Living With Adult ADHD - Danny's Interview - Part 2 of 4 - 071May 14, 2020
Today I’m continuing my interview with Danny, an artistic soul who was diagnosed with ADHD in his 40s.
When we left off at the end of the last episode, Danny had just experienced an epiphany that ADHD might be the source of many of his struggles in life.
This episode starts with Danny’s revelations from listening to an audio book on ADHD and then he describes a very dark time in his life and where he found a lifeline.
Let’s jump right in.
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My mission is to put an end to the worldwide needless suffering of adults with ADHD and those with under-developed Executive Function Skills - whether from ADHD, chronic depression or anxiety, trauma, addictions, or chronic illnesses. And, you don't need a formal diagnosis to know you need help developing these executive function skills in order to greatly reduce your suffering.
Full Episode Transcript Dr B: Hey ADDers! Today I'm continuing my interview with Danny, an artistic soul who was diagnosed with ADHD in his 40s. When we left off at the end of the last episode Danny had just experienced an epiphany that ADHD might be the source of many of his struggles in life. This episode starts with Danny's revelations from listening to an audiobook on ADHD. And then he describes a very dark time in his life and where he found a lifeline.
Danny: So much of just listening to an hour or twos worth of audio book, like, just you know, and I was already... so like some stuff that was going on in my life when I was 43. I had already lost both of my parents within the last couple of years. Like I had graduated, I had a film production company fall apart, like had a real falling out with some of my friends, because we couldn't pay the bills, and we went our separate ways. And I was living alone in one of my father's houses and really self-isolating in a very unhealthy way. And so, like, this diagnosis felt like a godsend in a time where I was really struggling. Like I--at that point in my life and this is just prior to meeting you and finding the group-- I was deeply suicidal. Like there's no other way to say it like that lifelong low-grade depression was raging. Like I would wake up every morning and... I lived in a two-story house, my bedroom was upstairs, and I used think, like, picture walking into a noose at the top of the stairs so I don't have to face the day, right? Just walk into a noose... like it was... it was just constant and I've talked about this before so I know you know all this stuff so I'm comfortable with it being out there.
If I had ever owned a gun... Because I woke up with a voice in my head telling me that, like, I've failed. I'm worthless. That like I'm 43 years old and alone. That like, it was just all this big picture stuff. Like at the time, I was also deeply in student loan debt, which I had no prospects for getting out of. It was heavy, you know, it was... it was.
And I had been living that way for a while without having told anybody, you know, without having...I didn't have health insurance, you know. I was in the middle of trying to deal with my... just in the beginning of trying [00:04:00] to deal with my father's estate. And just prior to finding out, like, sort of this ADHD thing, I told my brother that I was suicidal.
Just sort of coming out to my family as being majorly depressed was huge. So the first thing we did was try and get me health insurance, and I did that. And the first thing I did with the health insurance was obviously get a physical, because that's the thing they make you do. It took a little while for the--like maybe three months--for the mental health portion of my insurance to kick, which sucks, because when you're in crisis like that, the weight is just horrible, right? Like, but, I didn't go there my first appointment to deal with my depression. I went there to get diagnosed with ADHD.
Like I knew this is what's going on. And I need to deal with this because I've never in my entire life I've never dealt with all this underlying stuff that like is one of the major causes of why my life is the way it is, right? So like, that and so like the first doctor that they hooked me up with was a guy who did specialize in ADHD. But like, so, I went to for him for my diagnosis, and he told-- Like, I took the battery of tests that they did and he said to me that I tested really high for everything except the hyperactivity. And I was like "duh."
And so like, just the formal diagnosis-- which it was almost like a formality, right, it was almost like a technicality at that point--was massive. It was huge. And then, so after that they had some, like, Kaiser--which was my healthcare provider at the time--had some informal therapy stuff, but it was nothing. Like, I tried it a little bit. It was just like it wasn't consistent enough; there wasn't…
So I knew that I would have to look for resources out there. And yours was one of the first things that I found for adults with ADHD that like even existed as a resource, right ? And so I was like, I wasn't expecting a ton. I was like, I'm just gonna go. I'm just gonna see how this is.
And so something we haven't talked about is that in spite of me, you know, not being diagnosed with ADHD, I've always been a self-help guy. Like, I've always been trying to fix whatever I thought was wrong. Even if I didn't have a name for it, even if I didn't know that all these different things were part of my disorder. Like, I've always been big on self- improvement and big on trying to like, fix whatever is wrong. So like I had a whole library of self-help books, a whole bookshelf filled with self-help books. So like, the first night I went [to the MeetUp group] was a great night to go because you guys were doing practical tips. And for me, I wanted actual practical things. It was sort of like one of the things I was looking for.
