By Kubra Bektas
I was diagnosed with epilepsy when I was 12 years old. I started taking medicine right away. I was a successful student in elementary school, but with epilepsy treatment, my grades suffered. I took 6-7 pills every day and had trouble sleeping at night. But when I took my medication for epilepsy, I would sleep, no matter where I was.
I was out of control in high school…
I was in high school when my behavior got out of control. I was messy and couldn’t keep my room straight. I would lose everything: my keys, important documents, even my cell phone. I spent my family’s money without thinking. I was angry all the time. Once I even attempted suicide, taking more of my epilepsy medications than I should. My family thought it was all side effects of epilepsy and the epilepsy medicines.
I was 20, and had already dropped out of one university when I stopped taking epilepsy medications. I started at a different university in the Department of Mathematics. At the same time, I began cycling, and I was very successful. Within a short time, I joined the national team. Everything was very good, and I was very happy, but I was never able to enjoy my success.
The anger often gobbles up all the space…
I had my first serious relationship when I was 21. I was ‘happy’ in my relationship, very happy and I loved him more than everything… I just couldn’t stop my rage. The anger often gobbles up all the space in my head, as a computer virus can gobble up all the space on a hard drive, crowding out other important feelings and thoughts. Every conversation ended with yelling and screaming.
My anger was so bad, I didn’t even like the person I became. I hated everything about myself. I was negative and swearing a lot. I couldn’t hear my own thoughts. I started having trouble falling asleep. Noises bothered me, especially when I was trying to sleep. I drove very aggressively. I grew bored with anything I tried. Multi-tasking and juggling many thoughts at the same time seemed to help keep me busy. If I was busy, I was happier.
I dropped out of the second university only to start at another school. Success in the national cycling team was the only bright spot, but it led to increased anxiety. Anxiety made everything worse. By the time I was 24, my emotional dysregulation had driven every out of my life. I felt so alone, and I still wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD.
I still didn’t know about my ADHD…
I had no friends. My relationship had ended. ADHD was killing me. I felt I had nothing to live for. And as it often does, hitting rock bottom was the beginning of my journey.
My family, whom I tried so hard to drive away, helped me get medication. They encouraged me to ride my bike. They even convinced me to meditate. After a few months, I won some national competitions and was about to go to Germany with a training program. Transcendental meditation and professional endurance sports life have helped a lot! I even started a new relationship.
It was still a rocky road. My emotional dysregulation continued to cause problems, especially with my relationship. Around this time, I began to wonder if I didn’t have ADHD. I was lucky my new doctor was an ADHD expert and university professor. So, I was 26 when my doctor confirmed I had ADHD. Everyone’s ADHD is unique, and my ADHD is more hyperactive-impulsive than inattentive.
Knowing is so much better than not knowing…
ADHD medication was life-changing. Endurance sports and meditation were life-changing. But I found that, if you have someone who loves you, this will help the most. Now that I have these, my life is very different.
I’m a successful cyclist in the national team. I have some good friends. You don’t need many really good ones. And I’m about to go to Europe to start my master’s in Neuroscience.
Your first step is to accept your ADHD…
I’m in a much better place, so I wanted to share my story. And I can pass on a little advice. Take it if you wish. Your first step is to accept your ADHD and leave the past in the past. Some things will be easy to overcome. Many will not be easy. But don’t stop trying hard. Your brain is slightly different, but remember, you can use this difference as an advantage.