Yesterday my therapist sent me a text asking if I could come in at 1:30. My oldest daughter had a softball game after school, but I knew I could go to the appointment and get back in time to take her. My husband sent me a text asking what I was doing since he had a flat tire. I thought about cancelling my appointment, but I didn't hear back from him after calling and sending him a reply text so I kept my appointment for the time that it was scheduled. I hadn't been in recently, my therapist was out of town and booked, she's good so she's busy and I get that. The last time we had met she had gone through ADD/ADHD information with me after we went through the symptoms and I qualified for a diagnosis after answering yes to all except for one of the behaviors. I went home, told my sisters what my therapist had said, and they told me that they didn't think that I had ADD.
I was really frustrated by their dismissal. As my therapist said, how would they know? But my middle sister is a nurse practitioner who spent time at a psychiatric facility and my youngest sister said that I didn't act like the people she knows with ADD. My husband has been diagnosed with ADD and when my therapist was going through the checklist I kept thinking about the types of things that he does and the problems that he has. Sometimes I wonder if my oldest daughter has it, she can be very spacey, she's intelligent, but she forgets things and has problems following sequential directions. I don't like the argument that ADD/ADHD is not a real problem and that psychologists and psychiatrists are quick to diagnose normal childhood behavior as ADD/ADHD. I think it is a real problem and I've lived with someone who has it for almost twenty years.
I'm not really sure why ADD diagnosis didn't bother me, I've always been kind of scatter brained so I accepted what my therapist said, disregarded what my sisters said, and went about my life in a new way, seeking to better organize my time and things around the house. I kept thinking, if I can minimize the things we have at home, this will help everyone. Possessions are distracting. They require maintenance and upkeep. The fewer things we have, the more we can appreciate and enjoy the beauty of our home. I kept adding to the rummage sale pile feeling good about what I was accomplishing in the kitchen as I went through the drawers. I'm down to one drawer in the island and I could make the things there fit into another drawer by the stove if I want to get rid of the island entirely.
For some reason I was reading up on different disorders and I stumbled across something on OCD. When I was younger, I think I was in my twenties, I watched a segment on TV where it showed a couple of kids knocking on a man's door. The man opened the door, but it was obvious that he was reluctant to do so. A child sneezed and instantly his expression changed. He went inside, started washing his hands, and it wasn't long before there was blood in his sink from the agressive washing. I didn't know it at the time, but I had caught a special on OCD that I couldn't bear to continue watching. I either changed the channel or switched off the TV, but the incident never really left me, and to this day I can see the muted blues and grays of the production.
When I worked for the rental car company a woman named Robin who had OCD would rent a vehicle from us. She had to wear oven mitts on her hands at night so she wouldn't snatch at her hair which she wore very short. She had almost no eyelashes and she was very open about her condition although I tried not to pry. There were bald spots on her head where she had pulled the hairs that grew there out. She had a husband and children and I hoped for her sake that she could go back and see them soon. I met other people who stayed at the hospital on the outskirts of town. A girlfriend of mine works there as a dietician, and the husband of a friend of mine does marketing for the facility. A woman in our neighborhood does the ropes course, we stopped at her rummage sale last year and met her for the first time although we've both lived in the subdivision for years.
I tend to be one of those people who thinks that they have everything they read about or come across online. My sister once called me and told me that she thought that I was a borderline. My feelings were very hurt after I did some research on the disorder, but then my middle sister reminded me that my sister was just going off of things she had read and I shouldn't consider that anything official. Still, I read up on it myself and the things I discovered were chilling since I could see a lot of myself in the description. I ran it past a therapist who told me that I had a lot of anxiety, but I wasn't a borderline. They're rare, they're a lot of work, and I was very relieved when she told me that since a garden variety anxiety seemed much more manageable and not as serious.
I had a lot of anxiety when I went in to see my therapist. I told myself to be brave and it helped that I like her and she's always been very kind to me. I tried to be very calm when I told her that I wasn't sure that I had ADD. We talked about it for a while. I shared what I had read about OCD, and she's known me for long enough to have a good idea of my thought patterns and behaviors. She agreed that I had a tendency to obsess, she gets treated to my latest fad whenever I come in and my therapist is somewhat unique in that she lives in our neighborhood so we know each other on a social and personal level in addition to what she's learned through her professional role in my life.
