Diagnosed And Trying To Cope

I am in my late 30's and ADD (or ADHD) wasn't a diagnosis when I was in school.  They (teachers and my parents) knew something wasn't right with how I was learning so they ran some tests on me.  They said I was "right brained" and somewhat altered how I was taught.  For years I struggled with not being able to pay attention and getting easily sidetracked.  When I went to tell a story, I would get off topic and then forget what I was talking about constantly.  I went to the doctor about 2 1/2  years ago and they dismissed it while treating me for depression.  I saw a therapist regularly and although a friend of mine, who went with me during a session once, said I must've talked about 48 things in 45 minutes, he didn't think I was ADD.  I changed doctors and therapists about a year and a half ago and took a simple test I was given.  2 people who knew me well also had to fill out some paperwork.  By my next appointment, my doctor said I definitely had ADD and started me on medication.  I can tell the difference when I am on it since I seem a bit more focused.  I just wonder if it's really worth it or better to just stay unfocused?

3in1try 3in1try
36-40, F
1 Response Mar 3, 2010

Hello, I am in a similar boat ... don't despair, there is a LOT that can be done. Being diagnosed with ADD (no H) is fantastic - it means yes, there's a biochemical imbalance in the way your brain functions, which can be treated, and no, you're not CRAZY! I'm 48, diagnosed at 45 because I took my children to be checked out when they were in about grade 5 and still couldn't read, write, 'rithmetic as well as expected. As I was sitting in the watiing room reading some literature, I got to the page that talked about how ADD (and most brain developmental disorders) are INHERITED ... hmmm, only two parents involved and their father doesn't behave in any kind of ADD way so, duh, maybe it was me. I resisted for a while, did lots of reading on the net, read a couple of books from the library and finally went in to have electrodes stuck to my head and bingo! My brain acts in accordance with a diagnosis of ADD (no H).<br />
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I have tackled it in a number of ways, and although I have lapses frequently, my life is much improved. Here are some suggestions from my personal experience:<br />
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Find a psychologist who specialises in treating ADD - preferably adults, but even one who works with children will recognise that you have grown up andyou have COPED as well as you could.<br />
To say you have survived" implies it is a disease and now it's better ... that's not the case. Do some reading about the brain science related to ADD - it's only biology gone a bit wrong, and it will never correct itself. Hopefully, you're psychologist will give you some "mindfulness" exercises. There are some excellent sites on the web that you can go to. It helps you to settle the monkey chatter in your brain, to focus on one thing at a time.<br />
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Meds: yes, you'll probably need meds. Depending on which country you live in, your GP / MD can prescribe Ritalin. Otherwise you'll need to go to a psychiatrist to get something because these are government authorised drugs. All methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta) does is for a period of time bring up the chemicals that promote your brain to function like a normal brain. The dose lasts for a number of hours, and expires at the end of the dose. This is great in one regard - it's not addictive, however, it does mean that at the end of the dose your brain is back to a low level of neurotransmitters i.e. your brain as the organ that controls your mind, body etc. is gong to be struggling to kick start itself.<br />
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Meds by the bed: have your meds and a glass of water by the bed so that when your alarm goes off in the morning, you can EASILY take them. The slightest difficulty / obstruction will most likely prevent you from doing the single most important thing of your morning, and before you know it, you’re an hour late for work, or it’s 12 noon on Saturday and you’re STILL in bed!<br />
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Symptoms: do some reading so that you can understand what the stable of symptoms are. Easily distracted is the least of your troubles. Poor risk analysis. Poor communication / business/ social skills because you just never learnt them properly (e.g. people do NOT like to be interrupted by you, no matter how entertaining or funny or critically important your comment is going to be.) An inclination towards self medication – alcohol, drugs etc. This is an attempt to settle your monkey brain. The horrendous statistics relating to children / teens with ADD who end up self medicating with alcohol, drugs and/or sex at an early age, compared with their non-ADD peers are astounding. I did all of that myself, and the disproportianetly high incidence of self medication amongst ADD teens was the clincher for me when deciding whether or not to put my children on Ritalin (I resisted for years).<br />
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Do one thing at a time: forget about what they call "multi tasking". You wlil overload yourself and do everything badly, rather than one thing well done. And you'll find that you're getting pinged by low speed traffic cameras, you nearly run up the back of someone's car because you're um looking in the passenger seat for you sunglasses ... the tiniest distractions will hijack your concentration if you don't help your brain to function at a NORMAL level by feeding it some pharmaceutical assistance.<br />
