Brand-new here, and I pretty much joined just to have a place and opportunity to think out loud. At least this is on-topic, if overly long.
This has been me for the last month and a half:
“I think I have ADD!!!……”
“No, I don’t have it. I’m just being my typical hypochondriac self…..”
“No, I’m sure I have it, I do, I totally do. But only at certain times of the month….”
I know I should just go make an appointment, let an expert evaluate me, and move on.
But I can’t, because the fact of the matter is, I’ve convinced myself I probably don’t have it. After all, I’ve never tried to microwave my wallet, or put my purse into the mailbox. I usually know where my keys are. My family all thinks I’m being ridiculous: “You’re a mom! You have three kids, and they have activities! Of COURSE it’s hard to be organized!” The only reaction not like this one came from my husband, who probably would like to see me pick up a few more of the daily responsibilities around here.
But I think even he has decided that I’m overreacting to that thousand-question quiz I read in Dr. Hallowell’s book that started me on this road in the first place. You all know the quiz I mean. “Are you a maverick?” For the record, that one I answered No. I also answered “No” to the question “Are you chuckling to yourself as you read these questions?” Because I wasn’t chuckling, I was crying.
Maybe that was just PMS. Maybe this is all just midlife crisis: “I’m not like all the incredibly successful people in my alumni magazine!” Or maybe this is about day-in-day-out living with somebody – my husband – who seems so much more on top of Life, the-Experience-Not-the-Game, than I do. Every day I just sort of…pale in comparison to him. But maybe a lot of folks would. He’s a pretty bright guy.
I took Dr. Jain’s quiz and got 6 out of 9, approximately, mostly positive on the inattention part. I’ve actually taken it several times. Depending on what kind of day I’m having, I answer more or fewer of the questions “Yes.” It’s like I can’t make up my mind. How do you define “often”?
Whatever. Here’s me: I zone out at times. I am a TERRIBLE procrastinator. At times in life I’ve been a tremendous daydreamer. I spent most of my elementary school hours peeking ahead in the textbooks, rather than listening to the teacher. Still, I got mostly-excellent grades, although math turned into a major challenge at adolescence, almost as if on cue, and continued to give me major problems ever after. I had a major depressive episode in my senior year of high school, probably from all the pressure of trying to get into a top college. I can be somewhat disorganized. In college I missed my English final because I never consulted my calendar. I’ve missed more trivial appointments, especially recently with two kids in braces forever going in for quick orthodontic checkups, and my Dances-With-Wolves name would probably be “Running Late.”
One of the things I’m procrastinating about is making an appointment to be evaluated. I think I’m just too embarrassed to go to all that trouble, when I’m convinced that I’ll hear that I’m being a typical overwhelmed suburban housewife who just needs to get real and suck it up. Or that I’m having a midlife crisis, or whatever.
I’m not even doing all that badly, at that. Anyone looking at me would say What Are You Trying to Fix, Exactly? I’ve got a nice life, nice family, etc. Kids are all doing well in school. The youngest is a bit unfocused, but nothing off the seven-year-old-boy spectrum. And the oldest is so organized that she will remind me of things I need to do, rather than the other way around.
Still, I can’t stop reading all about ADD to the point of near-obsession. I just can’t let go of the idea that I could be performing better.
My sense is I’m not lacking executive function, it’s just that rather than having a CEO in in the front office, my brain is instead run by some middle-manager type, probably the boss’s nephew, and he likes to take days off, especially at the end of the month.
I don’t even know how to go about getting evaluated. Do I call up my primary-care doctor and say, “I want to be evaluated for a condition I don’t think I have, just so I can get off the damned Internet.”? Seriously, what would I do? Do I make an appointment with my internist, and have him see me? Or do I call his office and ask the front-desk person for a referral for a mental-health expert, or what? I feel silly asking, but exactly what do I do?
I just need a pep talk.AnonymousInactive
holy crap. i was struck by your description of yourself. it is me to a T. the zoning out, the procrastination, the lifelong daydreaming, the excellent grades until math turned into a major challenge at adolescence, the major depressive episode in high school, being disorganized, missing an exam because of a calendar flake-out, and always running late!! seriously, every single one of these. (also, the PMS, gah…)
anyway, all i can say is, if you’re obsessing about this, go see an ADHD expert and get properly tested! you’ll obsess until you do it so may as well just do it so you know for sure. you already know your worst case scenario: the person will conclude that you’re just a regular stressed out person. but you know, i thought that would happen with me too but the whole process was much more nuanced than a ‘do you have ADHD yes or no’ approach. they do really rigorous testing so they can pinpoint what your brain is good at and where it has weaknesses. knowing your mental strengths is really helpful all by itself, and knowing your weak points gives you something concrete to work on. so yeah, just go for it, it is always a positive thing to learn more about yourself.
oh yes i forgot, on the note of how to go about it, i’m not entirely sure, but don’t just let your regular family doc diagnose you. sometimes folks who aren’t specialists in stuff will wave it off or dissuade you from investigating further. don’t let them deter you. find a referral to a specialist who does all the proper testing. i found a referral through the disability centre at my university, they gave me a brochure with a list of local practitioners who do “psychoeducational testing”, and i picked one and called them and made an appointment. it can be expensive but if you have health insurance it can cover it under psychologists (although that requires a dr’s prescription for seeing a psychologist). I’m not sure how else people find specialists in this area but i’m sure there are many avenues.sdwaParticipant
If you want an accurate diagnosis, it might be better to see a psychiatrist than a regular family-practice type of doc. My psy-doc is a woman. She figured it out right away.
