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Old 05-25-09, 11:55 PM
ricardo223 ricardo223 is offline
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wondering two things (part 1--diagnosis)

[Sorry for the ridiculously long post--I must admit I was also using this to get some things clear in my own head. Comments on a part or parts would be as much appreciated as comments on the whole. And actually, 'part two' (posted separately) is more pressing, as responses to it are really only useful before I see a psychiatrist this week...so maybe actually start there!]



Reading up on it recently, I am beginning to seriously think that I might have ADHD-I—and I wanted to see what people who positively DO have it think of this notion. Actually, I’ve toyed with the idea since I was 8 or 9 and first heard of ADD (btw what ever happened to that?)—but this (I’m now 23) is the first time I’ve ever been sufficiently convinced and motivated to actually make an appointment with a psychiatrist.


Maybe a banal example from my current situation would be the most emblematic in explaining why I am wondering about the aforementioned diagnosis: I may or may not make it tonight to this specific restaurant that closes ridiculously early—I have failed at my last 3 attempts to do so. Today, however, I hatched my plan at 11:30am, and have done NOTHING else today, save perhaps writing this. (I live now in a provincial suburb that is the first place I’ve ever lived that doesn’t have, eg, a 24 hour pharmacy/grocery store/restaurant/etc. Which has been and remains a difficult transition…) So we’ll see.


In a broader sense, however, my record is not exactly the stereotypical one for an ADHDer. My subjective experience of the academic learning curve seems to have been something like the opposite of what’s ‘normal’: as things got harder for most people, they got easier for me. So broadly speaking I was something like a B- student in elementary school (but we didn’t get grades then, and I was nevertheless seen as “bright”), something like a B+ w/ occasional A’s student in middle school, pretty much straight A or A- in high school, and straight A’s w/ only one exception in college and graduate school (literature). Now, though, faced with the prospect of independently conceived and executed, unsupervised research/writing and—worse—teaching as the main requirements for the degree I'm working on now, I think the limits of whatever method(s) I was using to succeed to this point have been reached.


In my social life, they were surpassed long ago. One of my problems is that I can’t juggle commitments very well at all, and if something I have to do isn’t part of the normal routine it either a) doesn’t get accomplished or b) disrupts the whole rest of my day, possibly triggering defaults on other commitments that would otherwise have been kept, and in the worst case, making me miss one of the commitments that’s included in my routine (which is not a fixed set but is rather in a permanent oscillation of building and unbuilding—and it’s much easier to unbuild than to build). Another problem is that I can’t give adequate attention to more than a few people (or ideally one person) at once, so I’m awkward in groups and usually avoid them, which hinders my relationships as well as my ability to meet people. That, by the way, is also an academic problem: I’ve moved from a school where I could set up my schedule so that pretty much only the professors talked in class to one that holds student participation (whether or not informed or on-topic) as its highest value. And there’s no way I can keep track of a conversation that 6-15 people are having, let alone formulate my thoughts on the fly in a way that anyone else is going to understand…which is also a problem because my first teaching job will be “discussion section leader.”


I seem simply not to have the skills that most people either are born with or develop in the first decade or two of their lives. I can fake it pretty well, though, which I think explains my academic learning curve (ie things getting easier for me as they’re supposed to be getting more difficult): the emphasis in my early education was on _process_, and the _goal_ of the process was mostly an indifferent byproduct. Which makes sense, because you want to teach people how to learn and how to create things (presentations/compositions/glittery pieces of paper)—but it never took with me. But once I could fake it (as in: rather than be judged on each of four gradations of increasingly complex outlines for the paper, be judged on the _paper_ which I would produce sans outline as close to the deadline as possible), I was increasingly good at producing the sort of results that translated into institutional success as I was decreasingly judged on _how_ I did so. Of course to some extent this is common to a lot of people who don’t have any problems…few of my friends are big outliners, either. Still, on the other hand, no one I know (who isn’t clinically depressed) is as helpless as me to produce a few hours of concerted effort that is not directly and pressingly motivated by external demands. And NO ONE I know can so easily slip into having a completely slovenly apartment/car/etc, or is so hard to keep in contact with, or so frequently wastes his/her days doing nothing at all (not even watching tv or movies or something passive, _nothing_).


