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  • in reply to: Yet another do I have it post. #130741
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    sdwa
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    A lot of what you describe sounds familiar to me, and I have the “inattentive” sub-type of ADHD (ADD). In school, I would find myself reading the same passages over and over, and wouldn’t be able to concentrate long enough to process or remember what I’d read. I’m very good at doing almost anything but what I should be doing, but also at putting enormous pressure on myself to do more than is humanly possible because I’m not so great at estimating how long it actually takes to do things. Nevertheless, I was a good student, somehow able to cram and remember everything I’d learned just long enough to pass an exam with flying colors…yet still feel like I don’t know anything because I can’t recall that information at will, necessarily. Some days I would be brilliant, and other days my mind would be garbage. I always thought I was “lazy, crazy, or stupid.” I’m still very sensitive to people thinking I’m stupid, not taking me seriously, thinking I’m a flake or an airhead. All through high school people thought I was on drugs, but I wasn’t. Sometimes, when I’m passionate about a project, I can focus for a 12-hour stretch, forget to eat. Constantly misplacing things, rearranging my bookshelf from largest to smallest so the books look like a perfect staircase, vivid nightmares that feel like an alternate reality, a high level of emotional sensitivity to light, sound, crowds…startle easily. But I also have dysthymia and have struggled with recurring major depression since adolescence. One of my favorite ADHD moments involved leaving my keys in the ignition in a running vehicle while I went grocery shopping (car NOT stolen!). Unmedicated, I’m depressed, moody, emotionally volatile, easily thrown off, tend to go from one activity to another like a butterfly traveling flower to flower, meandering, no particular destination because I wouldn’t think that far ahead. I will never be a chess player, because I can’t hold in my working memory a projection of the next six to nine possible moves. I remember what I see better than what I hear. I also used to drink about 10 cups of coffee a day.

    When I first tried ADD meds, I found that I was far less sensitive to my environment, able to look people in the eye and talk to them, and that the background mental radio finally shut up. The meds don’t make me high, or hyper – they relax me.

    I wouldn’t be embarrassed to talk to a doctor about it. Hopefully the doctor has a clue about ADHD. What other people think doesn’t matter. It is not their life, and they are not struggling with the same issues.

    Lately, I’ve switched to a high protein, very low carb diet, and find that my energy level stays more even, I can think when I want to – and they say this is a better diet for ADDers, so you might try it and see how it affects you.

    But yeah, just see a doctor, preferably one who has experience with ADHD.

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    sdwa
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    Hey Joe:

    YouTube may have some good videos that won’t cost anything to access. I’d look for ADD Crusher if you haven’t seen him (Alan Brown) before. He’s got some good quick tips. Also, your public library probably has David Giwerc’s Permission to Proceed, which is probably the best book I’ve read on ADHD. If you’re not a big reader, I’d go with YouTube.

    For what it’s worth, I’m in my mid-50s, and got my diagnosis some time around age 45 or 47 – ? I don’t remember. I do remember I was frustrated by the lack of AFFORDABLE support and information resources. Totally ADD is great if you just want to connect with people who get it.

    I was desperate enough, despite having lived in poverty and having been under-employed for my entire life…that I paid to work with a couple of coaches. They helped me identify specific challenges and obstacles to managing my life, and to find “strategies” (not one-size-fits-all, necessarily) for addressing them. I did that for a couple of years. They were more knowledgeable about ADHD than any therapist I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve probably seen about 20 of THEM in the last 30 years. For the past 3 or 4 years I’ve been working with a clinical psychologist who’s got 40 years of family counseling experience (is a Ph.D. – therapists with master’s degrees were clueless)…and it’s extremely expensive. The amount of money I put into getting help I could spend on college tuition, or a car, or a down payment on a home. Having a disability is EXPENSIVE. The early stages of trying to deal with the ADHD diagnosis were the hardest for me, because I didn’t understand what it was, really, or how it affected me, and least of all what to do about it. I hate that it costs so much, but I’m glad I spent what I did, despite not being able to afford it. That said, there are things you can do yourself that don’t cost much, if anything.

