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Anger due to the differences between severe and mild sufferers

Anger due to the differences between severe and mild sufferers2011-06-30T13:07:24+00:00

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    Post count: 169

    One of the problems I have with this forum on adults with ADHD, which is a spectrum disorder, is that the experiences of those with mild symptoms and those with major symptoms (often with other comorbidities) is so vast that each subject turns into a disagreement shouting match.

    Mild cases seem to like the ADHD is a “Gift” mentality. They love to throw out a few anecdotal examples of successful individuals to back up their beliefs. They report little difficulty in school, can control their hyperfocusing, are able to multitask, have fewer issues with time management, and have seen less impact on their social lives. I am glad that they can utilize this “gift” of theirs. They don’t seem to have the same emotional regulation problems and impulsivity that characterizes more extreme cases.

    However, the attitude of the mild cases downright pisses off those with more severe symptoms whose life has been detrimentally impaired. For those in the moderate to severe category, myself included, ADHD has been a curse that has gotten in the way of achieving what we wanted to accomplish or our gifts. The symptoms, e.g. hyperfocusing and emotional regulation, cannot be controlled or easily mitigated. It is so much more than loosing things or forgetting things frequently, which is just the impairment of working memory, an executive function that is lost as we age. Our social and professional lives have been affected by this disorder such that we have had divorces, lost jobs, changed fields of study or schools, etc. We have dreams and aspirations, just like the mild cases, but are unable to self motivate towards our goals. Not because we are lazy, but we just can’t sustain the energy or focus long enough. Knowing you are good at something and being unable to utilize that gift or achieve the logical outcome because of this impairment is downright heartbreaking. We may be smart or have an aptitude, but we can’t apply it.

    I know I am not alone feeling this disparity in experiences as WGreen and others have commented on it as well.


    Post count: 14413

    that is a really good point. well stated.


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    I realize I’m one of those who view it as a gift, and I’m sorry that I’ve caused you some frustration. I’m just trying to stay positive. I’m still learning about ADHD, and I know it is debilitating for a lot of people. I am realizing that ADHD explains a lot about my life, how I think and who I’ve become. It explains the awesome stuff I’ve done, but also the brain dead, “I thought you were the smart one” moments. I’m hopeful that my positive experiences can give other people hope.

    I’m not unaware, though, that my educational and professional success has come at a price. My challenge with ADHD is in fact impulse control–mostly around food. My BMI is 46, something I’ve struggled with my whole life. I’ve tried every diet, some twice, and some even for a whole month – (yaaay). I’m slowly learning to understand it through ADHD, but I’ve been hospitalized twice for issues with my weight, and I may have to have surgery to correct it. Two separate doctors have told me that, if I keep up at this rate, I’ll have a heart attack and may die within 5 years. I’m 37 now.

    Work isn’t all roses, either. I’m great at the challenging part of my job, and I’m proud of that, but I’m real shitty at the basic stuff. One of my performance reviews said “He’s pretty good at impossible, it’s the easy stuff he struggles with.” I’m constantly being told off for the “tone” in my emails (probably comes through here too, but it’s not intended). And I often follow up the $500M deal with sending a confidential file to the wrong person.

    But even with all that, I really don’t think there is anything “wrong” with my brain. My mother didn’t have a virus or smoke or drink when she was pregnant; I wasn’t exposed to pesticides; I didn’t use a lead paint pacifier; and it’s not red #5 or a mule that kicked me in the head. I’m just a different kind of human in a world designed for the others. I’m 6’5″, so maybe it’s the bias of a man who spent his whole life ducking under ceiling fans and chandeliers and cramming into car seats. I see ADHD like being tall: there’s no cure, it’s not always easy, but it’s not always a drawback either. Maybe that’s denial, maybe it’s coping, but it’s what I truly believe.

    I can’t promise to tone it down, but I will promise to be more sensitive to those who have had a more difficult time. I wouldn’t be here every day if I didn’t need support, too.


    Post count: 169

    @pete-puma I wasn’t directing my rant at you personally. This has been an ongoing issue that I have noticed in a number of discussion threads. For example, someone will suggest meditation or behavioural modification as a teaching tool and for the moderate to severe case, these are just useless suggestions. Mild cases seem to overlook the lack of will power, i.e. the ability to stick to a task by choice alone, in moderate to severe cases. There are other differences too.

