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Old 08-31-15, 11:57 AM
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My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

I'm literally grasping at even a thread of support as I write this because I've found myself at my wit's end due to where I feel my A.D.D has left me. I guess I should try to start from the beginning without being too long or drawn out.

I was first diagnosed with ADD when I was 6 years old. I was tested, sent to a see a counselor, and prescribed a bevy of medications to manage my ADD until I was 18 years old. My teachers always described me as being highly intelligent albeit extremely inattentive. After years of being ridiculed for my inattention, my hyperactivity and my propensity to daydream; I made the decision to take myself off medication in 2005. I believed that now I was an adult, I had "outgrown" my ADD and could manage it on my own. I also did this because I had a strong desire to join the military and did not want anything that could hinder that goal.

I did not initially join the military, but decided to enroll in an out of state college. My first semester, I was able to manage my studying quite well and did not find myself particularly overwhelmed and figured that I had conquered my ADD. I adjusted well socially, and even found that making friends was easy. People enjoyed my attitude and figured I was just a thinker with my bouts of spacing out. The jabs about "daydreaming" and "being in la la land" I figured were always in good fun and so I accepted my quarks and even laughed at them myself as I seemed to be doing just fine despite my ADD.

My grades ended up being a little below average that first semester and I ended up moving back home for a semester. I conceived this to be a "failure" and attributed it to not focusing enough and not trying hard enough to manage myself and decided when I returned back to school that I would buckle down even harder than before. When I returned, I completely changed majors and also decided to join the National Guard to help pay my tuition. I figured that the structure of the military and the guidance could also help me and I set to the task of enlisting. It took me a long 5 months of jumping through hoops and procuring waivers to prove I was fit to go to boot camp. I was convinced that taking myself off the medication for almost 2 years and being able to manage myself in college was proof enough that I was fit for duty. After mountains of paperwork and a diligent recruiter, I finally enlisted on December 15, 2006. I successfully completed boot camp and advanced individual training and was a favorite with my drill sergeants. I always seemed to stick out but I was motivated and dedicated and ended up surpassing other recruits in some aspects. The feedback wasn't always positive though as what I knew was my ADD would get the platoon into trouble and cause everyone to be punished for my inability to process and pay attention to a minute detail.

Needless to say, I've managed to stick with my career in the military and 8 years, 2 successful tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a promotion to Sergeant I guess I could call myself a success in that aspect. My ADD has always been there, but somehow I've managed to keep it in check. Or maybe because after years of my leadership knowing me and knowing how I work I've developed a symbiotic relationship with the military that's allowed me to succeed there.

I also completed college in 2011 after changing my major twice. Once, was because I just simply could not keep my focus in the math courses necessary for my Aerospace major. Part of me knew that this was due to my ADD. Part of me though lived in a state of perpetual denial. "I've outgrown this....I manage it on my own....I don't have it anymore" have always been a constant mantra that I've told myself over the years. Of course, I would joke about being "ADD." Everyone does that. Society likes to glibly throw around the term ADD without being aware of what being ADD really means.

I did a few times try to go to my primary care doctor when it would sink in that the ADD hasn't really gone away and I would start feeling overwhelmed by the symptoms. However, I could never get a doctor to really listen to me. I think all of them figured I was just a college kid trying to get an Adderall prescription to sell to my friends. Sometimes, I would get a prescription for an antidepressant from them, because I would show the comorbidity symptoms of depression or anxiety that are sometimes present with people who suffer from ADD. Frustrated each time, I would leave and figure that if the doctors won't do anything about it, maybe I really don't have it and I was just overthinking my symptoms and the experiences I was going through. I also would be somewhat relieved each time, because of the negative stigma of seeing a mental health doctor in the military was and still is very prevalent. I wouldn't have to deal with explaining to my command that I was seeking treatment for a psychological disorder that I had long before I even joined. I figured I could just keep sweeping it under the rug.

After my most recent deployment to Afghanistan in 2013, I buckled myself down to accomplishing another goal- becoming a police officer. I may have forgot to mention that I graduated with a criminal justice degree from my university. I enrolled in a police academy in 2014 and was part of the head of my class. I wasn't around my classmates long enough for them to get to know me well, but once again like in school, college, and the military my inattention caused me to stick out and the jabs about being "spacey" and inattentive came from my classmates. However, I was a favorite among my instructors for my dedication and hyper focus on the subjects that I found extremely interesting.

I was one of the first in my class during the academy to test for a small local police department and in the written and physical tests I was ranked #2 out of 83 applicants. Throughout the academy, I jumped through every hoop necessary during the application process and managed to keep my position in the top 10 applicants eligible for hire, much to the chagrin of several cadets who loved to give me a hard time during the academy. I passed my state test with the 5th highest score in my class and was the second highest scoring female on our PT test.

