CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — While the coronavirus pandemic has affected many people’s mental health, prompting or exacerbating depression and anxiety, one metro Grand Rapids woman found herself with a diagnosis of a different kind.
Melody VanderWeide of Cascade Township is a mother of three, former high school chemistry teacher and successful business owner. She’s not exactly the type of person you think of when you hear the diagnosis ADHD, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. It was the pressure of pandemic life that made her wonder if something different was happening inside her head.
Her journey to a diagnosis started in a chair in her living room.
“This is my pandemic chair. I would sit here and I would know that there was dishes, laundry, kids to be attended. It wasn’t lazy. I just could literally not get myself up,” VanderWeide recalled.
Successful and accomplished, she built the successful and popular-with-parents GRKids.com website from the ground up.
“I did college, I did grad school, I taught high school chemistry. I managed all that. I have three kids. People would look at me and think, ‘Oh, she’s successful, she’s got it together.’ Um, no,” VanderWeide said.
The pandemic brought different challenges. VanderWeide and her husband chose virtual school for their kids, revealing some real attention challenges for not only her children, but also for VanderWeide.
In an article posted to her website, VanderWeide said a doctor recommended one of her kids be tested for ADHD, so she started learning more about it. The information on symptoms she found made her start thinking about her own troubles.
“I was like, ‘Hey, kid, this is looking like you and me,'” she said.
She was assessed for and diagnosed with ADHD.
Dr. Tim Zwart is a clinical psychologist with Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services. He’s the lead clinician for the ADHD team at the main Cutlerville campus.
“We often see this (ADHD) running pretty strongly in families. Most often we see this inefficiency in the brain circuitry in areas that control these areas self-control, self-regulation, sustaining mental energy, sustaining attention and focus,” Zwart said.
Zwart said ADHD — or ADD, as it used to be known — was long thought to only affect children.
“We see as many or maybe more adults at this point than we do kids,” Zwart said. “Pre-2000, it was still pretty uncommon to see adult ADHD. In 1994 or ’95, the diagnostic manual finally switched to allow for a diagnosis of ADHD in adulthood.”
Diagnosis leads to treatment. VanderWeide is on a medication now that’s allowing her to take back control of her life.
“This could be the key that unlocks so many things. Over the years, I have struggled with anxiety. I didn’t even realize the extent of my anxiety until I actually started ADHD medication and it went away,” she said. “Everything’s a journey and it was not quick. I’m in my 40s and I think I’ve been looking for this my whole life.”
If you think you might have ADHD, talk to your doctor about it and be ready to wait. There’s currently a six-month back log of people waiting to get ADHD assessment at Pine Rest.