Trying to understand myself

For as long as I remember, I always felt kind of out of place. As if I was living in a world of my own. I always felt as if I was different from the others and often misunderstood. Everything seems intense to me. I care so much about everything. I feel trapped in the past.
In october of 2022, my doctor told me I have a generalized anxiety disorder. He prescribed me antidepressants, but I never wanted to use them. I wanted to get better on my own. I tried, but failed. I drank alcohol to cope with my feelings and never ending thoughts. In december of 2023, I finally accepted to take sertraline. I reached a point that was just too much to handle for me. Everything stressed me out. I had my last drink on december 13th. I started my antidepressants on december 15th. I have a lot of health anxiety, so I was scared of mixing the two. I’m now at 100mg. To be honest, if it wasn’t for the meds, I wouldn’t have stopped drinking. I do miss it. I am scared of stopping for life. I’m so young, 24 yo. I can’t imagine never having the taste of wine again. I’ll have to figure that out, because I don’t wanna waste all the work I’ve put and let alcohol sneak into my life again…
Anyways, I started seeing a psychologist. From talking to me, she suspects I have ADHD. What?? I never suspected that. But after having her explanations, it kinda does make sens… I suck at time management, am easily distracted, I procrastinate so much, my short term memory sucks, perfectionism… all that to say i’m all confused. I feel like I don’t know myself anymore. Do I have anxiety? Do I have adhd? Is anxiety a consequence of adhd? Why do I drink? Also I learned that substance abuse is way more frequent in people who have adhd. I’m trying to connect the dots. Otherwise I feel lost. Thanks for reading

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Did I write this?! Well, I could have. I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety/depression, but never medicated. I don’t suspect I have ADD/ADHD, I’m positive I do. My brother was diagnosed at 8. When I was older I stole his adderall for fun. It blew my mind that I could have my thoughts in order. Everything went in a straight line instead of all tangled up. Everything finally made sense. That’s a luxury ‘normal’ people don’t know they have. Unfortunately, the addict in me wanted more and more, but that makes it less effective. Idk if I could trust myself to not abuse a prescription.

Alcohol slowed me down. Since being sober so long now, it’s very hard for me to keep track of everything the way I did while drinking. No matter when I start getting ready for work, I’m always a minute late. It never fails and I was never like that before. I constantly think about everything that needs to get done but I just never get to it. Not bc I don’t have the time, I just…won’t. Like today I should’ve started wrapping my daughter’s birthday presents but now I’ll have to scramble after work tomorrow before she gets home. It’s always last minute for me. There definitely are days where I feel motivated, and when I do, I do as much as I can while I’ve got it. I take those days as a win. Can’t win everyday :woman_shrugging: Even though it’s tough sometimes, I know that alcohol is out of the question for me now. That’s just a fact. I’m learning who I am for the first time, and figuring it out as I go. It will be a lifelong journey. Wish you the best on yours :pray:

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Sounds to me like you are a very caring. Empathic person, who therefore experiences all of the emotions on the spectrum. Feeling all the feelings can be scary, particularly when you have numbed them before with alcohol. Be gentle on yourself. If you have ADHD, don’t worry, you can use it to your advantage. I have ADD, never medicated but I microdose :mushroom: for my brain, and it’s incredible. Find what works for you. Read up on dopamine deficiency and you will understand yourself and your brain better!

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Hey Isabelle,
Amazing work for getting on top of things at such a young age. Imagine waiting 10, 20 years before starting your sober journey. Do you think you’d be upset you missed out on 20 years of drinking when you are 45?

I am getting my ADHD assessment done next week. My psychologist says I am likely self medicating with alcohol. I hope you get the help you need and it sounds like you’ve got a great action plan happening.

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As someone with ADHD and addiction problems, I understand you. I also chose to not take meds after sobering up. Its really difficult to deal with my anxiety sometimes but I rather deal with it than be on drugs. I’ve chosen to be completely sober. Only thing I take is my heart pulls, vitamins and the occasional Tylenol or advil for pain. My doc said it was fine…but…difficult. I like to struggle lol. Wish you the best :people_hugging: you are not alone on this.

