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I never had a choice

I never had a choice2013-06-05T22:18:19+00:00

The Forums Forums What is it? The History I never had a choice

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    I just needed somewhere to write and express how I feel about being diagnosed with ADHD at age 9 and going through 13 years of “medicated life” as I am at this moment calling it for lack of better words.  I was diagnosed in the fourth grade with ADHD because my teacher saw my academic potential but thought that my behavior held me back.”  My mom realized she had ADD when she was in her mid 20s and began medication immediately.  And so she thought that since I was “struggling in school,” the best answer was to medicate me to meet my full potential.  The problem with it is, I was never a bad student.  I never got bad grades, I was just more hyperactive than the others which hindered my FULL intellectual capacity (I can admit), but I was by no means, at any time, anywhere near the risk of failing.  Nevertheless, my mother put me on medication.  Ever since then, I do not know how to function without it.  I remember at one point in time during my middle school years when I was without it due to my mother’s lack of funds and my grades actually remained the same (honor roll).  I told my doctor that I had gone six weeks without medication and still attained a 3.0 gpa without even trying.  The doctor presumed that I was okay without the medicine and did not prescribe any more medication. My mother later scolded me for telling the doctor such a thing even though she knew it to be true (academically) and the next visit I, under her request, said that I was not doing nearly as well without it.  As an adult, I can’t help but feel that she used the medicine as a crutch for herself if you will because it kept me from being hyper and probably unmanageable to her.  She was most likely frustrated at my hyperactivity and simply did not want to deal with it.   Long story made as short as possible, I now as an adult feel that I need the medicine because I never learned how to focus on my own, motivate myself, or self-maintain responsibility without the medicine.  I am now 21 going on 22 years old and am in an accelerated nursing program and feel helpless without it.  I feel that I missed out on learning self-discipline because the medicine has always done it for me.  I feel the need to take two a day sometimes just so that I can fully study and focus even though I am on the highest dose possible.  I envy those who learned to manage their ADD/ADHD or those who do not fully rely on medication for it because I was never given the opportunity to learn on my own how to.  I know that it’s never too late yet I am in an academic position where I am left no time to re-learn what I should have learned a long time ago while growing up.  I AM NOT TOTALLY AGAINST MEDICINE.  I just feel that when a child is struggling with their hyperactive disorder but is still intellectually capable of fulfilling what is required, then the parent should take extra time out of their day to help them, get psychiatric advice as to how to help them, and be persistent with them as to how schoolwork and comprehension should be handled.  A low dose is not bad thing for some at a young age, but putting a child at a high dose (speaking from experience) CAN unfortunately hinder them later on in life and I do not recommend it.  I find myself trying to get the same level of stimulant of the brain from muscle relaxers and alcohol even at times once my medicine wears off.  It scares me because it’s like I’m starting to rely on drugs for my intellectual ability whatever they may be.  I also have dealt with the effects of the appetite control that I’ve always received from the medication.  I stayed thin because I knew when to eat and how little to eat but once I am without it, I feel like eating everything in sight.  Not only just for the taste of food sometimes but I generally feel extremely hungry when not medicated and have gone months without it in which I gained approximately 30 lbs.  The fear of gaining weight has now become a factor in why I feel the need to take medication.  I never truly learned how to control my eating on my own and now without it, I am scared to death to become overweight because I don’t know how to control myself when it comes to food.  Even if it’s healthy food.  I feel cheated in many ways because learning to study and self-motivate are two things that most children grow up attaining for themselves but in my case, a child on a high dose of amphetamine (which is what most adhd medications are) will never properly learn those life skills and can possibly suffer extremely from that misfortune.  I’m not sure if anyone knows how I feel.  I haven’t come across anyone who was also put on medication so young but it would be nice to hear opinions from others.  Once again I am not against add/adhd medication, I am simply voicing my experience from them having been put on them at a young age and dealing with personal consequences into adulthood.


    Post count: 929

    Welcome @nursemes! I would like to encourage you to keep on posting here, and also I would like to tell you that you are definitely giving yourself “the choice” for the rest of your very promising and rewarding life.

    You’ve got some great ideas going on inside your mind, so please stick around and keep on learning more about how ADHD has touched your life. You’re still really young, heck, we all are for that matter. I’m 48, but being a lil bit warped by ADHD myself, I get to think with the mind of an eight year old boy!. Only kidding… Not really but… well heck, sometimes it’s true, I act like I’m 8. But when it really counts I can usually muster up some adult behavior.