    We all have strengths. Attributing them to ADHD is the fallacy though, at least for more serious cases, as impulsivity and inhibited emotions are rarely a positive thing. It is not like these anecdotal superstars got where they are because of their ADHD. It was most likely in spite of it. They didn’t self destruct.

    I should add that ADHD are notoriously poor at self-assessment so one person might describe their situation in a positive light, but not recognize the negative side.

    As for the question of normality. I disagree with the relativistic approach. There is such thing as “normal” and it is the average. That is what the word means. The lack of attention and emotional regulation makes ADHD abnormal. It is most likely genetic. There may be some associated neurophysiological differences. We are not a different species of Human or sub-type. We just have neural impairments. Now some might say that we all think differently, etc. That is true, but if there appears to be a neurochemical reason for the altered thought and it affects a small percentage of the population than it is abnormal. For example, depression is not just a different way of viewing the world and neither is ADHD.


    Post count: 227

    librarian_chef – if advice anywhere in this forum doesn’t apply to you, ignore it. The posts here are heart felt. The post that you find objectionable others find helpful. Usually people are reporting on experiences that were personally helpful to them. Those experiences may or may not apply to you.

    You cannot judge how severe someone’s situation is by their posts in an online forum. A person who was diagnosed long ago and has come to grips with their expression of the disorder may appear to be less severe than someone with the same age and symptoms who has just recently been diagnosed.

    I would also like to point out that not only is ADHD a spectrum disorder, it is also highly situational. If an ADHD person is in a situation that plays to their strengths, then they may never even be diagnosed. The disorder happens when the person is unable to cope with their situation.


    Post count: 913

    I understand where Bill is coming from, no offense, Bill – but I agree with the OP to a point, too.

    I’m severe. Every single symptom – ALL OF THEM, are me to the max.

    I was to the doctor last week – he gave me a test, that standard test, version 4.x

    I was fully a 3 not only on all but 2 questions, but was a 2 on those other two, so was rated a 3 clear through. He even mumbled “wow” under his breath.

    I said “now you know why I’m here” as he’d asked why I waited – why now after over 50 years. I said because before, I had no clue what it was, and was told by many “oh, I’m that way too”, or “you just have problems and need to grow up”, that sort of thing.

    Thanks to Rick and Patrick (HUGE THANKS) who got my attention (finally!) I started doing some research. I finally found out my mother was add, my son was formally diagnosed as a child, but never made any connection even then.

    It was these people, this site, and google.com, plus putting 2 and 2 together. I figured – gee, I’m not crazy, I’m not lazy – I have a problem and can get help. And guess what – it took me 6 bloody months to actually buckle down and DO IT.

    I’ve got it bad, really bad. I say and type things without thinking. I’m very impulsive. I like to spend money. I have a lot of trouble at work – and have at every job I’ve had (although I’m dambloodygood/great at what I do – doing it is the problem.

    In school I was so bad the officials called in my parents and a school psychologist who said I was simply bored – had such a high IQ I was bored. The IQ part is true – every test I can sit through I do VERY well…….and bored, yeah – but now I know why I was always talking in school, always in trouble or going to the principal’s office.

    If you could rate folks who have ADD or AD/HD actually diagnosed on a scale of 1 to 10, I’d be at least a 9.

    I ace even ADD tests…………. ;-)

    And for others who have ADD, but to a lesser degree, to sit there and tell me all it takes is to get some counseling, or get organized, etc. – I sometimes feel offended. No one knows how I feel or what I go through.

    NO, I’m not trying to pick on anyone here, and honestly know that EVERYONE here only wants to help – truly and honestly they do, but please consider that what works for you isn’t even close for me.

    Now the down side of my doctor visit – he won’t prescribe ANYTHING other than strattera – Reason? I’m in my 5th decade as he calls it, and everyone over 50 has arteries that are getting hard, plaque forming, old heart muscles, etc. and he won’t risk prescribing stimulants because he believes the risk to the heart, etc. isn’t worth the gain if you’ve lived with it this long.

    Will Strattera work for me? I dunno – I only started Saturday (this is Thursday) 1 per day for 1 week, then 2 per day.

    I feel light-headed, loopy, forgetful, and yeah, the pee thing too………. and that’s only 1 per day.

    The first evening I took it I fell asleep in my chair watching TV.

    but I MUST do something or risk losing a very good paying job that we can’t afford to have me lose – and especially in this economy.