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Hi Isabella,

Thanks for your post. I can relate to 100% of it. I got diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 49, then a psychiatrist switched to C-PTSD, but at the end of last year during an in-house neuropsychological treatment they determined that ADHD is basically the core of my highly impulsive life so far. As an undiagnosed ADHD I picked up a lot of trauma throughout my life. Leading to anxiety and depression, although I personally think that depression resulting from ADHD can be quite specific and putting it under “you have a depression is really a to narrow view”. Meds might help there, but depression meds didn’t do it for me. However ADHD meds do make me feel less depressed. I also never felt I didn’t fit in and never really felt understood or heard. I can accept it more and more, but it isn’t easy. Remember that ADHD brings also a lot of positive things: likely to be intelligent, creative, resilience, hyperfocus, create order from chaos, willing to take risk, curiosity, adventurous etc. I’m grateful you got the diagnosis at a relatively young age. Feel free to reach whenever you feel the need to. Drinking is not the solution, tried that for 30+ years. Your special don’t forget that,

All the best :pray:

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Wow can i ever relate to this! I grew up feeling very out of place, alone, different from others. I felt like something was missing but couldnt determine what that was. When i found drugs, it felt like i had found my answer. But drugs very quickly began taking things away from me. And that continued for 22 years. Along the line i had been seeing psychiatrists and counsellors etc. I was diagnosed with BPD and PTSD, and also experienced alot of anxiety. Im on 2 diff meds now, one of those being sertraline like urself. My meds help me in my recovery. They allow me to manage my intense emotions better so that the urge to use drugs to cope, isnt as strong.

I understand ur thoughts around this. But try not to look too far ahead. That can feel daunting. Focus on one day at a time. Literally focus on staying sober for today and then when the next day arrives, just focus on that day. I couldnt imagine going clean without drugs for the rest of my life (and still sometimes the thought pops up) but then i remind myself to live in the moment and focus only on today. That thought does pass.
Im glad ur here. That “lost” feeling will eventually go away as ur sober life unfolds :slight_smile: Wishing u all the best in ur journey!

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You can have both anxiety and ADHD :+1: they do co-occur.

ADHD is relatively common. About 5% of the population has it. The majority of people who have ADHD have not been diagnosed and they are getting by in life, functioning more or less. Some find ways to live that work great for the ADHD brain: military, paramedic, roadie for a travelling band, dancer or musician, etc etc - all these are jobs that play to ADHD strengths. The ADHD mind is brilliant at responding to the unexpected; it is also brilliant at taking in everything in a moment in time, and that’s why ADHD people can make great entrepreneurs. (It’s the same reason we get overwhelmed: we don’t actually have a deficit of attention; what we have is a hyper-awareness. It is a strength in some cases and a liability in others.)

Anxiety and ADHD have kind of a complicated relationship. There’s lots to learn. It’s not easy to say what causes what or if they are related at all, and it varies person to person. Best thing to do is keep an open mind and be glad you have the support that you do :innocent:

Drinking and ADHD often co-occur - you’re right about that. That is related to dopamine (the anticipation hormone), which is stimulated by addiction (always anticipating the next drink or high), and dopamine is in short supply in ADHD brains. It’s a recipe for addiction.

The good news is there’s lots of support and lots of knowledge. I joined an ADHD Adult group therapy class in my city that was super helpful. I also took the time to get a formal diagnosis at a psychological testing centre (it was several days of testing and it took them about 2 weeks to process the results, which they presented to me; I have, in his words, an “extreme presentation of ADHD” :rofl: No surprise there!).

There’s lots of good writing about ADHD. I encourage you to stick with research-informed sources. (There are hucksters trying to sell lifestyle products and so-called “natural” remedies out there. There’s no need to pay for those things. They’re the same stuff as you’d get in a healthy diet. Just eat healthy and get exercise and take care of your body.) Consult with your doctor and your psychologist - legitimate professionals - and read sources that are based in reliable research (for example, books by Dr Thomas Brown and Dr Ned Hallowell are reliable). There are some excellent social accounts with useful stories and tips, including How To ADHD and ADHD Love.

Be happy! You know more about what you are now. You can become your full self and learn to live in the world with your mind, not fighting it but understanding it. You’re at the beginning of a scary but positive new chapter friend :innocent:

Be upfront with your doctor about your addiction history. Medications for ADHD are helpful: there is decades of reliable research, tested and re-tested and triple checked, around the world in many different situations, showing that stimulant medications are a key part of long-term healthy management of ADHD for most people with ADHD (the reason is, when taken as prescribed, they stimulate the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, both of which are in short supply in ADHD brains: they essentially rebalance the brain).

BUT - these medications can be tricky for some people with a history of addiction. So speak with your doctor and be upfront and take it one day, one week at a time. You’ll find what you need if you communicate and don’t give up. (And remember - healthy diet and lots of exercise is very, very helpful for ADHD folks. It has a huge impact for us.)