October 13, 2022

How I was Diagnosed with ADHD

Show Notes

On this episode, Chuck Gaidica is joined by LaTrisha Lake. Together, they discuss Lake’s experience of living with ADHD and how she wasn’t diagnosed until adulthood.

In this episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, we explore:

  • What led Lake to get a diagnosis and what the process was like
  • How she felt after receiving her diagnosis
  • Lake’s advice for others that think they might have ADHD but have yet to be diagnosed

Transcript

Chuck Gaidica:
This is A Healthier Michigan Podcast, Episode 116. October is ADHD awareness month. And on this episode, we’ll be hearing from LaTrisha Lake about her experience of living with ADHD and how she wasn’t diagnosed until adulthood.
Welcome to A Healthier Michigan Podcast. This is a podcast dedicated to navigating how we can all improve our health and wellbeing through small, healthy habits. We can all start right now, and we sit down with certified experts to discuss topics that cover nutrition, fitness, and today a lot more than that. On this episode, we’re spreading awareness of ADHD because there are 4 to 5% of adults in the U.S. that have it. However, it’s not uncommon that this goes undiagnosed. With us today, as someone with a personal experience on this topic, LaTrisha Lake, it’s good to see you.

LaTrisha Lake:
Thank you so much. It’s great to be here. It’s good to see you as well.

Chuck Gaidica:
I’m glad we’re able to share your story not just this month, but any month, because it’s an important topic. We often think of ADHD as being something where we hear, because not all of us have firsthand experience that someone may be hyperactive or impulsive or they’re having trouble concentrating. However, ADHD not only affects children, we hear that too, but obviously, children grow up to be adults and sometimes those adults may not even know that they’ve got a diagnoses of ADHD until they become adults. Am I right?

LaTrisha Lake:
Very, very right. Yeah. I’ve gone my entire life and I did not get diagnosed until I was 49 years old.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow. You don’t even look 49. Much less waiting to be diagnosed when you’re 49.

LaTrisha Lake:
I’ve had a birthday since then.

Chuck Gaidica:
Oh, okay. Happy birthday.

LaTrisha Lake:
I hit a milestone. Thank you.

Chuck Gaidica:
Happy belated. Yeah.

LaTrisha Lake:
Thanks.

Chuck Gaidica:
So tell us about your journey. You didn’t know as a kid, or did you know that there were certain things that just seemed different?

LaTrisha Lake:
I did not know as a child, some of the comments that I received growing up were, if you just applied yourself, if you tried harder, if you wouldn’t talk so much, sit still, et cetera. But when they look at children in today’s world and they’re thinking about whether or not that child has ADHD, a common marker for it, boys is that they get into a lot of trouble. But girls don’t. We adapt in a different way because of our social structure. So yeah, I got the comments about, “Well, you shouldn’t talk so much, or you need to be quieter,” or something along those lines. But I didn’t get into real trouble.
What I did though was I had problems focusing. I often felt, especially growing older, my grades in school were okay, but they weren’t great. I was always told, “You’re just not applying yourself. You are much smarter than you’re allowing yourself to be, et cetera.” Slowly but surely over time when you continue you to hear those messages, it leads into depression and starting to feel as if you have major character flaws, when in actuality, you have a medical condition that’s not being managed and you don’t know it.

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. Well, and there’s so much that’s complicated in just what you said, but before we move forward, I just want to make sure I and everybody else understands what does ADHD stand for?

