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Old 05-16-17, 06:13 AM
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Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

As suggested I'll start my own thread for this

I have a diagnosis for depression and while being treated for it last year was told that if at any point I feel like I want to get an official ADHD diagnose I just need to ask. I've been reading about ADHD for years and recognise myself in the inattentive type but it was still nice to know that healthcare people can see the patterns too and it's not all just in my head.

I don't want medication, I want to learn to live with myself as I am. I know I can function well if I get my environment to work and support me properly. (I've been trying to find information about prosthetic environments since Dr. Russell mentioned them in a video I watched on Youtube. Googling the term gives me many articles about the elderly and the physically disabled. ADHD related results not so much. Anyways, trying to simplify things as much as I can should be good.)

Since I don't want medication and I don't need the diagnosis to get treatment (even the depression diagnosis was not necessary for me to get treatment since I didn't want medication for that either even though it was offered) are there any benefits for getting one? Sometimes I think getting confirmation that my brain works differently would be good and sometimes I wonder if a label really is necessary. A label won't magically make my life better or reduce the amount of work I have to do with myself. Should I just get it over and done with so that I can stop thinking about whether I should do it or not?

Does an official diagnosis change anything? My occupational therapist told me some people find it's a relief to finally have it on paper. Talking about "I have ADHD traits/I think I have ADHD" is different than saying you actually have a diagnosis for it. Especially since many think ADHD is not even real and that people just use it as an excuse for laziness (understandably more so if the diagnosis is not even official). Not that I plan to talk about my diagnosis with people, it would mostly be just for myself and perhaps it would be good to have if I decide to go back to school.

Ended up rambling, but any thoughts on the subject are welcome
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Old 05-17-17, 03:57 AM
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Re: Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

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Originally Posted by Pihlaja View Post
As suggested I'll start my own thread for this

I have a diagnosis for depression and while being treated for it last year was told that if at any point I feel like I want to get an official ADHD diagnose I just need to ask. I've been reading about ADHD for years and recognise myself in the inattentive type but it was still nice to know that healthcare people can see the patterns too and it's not all just in my head.
So...that sounds like whoever told you this is already diagnosing you with adhd but wants you to see someone else if you want it to be official?

Quote:
I don't want medication, I want to learn to live with myself as I am. I know I can function well if I get my environment to work and support me properly. (I've been trying to find information about prosthetic environments since Dr. Russell mentioned them in a video I watched on Youtube. Googling the term gives me many articles about the elderly and the physically disabled. ADHD related results not so much. Anyways, trying to simplify things as much as I can should be good.)
I am not saying medication is the only treatment for adhd but its a big part of it if its severe. Some people like a member Lunacie take fish oil or other supplements and its a godsend for them, but in many cases people end up needing meds. Getting your environment straight so you can live within it can be achieved a little easier with proper treatment or medication.

Quote:
Since I don't want medication and I don't need the diagnosis to get treatment (even the depression diagnosis was not necessary for me to get treatment since I didn't want medication for that either even though it was offered) are there any benefits for getting one? Sometimes I think getting confirmation that my brain works differently would be good and sometimes I wonder if a label really is necessary. A label won't magically make my life better or reduce the amount of work I have to do with myself. Should I just get it over and done with so that I can stop thinking about whether I should do it or not?
IMO this is like asking if you should find out if you have eyesight trouble even though you dont want glasses. Of course you would want to know. Its important because you may want to treat it in the future. I urge you to consider treatment though, at least for the depression. These are very real conditions with proven treatment options. No one wins an award for grinning and bearing it.

Quote:
Does an official diagnosis change anything? My occupational therapist told me some people find it's a relief to finally have it on paper. Talking about "I have ADHD traits/I think I have ADHD" is different than saying you actually have a diagnosis for it. Especially since many think ADHD is not even real and that people just use it as an excuse for laziness (understandably more so if the diagnosis is not even official). Not that I plan to talk about my diagnosis with people, it would mostly be just for myself and perhaps it would be good to have if I decide to go back to school.
I suppose if you plan on not getting treatment of any kind for adhd then maybe a diagnosis wont mean anything but there is very little difference between "official" and "unoffical" diagnosis I suppose.
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Old 05-17-17, 07:41 AM
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Re: Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

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Originally Posted by sarahsweets View Post
So...that sounds like whoever told you this is already diagnosing you with adhd but wants you to see someone else if you want it to be official?
Yes, I've talked about ADHD with a therapist. They were rather careful at first and asked whether I was familiar with it. Perhaps some people get angry when they are told they might have ADHD? I'll be referred to a doctor if I want to make the diagnosis official.

