halfway there + moving forward: adhd and learning assessment

Whether it is evident or not when I post them, I do really try to make each Mirror Mantra something that reflects what is upcoming in my week–something that I am needing inspiration to tackle. The month of January has had an underlying theme that I haven’t actually talked about here yet–but I’m about to. I’ve been telling the story subtly, abstractly . . . now it’s time for the real thing.

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December 31st, 2012

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January 7th, 2013

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January 14th, 2013

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January 21st, 2013

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January 28th, 2013

Make yourself is the theme of the year. It’s about creating who I am setting out to be, making the right choices–even if they are not easy–and moving, growing, learning. The second mantra–the distance is what you make it lead me up to an appointment over a year in the making, partly due to myself and partly due to circumstance. In early January I had found out that I failed not only anatomy, but also social psychology last term. I can pretend all I want I don’t give a shit, but I knew that I had tried my best to work hard at both of those classes and that hard work was not paying off. It’s easy to blame yourself, it’s even easier to blame circumstance . . . but extremely hard to admit that maybe something is not right. On January 11th, I had a 45-minute appointment where people got me–with a guy we’ll call Dr. B–and a psychology Master’s student, for a clinical interview to be assessed for ADHD, after waiting 6 months to get on to a waiting list, and 6 months following putting my name on that list for an appointment. The actual appointment could not have come at a better time, since I was really struggling with the concept of failing anatomy again.

Telling the whole story is hard work. It’s hard to talk about the academic problems; the fact that since first year I have not been able to maintain a course load of anything over three classes–last term I dropped to two classes for the first time, and I didn’t even pass either of them. It’s hard to talk about the fact that I don’t feel like I’m living up to people’s expectations of me, that I can’t do things right, and that I’ve felt like this for as long as I can remember. That all of the stupid little quirks I have might actually mean something–the fact that I’m constantly getting in shit for not turning off lights, constantly forgetting my bus pass or keys, that I can’t get through a simple academic reading or a humanities course because I am not interested even though I know I need to be. All that, and a lot more. The quirks might mean nothing–I might just be quirky. I know that, and that is okay. But if there is an explanation, a way we can modify this . . . I want to know it, too. I didn’t get out of my first appointment with a psychologist without using the service of Dr. B’s Kleenex. At the same time, through the recollections and memories . . . I knew it was okay, I knew it was okay I was there, I knew they understood. And few things have ever felt better than “We want to work with you on this.

The week leading up to that appointment was stressful. Jay, who pointed me in the right directions when I first asked him for options regarding assessment in Fall 2011, and Natasha, were among the few people who actually knew what was going on, because I was not ready to talk about it until at least that first part was over. Until I knew I had made the right choice to make that appointment. It was a long week, culminating in a 45-minute intake appointment, understanding and a fresh blanket of snow on the ground.

Each day between my intake/clinical interview and my first round of testing (psychoeducational assessment) increased my thoughts about it all. Learning the skill of forgetting: There was a gap of time I was able to push it out of my mind for a bit, but as the days approached, the testing that happened early this week weighed more and more on my mind. For the first time in a long time, I can say that I wanna try to get better and overcome each moment in my own way. Let’s see–I effed around with the asthma meds last week. I am not sure it was a good idea, but now I know I, in this season, cannot quit my evening Symbicort without causing myself problems. Overcoming moments–overcoming thoughts that lead up to this week’s assessment. That, too, was a long week.

This week . . . was assessment week. There were so many times where I was just like “Maybe this is stupid. Maybe I shouldn’t bother going through with all of this. I am fine.” The things we try to convince ourselves when we are facing uncertainty. I’ve been on a Something Corporate kick, and Caldecott Tunnel is a seriously good one, and it is home to this week’s mantra: we end up regretting the things we don’t try. On the bus on the way to my appointment on Monday the song shuffled on, and it was like “Okay, I need to do this.”

staring out into the intersection, she thinks that she can fly / And she might. / Holding on in a new direction, she’s going to try it tonight. / The closer that I get to feeling, the further that I’m feeling from alright . . .