This brings up the problem of other disorders that have adhd-esque symptomology. As I understand it the prime candidates are depression and anxiety. Well, I ain’t depressed. People tell me I’m ambitious and optimistic, and while I think being told that you’re ambitious means that you’re over-ambitious, which I don’t think that I am, I definitely don’t feel hopeless, worthless, guilty, anhedonic, etc., have high energy when I’m physically healthy, and in general have never considered myself depressed (unhappy with a situation, mourning, etc, but not depressed). Nor am I anxious—I generally have a calming effect on my anxious friends, I don’t worry about much, and even more important, I am most productive/least ADHD-like when I am anxious (about a deadline, especially!). Looking back, all of the most productive times in my life have been stressful/anxious times (though the converse definitely does not hold). This is exactly the problem (or one of the problems): ONLY some kind of external pressure can motivate me to accomplish anything, and the ‘external pressure’ of my routine is not hardy enough to sustain itself in any kind of equilibrium nor flexible enough to adapt to even the smallest contingencies.


Even when everything is running smoothly, though, I only have the attention-span to deal successfully with a certain amount of and certain kinds of external pressure…and I’ve taken paths in life that would make the most of this limitation. Eg writing anything (but especially anything that I HAVE to write) takes forever and I’ll never do it without an institutional or at least intersubjective deadline, but when I only have to write every so many months, I can just take a few days, stock up on coffee, lock myself in and force myself to procrastinate until I start working, and keep working (save for eating and sleeping) till I’m done, having no doubt spent many more hours than my peers who spread it out over weeks. I’ve actually checked into hotels to facilitate this! But god, I could never be a journalist. Same goes for reading--it takes me forever to read even the simplest thing, but I can put in the hours and hours every once in a while when it's so demanded of me. But this doesn’t work for a dissertation; you can’t write 300 pages and do the required research in a sleepless week, or even a sleepless month. The work has to be part of your everyday or otherwise ordinary life over a course of months or years. And that’s what I’ve never been able to do: self-directed work has always been unassimilable to my normal life. Which again is why I sucked (relatively speaking) in elementary and middle school: I simply could not take the “simple,” small steps and build the simple, step-by-step approaches that most everyone uses to learn or create things...but I could nevertheless produce many of the results that were supposed to come from the steps, by ways that I couldn’t explain and educators/peers couldn’t understand. And now ironically I’m back to this childhood situation: the demands of my professional/academic and social life have become too great to be met exclusively through my own idiosyncratic process; I need to develop normal skills, too.


Now of course medication isn’t going to do that for me; I have my doubts as to whether a diagnosis would be of much direct practical help at all. But I’ve always seen this problem as maybe 2 parts moral and 1 part due to meaningless weirdness, and if in fact it is indicative of a known pathology that can be addressed with pharmacological intervention, then I think 1) knowing that would be helpful and 2) at least trying making the medicinal treatment part of my strategy would be worthwhile. Which brings me to my second question (posted in a separate thread)….


But what do you think? Does this sound like ADHD, or does it sound like I need to suck it up/grow up/get serious/just do it, as everyone has always told me? I must say, most days I'm inclined to believe the latter...but I've never been able to do anything about it!
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Old 05-26-09, 01:47 AM
ricardo223 ricardo223 is offline
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Re: wondering two things (part 1--diagnosis)

OK looks like part two got taken down because of the double-posting policy, but left up over in the "diagnosis and treatment" forum (called 'asking for treatment with adderall'). Too bad because it actually works much better as a complement to this one...a couple hours and I've already been accused of malingering on the other message! Well, maybe I am just a perfectly normal dude who could only use amphetamine/methylphenidate for recreational or other ulterior purposes and will soon be diagnosed as such, but after reading my post above I think you'd have to work pretty hard to still believe that I'm being insincere (however misguided I may be)!

Mod note, for easier reading here is the link to the second post: http://www.addforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=68746


Last edited by sarek; 05-26-09 at 03:05 AM.. Reason: added link to other post
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Old 05-27-09, 10:24 PM
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Re: wondering two things (part 1--diagnosis)

Quote:
Originally Posted by ricardo223 View Post
[Sorry for the ridiculously long post--I must admit I was also using this to get some things clear in my own head. Comments on a part or parts would be as much appreciated as comments on the whole. And actually, 'part two' (posted separately) is more pressing, as responses to it are really only useful before I see a psychiatrist this week...so maybe actually start there!]