LaTrisha Lake:
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder. What that basically means is, and it’s very strange, but the way that I interpret it is my brain is moving significantly faster than my body, so to speak. So while some people are working on one problem at a time, I’m working on a problem, but I’m also working on two or three other things at the same time. So my attention is almost always divided. I once was dating someone and he complained that I was never just watching TV or a movie with him when we were supposed to be watching TV or a movie. I was also reading a book or playing a game or doing something. I said, “Everybody does that.” He says, “No, everybody doesn’t do that.” I had not realized that a lot of things that to me were just a hundred percent normal were not normal for other people.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, you said … And this is really interesting to me as a parent and as a grandparent, because we try to offer corrective inputs that we think are healthful. So when you are telling someone in a room or you’re at church or you’re someplace we’re talking shouldn’t be going on, don’t talk. Those corrective inputs for many, help them grow healthfully in life. Yet when you have to give them over and over maybe, or you have to give different inputs, very often they can be internalized and you’ve already talked about this as something that leads to, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got a character flaw. I thought I was okay, and my mom and dad don’t think I’m okay.” So as parents, we need to be aware of even how we’re trying to turn the ship with a child who we may not even know has ADHD.

LaTrisha Lake:
Absolutely. In no way, shape or form do I feel as though my mom made errors or mistakes in what it was that she was trying to teach me. I don’t feel that way about the teachers or anyone else because as we all know, the more you know, the more you know. You do better. ADHD was not something that was widely discussed. It wasn’t something that was checked for on a regular basis with children. You didn’t have a pediatrician who would look at a kid and say, “Oh, there’s something going on there.” Not always. Now, with this wealth of information that’s available, and the more that we talk about it and share, the more important or the easier it is for you to begin to ask yourself important questions, “Why do we keep having this conversation? Maybe there’s something going on.” I have a son who has multiple medical conditions, and one of those is ADHD.
I ended up saying, “He’s just going, going, going all the time.” So his doctor said, “Okay, take this questionnaire, give it to this school. You fill out one, the school will fill out one and send it to me.” It was just all these questions about, “Does he have a hard time sitting still? Does he make a lot of noise? Does he do this? Does he do that?” You would rank where it was. So once all of those combined scores came back, they said, “Oh, he has ADHD.” But that still didn’t tell me that I had it. I always assumed that it came from his father, which yes, he has ADHD, but I never realized until I saw a video last year talking about it, and they were talking about the difference between how it presents in girls and women than it does in boys and men.
I started to hear things and I thought first thing was, “Oh, they’re very impulsive.” I was like, “Everybody’s impulsive. They have a hard time staying focused on one task.” And I was like, “Well, lots of people have problems with that.” But the more that they said, the more I was like, “Okay, well, I do, do that too. Oh, I do that too.” Then the proverbial nails when they said it is genetic and it does in hereditary and it does get passed down from parents. Suddenly, it hit me, and I thought, “Maybe that is what has been going on with me.” So I reached out to my doctor and said, “How do I get tested for ADHD, because I feel like this isn’t just my depression?” Because I’ve been on medication and in therapy for years because of it. I said, “Maybe there’s something else going on that we haven’t picked up on.”

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. Well, and again, you’re saying so many things that are just, in my mind, I’m thinking for a lot of us, we relish the fact that somehow we’re wired to be multitaskers, right?

LaTrisha Lake:
Right.

Chuck Gaidica:
So don’t ask me to dance and chew gum and walk at the same time. There’re certain things I can’t multitask. But as a guy who enjoyed being a private pilot, you’ve got to turn, do, move your feet, watch out for other airplanes. You’re doing things, and that becomes a positive. So here you are saying that some of the things that even at that time, the person you were dating, the input you’re getting is like, “Don’t look for the bright shiny objects in the room. Be present with me.” Right?

LaTrisha Lake:
Right.

Chuck Gaidica:
So sometimes there’s an upside to the way we’re wired, and then sometimes we’re starting to maybe hear from others, or we’re starting to visualize in ourselves. There could be a downside too, and that’s got to be troubling because just because you’re a good multitasker doesn’t mean you’ve got a condition. Right?

