Do I actually have ADHD? – Exploring likely factors increasing my symptoms

Last time I wrote, I discussed the possibility that I may have borderline ADHD. Today, I’m taking a step back to explore if it might actually be the result of a life spent under chronic stress (note that I am not suggesting that all folks diagnosed with ADHD are simply stressed, I am merely pondering whether I am just stressed).

I do not know if I have ‘true’ ADHD. What I do know is this:

I don’t know if I have ‘true’ ADHD. Here is what I do know:

  • I routinely have 7 hours between when I start trying to fall sleep and when I’m woken for the day
  • Between the these 7 hours, I am often woken 2-3 times for 20-60 minutes at a time
  • Since childhood, screens have been part of my bedtime routine, where I watch a movie or show until I can no longer keep my eyes open
  • I always feel tired and often irritable when I wake up in the morning
  • I have a hard time starting tasks that I don’t find very exciting
  • When something truly interests me, I struggle to focus on anything else
  • I struggle with completing projects
  • I often feel overwhelmed by my ‘to-do’ list
  • I have to set reminders for myself for anything outside of the usual routine
  • If something feels important enough that I worry about forgetting it, I tend to fixate on it (often anxiously) so that I don’t forget it
  • The most effective way to get me to do chores is to assign to me another more pressing task that I don’t want to do
  • I regularly drink about 16-24oz of fluids in a day, which frequently includes 8-12oz of coffee. And I don’t love fruits or vegetables
  • The idea of “drink when you’re thirsty” just isn’t helpful to me. My thirst drive either isn’t strong or I’m very well practiced at ignoring it
  • I spend hours on social media every day
  • I use my phone often in the presence of my children, as a ‘break’ from my children
  • I’m not as patient of a person as I’d like
  • I often feel cold when everyone around me is comfortable
  • My bloodwork almost always shows I am borderline anemic and insufficient in vitamin D
  • I rarely spend more time outside than what it takes to get from building to car
  • None of this is due to a lack of motivation — I would love to change

Looking at this list, I feel like I’m coming full circle to some of my earlier blog posts where I tried to set goals related to setting a baseline of personal care. If not ADHD, I have at least had a lifelong relationship with sleep deprivation, dehydration, anemia, and vitamin D insufficiency.

I took a brief pause here to get myself a glass of water and drank some of it. It may not sound like much of an achievement for most people, but here I am tooting my own horn. Toot toot. Good job, Kay.

A quick dive into the Internets (making sure find multiple official sources supporting these to be true) helps me tie my struggles with my symptoms.

Sleep deprivation, dehydration, anemia, and vitamin D insufficiency ALL are known to increase:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • pain (such as headache, muscle cramps, joint pain)
  • difficulty focusing
  • impaired memory

Clearly, whether or not I have ADHD, my current habits are fueling my fatigue, irritability, concentration and memory challenges. So the question becomes.. how do I change this and make those changes stick?

A philosophy I’ve tried to live by lately is that any new habits must super easy. I can’t leave any room for my brain to talk myself out of doing it. If I try to adopt a habit and it’s not working out, that probably means my habit is not easy enough. A the same time, I’m trying to stop living by throwing every possible solution at a problem at once.

Choose with something that has high impact potential and boil it down to a small habit of low effort with brief time commitment. I’m already taking a multi-vitamin so my next idea is to get outside for a 1-minute walk. 1-minute may not do much, but I need to make sure the bar is low enough that I’m willing to go out and do it at all. I can build the habit over time.

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