The Silent Struggle: The Triad of ADHD, Anxiety, and Depression

The Onset of Anxiety and Depression

In December 2003, a new chapter unfolded as I arrived in Canada. However, this chapter meant being separated from the grandparents who had raised me and living with my parents, who did not feel familiar to me. Facing new people, school evolved into a dreaded ordeal—a world that felt both scary and isolating. For the years that ensued, I grappled with the feeling that nobody had my back, leaving me alone in this uncertain world.

I remember that nights brought insomnia, where I stared at the little green light on the VCR player, with the sound of water dripping in the sink echoing in the silence. Even surrounded by a pile of stuffed animals, the only feeling was fear.

Adolescence became a struggle of masking emotions, pretending to be happy to spare others from my burdens, from the darkness that was at the core of my being. I learned to use laughter to mask misery, and sarcasm to hide my true feelings. At a certain point, I stopped letting myself feel. The only emotion deemed acceptable was anger because expressing sadness conveyed vulnerability, inviting more emotional abuse. Anger was my way of shielding myself from harm.

Suicidal thoughts crept in around age 13, turning everything—school and home life —into a source of dread. I questioned my purpose in this world. Behind a facade of normalcy, everything shattered. Internally, I was never okay, but I believed my struggles were a reflection of the terrible person I am, and I felt deserving of my struggles.

The Unseen Impact of ADHD

Undiagnosed ADHD added layers of challenges. Concentration difficulties compounded existing anxiety. School, once a place where I somewhat excelled, transformed into an insurmountable hurdle. The weight of needing to achieve academically became my sole purpose, believing that only success would earn me love and acceptance from my parents. 

The ADHD I never knew led to countless nights attempting to focus and get things done, only to constantly fail, plugging my self-esteem into an abyss. Self-blame became how I dealt with every failure. Trust wavered not just in others but also in myself. Being the last one to hand in projects overtime grew my feelings of inadequacy. I constantly wondered, why can’t I just my sh*t together?

The Turning Point: Seeking Help After 19 Years

Instead of addressing my issues, I continued as usual, hiding my struggles and trying to overcome them on my own. A facade of normalcy concealed my internal struggles, and the relentless push through life trying to function brought me to a final breaking point. Constantly hitting rock bottom, at 29, I realized that brute-forcing my way through life was no longer sustainable and has become futile. The youthful energy I had in my teens and 20s to just push through had waned.

In 2022, I finally sought a diagnosis, after acknowledging that whatever I had been struggling with all these years was greater than what I could overcome on my own. I was diagnosed with the triad of Anxiety, ADHD, and depression. I knew I had anxiety and depression, but the ADHD was a surprise. The weight of the burden finally lifted when I received my diagnosis which explained the “why” I lived with all these years.

I encourage you to break the silence, seek help, and embark on a path of healing. The journey is ongoing, but with each step, there is a commitment to embrace recovery. My hope is that others also find the courage to start their own path toward mental well-being.

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