    So skip the organizers, the blackberries, etc. – I was sent to school on that stuff a few years ago, paid for by where I worked because they simply wanted everyone to use them. Too complex, took too much time!

    Please be kind when offering advice………. and consider some may have it so bad we feel sort of like even other ADD folks don’t take us seriously. I know you don’t mean it…… it’s just “how I feel” and I bet ADD folks can relate ;-)


    Post count: 14413

    There are a few things that I would like to add.

    I want to begin by saying it is important that we unite over what is shared.

    In order to have the official diagnosis: ADHD

    III. Some impairment from the symptoms is present in two or more settings (e.g. at school/work and at home).

    IV. There must be clear evidence of clinically significant impairment in social, school, or work functioning.

    The definition of impairment is a bit different for everyone. Anyone here who has ADHD is impaired is some deleterious way. The degree of impairment is definitely a spectrum of severity and type, but it is something we all share. I feel like I am fortunate that my ADHD is on the less severe side. (as an aside, my bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety have its own set of fun impairments).

    However, like most of you, I have now reached a brick wall in front of my progress. Before going to this site, I thought that this wall was just me being inferior and incompetent. People kept telling me that “oh everyone does that” or that I was squeezing myself into this label to give myself excuses for my horrendous life-impairing time management skills. “just work faster” “just prioritize” “know which corners to cut”.. *screams* If I work too fast, then I make a ton of serious errors and forget important tasks… prioritizing? what? everything seems just as pressing… which corners? when I can’t filter out what is not important?…Now I know that the wall is ADHD (not me being incapable) and it can be climbed.

    I believe that we can all climb this wall together and every single person can function better and accomplish more than he/she is at this current moment. We are all individuals, so direct comparisons of our lives and specific life goals is apples and oranges.

    ADHD gifts?? Perhaps, not free and does not occur without impairments in two or more settings. Like Pete shared gifts, but he explained that those gifts are not free and he does suffer from certain impairments. my gifts? randomness is great fun. I have never-ending passion and energy for the things I love. I’m too impulsive to allow my anxiety and over-thinking nature to stop me from what I want to do. Those ‘gifts’ have helped lead me to grasp my dream of being a NP. However, I will not be successful if I don’t scale the wall.


    Post count: 206

    ADHD is like juggling more and more balls. If you weren’t diagnosed until you were an adult then you did not have enough balls in the air. When we were living at home or just married we often had “people” that took care of a lot of the caretaking tasks. But the more stress and pressure we under the more the impairment shows up. In careers like acting it may seem like a gift to be able to perform on cue. But at a job with a deadline and multiple phases of work the impairment can seem like it is all encompassing. Medications can help mitigate some of the symptoms and help you make it through the workday. But these same miracle drugs can cause a lot more problems in your life.

    All that said this website is a general website that is there for everyone. The people that chime in to answer a letter are only able to give you an answer of something that worked in their life. We all have strengths and weaknesses and what works for some may be impossible for others. Skip ahead. Instead of feeling judged and found wanting just remind yourself that they are not making a personal judgement about you because they don’t know you. They know nothing about your life beyond what you have chosen to share. And as others have said you don’t know their personal struggles. It is easy to give advice to others that we would find impossible to implement in our own life. The message may be fantastic but no one said it was right for you or was even possible for you to do. I’m usually early my dh is usually late. I can stand at the door and drill sergeant him out the door but he soon comes to resent it and me. And what happens the day I am not there to do it. Dh is better at organization and cleaning. I soon get pretty bitter and angry when he is carping on me to get more done. I am doing my best. Get over it. The nice thing about this site is that you don’t know these people and they aren’t going to follow you home.

    So in conclusion, if you think that the advice could work for you give it a try. If not skip ahead to the next topic, suggestion or day. We all like to contribute but what is right for me may be disastrous for you. Sorry ahead of time if anything I say makes you question your own impairment. I can only give advice that has worked, could work or I tried. I have a lot of family members with ADHD, some more impaired then others. So I am looking at this site through the glasses of co-dependency.


    Post count: 251

    While I agree that many folks here and elsewhere blur the lines between ADHD and giftedness, I disagree with the “mild cases view ADHD as a gift” blanket statement.