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I am not saying medication is the only treatment for adhd but its a big part of it if its severe. Some people like a member Lunacie take fish oil or other supplements and its a godsend for them, but in many cases people end up needing meds. Getting your environment straight so you can live within it can be achieved a little easier with proper treatment or medication.
I know it isn't easy. My ADHD hikes up the difficulty level on my life but it's not so severe that I can't manage it with environmental changes, using different tools and learning new routines. Sometimes I make progress, sometimes I backslide but even a slight improvement is still an improvement. I know I can cope well in the right conditions so I just need to tweak things until they work. Also, ADHD meds are only partly reimbursed and I really don't need any extra expenses at the moment.

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Originally Posted by sarahsweets View Post
IMO this is like asking if you should find out if you have eyesight trouble even though you dont want glasses. Of course you would want to know. Its important because you may want to treat it in the future. I urge you to consider treatment though, at least for the depression. These are very real conditions with proven treatment options. No one wins an award for grinning and bearing it.
Thank you for your concern I didn't say I didn't treat my depression. I just didn't take meds for it. I've seen therapists, I started meditating and exercising regularly, went to group therapy, listened to a ton of webinars on various related subjects etc. I didn't "grin an bear it", I did a lot of work to improve and I knew the meds were still an option if at any point I decided I couldn't cope without them. I slowly got better and at the moment I wouldn't say I'm depressed. Very stressed out for various reasons but not depressed.

I've read that ADHD can get worse during menopause so it would probably be good if I have a diagnosis in case that happens.

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Originally Posted by sarahsweets View Post
I suppose if you plan on not getting treatment of any kind for adhd then maybe a diagnosis wont mean anything but there is very little difference between "official" and "unoffical" diagnosis I suppose.
Not wanting to take meds is not the same as "not getting treatment of any kind". Like I wrote in my first post, I don't need to get a diagnosis to qualify for treatment.

I'll probably make an appointment with someone to talk about this but in the meantime more questions for people who have a diagnosis:

1. did it make a difference in how you see yourself? (self-acceptance etc.)
2. were you relieved or disappointed or something else?
3. any special good/bad points about being diagnosed?

I'm slightly worried that I'll be unable to convey a clear picture of how things are for me and the doctor ends up misunderstanding something. I know it's silly to think about this even though I have yet to even make an appointment to talk about possibly getting diagnosed.
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Old 05-17-17, 08:46 AM
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Re: Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

Like sarah said for me seeing it on paper and hearing it from my psychiatrists made a huge difference. I'd suspected it for years but having that suspicion confirmed finally allowed me to consider the possibility thst maybe I wasn't just stupid, lazy and crazy after all. It was a relief in many ways and helped me to not loathe myself so much anymore.

It also improved ny marriage significantly as ny husband had thought that I was careless anymore nd incapable of doing many basic things because I didn't care enough for our marriage. Since the diagnosis he knows it's because I can't not because I don't care.

If you know that you've got adhd you can use behavioural tools anyway even without an official diagnosis but I found that it was only medication that finally allowed me to implement and use effectively behavioural tools.

Finally if you need any accommodations at work you will need an official diagnosis and yes further down the line you might want medication

Also your therapist might believe that you have adhd but other healthcare providers might not make their treatment adhd friendly or adhd specific without an official diagnosis.
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Old 05-17-17, 09:02 AM
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Re: Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

I'll address your points!

1. Yes, absolutely, it made a huge difference! Whether you decide to take medication or not, I really, really recommend you pick up a specific book on ADHD:

https://www.amazon.com/You-Mean-Lazy...tupid+or+crazy

It's written by two women who suffer from ADHD and as such does a great job at going at the intersectionalism of gender and the condition. Anyway, the gist of the book is this: it's not usually the ADHD itself that's so devastating to a lot of us. It's all the coping mechanisms we create for it before we understand that it's ADHD and we just think there's some fundamentally broken part of ourselves. Even if you decide not to take meds (and there I would say, don't knock it till you try it), I'd really really recommend you read this or at least look up RSD on the internet and see if it applies to you.

2. I was GREATLY relieved. As implied above, I thought there was something fundamentally wrong with me all of my life that caused me to have to constantly regulate myself in front of others to stop from being an a-hole. The diagnosis allowed me to understand that I was both right (there *is* something wrong with me; my intuition was spot on) and very, very wrong (it's treatable, to the extent that so long as I take Ritalin it flat out goes away for a few hours).

It's hard to describe the burden that was lifted...

