ADHD: "I couldn't sleep at one point because my head was so full of thoughts."
Published 11 Jan 2023 • By Bianca Jung
Püppi0909 suffers from ADHD. After suspecting she was suffering from ADHD for some time, she was finally diagnosed at the age of 29. Thanks to the help of communication techniques, manners, plans, a psychiatrist and through taking medication, she is able to live a mostly normal life.
Read her patient story right now!
Hello Püppi0909, thank you for agreeing to share your story on Carenity.
Could you first tell us a little more about yourself?
I am 30 years young, living in Germany in rural Hesse. I am a person who likes to do something good for others and likes to teach new things. I also likes to learn about myself. I am a very ambitious person. If a subject interests me, I absorb the knowledge like a sponge. Likewise, I am very sensitive and understanding, but also scatterbrained and sometimes a bit cocky.
I love nature and enjoy spending time with my dog on the field. Especially on rainy days I can hardly hold the child in me since I bought rubber boots. Everyone should have a pair of rubber boots and use them on rainy days. Then my dog and I jump through the puddles like two little kids.
But I can be just as serious and angry, but also as calm and serene. It always depends on the situation. I usually try to get around negative experiences with humor. If you are angry about something all the time, you only bring negative emotions with you. Nevertheless, every emotion has its justification. This has all been possible for me to understand and deal with only since my diagnosis.
You suffer from attention deficit - with or without hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). At what age was the diagnosis made? How long did it take for the diagnosis to be made? How many doctors have you met?
Yes, I have ADHD. I was diagnosed at the age of 29. I guess the suspicion was there earlier, it just didn't have a name yet. At least it did for me. I already had mental health problems as a teenager. At that time, a borderline personality was suspected behind it. I didn't see many doctors because of my mental problems. It was only when I came to a point in my life where I didn't know what to do anymore that I turned to a psychologist and some time later to a psychiatrist. Since I was always tired, exhausted, and suffering from inner turmoil, it didn't take long for my psychiatrist to first express his suspicions. But at that time I could not or did not want to identify with it. At some point I could no longer sleep because my head was so full of thoughts that I could hardly get to sleep without medication. No matter what I did, it didn't help. At some point, the pressure of suffering became so great that I could no longer avoid ADHD testing. It is important to know that due to the experiences of exclusion that ADHDers make, they pay less attention to themselves and therefore care less about their health. In addition, it is difficult to find a therapist or a doctor who is allowed to perform the test. To get an appointment there is of course not always possible or only with a very long waiting time. But I was lucky and got an appointment within 3 months. The time before was hell. But when that day came, it was enormously stressful and bad for me. I thought I was going to explode. But the therapist was tremendously empathetic and quickly distracted me. There were a lot of questions asked that made me think, "Oh, I guess this happens a lot!"
The therapist approached me with a lot of understanding, so I was able to open up to her. For the first time in my life, I felt taken seriously. When she told me after 4 hours of guided testing that I definitely had ADHD, I couldn't stop crying.
Finally I was not just an always tired, driven and desperate woman - no, I was an adult woman with ADHD who simply ticks differently. My psychiatrist then gave me the appropriate clarification and also the accompanying therapy with medication.
What has your life been like so far? Do you think it could have been different if you did not have ADHD? If so, in what way?
For me, everything has always been very demanding. Reading or doing mental arithmetic was pure horror for me in school. Today I know I was too distracted. Just like many of my fellow sufferers are or were. Since I was always reprimanded or even laughed at for this, I developed strategies to compensate for this or to get around it.
Whether my life would have been different if I hadn't had ADHD, I can't answer that way, because ADHD is not something you can just get. It is a genetic predisposition, a neurodivergence that you cannot simply choose. But I think that my school career would have been better if I had discovered it earlier. I would have had a completely different perceptive faculty and I could have been dealt with differently. I would also have had more understanding of my thinking and limitations.
ADHD is difficult to diagnose. What do you think is the reason for that? What would it be like if treatment could be given earlier in the patient's life?
I believe it is because there is not enough education about ADHD and its comorbidities. ADHD is so complex and has so many different faces, and yet there are many parallels and similarities. Many people do not believe there is such a neurodivergence. There are many doctors who do not believe in ADHD, despite studies and genetic research. In addition, as an ADHDer, one also encounters a lot of rejection. When it comes to medication alone, you experience a lot of rejection and are made out to be a "junkie". Just because it falls under narcotics and can be abused by others. That can be quite intimidating.
Earlier diagnosis would save many people suffering. And it would also make education about ADHD more widespread. Stigma would hopefully decrease, because there are still many people who suffer from hidden ADHD. Even though I feel very comfortable with my ADHD, it is only possible for me to enjoy it with the right medication.
You become clearer and even without medication you can already deal with yourself and the world in a completely different way. You get a better understanding and can deal with your "quirks" much more confidently.
