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Old 05-14-14, 02:30 AM
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ADHD and Identity

Throughout my initial diagnosis, not only has my understanding of ADHD impacted my life in discovering who I am, but the medication and effects are making me see everything in a different light. As many have described, it’s literally like putting on a new set of glasses for the first time. I’ve begun to take appropriate steps to help organize my life.

In fact, I don’t really feel guilt or blame anybody for my condition. For better or worse, it made me who I am, and I’m quite happy because of it. Being diagnosed at a later age actually made me fully appreciate the impact of medical and psychological treatment.

Yet despite the feelings of elation and self-discovery, there’s not only the learning curve of *thinking* in a new way, socializing in a new manner, and adapting new methods of self-control and organization…but there’s the balance of identity. Specifically: sorting out interests, hobbies, and passions.

In other words, I no longer feel like I have a grasp of what makes me, me. I started off, pre-medicated, as a quiet, shy guy who was outed for having “So much potential, if only he showed more motivation and interacted more”, and having very few friends and social interactions…to now being driven socially, having more interactions with my bosses and supervisors, and finishing projects is now starting to become like second nature. A real "Success story!" right? Not really...

It makes me question what’s normal and what’s merely a by-product of ADHD. It’s not just social interactions or work productivity, I find my stacks of unfinished hobbies, video games, DVDs, and books and now think to myself “Wow, what prompted me to even pick up guitar?” or “Wow, I was never really a fan of horror flicks except for those few weeks last year when I was going through a particular phase where I was obsessed with horror flicks…what am I to do with this entire collection of Freddy Krueger films?”

So I’m kind of at a loss of how I’m supposed to feel at this stage. Do I just abandon everything from the past and start anew? Should I cling on to a few key attachments? What if I fall into my old habits again? It’s a scary prospect, and I hope someone out there understands where I’m coming from…

So does anyone feel this way? Have you, or are you going through a crisis of identity? How do you deal with the split between old-self/new-self...unmedicated/medicated?
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Old 05-14-14, 03:40 AM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

I was here.... someone pointed me in the direction of the Indian or children something or another.

The self is an illusion. I have come to realize I have many selves/rolls. My advice would be to be at peace in realizing the many selves. In some religions ADHDers are ahead of the game and closer to the end of a long cycle!

I came to peace when I realized that I grasping for my old self. The first step in change is letting go of who you are to become who you will be. We are constantly changing.

I'll post again when I'm not trying to go to sleep. I'll forward the info tomorrow that Kunja_dorgi passed to me. I'm excited you're going through what I did. It is a scary thing huh. Letting go of the self makes more room for the reality of what is. The reality is we are always evolving so our self is ever evolving too.

You're on a good path.



Welcome to the forum! Kudos on such a deep first post.
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Old 05-14-14, 03:44 AM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

I was 44 when I discovered ADD, so I had a very long time to get used to the idea of me. It did serve as an explanation for most of the things that had happened in my life and also in a strange way, it confirmed for me what I already intuited inside, which was that I had the right to be the way I was.

Ironically, that renewed self assertion led to quite a few conflicts in my personal life. I was no longer going to take the blame for things I was not "guilty" of.

Edited to add: what nicksgonefishin said before is very, very important. Everyone should realise this.
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Old 05-14-14, 05:28 AM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

I guess you could ask about "normal" people and say, what traits make them normal? Does that define them as a person?

We will all fall within some sort of grouping with discernable traits, but there is always going to be some individual differences in DNA, chemistry, physiology and EXPERIENCES that shape us. The experiences are a constant evolution for us and do alter us over time.

So, yes you can pick elements of habits/behaviour that box us into a category of some sort, but we are all individuals in plenty of ways too.

If the differences between medicated and unmedicated bother you, how about "normal" people? There are plenty of things that alter anybody. We are all a hodge podge of chemicals. How much does a few beers alter an otherwise nice fella? He can become a raging maniac, volcano that could erupt, comedian that enlivens the party or maybe even a sleepy introvert.
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Old 05-14-14, 07:01 AM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

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Originally Posted by greatscott84 View Post
So I’m kind of at a loss of how I’m supposed to feel at this stage. Do I just abandon everything from the past and start anew? Should I cling on to a few key attachments? What if I fall into my old habits again? It’s a scary prospect, and I hope someone out there understands where I’m coming from…

So does anyone feel this way? Have you, or are you going through a crisis of identity? How do you deal with the split between old-self/new-self...unmedicated/medicated?
You "shouldn't" have to do anything you don't want to do. If some old hobby or interest now seems boring and you want to try something new- go for it! What have you got to lose? If you ever regain interest in playing the guitar or watching horror flicks, then you will start doing those things again. Nothing is set in stone.

And if there are things you like to do and keep, same question: why not? Why should you be obliged to change just because you now a diagnosis? Stagnation can be good if you feel comfortable where you are. Good stuff are always worth keeping.