LaTrisha Lake:
Right. Oh, no. Absolutely. I think that there’s a difference in it when if you are able to multitask and you’re able to get things done, but you’re not consistently feeling ridiculously stressed out when you’re not consistently feeling overwhelmed, when you’re not feeling as though, “Oh, I’m going to write everything down in a notebook.” Then you lose that notebook. So you start a new notebook, and then you lose that notebook and you start a new notebook and you lose that notebook. Then one day you find that notebook and you think, “Oh,” and you go through it and you’re like, “Okay, I did that. Oh, I did do that. I did do that. Oh, I didn’t do that, or that, or that,” but you found that notebook three months later. There has to be a tipping point where you recognize maybe just maybe there’s something else going on. It’s that feeling of constantly being overwhelmed that is a part of that difference.

Chuck Gaidica:
That’s interesting. So that itself can be a tipping point towards self-worth issues, depression or anxiety, that there’s just a number of these things adding up, which I find interesting as well, when you looked at even the input you were getting about your son, we all have to be careful when we play Google Doctor, because if I look at a list of things like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve got fatal beriberi disease.” So with those inputs though, a lot of the things you’re talking about could turn up on the spectrum of autism, could turn up … It’s ADHD, Right? So this idea of getting diagnosed by a professional has got to rank way up there is something important.

LaTrisha Lake:
Absolutely. Keep in mind too, just because I am very well versed in health insurance and in personalized insurance, because I’ve worked in both industries, but there are still a lot of things that I don’t know. So that journey of trying to figure out, how do I get those tests done, because I’m not a child. I can’t go to my boss and say, “Hey, could you fill out this questionnaire for me?” I can’t do that with my family. So what I did was I spoke with them, and I have a neurologist because I have really bad migraines sometimes. My doctor said, “Let’s talk to your neurologist and ask him to refer you to someone.” So I spoke with him. He said, “Oh, okay.” He asked me a few questions and he says, “I want you to go and speak with this doctor.”
I had a battery of tests with her as well as a very long session to just talk about some of the issues. About three weeks later, I had a diagnosis in my hand that suddenly changed a lot of my perspectives about myself. What was interesting was as she was telling me, she said, “I’m looking at your face and I can see that part of you is amazed and part of you is relieved.” I said, “Well, this answers so many questions or doubts that I’ve had about myself all my life.” She said, “Because of the fact that one can feed the other, there are a lot of people who get the diagnosis.” For me, I did a medication trial, and she said, “I’m going to guess that once you have found the strategies and you’ve done the behavioral therapies that we need to do, your depression will get better.” I’m the happiest I’ve been my entire life right now.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow. That’s awesome.

LaTrisha Lake:
Yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
That’s great to hear. I mean, and you look happy. I mean, in life, not only are you a delight just to talk to in general, but you just seem to be a happy person. So I didn’t know you prior to this experience, but it sure seems like it. You exude it. Let me put it that way, which I think is awesome.

LaTrisha Lake:
It’s interesting that you say that because what I have found, especially knowing who my friends are, and we tend to seek each other out, but I know a lot of people like myself with depression, a lot of people have figured out how to mask how they feel constantly. So if you would ask people before they would’ve said, “Oh, she’s always cheerful, she’s always happy.” But inside I felt very numb, but I was just a really good actress. But now, the inside matches the outside. There were days where I literally would struggle to just get out of bed, and the only thing that made me get out was the fact that I had to take care of my son.

Chuck Gaidica:
So I want to double back to your son in a minute. How many years ago were you actually diagnosed?

LaTrisha Lake:
I was diagnosed in January of 2022.

Chuck Gaidica:
Wow. Okay. So this is a pretty recent proposition. For your son being diagnosed, has he found similar relief that you’re able to at least talk about or you can see in behavior?

