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Old 05-01-17, 04:35 PM
Cabinfever Cabinfever is offline
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How Come I Keep Forgetting I Have ADHD?

So I find myself here after a long journey, finally feeling that I know something certain for once... and all because of Youtube videos on ADD.

I have been taking stimulant medication (Adderall XR) for ADHD since I was 25 years old. I am 30 now. The first time I took the medication I immediately noticed a huge difference. I felt somewhat more focused, but the most obvious and dramatic change I noticed with the meds was significant improvements in my balance, coordination, mental alertness and driving. I had several friends comment to me on how much better my driving skills got overnight... little did they know! I also saw significant improvements in my circulation and ability to breathe (which is kind of weird) and also in my ability to regulate my emotions. Reflecting back on it now, I realize it was kind of a "magic pill" for me at first. My life changed. My ability to work changed. It was kind of crazy, actually.

And then for some reason I forgot what a miracle it was realizing I had ADHD for the first time. Reflecting on my childhood, it explained so much. Learning about strategies for coping with ADHD could have been really helpful. But, I didn't do it. Instead of learning more about ADHD, I decided to continue thinking about it in the stereotypical way; lack of attention, no ability to focus, fidgety...can't finish tasks you started etc...
In reality, many of the above are simply not true. It's not lack of attention, it's a difference in attention. It's not the lack of ability to focus, but the lack of ability to focus on things that aren't interesting. And it's not that I can't finish a project... I can finish projects as long as they hold my attention and remain interesting... or at least as long as they remain the most interesting thing in my current environment.

As time has gone by, I have questioned whether or not I really have ADHD. I have been afraid that I have been medicating treatment resistant depression, narcolepsy or cyclothymia instead... after all, no one figured-out I was ADHD when I was child, and I saw so many mental health professionals you would have thought someone would have evaluated me for ADHD before jumping directing to ODD, Mood Disorder (NOS) and finally "childhood bipolar" disorder (a very risky leap to take when considering children, I think). For some reason, my mind gets stuck in the past, rather than just appreciating the significant gains I have made whilst being medicated. I continue to focus on how many problems I have that can't be fixed by medication and use that to justify beating myself up.

I had a pretty troubled/traumatizing childhood and was diagnosed with many psychiatric illnesses along the way, none of which have seemed the likely cuplrit as I've become an adult. It seems obvious in retrospect, that ADHD should have been at the top of the list given the family history, the symptoms I exhibited and my lack of response to other psychiatric medications. ADHD runs strongly on both sides of my family. My father has serious learning disabilities in combination with ADHD. My older sister has serious learning difficulties and debilitating ADHD symptoms- she can't even hold down a job. My younger brother also has a slightly milder ADHD (at least it's become milder as an adult) and I have 5 1st cousins who were diagnosed with ADHD. Talk about a family history! Why did they bother with Bipolar and Schizophrenia... disorders for which we have absolutely no family history and for which I was too young to be properly diagnosed with!?

Perhaps my mother was in denial, not wanting to have to deal with another ADHD family member. Or perhaps it was because I was female and my mom had an idea in her head about what ADHD was, namely that it consisted of little boys who didn't remain seated in class, interrupted the teacher with fart noises, were continually disruptive in the classroom and refused any & all reading assignments.

My mother had been an elementary school teacher in the 1980s and I think it clouded her judgement of ADHD, as the scientific literature at the time was much less informed than what we know today. I think my mother thought that girls who liked to read storybooks, who were capable of playing by themselves for extended periods of time, and did well in elementary school couldn't have ADHD.

Despite my childhood nickname "squirmy little salmon," my penchant for falling off the side of the piano bench during lessons, church newsletters which issued public announcements to congregants about controlling your children in church (haha- that was all me) horrible problems with mathematical computation, emotional dysregulation and social alienation, I was never really flagged for ADHD.

Never being flagged in the past for ADHD, is a significant barrier to being diagnosed with it as an adult I soon realized. Luckily, the psychiatrist I saw when I was 25 years old was the same one I had seen when I was 8, and he actually had case notes on me from 17 years ago - "rule out ADHD" - although the 'ruling-out' never seemed to happen - so on that, I got lucky.

I go to a therapist weekly. I really like her. She's the best therapist I've ever had, but I don't think she knows much about ADHD. She specializes in trauma and the therapeutic modalities used to treat c-PTSD, like EMDR and CBT. She (my therapist) has been encouraging me for the last 9 months to apply for graduate school. She didn't come up with this on her own, I have always wanted to pursue an advanced degree and feel restless and unmotivated at my current job. She keeps asking me every session why I haven't started the process of applying. She says, "You are so intelligent, why wouldn't you want to move toward this goal that you've always had? What is stopping you? Just shed the old fears of failure and go for it!"

