"Surprise, You're Older and You Have Adhd"

Those were the very words of my psychiatrist one year ago. I responded by laughing because I wasn't surprised one bit. I found it funny that not one shrink had diagnosed me for something that I struggled with. It was the root problem under the compulsiveness and anxiety driven depression they were seeing. I was 29, and call myself a trooper for living with undiagnosed ADHD my whole fricking life. Here's more:

I knew I was different from a young age: my work space was always a disaster, school work didn't get turned in, I didn't follow instructions, and got into trouble during elementary and middle school. In HS, I was embarassed, withdrawn and shy to most. There was something to hide: being accident prone, hyper, creative, being distracted, having this brain that literally won't shut off. College and grad school come along, and its more obvious. Have you always been the last one to walk out of a test or a lab? "three minutes left" shouts my prof, and I could only freeze. I studied for this exam too. Have been known not to have a social life? That's because it took me 3 times longer to get anything done than mr. or mrs. average intellect with a normal brain. Easy to internalize this stuff and call yourself unproductive names that stay to me till this day. I wasn't dumb. I just have low dopamine levels to my frontal brain.

After grad school, I taught and hated it. Bad match for someone with ADHD. You swim in a sea of papers up stream daily. There's way too much going on at once. You have to love the action, hormones, kids, "changing the world".  Classrooms are small, and jam packed with stimuli. Each child generates a ton of noise. Put 40 together in a room, the thoughts are no longer coherent. I left and went back to school to become a dental hygienist.

Serendipity came to me in the form of a muse. I met someone for the first time who had ADHD and openly talked about it. I kept thinking that I resemble this person... interesting. one day, after a meltdown during finals week, I found myself in the counseling center at school in this wierd confused emotional state. I blurted out the words, "I may have ADHD because...." He tested me for ADHD and suggested I see a psychiatrist.

Today I'm on ADHD meds, and see a remarkable difference. There are cons to the meds as your body adjusts to the right dosages. I'm more stable, and I can actually complete all tasks I set out to do. I can safely say that I feel as mentally capable as my other classmates! This was something I never may have been able to say a year ago without tears.

The point of the story? It's never too late to get help and to live your life. ADHD doesn't make you dumb, although there is a lot of past conditioning to un do if you've felt dumb. Society had set it's cookie cutter notion of "normal". ADHD brains work differently thats all! Less dopamine to the frontal brain. The pros of an ADHD brain? I am creative 24/7, and at wierd late night hours when it sometimes wakes me up. This is the very brain that I struggled with.

smartiecats smartiecats
15 Responses Jun 8, 2008

truer words have seldom been spoken. thank you for your story. everything was spot on & when i read the last two sentences i was laughing, cos that very same thing is what keeps me up. but thanks again for your story.

I'm 32. Just diagnosed this week. I struggle with the anxiety and depression as well. The psych told met hat happens to people who are undiagnosed and untreated because we are constantly finding ways to compensate and have to learn to do things differently than others. I find the part about you teaching interesting. I'm a paralegal and the paperwork is drowning me. I thought about teaching so that I could be more active and not sitting at a desk. I did not think about the grading papers part. I'm not on medication yet because of a possible allergic reaction. I'm hoping that once I start the meds I can function better in my job.

So funny reading this as if I actually wrote it myself...lol...Thank you for making us seem like we're like everyone else too:-)

There is not much I can add to this as your experience mirrors much of my own, alas I was thrown an extra curve ball by way of OA due doctor thinking in her own words 'one of those patients' because of the presentation of my ADHD symptoms so ignored me when I told her of my physical symptoms that I had untill it was too late up untill it was confirmed she told me it was in my head. <br />
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So, I do notice a difference with the medicine but not as much as I would have prior to my life physically slowing down I am soooooo tired and schlumpy, the medicine does keep me awake these days but my goodness the focus effect does not last long and I am at uni and find that take concerta 36mg in the morn 8-9am wears off 2-3pm lectures end at 6.30pm WTF and I supposed to do with that?

I've been told to file disability, but I can't find a psychiatrist. Can some one help me?

Not sure I have ADHD but my eldest daughter said she thinks my son has it, so I looked it up and said,wow this sounds like me. I have a pretty high iq and yet have trouble with basic things like balancing a check book, paying bills, keeping my house clean and neat, keeping up with the basic paperwork of life, and basic organization. Yet sometimes I take on Herculean creative projects and have gotten myself in to some legal trouble due to this. I've been starting to think maybe I'm a bad person, - I'm 44 yrs old -- with 5 kids. -- I don't want to take meds... I'd like to learn how to be more organized for a start. I've developed depression and am dealing with this by indulging in food addictions, and want to join OA to tackle this. I'm so glad to have found this community! I look forward to learning more. Is it possible to have low-grade ADHD? Does it have anything to do with being a "highly sensitive person"?