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Mobile phone alarms: set an alarm for everything important, especaily taking your meds. I have an alarm set 8 / 1 / 6pm to take my next does of Ritalin, otherwise I'm stuffed! Ooops, meant to move my car from the parking meter ... SET AN ALARM. Start cooking dinner NOW ... set an alarm!<br />
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Minimise the visual distraction in your living environment: take down everything off the fridge, keep the colours neutral, focus on keeping one surface clear of mess so that you have somewhere to eat etc. If you need notes (phone lists etc.), tape them up to the INSIDE of the kitchen cupboard doors where you can find them easily, but they reduce the visual "noise" in your environment.<br />
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At work: write a short list of tasks for the morning, including "take a break, walk around the block". Max 5 items on it. Then at lunchtime, take a break even if it's only for five minutes, clear your head. Write a short list for the afternoon, max 5 items. Don't overload yourself, be realistic.<br />
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Personal admin: deal with one item of personal admin in the morning each day, and one in the afternoon. This could be going online to pay a bill or phoning someone to make an appointment. Only ONE thing at a time ... not "go online pay the bills" (plural), instead write "go online into banking, pay the electricity bill". One task, then get out of the online banking and go on to the next thing.<br />
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Procastinating: read David Allen's "Getting Things Done". It changed my life. Not doing things is often related to making a mountain out of a molehill e.g. “I have to do the ironing. The basket’s full. It’s going to take hours. Hmmm, I’ll do it tomorrow when I have more time.” Or “I’ve got to clean the car. It needs washing and polishing,and there’s a ton of stuff accumulated in there to take out and sort before I vacuum it. It’s gonna take hours. Hmmm, I’ll do it tomorrow when I have more time.” <br />
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If you find you've got a ton of things you haven't done and it’s not helping you to live your life like that, write down a few things you want to get done. Pick ONE of them. Write it on another piece of paper, and under the heading write each of the steps, in order, that you need to follow to finish it. Do the FIRST action, and if you’ve got a bit more time, do the next action, etc. In the above examples, I’d write on a piece of paper “IRONING”, and then “Get ironing board out of the wardrobe, put it up in the living room”, then “Get the iron out from the cupboard under the sink, get the extension cord, put them on the ironing board”, then “Get a jug of water and put it on the table” … “Get some coat hangers from the wardrobe” … “Iron one shirt, hang it up on the door.” Short, precise, detailed, steps.<br />
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The idea is that you keep the instruction sheet for later (in a chores folder / file). You only have to think the “ironing” task through once, the next time you effectively tell yourself what to do by reading the list. And you don’t attempt to do more than a couple of steps at a time. <br />
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Same idea with the car. And with tidying up your bedroom, doing university study, etc. etc. <br />
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Find a team member to help you: either your partner or a friend or someone who you can say “I really need to have left the house by 10am this morning to do such & such. If I’m faffing around, could you please help me get organised.” This has made a huge difference in my life. I didn’t have a partner for a long time, and now that I have one who is supportive and sort of understands, he is a godsend in the tiniest of ways. “Honey, it’s 5:30 … what are we planning for dinner?” “Dinner?”, I think, “What a nuisance. It’s such a hassle, I don’t want to have to cook dinner.” But I LOVE cooking, it’s just my ADD brain again.<br />
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Strengths: ADD generally means a person operates on a wide band-width of skill levels. Very good at some things, really crap at other things. Not much that your averagely, consistently good at. Draw a horizontal line with 0-100 marked up the left hand side of the page above the line, and 0 to -100 down the margin, under the line. Turn the page sideways and along the line write some of the life skills / tasks we all have to manage (reading, writing, maths, relationships, job skills, that kind of thing). Put a dot on the scale -100 to 100 for each thing. Join the dots. It’s probably a giant zig zag up and down the chart, not a gentle zig zag between say the -50 and 50 marks. What are your strengths? Congratulate yourself for the things you are good at, and see if you can structure your life to capitalise a bit more on those good points. E.g. Personally, I’m good at cooking, lousy at cleaning house, so I pay a cleaner to come in once a fortnight, and as a result I cook better meals with the resulting time / energy / inspiration.<br />
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Be glad: glad it’s only ADD, be glad it’s not something worse. Be glad there’s been such a huge amount of research into the brain and how it develops. Be glad there are forums on the web to relate with people who have similar experience, who can share their personal experience, wisdom, etc.<br />
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So, ‘nough said. Copy this into a word document, print it off. Read it again later.<br />
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NOW … do ONE constructive thing (e.g. set an alarm in your mobile phone to remind yourself to get back to work or something!) and GET ON WITH LIVING YOUR ADD LIFE!!<br />
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All the best x