Intersections: ADHD and OCD

I live in England, and at 46 years old have recently been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

While researching ADHD, I noticed a lot of articles about people who had committed suicide because of it. I was so saddened by this I felt I had to take action by sharing my story. If I can reach one person and encourage them to live life to the fullest, then I’ve done my bit.

Many people with ADHD find it difficult to drive, but it came naturally to me — I passed my driver license test on the first try at 17 despite suffering anxiety and sweaty panic attacks during the normal course of the day.

I wanted to be driver for class one trucks — the big ones that bend in the middle. Although I’m passionate about driving these vehicles, my ADHD-fueled anxiety was telling me I couldn’t do it. I was prepared for every question on the test; I knew it all – until it came to the actual testing! With no confidence in passing, I freaked out and ran home without even writing the test.

I endured years in a succession of different jobs. I faced bankruptcy as a taxi driver and watched my taxi and motorbikes being taken away to pay for debts — I have had some real low points. Because I was undiagnosed, I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I felt like a failure.

Eventually I received government job-retraining funding to help me prepare and pass the tests. It was my way out of money worries and with a license to what I wanted to do with my life. Now I drive a big fuel truck!

I’ve got a handle on my finances for the first time in my life — there was a time in my life when my wife gave me a daily allowance and had to manage the household finances herself. When I traded in my car recently, I managed to work out all the payments myself, understood them, and paid them. This was a huge step and a big change for me.

I drank too much, and ate loads of sugar — it didn’t put me in the best of moods. I was restless and irritable. I’d do everything to excess and let my obsessions take over my life.

I had always enjoyed running, but after my diagnosis and starting medication I began to run every night. Music also plays a big part in relaxing me while I run, and generally the exercise helps me file away thoughts. I started to get involved in off-road events and Ironman-type obstacle courses. This helped my focus and gave me determination and plenty of energy. I’m calmer now and put it down to the relief of being diagnosed, and of course, the healthy, ADHD-friendly lifestyle I’ve learned to adopt since discovering what I was dealing with.

So post ADHD diagnosis, life is great. I’m calm, clear, and confident. I always do the best I can, and that’s good enough.

I am so grateful for my diagnosis — it’s helped me find myself.

    • matt
    • September 29, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Melissa,

    Thank you sooo much for that needed imaginary hug! lol Fantastic…

    Since I wrote the article ive had so much feedback from loads of people here as I was also featured in our local paper. The main thing they all said was, “Thank you for being brave and ‘coming out’ about adhd and giving all of us awareness to it and for giving others hope”, which is what I set out to do.

    Yes, in answer to your comments, it’s good to talk, because for me it seems to relieve a bit of the stress I get at work or I go about things in a way that lessens the impact on my brain even though my work is stacking up or it’s going to be late by the time I get finished. I found different ways of dealing with it but now on medication, ‘wow’ a completely different ball game.

    It will take time but I’ll get there and the meds and relaxing mindfulness and chatting to people on here like yourself and the person above make me excited and happy because I know about it and want to share it out loud! lol

    I was also recently asked if I would give a talk to some nurses about ADHD! Me! A talk! I love talking and have no nerves now because I’m confident in what I”m going to say because I have it and they don’t and they want to learn from and listen to someone who has it. Fantastic. All this has happened to me. a guy with ADHD who’s being listened to for once. lol I’m speechless! The number of people who’ve come forward and said they know people with it and OCD, etc., it’s a phenomenal number, and they want to talk to someone who has it and find out more as well.

    It’s newsletters like this that do us good and get us all communicating and it will make us feel better. 😉 Thank you again for your coments and here’s to your success.

    • Matt
    • September 29, 2016
    Reply

    Thank you to all who have commented , I’ve just realised I can reply lol
    Thank you for your story as well which you shared .
    I will get back to you
    Regards
    Matt

      • david tundercloud
      • October 3, 2016
      Reply

      hey Matt I am Dave Thundercloud
      i just read your story. we are along the same path I have A.D.D. and I was going broke , i lost a mailroom job, got laid off ,I was having problems learning a specific duty of the job, due to a learning disability. After I got laid off i immediatley got into a government training program for what we call class A truck driving the same thing as you, I did obtain my truck license , so due to my anxiety and a room mate I don’t trust lol , I have been pondering going across country.