    Mostly. Don’t count on it though.

    Some of what you said reminded me of an excellent youtube video of Dr. Ed Hallowell. [awesome!, I remembered to bookmark it a few days ago when I watched it] Here’s a link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtU7wGn5PAE **Grins** Ya know I get a real kick out of remembering to do lil things like just bookmarking that video when I had a gut feeling that it might be a good idea. I’m guessing you get these same “gut instincts”. Go ahead and listen to your gut instinct. Like right now, maybe it’s telling you to watch the video. Go ahead. Just right click on it, then left click on “open in a new tab” to watch it. Then come back n read this.

    Okay Okay, yep it’s long. So you didn’t want to watch the whole thing right? That’s okay, but just trust me and watch the whole thing later okay?. We already know lot’s of what he’s got to say. But he also covers a bunch of important info you may not already know. More importantly he talks about how what we really need is human connection. (right at about 17 min. in the video, take a look there… come-onnn go ahead, just do-it!.) We need to participate in human relationships where we get real feedback and give real feedback to other folks.

    Most of us never really learned to just plain shut up and listen!. I can easily admit to this, and I’m still really working on it. I have taken generic Ritalin for a short time, it may have been working so well that I started to take my ADHD much less seriously than I should have. A bad brain fart for me to say the least!. And unfortunately I stopped taking in sort of impulsively, (guess it may not have been working all that well that day!) Mostly I listened too much to some of the folks I go to church with. I don’t blame the church, just me for listening to some of the idiots that had dumb ass opinions about stimulant medication. I’m still taking Wellbutrin though. Very low dose. And it’s helping quite a bit all by itself. For now I don’t plan of making any other changes.

    It’s likely I’ll change my mind, then again I’ll change it. It’s what we do, huh?.

    Dr. Hallowell also wrote a few books. I read the one called “Delivered From Distraction”. Pretty good read if ya ask me. I recommend you go ahead and keep on taking the medication you’ve already got if that’s an option for you. Also, and just as importantly, see if you can get yourself into some kind of group, and/or individual therapy of some kind. Preferably with an ADHD specialist. And of course try to participate some more in this forum. Sometimes this place really gets rock and rolling. It’s been alil bit slow lately, Or maybe it’s just me that’s been slow.

    Once in a while I slow down. Like, just for a micro-second, then I rev up the motor agen!.

    Are you getting some exercise?. Definitely try to do that some if ya can. It will help you with that lil bit of stress ya may be feeling about gaining weight. I’m sure you look just fine though.  0:-)

    Lately I’ve been drumming up some ideas for ways to keep on trudging along on my recovery road from the debacle of ADHDness that has been my life thus far. It’s not quite a nightmare. But it’s also not exactly a stroll along happy go lucky street neither!.

    Not even gal!


    For one thing I plan of making a list of ways I’ve actually improved in my relationship skills. Listening skills. Self restraint and stuff. I actually made a list on my cell phone earlier today. Just sorta brainstorming about a new idea for a thread here. Its’ a work in progess, like a lot of us in this camp.

    Works, works in progress.

    The whole idea is to try and give something back to this community, a lil bit or a lot more lately. I’ve been helped tons just by reading here. Watching the videos have helped me tons too. I hope you take a look at them. Rick and the rest of the crew have worked really hard to make them. So it’s only common courtesy for us to watch em right?

    Right! gal?! Right!

    Lot’s and lots. I hope you do a lot of reading too. It helps. Just trust me okay?

    Take care



    Patte Rosebank
    Post count: 1517

    @Nursemes, welcome!

    I can understand your resistance about meds.  I think it might come from some misunderstanding about ADHD.

    ADHD is a paradox of incredible strengths (at the things that interest us) and incredible weaknesses (at the things that don’t interest us).  That’s why ADHD is situational.  You could be amazing in English and History, but you struggle in Math and Science, and people think it’s because you’re not trying hard enough in Math and Science.  In fact, you’re trying way harder than anyone else, but it’s not working!

    That’s because a neuro-typical brain is driven by Importance, but an ADHD brain is driven by Interest.  It’s not “broken”; it just works differently…like being left-handed when most people are right-handed.

    If you have ADHD, and something doesn’t interest you enough to adequately stimulate your brain, you are physically UNABLE to do it for more than a few minutes at a time.  It’s not a matter of “willpower” or “laziness”.  You simply cannot do it, any more than Stephen Hawking can will himself to get up and start tap-dancing while singing “Give My Regards to Broadway”.

