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Old 04-24-11, 09:42 PM
ILoveChaos ILoveChaos is offline
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In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me study.

Hello, My name is Brett and I am currently in my first year of medical school. I'm expecting a decent amount of backlash for posting on here because all of my life I've been told that ADHD means you can't concentrate and you do poorly in school. So with that being said here is my story:

As a child I was really interested in anything outdoors and you could usually finding me off in the distance walking down a creek and chasing after animals. I was constantly climbing, jumping, exploring, and riding my bike all over the neighborhood. It was more common for me to be by myself than with other kids. I was placed in advanced classes after kindergarten and was luckily taught with a very interactive style of teaching. I can't say that I paid much attention most the time but I seemed to excel at school

In middle school and high school I stayed on that track and continued to do well in just about every subject compared to those around me. I graduated 20th in my class of about 345 students from a public high school (I'm sure I wouldn't have done as well in another state or in a private school).

I applied to one college, got a partial scholarship and again did fairly well without every really having to put any effort into anything. I was constantly called lazy by everyone around me (including family and teachers) for not being able to complete tasks or apply myself fully. It took me 5 years to graduate and I did so with a pretty good GPA and ended up taking the MCAT (like the ACT but for med school) and did pretty well and now here I am almost at the end of my first year.

This is where my story really begins. About 3 months ago I ran into some major obstacles. My social interactions were deteriorating, I started feeling extremely depressed, (I had been treated for depression previous to this but went off of the meds because of the terrible side effects) and I found that I couldn't focus enough to perform well in school. I immediately thought to myself, "Well, this sucks but the depression seems to be coming back and I better take care of it before I flunk out of school". I had previously been trying to control what I thought was depression with diet, exercise, and cognitive behavioral therapy (basically stopping dark or negative thoughts when they first come to mind). When I went to the first behavioral health specialist we talked through some things and he ended up putting me on Welbutrin (An atypical antidepressant sometimes used in treatment of ADHD) because of my disdain for SSRIs. Part of the school policy was that whenever anyone stated they were depressed they were to be referred to the school Psychiatrist. I met with him and we discussed the depression and went way over on time trying to figure out what was going on. He asked all the questions I was used to about depression and then he started asking me questions about social interactions and about my study environments. At the second meeting he had me take one of those surveys that is used to diagnose ADHD (Or at least put you on the right track). I answered it as honestly and objectively as I could. I ended up being placed in the 90th percentile for ADHD based on my answers. He suggested starting a stimulant and prescribed Ritalin.

I am now about a week into using the Ritalin and while I was expecting my focus to improve I had no idea how many other aspects of my daily life has started to change. I went from having constant racing thoughts to being able to focus on one thing. For the first time in my life I sat completely still for an hour reading notes (Something I had never done before in my life and I'm not exaggerating). The constant angst I'm used to feeling when I sit for more than 20 minutes has also improved.

While the meds have definitely helped I have to say that the one thing that has been the most profound is this: The knowledge that my brain doesn't work the same way as most other people. I'll elaborate with a few examples:

1) One of my major presentations has been that of hypersensitivity. I did not know that it wasn't normal to react to every whisper, squeak, cough, or shuffle. I've also always had issues with people touching me. One finger on my shoulder was enough to cause me to whip my head around on reflex to see what was going on. I was also under the impression that everybody constantly looked around a room observing others and I couldn't understand why I got so bored during group conversations.

2) I hyperfocus or "zoneout" on an almost regular basis. I will be driving with the intent of going to the grocery store on my way home from school and then I'll start thinking about something else. Before I know it I'm home and I completely forgot to turn to go to the grocery store. I would also spend hours upon hours upon hours playing video games and my mother would have to yell at me or get in my way of the tv before I would respond (Not because I didn't want to but because I had no idea she was there).

I'm really skeptical about how quickly things have been changing and I'm hoping that the meds continue to work. I'm not going to ask for any special accommodations from my school and plan on keeping this private from all but some closer friends.

So there is my long and drawn out story. I was hoping to stop people from being too skeptical by including a lot of information. I'll welcome any questions and address any skepticism and if anyone wants tips on studying with ADHD while not on meds I have a wealth of knowledge born from years and years of trying to find things that worked for me.
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  #2  
Old 04-24-11, 09:52 PM
corbykins corbykins is offline
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

i could definately use some study tips right now!lol
i didnt read all of that but what i did read is interesting
my current study method is trying to break everything down and work on one small thing at a time but its not working very well i keep jumping from one assignment to the next and im getting nothing done as usual :/ im on meds but they arent working for me
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Old 04-24-11, 10:02 PM
ILoveChaos ILoveChaos is offline
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

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Originally Posted by corbykins View Post
i could definately use some study tips right now!lol
i didnt read all of that but what i did read is interesting
my current study method is trying to break everything down and work on one small thing at a time but its not working very well i keep jumping from one assignment to the next and im getting nothing done as usual :/ im on meds but they arent working for me
Without meds it was almost impossible for me to stay on one subject for longer than about 40 minutes. It was also pretty hard for me to read out of a textbook or just read through powerpoint slides. What I found to help was doing things where I had to actively study like quizzing myself with flashcards or doing practice questions. I would even write out my own notes while going through the teacher's notes to try and slow myself down enough to absorb the information.

