultaneously over organised and lack organisation. I have strong sudden bursts of emotion. I get bored. I can’t concentrate. I’m easily bored.

I interrupt. I’m silent. I’m rejection dysphoric. I am alone. I aways spill food all over myself. I’m clumsy. I’m dyspraxic.

I’m depressed. I’m anxious. I’m a bundle of joy and energy. I don’t move when I’m sick. I’m neurodiverse. I’m vulnerable. I don’t share my vulnerability. I’m too independent. I start but never finish.

It started with a suggestion to take an online test. One of those ones that aren’t clinically approved. That came out and said I had raging ADHD. It took a discussion with someone in Crystal Meth Anonymous to be told I definitely had ADHD. It took organising behaviours into pots. It took recognising that my impulsivity led me to always take methamphetimine. That this was a curse and all and part of the ADHD condition.

It took a right under the NHS Constitution to choose to go to a specialist service based 8 hours and wait 12 months to start treatment. It took me to look past my depression, my anxiety, my GAD, my panic attacks, my loneliness, my single sightedness, my ‘addictive personality’ to understand what ADHD actually meant.

And I still don’t know anything. I still struggle with the diagnosis.

Neurochemistry

I take fluoxetine and methylphenidate. These prescription drugs:

  • Attempt to increase the amount of serotonin in my brain
  • Attempt to increase the amount of dopamine in my brain

I am happiness and reward deficient due to a different balance of hormones and neurotransmitters in my brain. As a result what I feel, how I act, behave, learn and experience physical pain is different to everyone else. I’m on my own little world and planet when I drink, drug, have sex, have a cigarette, have a coffee.

I proactively seek out these chemicals. I seek to trigger them with every drink, every cigarette, every coffee. This creates a problem with addiction to nicotine, alcohol, coffee and other substances.

It causes me to suddenly burst into loudness when speaking because I trigger a release of serotonin and dopamine in my brain.

I’m sensitive because when these chemicals are triggered they completely change the feeling of nothingness that is my norm. I seek exercise to release chemicals.

I endlessly listen to music, feel a post exercise high because Oxytocin is suddenly released into my system. I’m immediately changed; I move from working to baking vegan cakes, because I’m high off my own neurochemistry. Because I went for a 20 minute run.

My hypothalamus suddenly triggers moments of panic when a memory surfaces. Or I feel threatened. I freeze. My pulse increases. Blood is pumping around me. My hands sweat. I decide I need to peg it out of there. I’m still and I’m fighting.

My neurochemistry is different. The way I respond to hormones and neurotransmitters is different. Each one is its own ‘rush’ of a feeling. I can hidhten these feeling through drug, tobacco, sugar, alcohol abuse. It breaks me free from the nothingness that I feel; that some people describe as a spiritual malady.

I imbalance this neurochemistry by drinking, smoking, drugging, acting. Which semi-permanently alters my brain and the release of hormones and neurotransmitters. I peak and trough. I exhaust and deplete. I move from radical highs to radical lows.

Rush

I cannot independently verify my hypothesis in a scientific way with a multi-year, double blind placebo study. But I can talk about custard creams. I can talk about the first time I had a custard cream. I was four years old and felt a rush around my body. There was a weird feeling I felt in my head; that feeling was a “high” like some people get from marijuana. This was sugar triggering a chemical response in my body.

And from there I numbed what I was feeling. I was actually scared of that rush. But I sought it out in sugar, comfort foods, actions, behaviours. I became accustomed to these feelings, I became immune and I needed more. I went from 80kg to 105kg to 90kg to 73kg to 90kg to 80kg to 78kg to 83kg.

Is that a pathway from a custard cream to sugary sweets to comfort foods to alcohol to crystal meth to methylphenidate?

Sugar Rush,

We should never shame or judge someone when they have a disability where their neurochemistry is ‘diverse’, ‘different’, ‘outside of the normal’, ‘unbalanced’. Many mental illnesses we seek to understand through human thought and neurochemistry.

We shouldn’t stigmatise addiction, drug, cigarette, excessive exercise. Not all of it is due to neurochemistry but there is always a root cause. It’s a chronic mental health problem that someone is struggling with. And to which we sometimes smear.

Behave yourself

I can’t understand or change myself by myself. I am reactive to the changes and alterations in my brain. Have over 34 years of experience in responding in the same way. Einstein would say this was madness.

But it is a loop, it is a transformation. As I feed my body with fluoxetine I accumulate it over months. As I feed my body methylphenidate I peak and trough as I go to sleep. I change the way my brain handles emotions, feelings, actions. How it communicates.

Being an adult with what is normally present as a child’s malady is hard. There are increasing options but not enough. I can’t take my medication to certain countries. I need to rest drinking alcohol. I need to change the supplements I take to avoid over feeding the system.

Permanent change is an uphill struggle. It can collapse. But I choose to move forward. I don’t know everything about me, you, the help, the drugs, my mind, body or soul. But I can keep moving forward.