3. For me the real tipping point was taking medication and understanding what "normal" really was that finally drove things home. The first time I took Ritalin I... wanted to take a nap, to be honest. My mind had been just plain racing nonstop for several weeks, especially when I got in bed, and I hadn't been on much sleep. The instant the Ritalin started acting, I stopped having 20 thoughts at a time and got down to 1 or 2, and just... realized how unbelievably tired I was. I still use Ritalin as a sleep aid sometimes FWIW (just did last night, actually - my p-doc says I should take my meds when needed and not every doctor or every case of ADHD is the same, so ymmv highly on that).

I also noticed on that very first day that stuf that would normally drive me into a rage - my computer acting slow when I wanted to code for instance - just made me go meh. Don't get me wrong, I still go through the same range of emotions now that I did before; I just don't have the sudden mood shifts so much. There are horror stories about Ritalin turning you into a robot but that's not always true and often it's because your dose is too high. For me, if anything the knowledge that my filters work allow me to be extroverted and expressive where before my default reaction to the world around me was to draw within myself.

The only real downside I've experienced with the meds is that... they do make you concentrate like a normal person and you have to be mindful of that. My old work routine involved me messing about throughout the day, knowing that I'd eventually get onto work, and when I'm locked in I work fast. Now, I get locked in easier and work just as quickly when I do (with fewer mistakes too I might add), but if I'm doing a crossword puzzle when my meds kick in, guess what I'm going to be doing for the next 4 hours? Yeah, not working, I'll tell you that much. The meds are not a panacea even if they do generally make life better.

Otherwise, getting away from meds for a bit, the diagnosis opened my eyes towards the world around me and the people I associate with. I've always had a hard time keeping up long term relationships, even with friends, and the people I did keep up with all had a few things in common in spite of sometimes being vastly different in other ways. I came to realize that that commonality was mostly ADHD. Yeah me it was really weird... I have 3 high school buddies I try to get together with whenever I go back home. I knew one of them had struggled with it in middle school and so he was one of the first people I "came out" to. We talked about it and he added that at least one of the other guys (and I suspect the 3rd now) all have it. When I talked about the symptoms to my best friend he was like "wow, that's me" too. And my brothers, of course (I say of course because ADHD has a genetic component to it; if you have it, family members probably have it too). All my life I'd been unconsciously surrounding myself with folks who were suffering from the same thing I'd been. It's weird how life works sometimes.

One last thing... I've always tried to be an empathetic person, even though the condition sometimes makes you not (when you get those mood swings sometimes all you can think about is how mad you are or whatever in the moment), and the diagnosis has kind of unlocked that, too. I'm not quite a Buddhist but I'm trying to integrate more of the Zen philosophy into my life, some of which means doing what I can to generally try to lessen the amount of suffering in the world via small acts of kindness. For me, a lot of that comes out in making a point to be free and easy with compliments in the classes that I'm taking (again, acting, also improv comedy though). I know how much hearing stuff like that means to me and so I really try hard to go up to people after they put on a good performance and tell them. I'm certainly not perfect on this score but the diagnosis has made me waaaaay better on this score.
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Old 05-17-17, 09:28 AM
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Re: Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

It's not silly to be thinking about. I think the greatest benefit I got out of the diagnoses I received was to learn just how complicated things can get in the typical insurance approved arenas after living a lifetime of being convinced that was the absolute best and only way to go about finding effective help.

I also spent 13+ years working in a residential vocational rehab scene surrounded by mental health professionals, so I was able to see much from both sides and learned more than I ever wanted to know regarding how the mental health system and those who run it flow behind the scenes. At times, I really wish I could un-see much of it.

I was professionally diagnosed, as well as repeatedly misdiagnosed, and given multiple medications for adhd and a few other diagnoses, but my body clearly has other ideas about how it wishes to be treated and what it will or will not healthily process. Meds are no longer an option.

My only options of treatment left were doing just as you describe, changing my environment and trying other routes that support overall wellness, which ended up helping a few other difficulties better fall into place much healthier than while under their expert guidance.

I haven't cured myself of anything, nor do I expect to, but I have learned how to better live with my issues and navigate this crazy world just as I am rather than how I'm told I should be. Compared to how I was left feeling with insurance approved interventions, I'll take my current methods any day.

My methods include, but aren't limited to: breath work, daily purposeful movement, immersion in nature, gardening, primal screaming, dancing, singing, hydrating with good clean water sources and infusing herbs, eliminating alcohol and caffeine, improved sleep routine, talk therapy, a weekly support group, consuming a whole food plant-based vegan diet, eliminating as much artificial stuff as possible in my hygiene, cleaning, and other routine products I use, acupuncture, herbal tinctures and flower essences made by self and friends who are master herbalists, iridology consultation, massage therapy, meditation, mindfulness, sound healing with Tibetan bowls and gongs and such, aromatherapy, connecting with the earth, air, fire, and water each day as much as possible, smudging spaces with sage, etc.

