Living with ADD
Hello, is anyone in there?
Channel surfing on a nightly basis, hyper focused on the desert oasis
Ignoring those you love for no apparent reason, trapped inside by your personal demons.
Always calm under extreme duress, can go ballistic over a simple mess.
Labeled a selfish bastard with no remorse, hyper sensitive in due course.
Creativity bleeding out of every pore, unable to harness unable to explore.
Diagnosed as a slacker can’t finish a thing, can visualize what most only see while tripping.
Who will listen who will care? Afraid once exposed all will stare.
Finally diagnosed no longer a sinner, problem is everyone is just a beginner.
Hello again, is anyone in there? Hell yes, where’ve you been and please don’t stare.
Love it. Funny how I could think I was a loser and lazy and even ‘weak’ and yet have actually accomplished a whole bunch of stuff in my life that other people actually admired. But cause the stuff I do well was so easy, compared to the stuff I struggled with, I dismissed all of my accomplishments. I actually thought, “Well, yeah, but that was easy. It doesn’t count.” So creating projects that involved 20 or 30 people working full time was just ‘lucky breaks’ whereas not being able to do the paperwork and having to rely on someone else was a sign that I wasn’t really qualified to create something this big, but somehow I’d gotten away with it.purlgurlMember
Mike – I’m right there with you. While struggling/failing with post-secondary work, I spent several summers in my early 20s training lifeguards, and then managing 100+ people (actually, I was better with the training – managing involved too much paperwork . Many people will never manage that large a workforce in their entire lives…but it didn’t matter, because of the many other failures.AnonymousInactive
Some people call this the “not good enough model”. Really good if you have self esteem because it is the same component that leads to ambition but, as you beutifully stated Mike, all you think about is what you haven’t done not what you have accomplished. Some people call it the “false self”, the “ultimate imposter” or the “fear of success”. Mike, you ARE GOOD ENOUGH.AnonymousInactive
As a young kid at the elementary school I was studying 3 hours with my grand ma while my friends were playing outside
they had the same homeworks as me
But i wanted to be the best and I was distrated by every little noise around me
and was taking 10 minutes to jump back in the homeworks re reading again the same line in the text until it connet with my brain
I have always be different but hardworker and in the first of the classroom even at the university level
the diffrence is that I know exactly how to act to seems to be normal and I know my own brain mechanic
I have a good self esteem but I am very lonely
Nobody (may except you all ) may understand how much stress I carry sometimes to act perfectly in a stressful situation,
I had ulcer and even cancer I have been in wheelchair but it is still impossible for me (even with medication lately) to be simply as normal people.
I am born different and I guess I have to accept it.
I am born with an ADHD brain
I try to have some relieve for the exhausting aspects and most important I want to explore the gifts included in the package!AnonymousInactive
I’d read your poems but for one I can’t and for two I think poems are a bit of a mind twister and I have little to no reading retention or comprehension. SorryAnonymousInactive
I try to see things in a good way but how can I? Everything I ever wanted to do has made me lose faith in myself. It’s not so much about letting others down but about how much I have let myself down. In time I started to believe people who said I was “incapable” or “unable”.
I tried to prove myself and others wrong many times only to fail again.
Every failure takes me further and further away from people and myself. Every relationship I lose or damage displaces me into the realm of loneliness even more.
Having recently been diagnosed I am awaiting treatment. I hope the quality life improves.FearwidgParticipant
By way of background … I am 61 years old and I make my living as a Story Editor, Screenwriter and – more recently – filmmaker. Over the past twenty years, I’ve written for numerous TV series – The Campbells, Danger Bay, Adderly, Night Heat, White Fang, Mysterious Island & the animated “Redwall” series to name a few. And while I’ve certainly seen success during my life, I’ve also seen far too much failure … because – as hard as I tried – I honestly couldn’t say I was consistently dependable.
However … that all began to change on April 17th, 1995.
I was 46 years old and my partner, Michelle, and I were sitting in a Restaurant having breakfast – reading the newspaper – same as we did every day – when I suddenly realized Michelle had gone very quiet. When I looked up, she simply pushed her paper across to me and said, “I think you should read this…”
Michelle spoke those words with what can best be described as “Ominous Solemnity,” so I took her advice seriously and began to read Dr. Gabor Matte’s Globe & Mail column on something called “A.D.D.” – short for Attention Deficit Disorder.
