I got through the first year only slightly scathed. It was by no means easy and there were resits involved, mainly as a result of me being unable to sit through a three hour-plus exam and subsequently not attempting the whole paper. Despite floundering towards the end of the academic year, by exam time I was aware that I had passed the coursework element but I had to do reasonably well in the exams in order to bring my overall aggregation score to a pass-worthy level. The gravity of my situation really hit home when I received the dates for my resits; knowing that my academic future hung in the balance. I had to pass.
In July I moved into my own place. What a difference! Having separate rooms for my sole use had such an impact on my ability to study. Having the floor space to spread my little bits of paper over the floor without creating clutter – the most effective method of learning for me as I discovered during that time, is to write words on little squares of paper and do the same with the definitions. With equations I would write every component on a separate square. I would then turn them downwards, mix them up and arrange them in order. Basically, I would make a giant puzzle to solve. This method is extremely useful in memorising cycles and tables. Even the arrows were separate entities so that I could ensure I knew which way they pointed and to what. Reading and note making does not work for me. I have to have something I can mentally draw from in order to recall information and even now, this very moment, when I think of the nitrogen cycle I can see the bits of paper arranged in order across my front room floor. Space, I have come to realise, is a vital component in my ability to succeed academically.
And succeed is what I did. I passed the first year with an overall aggregation score that amounted to a lower second. A Desmond, as it is affectionately termed. Now had I not left coursework until the eleventh hour, not missed deadlines and got downgraded, and not walked out of the exam prematurely, imagine what I could have achieved.
To conclude what is turning into yet another one of my long-winded blog posts, today I had my second assessment with the adult ADHD clinic and left with a positive diagnosis and a prescription for methylphenidate (Concerta XL). Since I took my first dose I have read an academic paper of interest which in turn inspired me to jot down my own ideas of potential research, contacted a couple of agencies thus avoiding being referred to a debt collection agency and updated this blog! This bodes well for the future. I do feel a little sick now. Not a unfamiliar feeling (I had a misspent youth – apparently common in adults who were previously undiagnosed) but I should imagine it will pass as my body becomes accustomed to the drug therapy. I am full of optimism right now. Watch this space…