Today marks the second anniversary of the breakdown that led to my ADHD diagnosis. I distinctly remember sitting on the couch screaming bloody murder at 3 am because I could clearly hear how little my neighbours cared about vulnerable people as they continued to let off fireworks past the 2 am curfew, which wasn’t even in place that year because of the pandemic. No fireworks at all should have been going off.
It was a little embarrassing, to be honest. Although I’d already survived four Dutch New Year’s “celebrations” before this one, including the first of the two pandemic ban years, this one was different. It was a very loud “fuck you!” to people like me and I had two years of pent-up anger towards everyone who made the pandemic the long-term problem it became.
I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.
I reached out to my GP in the following weeks to get a referral to a psychologist. I knew that I needed to figure out how to live with the existence of selfish Dutch bastards because they weren’t going to be the ones to change and as much as they’d love me to “ga terug”, this is my home now and damned if I’m going to let anyone run me out of my home.
For insurance purposes, I had to speak with a secondary psychologist before I started my sessions with my actual psychologist. I got a little worried when the secondary psychologist started to give off “selfish Dutch bastard” vibes herself and suggested that maybe returning to New Zealand was going to be my only option because “that’s just how the Dutch are”. Good for them, I guess?
My actual psychologist was, thankfully, not like the secondary one at all. I don’t think she shared the same views as I had about the Dutch vs. the pandemic and fireworks, but she was professional and kind. She gave me a lot of hope that, although I cannot control what others do, I can at least turn down the temperature on how I feel and react to their bullshit.
It didn’t take very many sessions for my psychologist to “figure it out”. She was on the younger side, and I suspect had actually been trained in picking up on neurodivergence, unlike the countless psychologists I’d worked with in the past. However, when she suggested the possibility of ADHD, I dismissed it. I remember being tested as a kid and was never given an ADHD diagnosis, so it couldn’t be that.
The suggestion piqued my curiosity though. What if? The fact that I had all the tools I needed from years of therapy at my disposal but still had to reach out to yet another psychologist to tell me what I already know? That’s gotta be ADHD, right? So, I asked my mum about the testing I had as a kid. Almost immediately, she told me that I was never tested for ADHD. The testing I remember getting was just for placement in Gifted and Talented programmes.
Armed with the possibility that it could be ADHD, I started to do some research. Everything started to fall into place. My disproportionate emotional reactions (read: anger) weren’t because I was chronically sad about losing my grandmother. They were because of a literal neurological “deficit” in my executive functions. My brain literally could not slow down enough for me to catch my emotions before they turned into behaviours.
The incredibly dramatic scream-fest I had on the 1st of January 2022 was because I have ADHD.
Of course, as someone who has always been hesitant to self-diagnose, I had to go through the whole process of getting diagnosed before I could absolutely lay the blame at the feet of ADHD. Not that doing that really helped in the short-term, because it’s still a little embarrassing to think I had an outright temper tantrum over loud noises in a society that considers such things to be unacceptable.
But that’s part of the journey I’m on now. To accept myself as someone with ADHD and not feel embarrassed by the “unacceptable” shit it may make me do.
So yeah. Welcome to Brokedown Body, Moshpit Mind. This is where I will be writing about my experiences with chronic illness and ADHD. This is something I’ve tried to do many, many times before ever since my first chronic illness was diagnosed in 2006, but undiagnosed ADHD isn’t exactly a great thing to have when you want to stick to something. Here’s to hoping treatment makes this blog stick!
PLEASE NOTE: I am not a medical professional. Any information or advice provided in this entry is for general purposes. Please read the disclaimer for more information, if you haven't already done so.