However, many of those routes are typically way out of reach financially, while some are free of charge. I'm fortunate enough to live in a community that fosters bartering for goods and services and makes things available that insurance never/rarely approves of. Without those opportunities, I'd likely never have experienced the benefits.

I was also injured via childhood sexual abuse, emotional neglect, teenage rape, and many years of domestic violence, qualifying me for free talk therapy through a local shelter, and it's been incredibly helpful. The insurance approved therapists and psychiatrists didn't wish to spend ANY time speaking directly of those specific issues I brought up for whatever reasons. However they wanted me to try just about every med you could imagine.

I also have a very supportive husband who helps balance out my weaknesses and has been so kind and patient in all of my attempts to better figure myself out through the years. Without that level of support, I'm not sure where I would have ended up in the ongoing process to be honest.

The best advice I ever received once joining this site several years ago was that pills don't teach skills. No matter how many meds me or anyone else takes, if you aren't actively learning more about what makes self tick, healthily fueling your being, and teaching yourself skills and methods of self-care to better manage your surroundings and such, nothing you try will be very effective for very long, from what I've experienced.

The learning never stops. Un-learning is just as important as learning, I've found. Especially once you think you already know something for certain. lol Life has a way of adjusting the lessons accordingly, whether we want it to or not.
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Old 05-17-17, 01:41 PM
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Re: Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

Thanks everyone for your answers, I got some new ideas to think about.

Unmanagable, could you tell about how you changed your environment to suit you better? The changes are personal to you but are there any environmental changes you would recommend others to try?
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Old 05-17-17, 09:30 PM
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Re: Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

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Originally Posted by Pihlaja View Post
Thanks everyone for your answers, I got some new ideas to think about.

Unmanagable, could you tell about how you changed your environment to suit you better? The changes are personal to you but are there any environmental changes you would recommend others to try?

I think I was way too deep in the sea of the expected "fake it 'til you make it" stress, along with hormonal fluctuations of peri-menopause while being repeatedly triggered by bully mentalities and such to see just how bad it had become. There was no way left to function healthily in those surroundings, no matter how many pills I took or therapies I tried.

Nothing about any of the circumstances nor the therapeutic approaches I was encouraged to pursue were healthy and my body was busy letting me know while the professionals were busy diagnosing and treating much of it as other inaccurate things.

Some may be redundant to the list I noted in my post above:

  • resigned from my job of over 13 years that was highly stressful in many ways
  • volunteered to help others in areas of great interest to pick up skills and learn how to grow and make things in exchange for free labor
  • moved out of a highly populated area into a much more serene woodsy scene
  • learned to forage and identify plant life and enjoy the company of various wild life
  • totally changed what I ingest and use on and around my body - whole food plant-based vegan sounds difficult, and the transition truly can be, but it actually simplifies things when it comes to shopping and clean-up once you've learned to plan it well enough to healthily meet your nutritional needs
  • actively seeking the company of like-minded people to help feel much more supported overall while also learning more in the direction i was wishing to focus my attention
  • actively immersing self in non like-minded environments to remind myself of why it's so beneficial for me to strive to stay on track
  • re-learned how my body actually functions and what it actually recognizes and healthily processes (this would be where I'd start in dealing with any type of dis-ease - our foundation can't become but so strong if it's continually fueled with harmful things, even in moderation - go put a little diesel in your gasoline engine and get back with me...lol)
  • learned to not be satisfied with only treating symptoms, but also building up my inner systems by investing time in learning how to dig down to the actual roots of my issues and better know which ones to pull and let go and which ones to fertilize and help grow
  • hung dry erase boards in many rooms to serve as part of my brain
  • keep something to write with and on with me at all times
  • continuing to learn how to monetize my weirdness via the bartering scene
  • make time to ground myself with the earth, air, fire, and water each day
  • learned to make my own products for hygiene and cleaning to interrupt the massive endocrine disruption
  • learned how to make daily exercise fun
  • learned how to breathe again
  • paying very close a-tension to which direction my trains of thought are heading in trying my best to prevent a derail
  • learning to be the love i never received
  • learning where to look for, ask for, and then be open to receiving help
  • i'm sure i've left something out
Hope that's in the same vein of what you were asking for. Each helpful thing we do has to be tailor made, for sure. We must learn to become our own best advocates.