straw dog, something corporate

Monday’s assessment was hard–basically an IQ test (WAIS-IV) and a self-report scale. Some of the WAIS-IV I just wanted to quit right there–that test was hard and long, and as Jay said . . . “The WAIS-IV is a tough one and you never know what the right answers are”. A completely true statement. Arranging blocks, defining words, recalling letters and numbers, crossing out shapes from lines, a bunch of timed stuff . . . like I said, it was long, and parts of it, such as the math problems were extremely hard. I was lucky enough to get my second assessment appointment on Tuesday afternoon–a memory test (the WMS-IV–which was possibly worse than the WAIS-IV)–recalling details of stories, placing specific cards in certain spots after attempting to memorize them, words in stupid pairs that didn’t make any sense and their association had to be remembered, some delayed recall things, and fortunately–that I can remember–no math. I also faced-off with the computer in the Conners Continuous Performance Test, involving not-clicking-the-x, and simultaneously grew more and more frustrated at each time I accidentally clicked the x, and more and more bored awaiting the stupid test to be done.

Tuesday was supposed to be the last day of testing. As soon as I got into the assessment room, I was told “We actually need you to come in for one more test.” I tried to pry her for answers, but I received none beyond “My supervisor says you need to come back in”. So my assumption is that something was off in my WAIS-IV that needs to be addressed further–and as Jay said “better that they do the most thorough job now versus only getting 90% of the puzzle […] best to get the whole picture, regardless of how many times you need to come in”. So, back to the clinic I am headed on Wednesday for mystery testing–I have suspicion it may have to do with my math results, but I can’t say for certain.

I’m blessed that I’ve got so many good people in my world–pointing me in the right directions; keeping me sane . . . and being supportive in the process as I slowly start telling people about what is unfolding. I hope that by publishing this post . . . I am able to move further into telling those who care about what is going on . . . regardless of where the journey leads. And, that, no matter where someone’s own journey is leading . . . if there is belief that you need help . . . find a way to get it.

Because the experience, so far, has been so worth it.

And, to close off with a quote from an e-mail with Jay from last November . . .

“Even in the midst of our own struggles, we can offer encouragement. Even during our personal low periods, we can continue to try to be a mentor to those around us. If we are honest about we are facing, we can offer hope to others that they are not alone.

John Wooden

Here’s to finding answers to even the questions that are not being asked . . . connection between the answers to the questions that are . . .

and hope in the process.

8 thoughts on “halfway there + moving forward: adhd and learning assessment

  1. What a nice long heartfelt post, Kerri. It’s great that you’re taking all the necessary actions to get to the bottom of this. It sucks and it’s not fair when you have to struggle so much and you don’t deserve that. You’re one of the strongest, most passionate (about justice and stuff you believe in) and most intelligent people I know.

  2. My every day is struggle. But this is struggle without gun – it is silent struggle. Mahatma Gandhi had one strategy – passive struggle, but I don’t fight with visual things – it is more spiritual and emotional war.
    But I’m not alone in that war – it is for me the biggest hope.
    Greetings for You 🙂

    1. Very much agree with what you’ve written–thanks for sharing your perspective :]. Happy we’ve all got good people in our corners. :]

  3. Thank you for sharing this. There is so much to learn about learning and how the brain works. Honestly, I never much thought about my brain until my stroke and about learning styles until I too struggled with concepts that were difficult for me to begin with (NOT a math person!) and that teachers insisted on teaching in only one way—and that way not working for me. When I taught, I encouraged all my students to take a learning styles evaluation. They were remedial level students in community college, but despite their age, no one had ever told them that it was okay to learn things in different ways, that they weren’t “broken” because what worked for one person didn’t also work for them.

    Generally, we don’t like to find faults in ourselves. It involves too much personal examination. Props to you for being willing to face that—it means that you’re so much smarter, so much more dedicated, so much more insightful than all of those who face a challenge and give up. Best of luck for helpful self-discovery and the continued moxie to follow through.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! :]

      Glad to find another NOT a math person out there! :] I’ve done a ton of the “learning styles” things throughout the years, and they are definitely helpful–and of course, it is helpful when a situation can attend to many of those at the same time to maximize the experience.

      It has been a hard road, and I am fully able to admit that–mostly, I just make it hard on myself, as we all do. But, I’ve got a LOT of good people [like you!] in my corner, and I have no idea where I would be without the support of those around me–I really underestimated the online community, because the comments, tweets, DMs and Facebook messages I’ve gotten have been awesome–of course, Jay who I mentioned above, has been so awesome through the whole thing, too, helping me to realize that we are truly identifying my strengths and weaknesses . . . and where to go from there :].

      I am looking forward to the results tomorrow–stay tuned :].

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