View Full Version : Difficulty of Diagnosis

11-16-16, 12:50 PM
Hello, I'm not sure if I'll necessarily find some profound solution for anything, but I felt like sharing my problem to see if anyone else has found themselves in a similar situation.

I've been to a primary doctor who believes that I have ADD and prescribes me Adderall, but I decided to see a psychiatrist to hopefully receive an "official" diagnosis, partly for self assurance as well as getting my insurance to pay for medications (they cost me $75 a month for generic XR).

During this visit, I was given an interview to discuss my history and why I feel that I have it. This was difficult, because I have general anxiety and was constantly afraid of saying something wrong or forgetting to say something important. For elementary through high school, I explained that I was a terrible student in nearly everything up to high school where I began to feel a sense of urgency about my performance (GPA and all). I went from a D/C student to a straight A student nearly throughout all of high school.
I really have no idea how this happened. I never worked hard or studied at all. Nothing actually directly changed in my behavior. I guess my brain decided that what I was being taught was "important" now, and I just easily strolled through my classes. I could never explain how I had high grades; I just did.

Then, of course, college hit. I always heard stories about how difficult college was compared to high school. At first, things went well. I was so excited and into the "college experience." But, overtime, work began to build up. I started to notice that I was receiving projects and assignments faster than I could complete or prepare for. It only took one week for me to drop out of my chemistry class, and I could never manage to write my English essays correctly or on time. I survived the first semester, and figured that I could handle the next. The problem is that all the stress from the previous carried over to the second. Long story short, the second semester was a train wreck. I became severely depressed from the overbearing feeling of failure and guilt, and my grades continued to struggle. On top of it all, for the two classes I had A's in still, I fumbled the exam dates and missed the easiest one and was completely unprepared for the one I thought was supposed to be a couple days later.

After the whole history thing, I was introduced to an IQ test. I scored highly above average on everything except for math (because I hadn't done any math for months prior to this visit).

Now here's where the problem starts.
I was given a form to fill out with my mother about my performance as a very young child. I was tempted to just lie across the board, but I was too honest for that and filled it out with my mom.
After returning the form and having a second visit, I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and episodic major depression, but denied any form of ADD recognition.
The reason was that despite I had all the symptoms for ADD in the clinically significant range, I couldn't be diagnosed because the same wasn't true for when I was at a very young age.

That form consisted of questions half of which regarded my inner emotions and feelings (Apparently my parents are supposed to be psychics). Another 1/4th consisted of questions about me being highly hyperactive (I guess ADD doesn't exist then, only ADHD?). And, the rest were questions about whether or not I was unable to accomplish or manage to do anything.

So, I guess I was supposed to be retarded or something as a child, even though the opposite was true. My mother had trouble getting me to do certain things like math, but she always found ways to capture my attention. I learned how to read exceptionally well because my mother read me stories that I thought were fascinating. I learned how to spell because my mother turned learning into a game and a challenge. I even learned mostly how to do math from educational video games. The only problem I had was with the alphabet and times tables. It was literally impossible for me to learn them because I refused to actually commit and focus on learning them. I only managed the alphabet from singing songs, and I still haven't learned my times tables to this day. I also never managed to learn cursive beyond my own name because it was the only cursive I was interested in learning.

In conclusion, I feel as if I cannot be diagnosed with ADD because I am too intelligent for it to be a problem, despite me clearly having issues. I may have A's in college and appear to be managing my life, but inside I am under agonizing stress and everything is constantly balancing on a cliff's edge. The problem is that I feel like this is the only way I can live life. Unless I feel like everything is going to fall apart, I can't commit to anything enough unless I feel that my life is on the brink of collapse. Everyone tells me that I'm gifted and intelligent, but that's just the only reason that I've survived for this long.
I'm always so afraid of failure, and I just want some form of closure. Every time I take medication, I feel like I'm just not trying hard enough to manage without it. I want a diagnosis because I don't want to believe I'm simply a terrible person that's just to lazy to handle basic responsibilities or doesn't care enough to remember to call back/respond to my friend's messages. I also don't want to abuse a diagnosis by making it an excuse for failure or a reason for pity.

I just wish people could understand that I actually care, even though I'm not always capable of showing it.

11-16-16, 01:49 PM
I share your same story. As an elementary student I was a mess. I had anxiety (feared one of my parents, didn't want to leave the other one to go to school) and once I hit 3rd grade I never remembered homework assignments and went from an A student to a C student. I met with a counselor before and after school to help me remember my work and to get through anxieties. Though I was always unorganized I got through high school and college with A's and B's. Problem was, I would cram, commit stuff to short term memory and forget it after tests. So I never really learned as much as memorized until I no longer needed the info. Like you I have a high IQ.

