The other day, I received a phone call from my psychologist. There had been a cancelation and he was hoping I would come in a week early to get started on my ADHD evaluation. I had to clear my afternoon schedule but I jumped at the opportunity to get this process started. I’ve been waiting for a couple of months to undergo this evaluation and hopefully, get the help I need to better manage my symptoms.
I arrived at the office about an hour or so after hanging up the phone and nervously waited in the lobby.
Eventually I heard my name and made my way into this small room off to the side. It was cluttered with books, papers, and boxes. It reminded me of my speech therapists office when I was in grade school. I hadn’t thought about that in decades but I was in speech therapy in grade school. If you listen to me speak, you may notice I still have a slight lisp. It’s not that bad anymore but I notice it when I’m editing my recordings sometimes.
Anyway, this room triggered that memory. Weird but whatever.
My psychologist happens to also be my old college professor. If I recall correctly, I was in his Abnormal Psychology class. I both trust and respect him, so this was an obvious choice. He also takes my insurance and let’s be honest, that’s a big factor.
The testing itself took about two hours but felt like much longer. I took a whole battery of tests but I don’t remember any of the names.
My adventure began in front of a really old Dell computer with a square monitor. I was instructed to press the space bar on the keyboard anytime a letter flashed on the screen. However, if the letter was the letter x than I was supposed to ignore it. I have no idea how many letters I saw over the course of the 20 minute duration of that test but I know I hit the space bar way too many times for the letter x. It was very frustrating for me because I knew I wasn’t supposed to hit the space bar if I saw the letter x but I did it anyway. Not every time mind you, but far too many. I sorta got into a pattern of pressing the button and I don’t know. I don’t think I did very well.
I also had to do things like repeat numbers back. I think it went up to 8 digits long and I struggled after awhile. I kept getting distracted. There were so many interesting things to look at in this office and people were having what felt like very loud conversations in the waiting room, just outside the door. I tried to ignore everything and focus on what I was supposed to do but it was hard. Honestly, I was getting very frustrated with myself.
He began rattling off strings of numbers and then asked me to repeat them back in order of lowest to highest. There were more than a few times I just replied with I don’t know because I lost track of the numbers and couldn’t remember them, let alone rearrange them from lowest to highest. That was not a good feeling for me.
Some of the questions were subjective and others required a very clear, right or wrong answer.
The subjective questions weren’t meant to be tricky but my over thinking brain complicated the shit out of things. As an example. One of the questions was Do I find myself always on the go. I was supposed to answer with often, sometimes, or never type answers. I struggled because my brain kept saying that I’m always on the go because I’m a single parent to 3 autistic kids. I’m back and forth to school, stores, appointments etc. So yes, I’m always on the go. At the same time, I was also reading the question as basically asking me if I had excessive amounts of energy and as a result, I’m constantly moving or on the go. No, I don’t ever have excessive amounts of energy, so I’m not finding myself always on the go, at least in that sense.
I over thought so many of those questions. As a result, it took me forever to get through them. That just furthered my internal frustration with myself.
I don’t think these tests are meant to be hard, at least not for most people. At the same time, they’re designed to expose deficits and if you’re functioning with these invisible deficits, like me, the tests can be very hard. I competed them in about two hours and when I walked out of the office, I felt completely defeated and very exposed. I felt defeated because I feel like it shouldn’t have been so hard for me. I felt exposed because I clearly have some deficits and for the first time, they were on full display. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about but at the time, I was emotionally and physically exhausted from trying to focus. I was spent and very much in my feelings.
I felt better as the day went on because I was able to vent. I also remembered that this was all part of the process and it’s how I get the help I need. Admittedly, it took several attempts over the next few hours to swallow that pill and truly accept the whole it’s part of the process thing.
I have no idea if I passed or failed. I have no idea what it means if I pass or what it means if I fail. I go back next week for another couple hours of testing and then get my results back a couple weeks later. I’m feeling okay about things now but it took me some time to get there. I don’t need a test to tell me that I have an ADHD brain but I do need the test in order to get medication that can help me function better. Until then, I can continue making the little changes in my life that will help me to work with my brain, rather than against it. Things like sticky notes and breaking things into smaller tasks. Working out helped as well and I’ve not been to the gym in three weeks. It’s also important that I be kind and forgiving of myself.
This was definitely an experience and it’s one that I don’t want to repeat. I’m grateful it’s done and over with. I’m looking forward to putting the last one behind me as well and learning more about the way I operate.
I’m curious. Have any of you had this testing done before? What was your experience? Please leave that in the comments below and let’s talk about it.