    I’ll admit I can’t weigh in with any real authority since I remain merely questioning-and-undiagnosed at present, but I imagine myself to be at the mild end of inattentive type. I probably belong at a site with a name more like “PartiallyADD.com” :) More of a nuisance than a brick wall, perhaps, but still – a *nuisance*. I’d love to experience this rush of creative ideas others have described, but for the most part my wandering thoughts tend to be things like “I can’t wait for the intermission of this concert, because I’m so hungry….maybe I can eat those almonds left over from the dinner I packed – Oh, damn! I left them in the car!” Hardly the makings of The Next Big Thing.

    I suppose I should clarify further and point out that all this mind-wandering was during a concert I was PERFORMING in…..

    So, yes, I agree, we all have gifts, and furthermore, I agree with LibrarianChef’s view that we succeed based on our ability to use any and all gifts we have, and that the challenge is not letting the ADD get in the way of the unwrapping.

    That said, I don’t mind if other folks see their ADD as a gift. Frankly, I’m jealous of them! I would never want to discourage someone from looking at something in a positive way.

    I’ll allow that the mildness of my own impairment might make me more tolerant of such an outlook.


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    quizzical… i do see your point =P. I was trying to stretch a little and brainstorm what this could be good for lol. silver lining, right? One thing I am sure of: I have always been a really silly random person which is probably related to ADHD. I amuse myself (and others at times) all the time. This is not nearly as awesome at work as it is socially, but oh well…. lol

    I’m sure you are overly harsh with yourself as well. creative?….you are performing in a concert…isn’t that art? ooops! whether that is related to ADHD? who knows? maybe it doesn’t matter?

    I am with you also on the partially ADD. ADHD is a wall for me because of my extremely challenging ambitions. Being a health care provider in a chaotic community center is hard for anyone. I am a part-time doctoral student which is well…hard too. I am so frustrated because I want this all so badly and I believe that I have the ability and ambition to do so.. but I’m going to fail spending 11 hour days for 6 hrs of work and spending two full entire days to write 5 page papers. Those six hours of clients get pretty good care (I hope!) and that paper gets an A+, but….it is no longer sustainable at my stage of life. This is why I am on this site and starting seeking solutions. The fact that my house is dirty and very cluttered, i have trouble keeping stocked with groceries, waste days doing nothing, and use the floor as my filing system is annoying, not a wall.

    I went to see my actual psych doc yesterday to talk about an actual diagnosis. I was a little nervous given my mild symptoms, high achievements, bipolar disorder, and generalized anxiety. She agreed with me. She told me that she has always noticed that I experience frequent thought derailments and have a lot of trouble giving history in any time or chronological or organized manner.


    Post count: 14413

    I suppose I am one of the ones with a mild case (although I wonder what the dividing line is between mild and severe?), who flew under the radar for 55 years. I really had no idea I had a problem, but things were getting worse in my life until I realized that I was suddenly at a real crisis point. I usually can pedal my way out of something, but I was running out of options at this stage. I’ve had many, many jobs (always quit), moved many times, tried several career paths (usually impulsively), always got back up and have been positive about it all along. So I never really thought I had a problem until recently. Both my husband and I have ADD, I think his is worse but that’s probably because he’s not medicated.

    I’m here because I want to hear from others about what meds & other tips & techniques have worked for them. I need to go back to my ADD psychiatrist consultant with more knowledge so that when we have the talk about meds and he writes up a report for my general physician, I’ll be able to be a partner in the discussion of my care. I have enjoyed meeting all of you and hearing your stories. It’s been really helpful for me.

    I’m also an experienced meditator, and I can say that some days I do well, and other days I wonder why my mind is all over the place. No consistency, like everything else in my life (I’m consistently inconsistent). I’ve been told meditation is good for ADDers, but also told that I should do moving meditation, not seated meditation. I take it all with a grain of salt because until I do the experiment myself and am able to stick with it consistently, it’s just a suggestion. I see a psychologist for therapy and meditation training, and it’s challenging for me to stick with anything he tells me to do. Some days I just feel like I’m a screw-up, and accept that this is where I’m at, and that it might not change. I guess that’s my positive spin again.

    So if I have offended anyone, I’m sorry. I’m just getting comfortable with this whole ADD thing, and it’s really great to be able to spend a bit of time here with you.


