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Dillux 10-01-17 07:53 PM

Hi There
 
I usually go by the name of "Jason," I am 43, and I have recently been diagnosed (as of about three months ago) with ADHD, combined-type, although my inattentive symptoms are much more pronounced and problematic.

It's really great finally having an explanation for my multitude of previously inexplicable traits. I had previously assumed that they were unrelated and just "quirks" of my personality. My only regret is that it would have been really useful to have known about it sooner.

As a child, I had tremendous difficulty in school. I was always off in my own world rather than paying attention. I did very well on the tests, but I just could not turn in homework consistently. This being the combined effect of forgetting assignments, missing instructions, procrastination, the inability to endure the boredom of repetitious problems, leaving required materials at school, forgetting to bring completed assignments back to school, or just plain losing my completed homework.

I successfully completed high-school (with great difficulty) and went on to junior college, with the intent to eventually transfer to a four-year university. I struggled in college and it's highly dubious that I would have passed if I had continued with my established trajectory. Instead off focusing on school, I spent far too much time on my "hobby" projects. Fortunately for me, this actually worked out for the best.

I spent much of that last semester working on a programming project of personal interest which ultimately resulted in me being hired as a software engineer at a prestigious start-up, despite not having completed college.

Whereas I floundered in our "one size fits all" educational system, I flourished in my new work environment. I really enjoyed all aspects of the work and this allowed me to hyper-focus on my work assignments. I was very successful and moved up rapidly in position.

Some years later, the company I was working for was acquired and this changed everything. I was chronically assigned to boring tasks and my job performance tanked. I had great difficulty getting started on assignments, staying on task, and finishing. Eventually I was laid off and I was so burned out from this soul-sucking experience that I sold the house and moved to Alaska. Yup. Kind of impulsive. I know...

I lived off-grid in Alaska for about six years. This actually worked very well for me, as this was a highly stimulating environment where failure to plan ahead, procrastination, or incomplete tasks could easily get you killed in the winter. I no longer had problems with these issues with specter of death of lurking over my shoulder. It did wonders for motivation, but took its toll.

Eventually the novelty wore off. Chronic anxiety and dysthymic depression set in. I began having random panic attacks,which I had never experienced before.

One day I lost most of the vision in my right eye with no apparent cause. The diagnosis was a condition known as optic neuritis. This is a disorder caused by an autoimmune attack on the optic nerve. I was told that this is often the presenting symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS) and that I had a 50% chance of developing the condition. This did nothing to improve my existing anxiety and depressive symptoms. The net result was in a drastic reappraisal of the situation; I needed to get out of Alaska, instantly, or even sooner.

I moved back to the Bay Area, where I still reside, and pickup a new programming job with the help of my existing professional contacts. I did very well in my new job, but continued to struggle with worsening anxiety, unremitting dysthymia, hot flashes, and a complete loss of sex drive.

I was started on Lexapro for the anxiety issues and depression, which helped a little bit. I was later diagnosed as having extremely low testosterone levels, with the cause being undetermined. This added Androgel to my daily medication regiment. This helped tremendously with both the anxiety and depressive issues. No more panic attacks or hot-flashes, restored sex-drive, and no more ahedonia. I have found that if I discontinue the Androgel, these symptoms return with a vengeance after about three days.

The smoldering ruins of my marriage of 16 years are now six months behind me. In retrospect, my ADHD symptoms were a substantial contributing factor. My inability to pay attention to what my spouse was saying, never following through on any of my promises, chronically late for everything, changing plans on a moments notice, etc., etc... I can see how this would be aggravating. Then there was the continual barrage of criticism directed at my ADHD symptoms. It was bad enough being criticized for how I was handling things, but his refusal to take on any responsibilities himself was just too much to handle. Throw in a heavy dose of borderline personality disorder symptoms on the side of my ex-spouse, and your have a recipe for a marital disaster.

At work, I was again having trouble getting started and staying on task at work. I would put off the tough and boring stuff and go do some easy things, like handle E-mail, then waste the day reading Wikipedia without realizing how much time was spent. It usually would start off innocent enough. I would look up something work related, but then get sucked in and pulled further and further away from my original purpose.

I could go for weeks like this, without getting any meaningful work accomplished. Then, just as a deadline approached, I would finally get my act together, pull off a work marathon, and come in just under the wire -- usually. Rinse and repeat. This was nothing new for me, definitely not fall-out from the divorce, and I decided that I needed to do something about it.

I asked Google if anyone else had the same problem. Not only did I find that others had this problem, but that there was a whole constellation of other problems that I also had that were all associated with this condition called ADHD. Something I know next to nothing about.

I spent a large amount of time researching the condition and eventually approached my PCP about it, with a pre-completed ASRS worksheet. After a bit of questioning, he agreed that my symptoms were consistent with ADHD and he gave me a prescription for Adderall XR, 10-20 mg/day to see if it helped.

As ADHD is not really a specialty of GPs, I decided to tracked down a good psychiatrist in my area, with ADHD experience, for a second opinion, meanwhile, I could try the Adderall.

I found that small doses (5-10 mg) of Adderall help a little, but the stuff makes me feel dysphoric and way too serious. I feel even less social than normal. This is impressive, considering I already have social anxiety to begin with. The duration of effect is highly variable, lasting anywhere from 5 hours to 8 hours. When it wears off, it feels like I have been clubbed over the head. Larger doses just make the side effects worse, with no further improvement in symptoms.

I have been seeing a local psychiatrist now for the last two month. He confirmed the ADHD diagnosis and switched me to Concerta. Initially 18 mg, twice a day, and now 27 mg in the morning and 18 mg in the evening. I have had virtually no side effects from the Concerta. I don't feel drugged at all, which contrasts strongly with my Adderall experience. So far it has made a huge difference in my life.

As a side-note, with respect to the potential MS diagnosis, I have had a recent MRI showing no signs of the disease, so I'm probably in the clear at this point.

KitCat 10-01-17 09:10 PM

Re: Hi There
 
Hi Jason! I'm a newbie here too.

I can identify with some of what you shared. Especially the relief you felt with the realization there is an actual reason for all of your unexplained personality "quirks".

I also regret not knowing of my condition sooner as I believe I could have accomplished SO much more had I been able to manage my symptoms better. Instead, I always felt I just wasn't good enough. Maintaining motivation is a struggle for me. Nevertheless, I have reached some of my life goals, such as earning my BA, but I honestly feel I could have done much more had I known what I was really dealing with. And, earning that degree wouldn't have taken me as long as it did!

Sounds like you are getting the help you need. I was only recently diagnosed. Supposed to meet with my doctor this week to discuss my options as far as medications go. Reading about your experiences is helpful.

Very glad your MRI showed no signs of MS. That must have been scary!

Anyway, nice to meet ya! :)

WhiteOwl 10-04-17 03:33 AM

Re: Hi There
 
From one newbie to another, welcome! I can identify with most of what you wrote. I'm a little jealous that you lived in Alaska, though. I've often thought I would like to move there and just live all alone in the frozen wilderness, haha! Not as glamorous as I imagine it, I'm sure.

I'm glad you have found a treatment that works for you and that you don't have MS!


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