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Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

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  • Adult Attention Deficit Disorder

    My dilemma -

    I've been doing barn work for over two years now and it is time to move on. Sick of the heat, cold, rain, no vacation time, no sick time, no benefits. And honestly, just physically exhausted.

    After working in a Laboratory for 20 years prior to stable work, the medical field still interests me, and I'd like to go for a Certification or Degree for a Medical Assistant.

    School was always difficult and I found concentrating also difficult, unless it was something that really interested me.

    I can read horse articles, or attend a clinic and the information is easy to absorb and it sticks.

    Book work and studying not so easy.

    Took an on-line quiz (although not scientific) and it said I had moderate A.D.D.

    Any other adults out there with the same problem? How do you handle it? Medication?

    My problem is doubly troublesome, as I take Paxil for anxiety and my M.D. told me medication for A.D.D. is known to cause anxiety...double whammy!

    Sure enough, I did some research and many of the meds contain Amphetamines. I may just ask her if I could try it anyway and see what happens.

    Anyone else? Thanks...
    MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!
  • Original Poster

    To the person who just sent me a PM - I tried writing back, but your in box is full.

    I would love to know what you are taking. Thanks.
    MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


    • #3
      It's a great question because meds are not the *only* answer, and in most cases, should be used only as an adjunct to behavioral therapy.

      Find yourself a good therapist who specializes in treatment for anxiety and ADHD. You might find that many of your ADHD symptoms are actually anxiety-based.
      Clowns to the Left or me Jokers to the Right...here I am...stuck in the middle


      • #4
        You sound just like me. (((hugs)))

        I was 33 before I was diagnosed - after a loooooong history of problems in school (inattentive, not hyperactive), "not performing to the level of my potential", being made fun of for being spacey; all the while I just could. not. grasp. what I was SUPPOSED to be doing most of the time. I couldn't take verbal direction - by step 3 I'd have forgotten step 1. In second grade my teacher asked my parents to have me tested for learning disabilities and I scored in the 98% percentile on all the intelligence tests (which were, of course, all WRITTEN and given in a room where there were no other children and no outside noises to distract me). When they found out I wasn't STUPID they were convinced I was lazy and stubborn and the frustration mounted. I always scored high on quizzes and tests, but homework was a no-go. All of this came with a lot of guilt and anxiety on my part.

        My parents sent me to boarding school and I did MUCH better there, as the class sizes were smaller (8-12 in a classroom), there were set study hours in the evenings and teachers lived on-campus for questions. Yet I still got frustrated enough that I left in my junior year and got my GED. I still managed to take that GED to community college, and then transferred to a university to attain my B.A. in English Lit., but my major (and therefore my career path) was chosen because it was easy for me - I am a total bookworm and writing papers was a cinch. Math? Not so much.

        I could have gone so much further had we known much, MUCH sooner what the problem was.

        Also like you, my diagnosis was the direct result of my own concern and online research; I took all of those online tests and "passed" with flying colors!

        Concerned that a Psychologist would diagnose me too quickly, as ADD has been the "flavor of the month" for a long time now, I went to a Neurologist with my questions. He gave me the T.O.V.A. ( www.tovatest.com ) and confirmed my suspicions. He put me on Strattera, which is the one non-stimulant ADD med out there, but it didn't work even after a year of upping the dose...and upping...and upping...

        I ended up going to the Amen Clinic http://www.amenclinics.com/ and though it's pretty spendy it was extremely rewarding. I am now on Vyvanse, with Lexipro to balance out any anxiety the amphetamines can cause. The difference is night and day; I cannot stress enough how much I'd like to plant a big sloppy kiss on the person who created this medication!!! Additionally, the doctors at the Amen Clinic prescribe many other facets of treatment (diet changes, supplements, exercise, etc...) which are VERY helpful to managing the problem, instead of relying solely on the medication.

        The last thing I'll impart is that you can't rely on only the meds and other prescribed treatments, you HAVE to change your habits so that living an organized life (both mentally and environmentally) is easier for you. That's the part I haven't mastered and am now working on.

        Sorry for the novel, but I know how you feel, and wanted to let you know you're not alone!


        p.s. http://www.addforums.com/ is also a good place for questions/support, though ironically there are SO MANY different forums it seems hard for people to keep up with threads in which they've participated.
        If you must choose between two evils, choose the one that you've never tried before.


        • #5
          ADD is starting to be looked at as more like a spectrum disorder. It is common to be able to hyper-focus on what your brain finds interesting, and be almost incapable of concentrating on something "boring." I was ready to kill myself at my first job (literally, I tried) because I COULD NOT CONCENTRATE. I thought I was going crazy. Turns out that 9-5 work can really actually be that dull. I went to see a psychiatrist and got the ADD diagnosis, after MONTHS of unsuccessful treatment for clinical depression.

