It took me awhile to get my forthcoming appointment for an evaluation. I decided last spring to seek evaluation. It took me a month to work up courage to call someone. I called a mental health agency in town, the only one that mentioned ADHD on its web site, and a nice secretary took my information and said the good doctor was on vacation and would get back to me on Monday. Four weeks later, still no call.
That’s something I would do, not return a phone call, but I was too miffed to give the guy another chance. Three more weeks went by (and, hey, I was doing well anyway, so what’s hurry?) and I finally called a new place in Grand Rapids, where there were more choices. The name of the place is the BRAINS Foundation, which is some sort of acronym.
I screwed up my courage to call again, and a lovely recorded voice said “Thank you for calling BRAINS.” I couldn’t help but think about zombies.
Another nice secretary took my information and told me it would be six weeks to get an appointment. The appointment fell when I would be on vacation. We were going just a few miles from home, though, so I took it.
Five and three quarters weeks later, life intruded again. We started laundry for vacation, and the sewer line clogged. Not a big deal; it often does, and I fixed it with a blow bag, which attaches to a garden hose, and which I run from the laundry sink. I cleared the line and took my son out for a haircut. I got a frantic call from my wife: “Where’s the water shut off valve!?” Running the blow bag had stressed a kinked faucet lead in the half bath, and water was spraying out of it everywhere. The main water shut off was broken too.
I wrapped up the haircut and raced home. By the time the water was off, about twenty minutes had passed. A surprising amount of water can flow into one’s basement in twenty minutes. So I cleaned water and packed contractor bags full of stuff that I had meant to throw out or sell at garage sales anyway, arranged for a plumber, and cleaned the basement the rest of the day. The next day, a Sunday, we packed for vacation, when my wife said she felt she was getting a bladder infection and headed to the walk-in clinic. The doctor asked if she had experienced any stress lately.
Laura got her prescriptions and started the antibiotics and we continued to pack. Three hours later, we were in the ER. She had gotten dizzy and experienced severe neck pain, so, concerned about allergic reaction and/or meningitis, we spent most of the night in the ER getting her some IV antibiotics and fluids.
We went on vacation anyway because we were already packed, but I rescheduled my appointment. Guess what? Another six week wait.
I am eager to get this evaluation started, but apprehensive as the date draws nearer. I remember my first meeting with a psychologist back in 2001, just over ten years ago, my first step on this journey to wherever. I called the APA to get a referral and ended up with an appointment with a local psychologist. I sat in that waiting room, hyperaware. Why are they playing this music? I thought, listening to what I was sure was a musak version of “Killing Me Softly.” Why are these magazines here; what’s the message behind Outside next to Family Circle? Why did they install fluorescent lights if they’re not going to turn them on? What’s with this low-rent couch? What’s wrong with that guy sitting in the corner? My doctor came and introduced herself, and led me down a hallway of doors to her couch under a print of “Christina’s World.” I sat and took in her office. Books everywhere, muted colors, not messy but not overly organized, a pile of toys next to the couch, well-placed boxes of tissues throughout. She started the process, and the next appointment took a history, writing furiously on a legal pad as I free associated about my background. She would stop writing and listen to me more intently and then write even faster every time I mentioned my mother.
We started talk therapy the next week. The sessions were not highly structured, just free-form conversation that would start with “How are things?” Our five-year conversation led me out of the depths, but ultimately stalled out. If I do have ADHD (I don’t think there’s much doubt at this point, but I’m not officially diagnosed yet) then the experience with the psychologist treated the symptoms, not the cause. I tapered myself off the anti-depressants a couple of years back, and now take vitamins instead. And changed my diet. And started yoga. And learned how to work my job.
But root problems still exist (procrastination, clutter, couch potato personality) and I don’t think they are neuroses. The Appointment? Seventeen days and counting.