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The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

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Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
Column | Caitlin Clark adapts to life in the WNBA
By James Carter, Staff Writer • June 20, 2024
Opinion | NHL needs to bring specialty jerseys back
By Jameson Keebler, Senior Staff Columnist • June 19, 2024
Opinion | Hold your elected officials morally responsible
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • June 18, 2024

The Ladybug | Attention Deficit Disorder and Therapy

The Ladybug is a blog about adoptees and their experiences.
The+Ladybug+%7C+Attention+Deficit+Disorder+and+Therapy
Thalia Sifnakis | Staff Illustrator

I have attention deficit disorder. This isn’t specific or limited to adoptees, but it’s important to my identity. It doesn’t define me, but has heavily impacted my life.

I was diagnosed relatively early, which was surprising to many physicians. Females with ADD often fly under the radar for being diagnosed, especially without the hyperactive part. It was noticeable to my parents when I was little since I’d get easily distracted by shiny objects. 

In the time between middle school and high school, I got a psychiatrist and tried out different medications for focus. I tried at least 4 different stimulant ADD medications. It was helpful for me to keep a record of which medications I tried before and if there were any bad reactions, so that I don’t make the mistake of accidentally taking the wrong medication.

In college, or at least in this area of Pittsburgh, I’ve found it very difficult to find a psychiatrist, someone who is qualified to prescribe medication. No one told me how hard it would be finding my own psychiatrist and therapist. I did end up being recommended to Better Stories Psychiatry, which does virtual appointments. This is super helpful being a college student since sometimes I only have an hour in between classes and don’t have the time to travel to a physical office. At an appointment with a psychiatrist, they ask personal questions about diagnoses as well as gain background information to better suggest and assess which medication will be the best fit. In my personal experience, it’s not as much talking as a therapy appointment. 

First, for those who are looking for a new therapist, my advice is to be patient. It isn’t an easy or quick task. Making sure that they take your insurance, they are specialized in your disorders or topics of advice and narrowing down by gender (I prefer a female) takes time. I have made the mistake multiple times where I settle with the wrong therapist and then stop seeing them after a handful of sessions. Don’t make the same mistake as me. Keep searching until you really click with a therapist.

It doesn’t have to be expensive either — ask for a free 15-minute consult and plan to ask them questions about their specialty and the type of therapies they use. For insurance, ask them in person if they take your insurance plan. Therapists are trained in specific types of therapy, so it’s important to ask questions about which kinds they use and their style. Different types of therapy work for different people. 

Before consulting, ask yourself a few questions. Are you looking for virtual or in-person appointments? Is having a physical brick and mortar establishment to have in-person sessions important to you? What kind of therapist are you looking for? There are different kinds of therapy, including talk therapy, art therapy and somatic therapy. What kind of therapy do you think you’ll benefit from? There is cognitive behavior therapy, psychotherapy and much more. 

In my experience, the best therapist I have found is the one that is able to identify the root of the problem quickly. For example, if I explained a scenario that happened over the weekend, she might say the behavior is because of a quality or disorder I have. She might identify the behavior as progressing or problematic and explain why, then offering solutions and how to improve behavior patterns. This is a vague example, as my sessions are private, but you get the point. I want a therapist who can get to the bottom of things quickly. To me, that shows they are a good therapist who knows what they’re doing. 

There are also further resources such as intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and in-patient treatment. In-patient and PHP provide living arrangements with other patients. For in-patient, all providers come to the house. For PHP and IOP, clients may travel to a location to see the providers. These treatments vary in terms of their intensity and which resources are in-house. I briefly wanted to mention these options to note that there are more involved options for those who would like a higher level of care. In my first post I touched on how I took time off from school in an in-patient treatment place to gain tools to better equip myself to healthily function. This to say, sometimes a higher level of care is necessary. I wish it was more common and feasible for young adults to take time off to focus on themselves and their mental health, especially considering the intense demand of school and work.

I have spent a lot of time sharing the aspects of a healthy well-being and relationship, but in reality, it’s really hard to be healthy. For me, it takes work. Impulsivity is a major characteristic of ADD that I struggle with and is particularly difficult while in a relationship. There is a misconception that for a relationship to be interesting it needs drama and toxic behavior. In this idea, the healthy secure relationship is deemed boring. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It took me relationship after relationship to figure out that toxic behavior isn’t what makes things interesting, but makes things harder. 

I feared the day-to-day life feeling monotonous due to a set schedule in a healthy relationship, but I found a new sense of stability. While a set schedule to the ADD mind can be repetitive and not as exciting as impulsivity, structure and consistency is what keeps me focused. Sharing this drive and routine with my partner is the best idea we decided on. Since both of us have rigorous academic schedules this semester, we agreed to at least two hours of “couples studying” in Hillman after our classes are finished for the day. It is an adjustment, but I found that even though it might not be bowling and $2 beers on a Tuesday evening, the time spent together is just as rewarding. Of course, everything in moderation and sometimes a reward for all the hard work is necessary.

I’ve written a lot about healthy communication and behaviors, but I like to remind others that I’m not perfect and I have times where I often catch myself going back to the same toxic behaviors from past relationships. There are also constantly new challenges to be tackled daily, but I continue to want to put in the effort, as well as my partner, which is the best we can ask of each other. Lastly, reminding myself of my support network is comforting to know there are people I can reach out to if needed, whether that be a therapist, psychiatrist, family or my friends. 

Abigail writes about adoption and the experiences of adoptees. You can reach her at [email protected] with any further questions or comments.