Over lockdown, I made it my mission to grow on TikTok. If you’ve been on this short-form video platform, then you may already know that TikTok puts you in common interest buckets. If you start liking videos created by dermatologists, you’re put into a skincare bucket. If you start liking home decor content, you’re put into the interior design bucket. But the algorithm goes deeper than that. It analyses repeat watching, searches, age groups, if you pause videos, and more. One day, TikTok’s algorithm served me videos about ADHD and changed my life. Did TikTok just diagnose me with ADHD?
This video popped up on my FYP and really hammered it home. I knew right then and there that I had adult ADHD and needed to get help.
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In the past, I visualized someone with ADHD to that hyperactive boy in middle school. The one who got into trouble, failed math, and was the class clown. What I didn’t know is that ADHD presents itself in many different ways, especially in females, which is why it can be very difficult to identify.
For me, I’m a constant interrupter. Looking back on it, I can totally see how disruptive that is to a meeting or conversation, but in my head, I honestly thought, “I have a brilliant idea to share! I must interject and share this amazing idea because if I don’t, I will forget it.”
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In elementary school, I was taught to memorize. It was mandatory in parochial school to rattle off bible passages, hymns, and a copious amount of Jesus stories. This way of “learning” got me through high school, but college was a completely different story. On the days I chose to attend class, I’d take notes, but my mind would wander. Forcing me to sit quietly and pay attention…not gonna happen. I rented books, but never cracked them open. Trying to read a page made my eyes go out of focus. Therefore, if it was not talked about in class, I had no idea what was happening. At the end of my junior year, the university I was attending asked me to take a semester off.
Trouble paying attention, daydreaming, not finishing homework, and having a messy bedroom, desk, and workspace are all key behaviors that indicate ADHD in females. Structure and stability are not my jam.
When ADHD is not treated, most girls experience a drop in grades and the inability to manage friendships. I can’t tell you how many times I was the dick in a friendship. Friendships that I truly valued but at the time may have felt overwhelmed, got bored, or just didn’t think to say, “you’re important to me”. I’m also a very erratic friend. You may not hear from me for months and then all of a sudden I’ll text you with a, “Hey, girl hey!” What, that’s not normal? Go on. Tell me more.
There’s no concept of time. What my brain might compute as a week or two in between texts could be 7-8 months. I forget birthdays and anniversaries…even when they are on a Google calendar with multiple alerts. Time management skills also hinder my day-to-day activities. When someone asks, “can you be ready in 3 hours for dinner”, I say ya sure! But, I’ve also agreed to paint the house, MariKondo a closet, vacuum, get groceries, cook dinner for the kids, and write a couple of blog posts. Seems totally viable, right?
Impulse buying is yet another ADHD behavioral issue I suffer from. At the end of that same junior year of failing college, I had dug myself into a hole of $16k worth of credit card debt…oh and was also engaged to some dude I met in a bar 6 weeks prior. Imagine being a parent, listening to that phone call.
Shopping gave me a dopamine hit. A reward that gave me pleasure during a time that I was feeling awful about myself.
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Looking back, it’s obvious, and I’m questioning how I even got this far without being medicated (as does my shrink). I mean, when you’re walking downstairs to make a salad for lunch and you wind up in the laundry room wondering why you’re looking in the dryer with no recollection as to what you’re looking for, only to walk back upstairs and remember oh ya, salad…ya, that’s a problem.
If you would have told me 2 years ago, “Kyla, I think you have ADHD”, I would have said no way. My entire career while working in advertising was all about hitting deadlines and fast-paced life. I’d be so laser-focused while working on a design project, I would forget to pee and eat. I prided myself on never missing a deadline. What I recently learned is that hyper fixation is also a sign of ADHD.
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So now that TikTok brought this to my attention, what the hell was I going to do about it? First off, I didn’t hide from it. The more I talked about it, the more I found my people. After some encouragement and a bit of Googling, I found a local health center for adult ADHD testing. A phone consult was scheduled, followed by a zoom meeting where I told my life story.
After 3 hours, the therapist said she would share her notes with the psychiatrist, and they’d call to set up a testing date. I waited, and waited, and waited. After leaving a few voicemails, a very confused woman called to inform me that I should have never been seen for an ADHD evaluation because in-house testing was on hold due to Covid. What the hell?
A friend told me about Thomson Memory Center. They got me in for a 6-hour long test filled with memory puzzles and brain teasers. After returning home, mentally spent, I took a 4-hour nap. A couple of weeks later, I got the call to review my results and they confirmed TikTok’s diagnosis. I had ADHD with a predominantly inattentive presentation…what used to be referred to as adult ADD. They sent my test results to my GP who told me, she read the report and my ADHD diagnosis did not warrant meds. Instead, she wanted me to focus on getting better sleep at night. What the hell?
Roadblock after roadblock did not deter my quest for help. What I came to find out is, ADHD drugs are government restricted and many times abused. After bursting into tears of frustration. I was sooooo close to getting my life on track. My doctor took pitty on me and gave me a 30-day prescription for 10mg (lowest dosage) of Vyvanse and a referral to a local psychiatrist.
This gentleman was my final stop for help. He upped the dosage on my Zoloft and Vyvanse significantly, and now I have a monthly check-in with him to make sure I’m doing okay, and I am! The new cocktail of meds have me understanding time, writing a to-do list, and time blacking tasks. I found a planner that actually works for me, and located the extra set of car keys I lost 2 years ago, but blamed The Boy for losing. Drawers and cabinet doors are no longer being left open. I’ve said goodbye to abandoned cups and half-full LaCroix cans. I’m no longer walking downstairs to make a salad and winding up in the laundry room peering cluelessly into the dryer. Most importantly, I’m no longer missing stop signs while driving.
My life is finally getting on track, but I’m also learning about other ADHD-related issues I might have like Convergence Insufficiency, Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, Auditory Processing Disorder, and Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors. While I’m learning about this host of additional disorders, I’m also trying to discover the gifted side of ADHD.
This was a lot to unpack, but before I sign off, if you do not have ADHD, do not say these things to someone with ADHD. Yes, we know we get sidetracked and ramble. It’s the way our brains work, and we’re coping with it as best we can. I plan to continue writing about my journey with ADHD and share things that have helped me with daily tasks.
@danidonovantalking down to people with ADHD is NOT A VIBE ♬ Galactic Mermaid cover by Lollia and Kuraiinu – ✨Poyo✨