A Dopamine Kick (Another ADHD Podcast)

45. What Does an ADHD Assessment Feel Like?

October 09, 2022
A Dopamine Kick (Another ADHD Podcast)
45. What Does an ADHD Assessment Feel Like?
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Show Notes Transcript

This week we're talking about Shell's ADHD assessment, which she had this week, so it's fresh in her mind! We'll be discussing what a typical assessment looks like as Sparky grills Shell on what sort of questions a psychiatrist asks during the assessment, what's involved in the process, how to prepare for it, and also what happens after the assessment.

The long awaited question does Shell have ADHD will also be answered!
This is a huge step in both of our journey's and one that Sparky feels privileged to be able have before his assessment!

As you are aware by now, it's the usual interrupting each other, and laughs at each others expense along the way. This may be a more factual episode than usual, but this a every important episode for anyone who wants to hear what an assessment is like. We hope this puts you fears at ease if your worried about an assessment, and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to email us at adaopmainekick@gmail.com. I'm pretty sure Shell WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

List of symptoms, diagnostic criteria and further information:

See you next week for another episode of shenanigans! 

New episode every SUNDAY

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Unknown Speaker 0:

09 Welcome to dopamine, your weekly dose of positivity.

Sparky 0:

14 We're your hosts.

Unknown Speaker 0:

16 Join us each week as we have changed your habits, tackle fears and challenge your mindset.

Sparky 0:

21 Let's get to it.

Unknown Speaker 0:

24 Hello everyone and welcome to episode 45 of a dopamine kick. Today we are going to be talking about what an ADHD assessment looks like.

Sparky 0:

34 Before we get into that, I'd like to encourage you to subscribe to the podcast if you haven't already. And also, if you could leave us a review on how this podcast is going. That would be absolutely fantastic because we always like to hear from you. And obviously, it's great to know what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong. So please do that now. This episode, I thought would be a great one. Michelle discussed it beforehand. Because obviously if you've been listening to the podcast, you'll know that myself and Cheryl have recently found out that we may have ADHD and beforehand I was looking up at assessments what they look like how they feel what they're going to go you know how they're going to be when you're when you're in an assessment, and I couldn't really find that much information. So shall has had her assessments this week. And I thought I would grill her on what her assessment was like and we think sort of kind of get an understanding about what's involved in the whole assessment. So that's what this week is going to be about.

Unknown Speaker 1:

31 So I guess we should probably start by talking through some of the symptoms of ADHD. And these are broken down into three categories, which are inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity,

Sparky 1:

43 makes careless mistakes lacks attention to detail. Exhibits poor organisation skills fails to follow through on tasks and instructions is forgetful in daily activities. fidgets or taps, hands or feet, squirming in their seats, talks excessively blurts out answers experiences feelings of restlessness interrupts or intrudes on other people's faces. And those are just some of the symptoms of ADHD. And we'll pop the rest in the show notes to the link where we got some of these from. So first question that I've got for you shower is what's involved in an ADHD assessment, what sort of things happen just just a general basis of how you felt?

Unknown Speaker 2:

26 The assessment is so my assessment was done online, and it was with a psychiatrist. And I should probably start off by saying he was really really nice, like really friendly. approachable, like he tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible, but I was an absolute nervous wreck. He likes to start things off by asking like, history so he asked me how old my mum was. I couldn't remember my mind went completely blank. I had like zero idea if what I ended up doing is telling him the issue was born.

Unknown Speaker 3:

11 panicked and you know, he was saying to me like this isn't to catch you out or anything. Like I'm just trying to build a background and as a gay No, no, no, but I can't tell you how much CSI so yeah, he was really nice, but I was I was a mess. So he asked a lot of questions started off. So so it's a psychiatric evaluation. Rather than just an ADHD assessment. Because there's a lot of conditions that can look very similar. So he's said that he always does like a full assessment rather than just focusing on the ADHD so he asked me a lot of stuff about my upbringing, my childhood, which I found quite emotional. He was really good like at times he would say to me, the next question that I'm going to ask you might make you feel a bit upset but it is important so you sort of almost like trigger warning to me and prepared me when he was going to ask you the more difficult questions. But I still felt quite emotional throughout the whole thing. The ADHD specific stuff, he left till the end, and I really struggled with it in the actual assessment so I've looked at the diagnostic criteria before I did the self assessments and scored really quite highly on that. But when he was going through and giving me examples, I think again, I just really panicked, and I was answering really literally so he would ask me, you know, say you're in the circumstance, would you do this? And if I wouldn't do it in that exact circumstance, I would just say no, rather than being like, Oh, well, I wouldn't do that. But here's an example of times when I would Yeah. So yeah, so my assessment initially came out, as he said, he thought I did have ADHD, but that it was quite borderline. He actually said initially that it was the most borderline he's seen in his career and is quite an extremely well. Psychiatrist. So that made me feel really stressed again, that like maybe I was a fraud, and maybe I didn't have it. He also said I had traits that were consistent with borderline personality disorder, but that he didn't think that I had the disorder just traits from it. And I now know that that's quite common with emotional regulation of ADHD. So initially, I left the assessment feeling quite sad because I have spoken to the psychiatrist since and he has told me that he had enough on the first assessment to diagnose me with ADHD. But that is not the impression I got from the end of our conversation. I thought he was saying that he didn't he wasn't sure if I had it. Yeah. And that I was just this like, unknown broken that didn't have a name. So that was devastating. And then I spoke to Jamie afterwards, and I was going through like the answers and stuff and why I maybe didn't have ADHD. And it became apparent really quite quickly that the answers that I had given, were not necessarily can correct. That makes sense. I hadn't lied. But so so one of them was about interrupting and I'd said like, No, you know, I don't I don't interrupt people. And the first thing Jamie said is, well, you interrupt me all the time. Oh, okay. And then other examples. Like listening back through episodes of this podcast, I interrupt you constantly.

Sparky 6:

59 I do too. I

Unknown Speaker 7:

00 do. About Me too. Yeah, it's fair. Like we don't get annoyed with each other cuz we both do it. But I told him that I didn't. And there was basically going through the diagnostic criteria on the inattentive side. I scored eight to nine out of nine. So no question there. But on the hyperactivity, impulsivity, side, all of the all of the socially rude things I it was more of a grey area. So yes, like blurting out answers, interrupting people getting up in meetings. And so, what I established is that when there's social pressure, so like in a meeting, I wouldn't stand up in a meeting and get up and walk around. Because it's rude. So I wouldn't do that. But in other times, say, if I got to a train station early, and had 10 minutes to wait for a train, I would not be sitting on a seat waiting for the train. I'm down constantly. I have to keep checking what the time is even if I sit right underneath it after stand up and physically check it. I'll go and wander and have a look at the snacks or like even if I'm not buying any snacks, so when there's no social pressure, I do still have all of the symptoms. So yeah, so it's sort of so I went back to him. So I had a follow up. was initially meant to be two weeks later, but he was very good and squeezed me in earlier. And I went back to him and I we went through the list again and I said look, I've answered this these ones, but my husband thinks that it's actually all of these instead. And then he sort of asked me a few more questions and teased answers out of me as well that again, I think I've just taken things too, literally. So one of the questions was about waiting in line, and had I ever like gone into a shop and said that there was like a big queue at the tills and be like our stuff. So just gone home and not or gone to a different shop but not like bought my shopping because there's too big of a kid. And I said I hadn't done that. And Jamie said straightaway, well, I've been with you when you've done and then I was I was able to when I talked it through a bit calmer. And I talked it through Sorry, sorry

Sparky 9:

20 to 14 I can't I can't help myself. Sorry. Just just before you finish that, is that an ADHD thing then doing that?

Unknown Speaker 9:

27 Yeah, yeah. Not being able to be and like, ironically taking longer to do something because you couldn't wait in the original queue. Wow. So the example that I came up with was that I took my daughter to spy park but a weeks ago and we got there and I'd gone in the week but it was a really sunny day. And it was so busy like we'd queue to get in that I'd already stressed me as soon as we got there. She wanted an ice cream. There was a massive queue for an ice cream. And in the end literally our bought her an ice cream and then we went home. She didn't see a single animal. She didn't go on a single piece of equipment. Oh, driving wise it's about a three hour round. Trip. And we were there for 20 minutes.

Sparky 10:

14 Was that because you felt so overwhelmed with

Unknown Speaker 10:

17 because I was like that's it? Do you know the days really and it's gonna be miserable. It's too busy. Neither of us are going to have a good time so I just

Sparky 10:

25 Oh my god, I do this as well. This is just normal. So I was gonna say, well, obviously that was that was a real struggle, because you spoke for so long. I was like trying to I really want to dance. And I told him I think no, it's absolutely fine. Absolutely fine. But obviously when you've got ADHD you want to jump in all the time. That's the that's the problem. And I don't even know at this point you're happy but I mean, come on. How likely is this at them? I

Unknown Speaker 10:

57 think it's pretty likely Yeah.