I think sometimes that can be our biggest stumbling block. Wishing and hoping for relief in the same ways that work for so many others, then feeling like we've somehow failed when it doesn't.
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Old 05-18-17, 01:33 AM
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Re: Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

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Thank you for your concern I didn't say I didn't treat my depression. I just didn't take meds for it. I've seen therapists, I started meditating and exercising regularly, went to group therapy, listened to a ton of webinars on various related subjects etc. I didn't "grin an bear it", I did a lot of work to improve and I knew the meds were still an option if at any point I decided I couldn't cope without them. I slowly got better and at the moment I wouldn't say I'm depressed. Very stressed out for various reasons but not depressed.

I've read that ADHD can get worse during menopause so it would probably be good if I have a diagnosis in case that happens.
Im so sorry. I just reread your post and totally missed the part about you getting treatment! Hormones IMO play a huge role in adhd. I am not in menopause but have a mass on an adrenal gland that wreaks havoc.



Quote:
Not wanting to take meds is not the same as "not getting treatment of any kind". Like I wrote in my first post, I don't need to get a diagnosis to qualify for treatment.
Again, I am sorry I missed the part about your treatment and I dont want to give the impression that I think meds are the only form of treatment. Perhaps your depression isnt so bad that you need meds, but its always good to consider it if it was.

Quote:
1. did it make a difference in how you see yourself? (self-acceptance etc.)
Having a "reason" was at least reassuring enough because I was able to put my issues into perspective.

Quote:
2. were you relieved or disappointed or something else?
Both, I was was relieved because I at least had a direction to go in, dissappointed that I wasnt medicated. I was diagnosed 'semi-officially' at age 6 but didnt really explore it until my 20's.

Quote:
3. any special good/bad points about being diagnosed?
Good points. I am a believer that meds should be considered as a first line treatment for adhd and thats only because the science is there to back that up. Personally I believe a combination of what you currently do and meds can be the winning combination. I recognize and respect those who choose or cant take meds and find ways that work for them.
Is there are reason you do not want meds? Is it because you are not severe enough or just that you dont want them?
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Old 05-18-17, 06:53 AM
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Re: Are there benefits to a diagnosis if you don't want medication?

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I am sorry I missed the part about your treatment and I dont want to give the impression that I think meds are the only form of treatment. Perhaps your depression isnt so bad that you need meds, but its always good to consider it if it was.
No offense taken My depression was bad and I was asked right away if I wanted medication for it. And this was when I already thought I was feeling better. At my worst even asking for help was too high a hurdle. I told them I wanted to first try other methods. I'm rather fortunate that I live in an area where the mental health care people actually listen to you and have multiple approaches to treating things.

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I am a believer that meds should be considered as a first line treatment for adhd and thats only because the science is there to back that up. Personally I believe a combination of what you currently do and meds can be the winning combination. I recognize and respect those who choose or cant take meds and find ways that work for them.
Is there are reason you do not want meds? Is it because you are not severe enough or just that you dont want them?
In Finland other treatments are tried first and medication is considered if those don't work alone and if someone seems to really need them. In theory. Apparently this approach can lead to difficulty getting meds even when you need them. Especially if you have self-medicated with alcohol then it may become next to impossible to get ADHD meds.

If (when) I get diagnosed I'll probably be given the option to medicate. (I'm neat and polite and calm and can usually leave a good impression and have no issues with alcohol or drug abuse. I recognise that this is a privilege and sometimes it makes me angry when I see how it works. People can change their attitude almost mid sentence when their mind hikes someone up a notch on some inner rating scale. Are they aware they are doing it? /tiny rant end)

I'm aware medication could help with getting my systems to work more smoothly. It would probably also help when I end up procrastinating or circling around without being able to start on anything. It would help me start on things I should do but am not interested in... there would probably be many benefits, I know. If a doctor offers me a free sample I would probably try it just to see what happens but I wouldn't want to take them on a regular basis.

I'm vary of possible side effects and the cost. Even though the meds are partly reimbursed I can't afford them at the moment. The main cause though is that I want to learn how to live with myself as I am. This is what I am and I know I can be happy like this even if my brain handles some things worse than average and even if my lifestyle choices make some NT people raise their eyebrows.

My symptoms are not so severe that it's impossible to live without medication. I can learn to compensate for my weaknesses. For example I know I behave differently when the environment is different. Some things are easier to do in some places than in others. I need to observe what makes things easier and change my environment accordingly. Keeping a journal for this will probably be helpful since I tend to forget my great aha moments
Tallenna
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