Getting help for ADHD

I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was twenty-seven. I’ve known what it was since I was young, but I never thought I had it because all my behaviors were explained away by the ‘adults’ as just being lazy. I knew other people legitimately had it, but me? I guess I was just lazy. I wrote in an earlier post about how I became a “very successful D student,” this was because despite being so lazy, I was working exhaustively to barely maintain that D average. Things would only get worse despite my attempts to get organized. I still struggled to focus on one thing at a time and I was struggling on a whole new level in college.

Every day felt like a blur. My schedule was packed, I had a fairly work-intensive major that meant being busy Monday through Friday from 7AM to 10 PM. I never seemed to get the hang of it and just dragged myself through everything. There were some half-hearted attempts – I would print my schedule, try to use Google calendar, make lists, all that normal ‘organizational’ stuff. Nothing ever seemed to stick for more than a day, and I always ended up with random notes everywhere and a schedule posted from two months ago on the wall. I couldn’t settle my mind enough to focus on any one thing. I would be thinking about my schedule while making a note about what type of list I should use. I didn’t have a concept or process for one thing at a time. My brain defaulted to all or nothing, which one hundred percent of the time ended up with me being overwhelmed and finding anything else to distract me from how distracted I was. It was exhausting.  

The first time I legitimately tried to get help, I took some bold steps but ended up landing flat on my face. I had just got home from my first full year of undergrad feeling demoralized and like I was destined to never figure out how to do school. I used Google to look for a counseling clinic in my area that was cheap enough that I could pay for a session out of pocket. I was on my parents’ insurance and our coverage was fantastic, but I couldn’t risk the humiliation of them seeing a counselor on their bill. My family was never big on mental health, and I was positive I would be met with the suck it up and get over it routine, while becoming the butt of even more of my families jokes for years to come. I found a small place about twenty minutes from my house and even braved a phone call to ask how much a consult would be. I don’t remember the exact figure but $70 feels about right. Cool.

I pulled up to the clinic and immediately started feeling both ashamed and sketched out.

Am I really about to walk in this place and say, hey! I don’t understand anything! help!

I couldn’t even put my finger on what it was I needed help with. I couldn’t just say “I suck at school!” and let them take it from there. First, what if they think I am just begging for drugs? Second, they will probably say ‘LOL yeah lots of people do, here’s your bill!’ I was so excited thinking I might finally get some help that I hadn’t taken the time to think about what help I needed. That was the shame, but I also said I was feeling sketched out. This is because I noticed that there were crosses on their building. wait, am I at a church? It didn’t look like a church, but it kind of felt like one. I guess there are a lot of Saint this-and-that hospitals, so maybe this is just a satellite campus…for a hospital…in what looks like an old house….Well, I’ve come this far, I won’t turn back now!

I took some deep breaths and gathered myself before getting out of my car. I get to the door, which has a ‘Please come in!’ sign, so I push it open and – ah fuck, it is a church. I was met in the hallway by the ‘counselor’ who was a woman in her mid-fifties. She looked like someone whose favorite pastime was yelling at cashiers for not having an extra penny. She was trying to appear warm and inviting, kind of like when the Trunchbull invited you to her office to see the chokey. She led me back to her office, well she called it an office, I would call it a living room with a computer desk. I rambled for a solid ten minutes about what I was seeking help for, which was really just word vomit dressed up like a stream of consciousness. She asked what I have tried so far, but when I was responding I could tell her eyes were blank. It made me think of my mom. Whenever I would try and talk to her, you could see it on her face that she was absolutely tuned out. It’s that look where you’re not even pretending to listen. When I had finished, she looked at me for a few moments and said,

“I see! I noticed you didn’t mention your relationship with God”

Now it was my turn to tune out. She kept talking but all I could do was sit there thinking what. the. fuck. is. this. shit? If religion and/or God is what helps you – that’s great! I have all the respect in the world for you! But in that moment, I was pissed. I was looking for legitimate mental health counseling, and this woman – from phone to table, had only one thing on her mind, and it was not about helping me.

I was nineteen when this happened and wouldn’t be brave enough to seek any form of therapy or counseling again until I was 27. I thought about it from time to time, sure, but I could never get the memory of that experience out of my head. There was one silver-lining though, she didn’t charge me the $70.

Thank you.



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