I’d never heard the term before, but the more I read, the more hairs began standing up all over my body … because I had the unnerving feeling that someone had been following me around… and they’d been taking notes. I mean, there was stuff in there I’d never told anyone – not even Michelle. It was uncanny … and when I read there was a book on the subject called “Driven to Distraction,” I decided it might be an idea to pick up a copy next time I was in town (Michelle & I live way out in the country.)
Late that afternoon, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. I got in the car and did the hour drive to Guelph. An hour after that, I was back home, sitting in my office, glossing over the first few pages of this book by Doctor’s Hallowell & Ratey.
If Matte’s column had surprised me, Driven to Distraction out and out shocked me. So much so that -after reading half a dozen pages – I couldn’t take any more … so I tossed the book aside and told Michelle I’d get around to reading it some other time.
That time turned out to be three o’clock in the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep after what I’d read, so I got up, stumbled down the hall, retrieved “that damn book,” and began to read.
At six the following morning, Michelle was awoken by a strange sound coming from my office. She found me sitting there, sobbing like a newborn, and all I could say – over and over again – was, “…It’s not me … It’s not me.”
What I was trying to tell her was that I’d just learned those strange things I did … my impulsivity … sudden anger … inability to take things in … roller-coaster-dependability – all those things that I felt deep inside weren’t the real me were – in fact – NOT the real me. It appeared I had this A.D.D. thing, and from the sound of it – I was the disorder’s “Poster Boy.”
IF, of course, this whole thing was real.
After that first revelation, I quickly slipped into denial – deciding this was just some new “Yuppie Excuse” for bad behaviour. But “that damn book” was so spot-on that the overall feeling I had was, “Nobody ever told me I came with an ‘Owner’s Manual’.”
I was so confused, and I desperately needed to talk with somebody who really knew what this ADD was all about. But in 1995, I couldn’t find any specialists in the Toronto area, and I’d all but given up when I decided to see if any help was available online. At the time I was subscribing to Compuserve and – as it turned out – they had an ADD Forum.
I can’t begin to express how fortunate I was to have stumbled onto that group in their heyday (the forum is now long gone,) but I can tell you that I went to that ADD forum every night, made some wonderful friends, gained access to experts, and got a real education from others who were going through the same thing as me.
Once I was convinced ADD was a genuine disorder, I asked if anyone knew of a Specialist anywhere within reasonable driving distance. I was given the name of a psychologist in Buffalo, N.Y. so I called, made inquiries and learned that I would need six, two-hour sessions if I wanted a proper diagnosis. That was in addition to the six hour round trip drive I’d have to make once a week – to “another country” … but I had to know, so I signed up and began the tests.
I have to admit that I was still pretty sceptical. At the time there was no “smoking-gun” physical test that could prove this thing was real (there is now – Spec-T Imaging.) The Diagnosis would be made based upon a series of psychological tests and my real fear wasn’t that they’d find I didn’t have ADD; by then I knew they would. What really worried me was – would I believe it?
I needn’t have worried.
One of the biggest problems Michelle had was getting me to hear what she was saying – not that it had anything to do with her – I’d had the same problem in school – the same problem for as long as I could remember. If the subject didn’t grab hold of me – fascinate me – no matter how hard I tried, my attention would wander elsewhere.
I mentioned this while I was undergoing my tests and the Doctor smiled and said he could show me why that was happening. He fitted me with a headset, turned on a tape, then had me point to pictures in a book whenever I heard an oh-so-faint voice say words like “Lake,” “Cake,” or “Bake.”
10 minutes later, the Doctor shook his head and said, “Do you know you hear better than 99.5% of the population?” This was the last thing I wanted to be told, and the Doctor could see that, so he held up his finger then said, “The test’s not over yet.”
The headset went back over my ears, a new tape went into the machine and I now heard the sounds of a cocktail party. Interesting conversations were going on “all around me,” and I was listening intently to one when I suddenly heard the last part of a whispered word that sounded like “…ake.”
I told the Doctor there was something wrong with the tape. He listened for himself, smiled, then said, “The tape’s working perfectly. Let’s start over again.”
After the test was over I sat there, mortified, as I waited for the results … because I had only managed to get ONE of the words right.