    Having had time to get some perspective, and learn HOW to think about solving ADHD-related challenges…FREE things that help include: staying away from sugar and processed food, launching the day on protein, avoiding electronics for the hour preceding sleep, keeping possessions to a minimum, creating a permanent home for my stuff so it’s always there when I’m not using it. If I have to do an important project, I estimate how long it will take and then multiply that estimate by 3. I haven’t yet mastered the art of saying “no” to requests and opportunities, but I’m getting there. I have wall calendars with a whole month view in more than one room. I make to-do lists, and then DON’T give myself grief if I listed 10 things and only did 2 of them. Where help is available, I ask for and accept it graciously, even if I don’t like needing to.

    I have been advised to keep and maintain a notebook or brag-wall or other visible or tangible reminder of all of the moments in my life that I feel proud of (whether society considers them markers of success or not – whether it’s having helped a random old lady carry her groceries up three flights of stairs, or the art projects I’ve completed, the books I’ve drafted, the certifications I’ve earned in various areas even if I’m still marginally employed, my peak experiences, like with weight-training and running, etc.). The brag-wall is for ME, not for other people!

    You know, I’ve never even once gotten close to making six figures – EVER – and it’s amazing to me that you did that. I’m sure you’ve accomplished many things to even be able to get to that point in a career. Start noticing your “personal bests” – highlights of your life, things you’ve loved doing, what’s you’re passionate about, what draws your interest, what’s given you the most confidence, stuff you’re good at or what comes easily for you. And then add to it, and reflect on it. Also try to notice what’s going on, where you are, who you’re with, what you’re doing when you feel at your best. Then try to put yourself in that type of situation more often, in any arena where you feel more confident, more powerful, calmer, happier, more relaxed, better. Just start to notice when that happens, even if at first it’s just relief from feeling terrible.

    I’m going to suggest that maybe your friends and associates have not written you off as lazy or worthless, that maybe you’re just feeling down and it FEELS like they’ve written you off, maybe because you’ve written yourself off, or because you’ve globalized some (temporary!) setback – but if there is concrete, objectively verifiable evidence to suggest that is, in fact, what they think, get some new friends.

    I’m a pretty lousy friend, myself, because I generally forget to show up, or don’t feel like showing up because I need more quiet/alone time than most people. It isn’t that I don’t care, but that I feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I only have the bandwidth for so many thousands of thoughts and impressions and clouds of energy and inflections of emotion and who knows what else flying at me when I’m around other people.

    And I think particularly when you’re depressed, you’re going to feel tired a lot.

    So, this is a “mindfulness” meditation I recently learned, and although I’ve always wanted to strangle people who told me to meditate, this one helps me get distance on my thoughts so I don’t have to believe everything I think. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Because you always have your breathing, you can do this most anywhere. Breathe in through your nose, and exhale through your mouth gently, like you’re blowing through a straw. Try to keep your attention only on your breath. Pretty soon, thoughts will come up like clouds. They seem to have a life of their own. Where do they come from? Are they the result of a chemical process? Usually we attach to our thoughts and believe them, tell ourselves stories about them, let them run in loops. They’re in control of us; we’re not in control of them. While you focus on your breathing, thoughts will come up and make you forget to focus on your breathing, As soon as you realize that’s happened, label the thoughts as “thinking,” then return to focusing on your breathing. The idea is that after doing this practice for a while (it can be like five minutes at a time), you start to get some distance from your thoughts so you can let them go instead of attaching to them. You can observe them come up and float away like fish in a stream. I don’t think it’s a practice that’s ever perfected – there is never going to come a time when thoughts don’t come up and distract you, sooner or later. You may notice they tend to be about the same kinds of issues, and often observing the repetition can show you that they’re essentially fictitious – like, “oh, there’s that story again – whatever!” I do it to get myself OUT of the stream of panicky malarkey that tends to take over and if I believe it can lead to my making counterproductive decisions.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Avatar sdwa.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by Avatar sdwa.
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    sdwa
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    I’ve had similar issues with not being able to focus when I want, reading the same paragraph over and over and not getting anything out of it, taking three times longer than anyone else to accomplish the same things….