LaTrisha Lake:
I can definitely see a difference in behavior. He has been on medication, I think since he was five for his ADHD, and right now, he’s on a short acting because it’s very simple. It’s a chewable because he’s not really good at swelling pills yet, although we’re crossing our fingers and hoping to move him to an extended release so that he just has to take medication once a day. But I remember he had been on medication for a few months, and one day, I could tell that his medication was wearing off, but he started hitting himself in the head. He was trying to do something, and I said, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” My son has autism and he is nonverbal. I did mention a few medical conditions. There’s also Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
So I called his behaviorist and I said, “I don’t know what’s going on. But I’ve noticed a few times that when he’s trying to do something, he’s starting to hit himself in the head.” She asked me a couple of questions, which led me to the realization that it was around the time that his medications were starting to wear off. She said he’s hitting himself in the head because he’s frustrated, because on the medication, he can do certain things and it’s a lot easier for him. But when the medications are wearing off, he’s recognizing, “Something is wrong. I can’t do what I want to do.” What is interesting is that he has medication four times a day, three times for his ADHD and the ones to be able to sleep, because that’s one of the side effects of his autism. He can’t sleep very well. He is better regimented about taking his medication than I am. I mean, that alarm goes off and the first thing he does is heads for it because he wants his medication because he recognizes, it is making his life a lot easier and better.

Chuck Gaidica:
So you talked a little bit in your own experience about being misjudged by symptoms’ sort of the self-imposed criticism that, right?

LaTrisha Lake:
Yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
Things are going … You mentioned the person you were dating at the time did point out to you. Did you have other people in your life, whether it was in a business setting or otherwise, who were either being complimentary of some of your symptoms of ADHD or were also saying, “Could you just focus for a minute? I’m trying to talk to you about this meeting.” Did you have those inputs from others that were not really self-imposed?

LaTrisha Lake:
Absolutely. Yeah. I will say one of the first jobs that I had outside of college, we had a very extensive training program to be able to do the job that I was going to do. The trainer was one of those people who had the entire presentation up on the screen, and she was reading it to us word for word. I am a fast reader, and I got bored and without thinking, I sat in the middle of her training class and cleaned out my purse at my job.

Chuck Gaidica:
You waited-

LaTrisha Lake:
Right now looking back-

Chuck Gaidica:
And you kept your job? Wait a minute. Yeah?

LaTrisha Lake:
I did. But it was one of those things like now looking bad, I’m like, “I’m so appalled that I did that.” But at the time, it was just like, “I’ve got to do something. I cannot. This is so boring.” I didn’t have a conscious thought like, “Oh, I know what I can do.” I just was doing it. So afterward, they did pull me to the side and they said, “You can’t do that. You’re one of our better students, and when you are doing that kind of thing, it’s problematic because the other people in the room are seeing that.” Believe it or not, I actually went on to become a supervisor with them, but …

Chuck Gaidica:
Oh, wow.

LaTrisha Lake:
… but yeah, I’ve had multiple instances where I will be very hyper focused on something and lose track of time and stay with it. But then there would be those times where all of a sudden, I could not focus to save my life, and my work would have all of these random errors in it because I couldn’t focus. So now recognizing that yeah, when I really have to focus, I have a lot of coping mechanisms that I’ve had to create to make sure that I don’t get distracted. I have a little water fountain going so that I have noise in the background, or I’d have to listen to music, but it can’t be music with words. I’d have to listen to classical music with just orchestral music, because if there were words, I would start to focus on the song. I’m an opera singer from college days, high school and college days.
So I would get into an opera and completely lose train of thought about what it was that I was supposed to be working on. So I realized, it has to be in a certain place so that I could focus, I would have to turn on do not disturb, and just get myself into a zone. That is not as hard for a lot of people just to be able to say, “I’ve got to get this done, so I’m going to get it done.” Then they just sit down and they do it. Whereas with me, it’s a process or it was until I found the medication that works for me. It is significantly easier to get things done. Part of that is minimizing the distractions. I can’t be in a messy office because the whole time that I’m working, I’m looking at that, “Oh, I’ve got to put that file away. Oh, I really need to shred that. Did I pay that bill?”

Chuck Gaidica:
Yeah. Yeah.