Reading up on it recently, I am beginning to seriously think that I might have ADHD-I—and I wanted to see what people who positively DO have it think of this notion. Actually, I’ve toyed with the idea since I was 8 or 9 and first heard of ADD (btw what ever happened to that?)—but this (I’m now 23) is the first time I’ve ever been sufficiently convinced and motivated to actually make an appointment with a psychiatrist.


Maybe a banal example from my current situation would be the most emblematic in explaining why I am wondering about the aforementioned diagnosis: I may or may not make it tonight to this specific restaurant that closes ridiculously early—I have failed at my last 3 attempts to do so. Today, however, I hatched my plan at 11:30am, and have done NOTHING else today, save perhaps writing this. (I live now in a provincial suburb that is the first place I’ve ever lived that doesn’t have, eg, a 24 hour pharmacy/grocery store/restaurant/etc. Which has been and remains a difficult transition…) So we’ll see.


In a broader sense, however, my record is not exactly the stereotypical one for an ADHDer. My subjective experience of the academic learning curve seems to have been something like the opposite of what’s ‘normal’: as things got harder for most people, they got easier for me. So broadly speaking I was something like a B- student in elementary school (but we didn’t get grades then, and I was nevertheless seen as “bright”), something like a B+ w/ occasional A’s student in middle school, pretty much straight A or A- in high school, and straight A’s w/ only one exception in college and graduate school (literature). Now, though, faced with the prospect of independently conceived and executed, unsupervised research/writing and—worse—teaching as the main requirements for the degree I'm working on now, I think the limits of whatever method(s) I was using to succeed to this point have been reached.


In my social life, they were surpassed long ago. One of my problems is that I can’t juggle commitments very well at all, and if something I have to do isn’t part of the normal routine it either a) doesn’t get accomplished or b) disrupts the whole rest of my day, possibly triggering defaults on other commitments that would otherwise have been kept, and in the worst case, making me miss one of the commitments that’s included in my routine (which is not a fixed set but is rather in a permanent oscillation of building and unbuilding—and it’s much easier to unbuild than to build). Another problem is that I can’t give adequate attention to more than a few people (or ideally one person) at once, so I’m awkward in groups and usually avoid them, which hinders my relationships as well as my ability to meet people. That, by the way, is also an academic problem: I’ve moved from a school where I could set up my schedule so that pretty much only the professors talked in class to one that holds student participation (whether or not informed or on-topic) as its highest value. And there’s no way I can keep track of a conversation that 6-15 people are having, let alone formulate my thoughts on the fly in a way that anyone else is going to understand…which is also a problem because my first teaching job will be “discussion section leader.”


I seem simply not to have the skills that most people either are born with or develop in the first decade or two of their lives. I can fake it pretty well, though, which I think explains my academic learning curve (ie things getting easier for me as they’re supposed to be getting more difficult): the emphasis in my early education was on _process_, and the _goal_ of the process was mostly an indifferent byproduct. Which makes sense, because you want to teach people how to learn and how to create things (presentations/compositions/glittery pieces of paper)—but it never took with me. But once I could fake it (as in: rather than be judged on each of four gradations of increasingly complex outlines for the paper, be judged on the _paper_ which I would produce sans outline as close to the deadline as possible), I was increasingly good at producing the sort of results that translated into institutional success as I was decreasingly judged on _how_ I did so. Of course to some extent this is common to a lot of people who don’t have any problems…few of my friends are big outliners, either. Still, on the other hand, no one I know (who isn’t clinically depressed) is as helpless as me to produce a few hours of concerted effort that is not directly and pressingly motivated by external demands. And NO ONE I know can so easily slip into having a completely slovenly apartment/car/etc, or is so hard to keep in contact with, or so frequently wastes his/her days doing nothing at all (not even watching tv or movies or something passive, _nothing_).


This brings up the problem of other disorders that have adhd-esque symptomology. As I understand it the prime candidates are depression and anxiety. Well, I ain’t depressed. People tell me I’m ambitious and optimistic, and while I think being told that you’re ambitious means that you’re over-ambitious, which I don’t think that I am, I definitely don’t feel hopeless, worthless, guilty, anhedonic, etc., have high energy when I’m physically healthy, and in general have never considered myself depressed (unhappy with a situation, mourning, etc, but not depressed). Nor am I anxious—I generally have a calming effect on my anxious friends, I don’t worry about much, and even more important, I am most productive/least ADHD-like when I am anxious (about a deadline, especially!). Looking back, all of the most productive times in my life have been stressful/anxious times (though the converse definitely does not hold). This is exactly the problem (or one of the problems): ONLY some kind of external pressure can motivate me to accomplish anything, and the ‘external pressure’ of my routine is not hardy enough to sustain itself in any kind of equilibrium nor flexible enough to adapt to even the smallest contingencies.