The Doctor shook his head again then said, “Well … you really are the Poster Boy for ADD, aren’t you? Under that second set of conditions 99.5% of the population hears better than you!”
“WHAT?” I cried out.
The Doctor calmed me down, pointed to my ears then said, “You hear fine here…” Then he pointed to my skull and said, “But when you’re distracted, the words don’t make it to your brain.”
He summed up by saying, “Put simply – your mind goes where curiosity takes it. Why? Because you have ADD.”
That black and white test gave me the answer I needed – I now knew my ADD was real. But after wanting a clear cut answer, I was surprised at how upset I became.
The Doctor told me not to worry – said there were medications I could take that would probably fix my problems.
“Probably?” I asked.
“Well, they don’t work for everyone,” he explained. “But you’re probably in the 80% meds do help.”
Hmm. I had neglected to tell the good Doctor that I had NO intention of taking any drugs, so I thought this might be a good moment to bring up that very important point.
“They’re not drugs,” he said. “They’re medications. There’s a big difference. If I said you had Diabetes, would you take Insulin?”
“Of course,” I said. “My life would be in danger.”
“And you don’t think your life – your real life – is in danger now?” he responded.
As that thought sank in, the Doctor added one final point that really hit me.
“Besides,” he said, ” … when you take medication, you’re not “on drugs,” you’re ‘off ADD.'”
I left the Doctor’s office with a diagnosis of Severe ADD and a prescription for meds.
I filled the ‘scrip, but didn’t take the meds. I just slipped the pills in my pocket and tried to forget about them when we stopped for an overnight visit with Michelle’s parents.
The following morning, Michelle was up early – visiting with her Mum. I woke up a short while later, saw the damn pill box “staring back at me,” and decided it was time to get this over with. I took a pill, sat there for a few minutes, and … nothing.
“Figured as much,” I muttered as I went upstairs to join Michelle and her Mum.
I tried to listen to their conversation, but the topic didn’t fascinate me, so I quickly tuned out. I picked up the newspaper, began flipping through it, found a vaguely interesting story, and began reading.
I think I was about half way through it when I suddenly discovered something had changed.
I looked up in shock.
Something was definitely different … but what?
It took more than a few moments before I realized …
It was “quiet in my brain.”
The usual internal dialogue was silenced and as I looked around the room, I suddenly realized I could “take things in” for the first time in my life.
But the greatest shock of all (and I have tears in my eyes as I remember this,) was when I turned to look at the woman I had lived with for the past 27 years. I suddenly realized I could actually “SEE” Michelle … SEE her smile … FEEL her skin … HEAR her voice … after all those years.
I had never realized how extraordinarily beautiful she was.
My life hasn’t been the same since. It’s been better … oh, so much better.
I don’t mean to imply that you take a pill and 20 minutes later, everything’s fine. Let’s be clear – the right medication doesn’t change you into another person. It makes you more “YOU” than you have ever been. You have full access to your brain. It works all the time. You can finally come to depend on yourself – Every Day – instead of those rare moments when all the elements fall into place just long enough to allow you to function.
All the medication can do is “leash your demons” so you can think clearly and begin the work of undoing all the things you’ve done wrong.
Fourteen years later, I’m still working on that – every day. It hasn’t been easy. And you can’t do it alone.
That’s why I was so excited to learn of Rick Green and Patrick McKenna’s Documentary. What the pair has done in their wonderful film is to kick down the doors of ignorance and misinformation that have been keeping so many people from getting the help they need for far too long.
And this dynamic duo doesn’t plan to stop there. By launching this web site, they are creating something along the lines of that ADD Forum that helped me so much when I needed help the most. Mind you – Rick and Patrick’s version improves upon that rudimentary Forum by – at the very least – a factor of ten.
What they are doing is using the organic, ever-changing nature of the Internet to create an online Community of ADD’ers who can help each other; a place where we can interact directly with some of the most knowledgeable, cutting-edge professionals in the field.
I can’t tell you what a difference it makes to learn “you are not alone” – to discover there are other people out there, going through what you’re going through … to learn that many of them have answers – perhaps the very answers you’re looking for.
