By Jawad A
I’ve completely changed the way I view the world and myself. Two years ago, before I started Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) school, I went to a psychiatrist. I felt there was something off about me. I knew how I was going to do in school, because the pattern was always the same. I would do great in the beginning of the semester but “lose motivation” mid-through the semester. Towards the end of the semester, I would panic and grind to pass the class. For the longest time, I considered myself a B+ student. This was so predictable, I assumed it was part of my character.
I hated how it felt. I didn’t know why I couldn’t stay motivated for long enough to finish a course as well as I started. What made everything even worse was that I knew I had good discipline. I had always disciplined myself in my workouts at the gym.
Growing up, people would describe me as lazy, unmotivated, and uncaring. They often accused me of making dumb or risky decisions. I felt like an outcast. I never fit in.
I never understood the labels people assigned me. I never understood how doing most of a task but forgetting one detail made me lazy. I never understood how they could say I was unmotivated when I was able to work out and pass all my classes. How was I uncaring when I truly apologized and was the “bigger person?”
I thought about everything in extremes. I didn’t understand how you could need structure in your life when everything in life is chaos. I didn’t understand how to have fun without risking my life (I was just trying to feel something, anything. Thankfully, I don’t feel like this anymore because of ongoing therapy and medication.) I didn’t understand how you can love someone but also be mad at them.
I also dealt with constant overthinking and rumination. Anytime someone said anything to me, I had entire conversations in my head with them explaining my point of view.
I told my psychiatrist I had issues focusing. She probed, wanting to know more, and I said, “I think I’m depressed.” I told her how I would lose motivation and how it made me feel. I told her how COVID got me down and how I felt I had no purpose. But when she asked me what I thought was the main issue, I told her being unable to focus was the primary problem. Though I said I was depressed, I didn’t think depression was the issue (ADHD/ADD is highly correlated with depression and anxiety.) I thought it was normal to feel this way – everyone feels “depressed.”
With me, it was the constant thoughts and internal conversations I would have about depression. I kept thinking how I didn’t like my life. Then I would get sadder because I felt I was being ungrateful. I would tell myself there’s no reason to be depressed but for some reason I just felt that way. It was a constant cycle.
I felt funny about taking medication until recently, when it finally clicked, ADHD/ADD is legit. The whole time I was on my medications, I felt like a fraud. I thought, “I’m only taking medication so I can sit and pay attention.” But that’s the exact reason I take them! Having a brain that doesn’t overthink everything and every interaction I have with anyone is blissful. Being able to see the whole without hyper-focusing on one random point is nice.
My relationships with my family, friends, and even strangers have gotten better because I understand my condition.
RSD (rejection sensitivity dysphoria) had a huge impact on my life. I took a lot of benign things personally. I created my impression of a person based on one interaction (that I had overthought into something horrible). I forgot all the good they had ever done because of something as trivial as them being late to meet with me. Of course, I would keep these thoughts to myself, and because this was going on in my head but was unspoken, you could feel the tension build between us.
It’s been two years since I reached out for help. I’m happy to say that without help, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Before I was just a sad/anxious kid trying to please everyone except myself. Now it’s just me trying to live my best life. Before, I believed I was living my best life because I was trying to make the people I care about happy.
I honestly don’t know what would’ve happened if I hadn’t reached out. If you need help, reach out and get help. You’re not alone.