D for Diagnosis

By the morning of my assessment I had wound myself up so much I was nauseous. I stopped taking the Duromine 10 days before my appointment so that the psychiatrist would be able to assess me in my full ADHD state. My mind was going a million miles an hour through all possible eventualities trying to prepare myself.

The clinic was a converted house, there was no reception area and nobody seemed to be around so I picked a couch and sat awkwardly while I absorbed my surroundings. After what felt like an hour (but was in reality 10 minutes) a petite Asian woman rushed out and ushered me into her tiny office.

She asked me why I thought I had ADHD, so I explained how I had come to the conclusion while taking Duromine. I can’t recall the other questions she asked exactly, I just remember feeling like everything was coming out wrong.

She was suspicious of me right off the bat and seemed very guarded. I had to rephrase my responses for her several times as she did not understand what I was trying to say, she cut me off a few times saying she just wanted facts not what I thought.

When I think about that assessment I instantly feel anxious, I knew she did not trust or believe me and I was terrified she had not really heard anything I had told her because of this. She kept saying she was not going to give me Duromine, I kept telling her that was not why I was there.

After 40 minutes she briefly mentioned that she felt I may have some PTSD from childhood events due to how much detail I used when describing them. She ushered me out and handed me a 90 question diagnosis assessment form to complete and told me it would take her a long time to mark. There was no discussion about when I would be back, what to expect, or what she thought about the ADHD. It all happened so quick, I felt worse not better.

I got in the car and cried my heart out, I had just spent $368 on what I was fairly sure was going to be a massive waste of time. As a one income family there were a million things we could have spent that on, especially in the month before Christmas. How had that gone so wrong?

As soon as I got home I completed the questionnaire and emailed it back. The questions were all geared towards children and I found it difficult to apply them to myself. I knew what some of them were getting at but the questions were so specific I answered literally. These was nothing like the diagnosis sheets my psychologist had gone through with me and I knew right away it was not going to give her a clear diagnosis. The wait was agonising.

One week later I got an email form her clinic advising I would need to come back in, and this would cost $241.50. I booked in for one week after that – more waiting.

Based on my first assessment I was even more nervous the second time around. I ran through lists of my symptoms in my head – I had to explain myself better and show her I was not just drug seeking. She was very abrasive off the bat, she confirmed the test showed ADHD but OCD, anxiety and depression had come up as bigger issues.

She was adamant that she wanted to put me on anti-depressants and suspected that I had OCD’d myself into thinking I had ADHD. She kept stating again and again that she would not prescribe me more Duromine, I kept telling her that it was not what I wanted – I just wanted help, I just wanted my mind to function.

I got to a point where I completely broke down, she looked visibly shocked by this. I told her I felt that the anxiety, depression and OCD were all a result of the ADHD – why treat the symptoms if you could treat the cause? I told her again what my head was like, what I experienced off meds and that I was terrified at the thought of having to live that way again – I could not do it.

She finally agreed to go with ADHD medication but would only consider Atomoxetine. She made it very clear that she would not prescribe me any stimulants as these “could be sold on the black market” she told me that she only gives these to people she knows well.

She took my weight, then my blood pressure. She had an electric blood pressure monitor that she insisted went on my wrist – this came up crazily high. I have never had high blood pressure in my life. She freaked out, lay me down and took it again – it was higher this time. She refused to prescribe until I had been seen by the nurse at my GP clinic and sent me off right away to get checked out.

By this point I was so frazzled and confused my mind was a mess. I had no idea if she would still make the prescription. The nurse at my GP was perplexed about the wrist monitor she had used, and suspected it was a child’s one. My blood pressure was absolutely fine. The nurse gave me a print out, which I sent in, and to my relief the script came through a few hours later.

I had my diagnosis, I had the meds, but everything about that experience played through my mind making me doubt myself to the core. I tried to go over the meetings in my head but they were so scrambled, I hated the way she made me feel but at this point I thought she was my only option.

$20 spent for the nurse, $5 for the meds – $634.5 in total and I had my script.

That night I took my first pill having absolutely no idea what to expect, and hoped for the best.

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