[Okay, now that I have this thing and I know what it is, how do I manage my life with it? Like how do I, you know? And, I was just starting on meds at that point and I made the mistake a lot of people with ADHD make: I thought taking the pill was going to cure everything. Right. I really did like I thought it was going to be dramatic and I think at the one that first meeting I was still getting my dosage adjusted like that's how new it was. Like I didn't really have.. So I still had those expectations that pills were going to cure my we're going to change my life and cure me. But I also knew that it wasn't going to be something that I wanted to do by myself, right?
Like I needed, I needed support. Like I needed to be around people because I didn't know anybody. I was like, I was at a point where I felt like I had [00:09:00] been hit by a truck. Like that is how I would put it. Like I walked into that room not knowing what to do, where to go. Like, is my life going to get better?
I had some hope for the pills, but like I didn't... not only was I green I was exhausted. Like I was just, you know, I was in a bad place still, you know, I still had those screaming voices of worthlessness in my head. Like I still had... I still woke up to that every day, even after that.
So the things that people shared were really cool. Like about how you open your mail and how you, like, just all these little things that were just perfect. Like they were speaking to me in a way I needed. But I have to say, they, like, it was the wins thing that happened at the very beginning of the meeting. And it was so important to me to hear that a win could be anything. That it could be anything positive that happened to you during the week. And like, when you came to me, like I don't even remember if I had a win. Like I don't...it's the thing that people usually do. Or they're like, "Well I made it here," you know, and it's like, um. But I knew it's something that like just clicked in my brain. It was like, I've always been a pretty self-aware person, and I was like, "Dude, I know that there's good things that's happened to me." It just gets drowned out by all of the things I don't have, right? Like things I don't... I'm not the things that like I feel like are weighing me down. Or like, just like the big–
I was so big picture-focused and I felt dwarfed. Like I felt dwarfed by my debt. I felt dwarfed by my lack of a love life. I felt dwarfed by the fact that all my brothers have families and I don't have a family. And like I felt everything's wrong. Everything's wrong, you know, like and there's no-- I don't know how to make it right, you know? Like it was all of that was huge in my mind. Like all that was massive.
So like whatever good happened, it was like, "Yeah, it's good right now..." And but, it's like, what does that mean? Like, and, and, I like so much to the point where I like I might not feel it for very long, right? And so a week later I'm gonna retain [00:12:00] that? What are you crazy? So like, I don't know if I had anything like that that I said when you came to me. But man, my voice was cracking. I was a deer in the headlights. I was like, I wasn't functioning. It like and you can almost hear right now. Like just going back there it's like I my voice was cracking like I…
I couldn't really get the words out. But I knew that this was something I was interested in and I remember just listening to other people like share their wins. And like, there's you know, I don't want to use anybody's name, but like there was somebody in the far distant corner of the room who to me was like a beacon of light. And I was really moved by his brightness and cheeriness. And it was obvious to me that many of the people in the [00:13:00] room not only had ADHD, but were dealing with problems that weren't even my problems. Like that, I could tell that people were struggling. I could tell that like people were... And that, it felt good to me. Like I don't you know, there's something about it that like, okay, yeah, I don't know these people but they're here, and some of them are dealing with stuff I've never had to deal with. So then, like, that's amazing. Right? And then there's some people here who would like have ADHD and have had it their whole life and are ---- happy. What? Like what? So, like, in the back of my mind sort of two things happened.
I was like, I want to be like that guy. That guy over there. He's beaming, right? I would like to be that. That. That's one thing. And then the other thing was like what is this wins thing and how come I've never read about it? How come I've never heard of this? How come I've never been given…
I don't think I used this word. But like, how come I've never been given permission to look at the bright side? So just like. And so like I did ask you about it, and it blew me away that, like, you didn't know where you got it from. That you'd been using it all this time. And I'm like, I'm someone who's very schooled in Psychology and pop psychology and self-help, but I have never heard of this. And this thing is crazy. Like this thing is..
I'm like on my drive home, I was like, I might have something for next--I'm coming back--but I'm going to have something for next week. So like I'm just going to look out for whatever that is. And it didn't take long because I pulled over for gas in Thousand Oaks, and I found five bucks laying next to my car when I got out to pump my gas. And I was just like, "Dude, that's a win."
Like that's, you know, if that's not... And like, you know me--finding money is one of my favorite things. It's something that happens a lot. But like even if it's just five bucks, it's just like that's the thing that like you can and should smile about. And despite whatever else is going on, that's good. There is good.
Dr B: Thanks for listening to Part 2 of this four-part series of my interview with Danny.
I know many many people can relate to going through dark periods and their lives, and I'm here to give you hope. Real hope that things can get better. Stay tuned because the next episode we'll talk a lot more about the brain and how to deal with cognitive hyperactivity.
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