Alright, i’ve gone from being “self-diagnosed” to ‘big ‘p’ professional’ diagnosed” over the last six months. For the last few weeks, i’ve been dutifully taking medication for ADHD.
It’s freaking me out.
These drugs are amphetamines, fer cryin’ out loud! So i’ve been off coffee too. That’s weird. I don’t like it. this is harm reduction, i guess. the problem is the world, it’s my response to the world, i can’t change the world, I have to capitulate — for now — i was getting all panicky and sleepless.
Now, as far as psychiatric diagnosis go, this one isn’t nearly as stigamtized as, well, fucking near everything else–bi-polar, schizo-affective; schizophrenia; Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Post-traumatic stress disorder (what’s ‘post’ about the trauma, by the way?); oh, you know, on and on and on, the range of labels for ‘freak’ could fill a book.
oh, hang on, they DO fill a book! It’s the DSM lV, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders. It’s a big weighty thing and there’s something for everyone in it. Really and truly. I remember, way way back when i was in my first or second year of university, and the professor of the psych course i was taking (everyone had to take some science courses and some arts courses, whether we were ‘wired’ that way or not–the uni called them “breadth requirements”. I took quite a few psychology classes), at the end of the semester, when we were all a bit sleep-deprived and pretty squirrely in various ways, read us the entry for schizophrenia from the DSM.
“if the patient presents with four or more of the following symptoms,” the professor read, ” they may be diagnosed a schizophrenic”. Then he read out a long list of symptoms. It was an amusing yet uncomfortable moment. We all kinda squirmed and looked around the room. When he was done, he closed the book, and he said, “psychiatrists don’t really know, you know. They just have to sell drugs.” Did he say that? really? or is it just what I wish he had said?
The DSM 5 is due to appear within the next year or two. it’s rumoured to be bigger and better than ever. Pretty soon, nothing in the range of human behaviour needs ever be considered “normal”. I resisted for years and years. I’m still not sure, at all, about this whole ADD thing. I KNOW it’s not me, I KNOW it’s the world–we are bombarded with information and calls to action and this that and the other thing to attend to ALL the time. all the time. It’s exhausting. How does one woman attend to it all? And keep up with the laundry and dishes and all the christly e-mails every day, and then of course there’s the whole PhD thing, coding and analyzing and marking and writing and trying to find work to pay tuition and call Mom and remember to write and work out and….good lord. meanwhile, the piles in my apartment are growing, and the dust is accumulating and i’m seeing moths flying around now, and there’s no surface on which to write, or prepare food and i keep on top of the bathroom, mostly, but it’s just all sifting inward and from my computer screen i see the Inquiry into the Missing women lurching along, and all the lawyer boys puffing out their chests at each other pretending to be ‘experts’ about women’s lives.
and of course there’s the ongoing Occupation going on everywhere (on already occupied land). And I haven’t stepped foot in that protest yet–
I feel like i’m in the middle of everything but missing it all.
What the fuck are these drugs supposed to do, anyway? Help me focus. but on WHAT? Oh never mind.
maybe they are working. The path from my door to my desk is a bit wider now. I don’t wake up at 4 am anxious about everything anymore (just at 5 or 6, and only anxious about one or two things). A few weeks ago, i finished an assignment for my professor two days before deadline. and when i met her about it, she suggested a few tasks i could do to help me plan my next things, and I have done a couple of them. Not all, but some.
And i don’t feel all panicky anymore. well, not as much, anyway. Maybe it’s the drastic drop in caffeine consumption.
But the doctor said i’d be able to finish my dissertation, and it’s not done yet. Patience. this is thirty+ years of prevaricating that i’m trying to deal with here, and it’s gonna take more than drugs, and even if the elves DO bloody well turn up, i obviously can’t count on them. So I will have to change some things. Many things. The world and my responses to the world.
It’s weird being medicated for a “disorder”. My judgments about mental illness are becoming apparent. I find myself censoring myself about revealing that i’m on these drugs. I feel no such reluctance when i talk bout my asthma meds, or having mild COPD.
There ya go. it’s all learning. I’ll let you know how it’s going.