Sparky 11:

01 So I was gonna say, like the the ADHD assessment process it would be quite nice to hear which you've already said some of those things anyway, because I was going to ask you some of these things. What sort of things they asked in the assessment. So I know you've mentioned a few of those. But what sort of questions do they ask you? Just in general, like, I know you've mentioned some already but can you point out some similar or significant questions maybe that they asked you in those in that assessment?

Unknown Speaker 11:

30 Yeah. So the the diagnostic criteria is, is available everywhere online. I'm just having a little look. See I probably I'm not I'm not going to read it all out. On the podcast, because I think that would make for very adult listening. But if you just Google it's called DS, DSM dash five. And so basically, he went through that assessment and asked me gave examples in which you might exhibit that behaviour and asked me if I did it,

Sparky 12:

08 okay. So it's just all just like, so it's a large largely it's down to, he asked you the question or she asked you a question, and then you give the answer. And then that's what they look for how you respond to that question.

Unknown Speaker 12:

21 Yes, yeah. So he did say that. It's not uncommon to use collateral evidence as well. So sort of a family member, but not all. psychiatrists do and he often doesn't because sometimes people don't have salon that they can, you know, they feel comfortable enough talking about it with that they are happy to speak on their behalf. You can look at things like school reports as well, but not everybody has access to their I don't you know, I'm 36 I don't have I don't own anything from when I was in school. So yeah, I think it can be quite difficult. And I have I have read as well since I didn't know this at the time, but I've read that. People who are very intelligent, with ADHD there's a study done that showed that they are much more likely to mask their symptoms and much better at masking their symptoms. And also, women as well are much more likely to mask their symptoms because a lot of the behaviour, like I said earlier is socially rude. And little girls are chastised for being socially rude much more than little boys you know for boys running around interrupting can't sit still it's you know, they might get torn up about it, but it is a little bit old boys will be boys. Whereas with a girl it's you know, girls don't behave like that. Nice girls don't do that. sort of thing. So, yeah, and some of the stuff as well. I didn't realise that I hit. So since I've started on this ADHD journey. I would have said before that I was a fidgety person, but now I've realised I am fidgeting all of the time. 100% of the time, but quite often it is hidden. So I'll be fidgeting like underneath the desk or if I'm not in front of a desk or have my hands in my pockets or I'll trace circles with my toes and my shoes or our like rub the top of my mouth with my tongue to the some part of my body is always moving. But I I didn't even realise that or I didn't and I didn't even realise that was hiding it. But Jamie has said since we started talking about this that I quite often hold my own hands, especially if we're out socially. I'll hold my own hands and he's upset me. This is the most reliable way for him to tell if he's annoyed me is that I will start visibly fidgeting my brain is like distracted by being annoyed. You're no longer hiding it but this is all behaviour that I just didn't know I had.

Sparky 14:

56 This is the thing. And this is why I hate the diagnostic criteria. as well because it requires people to be self aware. And it can be really difficult. It's just like until you've pointed that out. Now I didn't actually realise that I'm actually I've got a screw screw in my hand. And I'm trying to pierce it through what looks like the top of a Pringle blade, and I'll be trying to make a hole in this the whole time you've been talking but I wouldn't say I wouldn't have known that like until it was pointed out to me that actually I'm doing it because I'm quite feature t all the time anyway. Anyway, I know that but it's little things like that, that you don't actually realise that you're doing on a day to day basis all of the time. That's why I really hate the way they do the assessments because I mean, how do you before we get into how they actually do the assessments and what and you know why it's done that way? How do you feel how did the assessment make you feel? Not because I know leading up to the assessment you were you were really anxious about it and you didn't know what to expect. So part of this episode is to kind of put people's minds at ease. After you had your assessment and your diagnosis. How did you feel like did you feel that the assessment process wasn't as scary as you thought he was initially?

Unknown Speaker 16:

07 I definitely felt in the assessment. I think this is something that I said beforehand, that it was more like a test and that there was right and wrong answers. And almost like it was a game that I didn't know the rules for I did feel like that throughout the assessment as well. Even though you know, the psychiatrists that I had was really lovely. I still felt like it was a bit sort of me against him sometimes at times. Since having the diagnosis. I'll be honest, I do have some negative feelings but my overwhelming feeling is just of utter relief. Yeah, like i i When I read stuff about ADHD when I've listened to other people who have it like watching like videos of people saying what they've done or listening to other podcasts. I just feel like I've found my tribe like people who are like me who are chaotic and organised and yeah, I think we've touched on this before in the podcast as well that we're both dyslexic and I always felt like such a dyslexic fraud because I don't actually have that many symptoms of dyslexia. In fact, I other than horrendous handwriting, I do have very characteristically dyslexic handwriting. But otherwise, the only symptoms that I have are the ones that crossover with ADHD. Same with me. So when I was so when I was going to school, like I didn't know whether Dyslexics and they all seemed quite similar to each other and not necessarily in personality, but in the way they struggled and the way they had difficulties. They seemed similar to each other, but that never seemed similar to me. So I guess they seemed maybe like scatterbrained whereas I was just chaos.

