Inside a Mind with ADDitude
From a young age, Central Michigan University student Jessica "Jessie" Carroll grew up with a hyper-fixation with a number of interests. Jessie has generally lived a normal life enjoying hobbies such as painting and skateboarding. In comparison to her sister who attended therapy for years for her mental health, Jessie’s struggles were little to none.
One emotionally and academically challenging semester at Oakland University, however, revealed she has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is a medical condition that causes inattentiveness, restlessness, and impulsive behavior. With ADHD, many individuals may also have one or several other disorders associated with their condition. When Jessie was diagnosed with ADHD, she had also been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression, and generalized anxiety. “I think I developed OCD to combat the ADHD cause with ADHD you lose and misplace stuff a lot and are very messy, so the OCD helps to not lose things cause everything is where it’s supposed to be,” said Jessie, “I definitely feel like if I didn’t have anxiety and depression ADHD might feel like a super power almost.”
When her sister left for Michigan Tech after making improvement with her mental health, Jessie decided to return to Central Michigan University to study social work. Despite making improvements in her own mental health and navigating through her new diagnoses, her conditions still raise their own set of challenges.
Among many personal struggles for Jessie is forcing herself to finish tasks that she finds starting to be very difficult. In addition, becoming easily distracted tends to make completing these tasks even more difficult to attain. “It feels like the end of the world internally, but it’s not and I’ll feel a lot better when I’m done,” said Jessie, “I wanna get it done, it’s just such a battle for some reason.”
The root of many of these challenges in Jessie’s life lie within her inability to regulate her emotions well, a common issue for ADHD-persons nationwide. Jessie says her emotions can often feel out of control or too much to handle, especially when the emotions she feels are intense. For Jessie, these feelings often make focusing on things she does wrong easier and concentrating on tasks at-hand an obstacle. In addition, these emotions can make Jessie extremely sensitive when it comes to feeling rejected or cause her to take out her feelings on others.
In order to manage her symptoms, Jessie has been taking Adderall over the last two years to help her maintain her focus and regulate her emotions. Getting her medication, however, has also proven to be a struggle due to being a heavily-regulated drug. Sending in prescriptions too early or lack of effective communication between her doctors can cause her to be perceived as “drug-seeking”, prolong the process of obtaining her medication as a result. In addition to the medication, Jessie also utilizes drinking coffee to help her study and maintain her focus for a period of time.
Understanding the depths of her condition in its entirety has never been the easiest for Jessie, largely due to the condition presenting itself in different ways with each individual diagnosed with ADHD. “From my end, I have nothing to compare my experience to because I don’t know what’s normal or what’s not normal for ADHD and non-ADHD,” said Jessie, “It’s a bit different in everyone, so people don’t know all that ADHD is.”