View Full Version : Introducing Myself -- Chris from Vancouver

10-16-06, 06:27 PM
Hello, my name is Chris, and I'm new to these forums. I am 32 years of age, I live in Vancouver (Burnaby), I am a software programmer, and I was recently married this July.

There isn't any brief way to tell why and how I ended up here, so please bear with me...

My mind was first opened up to the possibility of ADHD early last year (2005). I visited my doctor with complaints about very low levels of energy, difficulty in getting motivated, unstable moods, sleep disturbances, and difficulty in concentrating -- to the point where I was spending about 80% of my time at work pretending to look busy because I just couldn't focus. On most days, I would feels as though this thick mental fog was obscuring everything.

None of these symptoms were new, and are difficulties I've been struggling with all of my adult life, with only very short breaks. I'd been on and off various SSRIs several times over the previous 10-12 years, as well as having attended a sleep disorder clinic (after two nights, they reported that my observable sleep patterns were normal and healthy). And I have an embarassingly consistent history of not finishing long-term projects that I take on. I frequently over-commit myself and taken on new tasks with great enthusiasm, only to inevitably fizzle out and not be able to meet my committments because I just can't focus on what I'm supposed to be doing. I have earned what I feel is a very unfair reputation for being unreliable and late for everything. it feels unfair because I am always trying very hard to be somewhere on time or to get something done, and it actually makes me very angry when people think of me as being unreliable because it isn't how I see my true self.

I'd love to enjoy reading novels again... but I just can't most of the time. Magazine or Web articles, I can handle. Even many non-fiction books if I can read self-contained bits and pieces out of sequence. But I've been finding it almost impossible to get through any full-length novels. I start, get a few chapters in, then get sidetracked and when I come back it's three months later and I can't remember what I'd read previously.

When my doctor first suggested that perhaps we should be looking at my difficulties in terms of Attention Deficit Disorder, I was very skeptical. My mother has always commented on how as a child I was able to play quietly by myself or focus on something that I enjoyed for hours at a time. And I've never been what any reasonable person would consider "hyperactive" -- in fact, I was generally rather physically inactive as a child. But I didn't want to dismiss his suggestion outright, and when we got home I grabbed our copy of the DSM-IV off the shelf (my wife and I both majored in psychology, and she works in the mental health field) and looked up ADHD.

As I went through the list of symptoms of which "6 or more" must have existed for a period of at least six months to a degree at which they interfere with basic daily functioning, my eyes were opened. All nine symptoms of Inattention are difficulties that I have experienced in spades throughout my entire life. Not so much on the Hyperactivity dimension, although I do "often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in seat" and at times I speak excessively and quickly and have trouble not interrupting people in my rush to say everything that I'm thinking of.

My doctor started me on on Dexedrine, and I noticed an immediate improvement in my concentration. My mind finally felt clear, after months upon months of feeling cloudy-headed. I was being very productive at work and not spending hours surfing the Net and posting on message boards while pretending to be writing code for the project I'm supposed to be working on. Thankfully the folk in charge of running the project are in the clueless department to varying degrees, but even so this sort of thing can only go on for so long before somebody notices I'm not being productive.

I had 2 or 3 good months of productivity, but then I started winding down again. I was getting really bored and frustrated with work, mostly due to poor project management. I wasn't interested in the work that I was doing. It was getting repetitive. The project manager is a very linear and non-creative thinker, and insists on assigning only one task at a time. I need to be able to swap tasks if I hit a roadblock with one, or even if I just need to work on something different for a while. With only one task to work on, it can literally take me a month to finish something that I know I should be able to finish in a matter of days.

I hit a rock-bottom point around October 2005, and my long-delayed referral to a psychiatrist ended up with me being given a 20-minute diagnosis of depression and a prescription for Effexor. Almost a year later, I'm as badly off as I've ever been and I've gotten my doctor to start taking me off of Effexor and go back to Dexedrine to deal more directly with the inattentiveness. Many days I feel completely incompetent, and if anybody actually tested me on the capabilities and/or knowledge required to do my work, I'd probably fail. I feel like I've really been pushing it by just getting by as long as I have, and I need to break out of this rut. I had a few weeks of relief last summer, during the time preparing for and just after our engagement, and again this summer for the few weeks before and after the wedding (it also helped that I took about 6 weeks of unpaid time off around the wedding as well).