Study environment for me is one of the biggest challenges. You have to find what and where works for you. I can't study at home..period. I also can't study in silence. I am typically listening to music (With or without lyrics, some people can't concentrate unless it's devoid of singing). I also occupy my hands by twirling a pencil around. When I realize that I'm completely zoning out and not learning I get up and walk around for about 5 minutes and that seems to help me refocus.

There really isn't any magical answer to this problem, it's going to take some time to figure out what works.
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Old 04-24-11, 10:05 PM
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

well shat. this sounds like me to a tee xD

whats med school like? I've been thinking about it lately..
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Old 04-24-11, 10:07 PM
corbykins corbykins is offline
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

wow you are lucky if you can last 40minutes studying something, lately ive been lucky to make it through writing one flash card or copying one page of notes which is only like a couple minutes worth of focusing...

haha i know i already do a lot of that stuff i was just curious to see what you had come up with though a little disappointed there isnt anything new but ive been dealing with this for 10years so im thinking theres not a whole lot more new stuff for me to learn just gotta keep trying and hopefully eventually ill find a new med that works again like adderall used to work for me
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Old 04-24-11, 10:15 PM
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

Brett,

Welcome to the forum!

You'll find ADHDers with all kinds of interesting backgrounds here -- some with advanced degrees, some who didn't complete high school, some who didn't complete high school but got a GED and an advanced degree...you name it. So you shouldn't worry about getting flak for being a med student!

Glad to hear things are going well for you.

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Old 04-24-11, 10:18 PM
ILoveChaos ILoveChaos is offline
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

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Originally Posted by Fiction1228 View Post
well shat. this sounds like me to a tee xD

whats med school like? I've been thinking about it lately..
Intense. Probably one of the best things that has every happened to me as well. Especially if I really do have ADHD. The psychiatrist I am seeing specializes in organization and has lots of experience with ADHD. I don't think I would have ever come to the conclusion myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by corbykins View Post
wow you are lucky if you can last 40minutes studying something, lately ive been lucky to make it through writing one flash card or copying one page of notes which is only like a couple minutes worth of focusing...

haha i know i already do a lot of that stuff i was just curious to see what you had come up with though a little disappointed there isnt anything new but ive been dealing with this for 10years so im thinking theres not a whole lot more new stuff for me to learn just gotta keep trying and hopefully eventually ill find a new med that works again like adderall used to work for me
I didn't say I could study for 40 minutes, it just takes that long before I have to switch subjects, haha. My attention span is more around 15 minutes (I know because the psychiatrist made me keep track). I've found that visual tools are extremely helpful for me like pictures of the cell cycle or anything with color that can help me organize things in my head.
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Old 04-24-11, 10:36 PM
corbykins corbykins is offline
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

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Originally Posted by ILoveChaos View Post
Intense. Probably one of the best things that has every happened to me as well. Especially if I really do have ADHD. The psychiatrist I am seeing specializes in organization and has lots of experience with ADHD. I don't think I would have ever come to the conclusion myself.



I didn't say I could study for 40 minutes, it just takes that long before I have to switch subjects, haha. My attention span is more around 15 minutes (I know because the psychiatrist made me keep track). I've found that visual tools are extremely helpful for me like pictures of the cell cycle or anything with color that can help me organize things in my head.
oh ok yeah that makes a lot more sense.lol
i use lots of colors and flash cards and i copy my notes for most of my classes it helps me review everything
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Old 04-24-11, 10:43 PM
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

I do the same. I carry around a 50 pack of colored pencils around me and color code my notes. and I rewrite all of my notes as well. I find that when the teacher is making you copy notes, and explaining what they are, AT THE SAME TIME. I cant concentrate on either xD so I just go over it again during study hall.
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Old 04-25-11, 06:13 AM
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

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Old 04-27-11, 04:11 AM
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

Welcome! I have a background very similar to yours. A lot of what you described sounds very familiar. I'm glad to hear about your recent success, but from what you've described it doesn't seem very likely that it was ADHD that was causing you problems. You probably do indeed have ADHD, but there are tons of people like you and me that have it, but are able to deal with it better than most people. Doesn't it seem a bit odd that you've had ADHD your whole life and been able to overcome if your whole life, but the new events/obstacles that you encountered get blamed on it?