          What works medication-wise for some won't work for all, or even many. See a good psychiatrist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Adult ADD. There is no substitute. Someone qualified needs to carefully monitor you while they test out medications, it is VERY difficult to judge for yourself how they are working.

          I am pretty much textbook. My favourite example is how in grade school I could be finishing last night's social studies homework (in French), reading a novel under my desk (in English) and listening/understanding the teacher well enough (in French) to half-@$$edly finish whatever assignment was up. Not a word of a lie. Except Math, where I listened carefully, because Math was interesting. Besides medication, I have to be extremely careful about sleep patterns, exercise, diet and alcohol use. Not saying I'm a pinnacle of health, but I do find myself concentrating on "boring" stuff much better if I am in intense exercise 3+ times per week (I mean intense, like playing full contact rugby or kickboxing...not feeding bales to horses), eating a minimum of processed carbs and avoiding most alcohol.

          Sleep disruption is a super common symptom (often one a person has been dealing with for years, so they think it is normal.) If you regularly get a solid 8 hours and wake up refreshed, now is the time to look at treatment. If your sleep is constantly disrupted, start there. It takes discipline to get that 8 hours, let me tell you...I was a chronic insomniac for YEARS.
          Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


          • #6
            Haha...Rubygirl...were you watching me when I was a kid? Your example from when you were a kid sounds like me!

            I was diagnosed with ADHD at 10. The story is of course very long, but ultimately I was medicated with Ritalin until I finally quit of my own accord in college. I still managed without medication for a few years, but recently I did have to resume treatment and medication. As my Doctor so astutely reminded me, ADD is for life. I know use Adderall and don't experience any more anxiety than I experienced before using it. Exercise helps me a bunch. Good sleep does too but if I ever figure out how to sleep well I will let you know between RA and my own brain sleep is challenging.

            So I ditto that it is huge to work with a good Doctor. One who really has a lot of experience with ADD. And lifestyle management aspects of it are huge....I cannot stress that enough.

            Jingles and hugs.
            My blog:



            • #7
              I was diagnosed with bipolar II many years ago, and while it was a correct diagnosis, I was also more recently diagnosed with ADD (inattentive type) along with the Bipolar -- a fairly common comorbidity. I now take Adderal, along with mood stabilizers, and what a huge difference it has made. Even people around me commented on changes that I could not see.

              I too was one of those people who could read 2-3 books at once, do homework in front of the tv, and monitor several conversations going on around me. Of course, I wasn't really concentrating on anything in particular. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, there was no real recognition of a lot of mental and behavioral problems, other than "nervous breakdowns" and those who were institutionalized for mental retardation and autism. My mother was shocked when I told her what was going on, and fully disagreed with the diagnosis.

              I still feel that there is much stigma associated with mental health issues, perhaps more so because I work in an acute care psychiatric hospital in medical records. I am technically way overqualified for the job I have now, but on the other hand I am much happier and largely without stress in my life, other than being horse-poor.

              I hope you'll be able to find a good psychiatrist who can help you. I relied on my primary care doctor for meds for several years, and as much as I like her, that was a mistake. It was my boss who gently pushed me back to a psychiatrist and it really turned my life around.
              Providence sometimes takes care of idiots. Agnes Morley Cleaveland in No Life for a Lady.


              • #8
                I was diagnosed at 10 years of age, and I'm now 24. Like the others, homework was a huge problem, but absorbing material was certainly not. I loved, loved, loved having a good therapist. I think you have gotten extremely good advice from the folks so far:
                Exercise, hard and a lot
                Avoid starchy things and processed foods (good for everyone, really!)
                Get as much sleep as you can
                Get a psychiatrist; if you don't like one, find another.

                I will add that self-discipline is like a muscle: if you overwork it, you'll tire it out, but by consistently exercising it (by developing a really consistent routine) you'll make it stronger.

                I'll also add that you can take advantage of the fact that your energy levels mimic those of your surroundings.

                It's not a curse. It's just different.
                Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.


                • #9
                  When my friends think of me, only one thing comes to mind.... I'm sure the thought of dogs hearing the word "Squirrel" absolutely fits my personality to a T!!!!!!!


                  • #10
                    I have not been formally diagnosed (not terribly feasable on an unemployed college students budget), but I score above moderate ADD on the online tests.

                    Ride'emVA, your story sounds a lot like mine. In the last 16 years, the classes I've passed have been because I test very well, when I speak up I usually give correct answers, and I found teachers who played favorites and liked me. I haven't had a single school year where I've gotten more than half my homework turned in (most of it is in my backpack or computer half done). Switching from being a music major to a really hands on program in horse training made a huge difference in my GPA. In one semester I went from a 2.1 to a 3.69. I love music, but I've never hyperfocused on it the way I do with horses.