I tried to explain to her about this "perfectionism" problem I have which seems to run in my family. My dad, brother, sister and I talk about this perfectionism/procrastination problem we have all the time... and we always implicitly understand each other's motivations for doing these particular, but seemingly pointless things to help ourselves cope. For example, the need to buy new office supplies, clean the entire office and other little rituals to get ourselves into the zone before taking on any major 'office work' related task. Wasting copious amounts of time scrubbing one burnt pan over and over again until it's silver, rather than actually just doing the dishes, utilizing time efficiently and moving on to something else. Agonizing over every detail of a short work email. 10 page college term papers that quickly morph into 100 page PhD level dissertations. The embarrassment and shame we feel regarding our lack of staying-power and the hobbies or interests we have delved into with great enthusiasm, only to later abandon with great enthusiasm.

I have difficulty putting these various problems into words however, so therapy ended without a coherent answer. I decided to reflect on my motivational problem over the weekend and ran across some TEDtalks on ADHD. To my astonishment, the speaker was basically describing my life and the issues I'm trying to work through now. I couldn't believe that he was attributing all these traits and behaviors to ADHD that I always thought were just manifestations of my inherent laziness, incompetence and perfectionism. I had never linked these particular behaviors to ADHD, despite having the diagnoses for 5 years.

It sure has been eye-opening reading-up on ADHD. I don't know why I never did it before. I have felt like such an outsider... a contradiction, for so long, it's hard to accept that there are all these other people out there like me, experiencing these ups and downs and trying to navigate a world that has been shaped to work against our strengths. No wonder each and every day feels like such a battle.

So here I am, procrastinating at work. It took me 3 hours to write this posting. I have managed to successfully accomplish no actual work!

I go to research targeted ways to help myself get to work, and 3 hrs later find myself..... writing massive postings on a self-help forum. What?! Ahh! I've done it again. It's never-ending!!! It actually took me so long to write this that I was automatically logged-off the addforums and if I hadn't saved what I wrote, would have lost everything. Luckly, this type of thing happens to me all the time, so I was prepared and saved my posting before I tried to submit it...

Not ADHD? No way. I think it's pretty obvious. I just hope I don't forget that this time.
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Old 05-01-17, 05:48 PM
Cyllya Cyllya is offline
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Re: How Come I Keep Forgetting I Have ADHD?

Howdy.

I think that "laziness" or "lack of motivation" issue a lot of us have is due to an impairment with the "Initiation of action" aspect of executive function. Although I never forget I have ADHD, I frequently forget how bad that symptom can get. Despite how horrible it is, it's a weirdly subtle problem. I keep thinking I can override it just by trying harder.

Alas, it gets almost no attention in professional literature. (One of my signature links has everything I've been able to find out about it, in case you're interested.)
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Posts from my blog that might be useful:
About Initiation/Motivation/Procrastination | About sensory issues
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Old 05-01-17, 06:55 PM
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Re: How Come I Keep Forgetting I Have ADHD?

Why would you even remember you had ADHD? We "have" all kinds of things. I have thinning gray hair and blue eyes, but 99% of the time, that has nothing to do with the task at hand. I have cancer, allergies, low blood pressure, a few pulled muscles (currently), I sunburn easily and carry 30 extra pounds, also which do not have anything to do with most tasks. I need to stay on top of my task list, which I try to do, and I don't think of it as "managing ADHD", I simply think of it as a thing I must do in order to not get sidetracked for too long.

When I get up in the morning, I pop 20mg of Adderall. I know that if I don't, it'll take 4-6 hours for my brain to get going. I don't think of that as dealing with ADHD, it's just what I do.

We "are not" our ADHD. It is simply a collection of a million things that make us up, each of us individuals out of 7.5 billion global warmers on the planet.....
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Old 05-02-17, 04:58 PM
weswes weswes is offline
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Re: How Come I Keep Forgetting I Have ADHD?

I have a similar story. When I was diagnosed with ADHD, I was offered no extra guidance for my illness from my psychiatrist. I wasn't handed any reading material, I was just told to take these pills.

Since I was so uneducated and messed up from having ADHD and a hard life, I really needed someone to sit down with me and talk me through the process. I believe I was 19 at the time.

After a few years, I decided not to take adderal anymore, was doing fine in school, because I was intuitively dealing with many of my symptoms with a low sugar diet and working out. Then I had a really bad breakup with an ex-girlfriend, where I felt tremendously guilty, and could not forgive myself for years which lead to major depression.

I realize now that I couldn't muster the executive functioning to work through my break-up normally because I was so sad and ADHD.

Anyway, after years of suffering I ended up at the shrink again and they told me they thought I had ADHD. I was handed a book to read it was the start of a new life for me.

After reading 'Driven to Distraction' and scouring the web for more information about common ADHD symptoms, I was able to determine what issues I had -- if those issues were ADHD related or trauma related -- and then try and find suitable ways of dealing with them.

P.S.

I did CBT, cognitive behavior therapy, before my ADHD diagnosis so I could change my frame of mind, however, none of that was entirely effective till I started taking vitamins that support my ADHD riddled brain.

It was kind of a ridiculous experience to have trained my brain to be more positive and deal with life in a better way, only to have CBT half work, until my ADHD was managed.

It showed me how strange my neurology actually was.

Good Luck!
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Old 05-03-17, 08:46 PM
InessB InessB is offline
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Re: How Come I Keep Forgetting I Have ADHD?

Is it normal to feel hard to keep reading all of this? I'm learning so much here but why I find difficulty to keep doing this?
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