        • matt jenkins
        • October 5, 2016
        Reply

        Hi Dave
        It’s good for me to hear other people’s experiences and well done to you getting the licence .
        Yes that’s the thing next whether to go on to the next stage after passing .
        I’m never satisfied when I achieve something and move on to the next thing that I want to do, I don’t mean Constantly changing jobs but achieving goals and excitingly moving on , trying to perfect my brain to absorb more, especially with my meds now nothing stops me wanting more information lol.
        Well done for getting through all you’ve been through , it’s only after when you look back and hear other stories and share them that it feels ‘better’ if you get what I mean .
        I think the saying is ‘dot the i’s and cross the t’s ‘ , completed done move on to the next thing .
        Thanks for your comments also
        All the best
        Matt

    • Melissa Holmes
    • September 16, 2016
    Reply

    I agree with the person above so much so I’m speechless. I also recently found out about Rejection Sensitivity Disphoria and identify with it so much. It feels exhausting trying to not be a perfectionist! – primarily at work. Ugh I want a different job and feel stuck because of my ADHD,etc. So it’s reassuring to have people mention how talking to other people is helpful. So here I am, reaching out and giving you both a big imaginary hug.

      • Heidi Smith
      • October 13, 2017
      Reply

      Melissa – I wonder if I could connect with you somehow? I am waiting on a ‘formal diagnosis’ of inattentive A.D.D. and like you realised along with this I have R.S.D. – to me this impacts my life far more than the A.D.D. I’m 41 and since the age of 16 have never held a job down for more than 18 months. I quit and move on because I panic at work that I’m not doing the job correctly and always scared of what people think of me. I have very few friends. Two girlfriends, long -term friends who aren’t ‘needy’ and my husband is my only other true friend. I was wondering how you manage your R.S.D? Are you on am medication or do you have CBT or do you have your own coping strategies? I’m really struggling to understand it all and be happy in myself – I feel like I’ve ‘wasted’ so much time, and feel upset a lot lately. Thanks. x

      • Melissa Holmes
      • September 16, 2016
      Reply

      Oh wait I meant the person below…had the comment order mixed up

    • ExplicitInformant
    • September 14, 2016
    Reply

    I wonder if you could (or do?) talk more about the co-morbid OCD diagnosis. I know enough about OCD to know that it is associated with reassurance-seeking behaviors, and obsessions and compulsions that often feature doubt and uncertainty (whether about cleanliness, morality, safety, or whatever else).

    As someone who recently started getting treatment for ADHD, I am just now starting to seriously confront structure/reassurance-seeking behaviors I’ve had since I was younger. It is hard to tell when I am seeking too much reassurance from others (in a pathological way), or seeking too much certainty, and when it is completely normal to feel uncertain or need reassurance as a result of ADHD-driven issues — for instance, not knowing something age-appropriate because I was not in a position to learn or apply it when it was first taught, or being uncertain and doubtful because historically, I have faced negative consequences as a result of my difficulties with prioritizing, staying on track, etc.

    I still don’t think I probably meet criteria for OCD, but there is no doubt that I dislike doubt and uncertainty, and I certainly have some of the perfectionistic beliefs and behaviors that can underlie disorders like OCD. I’m curious if you experience any of that, and if so, if it is something you are comfortable sharing.

    Either way, I appreciate you sharing your story — the bit about driving was interesting because I don’t think of myself as struggling to drive… You know, aside from needing to be gently forced to learn how by a relationship partner when I was 20 (it was done gently and firmly — very exposure-therapy-esque — so it was definitely a good thing). 🙂 It is hard not to be anxious with ADHD, right? Especially during the learning stage of a complex task like driving, where your brain has not internalized some of the habits and routines, and yet the consequences are still high for screwing up! And even when it is not 2 tons going at 60mph, a lot of life is the same — significant and challenging, especially in the learning phase. (Hence the question about reassurance seeking — which is destructive — versus how to seek appropriate guidance.)

    Anyhow — thank you!

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