Therapy and Adult ADHD

Updated: Sep 13, 2020

When There's a Problem

I'm terrified of saying or doing something wrong. Being judged is one of my biggest driving factors as an adult. I'm working on this. As I've had to deal with my son going through traumatic experiences through school, daycare, and others who neither understood nor accepted him, it's been hard on me. This misunderstanding, or perceived rejection, is very hard to take. It's a physical feeling in my chest, like a vacuum that is cracking my ribcage from the inside. When our family lived in Florida, it was this feeling that had started to make me avoid doing anything outside the home without my husband. I've always viewed him as my protector and in a lot of ways, I made him in charge of emotionally protecting me. It was misguided, because this feeling, this pain, is something I need to face. I need help with that, but asking my husband to be my shield isn't the answer. Therapy is.

Is It Anxiety?

It's true that there is a definite link between ADHD and anxiety. In fact, when I originally started therapy in Florida that was what I was being treated for, but I had brought up something with her a few weeks before we moved... I have a different process of feeling emotion than others. I have the physical feeling, then the emotion comes, and then I have a thought connected to it. The first step was making sure that this wasn't an actual heart problem, which can trigger anxious thoughts and tendencies. When that came up as an all-clear from my regular doctor, we continued anxiety therapy as normal. My husband said this was the best time I have had mentally, and that recently I've been backsliding. 

It has been suggested to me that this could be a condition called RSD, or Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria. I am trying not to research it until I have a diagnosis. (Better said than done when you have an interest and tendency to hyper-focus on psychology.) I've brought it up to other professionals and had mixed results on how well the took me even talking about the possibility that this is how my mental process works. It's incredibly painful that this, too, is being rejected.

This is making my own ADHD symptoms worse, and I don't know how to stop the cycle yet. This is why I need help. There is a strong feeling of not trusting my brain, and being terrified that everyone is going to find out that my brain is more broken than it is. My writing is a way I can challenge those thoughts and move toward recovery. 

How Do We Cope Until Then?

Sometimes we have to accept that when we bring up these feelings that others will attack us because of a lack of understanding, or that it is too painful for them to accept because of their own experiences. This is a hard lesson to learn, and I'm fighting my brain that wants to tell me that I'm a failure and that my brain is beyond repair. I am a smart, capable, person who needs help, and that's okay. Everyone needs help.

Though I can't remember who wrote it, I've held onto some advice I had read a long time ago. "Everyone in mental health needs a good therapist to deal with the trauma they deal with others. Without that, they may lose sight of the good in people and become consumed by the flaws in others and in themselves."

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