Back on that old, basic Forum, one of the things we discovered was that we’d all gone through life thinking we were “Ugly Ducklings.” But once we found other people like ourselves, it began to dawn on us that perhaps – just perhaps – we weren’t Ugly Ducklings after all.
With a lot of work – and a lot of help – we all had the potential to become Swans.
As far as I’m concerned, what Rick & Patrick are building isn’t so much a “web site” as a Lake … a place where all us Swans can get together and teach each other how to take off, reach for the sky and finally realize our full potential.
So – thanks so much for doing this, Rick & Patrick (& all the others working “behind the scenes” at this web site).
TotallyADD is desperately needed … and I look forward to “Splashing around in the lake” with all my fellow Swans.AnonymousInactive
You have made my day with your story. I have been feeling very restless and anxious about how treatment will affect me once I start in January. I want what you have and hearing you share your story has given me a smile. I am a grown man on the outside but a very scared little boy inside. I fear the unknown. Your story put more light my path.
BTW does anyone know if we can PM eachother? I can’t find that option to send messages to members.MikeMember
I just want to add that there may be things you fail at, or really struggle with, or whatever, but one solution is to not do those tings. Hire someone else to do your accounts. Or whatever it is you hate doing or just don’t do well. Richard Branson, the multi-multi-millionaire speaks openly about the fact that he is terrible with numbers. Completely awful. Basically he’s dyslexic not just with words but numbers. He has someone else do that. Someone who loves adding up numbers. And why should a guy who can spin off one successful enterprise a month, and provide work for thousands of people, be wasting time adding numbers, right?
I know when you’ve failed a lot it’s hard to trust yourself and therefore hard to trust others. But there are reliable people out there.
The other thing I believe, or rather know from first hand experience, is that ‘failure’ is a really relative term. Whatever it is you can’t do, it’s probably a task or a job or a skill that’s been made up anyway. I mean, to be a bit facetious, Stephen Hawking is a complete failure at the Olympic High Jump. And the Track and Field. And Rowing. And Ice Hockey. I could list a thousand things he can’t do, all kinds of stuff he’d screw up, or fail at… Is he a failure? Should he feel bad about himself?
When I finally got that who I am matters. And who everyone is matters. And the best thing my kids can do is follow their bliss and do what they do well, and same for me, then I stopped feeling guilty or ashamed about my ‘failures.’
The fact that you’ve shared your fears with us here, hey, I acknowledge that. You’ve contributed to my life, to Fearwidg, and to everyone else who has read what your posting. And that ripple effect goes outward. Someone said that there is no such thing as a ‘small’ good deed. The ripples from the simplest action, whether it’s holding a door and smiling, or sharing a story on a blog, will ripple outwards in ways you can never imagine. How many people who are on the fence about getting diagnosed, are going to read your posting and go get checked… You don’t know. You may never know. That’s okay. Just know it’s beyond what you can imagine.AnonymousInactive
Wow this thread is long. I got as far as the second.. or was that third. No, it’s the second post before I tuned out.AnonymousInactive
Oh yea, this is what I wanted to say… I’m 47. I’ve known for years I had add, never did anything about it. Buried it, like my first marriage. I remarried…Been through countless jobs, changed careers. Was diagnosed with Kleinfelters (1980) and have been dealing with that. Parents at wits end. I put my parents through grief beyond grief. My head is spinning, how do I put down everything Im feeling inside my head? I’m a mess.
I never knew there was anything like this until a client confided in me HE had ADD. I was almost in tears hearing him tell his story. His life experiences, were identical to mine. I’ve been labeled a loser, lazy, mental case. When I was a kid, well I still am, sort-of, psychologists labeled me difficult to handle when the ink-blot i was given to look at looked like an ink-blot. Should I have said a butterfly? An elephant? Anyway, just the other day, I told my wife I found a support group for ADD….. well, she basically said….. “yea OK, u have add now -ok. Try, lazy stubborn lazy ass.”
Is this the right forum for this?BettybooMember
Wow, abslt0…first off you are not a “lazy, stuborn lazy ass”. ADD is a difficult to understand because we aren’t comparing ourselves to other ADDers we are comparing ourselves to non-adders so how do you do that? You don’t…I have been through a few stages since I was diagnosed this July 9th, 2009 at 44. Happy – finally I understand, then Mad – how come someone didn’t notice – how come I didn’t recognize this for my girls I’m a horrible mom – Depressed – oh my God I can’t believe my past what have I done and how come I’m still doing some of the same things even with meds – Denial – I don’t want this. I knew myself better before the diagnoses. Today, I’m at Acceptance – I want to live my life and be happy. Am I going to go through the stages again maybe but I’ll be better with each of them as it happens. I only have today.