    Coffee doesn’t make me tired, it just doesn’t keep me from sleeping. Coca-Cola, on the other hand, will keep me up all night and sharp as a tack, so maybe it depends on the amount of caffeine. If I felt hyper and couldn’t relax, a little coffee might mellow me out.

    Getting the meds right can take time. Also, what works for a while might change. Ideally, you have a doctor who will work with you to get the right balance. I tried the short-acting stuff, which was unpleasant. Now I use the “extended release” form of methylphenidate. I take Concerta. For a couple of years I was on 36 mg, but it got to be too much and made me cranky, so now I only take 27 mg. Medication alone doesn’t seem to give me the results it used to – I need cardio exercise, and I need to avoid sugar. I need to keep my environment in ways that support me.

    How a particular drug affects you may not be the best indicator of whether or not you have ADHD. Your symptoms sound familiar to me…but I also have issues with depression and anxiety, which could conceivably limit the ability to concentrate. For me, it’s been a lifelong inability to focus when I want, unless having a truly great time – then the inability to stop focusing on that thing – trouble with switching gears, going from one task to another, one place to another. One of my classics is to put something down and forget where I put it, and run around the house like a nut looking for something I literally had in my hand TWO MINUTES AGO AND NOW I CAN’T FIND IT…oh, but wait, it’s still in my hand. Things like that. Not making progress on a project unless there is a looming deadline. Wasting hours goofing around on the internet without realizing it, sort of like what I’m doing right now. Fluttering from one activity to another like a butterfly going from one random flower to another. This is good for creativity, but bad for organizing and executing long-term plans. Being the first person to know if a garbage can tips over in an alleyway four blocks from my house. Not remembering anyone’s name, ever, unless I see it in writing. Not remembering that I went to a movie, or who I went with. On the plus side, I can see the same movie more than once and still enjoy it.

    It just takes some experimentation to get the medication and all other management tools and techniques lined up in a way that helps. It took me a long time to learn to recognize what was working and what wasn’t. I kind of had to become a scientist of my own life.

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    in reply to: From high functioning drugs user to ADHD diagnosis #130146
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    I see three topics – 1) using illegal drugs to cope, AKA “self-medicating; 2) genetics; 3) mood-swings.

    I guess you mean self-medicating as the first? For me, it was always caffeine and sugar. In my 20s I experimented with street drugs, but they didn’t help with the symptoms as much as caffeine did, and generally made me feel worse. But I would literally walk 2 miles in a raging blizzard to get coffee and candy. The search for stimulation, they say, is based in a craving for a dopamine hit. People with ADHD have low levels of dopamine in our brains, so we often lack motivation, and feel immobilized, agitated, chronically bored, and even despondent. In addition to Concerta (methylphenidate, a stimulant) I take a prescription anti-depressant that is not only a serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, but also an norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor. It gives me more of a boost than just plain SSRI antidepressants. Serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine are the three neurotransmitters that we tend to be deficient in. Many of us find substances that will increase these chemicals in our brains…and these substances may not be good for our health. You are not alone with that AT ALL.

    Genetics – I’m pretty sure my mother has it, and also my sister – but when I was growing up, ADD didn’t exist, certainly not for women, and definitely not in a form that wasn’t overtly hyperactive. People understood that a little boy who couldn’t sit still in school, who crawled around the baseboards of a room, jumped off the furniture, climbed on the roof, etc. had an issue, but no one noticed the weepy daydreamers.