    The brain is an organ, like any other.  The ADHD brain isn’t producing and using enough of the hormones it needs to function as well as it should.  If you need meds to help it do that, there’s no shame or weakness in that.  Just as there’s no shame in needing to take meds to help your thyroid or pancreas to produce the hormones they need to function as well as they should.

    But meds on their own aren’t enough.


    The thing about ADHD meds is, they’re kind of like training wheels on a bike. They’ll help you stay upright, but you still need to learn how to ride the bike.

    Unfortunately, far too many people (both patients and medical professionals) make the mistake of thinking that all you have to do is prescribe a pill, and everything will be perfect.  In fact, as with any mental issue, successful treatment requires a combination of meds and behavioural therapy.  And it has to be ongoing.

    Meds for mental issues are not one-size-fits-all, so medically-supervised trial-and-error is the only way to find which meds and dose work for each patient.  And even when you do find the right one(s), the doctor still needs to monitor how they’re working, over the long-term, because patient compliance is a big issue.

    If the med doesn’t seem to be working, or if the side effects are too strong—or if a med works so well that the patient decides they no longer need it—they may just stop taking it without consulting (or even telling) the doctor.  And then the symptoms return.

    My ADHD specialist told me that, on average, this non-compliance usually takes place around 5 to 9 months after the patient starts taking the med.  If only the doctors were monitoring things, they could address the patients’ concerns.  But if they don’t know about them, they can’t help.

    With your background, you’d do well to check out the Videos section (http://www.totallyadd.com/video), especially the series of videos on Medication. They’ll answer a lot of your questions with up-to-date, unbiased facts.


    Since ADHD is situational, and depends on Interest, maybe the reason you did so well even without meds was that what you were studying at the time was really interesting to you, and because you were a really smart child, and because your school day was so structured.  That’s how it was for me.

    Until the final term of Grade 6, I was a very smart child, but in a very dumbed-down school.  I never had to learn to study because it was like I just learned by osmosis.  When I finally got transferred to a school with proper standards, it was a hell of a shock, because I suddenly had to work for my grades, and I had to figure out how to do that.  But, being a smart kid in very interesting classes, with very enthusiastic teachers, I did it!

    Incidentally, the rate of ADHD is much higher in gifted children, because when something interests us, we’re driven to learn as much about it as we can.


    I was only diagnosed with ADHD 3 years ago…at age 41.  Before then, my family and I never even suspected it…or believed it was real.  And yet, like you, I have enormous difficulty with studying and motivation.  So, I don’t think that being on meds as a child caused your difficulties now.  I think it’s that if we’re not genuinely interested in something, our ADHD brain lacks the stimulation to turn motivation into action.

    Because of this, we often need to use different methods to do things.  Methods which would be counter-productive for neuro-typicals work very well for ADDers, and vice-versa.  Especially study methods.

    For example, if Math only holds your interest for about 10 minutes, the conventional method of forcing yourself to study it for a solid hour or two won’t work, except for the very first and very last 10 minutes.  But studying in 10-minute bursts and doing something totally different between them, will work for you because all the time you spend on the Math will be filled with learning.

    (There’s an archived webinar about that very thing:  http://totallyadd.adobeconnect.com/p9u5mbe0cp6/)


    University and college can be a real challenge for ADDers, because it’s so unstructured.  Most of your learning is done on your own, and in huge lecture halls where the prof talks AT you and hundreds of other students.  I crashed and burned there…despite having been on the Honour Roll & winning awards all through elementary and high school.

    Maybe that lack of structure is why you’re having trouble with motivation and studying now.

    Do talk to your Student Services Department.  ADHD is covered by disability laws, so schools and colleges have to provide educational supports to ADDers who request them.  Often, just having more check-ins and interaction with profs/TAs/study buddies can help a lot.

    They sure would have helped me, if I’d known about my ADHD when I was at university!


    About the weight issues…

    The rates of addiction and obesity in ADDers are much higher than in the general population.  It has to do with our lack of impulse control, Reward Deficiency Syndrome, and insufficient Dopamine & Serotonin.

    If you’re self-medicating with muscle relaxers and alcohol (which are depressants) when your meds wear off, then you need to talk to your doctor, because you’re functioning well during the rest of the day.  That suggests that your doctor needs to adjust your meds (the dose and/or the timing), or perhaps add a low dose of a med that will calm you enough to be able to sleep.