My girls were also diagnosed they are 21 and 19…all our lives we have been wanting to adjust ourselves to fit into a world that isn’t necessarily aware of what we need. I am determined to look at what is good about me and the great qualities my children have. I have had conversation with my husband to help him understand the symptoms and how they affect him, me and the girls. It is difficult for him because he says “why” can’t you just do it…I always say “It is like I’m being driven by something totally outside of my body” I know better but can’t seem to move in the right direction. I beat myself up enough…don’t need someone asking me “why” then telling me “how”. ADDers cannot be compaired to non-ADDers. I have explained that when he talks in that manner it only intensifies the symptoms. I have explained I needed him to ask me how he can help me because he doesn’t understand what happened. I find it easier then blaming or accusing me. Medication has really supported us in making better decisions but I still mess up now and then but now I find that I reflect more on my strengths then my deficits (have enough of those). My strengths are what keep me alive and happy…feeling positive and healthy mentally. Take a look at yourself…you have survived 47 years of someone saying “what is the matter with you?” now take a look at the next 47 years and say “what is great about me? “Live off of that and realize that we all have deficits and they will appear but your strengths are larger then that….I would suggest you write down somewhere what great characteristics you have and look at them everyday…BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!!! you are worth more than anything…I know I am and my kids know that too…Keep your spirits up!! you were put on this earth for a reason and it wasn’t to be a labeled a “lazy stubborn lazy ass”. Accept that you aren’t always going to do everything the way you want or someone else…just KEEP BELIEVING…i’ll promise you that you will feel better about YOUSELF…I know I have. Hope this helps…bye for now your fellow ADDer friend.
abslt0, I agree with Elizabeth. Believe in yourself!
If you have made it this far, you MUST have a lot going for you! I finally went on meds last summer to help pull all the pieces of my life together. I’d gone through a bunch of really serious medical issues/surgery which added a lot of extra stress to my life. When I returned to work I was met with disaster there, too. I knew if I didn’t come up with a plan I’d surely end up sinking so I figured, “What do I have to lose by trying meds? If they work, great! If they don’t work or do anything……well at least you had a plan and tried to do something. You can’t fault yourself for trying to get things under control. ”
You know what? For me at least, the meds have made a BIG difference. A stunning difference, in fact. It was like finding out, “Oh, so this is what it’s like for everyone else!” It was really rather upsetting to find out that life could have been quite a bit different for me if this option had been available to me years earlier (AND if I had tried it). By saying it was upsetting to me, it was because I realized that much of my emotional baggage caused by the endless chastisement I’d had over the years for my ‘behaviour’ need never have happened! I’m sure you’ve heard it said ‘If I could just turn back the hands of time….’ Wouldn’t we all do some things differently?
I’m sure the perceived ‘misbehaviours’ that our loved ones/co-workers have complained about (at least for most of us) were never intentional. I know that was true for me. That was what was most upsetting to me once I started meds. It was that ‘aha!’ moment. I suddenly felt that I was the one truly in control and wasn’t left dealing with “what ever possessed you to say/to do THAT?”
Perhaps you could talk with your MD and get referred to a doc who deals with adult ADHD to check out options/treatments for you, even if just for counselling or sources for coaching on organizational skills . Believe me, it’s not always easy to get that referral for ‘adult’ ADHD (I was told over and over by my MD that there is NO SUCH thing) but push for it anyway. Everyone deserves to feel good about themselves. If a treatment makes life and relationships easier (like they are for everyone else) why not look into them?
You’re worth it!BettybooMember
Hi zsazsa, great answer and comments I actually was shaking my head saying YAH! that is exactly how I feel now. Great job!!!
Today, I wake up every morning thinking what can I do even greater today…it feels ten times better then before as I would be dreading what was going to happen today or what mess do I have to clean up today.
We are all worth it as we were not put on this earth to be or feel miserable…I would always say keep your chin up we only live once!!!
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