                    The more I ride the better I feel, less like I'll crawl out of my skin if I try and sit down to do anything. I ride for 3 or 4 hours a day, and even then I sometimes go for a brisk walk or jog until I feel more centered. I also find that bribing myself works pretty well. I've gotten good at looking at whatever I'm studying and figuring out how long I'll be able to stay focused on it. Once I've figured that out I make a plan to study for that time period or slightly less, and then go do something else. It doesn't even have to be something I like, sometimes I'll get up for a drink during my break and decide to do dishes. Planning out breaks also helps me keep from getting frustrated with myself for not being able to concentrate as long as I feel I should be able to.

                    I also think its really important to find a college that fits. Different programs have different teaching styles and you need to find one that works with you, not against you. For me, that means I need to have a hands on program, you might be different.


                    • #11
                      I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 20, I am 28 now. I had been taking Adderall (which made a huge difference, and helped tremendously) until I got pregnant with my daughter in 2007. I haven't been on meds since. I have been trying to cope with it. It hasn't been easy. My ADD turned into sever anxiety, with me getting up in the middle of the nights to go down to the barn and check to make sure all the stalls were locked. Sometimes I would wake up 3 times/night even though I knew they were. That was a hard habit to break, but I found making extremely detailed lists helped me out a lot. When I woke up worried something wasn't done, I would keep my lists nearby and use them for re-assurance.

                      I use lists for everything. Daily tasks, things to do, things I have done.....This seems to really help me get and stay focused and get things completed without driving myself crazy.


                      • #12
                        Another adult diagnosis here! I am also a special education teacher, so ADHD is large (and beloved ) part of my life. I think one important thing to keep in mind, is that you really should seek help if you find that it impedes your life function. If you can multi-task, and are successful with it, there really is no need for intervention. That is more of a personality "style". From my perspective, meds are something that can help you get to your goal of being more *together*. The way I used the medication, was to see how I *could* be while on it, then strive to live like that on my own. I have been medication free for 2 years now, and although I am not perfect , I know that with hard work I can be better. I am actually going to a workshop on "executive function" skills this Friday, which is a HUGE issue related to ADHD. I will bring back any good information I find!


                        • #13
                          I was diagnosed with AADD in my early thirties. Until then, I had gone through much "therapy" and some medication for depression. When I finally made it as far as a Psychiatrist, he said "well of course you're depressed, you don't interact with the world like everyone else". After changing to AADD drugs, my depression has faded. All along I had been getting treatment for the symptoms, not the problem. See if your M.D. can refer you to a psychiatrist. I made the mistake of expecting general practitioners and counselors to do the job, when if I had just gone to a psychiatrist to begin with, I could have saved years of frustration.

                          To keep this horse related, I still have to double check stall door latches and girth tightness, but life is much better.


                          • #14
                            I find that I rely on lists and routines quite a lot. Keeping stuff organized is key- like for horse shows I can't just throw stuff in the trailer even though it would be far easier for me to do that- I have to put everything in particular spots in the trailer in no-visually overwhelming ways or when I get to the show I literally won't be able to tack up my horse. At the last show I went to we put tack in my sister's car and it was very nearly my downfall (I knew it would be harder though so I made sure I put everything in an organized way and took it out of the car and got it organized in a better way as quickly as I could once we arrived....it just took an extra 20 minutes.)

                            The squirrel comment is so dead on too I had a friend tell me I was the only person he knew who could walk across a room and literally be distracted by ten different things....and I will periodically just "zone out" for lack of a better term right when I need to be most focussed usually. It is how I can manage to have an error on a dressage test with a reader....I will have a few seconds of mentally just being elsewhere I guess. I am working on being able to get through an entire dressage test still. I am doing better- I haven't had any errors yet this year! I had a near miss but no actual errors.

                            Honestly I think that the anxiety and perfectionism issues are the hardest for me to deal with.
                            My blog:



                            • #15
                              The people you surround yourself with also have a big impact on how you deal with ADD. In some ways, my career is the worst choice for my ADD (I'm an engineer) and University was a struggle...until I found a close group of friends who really pushed me to stay organised. Tidy notes became a competition between my friend and I, and filing systems were worth bragging rights. Sounds silly, but it's all just coping with wedging your ADD into an education system that REALLY, REALLY doesn't match how you see the world. I graduated well, and managed to get in a semester of Varsity rugby and a few semesters of concert band. Plus riding and owning a horse.