Some of your problems sound very similar to mine. High IQ but can't balance a check book, organization is an impossible task and depression is getting worse. Recently, I've been trying to go upstream against a strong current. I've dropped 45 pounds and that has helped. And even though three doctors have told me I have ADHD, I still question their decision. I'd recommend that you find a psychologist who is used to working with adults with ADHD. It was very hard for me, I went through three of them before I found one that actually knew ADHD with adults and I could talk with him.

I have found that working on my ADHD has helped me handle my 3 children better. Good luck to you

I Know what you mean. My IQ is very high but i find "easy" thing difficult and "difficult" things easy!

More likes with ADHD u hardly anything left other than creativity? that's my take for my ADHD. But then it's hard to complete creativity projects though. Easy to start things.

I know I have it too and I cannot even find a doctor that will or can prescribe Adderall in the orange county area of CA. I am now beginning to panick. I almost had my life in a semblance of order and bam. My insurance changed and I suddenly needed to find another doctor. The doctor I found could not prescribe for me Adderall. He said I needed to go to a Psych and I can't find one that is in my insurance area. I try and give up try and give up and am now in a circle. running and running and getting nowhere just like I used to do. ugh!!

It's hard to work and learn when the instrument you most use is not cooperating! I'm glad you've found some things which help. I was always worried if I medicated, I'd loose my creativity.

glad you got tested and are doing better. it took almost a year to find the best medication dose for me. because adderal is a super controlled drug, i have see my doctor every 3 months for refills. i just increased my dosage for the summer because of the heat, my job and the 6 quarts of water i drink every shift.

I LIKE your story.I will say this as I told someone. After reading Adult Adhd the complete handbook it has helped me greatly to understand what I need to change and why I do certain things. The medication is great,but It has also taken a piece of my personality. I think you have to get help from a specialist who deals with ADULT ADHD such as life skills. The medication helps so much and I realize this now after 5 years of taking it. I feel like crap and I hate myself so much. I can't make friends and I am now scared to say anything....I however think its great you are coping well....yes...ZOMBIE...

Finally I'm hearing of people like me. You understand when I say I will say more later. It's the attention thing, your mind off somewhere other than where your fingers are typing, even though you just started. Just another thing unfinished! But I will say that I can emphasize because you sound like me! The meds help me focus but I feel like a zombie sometime. I could ramble on forever if I did not watch myself- and a lot of times I don't. I just blurt it out there and wait for the consequence.

Wow! My story is a lot like yours. I have the 'inattentive' type of ADHD, so it was missed during my childhood and my teenage years. I wasn't diagnosed until my early 20s. Like you said, I always knew there was something different about me. I couldn't focus if my life depended on it; socializing and making friends seemed so hard; I was clumsy; I day-dreamed constantly.<br />
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Then came college. I had no life outside of studying and meeting up with my boyfriend at that time. That's it.<br />
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I really realized that something was wrong during my first job after college. I thought I was going crazy: I would blurt out inappropriate things, I would forget things all the time, I would make careless errors, and my boss was on my case constantly. <br />
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Finally, I was diagnosed. The good thing is that knowledge is power. I know am able to educate myself about this, and I can do something about it.

wow, that's a lot to go through. i have a terrible time keeping up with my scattered papers & with finishing & turning things in on time, too... to where, yes, i start calling myself names, because i figure it's what anyone else would see of me. that's when i feel really sad about it all... most of the time, i am a bright, whimsical, creative person. my friends know this. i have a social life - mostly because i neglect finishing the papers i struggle so much with even when i do ignore my social life. i'd like to be able to do work knowing that i'll absorb & finish it... i'd feel less guilty about hanging out so much... i know i'm not stupid. i am quite smart when i'm able to focus & absorb what i'm reading, especially all the more interested i am... but it's easy to forget. it's easy to think, "I must have been left behind." Anyways, thank u for ur courage & openness to tell us!!! I really needed to hear this. I'm happy that u are doing better. :)

almost everything the same here, I went to 4 psychiatrists, a neurologist, got tested for adhd..twice before one psychiatrist finally said i had it...how can both tests say no? test taking is sooooo bad too and sometimes i cant even see my floor...