On April 27 this year, I was sworn in as a new police officer. I was so excited and happy that I had accomplished my goal. I felt like I had finally made it despite all the obstacles I encountered. I began my field training and that's when things went south. My ADD began to be noticed by my field training officers. They noticed my inattention and failure to notice things. They could see when I would lose my focus while interviewing a suspect. My ability to multi-task and focus on several different tasks was difficult for me, whereas I could hyper focus on other tasks. One officer, even dragged me into the sergeants office one day and asked me if I had ADD. I broke down and told him about how I was diagnosed when I was younger but had managed it all through college and the military and all the way up until now. After that, it seemed like I was put under the microscope and every mistake and every flaw was exacerbated. I knew that my ADD that I'd tried to hide and manage for years was coming back to haunt me. I began desperately to try to find a doctor that would listen to me, but my efforts were too little too late. The stress of Field Training started to take it's toll on me and I felt like when I went into work everyday that I was constantly being looked at as a screw up and a failure. One of the last Training Officers I was with even flat out told me "everyone is expecting you to fail." I knew that everything was happening because of my ADD. In a job, where concentration and focus are paramount and lack of either can find you killed, I knew that I was self-destructing. I tried my hardest to focus at work. I did everything I could short of self-medicating myself. One day after a 2 week extension to my training, I was brought into the conference room with my patrol sergeant, the captain, and the human resources manager and told I "wasn't the right fit for the department" and given the option to turn in my badge and resign or be fired.

I chose to resign. I'd never felt so defeated in my life. After years of breaking barriers and meeting my goals I failed. I'm sitting here writing this two weeks after my resignation, feeling lost and hopeless. I can't stop hating myself for what happened and knowing that my ADD played a huge part in it. I'm waiting for my first appointment in 2 weeks with a clinic to manage my ADD finally, but like I said. My efforts are too little too late. Being a police officer has been my dream. I've never had a plan B. Nothing else makes sense, but I'm so scared that my ADD will keep me from pursuing that dream. That no matter where I go even if I get hired by another department, it will always be there causing the same problems. I honestly don't know what to do with myself. I've stayed at home, not even wanting to face friends and family. I'll find myself doing the same "daydreaming" or not focusing that for years hasn't bothered me terribly bad and break down in tears knowing that this is what caused me to lose my dream.
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Old 08-31-15, 12:34 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

I don't have any words of wisdom to share at the moment, but wanted to let you know you've been heard and you've found a great place to land at addf as you sort it all out. (((Hugs))) and hopes of having your heart lifted a bit.
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Old 08-31-15, 01:10 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

Never fear! There are many jobs within Police Departments, Sheriff, Baliff, Jailer, Detective divisions, etc. that will give you the job you wish to be involved in albeit possibly not the exact job you had in mind.

All the doors have not been closed! I would go to a Psychiatrist and begin medication for your ADD and just watch the possibilities unfold before you.
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Old 08-31-15, 03:23 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

Many of us here have experienced something similar to you so you definitely have our support and understanding. I myself had doctors turn me away multiple times before I screwed up and then finally they listened to me. You should be able to find someone to listen to you now I think (go to a psychiatrist that specializes in ADHD).

Do you know if in your area, an ADHD diagnosis will prevent you from qualifying to be a police officer? If so, could you wait until you're hired before getting an official diagnosis? You can always get diagnosed after being hired (though check on that as well) and not risk losing your job but if you get diagnosed in advanced, it is a problem in some areas.

My best wishes to you. It's definitely not too late for you. It's really just the beginning and you can definitely still find a job you love and are successful in.
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Old 08-31-15, 06:14 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

I can understand your disappointment. It's a very hollow feeling, and hard when you've given it everything.
I also know that lost feeling and it's unnerving.
My suggestions are two; focus on finding a GOOD psychiatrist, one who understands this condition and wants to help you.
Second, don't ever give up.
Good luck (judging by what you have achieved you should be proud of your abilities)
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Old 08-31-15, 06:15 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

One thing that stands out in your post is that you say "After years of breaking barriers and meeting my goals I failed"

Everyone fails.... and it sounds like you have expended HUGE amounts of effort to overcome your symptoms and keep going in situations where most people, not just ADDers would have flunked. I would therefore look closely at what you think "failure" means for you and just how reasonable your definition is.

Now you are facing something that all ADDers have to face at some time.... that point where we have to face up to who we are...... accept that ADHD is part of us and move forward by recognising that we are unique and wonderful people who, like everyone else in the world has roles that suit us and roles that don't.

I'm not sure if front line policing is the place for someone with ADHD. Unfortunately there are many jobs where one has to go through ADHD unfriendly placements before getting the chance to get promoted or moved into something that suits our own ADHD personality.

The work is to look deeply into ourselves and see our strengths..... and recognise that "trying harder" to overcome weaknesses isn't the way to a fulfilling and stress free life.....

Your training officers may have been smart people and recognising that, while you might be a great police student, you aren't cut out for front line policing. If this is the case they have done you, and your future colleagues a big favour.

Now you have to work out why this has happened.... not by thinking of it as "failure" but by using the skills and strengths that got you the good grades in the first place. You may need to go and talk to people.... people you trust and who know you well, but who are also astute, independent and can be truthful with you.
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Old 08-31-15, 06:33 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry that you feel you've failed, especially after self-managing and accomplishing so much.

You haven't failed in my eyes, you've done many great things.