But after being back at work less than three months, I'm right back to unproductivity city. I can come to work feeling relatively okay, but by the end of the day I've been so bored and unfulfilled that I just feel dead inside. I am actively trying to find a new job in an area that I am interested in (video game programming/development), but it is a tough industry to break into and there are only about half a dozen such places to work in the city. I don't see much point in getting a new job doing pretty much exactly the same thing I'm doing now. I've been down that route before, and inevitably I am despising my daily routine and can barely motivate myself to get out of bed by the four month mark. At least with my current job, it's an open-ended contract that pays by the hour, and since the project has at least another year to go... I don't know how I'd cope without the flexibility to only come in 5-6 hours a day, 4 days a week.

It should go without saying that I'm posting this from work. :-) I come up with devious schemes to hide my Web activites at work, when I wish I could just get my work done, collect my paycheque, and go home at the end of the day not feeling mentally dull and physically burned out. I hope that by joining this forum and participating in discussions with others who feel the same way I do -- which I never realized before that there were -- I can gain that extra support that I need to get my life back on track and get out of this feeling of being on a treadmill of apathy. And, of course, to be able to provide that support in return.

I have come to view ADD/ADHD not as a disorder or a condition that needs medical treatment. I see it as a difference in how some peoples' brains are "wired up" to respond and in terms of more intuitive, creative, and often wholistic patterns of thinking. What makes it a disorder is that these traits are maladaptive to an individual living in modern society, where a 9 to 5 workplace sitting at a desk concentrating on repetitive cognitive tasks is often the norm. We didn't evolve to sit on our butts eight hours a day, five days a week, crunching numbers, writing computer code, typing letters, writing articles, or what have you. What is labelled an attention deficit "disorder" in modern society may very well have been an adaptive trait in a less structured hunter-gatherer society. I have a very hard time conveying this idea to a lot of people, as even the term "attention deficit disorder" seems implicitly linked to the medicalization of these symptoms and immediately conjures visions of hyperactive kids bouncing off the walls and getting in trouble because they're not paying attention in class.

I don't plan on looking to medication as a long-term solution. Dexedrine helps me a lot on some days, but not at all on others. One capsule is not enough to feel much of an effect most days, but two usually gives me a dry mouth and that irritating "click" that sounds to my wife like I'm on cocaine or speed, as well as a propensity to be extremely chatty and if I'm not careful hyper-focused on activities like making really long posts on message boards. When I was taking it early last year, I eventually hit a point where I'd developed a tolerance to two capsules daily, and I started to need three, and then I was running into another issue where I'm taking stimulants to get through the day and then sedatives so I can sleep at night. My long-term "solution" is to stop forcing my square peg into society's round hole and get myself into a job that I enjoy and that makes better use of my abilities. I know from the times that I've been able to stick with a regular exercise and healthy eating plan that it does wonders in terms of keeping my motivation and energy levels high as well as improving my focus. I just don't have the energy, motivation, and focus to get myself to that point.

And just so you have a face to associate with the name:

09-12-07, 04:30 AM

you and I have walked the similar paths... right down to the effexor.
I'm in the process of weaning myself off it.
the differences: I'm female, practically married - relationship of 9 years just got engaged - to be married in 2009
i'm 28 years old
i don't do software stuff, i'm a psychology nerd (self-professed) (UBC BA Psych 2005)
i work as a sp ed assistant (on-call at the moment, *sigh*)
i got diagnosed 3rd year university (LD: short term working memory; social anxiety; gifted)

coming from the psych background, i tend to shy away from the "medication is the answer" mantra that those shrinks seem to be programmed to live by in med school.

i differ somewhat from you in terms of how I view ADHD, as in a way it is how the brain is "wired" but also i think that if it's interfering with your effectiveness in life, then it's a condition. there's biological evidence on how the brain structures are different, and how the glucose metabolism is hindered in the specific area of the brain that's responsible for "executive functioning".

my belief is that you can learn the skills you didn't learn properly when you were a kid... ADHD can get better, you have to "work out" the brain to help it get inthe habit of keeping the self-awareness on.

just wanted to pop in and say hi, seeing that we're basically neighbours. I'm in North Vancouver myself.

and if you're the type of person who has a sense of humour about life, and is open to ideas I could be convinced to meet you. Your wife and my fiancee might have things in common to talk about regarding having a "partner in crime" having ADHD.

the one thing my fiancee always says with a grin when I ask how the heck he puts up with me sometimes is: well you're FUN and entertaining. it makes up for it.

gotta love it.

If anything, I'd love to offer support and encouragement, and if you're open to it, an occasional kick in the butt about ADHD-ish things. Sometimes I need someone who understand my head, my own age.

I'm a kid at heart, working on being/feeling more "grown up".
how bout you?

hope to hear from you


PS: I'm not a creep. really. I wouldn't be allowed to work in the schools if I was. I hope you're not some crazy person, well at least, not in the bad way.