I can’t remember a day that I didn’t feel it. The constant pangs of not being good enough. “He has so much potential, if only he would be willing to apply himself!” said my third grade teachers to my parents. Thinking myself merely stupid in school, I pressed on assuring myself that next year’s classes would go better. But it happened again, every year “He’s a smart kid, but he’s not willing to do the work.” How else would my teachers explain to my parents my utter failures in school? They couldn’t say I was slow, because I obviously wasn’t.
I watched over the years as the various ADHD stereotype kids emerged in my years of school. As I watched their hyperactive antics and impulses, I laughed reasoning to myself “Thank God I don’t have what they have.”
Fast forward to High School, and now I’m 14. All the while the only thing my previous years of life had taught me was that I never measured up, that no matter what I tried I was never quite good enough. Now it’s become a reality to me, a reality that I’m scant to avoid.
So why shouldn’t my high school years be a complete failure? Why shouldn’t I get involved in drugs and alcohol abuse? Why shouldn’t I rebel against everything I know to be true? After all, I’ve never been good enough, and even if I tried I still wouldn’t be good enough.
The hard part about sinking into depression is that compounded with ADHD it can make a deadly combo. What’s the only thing worse than not being able to focus on or do anything significant? Having negative thoughts about everything, while at the same time not being able to focus on or do anything significant. Now there’s a recipe for the lowest recesses of human well-being.
The only voice in my life who told me I had ADHD was my loving step-mother. But I called her observation foolish, after all I was a smart and successful person with all kinds of potential (at least that’s what they told me) ADHD people don’t have potential, they just talk during class and bother the teacher.
How foolish of her to think I have ADHD! I felt bad enough about myself as it was, the last thing I needed was someone trying to live vicariously through me with all their humbo-jumbo diagnoses.
You’ve gotta learn to listen to other people about yourself, because they see parts of you that you don’t. Well anyways finally I got on Welbutrin to treat depression, because I thought that only depression was the “real problem” and everything else was “my personal problems” or insufficiencies which were my fault. Well it turns out that Welbutrin has a lot of dopamine and norepinephrine action, unlike the more popular SSRI anti-depressants.
Suddenly I was able to focus. What major change had happened in my life? What diet/exercise program was I on? How much sleep was I getting at night? Did I stop eating trans-fats? Did I finally “learn” to be a hard-worker and finish projects? Why were conversations suddenly so interesting? Why did LIFE suddenly seem to easy?
Did you know that most people who actually have ADHD spend most of their days trying to fight it, so much so that they have no energy for anything else? All the while we are fighting for our lives (both socially and physically) and people look on, not realizing that it’s take every ounce of our very being to focus on what they are saying, to communicate, to be a team player. And all of those people go on living their daily lives, unaware of how good they have it.
You know you’re not lazy when you take your first ADHD medication and you realize how easy day-to-day life is. We aren’t losers, we are heroes, fighting just like someone with cancer or some other disease.
We do have potential, we are smart, we are adequate, but we don’t have the chemical make-up to put those things to use all the time. Don’t ever forget that, my friends.sdwaParticipant
Wow. Thanks for this post. That was fantastic.
I identify so strongly with what you’re saying. I had problems with depression for years, too, and nothing helped besides medication. But I was on anti-depressants for at least a decade before I got the ADHD diagnosis. When I started ADHD meds, I was instantly much calmer, happier, and able to talk to people.
About a year or so ago…I don’t remember…I stopped taking the meds because they made me feel poisoned and just didn’t seem to be working. So I gave up. I tried again. It was awful. I felt crazy and sick, and had huge mood swings with a drug that had worked for me before. I’ve been off meds for a while now. It’s kind of frightening to muck around trying new ones, because they all have side-effects. Anything that affects mood could be dangerous for me.
I miss that first positive experience with Concerta. Wellbutrin was bad. Ritalin was a disaster. Everyone’s different with meds. I wish it were that easy again – I’m just really leery of having a bad experience. Plus, my HMO is sleazy, and my psychiatrist, who is the only cool person there, is leaving (probably because she’s the only cool person there).
But anyway, I appreciate what you’re saying in general – it is hard to be objective with this disorder. I believed I had it when I saw how much difference the meds made.blackdogMember
Very well said. And very close to my own story. Has potential, does not apply herself. That’s what they all said about me. I remember my mother saying to me “If only you would concentrate on your school work the way you concentrate on that music.” Actually, I used the music to help me concentrate on the work.
I only just figured out in recent years that things must just be easier for other people. There is no other explanation for why I work just as hard if not harder and don’t get as much done as they do. It’s no wonder I’m so tired all the time when it takes so much effort just to do the mundane routine things every day.
I take Welbutrin but it doesn’t do much for me. Which is why I am going for an assessment so I can hopefully get something stronger. I know I can take Ritalin and do reasonably well with it.pinkdexMember
sdwa – the Welbutrin only tipped me off that I had ADD, I still use it mostly for depression, but my doc gave me 10mg Ritalin 3x/day and just this week he switched it to to 10mg Adderall 3x/day.
I’m having horrible withdrawal without the Ritalin, had to call in to work today and the Adderall seems to be doing very little by comparison. Honestly I would like to take both, but if I ask for an increased dose, or God forbid two controlled substances which happen to treat my disorder, I obviously just want to get high.
That’s too bad that the medications didn’t work very well for you besides Concerta. I can’t imagine going back to life before Ritalin. It’s so horrifying to think about not being on these medications anymore. All my progress, all of my ambition, all of my dreams and hopes which I am building towards could instantly downsize, or disappear entirely if I was off medication for even just a few months or a year. I really hope you can get some meds that work for you.
blackdog – good for you to try to get on Ritalin. I think you will like how it helps you.Patte RosebankParticipantblackdogMember
@pinkdex – I felt that the Ritalin worked well when I was on it but my doctor didn’t keep me on it for very long. I was actually planning on trying something different this time though.
It’s interesting that you would feel like you’re going through withdrawal when you are taking the Adderal. I wouldn’t have thought there would be a significant difference. If anything, the Adderal should have a stronger effect. But it may be that for you it just doesn’t work.sdwaParticipant
If I were determined enough, I could slog back into a random psychiatrist’s office, pay the $30 co-pay I would deeply resent because I can’t afford it, be annoyed talking to a doctor who’d probably be a robotic slice of Wonderbread (mixed metaphor?)…and then pay I don’t know how much for a bunch of pills that wouldn’t work, and then repeat that whole cycle a few times until I found something that wasn’t quite right but was sort of okay maybe, meanwhile having subjected myself to bouts of medication-induced nuttiness. Not sure it’s worth it. But I know more now than I knew when I was diagnosed.
On the bright side, I get into hyper-focus whenever I work on the book I’m writing – usually at least fifteen hours a week, sometimes thirty or forty. When I’m working, I feel good. Plus, there is carry-over of that energy during times when I’m not working.
But now I have been away from my writing for a couple of weeks, I’m having more problems again with mood, sleep, and energy. Weird, huh?
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