Sparky 18:

00 Yeah. absolute chaos. absolute chaos.

Unknown Speaker 18:

03 Yeah. Yeah. Now when I'm in, you know, looking at stuff within the ADHD community, it's like, these are these are my people.

Sparky 18:

14 Well, the next question that I was going to ask you is how how do you prepare for an ADHD assessment? But I'm guarantee that a lot of people that are listening to this, that do have ADHD are going to want to be prepared. And then a lot of the time it's all going to go out the window anyway, but I'm going to ask you anyway because I know that you're, I know you hyper focus on preparation, sometimes when you get into a hyper focus mode. And I know this has been a little bit of a hyper focus for you. So I'm guessing at this point, you may have been able to prepare for it. And if you have, it'd be great to hear, how did you prepare for it? Or how do you feel that you should prepare for an ADHD assessment?

Unknown Speaker 18:

49 So you should definitely look at the diagnostic criteria online. There's a lot of self assessments that you can do. But basically, the self assessments are just a roundabout way of asking if you fit the diagnostic criteria. I think a much easier method of understanding what's going to be asked of you is if you just look at the DSM criteria, and tick yourself whether or not you would qualify for those, I wrote down loads of examples. So I'd be doing that. I have three new mines. I knew my assessment date three weeks in advance. So I spent three weeks writing down three weeks Bloody hell. I know. I spent three weeks writing down examples of stuff. I would probably say so I intended to print this out and have it and have a printout of the diagnostic criteria in front of me. And that just did not happen because the whole thing was chaotic. I ended up just about like, logging on on time and having none of it ready. But it was all on my phone, but then I couldn't like scroll quickly through my phone. So it actually at one point he said to me, is there any actually more than one point probably three or four times he said to me, is there anything else that you want to tell me Is there anything else you think I should know? And every time I said no and I had so many things on my phone that I have since told him that would be examples of where the criteria. So I would say as hard as it is if you think you have ADHD you need to be organised. This assessment is so important because if you because it is self reported, you have to represent the best, the most accurate portrayal of yourself and if you don't, if you panic and you get sort of stage fright almost you could end up not getting diagnosed because you weren't ticking the boxes.

Sparky 20:

48 Yeah. And that's the most important thing from this whole episode with the ADHD assessment is okay, so you might have anxiety beforehand and you might struggle to prepare for it. But the main the main thing about this whole process is it's not a test. It's more of a way that how do you struggle with this, you need to portray it in the best light that you can because what you've got to remember is when you go to speak to anybody, whether you go to speak to a doctor or psychiatrist, nobody knows you like you know you so you have to put that forward the best that you can. So it is helpful if you can't have things printed off and real life scenarios. You can go on to or you can go online and you can find a load of different things that you can you can do to find out whether you you know you struggle with ADHD and make sure you take all of those to the assessment as well. Like shell said there's things that you might not have, but if you've got score reports, I mean, I know my score report sheets to say things like struggles to maintain the focus and it gets distracted easily. It's a bit of a dream or all of those things are all if you want to take someone in for moral support someone who understands what you're going through and they understand the assessment process, and they can give things on your behalf. And it's a great way to get the point across as well if you do get that sort of stage fright.

Unknown Speaker 22:

04 Yeah. I think that would be really useful. Like if I if I had to, if I had to do it again. I think I would ask if I could have someone with me. Yeah. Because yeah, like I said, there's there's so many things that I said to Jamie afterwards I you know, he asked if I did this, and I said no, I don't really do that. And Jamie was like, What are you talking about? All the time. So I think you've had I've had I've had I've had him there with me saying you know whenever I said no, I don't do that. And he could be there like well, you did you literally did that yesterday because that's sort of the thing like my my brain is so scattered all over the place. I forget things so easily. Like I lose stuff all the time because I've I forget putting it down. I forget where I put it. I don't remember most of my childhood. You know, I struggle with you know, even things that I did last week, like conversations that I had important information. So when he's asking me, you know, do you do this and you know, can you think of an example where you did this? Of course I couldn't because I that I forget stuff like that