    For moods, it’s hard to isolate an exact cause because I had traumatic experiences early in life and did not get much help, but I have always been hyper-sensitive and hyper-reactive and hyper-alert compared to others. I have been prone to getting triggered and then not being able to stop thinking about whatever was upsetting me, getting irritable or angry over minor events, and overwhelmed by a large project to the point of paralysis. I used to feel plunged into terrible moods that would last for hours – even days – but I learned how to get myself out. What works for me is changing the scenery, getting into a new situation, having a new experience – usually something powerful and immersive, like going for a walk in a rainstorm, watching a dramatic film, running, dancing, listening to music – but also a lot of therapy. I was not helped by therapists with masters’ degrees – and I saw many over the years – but when I started working with a Ph.D. I finally made meaningful progress. Because of this experience, I wouldn’t recommend anyone who doesn’t have a doctorate – even if well-meaning, they just don’t know enough.

    If you are in relatively good mental health (I felt defeated all my life, so that wasn’t me) you might find an ADHD coach helpful. I got a lot out of that – it helped me recognize obstacles in my environment – things that are a problem for me but might not be for someone else – so I could avoid them. I can make choices now to control my environment, because my ability to control my reactions is limited. This was difficult to accept at first – I thought I was morally “weak” if I couldn’t force myself to react to my environment the way a neurotypical person would, but it simply isn’t possible. I had to become realistic about my limitations, and stop judging myself for them. I have learned to have control in a different way. I notice where and when I am at my best, and try to put myself only in those situations. My peak hours are in the morning. I need a low-stress job; I do not work well under pressure. I need quiet, a clean and empty place to work, a notepad because my working memory is short. I use my calendar to track what I have done, in addition to what I need to do – because I know I won’t remember what I did, or how, or where, or when. This is a given. I plan what I am going to wear on Sundays, so all of my clothes are ready for the rest of the week- I no longer waste time agonizing over what to wear when I wake up, which means I can get to work on time. Where noise is a problem, I use machinists earmuffs. I have one bag with all of my essentials in it – house keys, credit cards, bus pass, checkbook, pen, calendar, phone – and these things live in the same pocket every single day, so I don’t have to look for them. Sometimes I still make mistakes and put my phone in the freezer, but when I find it again, it goes back into the pocket of my bag, and I don’t berate myself for misplacing it! Anything I can do to eliminate having to make decisions about simple tasks, I try to do in advance. On Mondays I take my lunch to work for the whole week. I used to think all of these measures were ridiculous, that I shouldn’t need them, but I do, and life is so much easier! It helps to accept what works and what doesn’t, and plan and prepare when I have time and am not in a rush.

    Sorry to ramble…we do that, right? Hope this helps!

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    in reply to: Advice Appreciated #130139
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    For what it’s worth, I have struggled with recurring major depression over the course of my life, and it wasn’t until I was in my mid-late forties that I got the ADD diagnosis. I am not hyperactive, either – or the hyperactivity was a mind that just wouldn’t shut up, and chronic feelings of agitation, hypersensitivity, overwhelm, paralysis, boredom. I had a response similar to yours when I first got on ADD meds (Concerta, AKA methylphenidate) – I had energy, I could function, I wanted to do things, I wanted to talk to people. Tasks that had seemed impossible were suddenly easy. Prior to that I had only taken antidepressants (for maybe 10 of the 30 years I was depressed) – and while the antidepressants are important, they were not enough. I needed the stimulant to be motivated to do anything. I, too, have sat by piles of unwashed laundry and washed-yet-unfolded laundry.

    Pardon my saying so, but your doctor sounds like an idiot. I was depressed when i wasn’t fat, and when I was fat and on ADD meds, felt much happier – I see no connection between those two states (correlation, not cause and effect). So I agree with Rick Green’s comment – look around at the symptoms of ADD, and if they add up for you (no pun intended) get it checked out. Remember that joke – what do they call a doctor who graduated at the bottom of his class? Doctor. Right? Find one who isn’t a doofus. They do exist.