Hey, if it's working for you so far I wouldn't question it, but someone who overcame their ADHD all the way through college shouldn't just suddenly start having problems dealing with it. Amphetamines such as Ritalin are pretty much the college student's wonder drug, so it's not surprising that things are changing as a result of taking it.
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Old 04-30-11, 01:06 PM
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

Welcome, Brett!

I wouldn't worry about a lot of backlash - there are many people here who got their degrees and entered their professional fields successfully before they were diagnosed. ADHD doesn't mean you're going to automatically fail, it just means you tend to struggle more with certain things.

Your early school situation sounds a bit like mine. It wasn't until I went back to college that everything started to collapse for me. I'd been managing to keep everything together up until then, but as the coursework got more intense, it all came crashing down.

Welcome to the forums, hope you find some helpful stuff here!
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Old 03-30-12, 08:25 AM
ILoveChaos ILoveChaos is offline
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

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Originally Posted by Grasshoppaa View Post
Welcome! I have a background very similar to yours. A lot of what you described sounds very familiar. I'm glad to hear about your recent success, but from what you've described it doesn't seem very likely that it was ADHD that was causing you problems. You probably do indeed have ADHD, but there are tons of people like you and me that have it, but are able to deal with it better than most people. Doesn't it seem a bit odd that you've had ADHD your whole life and been able to overcome if your whole life, but the new events/obstacles that you encountered get blamed on it?

Hey, if it's working for you so far I wouldn't question it, but someone who overcame their ADHD all the way through college shouldn't just suddenly start having problems dealing with it. Amphetamines such as Ritalin are pretty much the college student's wonder drug, so it's not surprising that things are changing as a result of taking it.
I know this is near a year after this was posted but I was off in med school land and hadn't been browsing the forums much but this warrants a response.

First an update:
Everything is going well, I switched over to adderall because Ritalin had too much of an on/off effect that was making me yo-yo all day long. I still continue to do cognitive behavioral therapy and have changed a bunch of my study habits to things that involve me moving, writing, or doing anything but trying to sit still. I work out at least 6 days a week also to help. It consumes a lot of time and most of my peers do not feel they have the time but for me it isn't a choice. I'm not a fantastic student because of the adderall, I didn't jump up 50 spots. It simply made me able to sit still without feeling the urge to get up and move around every 30 seconds.

I still feel that this was ADD not because of just my situation in higher academia but also because of environmental factors (a huge part of development of ADD) such as a chaotic home environment and different comorbidities that often appear with ADD (diseases such as depression, etc.).

You may be right that the ADD wasn't the precipitating factor that caused me to seek help but it played a huge role and from what I've read it isn't uncommon for those with ADD to develop anxiety/depression. My biggest stress was related to not being able to sit down and study for even a small period of time (med school requires at ton of studying and most of it is sitting in front of a chart memorizing). I try to keep up on the research being done because I would like nothing else than to see a test come out that could definitively say you do or do not have ADD but unless I want to spend an ungodly amount of money for newer techniques it's just not going to happen.

I also wouldn't say I "overcame" ADD. I just never had to study in high school and barely had to study in college. The speed and depth of the content was enough that I could usually grasp all of the material I needed to for a test in a short period of time.

School isn't the only place where I've seen improvement either. I don't constantly lose my keys, organizing has become much easier, I don't jump around from one task to another without finishing near as much as I had before.

I'm not at all trying to be hostile and I'm glad someone brought it up as I'd like to share as much as I can to dispel the "You've done well in school, you can't have ADD". On the other end I don't want people thinking that this is the first route I took. I had meetings for months to try and use non-medical tactics, changed my diet, exercised on a regular basis, even tried some psychotherapy.

Again, sorry for the late response. I'll try to be a little more accessible from this point on.
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Old 03-30-12, 09:02 AM
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

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Originally Posted by Grasshoppaa View Post

Hey, if it's working for you so far I wouldn't question it, but someone who overcame their ADHD all the way through college shouldn't just suddenly start having problems dealing with it. .
I don't think that's an entirely fair assessment, I found myself that as I got older/further into studies and my responsibilities in general (not just studies but life as well) increased it just got to a point where it was completely unmanageable. It's not like I 'suddenly had problems' I always had problems but compensated until I could no more. (and no my expectations of myself were not too high). I think you'll actually find a lot of ppl have had a similar experience.

Belated welcome to you Chaos
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Old 03-31-12, 08:49 PM
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Re: In med school and no I didn't try to get diagnosed with ADHD just to help me stud

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Originally Posted by ILoveChaos View Post

I also wouldn't say I "overcame" ADD. I just never had to study in high school and barely had to study in college. The speed and depth of the content was enough that I could usually grasp all of the material I needed to for a test in a short period of time.
I can relate to you 100%.

In High School, I was always the first one done with the math stuff (nothing much to study), but when I got into college the summer of high school graduation, I ended up having to withdraw from a math class ( I would study but would make consist mistakes)
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