For the first time in a long time, I feel a sense of relief and clarity.
Last week, I signed up with Cerebral—an online program that helps connect users with mental health resources, including therapy and medication, for anxiety, depression, and ADHD.
After talking with a prescriber (via video chat), I was diagnosed for ADHD and was able to schedule an appointment with a therapist and also pick up a prescription medication to help manage my symptoms.
The difference has been liberating.
I wanted to share my experience, on the off-chance that it helps someone else.
My ADHD experience
When I think of ADHD, I think of little boys who fidget and can’t pay attention and don’t perform well at school. That’s probably why it took me so long to figure out what was going on in my own head—nothing was similar.
It wasn’t until seeing a lot of information online (Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, Reddit) from other adult women that I realized that my attributes lined up with ADHD symptoms. There’s a lot of them!
My main symptoms include:
- Hyper-fixations (I’ve had a lot of hobbies and obsessions and projects) (I’ve also seen this in short-term bursts: super productive, can’t stop won’t stop without breaks until what I’m working on is done to perfection, whether it’s an essay, deep clean, or a DIY project)
- All or nothing attitude (I’m either really messy or really clean, a great friend or an unresponsive one, all-in on a health program or disgusted with myself and unable to get back into it)
- Trouble following through (especially with said hobbies or workout programs)
- Getting distracted extremely easily with my internal thoughts, especially while working (total dependency on list-making)
- Notification fatigue (takes everything in me to reply or address an email/text/message/interaction)
- Brain fog (worsened since COVID)
- Sometimes, choice paralysis (except, interestingly, with really important decisions, such as buying a wedding dress, car, and house, where I was extremely decisive and immediately sure)
- Social anxiety, mild depression
It took me a long time to think of these symptoms as anything other than laziness, quirks, and a lack of motivation. I’m extremely high-functioning, and have always been a high performer in school, team, relationships, and professional settings.
After seeing all of the information online and noticing where I aligned with different accounts of ADHD, I still doubted myself. I thought that because of all the success I’ve achieved, I’m just making up these connections, and it’s more likely that I’m simply lazy.
When I got COVID in October 2021, it felt as though my symptoms worsened—it’s been harder to keep track of my thoughts and stay productive and motivated, which has led to more self-resentment.
The catalyst was moving to Milwaukee and Chad providing us with new health insurance benefits, and feeling fresh with a clean slate. I finally felt empowered enough to take the first steps to sign up and get help with an easy and approachable website. It was initially really difficult to get myself to sign up, but I’m now so thankful that I did.
I found Cerebral when Googling “get help for adhd.” After signing up and inputting my information, I did a quick assessment of multiple choice questions that determined my risk for having ADHD (note: it was high, lol).
Afterward, I was able to select a treatment plan; I opted for the therapy and medication route.
Note: you can do just therapy, but can’t choose just medication. Therapy is required.
Next, I met virtually with a licensed prescriber. It took about half an hour, and we discussed my assessment in deeper detail, and she asked me more questions. At the end, she prescribed me a non-stimulant medication, which I was able to pick up at a CVS the same day. We planned to meet again in a month, where we could review the medication plan. However, I decided to adjust my prescription amount, so I was able to schedule a meeting with her a week from starting.
Another note: Cerebral has stopped writing prescriptions for stimulant medications (like Adderall) to curb abuse. I’m currently on Strattera.
Then, I was able to schedule a therapy appointment with another licensed person. We haven’t met yet, but I’m looking forward to the appointment, though I am a little nervous and scared, too. These therapy sessions will likely be once a month or so.
The app is a useful tool as well, and includes a messaging area where I can communicate with a care coordinator, a scheduling tool, a prescription tracker, and a task manager for ‘homework’ and resources relating to ADHD.
So far, so good
Though I haven’t been taking my medication for long (a once-daily blue pill), it has been a game changer for me.
I felt it almost instantly: a subtle clarity, as though I was putting on a fresh pair of updated contact lenses for the first time. I felt a little sharper and as though I could lend more focus to the tasks at hand.
On my first full day of medication I felt invincible and nearly super-human. I knocked down a full day of tasks, easily and without any kind of distraction or issue. From an apartment deep-clean to several client projects completed, I couldn’t believe what I was able to accomplish!
Side-effects have been mostly minimal: there’s a little tummy ache after I take it, then I don’t really feel hungry until nighttime. It’s weird, but manageable as long as I remind myself to stay nourished. The biggest thing is a feeling of dry mouth, but I’ve been staying on top of that by drinking a ton of water.
So far things have been very, very good. I feel validated. I feel relieved. I feel proud. I’m thankful for a resource that’s very approachable and easy to use, a medicine that can help me in my day-to-day tasks without altering my personality, and my bravery to finally get help.
If you need a reminder: this is normal. Taking care of our brains and mental health is as regular a thing as going for a run or eating a salad. There’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed, reaching out, and taking action to get some help and support.
It’s worth it.