According to a 2016 publication by the Mental Health Foundation called Fundamental Facts About Mental Health, ‘almost a quarter of individuals who screened positively for ADHD were receiving treatment for anxiety (23.8%) or depression (22.9%).’
It is a scary reality to face that having ADHD means that you are this much more likely to have to battle other mental health disorders, but it is a reality none the less. In my experience, ADHD can also amplify these disorders and make it even more difficult to deal with. For a really great summary on ADHD and Comorbidity, check out this TikTok from @peterhyphen who creates loads of great short (and therefore ADHD friendly) videos about ADHD.
My personal experiences with comorbidity came in the form of depression and extreme insomnia, I have been on sleeping medication for years and anti depressants are something I started more recently. It was shameful. I felt like I hadn’t done well enough and it took me a long time of having the pills to even be able to take them. They have helped a lot but having this alongside ADHD is a struggle.
My brain is always going at a million miles an hour, so it feels like the spiraling dark thoughts associated with depression must occur at a much faster rate than in a neurotypical mind. All my normal thoughts occur faster so these ones do too.
Something I associate with my depression, but find difficult to express in a cohesive way, is the intense sensation I get every so often that my mind is shouting. It is like the volume of my thoughts is amplified a thousand times and there is nothing I can do to drown them out but wait. I can sometimes go months without this feeling only for it to return every few hours for days at a time. I have never found anyone else, with or without ADHD, who knows what I mean when I describe this sensation so if you do please do contact me, it would be lovely to know that I am not alone and I hope I can make you feel the same.
I was depressed before my ADHD was diagnosed, I know that much now. I look back on my 14 year old self and what little I can remember of that time is painful to recall. There was a period of a few months where I stopped going to school and eventually had to move away to boarding school as a result of those circumstances. My first secondary school was incredibly academically competitive and I partially attribute my descent into depression to that environment. It was very much a system of if you do not fit into the mould of the perfect student that we have created then your bones will be snapped and bent until you do.
In four years of being at that school, not one teacher ever thought to maybe check if the reason I didn’t pay attention in class, the reason I interrupted, the reason that I was too mentally exhausted to do my homework after having to focus all day, the reason I just wasn’t fitting into the mould, not one thought to see if perhaps I wasn’t just a ‘bad kid’. Within a week of being at boarding school, my house mother who also worked in the schools learning disabilities department, told my parents that they should have me checked for ADHD and she changed my life forever.
It was still a long struggle after that with the depression that so strongly had gripped my psyche, but without that diagnosis I know that I would have been far less likely to win. In order to overcome my depression I first had to gain an understanding of my own mind and the way in which it worked. This involved reading a lot of scientific papers for me and talking to other ADHDers, but everyone has a different journey to understanding how their ADHD makes their brain different, I am certainly still learning. I hope this blog will be able to assist some, but even if no-one reads it, its helping me a lot.
I am now at university. I am no longer being forced to snap my bones to fit in but instead I am changing the shape of the mold. I want to be a better version of myself, but still myself. I will never be always on time, organised and tidy but I can be less late, less disorganised and a little less messy (the last one is a big maybe). With antidepressants, some great friends and a hell of a lot of will power I know that I can overcome the depression and use my ADHD to change what a ‘perfect student’ is in my, and hopefully others, minds.
If you are struggling with anything alongside your ADHD my number one recommendation would be to talk to a doctor about it. I know that it’s difficult most days to pick up the phone, make the appointment and then to actually remember to go to to it, but trust me when I say that it is worth it. I am also easily reachable via social media if you ever want a listening ear.
Much love, the ADHD Bee.
The ADHD Bee
Instagram – @theadhdbee
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org