We talked about bedding and laundry and my grandmother who was so persnickety she wouldn't let us kids do the dishes when we came over. Her dining room was set between two sets of French doors that were almost always closed. She ironed in there, standing on the plastic strips that covered the carpeting lest any speck of dirt fall onto the flooring below. Her house was immaculate, but it wasn't a fresh or inviting type of clean. It was cold, militant, and sterile. My other grandmother would pile neat stacks of papers on her dining room table that would have to be moved when company came over. She packed travel sized shampoo and conditioner bottles into a bag she thought she was going to use later. Her drawers were neat, there was an order to the collection of things that she felt were important, but she couldn't figure out how to put away the things she took out.
My family took seven loads to the dump the first day we started cleaning in the basement. My other grandmother wasn't the sentimental type. Her house didn't ever seem to change. It was the same tablecloth, the same bar of soap that rested on the downstairs bathroom sink and the same crisply ironed sheets that we laid on at night. She threw away my father's baseball card collection and used my uncle's silver dimes at the laundromat when her washer was out of commission. There was a ruthlessness to her that none of us children could warm to, but she was our grandmother so we weren't allowed to be too critical of her. My grandfather tried to make up for it by taking us out and buying us candy, that too was criticized since my grandmother wanted him to be watching his weight.
I've helped my father move several times. I think there's a misconception that people with OCD are perpetually cleaning or very tidy as my grandmother was. She did everything for her children so my dad didn't do his own laundry or make his own meals. She was nervous, I had heard the grownups talking about her and how she saved money during the depression to buy a set of silverware. Nobody cares about it now just like none of us kids is really interested in the china that my mother treasures. It will go to my brother when my mother dies and I doubt that he'll do anything with it. I wouldn't mind having a set of silver, there were times when I got along with my grandmother on my father's side and I would like something of hers other than the red Pyrex bowl I claimed when I was out there cleaning after her funeral.
My therapist explained that both ADD and OCD are disorders that stem from underlying anxiety. She can see an OCD component, but she's not ready to dismiss ADD entirely. We talked about how I wander from one topic to another. She says I'm trackable which means she can follow my train of thought, but how my brain is jumping from one topic to another that is seemingly unrelated puzzles her. Back in September she sent me to a nurse practitioner who specializes in psychiatric disorders. I didn't really like her, at the time they were trying to figure out if I might be bi-polar, but I think that was ruled out on a later visit for some reason or another that I can't remember now since it hasn't come up since and I know we talked about it after the consult.
This time my therapist wants me to see an MD so I can undergo some neurological testing, but when I called the main office they said their policy was to keep patients with the providers they had seen previously. I sent my therapist a text and she said I would need a psychiatrist for an OCD evaluation. I called back and the woman I spoke with told me she was very confused, that was annoying since I don't know anything about how any of this works, I'm just following the instructions that my therapist gave me and she had given me several names, but I hadn't written them down since she told me to make an appointment with the first available psychiatrist. It seemed to me that they should know who these people are and direct me to one, but it was more complicated than that.
The woman I spoke with is going to see if she can get the nurse practitioner I saw to release me so I can see someone else, and if that's not possible, I'm going to go somewhere else. I might anyways since I would really like to get to the bottom of this and get a plan together for living the rest of my life. After my appointment, I was completely exhausted, but I had to go get my youngest daughter and head out to pick up my oldest from her softball game. I must have missed my exit so I found myself on the far side of town. Then I went to the wrong park since I had either been told the wrong name, or gotten Brandt park mixed up with Brandenstein park. The email didn't say which park it was at and I was so tired I felt like crying on the way there and back.
My youngest and I stopped to pick up snacks. The girls won their game and when we got back home they were running around so I asked my oldest if she had homework and it was wonderful to see her sitting down at the table right away although she did ask to borrow my phone and I found some texts and emails that she had sent her friends while I was doing other things. Part of me is very frustrated since I've gone to other therapists and this hasn't come up before, but the human mind can be a difficult puzzle to solve and therapists are limited by the information you as a patient provide and their own clinical observations. I may not have OCD or ADD, I really don't know what is going on so I'm in an uncomfortable stage of limbo right now.
I know that there is something going on, my therapist told me that we need to calm my brain down since it's creating the anxiety. One thing that does make me feel better is her assurance that we would get to the bottom of whatever this is. It's possible that having OCD makes it look like I have ADD since I'm so obsessed with whatever my current fix is that I fail to prioritize appropriately so I might spend hours ironing or washing bedding that others think doesn't need to be washed, but I might truly have ADD as well. Despite feeling like there is a loss in my life to mourn, I'm glad that we were able to identify some patterns and hopefully new information and testing will help. I'm already nervous about meeting someone new and hearing what they have to say, but I know that I have to make this effort for myself, the girls, and the rest of the people who know and love me.