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My ADHD diagnosis

In my last update I mentioned I was waiting for my adhd assessment. Well, as the title of this post suggests, I got the diagnosis – and I’m so relieved that I did.

However, the assessment wasn’t easy, there were many tough and deeply personal questions asked, and though I was prepared to answer things about my childhood and school life, the ones that hit hard were actually nothing to do with those topics. I mean, I did cry when talking about my primary school teacher bullying me; for some reason, whenever I explain that to a doctor, the tears always appear. But I expected that, so after the influx of emotion passed, it was fine.

What got me was attempting to explain how, if I had ADHD and thus my concentration was so bad, did I manage to write books. Not only this, but the doctor (a psychiatrist specialising in neurological conditions) went on to ask how successful a writer I was, including how many books I’d sold. And considering I’ve had high imposter syndrome recently and have been questioning whether writing to be published is something I should even be pursuing still, it cut me deep.

Other questions that hurt were why I still had my birds when their sounds were distracting, why I don’t want kids, and how I knew I had something close to an eating disorder when I was younger (I didn’t have any diagnosis or records of one, but gosh did I have the mindset and sadly could slip back into it easily if I’m not careful). So, ouch, on all fronts, to the point where I completely broke down after the assessment was over.

But – as I’d also provided lots and lots of notes beforehand explaining my brain – I got my diagnosis then and there at the end of the session. Quickly, abruptly (as to my mind, things really hadn’t been going well. I’d been rambling and getting flustered, so it felt like my responses weren’t particularly coherent), and without much extra explanation. I was asked if I had any questions, but my brain was fried at that point, so any I had promptly left.

Fortunately, after emailing the head ADHD nurse, who I’d been in contact with during preliminary screening, I had a good conversation the next day with full permission to explain my feelings and rant as much as I needed to to get everything out. After that, she went through reasons why certain questions were asked, and went on to detail all next steps and options open to me.

Though I’ve been hesitant to try medication before, on the grounds that if I’m to have it, I want to make sure it’s the correct type for my neurodivergent brain and won’t simply cover up the symptoms of an underlying condition (untreated ADHD can often cause anxiety and depression, both of which I have), I chose to be put forward for ADHD medication. After a few tests at my GP surgery, which included blood pressure, pulse, height, weight, and an ECG, I received my first prescription of methylphenidate, which is a slow-release stimulant.

Now, medication isn’t for everyone, and there are lots of treatment options for the parts of ADHD that interfere with daily life. But, for me, I’m really pleased I made the choice I did. Within an hour of taking the first dose, a subtle, yet tangible change occurred to my thoughts. Usually, my brain runs off at top speed on anything and everything, flitting from topic to topic. But, though I still had the thoughts – meaning, I was still very much myself – I could choose to follow only the ones that were relevant to what I was doing at the time, and go back to the others later. When I explained this to my partner (who we also suspect is ADHD), he came up with a great metaphor: instead of everything being dumped in a box that I have to sift through to find something, I’d been given shelves where I could see everything individually and just select what I needed.

As of writing, I’m on day six of being medicated, which admittedly, isn’t very long, but it does appear that my ability to maintain focus on writing has definitely increased (the very fact that I’m writing this, after not posting an update for so long due to lack of energy and motivation, is good evidence of this). And the thing that’s most surprising is the realisation that the fatigue I felt from doing any kind of task was caused mostly by my chaotic thoughts, and now they have (slightly) more order, that fatigue is nowhere near as bad. I can feel it, but I’m not completely crashing anymore.

Sadly, my laptop battery is now fading, so I’ll have to wrap this up. Getting confirmation of my full neurodiversity (I’m autistic too, and yes, you can very much have both conditions), has allowed me to understand and accept how different, yet cool, my brain is. Even though I struggle with things on a daily basis because of it, I can see my creativity and ability to notice things few others do all stem from it and make my world brighter.

This process has taken, well, a lot of processing, but I’m getting there. And taking medication, despite all the controversy surrounding it, is no different to when I wear my ear defenders or sunglasses to help lesson sensory overload when I’m outside. It’s an aid to help me, and it’s not a bad thing. (I will point out, though, that I’m taking my medication exactly as prescribed by my doctor and I’ll be having strict, regular reviews with them to make sure it’s still doing what it should and nothing else.)

Lastly, for those interested or considering pursuing diagnosis, some key details. I’m in the UK and went through the NHS, so the process may differ considerably in other countries, but here’s the route I took:

In mid 2019, I spoke to a general GP at my local doctor’s surgery, explaining that I wanted to be referred to the ADHD service for diagnosis. I had a few notes with me on traits I resonated with so they could easily see my reasoning.

