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And Then



I came across an Instagram reel where an interviewer said, “The way your mind works is fascinating,” and the pretty blonde celebrity I’m too old to know sing-shouted, “ADHD!” by way of explanation. And then I laughed out loud, and I admired the freedom and power in her voice. And then more and then more of the posts in my nightly mindless scrolling featured people discussing ADHD and how it showed up in their lives. And then I saw how many of those discussions connected to the things I did and didn’t love about myself. And then I took a slew of online quizzes meant to tell me whether or not I had it. And then I Googled “best books about adhd” and cross referenced the results to find the ones that showed up the most. And then I borrowed one from the library and tore through it, wondering how a book about my own life had been written without my knowledge. And then I filled my iPhone notes app with all the symptoms that felt familiar, as if arming myself for an interrogation. And then I shared those symptoms with my psychiatrist, pretending not to be reading from a list. And then she asked me ten questions, and then she told me I was right. And then I didn’t ask why the responsibility of mental health diagnosis so often fell to the patient. And then she recommended a pill and sent the prescription to my regular pharmacy. And then I learned about medication shortages and called every Walgreens in a 10 mile radius until one reluctantly admitted they had it in stock. And then I read a 30-page handbook on dealing with an ADHD diagnosis on my phone while standing in line. And then I walked into a coffee shop near the pharmacy and wondered if my head really was quieter than it had been 15 minutes ago, or if I was making it up. And then I texted my mom, and she briefly made it about her. And then I sent the ten questions to my younger siblings, pulling them closer under the guise of concern for their own health. And then I texted my older sister, a real-life medical professional and the one who knows me best. “I don’t know about all this,” she replied, “what makes you think you have ADHD?” And then my heart and my resolve cracked. And then I crawled under the covers and let more and then more of the doubt spill in. And then I replied with a joke, diminishing my own experience in an attempt to dull the bite of her dismissal. And then I wondered if I really needed the pills, since I had been doing well enough without it all this time. And then I held up my list of symptoms to the light of everyday adult life and challenged myself to spot the differences. And then I sat in my doubt, just like my therapist taught me to. And then my confusion, and then my fear, and then my frustration, and then my despair, and then my hurt, and then my irritation, and then my self righteousness, and then my anger, and then my strength. And then I stared my newly christened “rejection sensitivity” in the face, aware he was winning, but beginning to see the shaky ground he stood on. And then I searched online for common reactions to an ADHD diagnosis and saw again my own reflection. And then I reached out to a friend who reached back and held my hand from 3,000 miles away. And then I returned to Instagram and followed the accounts that had sparked this journey. And then I paid the membership fee for the Attention Deficit Disorder Association and skimmed their most recent blog posts. And then I downloaded an app that offered daily lessons and tips on living with ADHD. And then I made a plan, and then I took a deep breath, and then I got out of bed.


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