July 3, 2010
Maybe it was my husband’s near-fatal heart condition three years ago. Maybe it was the cease-and-desist order for GardenSpirit (my dream come true retreat house) last year, which is forcing me to jump through extremely bureaucratic hoops (can you spell R-E-D T-A-P-E?). Maybe it was my parents moving into assisted living this week with virtually no notice. Maybe it was the failed project to redirect water away from my front yard that culminated in an ugly gash 4 feet wide and 200 feet long. Maybe was my dear Sheltie painfully hobbling toward an inevitable end. Maybe.
Or maybe, under a constant attack of stress, my brain reverted to its genetic predisposition. Depression.
Ugh. I really hate that word. And it seems to have descended on me despite my best efforts to 1) ignore it 2) pretend I was far too ‘healthy’ to fall victim to it and 3) work like a madwoman to outrun it. But thanks to my new psychiatrist, I am starting to view depression in a different light.
“It is really unfortunate that we use the word ‘depression’ because it sounds like you are sad. That’s not what depression is,” Dr. Ware told me yesterday. “It’s more like the frontal lobe of the brain goes dark.”
Frontal lobe? Hey, isn’t that an ADHD issue? Isn’t that all about executive function and planning and impulse control? Hmmm, could they possibly be related? Well yes. And no.
Depression isn’t ADHD. I was pretty angry when I found out I had ADHD because depression and ADHD in women are often confused. Even after I learned that ADHD often has a sidecar disorder along for the ride (like depression, bipolar, obsessive-compulsive), I was mad at all those doctors who had misdiagnosed me. I decided I’d probably never been depressed at all. It had been the ADHD all along, right?
Uh, probably not. Dr. Ware reminded me that signs of depression include lack of concentration, distractibility, trouble with focus. Huh. Sounds a lot like my good friends Inattention and Distraction, who pop up in a diagnosis of ADHD.
I suspect that for me, depression and ADHD take turns at the helm. One is in the driver’s seat while the other rides in the sidecar, then they switch places. Since it has been years since I was really depressed, I blithely decided that it would never return. Ever. WRONG.
Many of you wondered why I chose to stop taking my Adderall, especially when it had served me so well in the past. What I now realize is that the Adderall was keeping me afloat, squishing that depression into a corner so I could get something DONE (my favorite four letter word, remember?).
It was actually a miracle/stroke of genius/blessing that I stopped taking my Adderall because it peeled back the covers to reveal a more basic issue that I probably wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. When Dr. Ware told me that depression actually causes cell death in the brain (which is repairable, thank goodness) I suddenly understood why I’ve been struggling with even basic tasks (but embarrassed to admit it).
I have lots more to say about this but I know the ADD brain prefers short, sweet articles, so I’ll stop here for today. Stay tuned …
Oh, and my treatment plan includes being consistent with my antidepressant, fish oil, exercise and folic acid….tantalized???? Come back tomorrow for more….
(But first, tell me about your experience with depression…were you ever diagnosed with depression before your ADHD diagnosis? After? Talk to me!)