After that, I had a very long wait (possibly made worse by the pandemic), but eventually got sent some screening questionnaires to complete and send back. After that was done, a phone call was arranged with the ADHD nurse for an hour long further screening conversation, in which I had to answer a lot of personal questions about school, family, work, social life etc.

Determining that I was eligible for a diagnostic assessment, I was then given a virtual appointment and completed the assessment I’ve spoken in detail about above, and as mentioned, after diagnosis, I was offered options for treatment, which included various therapies and medication. I received very detailed leaflets on the option I chose, so I could thoroughly research before finalising my decision.

So, there we go. I hope this essay of a post has been interesting and/or helpful. Thank you for reading!

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The Origin Stone…Cover Reveal!

Hi everyone, I’ve had another update from my publisher, Next Chapter, about the re-release of The Origin Stone (for those who don’t know, the publisher who had it previously closed down just after Christmas, and as Next Chapter have published all my other books, they were pleased to give it a new home).

I don’t have a release date yet, but they did send me the new cover design – and it took my breath away. It’s simply an amazing piece of design work, and the image of Emily is exactly how I’ve always pictured her. I also love how she’s positioned at the entrance of a tunnel; I really feel it signifies the journey she has yet to come, and oozes atmosphere.

Honestly, I was almost in tears when I saw it, I was so impressed and overwhelmed. I’m hoping such a wonderful cover will finally give it the attention I (and my publisher) feel it deserves:

image (57)

Poetry

Commute

They line up at the cliff edge, eyes on the storm clouds ahead,

nervously opening the umbrellas they’ve just been handed by the young assistant

about to direct them.

He asks a few questions, answers of which are stolen away by the wind

as it crawls through their mouths and hair.

Then he takes out a combined watch, compass and barometer, counts down

and gives a short pip of his silver whistle.

As one, the first group steps off the cliff

and catches the draft down to the city below,

floating serenely as their suitcases dangle by their knees,

carrying everything they need for arrival.

Another pip sounds behind them, and

briefly they wonder

how many the assistant has to guide today.

 

Poetry

Train of thought

The skies are dark, the chugging

rising from a growl into a beating drum

as the tracks curve up to the sky.

The clouds shift into giant birds, spreading their wings

to chase away the smog and

drift beside the train as it gathers speed

heading to its conclusion

that has yet to be built.

Poetry

Tales by the hearth

The fire crackles in the grate,

shadows dancing with smoke tendrils as she reads

aloud, cloaked figures sneaking through her voice

to my wondering ears

as I cling to the embroidered arm of her chair.

 

The ritual nightly, yet never dull.

I play with the bobble on her slippers as she pauses to sip

Lady Grey from her fine china cup

then places it back on the saucer.

 

Resuming her place as though no pause had been taken

she leads me into the night

to meet the King of Dreams.

 

When I wake, the fire is dead

and her chair is cold,

its colours faded.

Poetry

Set Sail

Are they eyes or suckers

that latch onto us as we sail

across the jewel-glint oceans in search of new land?

We look to the horizon,

only hands of salt sparkles greet us,

but we can feel it beyond.

It has a pulse, a thrum,

that even the deepest depths cannot hide

from knowing ears.

The claws that may once have gripped us

have become cracked and dry,

brittle enough to break at a single touch,

and our boat is the ramming kind now.

Poetry

I wonder

I gather my thoughts in a wicker basket,

cover them over and stroll into the bluebell woods.

 

Always blue. Not cold blue. Warm blue.

 

Blue as fresh air and cackling creeks.

Of the lips of creatures stopping to drink,

unguarded, just for a moment.

 

The soft carpet under my toes

wriggles with ideas,

half-formed will o’ wisps

that jump up eagerly to my pensive basket.

 

One at a time, little ones.

 

When I cannot carry any more,

I sing a song to quiet them,

lulling them to sleep,

and journey back to my desk,

pen in hand.

 

My work begins.

Poetry

Salt Crystals

I balance on the edge, my little boat bobbing along

above sunken wrecks with bottles still clutched in their hands.

The ocean spray on my cheeks is stale

and tastes like tears that have frozen on my face,

for all the world to see.

I could hide them with a mask, but all the ones I’ve tried before melted.

I shall keep following the water

and see where it washes my boat ashore.

Poetry

Seafoam

The sea is a bath of minds and instinct,

of pressure and freedom and danger.

Tide in or tide out, if you stand and stare at it long enough

it will tug you away, molecule by molecule

until sea foam is all that you are.

But sea foam is what merpeople are birthed from,

and giant manta rays will guide you

as you spread yourself out to touch hands

with everything that has ever passed by.