Sparky 23:

10 all of the time. And also, it's important just to point out as well, that some people may hear this podcast and go, Oh, well, you know, maybe you just forget for your, your your own intelligent in areas. I just want to point out that Charlize one of the most intelligent people that I know, she actually did surgery on my dog, and I'm listening to this and I'm thinking Did you forget where things were, but it's so true. Anybody can have ADHD doesn't matter what sort of reasonable rhyme. People can just suffer with ADHD. So it's not, it's not a sign of low intelligence or anything like that. These are all symptoms that come in a cluster that really do affect your daily life and that's why getting an assessment and going forward. Seeing someone is really, really important. So if you do struggle with any of the symptoms that we've mentioned in this episode, please do go and see your GP and try and get referred. There's loads of different places that you can go as well. So just be wet. Just be mindful of the symptoms. And if you struggle, please do go and get help. And we'll

Unknown Speaker 24:

16 put we'll put a list I'll put links are in the show notes to the DSM criteria. So if you're curious, and you want to look it up, we'll put that in the show notes.

Sparky 24:

27 And the last question for this episode is what happens after the ADHD assessments. So did he give you a diagnosis Did they give you a treatment plan, not what sort of happens after the assessment finishes?

Unknown Speaker 24:

40 So after the assessment, I was diagnosed and I have made the decision to start medication because this whole journey started because my symptoms have suddenly got worse and I'm struggling to manage them. So we did talk about behavioural, you can do things like coaching and some forms of therapy can help. But I think at this stage I think I would need medication to be receptive to that, because I'm already in I'm already doing CBT cognitive behavioural therapy. And I'm already not doing a good job of that. And I told him that so for example, my therapist will say to me like oh, you know, be really good if you keep a mood diary, if you could jot in a couple of times a day about how you're feeling and then bring that with you to never get well this is the thing like if I did it and brought it with me to the session, and she talked me through it, but because she doesn't like hold me accountable. She won't say to me in the next session right? Where's your mood diary? Let's have a look at it. I like cottoned on within two or three sessions that she wasn't going to pull me up. It wasn't like home. And so I don't do it. I just don't and it's silly. Like I'm wasting I'm not wasting my time because she does tell me stuff. She won't reframe the way I think about stuff, but I could be doing so much better with CBT if I was actually doing it, and I can't make myself do it either forget or I just can't seem to get round to it. So I think it would be the same with any sort of ADHD coaching I think at this stage. I need to try medication first to try and focus and then hopefully I can try other stuff as well. So I will hopefully in the next couple of weeks, be starting on medication so I'm going to be trying lisdexamfetamine first and I'll let you know how it goes. I think it's quite a long process because you start off on a low dose and then you gradually increase. So potentially initially, I won't feel any different but we'll see.

Sparky 26:

54 But this is a great thing because if you are listening to this podcast, you'll be able to call it see the journey that we've both gone through and even though you know we're going to talk about different topics and things each week. There's always going to be slight undertone of the ADHD thing now because obviously you've been diagnosed with it and you're trying medications as well. So we really do hope that if if you are struggling with ADHD or you want to know anything about you know getting a diagnosis or medications or anything like that, that you feel that you can message us and talk to us about it because obviously, we're going through the situation ourselves and it's almost like a little bit. I wouldn't I don't wanna say polarised because obviously you've got a diagnosis I haven't but it's almost like now I'm becoming that person. Well, I'm going to be asking you all these questions and I'm gonna want to know all these different things. I really, really want to know how these medications are going to affect you, or they're gonna make you like feel better or they're going to make you you know, feel like all the noise is gone. I don't know. So I'm really excited to hear all about this stuff in the coming weeks and months.

Unknown Speaker 27:

57 No, I'm excited. Now. I also would love to hear from anybody who can relate to this. I don't know. In fact, I think other I don't know anybody that's formally diagnosed I don't think with ADHD. Yeah. So yeah, I watch a lot of stuff online. But I'd love to hear from someone who also has it.

Sparky 28:

20 Well, I think we should end the episode there this week, guys, because we've been rambling for a long, long time when we have all right. We'll definitely be back again next week with another episode. So we'll see you next week for another podcast. All right, that's everything this week guys, but if you want to carry on with the conversation, join us over on our social media platforms or on all the major channels and our handle is I dopamine kick. We'd also

Unknown Speaker 28:

48 be super grateful if you could leave us a review on the podcast wherever you're listening, because it helps us to grow our audience and help more people. Okay, we'll see you in the next one. Bye. Bye

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