A little over a year ago right before graduation, I started the (pretty) grueling and long process of getting screened for ADHD. Finding a place that my insurance “kind of” covered, would fit me in, and had at least a basic understanding of (or willingness to learn about) diabetes was definitely an adventure.
Which led to a confirmation of the ADHD diagnosis, but also included OCD and Generalized Anxiety (which included a specific note that stated- anxiety and OCD tied to blood sugars. And it appears that the ADHD and anxiety are very tied together). All presenting before the age of 12.
I sought counseling services before in various stages in college and kind of (well usually) forced growing up and never once had any of these diagnosis come up. Now, granted- I was very resistant to mental health providers until I got to college because I didn’t have a lot of great experiences. So I am pretty certain that I wasn’t going to give them a chance to get to know me and in turn diagnose me.
And no one in my life really pointed to this- I mean the comments had been thrown around that I was anxious. And yeah- my dad was pretty certain I had ADHD (so did everyone in my family)- but no one wanted me on meds. Growing up it was managed through technique. We made sure I was challenged in school (because that was half the problem), and we made sure that my schedule varied and had breaks. So that I wouldn’t just do homework for hours.
Then there’s the stigma. I can definitely still feel the air of disapproval of mental health services and a diagnosis and medication within my family. I grew up around it all my life. But the disapproval and taboo-ness also surrounded me when it came to the rest of the world. Of course this seeped in and made me very firm in my decisions- but that was before I started my studies and social work and was also ready.
Given my career path and involvements, eventually I didn’t feel like they were taboo. But in my mind- medication wasn’t a part of my care for myself. It was never even an idea. And no one offered it.
Part of me wishes that someone down the line had brought attention to it- I’m sure I would have had the same reaction to someone asking if I’m low or high- but if I know it’s out of a place of caring, then I apologize for my reaction and do something about it.
Sometimes, I feel like I got missed.
I feel like the diabetes clouded any possible chance of getting diagnosed earlier. All the focus was on diabetes or any symptom was attributed to diabetes. I never felt comfortable with any healthcare providers (besides my endocrinology team) growing up and never stayed with anyone long enough for them to get to know me and diagnose (possibly). Now we also live in the terms of “diabetes distress.” Because apparently… if I didn’t have diabetes, mental health wouldn’t be a factor (at least that’s what I get out of all of the articles I’ve read, posters I’ve seen, and what I’ve heard HCPs saying). But come on… it isn’t always about the diabetes….
But that’s a lot of what if’s.
I went in for an ADHD diagnosis during my last semester of college. Because after my thyroid issues, the symptoms got more prominent. My schedule was also a part of it. I had two 3 hour classes back to back on Wednesdays. Often in the same room. And then a 3 hour and a 1 hour class on Friday. Back to back. Sometimes in the same room.
And I was interning the other 3 days of the week. In an office setting.
I could not pay attention. I could not stay still. My procrastination was getting out of hand. I had always done a little, healthy procrastinating, but it was starting to stress me out. I was starting to run late all of the time, but that set me off because of my OCD that’s tied to being not just on time, but early.
And then there was the interrupting. I couldn’t stop interrupting people. Which is what pushed me over the edge- THIS IS ENOUGH.
I also had a lot of the other “classic” ADHD symptoms some specific to adults and some to children.
So I went in for screening. As I was trying to find a place that was open and would screen me, I ran into issues of availability, cost, and “do you just want accommodations for college?”
That last one bothered me. I usually responded with I’m already registered, that’s really offensive.
I wasn’t trying to use diabetes to my advantage or get a diagnosis to have an advantage. I wanted answers. That was my main goal. And besides. It was my last semester of college. There wouldn’t be anything for my accommodations at this point.
But then I finally found a place. And I was screened. And the woman knew what my CGM and pump were (winning). So I only had to do minimal explaining. It’s hard to find specific people for mental health related to chronic illness, let alone diabetes (especially in the south). So I’m very happy with just willingness to learn or having enough of an understanding.
And that’s when the anxiety and OCD diagnosis came. Which is not what I was going in for. Of course I know I’ve always been an anxious and type a person. Which makes sense.
But I had answers. Often, answers come with so much peace of mind and explanations. But there was also a part of me that couldn’t believe it took so long…. (not just the screening, but actually getting to the screening).
(This is the first post in a group of 3 that are all tied together).
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We’ll both be glad you did! -Mindy