It is Mental Health Week in Canada.
How do we know what’s wrong with us? Usually, we go to a doctor, but when you suffer from mental illness, it can be a little more complicated.
I constantly think about what makes me different and the labels that would be placed on me. I’ve been vocal about my depression and anxiety on this blog, but I likely suffer from more eccentricities than just those two: I likely am on the autism spectrum and have attention deficit disorder. But where does something like anxiety or depression end and attention deficit disorder or Asperger’s syndrome begin?
While I haven’t been completely diagnosed with either Asperger’s or ADD, there have been many people in my life, including support professionals, that lean towards me having both.
I remember discussing Asperger’s syndrome with my now-wife and her sister, and they both felt that I was a near textbook example of someone with mild/high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. My wife still uses this diagnoses in her interactions with me, and it has helped our relationship greatly. I still don’t enjoy the thought of being autistic as I know it causes me to see things differently and I’ve been made fun of or bullied my entire life for being “different”.
If I have Aspergers and/or ADD, what does that mean for my life and how I deal with mental illness? Could my struggles with depression or anxiety be easier or more difficult if I also have Aspergers or ADD? (I think they are more difficult!)
In my most recent counselling, I was talking about how I feel and my counsellor asked me to take a few tests. I looked at her oddly as I read the titles as they were both for adult ADD. I had never thought of myself as someone with ADD and the thought that I could have another incurable issue greatly spiked my anxiety. I couldn’t help but wonder how broken I was. I think I even said to her and my wife, “how many things are wrong with me?”
It has been said that depression is estimated to be nearly three times more prevalent among adults with attention deficit (ADD) than among the general adult population.
In reading the symptoms of ADD, I couldn’t help but feel like someone had been living inside of my brain and writing out the issues I was experiencing. I often long for a drug like what was shown on the movie and television show Limitless. Called NZT, it provides an enhanced memory and very strong focus. My focus has always been something I struggle with but thought it was a struggle that everyone had.
I recently took some online tests to see how I’d fare for both Asperger’s syndrome and Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, and here are the results.
Asperger’s Test – I received a score of 31/50.
“26-31 gives a borderline indication of an autism spectrum disorder. It is also possible to have Aspergers or mild autism within this range.”
Adult ADD Test – There are two parts, and I received scores of 5/6 and 7/12.
“Scores in this range are indicative symptoms highly consistent with ADHD in adults.”
These scores are in line with other tests I’ve taken, including the ones I’ve been asked to complete by professionals.
Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to diagnose issues like I struggle through without extensive discussion and monitoring, something that a person like myself doesn’t really get thanks to moving every few years and having large periods of time without being a patient of any specific doctor.
And even if I could get some help, most medical professionals aren’t skilled at assisting someone with a combination of anxiety and ADD or depression and Asperger’s. As much as they understand the mechanics of the issues, my experience has been that they don’t really understand how I think or feel, and thus are limited in the assistance they can give, and it could be the reason why I’ve had so many issues with medication.