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    in reply to: Concerta and coffee….? #130132
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    I read this post because it had the word “coffee” in the title. I love coffee. Long before my ADD diagnosis, I used to drink 10 cups a day. After I started taking Concerta AKA methylphenidate (27 mg seems to be my upper limit), I find that I don’t need anywhere near as much coffee, and can usually keep it to 2 cups a day. The Concerta works better – or rather, quite differently – from caffeine. It makes me feel calm, I can get things done, and can interact with other people with less irritability and sensitivity. That said, I still CRAVE caffeine. I’m super addicted – today is my second day trying to keep my intake to one cup, and I do not like this feeling! Maybe tea for the second cup? Except that tea is a lot like dirty dishwater.

    To answer your question, I don’t think methylphenidate and caffeine mix particularly well. The caffeine seems to make me grouchy. It’s also very dehydrating, which can lead to fatigue, which makes me want more coffee. Right? At best, I’d say the caffeine doesn’t help, or is not necessary, and my guess is that it would be better to get the right amount of Concerta than it would be to combine the two.

    But you really have to feel out for yourself how the two drugs hit you, try going with the caffeine for a day maybe – and see what works best for you, because everyone is different. I see big changes in how I feel as a result of what I put into my body – whether it’s dietary, or medication, or other drugs like caffeine and alcohol – even minor changes are noticeable. It’s hard to get the internal radio station on the right frequency, if you know what I mean. It’s a delicate operation.

    I’ve been experimenting with “mindfulness” (I hate that word) – meditating only on my breathing, focusing on the in and out of the breath (they say the breath is always with us, so it’s a handy focal point to take anywhere)…just noticing how fleeting thoughts are, how they arise on their own, seemingly from nowhere. I don’t have to believe or act on everything I think. A lot of it is just noise. I’m getting better at watching the thoughts, labeling them as thoughts, and letting them go. What does this have to do with anything? Not much – just another tool.

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    in reply to: Finally! #124927
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    in reply to: Can someone please help me. I need advice. #124925
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    Pretty much what everyone else said….

    You might also Google “attention talk radio” for free recordings of ADHD topics.

    Getting the right meds can help, and learning about ADHD can help.

    In my experience, talking to others with this condition is a huge help.

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    in reply to: The perfect pet #124565
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    Wow. I’m so bad at taking care of things. I figure for me the perfect pet is probably a rock.

     

    😉

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    in reply to: I don't know how to get started(Sleep issues) #124564
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    From what I’ve heard, ADDers have a lot of sleep problems. I know that doesn’t help much. When I was younger, I used to stay up until 2 am and then sleep until 11 am. But now I go to sleep at 10 pm and wake up feeling stressed out around 2 am every single night, and can’t get back to sleep for a few hours. And this has been true for years. It’s true regardless of diet or medication or exercise. I have sort of resigned myself to being chronically sleep deprived and/or having poor quality sleep. When I do finally sleep, I have insanely vivid dreams that I sometimes don’t even know are dreams until I wake up.

    I also notice I sleep in four hour cycles. In a different society, that might be OK. Having weird sleep patterns would be fine if we didn’t have to be anywhere, right?

    You might try staying away from the computer screen for a couple of hours before you want to go to sleep, and read in bed. What I often do is leave the light on and read, then when I feel groggy, tell myself I’m just resting my eyes. The lack of pressure to fall asleep usually helps me conk out.

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    in reply to: Thoughts on being diagnosed as an adult woman in Sweden. #124510
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    @helenboll

    Good luck with the interview. That’s great news.

    @blackdog

    I like your kind of lunacy. It’s one of my favorites.

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    in reply to: Just dropping in…… life's so crazy… #124509
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    @billd

    I think I agree with you on most of that stuff. ADHD doesn’t strike me as a gift, but I’m not sure I could say I would or would not have had the talents I have without it – because without it, I wouldn’t be who I am, wouldn’t even exist. It’s part of me. And I was this way long long long before I ever got the diagnosis/label.