It sounds like you’ve gone over and are aware of the symptoms. What I’m hearing in your post is that you’re anxious and obsessing, which is kind of ADDish (do you tend to get stuck in a mental loop and having trouble shifting your attention out of it?) and your brain is run by a middle-manager who takes long lunches, and you’re often late (do you feel like you have more time than you do, or do you notice time expanding and contracting in relation to what you’re doing?) You procrastinate – but do you rise to the occasion in a crisis, or when there is a looming deadline, and suddenly you’re hyper-focused? You say you feel overwhelmed & scattered (which, yes, any mother would), and you sometimes miss important appointments. Do you feel exhausted all the time? Like the basics of daily living are more demanding than running a marathon?
How much are the symptoms affecting your life? The main reason to get an official diagnosis is to get a prescription for stimulants. If you think you might have ADD, you could do more research on it to see if there are coping strategies for the difficulties you face which might be useful even if you don’t have ADD. But if you can’t implement? Then you probably have ADD. LOL.
Have you had these problems all your life?
Right now, I am reading a book called “Women with ADD” by Sari Solden. If you are in a bookstore, I would suggest reading the stories in it to see if you can relate to them. Women are different.
I got my diagnosis when I was 45. I wish I had known earlier – about 20 years earlier. I went down many blind alleys and dead ends searching for explanations as to Why I’m Like This, and Why I Feel Different. Because I’ve always known I’m not on the same planet as most people, and my life has been a huge struggle: jobs, relationships, money, a chronic sense of directionless and feeling of wasted potential that I wish I could access but don’t know how. I was a good student, but that doesn’t mean much, because I was an art major. LOL.
One clue to my diagnosis was that my son has ADHD. When I learned about the symptoms, I started wondering. And I tried some of his medication. Oops! It was like a light coming on. Suddenly I felt relaxed, and I was able to walk down the street and say hello to people without feeling freaked out. Usually if stimulants relax a person, that’s indicative.
One caveat: The pills do not solve everything, they just make it so I can think, without having to sort through a thousand pounds of mental clutter. It’s easier for me to be more self-aware and notice my own behavioral patterns. Many symptoms I thought didn’t apply to me actually do, with increased objectivity.
So, I would suggest that you go ahead and see a doctor, ideally one who has experience treating people with ADD. What have you got to lose (other than the cost of going)? No reason to feel silly about being concerned about your health. As women I think we get more of the “you’re a hypochondriac” type of response from doctors, but hey, they get paid to address patient concerns, not to act mopey and disappointed when we’re not deathly ill. Personally I think it’s because women are different and most medicine is based on a male model – so if men don’t experience something, it must not be real. Or something. Le sigh.
Check it out. You’re still you, in any case.AnonymousInactive
Sdwa is right, only a doctor with experience with ADHD is going to be able to give you a proper diagnosis. I don’t know how many doctors I saw over the decades who diagnosed and gave me prescriptions for everything but!
The only question I have for you is how long have you felt this way? Because once we zeroed in on ADHD, I realized that I’d been dealing with it all my life!nellieMember
You might try a Google search for your area which is how I ended up finding the specialist I did.
I actually thought my husband had the ADD ( still think so but that’s another story) which is how I first started reading about it online – actually on this website. Boy was I surprised! I also thought my daughter did which is why I started the diagnosis route. Being the researcher sort of person I am, I started to look for local clinics or psychologists then lost the info so I managed to procrastinate a few months longer than necessary – how ADD is that ?
I also went through the hypochondriac thoughts etc. but something compelled me to get a diagnosis. My life was never in a shambles either, just really really disorganized. The worst of it I managed to hide. Anyway, the diagnosis was well worth the expense. With actual coping strategies and the meds, I am slowly getting it together.
So bottom line, follow your instincts. Like someone above said, what have you got to lose?agnoscetMember
I’m in the states. Dunno how things work elsewhere. I just know that our local gp or pediatrician wasn’t the answer for diagnosis and medications.
I found the reference for a good local psychologist who administers neuro-psych exams by talking to the director of the local Sylvan Learning Center where my dyslexic/add son takes classes. Then I found a psychiatrist through the University Children’s Hospital who was covered by my insurance to begin the medication process… and it is a process. She happened to be board certified for adults as well, and so now I’m her dyslexic/add patient as well.
We’re going on three years now, and we have our days, but things are much more manageable.agnoscetMember
Thanks so much, everyone, for the words of wisdom & encouragement! I’m so glad I got up the courage to post here!
Groucho Marx, eh? That must make life pretty interesting.
