Sep 13

My Struggle with ADHD

I also realized that it was very hard for me to sit down and stay still. I would always find an excuse to stand up in class, college etc. I also used to get very easily distracted e.g. if I was seated next to a window in class and someone walked by my whole focus would be on them and I would not even hear what the teacher or lecturer was saying.

I also realized that I was always very impulsive and would take rash decisions without thinking things through and would later regret. The sad part is that a lot of times I knew doing a certain thing is wrong but somehow I would find myself doing it. People always misunderstood me and I don’t blame them and at times I would be told, why are you so different from everyone else can’t you just grab a hold of yourself. Honestly I tried and tried but the blunders, misdeeds and regret continued in a very vicious cycle.

In the process I lost a lot and I mean a lot and no need to go into details. At times I would say to myself, such is life everyone struggles but deep in my heart of hearts I knew there was something wrong with me but somehow I just couldn’t put a finger to it and sadly nobody else could. So I got stuck in what I would call a vicious cycle of failure, self blame and pain. Fortunately I was blessed with many talents so after every “crash” I somehow managed to pick up the pieces and keep going. I am a very strong willed person. Sadly the cycle would always continue with no end in sight. Someone even told me that it seems I have a dark cloud over my head as things just never work out fortunately I didn’t believe him as I know that if you believe you are doomed then surely you will end up doomed.

I don’t blame anyone as I know I wronged a lot of people throughout the course of my life. From family relations, friendships, relationships, marriages, jobs etc things always never worked out. I also used to take decisions without even bothering to ascertain all the facts about an issue and we all know that, when you do that you really piss people off especially in close personal relationships.

Fortunately I am a very fast learner and when I put my mind to it, I excel at whatever I chose to do especially if I am very interested in it or like it. However my abilities which I was blessed did not manage to overcome my issues as I would call them back then. So generally life has been very up and down for me with stints of success almost always followed by stints of feeling useless and a failure however fortunately I always kept going or would have given up on life trust me. There is no feeling worse than knowing that even if I work hard and things are going well at the end of the day it will fail. Be it in my career or relationships but I kept going thankfully.

I hope you now get the picture that I was stuck in a vicious cycle and sadly at times I even suspected that I was cursed or something though I never believed it and many people even told me that I am cursed. So this now brings me to the issue of why I am writing this so let’s move on.

I always felt I needed help but used to wonder, help from where?

Many a time during heated arguments with those closest to me or well meaning friends I always used to be told, you need help, you need help, you have an issue. I tried all I could to figure out what the issue was and to overcome it but year after year the same thing or things kept happening. The cycle of success to failure in all aspects of my life and I have really undergone a lot of pain and suffering to such an extent that I don’t even want to remind myself how much pain I have been through. All the while I really did try my best and put in my best effort in work and relationships but to no avail. Sadly I was also very paranoid and always used to feel that everyone just had it in for me, be it in my professional life and my personal life so the pain continued and continued. I must be very tough and have strong will as I know that many people would have crumbled and withered had they undergone all that I have passed through.

For the past few months things were very hard for me and I almost reached a breaking point but I hung in there as best as I could. However things really hit rock bottom and the calls for you need help kept on being made by those around me and I myself wondered where this help would be available. In most African societies of which Kenya still is one no matter how much we think we have become westernized we still are an African society and in our society we have a taboo about certain issues and I feel this complicated matters for me as I sought to get help for my problem. Yes I have lived in the western world but at my core I am still an African. At times I feel that while I was in the west, had I sought the help I needed then maybe I would have avoided a lot of the pain and suffering that I have been through. Anyway it did not happen and no need to dwell on it so let me continue with the story.

Someone very close to me finally managed to convince me to go see a doctor i.e. a psychiatrist which is a taboo issue here and a lot of stigma is attached to those who go and se them and honestly I personally used to have a very low opinion of psychiatrists and psychologists. So I said what could the person harm me with and what is the worst he could do to me? let me just go and see him and get it over and done with then this person close to me who is pushing me to go see him will give me some peace. That is all I was going to do there when I went to see the doctor now let us move on to what happened next.

I was taken to Dr Frank Njenga who is probably the best psychiatrist in Kenya and is well respected internationally as well. I went and saw him and he really asked me a lot of questions, I really mean a lot of questions and I was even admitted in hospital for over a week. He has a team of psychologists who work with him and I did a lot of tests and all my past history from my earliest memory was examined an analyzed. What bothered me was that for almost six days I was admitted but was not given any medicine. Later they told me that they do not give any medicine until they are 100% sure of the diagnosis.

In short after all these tests and interviews I was told that I have ADHD and at very high levels so I was put on medication and discharged. To be honest I have never been this calm, focused and relieved maybe since my early childhood even. What is ADHD?

Adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (also referred to as Adult ADHD, Adult ADD or simply ADHD in adults) is the neurobiological condition of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. About one-third to two-thirds of children with symptoms from early childhood continue to demonstrate notable ADHD symptoms throughout life.

Three subtypes of ADHD are identified in the DSM-IV (inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, and combined). In later life, the hyperactive/impulsive subtype manifests more frequently. Adults with ADHD typically have difficulty following directions, remembering information, concentrating, organizing tasks, or completing work within time limits or meeting appointments. Low self-esteem is common. These difficulties cause life problems within several different arenas, such as emotional, social, vocational, marital, legal, or academic areas

In short someone had finally put a finger and made a correct diagnosis of what has been ailing me for very long and I was like what a relief, now I know why I always felt different from everyone else. Sadly I have suffered as a result of it, I have wronged many people as a result of it too. I hope everyone whom I wronged forgives me and more importantly I need to forgive myself for what I did and move on with my life as best I can. I am very happy and relieved that I found out and I am now making amends. To all those who I wronged I am sorry I did it, but it was partly out of my control due to this condition though am not making an excuse and those bad things and hateful/hurtful words yes I did do them or say them.

I am now busy working to better myself and learning to live a new lifestyle. A lot of friendships will sadly have to end and some have already ended. I will not be able to do some things I used to love to do or go to places I loved to go to but all in all I think it’s for the better. Many habits have changed and more will too as I adopt a new lifestyle that takes into account my condition. It’s the best and right thing for me to do.

As for me, I feel no shame going public about this and it’s my prayer that those who need help get it before undergoing a lot of pain and suffering in life and hurting/harming others too.

Thanks for taking your time to read this I know its long but I wanted to capture the whole scenario so that you may understand. Also just writing this has been very relieving for me and its helped me put many things I needed put behind me, way behind me.