People change all the time, for various other reasons, usually when they hit a landmark in their lives (finishing school, getting a job, having kids etc). But it's rarely black or white: remain the same of change completely. You can totally choose what aspects of your life you like and want to keep and what you don't.

That's the beauty of getting a disorder treated: you now have more options than before. It might seem hard to actually make choices, but whatever you choose, it will all be good. And if you don't like your new life, you can change it again for something else- the options are endless.
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Old 05-14-14, 09:55 AM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

they are both you... and are both "normal"... on the surface it's mostly guilt and lack of recall/connection/perpetuation... one requires adequate environment to flourish... the other requires self imposition of "rails" and "blinkers"...

underneath it's what nick and sarek said...

the thing is... you already know the answer? would i be right in saying that your really asking;

-what conditions allow you to perpetuate acceptance and continuity?
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Old 05-14-14, 12:40 PM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

Quote:
Originally Posted by greatscott84 View Post
Throughout my initial diagnosis, not only has my understanding of ADHD impacted my life in discovering who I am, but the medication and effects are making me see everything in a different light. As many have described, it’s literally like putting on a new set of glasses for the first time. I’ve begun to take appropriate steps to help organize my life.

In fact, I don’t really feel guilt or blame anybody for my condition. For better or worse, it made me who I am, and I’m quite happy because of it. Being diagnosed at a later age actually made me fully appreciate the impact of medical and psychological treatment.

Yet despite the feelings of elation and self-discovery, there’s not only the learning curve of *thinking* in a new way, socializing in a new manner, and adapting new methods of self-control and organization…but there’s the balance of identity. Specifically: sorting out interests, hobbies, and passions.

In other words, I no longer feel like I have a grasp of what makes me, me. I started off, pre-medicated, as a quiet, shy guy who was outed for having “So much potential, if only he showed more motivation and interacted more”, and having very few friends and social interactions…to now being driven socially, having more interactions with my bosses and supervisors, and finishing projects is now starting to become like second nature. A real "Success story!" right? Not really...

It makes me question what’s normal and what’s merely a by-product of ADHD. It’s not just social interactions or work productivity, I find my stacks of unfinished hobbies, video games, DVDs, and books and now think to myself “Wow, what prompted me to even pick up guitar?” or “Wow, I was never really a fan of horror flicks except for those few weeks last year when I was going through a particular phase where I was obsessed with horror flicks…what am I to do with this entire collection of Freddy Krueger films?”

So I’m kind of at a loss of how I’m supposed to feel at this stage. Do I just abandon everything from the past and start anew? Should I cling on to a few key attachments? What if I fall into my old habits again? It’s a scary prospect, and I hope someone out there understands where I’m coming from…

So does anyone feel this way? Have you, or are you going through a crisis of identity? How do you deal with the split between old-self/new-self...unmedicated/medicated?
Wow, what a beautiful post!! I think what makes you you is constantly changing. And what makes me me is my intuition. For example, I think that eating meat is wrong. I think that we can do without it and I am intuitively attracted to a vegetarian diet; I feel good when I eat vegetarian meals. That
"feeling good" is like a pat on the back from my intuition. It's like a confirmation that my choice was right. You know when you get a huge impulse to shop but the next day you might feel bad? That's intuition telling you it wasn't the right thing for you at that point. Or eating a huge meal and then feeling guilty?

I think who you are is something you have to discover by trying new things! There's no map you can just look at and say this is who I am. If you've created such a thing without the help of your intuition then it isn't authentic at all. I think the way to develop our intuition in order to be able to tell impulses/whims apart from the authentic feelings is inner calm.

When you're nervous it's hard to "feel" yourself. What helps to calm me is walking, meditation, yoga, writing in a journal, and my adhd medication (I put this last because I know drugs might not be for everyone!).

I hope this helped a little!
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Old 05-14-14, 01:22 PM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

Accepting the fact that the ADHD self is ever changing more so than the NT self is what helps me.

Thom Hartmann was the name I couldn't think of last night. The link is a squirrel worth chasing.

The reason I said you are on a good path is that you're letting go of what was. It is scary as hell. Questioning everything that was and wondering who the heck you are really?

The biggest help for me is realizing my self as a multitude of various always changing selves. For example I'm a different self on here than I am anywhere else. I'm a professional self at work and the happy go lucky have fun self with my buddies. Trying to lump yourself into one constant self is fruitless(I've tried) and only leads to negative self talk of "why the F can't I be consistent" (we have enough issues with consistency as it is.

This has allowed me to forgive myself for what my past self has done as I'm no longer that person. Heck I'm not the same person I was an hour ago!

If you really must have a point to start try the 3 basic selves. The past self, the present self, the future self. Forgive your past self and don't worry about the future self. The best way to do this is to stay present in the moment. This is where Mindfulness comes into play. If you are in the moment you aren't concerned about the future or the past but you are improving who you were and can give your future self a leg up. The book "today matters" really drills this concept home.

