A couple days ago, I did something I’ve been playing with the idea of for a long time now: I saw a psychiatrist. And I’m so glad I did.
After talking with him, he diagnosed me with ADHD and social anxiety.
The social anxiety is no surprise; that’s been part of me since I was a super shy kid in elementary. And for about 10 years now, I’ve suspected I had ADHD. I even took medication for it briefly in college, but that didn’t go so well.
And then I kind of dropped the issue for a while.
My symptoms did not go away, I just changed my major and environment to one that allowed me to function better. There were also periods of time in which I believed people who said it wasn’t a real disorder.
It wasn’t until I started working as an adult in the “real” world that my issues became too much. And until about three months ago, I didn’t realize just how much those issues were related to how my brain works:
- the constant changes in career choices
- the entrepreneurial mindset that has me jumping from interest to interest
- the disorganization
- the anxiety or irritability over small things
- constantly thinking about a thousand things at once
- the problems with concentration and focus I battle each day, despite the many methods and tools I use.
I learned that my coping mechanisms are great, that I’m doing everything I can to help myself holistically: I use tools to organize my work patterns, I take care of my mind and body with nutrition and exercise and mindfulness, I’m in a wonderful relationship, and I have a profession that fits me.
So I’m now trying out medication, since what I’m doing hasn’t been quite enough. I was scared about this at first, but talking to my doctor has me feeling like it’s a good choice.
My advice to anyone who is thinking about seeing a professional is “DO IT.” I put this off for SO many years because I didn’t feel like it was worth it. I am stubborn and felt that I could do it on my own; I also didn’t think my problems were “bad” enough to warrant getting help.
And if we’re being honest, I thought there was simply something wrong with my character.
But I was wrong about that. 🙂 And if you can relate to how I felt too, know that sometimes you can do everything “right” but still need help, and that’s 100% okay.
Mental health is complex.
It looks different for everyone, and it’s really hard to understand what someone is going through unless you’re in their head – which is of course impossible.
It’s also fascinating. This post is not me asking for sympathy or to make myself seem like a victim of anything.
In fact, I’m thankful for the way my brain works because it’s led me to try a lot of different interests without letting fear hold me back! And I think it’s a big reason why I’m so intuitive and empathetic, which I love.
What I want to say is that I hope more people can be open to learning more about how and why they think the ways they do, and there should be no reason to feel bad or ashamed of having mental health problems.
They are real – as real as physical ailments like heart disease or asthma or IBS.
And the more we know, the more we can realize that our differences did not mean we are less-than others or not trying hard enough to be “normal.”
By learning more, we can help ourselves improve and work with what we have. And I think that is beautiful.