    In some ways, I feel sorry for people who are growing up with the label, and for those who know, because there is so much negativity out there. In some ways it’s good to have an explanation for being different. In other ways, there is too much focus on the disability angle, telling us we are broken or defective. That’s why I don’t like CHADD – it’s all they ever do – carp about the dire circumstances of being as screwed up as we are. No one needs to hear about how terrible that is. It’s a very negative, clinical, illness-based viewpoint. So I like coming here because it’s normalizing. Who we are here is fine. And I like to be around people who think I’m fine – in my personal life, on the job, and everywhere else. It used to be that I thought there was more wrong with me than others usually did, or people who knew me thought I was emotional and a little bit nutty and flaky, or that I was depressed. But they didn’t label me as dangerously broken. Who needs that? Nobody. But they just won’t shut up about it.

    I used to love the Moody Blues as a kid. Funny you posted that here.

    Long time ago I had a cat I really loved. She was a tabby, but with an unusual shade of auburn fur – not a basic yellow, but much darker, with cream colored stripes, and greenish yellow eyes. I had her from the time I was five until I was sixteen, which is when she died. I still miss that cat, and that was something like forty years ago. Cats are people, too.

    For what it’s worth, I had a relative wanted by the FBI decades ago, so you’re not alone there. I think there is more ADHD in my family that people don’t know about. Not that those two things are necessarily related.

    One of my kids has mild ADHD symptoms – straight A student, sort of spacey and sluggish. The other has it really bad, failing out of school bad. Super bad.

    I am disgusted by the pervasive ignorance, and the way the system forces everyone to be the same when it’s not good for them or right for who they are. It is not fair. The real solutions are so few and far between. I want to be part of the solution if I can.

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    in reply to: Grief #124487
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    @dithl

    So sorry to hear about your mom. It’s tough in those difficult last months. But I’m glad you came and shared that.

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    in reply to: Thoughts on being diagnosed as an adult woman in Sweden. #124486
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    Here in the U.S. I would probably be considered a raging communist because I believe the wealthiest people should pay the highest percentage in taxes, and the government should use that money to provide social services including housing, healthcare, and public education through college. Not everyone starts life with the same advantages or abilities. In a caring society, people come first, and any job that needs to be done is worthy of respect. When everyone gets their basic needs met, the quality of life is improved for all. Unfortunately, it is often the case that if we are a little bit above the poverty line, we lose our benefits, and then sink back down because the cut-off point is too low. I don’t think as much any more about getting ahead as I do about having a place to live. There are too many homeless people here, and many of them have jobs.

    Anyway…

    @helenboll

    Glad to hear the Strattera is working for you. Good luck with your job application. That sounds like it would be a nice environment to be in.

     

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    in reply to: Just dropping in…… life's so crazy… #124484
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    Awesome thread. I love you guys.

    Hi, billd. It is so cool to hear from you. Similar frustrations with pervasive ignorance and lack of meaningful help, etc.

    This is my favorite ADHD site on the web, too. I feel like I can be normal here. I can relax, and be who I am, and have that be okay. Most websites that deal with it operate with a disability/disaster mentality that comes through in everything they say. It’s hard to help someone when they devote their energy to telling us what’s wrong with ADHDers.

    Fantastic about the projects. Well, okay, it sounds like it’s chaotic and a lot of work, and crazy-making, and that makes perfect sense. But it’s so cool that you know how to do that stuff, and you’re good at it so people seek you out. Also, it was interesting to read about.

    My projects abound, and sometimes even get finished.

    Long ago, I used to build panels to paint on…back in my art days, usually with one by twos and a miter saw, and sheets of masonite laminated on with wood glue and c-clamps, then the excess routered off, and the edges sanded, and then the whole thing primed. I felt clever doing that.

    Anyway, glad you dropped by.

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