                              When I entered the professional workforce, that was my struggle. All of a sudden I had a boss breathing down my neck insisting that I follow his (pedantic, IMO) process rather than just giving me some goals and deadlines and letting me GO. I couldn't make this guy happy, with my multiple simultaneous projects, because he was more focused on process than results. I had a process, but it wasn't linear, and he disagreed with it. Bear in mind that my results were excellent. That's when ADD started to impact my life enough to seek treatment...no matter how clever I am, it's just not reasonable to expect that a boss will always sit back and let me do my work the way I want. Many have built their careers on micromanagement and bullying.

                              Eventually, after the meds stabilized, I realized that I also needed a new job, but if you are trying to stabilize DON'T make a bunch of big changes. It will be nearly impossible to tell what is working!
                              Lifestyle coordinator for Zora, Spooky, Wolfgang and Warrior


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by cajunbelle View Post
                                When my friends think of me, only one thing comes to mind.... I'm sure the thought of dogs hearing the word "Squirrel" absolutely fits my personality to a T!!!!!!!
                                I have to laugh because my husband affectionately refers to me as a hyped up squirrel on crack When we watched Over The Hedge with the squirrel drinking soda he said that was me


                                • #17
                                  All of a sudden I had a boss breathing down my neck insisting that I follow his (pedantic, IMO) process rather than just giving me some goals and deadlines and letting me GO. I couldn't make this guy happy, with my multiple simultaneous projects, because he was more focused on process than results. I had a process, but it wasn't linear, and he disagreed with it. Bear in mind that my results were excellent.
                                  Oh, I SO hear you on that one!!! That crap drives me completely up a wall!
                                  If you must choose between two evils, choose the one that you've never tried before.


                                  • Original Poster

                                    Thanks everyone for sharing your stories.
                                    I went to my Psychiatrist last week. She asked me many questions stemming back to my childhood to the present, and diagnosed me with a very slight case of ADD.

                                    Unfortunately, when I was growing up in the 60's, there wasn't much intervention, if any.

                                    I'm not hyper. I can multi-task, finished projects very easily at my previous job, not forgetful.

                                    Just a lack of focus and inattentiveness when learning new tasks or something I don't find interesting.

                                    She put me on 40 mg of Strattera, which after a week, I do not feel any different. Just got a new script today to take 40 mg morning and noon, so we'll see how that works.

                                    If not, we'll try another med.

                                    On a side note, I almost died at the Pharmacy today when the price for 60 capsules was $410.00 !!!!!!!!!!! The board for my horse isn't even that much..

                                    My insurance kicks in July 1st, so I had them just give me enough until next week. Holy moly!

                                    Thanks again and please keep sharing...
                                    MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                                    Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                                    • #19
                                      ADHD here and a former therapist for ADHD kids. It takes the meds a while to kick in, 2 weeks to a month, because you have to have a sufficient titer in your blood to actually do the work of regulating your brain chemistry.

                                      Also, ADHD peeps are generally really bad at self-monitoring so we generally can't tell the meds are working. Plus, they don't actually make you feel any different. Funny story, I managed to get in on a NIH study where they did PET scans of adults on and off Ritalin. The PET scan clearly showed increased brain activity in attentional areas on Ritalin, but could I tell the difference? Heck no! It took me months to realize I could actually study and not have screaming fits when my carefully constructed routine was upset.

                                      For myself, I was on Ritalin for many years during adulthood. I found staying on the meds let me sort of ...passively learn how to be 'normal' when I needed to be.

                                      All in all, though, I like being ADHD. It made for a very difficult childhood at times but I enjoy the ability to notice stuff that most people never see. Someone once wrote that being ADHD was akin to being the hunters in a hunter gatherer society. We don't plod along doing the same over over (gatherer), we scan the horizon for potential prey and threats, ever vigilant for new things (hunter).

                                      Member Appaloosa lovers clique


                                      • #20
                                        I forgot to add that I take Vyvanse, which is relatively new. I was taking an ever-increasing dose of Concerta until just before my senior year of college, and it affected my ability to ride (you know, without a nervous breakdown!). I'm currently on less than 20 mg of Vyvanse a day, but I'm acutely sensitive to just about everything. I definitely struggle to balance the perks of medication with the unpleasant side effects.

                                        Vyvanse is like Adderall, but there is an amino acid attached that must be chemically cleaved off by the body, which makes it harder to abuse. I definitely do not take it without food, or with acidic food.

                                        I experience a lot of common stimulant side effects: sweatiness, low blood pressure (which I already have!), decreased appetite, teeth-grinding. I feel less like a caged bird on Vyvanse than I did on 50-something mg of Concerta!
                                        Disclaimer: My mom told me that people might look at my name and think I had an addiction other than horses. I don't; his name was Bravado.