    Post count: 14413

    Golly….look at us……different as pebbles on a beach……….or snowflakes……we seem to cover a wide spectrum. Yet… we appear to have a common thread, we do. Many of us also have a mixed bag of challenges, others not so much. We come from diverse backgrounds social, economic, educational etc etc. We all are also at different places in out awareness, our learnings, and our journey on this spinning sphere, for different reasons. We are our own melting pot!!!!

    If we sit back and look at ourselves through those eyes, what choice is there but to be varied in our thinking, our responses, our attitudes as well a our chemical make-up. It may well be a strength in an environment like this site, that we are so diverse???? With a little diligence a person looking for themselves and folks that hmmmmm……match-up (for lack of a better word) can hopefully find folks, on a similar plain, or journey or with key learnings to share….. and life stories.

    Whether the “Gift” segment is mild or not…… I’m sorry, I can’t comment…..I don’t know…..maybe, there are so many variables, how can we say??? I understand that again there a segment to whom their brain and it’s process(s) appear a boon….but, if that is what they see, or what their life experience is or, has brought to them…hmmmm that’s ok isn’t it? Good for them…. b-r-a-v-o maybe???

    Life experience tells me that everybody struggles…..to different degrees…… for a myriad of reasons (I hear that, I feel that)….but…… it may be important to share success, the good life stories, what works….as well as providing a safe forum for unburdening when we are down.

    Many times I’ve read (on this site)….about a whole segment of society (the majority) that judges us…..scolds us….. is quite intolerant to “la difference” and challenges termed ADD………..and intolerant to people whose opinions, comments, and life do not match theirs…… hmmmm????



    Post count: 546

    I have read all these post and do see that we are all very different . the thing that bugs me that most people here have a higher iq or at least average iq . am i the only one here with a low iq ? I never thought of myself as very smart or a little simple till I took all the test for adhd and found out that I have some learning difficulties and adhd and a low Iq of 86, so now I just say i am just smart enough to know Iam not very bright. I don’t find it a gift more of a curse. I guess all those things that people have said about me over the years are true. i can’t seem to see any value i have to offer this world that just makes me a bodom feeder with not a lot to give back so if my imput is worthless iam sorry but i can only give what i have, and never meaning to ofend .


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    @trashman if I believed my iq score, I never would have gotten where I am. Those tests are for “normal” people, so don’t let them put you in a box.


    Post count: 596

    Trashman, pete-puma is right.

    I really don’t think numbers on an IQ test reflect anyone’s “real” intelligence.

    First of all, your posts are always insightful and you write well. I can’t remember who said “change your thinking, change your life” but it’s so true!

    By way of example:

    I was told in highs school that I had a score in the 130’s and thought I was pretty darned clever all my life. Just couldn’t figure out what my “problem” was! GO figure, thirty + years later I discovered I had ADD. Great news, I thought. Except the psych report also said something along the lines that because of the disparity in my scores on the various tests, an aggregate IQ score would not accurately reflect my abilities.

    So in effect I went from feeling like a genius to an idiot.

    It took me a year to realize that it’s only a test – and yes ,I ‘m very good and talented at certain things but I always knew astro-physics was beyond my abilities and, frankly, my interest. I knew this despite thinking I was so smart. So what had really changed with knowing all of this? My thinking, and therefor perception of myself. I’ve always excelled at the things that interested me and that used my talents. The thing is I think I wasted too many years trying to perfect the stuff I really wasn’t naturally good at.

    So what I’m trying to say is, don’t focus on some number Trashman. You must have at least one, if not more talents. At the very least you can write a coherent sentence! I know lots of supposed brainiacs who can’t even write a simple report at work.I know because it’s my job to fix them!

    As a matter of fact ,I used to make money writing resumes for university graduates. I ended up specializing in cover letter writing because, for people about to graduate with degrees from business school, they couldn’t write better than a 4th grader. Worse, the logic of what they wrote was so ridiculous, it was embarrassing to think they actually had a BA from a prestigious program. Yet that paper would hang on their wall as an attestation to their supposed brilliance for all the world to see.

    And Libraian_chef, that also applies to how impaired you think you are – while one individual may function and cope better than another in their daily lives, no one struggle is less relevant than another. I hope I haven’t come across as trying to oversimplify this complex issue but, regardless of your coping ability, you have nothing to lose by trying to improve. The way I see it, this forum is a tool to share our thoughts and thereby maybe clear the way for us to have that a-ha moment or two. Obviously this path will be more difficult for some individuals than others.

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