View Full Version : New to forum: Teaching and ADD (sorry so long)

11-20-07, 10:09 PM
Hi! I'm Dana,

I was just recently diagnosed with ADD and am trying to see how medication makes me feel.

I am a new teacher, and while I noticed things in high school/college that made me realize I was "different" from other people, now that I am teaching, I notice how debilitating it is to have a thousand thoughts running through my head when I'm trying to "lecture" in front of a classroom of h.s. students.

Growing up my parents expected a lot from us in terms of school and getting a good education. My older brother was extremely intelligent (currently receiving his PhD in physics) and I followed him with mostly A's and B's. But, I do remember often times daydreaming so much in class that I would try to pinch myself to focus every so often. In band class one day we were told to bring our uniforms home for a parade on Saturday, and I'd be the ONLY one to not know there was a parade...I remember thinking that there were so many "bad" students who remembered to take their uniforms home, and why I never heard the teacher tell us (numerous times) to bring our uniforms home...i was a "good" student whom the teachers liked because I was very hardworking.

In college I would have to study 80+ hours (when others would do 20 or less) for an exam, because I couldn't simply read through my notes...I had to write them down, and rewrite them, and rewrite them again as my study method. If I just read through my notes, after the first page or sometimes less, I wasn't comprehending the information. a way to cope with that, I figured out that if I wrote down EVERYTHING a few times, I'd HAVE to comprehend the information. So, that is how I had to study for EVERY exam. Very time consuming, but a way to overcome my inability to study well (I used to think it was because I simply wasn't as smart as the other students in class, so I had to study 4 times as long as everybody else...but now I realize that it was just hard for me to focus on the information long enough to comprehend it).

Now, in teaching, when I lecture, I find that I know exactly what I want to say, but sometimes I have a hard time finishing thoughts because my brain moves so quickly from one thing to another. A few times I have even caught myself talking about something, thinking about something else (while still talking) and realizing that I don't even know what is coming out of my mouth. :) My doctor originally thought that I had some performance anxiety which made me forget things, and so he put me on some anti-anxiety medication for that. After about 2 months on the medication I realized they didn't really change anything. Maybe slowed me down a little, but moreso my body and not my mind. Also, I notice when I clean, I start off in one room and without finishing that room, somehow start something else in the next room, don't finish that, and move on to something else. Takes forever to get the apartment completely clean! :)

Also, this is a sort of a question for anyone willing to answer: Do any of you with ADD have sleeping problems? I have had sleeping problems for a really long time (at least high school, if not earlier). I think my body in general doesn't need a lot of sleep, but I have a lot of problems falling asleep (mind races, even when I have nothing to think about) and then I also wake up at least 3-5 times/night. Anybody else have this too? Anyway, am sort of worried the medication will worsen the sleeping problems, but when I was on the anxiety medication (which was supposed to cause insomnia in most people) I slept REALLY well...never woke up during the night. So, who knows.

Anyway, I am happy to find a place where other people are coping with ADD. I think that my upbringing (parents) forced me to cope with what I thought was a lack of academic ability, and so I learned how to get good grades, to focus on finishing tasks, and just found ways around my problems. Now, I simply want to see if medication can help with some of the symptoms, and make me have a "quieter" head. :) I describe my mind as a "multitasker" that can never do what needs to get done first.

Thanks! Happy holidays!

11-21-07, 12:08 AM
Welcome to the forums Dana. This all sounds very very familiar. I homeschool my kids, so they're pretty much used to my whirlwind subjects and ideas, when I have taught a group that's pretty much what happens, what you've described of thinking ahead and being on different subjects, etc.

Yes, I have sleep problems. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, but I've always had sleep issues since I was little. I only started waking up gasping for air after my 2nd pregnancy. As a kid I went sleepwalking fairly often, that just started up again, actually. As for medications for ADD, I was on Straterra for quite a while, and it helped a lot with focus. I don't remember it giving me sleep problems, but it does for some. On it I lost weight and my anger subsided. I tried Ritalin briefly, a very low dose. I didn't notice any side effects except some irritability.

Now, if you could pass on some of the wisdom of your parents that would be very helpful, as I am currently unmedicated for my ADD.

11-21-07, 01:51 AM
Hi Dana!

Welcome. I am a teacher too, have to get to bed, but will be glad to share my experiences and how I adapt with you later!

You can do it!


11-21-07, 07:15 PM
HI there, Dana,

I just started teaching as well (lateral entry teacher for children with special needs, 3-5th grade) and it is totally kicking my butt -- although it's more of an organizational issue with me than having too many thoughts (I can hyperfocus when I teach which gives that sort of laserbeam focus that is really nice).

However in my classroom I am having to multitask constantly, have different groups running, students with resource classes leaving and coming back and having to schedule when they are going to get all of their subjects, then dealing with constant behavior problems that stress me out and disorganize my brain, etc etc.

Medication should help quiet your brain, as far as the talking about different things and jumping from one thing to another. ADDers do tend to be sort of stream of consciousness thinkers, which is nice for creativity, not so nice for getting a specific point across to a classroom full of students.

If you have trouble sleeping, it may be a low serotonin thing . . . if the antianxiety meds helped, perhaps you just need some sort of really low dose to help you sleep?

Anyway, welcome, this is a great group of people on this site!!

01-22-08, 08:39 PM
I have more trouble waking up than falling asleep, but I find that my mind prefers to be active in the evening (at least when I am unmedicated- medication kind of saps my energy late in the day). What you said about studying 80 hours instead of 20 hit a nerve with me, especially if the subject involved any kind of math. I had to chain smoke just to get through my problems in Chem II. Alternatively I could study humanities or social science in half the time that other people took. I'm job hunting right now but I'm a little unsure whether education will be right for me- as amiegrace described, it's an organizational thing.

02-14-08, 04:54 AM
Hi yeah I have heaps of trouble waking up too. And totally relate to all the thoughts going through your head when you are lecturing and trying to pay attention to all the students at once. PM me for advice any time!

02-14-08, 05:05 AM
I just started a thread about teachers with adhd called "Calling all High School Teachers" (new here, not sure how to link directly to it). I'd love to see where you are at now if you started some meds.

I also realized how I worked around my adhd. It's been a very frustrating 30 years!

I was just dwelling on my "lecturing" issues today, in fact. Once the students get off task, I have a really hard time refocusing myself, let alone 33 of them. I also can't take note of what each student is doing at any given time during my class. So hard to monitor!! Let's not even get started here on the paper issue.