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A visit to the Neuropsychiatry Unit

A visit to the Neuropsychiatry Unit

The usual stuff

I write from 2.30 a.m. to 4.30 a.m. At 6.20 a.m. precisely a small boy gets me up.

Itake the train into London; it takes 2 hours. I arrive with 30 minutes to spare, 20 minutes of which is spent finding my way around the sprawl of the South London and Maudsley Hospital.

The unusual bit

I have an appointment in the Adult ADHD Clinic of the Neuropsychiatry Unit

Is this a coping mechanism? Using the Psion in strange places ? On a train, in reception of a hospital.

It is like a scene from Brazil, the porter is cross-eyed, the receptionist has an unintelligible accent.

I shouldn’t feel like this is a job interview, I don’t have to fake it.

An hour was spent with a clinical psychologist undertaking a series of six tests.

These were designed to test my perceptions, understanding, level of education and I.Q. Once I understood the demands, and some of the tests became extraordinarily complex, I was in my element. In all cases I ploughed through each set of tests only coming to an eventual halt one or two pages off the end. When the Psychologist said she couldn’t do the last section I wasn’t surprised. I have an IQ of 155. Wherein lies the problem.

The only two places I fell short was when artificial ‘distractions’ were put in place and when the test was long and easy – for example, identifying sets of figures in a telephone directory like lay-out while listening out for then counting a series of background tones and then completing a ‘snap’ like game on a computer screen – during long sequences when there wasn’t a match I started to dwell on how I sometimes forget my lines on stage during performances of Shakespeare at University. (I played Mercutio in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ that was performed in Magdalen College Chapel, for example)

After this I sat in an empty waiting room and completed a number of forms that were designed to determine my state of mind; am I happy, sad, angry, depressed?

The tests were:

1. Barkley Scale

2. As an adult

3. HAD Scale

4. Culture Free S.E.I

5. Anger Inventory

6. Directions

I had time, and to relieve my boredom, I wrote down the questions for your benefit. I’ll turn this lot into a ‘Survey’ on depression.

They were all ‘closed’ questions, with a scale along the lines of ‘a lot, moderately so, a little, not at all’

Barkley Scale

So, for example,

Do you/are you:

Fail to give close attention to details or make careless mistakes in my work?

Fidget with hands or feet or squirm?

Have difficulty sustaining my attention in tasks or fun activities?

Leave my seat in situations in which sitting is expected?

Don’t listen when spoken to directly?

Feel restless?

Don’t follow through on instructions and fail to finish work?

Have difficulty engaging in leisure activities or doing fun things quietly?

Have difficulty organising tasks and activities?

Feel ‘on the go’ or ‘driven by a motor?

Avoid, dislike or am reluctant to engage in work that requires sustained mental effort?

Talk excessively?

Lose things necessary for tasks or activities?

Blurt out answers before questions have been completed?

Easily distracted?

Have difficulty waiting turn?

Forgetful in daily activities?

Interrupt or intrude on others?

Restless or overactive?

Excitable, impulsive?

Disturbed other adults?

Fails to finish things you started – short attention span?

Constantly fidgeting?

Inattentive, easily distracted?

Demands have to be met immediately -easily frustrated?

Cries often and easily?

Mood changes quickly and drastically?

Temper outbursts, explosive and unpredictable behaviour?

Similarly, on a scale from: ‘not very often, not often, occasionally, hardly at all, most of the time, nearly all of the time’ answer the following:

HAD Scale

I feel tense or wound up ___________________

I feel as if I am slowed down ___________________

I still enjoy the things I used to enjoy ___________________

I get a sort of frightened feeling like ‘butterflies’ in the stomach ___________________

I get a sort of frightened feeling as if something awful is about to happen ___________________

I have lost interest in my appearance I ___________________

I can laugh and see the funny side of things___________________

I feel restless as if I have to be on the move ___________________

Worrying thoughts go through my mind ___________________

I look forward with enjoyment to things ___________________

I feel cheerful___________________

I get sudden feelings of panic ___________________

I can sit at ease and feel relaxed ___________________

I can enjoy a good book or radio or TV program ___________________

After all of this I spent 90 minutes with a Consultant Psychologist. He quizzed me for an hour, then assessed my test results and came back with the following:

It turns out I have a ‘superb IQ’ but I have tendency to distractibility

In the US I might be diagnosed as having ADHD, not so in England where all management of the psychosis is with stimulants such as Ritalin.

It appears that what matters for me is the environment in which I work and time management.

I thrive under pressure, when set a demanding challenge, where my goals are clear. The less demanding the task the greater the need for exam like conditions.

I am easily bored, a boredom that is satisfied by allowing myself to be distracted. This makes perfect sense to me. When writing a weekly new programme for Renault I was fine, better still when a week’s work had to be turned around in a few hours. When given major projects, substantial training videos for example, to turn around in several months I have been fine too. Where it has gone wrong has been when there isn’t the work, where I am expected to ‘tread water’ or undertake mundane, non–engaging tasks to fill the day for which I am being paid.

I could take an anti-depressant, if I return to work then it should be a job where I am set clear short term goals with equally clear rewards and penalties. It shouldn’t be overly stressful, so I won’t be selling space in magazines then.

At the age of four I went to a Child Psychologist

I undertook similar tests to those above. Then, as now, it was shown that I had a high IQ and a tendency towards boredom. My mother was supposed to cope by ‘tiring me out’ – so I went swimming most days. I didn’t stop me being easily bored, or distracted, but I slept better and became a reasonable swimmer.

My conclusion

I keep applying for and accepting the wrong job.

I may have been better suited to being a lawyer, or neurobiologist … or doctor. Something that challenges. A bit late now

The next best thing? Live TV. Location filming. Period costume. Crowd scenes. At night and underwater (which I have done. see JJ27VV on YouTube)

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