Even when everything is running smoothly, though, I only have the attention-span to deal successfully with a certain amount of and certain kinds of external pressure…and I’ve taken paths in life that would make the most of this limitation. Eg writing anything (but especially anything that I HAVE to write) takes forever and I’ll never do it without an institutional or at least intersubjective deadline, but when I only have to write every so many months, I can just take a few days, stock up on coffee, lock myself in and force myself to procrastinate until I start working, and keep working (save for eating and sleeping) till I’m done, having no doubt spent many more hours than my peers who spread it out over weeks. I’ve actually checked into hotels to facilitate this! But god, I could never be a journalist. Same goes for reading--it takes me forever to read even the simplest thing, but I can put in the hours and hours every once in a while when it's so demanded of me. But this doesn’t work for a dissertation; you can’t write 300 pages and do the required research in a sleepless week, or even a sleepless month. The work has to be part of your everyday or otherwise ordinary life over a course of months or years. And that’s what I’ve never been able to do: self-directed work has always been unassimilable to my normal life. Which again is why I sucked (relatively speaking) in elementary and middle school: I simply could not take the “simple,” small steps and build the simple, step-by-step approaches that most everyone uses to learn or create things...but I could nevertheless produce many of the results that were supposed to come from the steps, by ways that I couldn’t explain and educators/peers couldn’t understand. And now ironically I’m back to this childhood situation: the demands of my professional/academic and social life have become too great to be met exclusively through my own idiosyncratic process; I need to develop normal skills, too.


Now of course medication isn’t going to do that for me; I have my doubts as to whether a diagnosis would be of much direct practical help at all. But I’ve always seen this problem as maybe 2 parts moral and 1 part due to meaningless weirdness, and if in fact it is indicative of a known pathology that can be addressed with pharmacological intervention, then I think 1) knowing that would be helpful and 2) at least trying making the medicinal treatment part of my strategy would be worthwhile. Which brings me to my second question (posted in a separate thread)….


But what do you think? Does this sound like ADHD, or does it sound like I need to suck it up/grow up/get serious/just do it, as everyone has always told me? I must say, most days I'm inclined to believe the latter...but I've never been able to do anything about it!

personally, doesn't sound like ADD... I'll give you my reasons.

1) external pressure or not... without my medication i can't organize my thoughts enough to meet any deadline. To me your problem sounds more like a depressive disorder... not specifically depression in the pop culture sense but something such as dysthymic disorder...

2) I don't know how to explain the second other than you don't talk like an ADDer. The best example I can give is what you said about trying to concentrate on what 15 people are saying and join in a conversation. I think that an ADDer is more likely to pay attention to bits and pieces of conversation that everyone is having and then get excited to have come up with a response that some how draws on everyone's pieces and then creates a new thought. ADDers (in my opinion) tend to have different goals of conversation... for instance. When I converse it is very hard for me to not always try to take the conversation in an new direction. Non ADDers tend to talk on the same topic (seemingly endlessly)... ADDers tend to want to look for a way to take it to the next level. Hard to explain.

3) Good grades in school... I'll just say this. I did great on standardized test. I have tested with a very high IQ. I graduated college with a 2.48 GPA after almost failing my freshman/sophmore years before being diagnosed with ADD. I have NEVER been able to do well. No matter how hard that I put my mind to things. I just could not do it.

4) The best discription of ADD that I have ever heard was from a newly medicated 8 year old.... simply put... "The hole in the back of my head is finally gone."

It means this... when you have ADD you hear things, things come in but they don't stick. You have no control over what you remember, learn, etc. It's terrible. You listen to people... you hear words... but who knows where they go. You could read a page of a book 100 times and not know one thing that it's about.

I don't know. I would suggest going to see a psychiatrist regardless if you really are struggling with this but the biggest reason that people go is because they are having problems with grades/succeeding. If your simply trying to get medication for your lack of ability to be motivated I can't promise it will help that. The medication doesn't give you the drive... it just makes it possible for those with ADD to finally do what they want instead of feeling like a prisoner in their own head. It seems to me that you are doing well in school/life and are more frustrated with your lack of motivation. This is not something that medication will helop, so just be prepared for that.
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