Or to some it up in a photo-

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Old 05-14-14, 08:08 PM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

There's a lot of great responses. Thank you so much! I mean that sincerely.

@nicksgonefishin: Much of what you said mirrors what I've been studying. I'm still at the stage of finding peace within myself and learning the hard way that there really is no "one self". Thank you sharing your kind words, the links, pictures, and the book suggestion!

Last year, I was going through struggles with anxiety and depression (which I now know is related to the ADHD). Years of dealing with the inconsistancies with myself, and the negative responses from my fellow peers and co-workers drove me into some dark periods in my life.

My social anxiety was hugely driven by my fear of speaking out from not being able to articulate what I say (in other words, I may think in terms of A-B-C, but say it as C-A-B, often losing train of thought), failure to follow simple instructions, fear of not fulfilling commitments due to my inherent lack of motivation, and the impression that being an adult meant being one self in ALL aspects of life. It came to a point where I just no longer cared...

I won't go deeply into my depression period, that's another topic for another day. But the bouncing back from that period (through help via therapy and medications), I've grown accustomed to who I was and that I didn't have to shelter myself anymore. I was happy with my progression...yet the anxiety persisted...and all the happy revelations I had could not change the fact that I had difficulties with bouncing from different self-to-self, and my "professional" self was stunted because I still had the problems with the drive and focus from caused by this...(at the time) unknown condition. Even my journal writings at the time captured some of my feelings: "I should be feeling happy...but why can't I simply get up and do the simplest of tasks? What is the root this problem that has plagued me for most of my life?"

The question of who I was, who I am, and who I wanted to be (my past, present, and future self) was often on my mind. The more I dug deeper, the more I realized the inconsistencies that I've had my entire life has some biological basis. I took a few spare minutes from my "two-hour-zoning-out-in-front-of-Facebook" session at work to look up key words on my emotions. ADHD popped several times. I looked at various forums and websites (this one especially), and being careful not to "Web-MD" my condition and prematurely diagnose myself, I presented my councillor my findings, via a drawn-out web of interconnected feelings on a complex bubble diagram (the things you'd do when hyper-focused...lol), since that was the only way I could keep my thoughts somewhat in order. He agreed, the medication is working, and here I am.

What heytheredelilah said. Intuition is a good thing, and without the help of various methods to build on that inner-calm, such as yoga or meditation; the inconsistent focus can sometimes tell you want to hear instead of what you need to hear. Telling apart intuition and the symptoms from ADHD is a challenge that me, and many others are still learning to overcome.

Here's a situation many of us go through:

Voice 1: You should take a nap, your tired and barely had sleep last night.
Voice 2: But you have a project due next week!
Voice 1: You can't do that project until you rest.
Voice 2: That's what I said yesterday, and the day before.

Argg, which voice is my intuition!? I'll just go on Facebook and I'm sure it'll come up with a plan eventually... Fast forward... Wow, it's midnight already? Well it's too late for me to work on this project, I have to wake up at 6 AM! I'll worry about it later..."

I agree with everyone here, we are who we are. There was many mistakes made before getting to this point, and undoubtedly there will be many mistakes made in the future. Unfortunately, there is no magical guidebook that tells you "To be a success, you must do x, y, and z" despite how many best-sellers are out there claiming it. There's also no formula that can accurately define what success even is, despite what family or society may tell you.

How this relates to my post yesterday? No clue! I got off topic... But you know what, what I've realized is that despite what passions, hobbies, or interests we've clung on to in the past, hold today, or will have in the future. Don't allow it to define who you are by giving yourself an arbitrary label.

Also therapy doesn't mean just taking pills and writing things down in a planner because you're suddenly "cured". It also means learning how to balance your life with this new toolset and satisfying your well being. For me especially, meditation has been a great help in the past, and I'll be looking for groups and activities (such as meditation sessions and yoga classes) here in my hometown for further guidance and inspiration.

Thank you all
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Old 05-14-14, 09:36 PM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

In guilty of just reading the title. I'm sorry. But, I was thinking..

Every once in a while right after meeting someone... Or inevitably early on in a new relationship you don't know how not to confess...
It's not you, it's me...
Or is it you?
It's just that I take Adderall... But I'm bipolar ii, too.
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Old 05-15-14, 12:15 AM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

You and i have another trait in common beyond adhd. We are thinkers. My therapist pointed this out to me.

Be proud of it!
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Old 05-15-14, 06:55 AM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

are you medicated noww?
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Old 05-15-14, 09:18 AM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

Yeah I'm on Adderall.
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Old 05-15-14, 10:26 PM
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Re: ADHD and Identity

I stopped taking Adderall. No idea what it'll be like out there without it. I took it for 4 years. I used to be depressed and that's gone now. I just realized I had Bipolar 2. And wanted to get off Adderall. My dr said no. He wouldnt take me off of Bipolar meds either.
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