ADHD PTSD ASC and Me

Good Mornington Crescent*

This morning I was supposed to go to a day school thingy for my course, but yesterday I was in a world of migraine and now I’m having a lovely postdrome thankyouverymuch. Postdrome is a bit like a hangover for reference.

So, but I have a rather clear day, and apart from the general exhaustion I don’t have anything special to do. The dog is out, and she will be contented to loaf around on the heated throw with me when she gets back, so I’m having a day of hygge and to that end the laundry is already on the go (I do love the sound of the machines) I’ve had my porridge, and again inspired by m’aspie ladies on the book of face I have a topic for you.

The topic is – what is going on in the nest of things around PTSD/ADHD/autism?

The only reason I feel at all able to comment on this is because it was a massive issue for me during my own diagnostic process, and when I was in the room, finally, with the autism assessor I asked her about it.

I didn’t ask for an autism assessment. What happened was that as these things swam into view and adults and women started getting taken a bit more seriously it seemed to me to be appropriate to ask about ADHD. Frankly, I had been suffering serious exhaustion for so long I wanted to try the drugs.

So when I moved to Brighton a couple of years ago I asked for a referral. I got a positive diagnosis for ADHD and started trying the meds for it, but after trying all of them at different doses and having some very serious side effects, some of which took a long time to deal with and the TMJ flare up is a continued problem. I had it before, but it’s worse now.

Trying the meds took about a year. I liked the clarity, but couldn’t tolerate any of them for any length of time, and when we’d run out of medication to try I asked my assessor whether she really thought I had ADHD or whether it was more likely I had PTSD, since I’d done a bit of research and they do manifest in more or less the same sorts of ways.

I had a few sessions with her and a psychiatrist, and quite quickly the questions took a direction I wasn’t used to. Did I watch the same TV programmes over and over? For instance. My spidey senses told me there was something new going on. He asked if I minded being screened for autism.

I thought OKAY, but that’ll be just another thing to rule out. HA! Was I ever wrong!

Time rolled around. A lot of people who need an assessment for autism as adults have to wait FOREVER and it drives them crazy, but I wasn’t really expecting anything out of it so when I went along I didn’t even fill in the forms in advance. And in the meantime I’d watched a load of  Gabor Maté on YouTube and listened to his book, Scattered Minds on Audible, so I’d kind of accepted the ADHD dx.

During my autism assessment I asked about this, and she drew three lines on her notebook and asked me to put crosses on the lines. I told her that pre Maté I’d have put the PTSD high and the ADHD nowhere but now it was reversed (see fig 1)

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We moved on and then I said ‘Where would you put me?’ and she put her crosses down (fig 2). This was effectively my autism assessment right there, but it was also a plot twist on the PTSD.

I asked her to explain it and she said that what happens is that people with ADHD have a tendency to trauma with a lower trigger than in the  general population, and because of the lack of risk aversion we’re more likely to get into actually dangerous situations. With autism there’s a lack of awareness, she called it ‘naivety’ which means that autistic people are easily bullied, exploited and abused. So the full set is almost inevitable. Because of the lack of actual war zones, massive disasters, and other gen pop markers for PTSD I wouldn’t otherwise qualify, but because of my cluster of things it’s practically inevitable at an experiential level.

So there you have it! Enough to make a Venn diagram.

I have been meaning to write about this for ages. There is, of course, more to say, but this is the skinny.

I am now going to consider the soup situation. There may be pho.

*obscure British humour alert

12 thoughts on “ADHD PTSD ASC and Me

  1. Good post, Elaine, apart from being ill and missing your day class.

    I’ve been told by specialists that I have PTSD, but it’s as a result of abuse, both mental and physical, bullying of various sorts through most of my life, and dealing with the lies my parents bestowed on me, whilst leading me to be wrongly diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, to perpetuate the lie, then blaming me for asking questions when I eventually found out the truth.

    I’m pretty well broken as a result and wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have my kids, but I wonder about the autism aspect of your blog and if I should be tested for it.

    Did you always think that there’s no way you had autism? Do you feel better for knowing and do you take meds for it?

    I must say that I think you’re managing very well and seem much happier, post tribunal 🙂 x

    1. Weirdly, absolutely years ago there was something – a radio show? about women with autism and I thought I HAVE ALL THAT but I know that, for instance, a lot of mental health professionals think they have *everything* as they learn about it and when I confided in a work colleague they said they thought they were, and I sort of thought – well. I didn’t, at that point know that it might be all that hard to get a diagnosis but I suspected, and it didn’t occur to me that knowing would make a difference.
      I got a psych diagnosis of unipolar depression and went on rounds of meds and so on, and nothing neurological was ever mentioned. Practically all the women in the online group I’m on have had multiple psych diagnoses, and even though it is possible to have more than one thing if you have a neurological thing going on with you then that is the underlying thing, and it would affect treatment whether you had a mental health stand alone thing or not.
      The other thing I haven’t gone into is the other neurological comorbidities (epilepsy and migraine) and the physical ones (hypermobility, fibromyalgia, IBS, and a previously considered rare condition called Ehler Danlos Syndrome, which MAY be the missing link between all these things).
      Should you be tested? I’d say it’s worth asking. Time will pass and it might end up being quite useful. Not only is it a puzzle piece that feels more like a keystone to me, but also it’s a recognised disability so there are things that go with that, and if you get a dx it seems to tend to make sense of things for people.
      I do feel better for knowing. Everything else has sort of dropped away in a way. There are no meds. But what happens is you start taking yourself more seriously in terms of adjusting your life and the biggest thing is taking overwhelm seriously, so the things you normally think you have to tough out you stop thinking that, so you stop crashing so much.
      Bloody glad to see the back of that tribunal!
      Thanks, Davy!

      1. I know that you have a number of problems, but you seem to be dealing with them all so well. I have a friend from uni who has EDS and she suffers really badly. She’s gutted to have found out that her daughter also has it.

        If I’m honest, I just think that I a lot of similar things have happened to me, but I don’t think I have autism, although I reckon that we’re all on the spectrum, somewhere!

        1. EDS is definitely no picnic. I have no idea at this point if I definitely have it, but there are various versions of it, some which are more scary than others, but it’s definitely genetic. One of the advantages of knowing that is that your friend can help her daughter do the behavioural things around it to protect her. Like, for instance, if your knees give a lot you tend to brace out to the sides, so it’s a good idea to really learn to walk using your whole foot. A bit of work when younger could really protect her as she gets older with it. Also the inevitable IBS, which is common with fibro as well, and seems to be practically universal with EDS, a lot of that can be managed with diet. Not all of it, but a lot.

          The thing about neurodiversity is that we are all human, so all our experiences are human, but the big difference between neurotypical anxiety or OCD or sensitivities or whatever and ADD/autistic ones is the extent to which they impact on your ability to function. It seems that the triggers are very different for autistic people, as well, a lot of them being sensory rather than emotionally based as such.

          1. She had to leave uni, when I first knew her, because of the IBS linked to it. She’s in a wheelchair now and has had to leave her teaching job. In a bad way :/ Hopefully, her daughter will not be as bad, or will be able to cope with it better, as I know it took years to find out what the problem was.

            Hope you don’t get any worse and make some improvements x

            1. Thank you.
              Sorry to hear about your friend, but yes, an earlier diagnosis could make all the difference to her daughter.
              Although there are meds and surgeries generally, I think, behavioural modifications are useful and obviously better done sooner rather than later.

  2. Hi Elaine this is siobhan we met many years ago in london. You let me stay in your flat in royal mint street. I have ASD too! Diagnosed age 44. X

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