Where do I start…the non-ADHD assessment

I don’t even know where to start.

I had the “ADHD assessment” that I have been trying to get for over a year. I may as well have spoken to a little old lady at a bus stop.

Don’t get me wrong, the psychiatrist was lovely, a positive, upbeat individual. ¬†It was clear that she was a wonderful human being with a strong desire to help people. Had we met at a party, we’d have been putting the world to rights over a warm chardonnay until 3am. It was also as if the last 20 years of research into ADHD had never happened. As Terry said, when I told him, it was barely one step removed from drilling a hole in my head to let the evil spirits out.

No assessment tools, not even the self report scale (ASRS-V1.1) that is readily available on the internet. No reference to the DSM-V or ICD-10 diagnostic criteria. A brief skim over why I think I may have ADHD (it’s lucky that I have a psychology degree then) and a discussion in which I tried to impart that not everyone with ADHD presents in the same stereotypical way, and that yes, it’s possible for a person to have ADHD even when they were not the “naughty kid” at school and managed to get a degree. She happily admitted that she wasn’t an ADHD specialist, as there aren’t any in Monmouthshire. Really, if I’m going to be assessed for something, I’d quite like it if the assessor knows a bit more about the issue than I do.

The non-assessment ended with some friendly, positive and utterly unhelpful advice about finding a stable part time job. I have a part time job thanks, in fact, I have four (another ADHD flag if ever I saw one). I’d like one job, I’d like it to be full time, and have some sort of career prospects. Trouble is, I have problems getting done what I need to do to make it happen. And have done for nigh on the last 13 years. Progress is sporadic and inconsistent.

I’d like some support, please. I’d like to see if meds will help me concentrate for long enough to implement new strategies and finally get my life together. They may, they may not, but I’d like the option to try. Not be scared off with unfounded claims that they might affect my fertility or that I might get addicted to them. I do know a bit about these meds, and I know people who know a lot about them. Like most people of a psychological bent, I’m not a fan of psychiatric interventions for which there is very little or very shaky evidence. ADHD medication, however, is one of the most successful psychiatric medicines that we have. I’d also like some kind of psychotherapy to address the psychological damage that struggling with ADHD has done, namely lack of confidence and constant feelings of inadequacy which are holding me back. I would like to progress to a stage where I am in a position to help others.

I despair for all the other people who find their lives complicated by ADHD who do not have psychology degrees or a wonderful, supportive partner who understands ADHD. Who cannot argue the toss, or spend a year pushing for an assessment. Who go to their GP, at the end of their tether, only to be told a year later by a lovely non-specialist that they have nice lives, and would need to be on the verge of a prison sentence before they would qualify for any help. I don’t blame the psychiatrist, she was only doing her job as best she could, with the resources and training she had. Maybe the Aneurin¬†Bevan health board could enter into a public-private partnership with Homebase next and buy a few drills?

I despair. I really do.