From Hell and Back
I’m a 46-year-old woman, and was misdiagnosed with panic disorder, for most of my life, until January of this year. I now know, that all of my supposed “panic attacks” were really emotional storms, caused by having untreated ADHD.
Starting in my late 20s, and continuing for most of my life, until I found proper treatment for ADHD, I had almost-daily, recurring emotional storms, regarding a repeated type of interaction between my supervisor and myself.
Whenever any supervisor said anything even remotely negative, about something that I was doing, this type of emotional storm was triggered. It could have been as harmless as, “you made 5 typos on this document.” Or, “I’d like for you to change “A” when you do ‘B’.”
My thoughts would immediately become seriously illogical, even though, at the time, I was positive that I was thinking clearly. I would start feeling embarrassed and ashamed. I would start thinking I was stupid and a fraud. I’d ask myself, “why haven’t learned how to do this correctly before now?” Or, “What is wrong with me?” My inner voice would race through all of the horrible things that I have heard others say to me throughout my life.
My thoughts would spiral too fast. Way too overwhelmed, I’d start feeling confused. I’d wonder if I had remembered things wrong. I’d feel like I need to defend myself or explain myself, but I never opened my mouth. I was sure if I said anything that it would come out all wrong, and it would make me look even worse. My heart would pound and my hands would shake. I felt like crying and tried my hardest to hold the tears back. Unfortunately, I would often burst into tears and continue crying for between 10 minutes and 3 hours - for as long as my brain was stuck in that nightmarish loop of anxiety and self-deprecating inner-voice .
Depending on how important I currently thought the boss was, and how demoralizing my storming mind construed the critiqued behavior to be, usually defined how long and intense my storm would be.
My ADD did help me throughout the years, though, by giving me poorly functioning working memory, easy distractibility, and natural positivity. Between these frequent emotional storms, I was easily distracted and was able to forget about them and move on happily with my days.
Thanks to proper ADHD treatment (thanks James), these specific kinds of emotional storms do not happen in my world anymore. I still have emotional storms from other triggers, but I have much more control over them. My brain has finally been let out of its cage.