My primary Doctor thought I might be ADD until I told him I did well in school and have a career. He said ADD people can't do well in school or career, so I must be bipolar. So I took myself to a neurologist because I wanted a professional diagnosis without the "feelings" involved with a psychiatrist.

I gave him my history and my current symptoms and he said people with ADD can be very intelligent and successful, that no way was I bipolar. I was given adderall.

It made such a tremendous difference in my life. My husband even commented on how much better I seemed. But like you, I wondered if my diagnosis was real and if I was taking the easy way out. I struggled for weeks before my epiphany. 1- My anxiety was SO much better, and I was no longer depressed. 2- I was nicer to my family, more patient with kids, happier with husband. 3- I was following through, finishing tasks, remembering to turn off space heater and unplug my curling iron. 4- I was doing well at work and in life! I was no longer avoiding social situations and I actually looked forward to being out and about. So whether or not I am correctly diagnosed, this medication has improved my life and the lives of my family members. My husband was initially against meds, but he has done a 180 and says if they help me, take them. It is a low dose and I am following Doctor orders, so I will keep with the adderall and hope it keeps working.

I think it is BS that you have to give your parents a questionnaire. They don't know what you were feeling internally, nor can they understand the depth of your internal struggle. I hope you can come to terms with whatever you need to improve your life. You can always keep with your primary Doctor or seek a 1nd opinion from a psychiatrist.

11-16-16, 01:54 PM
I got good grades throughout elementary school and high school, and my college grades weren't bad, either. I managed to graduate from college, even. But intellect alone doesn't indicate whether or not you have ADHD. Like you, I look like I have it all together even though everything is crumbling apart inside. I'm just really good at faking it.

ADHD must be present in childhood. I can see where having a parent who is supportive and understands how best to teach you might make it look like ADHD is less of a problem when compared to a parent who doesn't know how to handle you. But regardless, there should still be ADHD symptoms. Have you had the time to check out the DSM criteria for ADHD? Are any of those symptoms present in your childhood?

If you're like me, you managed to survive childhood apparently unscathed, only to fall on your face in adulthood when the support structures put into place have vanished. By then, no one really believes you have ADHD because you're intelligent and you've made it this far without assistance. But that's not true. You just managed to survive using the tools you had, but either they don't work anymore or they aren't available or they're not longer applicable to your situation.

Anxiety sometimes causes ADHD symptoms. Sometimes ADHD causes anxiety. Years of ADHD can lead to serious anxiety. Sometimes people have both ADHD and anxiety and one didn't lead to the other. It's a tangle of chaos, and hopefully our doctors will help us sort it out. If I'm not mistaken, it's pretty common to treat the anxiety BEFORE the ADHD.

Some things for you to think about: No psych is 100% right 100% of the time. And neither are you or your mom. Are you sure you filled out the form correctly? Are you sure you understood the form properly? You're right that it's unusual and not realistic for your mom to understand how you felt or what you thought when you were a kid, so it makes me wonder if there was miscommunication in how to fill out the paperwork. Regardless, it would be worthwhile to speak with your psychiatrist to better understand why he made the diagnosis he did.

It would also be worthwhile to go to another psychiatrist at another location for a second opinion. There is no shame in second opinions, and any good doctor will understand and respect your decision. And if your psychiatrist really had your mom fill out forms as though she could read your mind, I wouldn't want to stick with him at all because that doesn't make sense. (It's not uncommon for doctors to have parents fill out forms or do an interview about your ADHD history, mind you, but I don't think they're supposed to be able to mind read.) I suggest that you look into what ADHD symptoms look like, especially in early childhood, and keep track of the symptoms you've experienced so that you can present that to the new psychiatrist.

11-17-16, 05:45 AM
OP- when you say that the symptoms were not significant at a younger age was that because of what your mom filled out on the conner's scale form? Parents can sometimes skew things the wrong way because they can associate poor performance of their kids as some kind of personal failure.
I am so sick of doctors dismissing adhd due to good grades or intelligence and throwing around bipolar and anxiety diagnosis's. Those things are not some fallback plan that should be the go-to when adhd is tough to pin down- they are serious and it offends me as someone with bipolar and adhd that docs just slap a mood disorder on someone because they are getting hung up on the adhd part.

OF COURSE you can have good grades and be intelligent with adhd! Thats because adhd is a doing disorder. You KNOW what to do you just have problems DOING what you know!