Thank you for caring about this country and for your service.

My heart truly does go out to you - I hope you feel comfortable in this space and know that you will be heard here.
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Old 08-31-15, 07:33 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

Quote:
Originally Posted by ELL118 View Post

... I also would be somewhat relieved each time, because of the negative stigma of seeing a mental health doctor in the military was and still is very prevalent. I wouldn't have to deal with explaining to my command that I was seeking treatment for a psychological disorder that I had long before I even joined. I figured I could just keep sweeping it under the rug.

.
I'm sorry that such a stigma still exists. That stigma prevents my grand-
daughter from seeking accomodations in school and will make college just
as difficult for her in a couple of years as it was for you.

I wonder how much of the stigma comes from thinking it's psychological?
ADHD is NOT a psychological disorder. It's a neurobiological disorder.
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Old 08-31-15, 07:40 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

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Originally Posted by Lunacie View Post
I'm sorry that such a stigma still exists. That stigma prevents my grand-
daughter from seeking accomodations in school and will make college just
as difficult for her in a couple of years as it was for you.

I wonder how much of the stigma comes from thinking it's psychological?
ADHD is NOT a psychological disorder. It's a neurobiological disorder.
That's a good point, Lunacie. I never thought of that.
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Old 08-31-15, 09:49 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

Failing at something

is not the same as plain old "failing".

"Plain old failing" is losing the game. You didn't lose the game - you just had a point scored against you. You'll probably feel bad about that for a while, but you know that (in any sport) being able to rally after the other side scores is a big part of winning in the end. It's hard - but you've been through hard things before. Maybe this one is the hardest yet. OK, maybe it is. Somehow, you'll make it.

In my opinion, one of the keys is in someone's concept (I forget who originated it, or if anyone even knows)... All of us have an internal mental "map of the world". It's the total of your knowledge of how things really are. Everyone, from time to time, encounters a situation where part of their internal world map turns out to be mistaken. There are two possible responses to that: (a) accept and integrate the new information, making a change to your "map"; or (b) reject the new information, deciding to keep the mistake on your map for now. Maybe your map needs some re-drawing at one edge.
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Old 09-01-15, 02:11 AM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

Hello, I know where you are coming from as I have had many problems functioning at work while not on medication.

Remember, with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD you are protected by the Americans with disabilities act. It's a very intricate law and there are many parts of the law that are poorly defined, however the law does protect you from discrimination in the workplace due to documented disabilities. This law actually saved my career as I had made many careless errors and was on the verge of termination. I took diagnostic papers to the HR department and they basically forgave all of the right ups I had received. Definitely something worth looking in to. You can not be fired, asked to resign, demoted, etc. because of a disability. As many above said, this is not the end. Other options will present themselves and hopefully you are able to be properly treated for the disability.
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Old 09-01-15, 05:25 AM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

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Originally Posted by Natesiefkes View Post
Hello, I know where you are coming from as I have had many problems functioning at work while not on medication.

Remember, with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD you are protected by the Americans with disabilities act. It's a very intricate law and there are many parts of the law that are poorly defined, however the law does protect you from discrimination in the workplace due to documented disabilities. This law actually saved my career as I had made many careless errors and was on the verge of termination. I took diagnostic papers to the HR department and they basically forgave all of the right ups I had received. Definitely something worth looking in to. You can not be fired, asked to resign, demoted, etc. because of a disability. As many above said, this is not the end. Other options will present themselves and hopefully you are able to be properly treated for the disability.
Unfortunately, police officer is one of the few jobs where you might not be protected by ADA in that they need to accommodate your disability.
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Old 09-01-15, 06:14 AM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

If you were on medication would that prevent you from being a police officer? I am just wondering if your adhd was treated that you could apply for another job.
Remember: You are NOT lazy,crazy,stupid,dumb,worthless,unworthy,evil,hor rible,terrible,unlovable or insignificant.
You are a human being.
You deserve a chance.
Fight for yourself.
You deserve it!
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Old 09-01-15, 12:32 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Natesiefkes View Post
Hello, I know where you are coming from as I have had many problems functioning at work while not on medication.

Remember, with a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD you are protected by the Americans with disabilities act. It's a very intricate law and there are many parts of the law that are poorly defined, however the law does protect you from discrimination in the workplace due to documented disabilities. This law actually saved my career as I had made many careless errors and was on the verge of termination. I took diagnostic papers to the HR department and they basically forgave all of the right ups I had received. Definitely something worth looking in to. You can not be fired, asked to resign, demoted, etc. because of a disability. As many above said, this is not the end. Other options will present themselves and hopefully you are able to be properly treated for the disability.
In many states you can be fired for just about anything ... and if they want
you gone they'll figure out a reason that doesn't have anything to do with
requesting accomodations for an illness.
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Old 09-01-15, 02:40 PM
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Re: My experience with ADD and losing my badge as a police officer

[quote=Natesiefkes;1751906]Hello, I know where you are coming from as I have had many problems functioning at work while not on medication.

As a police officer unless they drug test you, you could take it at the start of shift but couldn't have an extra dose through the shift.
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