How does ADHD manifest itself in your daily life? What impact does it have on your personal and professional life?
Every day is different. I can't tell what the next day will be like. There are days when I'm in a really good mood all day and the next day everything is lousy. My job then is to mobilize and get myself going, which is very difficult, especially on the worse days. It also depends on my environment and the background noise. If I have a lot of stress, the ADHD symptoms are worse because I focus less on myself, and thus lose control of my impulsivity disorder, for example. Then it could also happen that I react completely emotionless or tears shoot into my eyes or I let out a short scream once.
I have to make sure every day that I eat enough, drink enough, move enough and also have social contacts. I have to really schedule normal activities like household chores. Because otherwise I get lost in what's called hyperfocus. Instead of vaccuuming the apartment and mopping the floor like many people do, it gets out of hand for me. I see stains in the tile grout, which have to be soaked and scrubbed with a toothbrush, or the laminate is slightly damaged and I watch YouTube for so long to see how to fix it that the day is over again.
That can be very exhausting, but since I know that it is typical for ADHD, I handle it much better. And in the meantime, I write down the things that I see extra, and I also schedule time for research. And so I have to do it with every activity. But I'm really enjoying it now because I'm always discovering new things and finding more to me.
Does ADHD affect your social life? How do you think the people around you view you?
Yes, it has. You learn early on that you are different, that you don't fit the norm. As a result, I have had many experiences of exclusion. But my circle of friends has also always influenced me a lot, especially during adolescence. Among them were also many toxic relationships, which I worked through in several years of therapy and also recognized my misbehavior.
But through the diagnosis I was able to deal with these bad experiences better and learned a lot from them, especially about myself and the connection with ADHD. For myself, it's sometimes a little difficult to keep in touch with people. Not because I don't appreciate them or like them. No, sometimes it's just not possible for me; I want to check in and pick up the phone, for example, and then I see a bird fly by the window and the thought of what I wanted to do is gone. Like hyperfocus when I'm cleaning, only in reverse.
That's why I tell people I'm just getting to know and with whom I get along well to write to me in WhatsApp and, if it takes me longer than a day to reply, to please send me a reminder, and I also make up special characters that make me understand the urgency of the message.
This is easier for me and in itself for the person. Because I never forget on purpose, but sometimes my head is too full to prioritize properly. And 🎈 let's me know that it is urgent. Of course, only after sending the important text, because otherwise I do not see the balloon first.
I think the people around me see me as the cheerful, slightly mischievous, understanding, sometimes slightly impulsive, yet calm as well as mindful (how ironic) person I happen to be.
Do you find it easy to talk about ADHD? Do your loved ones understand this disorder and what it means? Are they supportive?
Yes, I find it enormously easy to talk about ADHD. Yes, most of my relatives understand my neurodivergence and what they need to be aware of when dealing with me.
As I mentioned with the WhatsApp messages, we have also developed certain communication techniques and manners. But I also have to say that most of those around me have ADHD themselves or suspect it themselves. Because I have been so involved with ADHD and also have more understanding of people as a result, everything has become much more harmonious and we support each other.
What does your aftercare and support look like? Are you currently receiving treatment? Are you satisfied with it?
Due to the medication, my heart must be examined by ECG and my liver values, cholesterol values and thyroid values must be examined every 3 months by the family doctor and these must be discussed with my psychiatrist in an appointment. There they will then ask how I am doing, what external stimuli I currently have, if there are any side effects and how stable my mental state is.
I am lucky to have a good psychiatrist. Because even in acute situations he is always available and supports me. I feel I am in good hands. Unfortunately, I often get reports of the contrary and find that there are often communication problems between doctor and patient. After all, a doctor can only judge what we tell him.
What plans do you have for the future?
Since I can no longer return to my old job due to my limitations with ADHD, I am currently undergoing a reorientation. I am currently looking at different training and professional qualifications to get closer to my dream. Because I would like to have more understanding and acceptance for neurodivergent people and also for non-neurodivergent people.
What advice would you give to Carenity members who also have ADHD?
Do a little research on the diagnosis. Read posts that affect you. Go to ADHD support groups, share ideas with others. Have more understanding for yourself and also for the things that were not so nice and make yourself aware. Try medication and no medication, take what feels best and if neither helps, go to a special rehab for ADHD.
Don't give up just because you have learned you are wrong or are not quite normal. For your neurodivergence, it is kind of right and normal. Therefore deal with it, especially on social media there are so many great bloggers and posts that open you up to the beautiful and great perspectives.
One last word?
I would like to say a big thank you to Bianca and the whole Carenity team for always being so understanding and even waiting half a year for my little post. This is one of the moments when I can draw strength and know there is good out there.
And so, please if you are looking at yourself negatively because of your ADHD, see it as a new beginning and the start of a long and difficult road that is truly worth taking.
No one is hopeless.
Many thanks to Püppi0909 for sharing her patient story!
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All the best!