2018 threw me the most unexpected curveball in history. It threw me a diagnosis that I never in a million years would have expected to end up on my medical records.
I was diagnosed with ADHD in August last year and have spoken quite a lot about the diagnosis and the private diagnostic route but I’ve not really spoken about how on earth I found out I had ADHD. It’s not the most interesting of stories but it proves a lot about stereotypes and also proves my luck with consultants is fairly enviable.
I mean that in the most light hearted, jokey way possible.
I’ve never needed many specialist consultants but in the past 3 years, the main 3 consultants I’ve had have been either one of the best at what they do, a specialist in exactly what I suffer from or experienced the same as me. My cardiologist was one of the best in the area. My surgeon (my initial consultant that I first saw 2 years ago before my first surgery but was not my first surgeon) is pretty damn good at what he does but also suffered the exact same problem as me, in the same elbow (yes, I was freaked out). And my psychiatrist, I later found out, has a special interest in ADHD.
I ended up sat in front of my psychiatrist by, what can only be described as, sheer chance and luck.
My GP had wanted me to see a psychiatrist for over a year but had no luck getting me an appointment – although she’d never expected me to be thrown a curveball like this
I’d presented to A&E on a Tuesday in May 2018. I was suicidal and had gone from work in the morning to speak to the crisis team. After a discussion with them and mentioning that my GP wanted me to see a psychiatrist and that a 111 out of hours GP had suggested the same, they offered me an appointment the next day to see a psychiatrist. I of course took the appointment and prepped myself for the next day.
Sat on a cold, hard metal bench was not how I’d planned to spend my lunch break the following day but I sat patiently at 1pm, waiting for the doctor. I had been told he was male (and eccentric. You may remember the ice lolly shirt from this post?) so I was somewhat surprised when I was approached by a young female doctor.
We searched for a place to talk and she told me she was getting some notes before I saw the psychiatrist. I think she was training? Forgive me if I’m wrong. She takes the notes and a little while later the psychiatrist arrives. He talks to her briefly before coming back and introducing himself to me.
You know when you can immediately tell someone genuine cares and wants to listen? Yeah, I got that feeling instantly which, where medical professionals (particularly mental health professionals) are concerned, is a big deal for me.
Trust is something I seldom have in health professionals due to past issues. I can comfortably say the three doctors I trust most to deliver the best care and listen to me are my GP, psychiatrist and surgeon
He runs through a series of short questionnaire type questions before telling me he thinks that I’m on the Autistic spectrum. OK. Cool. I was expecting that to some degree. The 111 doctor I’d spoken to had speculated that I may be Autistic.
The next bit was the one moment where I was genuinely caught totally gobsmacked in 2018.
“Do you know what around 40% of people with ASD also suffer from?”
I tell him I don’t and he hits me with the curveball that effectively knocked my life completely and utterly off course.
Shock. Disbelief. Confusion. Anger. Concern over whether this guy had qualifications (no way did I have ADHD! He was off his rocker!). Denial. Disregard.
I mentally scoffed and politely listened to him for a while, not wanting to seem rude and disrespectful. But internally, I was laughing. I didn’t have ADHD! I was never hyperactive or loud or disruptive and-
“You feel like you’ve failed as all your peers are going to university and you’re not. You didn’t take A-Levels”
I start crying. First of all, fuck off. Second of all, how the hell did he know exactly how I felt about my academic life and not feel the need to tell me that I didn’t need to worry about the path I’d chosen?
He’d truly hit a nerve and that’s when I caved in and realised he was talking some sense.
Less of a madman, maybe just psychic?
My reaction to my provisional diagnosis definitely proves that there are stereotypes surrounding ADHD that need to be addressed
So the appointment continues and I ask questions, somewhat wearily but filled with curiosity. I had some answers! The more he speaks, the more I feel like I’m ticking checkboxes mentally of all the things I’ve experienced in my life. He gives me a task to go and research ASD and ADHD and tells me he’ll recommend to my GP that I get assessed formally.
Cut a long, messy story short, he ended up being the consultant that diagnosed me privately in August 2018.
That’s how I discovered I had ADHD. It was chance. I ended up sat in front of a psychiatrist who just so happened to have a special interest in ADHD. When I’d only presented to A&E with suicidal thoughts, desperate for help.
Moral of the story is, Melanie should have never scoffed and thought she knew better than a consultant.
Second moral of the story is that some things in life are completely unexpected and happen by chance. They may be hard to cope with at first, but they may be the best things to ever happen to you. My diagnosis opened the door to treatment that has seriously improved my mental health and overall quality of life. It’s definitely one of the best accidental discoveries I’ll ever make.