    I take 25 or 50 mg of Seroquel as part of my “winding down for bed” routine, and I fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly.  Plus, if I awake during the night, I quickly fall back into a sound sleep.  Seroquel is usually prescribed to treat manic symptoms, but those same symptoms (such as racing thoughts) can also be part of ADHD.  You may want to ask your doctor about this.

    Since starting proper treatment for my ADHD (Concerta and coaching), 7 months ago, I’ve lost 30 lbs.  True, Concerta does help to suppress the appetite, but mostly, it’s helped me to stop and think before I eat something…and when I’m about to reach for seconds…and when I’m about to spend a token just to go a mile or so when I could (and should) easily walk it.

    It’s being able to pause and think, then turn that thought into action, that makes all the difference.  And if it takes meds to stimulate your right pre-frontal cortex enough to allow your Executive Functioning to do that, then so be it.  Just as it takes meds to stimulate my pancreas enough to produce the insulin I need.

    The more you learn about your ADHD and how to work with it, the better you’ll be able to function—and use those incredible strengths.  When you’re working in a hospital, your Interest-driven brain will help you to instantly see & understand a problem, come up with a solution, and put it into action.  There are a lot of ADDers in Emergency Services!


    Post count: 363

    Wow. Well, I haven’t read the other responses first because I don’t want to forget what I was going to say to you.

    I appreciate your story very much. I was diagnosed at age 45, and my son was diagnosed at age 5. He was, and still is, extremely hyperactive, and having him on medication for a while did make my life easier. Even with medication, he barely learned to read by third grade, because he just didn’t care. Drugs were recommended by the doctor as likely to produce “better outcomes.”

    A lot of us who grew up not knowing we had it have had, putting it mildly, difficult lives. But he’s now 14 and doesn’t want the medication, and I let that be his decision. As soon as he went off, however, his grades plummeted, and he was on the verge of failing all year, in addition to being more prone to “problem” behavior at school. I worry about him a lot. He’s impulsive and makes decisions that make me nervous. He gets big ideas based on how he feels, and not on common sense.

    So, what to do?

    I am not into jumping on bandwagons, and there’s a lot about this diagnosis that I feel is destructive in and of itself. The label brings with it a certain stigma. This is unfortunate, because not knowing caused enormous grief over the course of my life. I think it’s better to know. It’s also good to understand treatment options. And it’ s best of all to learn what works well for you and what doesn’t work as well for you in terms of how you structure your environment and the type of career you choose to pursue. The lifestyle choices are probably, I’m guessing, more significant than the drug choices.

    That being said, I question your assumption that people with ADHD can “learn” to be self-motivating. Most of us are motivated by what we’re interested in. When we’re not interested in something, we can’t make ourselves become motivated, because the brain is stimulated by interest. Without that level of interest, it is almost impossible to sustain focus and attention. With or without medication – although I think medication can make it easier to do certain things. My guess is that if you stopped taking it, at a time when doing so wouldn’t destroy your school or career efforts, you’d then be able to see what it does for you…and also what you’re doing yourself just fine.

    I’m not sure you would learn how to manage on your own by not taking it. You might learn you can manage, or you might learn that it’s harder. But since, I believe, none of us manages ourselves particularly well, I wouldn’t count on ever learning that.

    I’m 50 years old and can’t manage a damn thing. Have never been able to  – couldn’t before I knew I had ADHD, and can’t now either despite what I’ve learned about it. What I have learned is to understand what my limitations are, so I can make better choices about the environments I put myself, ones that will be more conducive to bringing out my strengths. I’ve realized that whatever I am and whatever I do, it’s not going away. So I have to make my world fit me, rather than me trying to fit the world.

    I stopped taking medication about six months ago because of the expense, the side-effects, and the feeling that it isn’t making as big of a difference as it did at first, or doesn’t help enough to justify the hassle of getting it. I am sustained by my interests, while everything else in my life falls into the background. I have great hyper-focus on what I care about, and limited awareness of what I don’t care about it. It sort of works…but then I have that nagging feeling that important things are falling by the wayside.

    If you can afford to pay for support, you might look into getting a coach, who can help you build skills you can carry with you. For me, that was better than therapy, but a therapist who is truly experienced with ADHD can also help.


    Post count: 363

    @ Robbo


    I just watched that video you linked to. It’s a good one.

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