LaTrisha Lake:
Yeah.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, see. Some of us, again, hear those things, and we’re going to wrap up here with a couple minutes left, But we hear that we think some of those are good things. I’ve got to pay the bill, I’ve got to log on, I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to make sure I hit the meeting. I’ve got to see you this day to do a podcast. So some of that is what we would consider normal. Of course, you’ve explained why sometimes it sort of steps out of those bounds. So as we wrap things up, if someone’s listening or watching to this and they’re seeing some of themselves in your story, talk about what they should be thinking about and where they should turn.

LaTrisha Lake:
What I would say is definitely speak with your primary care physician, whomever that is, outline some of the concerns that you’re having. Because yes, some of those things are absolutely normal, but when they are consistent, chronic, and that sense of constantly being overwhelmed, even when things are going well, could indicate that there is something else going on. I jokingly told my boss after starting my medication trial, and I was flooding her inbox with work, and she said, “What is going on?” And I said, “Oh, well, remember,” I disclosed what my condition was at work, because not that I didn’t ask for any accommodations or anything like that, but one of the things that I do at the company is advocate for people who have chronic illnesses or disabilities. So I just wanted to continue to advocate. So I said, “Well, I started that medication trial,” and she said, “You are so productive right now. It’s kind of crazy.” I said, “Well, I’ve been meaning to get you some things.” Then we laughed
But she said, “This is amazing.” I said, “If I had been diagnosed when I was younger, I would already be a director or maybe even a vice president right now.” She said, “I actually believe that’s right.” That is the validation. You feel like you’re smart and on some level that you’re intelligent, but you constantly run into a wall full speed, and you can’t figure out why you can’t see that wall coming all of the time. So talk to your doctor, talk to them, and let them know. What I would say is, I mean, I’ve been in therapy for depression since I was 30, so you can do the math and never stop trying to figure out. If you feel that there is something wrong, you have to advocate for yourself. The only one who knows how you feel is you. If you feel as though they’re not understanding, keep trying. Because eventually, something will click and you’ll come to our realization and you might find there is a reason for this. There always has been. I just didn’t know.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, we have focused on more the adult side of this, obviously, because of your story. But what I’m hearing is a big word keeps popping into my mind, and that’s hope. That there is hope and it’s part of being brave, about this idea of even seeing your primary care physician or admitting that you need therapy or searching out an expert because you’re starting to recognize these things. I think that that word hope for me is got to be a big one because you’ve provided it with this podcast. So thanks.

LaTrisha Lake:
Oh, no problem. I fully believe that you always have to have hope, even in your darkest moments. You have to have some hope. Because if you really think about it, that’s part of one of the joys of life. It’s that ability to look around and see the beauty. I’m just glancing out my window and I realized that the tree in front of my house has these gorgeous, bright red leaves at the very top. When I first glanced out, I said, “Are those flowers? And I was like, “No. The leaves are finally changing colors.” Now I’m hopeful because we’re going to go on those beautiful drives and see the autumn leaves. You can find those little moments of joy and use those to fuel your hope.

Chuck Gaidica:
Well, LaTrisha Lake, thank you so much for joining us and what an important month this is, ADHD awareness month, so we can focus on kids and grandkids, those and our circles, right?

LaTrisha Lake:
Absolutely.

Chuck Gaidica:
Then also on ourselves to try to recognize even it’s never too late to be what you needed to be. So if you have gotten through to that half point in your life, or you’re in the half time, it’s never too late to maybe seek out help and say, “Something’s just a little off, and I need some help.” So thanks for encouraging us and giving us hope.

LaTrisha Lake:
Thank you so much for letting me talk you all.

Chuck Gaidica:
Oh, sure thing. Great to see you. LaTrisha Lake has been with us today, and we’re glad that you’ve been with us as well. Thanks for listening to A Healthier Michigan Podcast. It’s brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. If you like the show, you want to know more, you can jump online. You can go to ahealthiermichigan.org/podcast. You can leave us a review or a rating on Apple Podcast or Spotify. You can also follow us on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter. Get new episodes, old episodes, take them with you on your smartphone or tablet. Be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcast, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. I’m Chuck Gaidica. Stay well.