Depression and the “Gift” of ADHD

I’m porting over another Twitter thread into my blog today. I feel this is one of the more important things I’ve touched on in my writing over the past few years. Not that I don’t feel religious matters and spiritual abuse processing is unimportant, but, well, none of that stuff really matters if one is too dead to think about it. So here goes, with light editing to convert from 240 characters to long-form.

Fairly regularly in my life, I’ve experienced a powerfully overwhelming feeling of inadequacy, strong sense of being rejected, or a “left-behind-ness”, and this is one reason why I take medication. Over the years, I’ve made a ridiculous amount of resolutions I’d never keep for things I don’t really want for the approval of people who may or may not care based on these powerful waves of emotion.

People talk about ADHD as a “gift” sometimes, and while on some level I get where they’re coming from, I can’t say that. Not even a little. This is one reason, and I’ll try to explain.

I’ve been diagnosed with depression, which is, among other things, a fairly common co-morbid with ADHD – it is often hard to untangle which is which, or if one (usually ADHD) is accounting for symptoms resembling the other. Combine these two? That racing brain, jumping 4 steps ahead in an instant kind of thought process can literally be fatal.

Imagine you’re already feeling kinda low. You reach out to a friend, or just comment on something they post, whatever. They’re busy, maybe they see & don’t respond, maybe they don’t really get where you’re coming from and the comment doesn’t hit the nerve you thought you did. Or worse, someone randomly attacks you over it, or your friend responds bluntly. Does your brain calmly take in the interaction or confrontation and so you explain yourself, try again, etc, or does it make 10 leaps per second and end up in a dark place before you even realize it?

“Eh, they didn’t have time to respond” or “I didn’t say that as clearly as I could have” turns into “I said something wrong, because I am wrong, because I missed something important like I always do, because I’m a failure, I missed the boat in life, what the hell am I doing…”

“Why do I even bother, I should just blow everything up, run and hide from everyone, or, hell, what’s the point, I’m just going to do this over and over again because I’m a failure, so save yourself the pain and end it now because you’ll never be on top of this”

If your brain is working halfway normal, maybe you have a bit of time to press pause between, I don’t know, EVERY FREAKING STEP OF THAT MENTAL RACE TO NOWHERE, but when it’s not, sometimes you’re 10 steps down the road before you even realize you started.

For me, often enough, it’s not even really thoughts which form, it’s just an emotional avalanche which takes me from “I’m feeling ok enough to engage/reach out” to some really black states of mind when the situation takes an unexpected turn.

There’s no real process or ability to talk back to your thoughts and feelings (like my therapist gets me to do), no chance to remind yourself that things don’t have to end this way and even if your worst fear might happen, I have a choice for every step of that way. The racing brain of ADHD can really screw you. That ability to jump a few thoughts ahead at an instant which might feel like intuition and brilliance in the light of day is suddenly a roller coaster which has left the track in the middle of an inverted loop.

Even if we take depression out of this, I still find it driving a lot of my social anxiety. Making 10 leaps of logic in a second… One of those leaps is likely to be wrong, and here I am tearing a friend a new one or boiling in rage after making an assumption I didn’t realize. We can all be wrong or miss a point here and there and need correction–welcome to being human–but missing a connection at 800 thoughts per minute is going to hurt someone.

My meds (for ADHD along with antidepressants) don’t always work flawlessly – sometimes I don’t take care of myself, rest, manage things like PTSD triggers, etc, and I’ll find myself in the same familiar patterns of thought, but for the most part the difference is, well, night and day. Medicated, my mind gets slowed down enough to allow a few precious moments of self-awareness to talk back, or to just stay focused on whatever is more important in the moment (ADHD meds), and antidepressants keep the whole thing from weighing me down too much – always taking that turn for the worse, feeling the heaviest and darkest of emotions in inopportune moments.

Anyway, wrapping this up before it gets too much longer, I don’t want to know how many lives this whole thing has claimed. As a friend and I discussed recently, a lot of suicides aren’t planned for weeks ahead, they’re impulsive. That’s easy for me to believe, and awful to think about. Please, for the love of everything, take this seriously. Get help. Find something that works for you. Don’t think you can keep managing this on your own. I thought I could, but people who love me didn’t let me let it get far too far. People cared enough to help me recognize things – often having to tell me it was worse than I was trying to tell myself (and them) it was.

It’s almost shocking sometimes when I finally come out of some of these episodes and realize just how twisted my thought process was going through it. I tried to talk it out with my wife the other day after the fact and it was just… What the hell. The concept of logical insanity is intriguing to me: a series of seemingly reasonable conclusions which only appear so if a faulty foundational premise is accepted. In context, depression informs much of the mind’s thought process foundationally, subtly twisting everything built on it.

So… Yeah, I’m gonna pass on “The Gift”. Well, I wish I could, anyway. I’ll keep doing the next best thing and, umm, keep that junk wrapped up via medication.

That’s about all I got. Stay sane, my friends.

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7 thoughts on “Depression and the “Gift” of ADHD

  1. I’ve really enjoyed your writing and can identify with your thoughts and emotions here.

    “Fairly regularly in my life, I’ve experienced a powerfully overwhelming feeling of inadequacy, strong sense of being rejected, or a “left-behind-ness”, and this is one reason why I take medication.”

    This pretty much sums up my outlook on things, including my “relationship” with God. I take meds for anxiety (which can lead to bouts of depression) and have to constantly remind myself that my perception isn’t reality. It’s hard because these emotions are there no matter how much I try self talk etc.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Anyway

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes that’s the joy of social anxiety. My wife helps me process my irrational thoughts and perceived rejections from others. But I still avoid people as much as I possibly can to keep them from confirming what I think about myself. Of course then that makes me a horrible Christian and the spiral begins.

        Your “A moment of honesty” post helped me realize I’m not alone. So thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I see the whole ADHD is a gift thing being bandied around often on social media. I believe it maybe is a gift for those with a mild or medium rating. However, for those with severe ADHD, or those with comorbid issues such as depression and anxiety, or those who cannot tolerate medication, ADHD is no gift. But try to speak up about that and you will get drowned out in a flash. The exact same thing is occurring with autism spectrum disorder. There is a massive push agains the group ‘Autism Speaks’ by an undercurrent of people who believe their ASD is a gift. And it very well may be for those people, because ASDers can be super creative and intelligent; however, for so many, ASD is far from a gift, and that’s who Autism Speaks try to represent.

    Like

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