I find that my general pace of life tends to be on the slow side, which is one reason I’ve doubted my initial reaction: I’m not really hyperactive in thought OR deed. Sure, my thoughts wander – sometimes far, far away – I’m what you might call a “ruminator” – but it’s not like I go around bursting with a thousand ideas all day long. Actually, that would be kind of nice. But, again, maybe this is the women – vs. – men thing. Or the inattentive – vs – hyperactive thing.
I was actually quite nervous all day after I posted: “Will anyone reply? Is my message too long? Do I sound like a whiner? Did I get enough pertinent info in there?” I seem to remember reading somewhere that ADD can make people very self-critical. That one certainly is me.
In fact, that’s the one that has me going in circles the most, the self-criticism: I think my family is not intending to dismiss my fears, but rather telling me not to be so hard on myself: “You SAY you’re screwing up, but you’re not; cut yourself a break, you’re doing fine.”
To be truthful, if it turns out I have it, there’s a certain person in my family who I’m going to suggest get tested as well. In fact, I can just picture HIM having it and ME turning out not to.
And I am doing fine, mostly. I just wonder if other folks sit around wondering if there are “concentration exercises” they could do. I get tired of having to reschedule stuff because I didn’t have all the dates written properly on the calendar. And going around all day wondering “what am I forgetting?” Or having my husband call me from the orthodontist’s office saying “Where are you?” No, it doesn’t happen every day, or even every week. Although the confirmation calls are sometimes the only thing that save me: “”Um – yeah! Sure! I’ll be there! Bye!” *click* *scribble, scribble* But, yeah, I’d say once a month there’s a complete calendar goof that requires an apology to somebody. How often is often?
I’m definitely a step closer to taking some action on this after reading all your posts. Because it’s true, I’ve got nothing to lose, as long as my insurance covers the exam, which it should. I guess. Ask my husband……
Which was another sort of red flag for me: The answer to everything is “Ask my husband/Ask your father!” One reason I don’t struggle more is that he handles EVERYTHING. The bills, the finances, the mail, helping the kids with homework, most of the major decisions. For example, when I open the mail I tend to save it all in little piles, Pending Further Action. I love to watch him take a giant stack of stuff and, with no more than a quick glance, toss 95% of it straight into the recycling bin. It’s so impressive!
More than one of the replies asked if I’d had this all my life. I’d have to say yes, although the manifestations tend to change. As a kid I just daydreamed and doodled like CRAZY. Then I got self-conscious about it – especially the doodles – and tried to stop, but only partially succeeded. High school and college was constant procrastination. I think nearly every college paper I wrote involved an all-nighter the night before it was due. As for What I Want to Be When I Grow Up, I’m 45 and still working on that one. I have a couple of part-time things I do these days, but mostly I’m the At-Home Mom.
One of the ongoing sagas over the past couple of months has been The Quest for Hard Evidence, born out of some need to justify (to myself? To my family?) why I reacted so strongly to that quiz in the first place. So I’ve been going through the school papers and so forth. For some reason most of the report cards are missing; perhaps my parents have them. In short, I’ve turned up several nuggets but little else. A couple of old notebooks covered with doodles. A warning notice from 7th grade math with the comment “She seems to be in another world much of the time.” An essay where I complain about losing a lot of pens. A note from a teaching assistant about my lab notebook: “You must get this organized!” But for the most part it’s just a lot of “She is a quiet, hard worker and a good student” sort of stuff. Really, I could go on all day about the various “evidence”, both for and against, I’ve come up with over the last few weeks….
I guess it really is time to take it to a pro.AnonymousInactive
Your experience about the doodles in many ways mirrored mine. On several occasions I would be reprimanded for handing in homework/testpapers with scribbles and doodles in the margins. But the problem was not that I was distracted – it was my own way of coping with the stress of the school work – and failing miserably! The harder I tried to concentrate, the more it slipped away!
GameGuy, I love your user icon!
Funny thing about the doodles is I just read about a study somebody did in England that suggested that doodling may actually improve concentration. Perhaps we’d stumbled onto something that could have been helpful had the world known about it at the time!AnonymousInactive
Thanks, for the compliment, quizzical.
As I recall, I was using the doodles to “help” me concentrate but in reality they were making me more anxious and distracted as I had less and less focus and fell farther behind on my schoolwork. It also didn’t help when I saw patterns in the way the worksheet was laid out and tried to embellish them.
Casual experiment results: Just now made a call to my health insurance (go, me!) and doodled my way through listening to the menu of choices….
Ended up having to replay the message. On the replay, instead of doodling, I wrote down the numbers for each choice, even those that did not apply to me. That worked a lot better. Reminded me that I used that strategy a lot in my later school days – I just wrote down EVERYTHING the professors said, whether I needed to remember it later or not. Because as soon as I stopped writing, phhht…..Brain disengaged.
Time to go find myself an icon…..AnonymousInactive
Hey, welcome to the discovery of ADD and what that means to you. From what you’ve written I believe you have been on the same road as many of us, it just took longer to start seeing the signs along the way. IMHO, stop and see the sign, figure it out and try to understand what it means. Each sign that I’ve only ‘discovered’ by looking back started to make sense to me when I started connecting them while watching Totally ADD. The road behind me suddenly lit up the street lights had been turned on at dusk and I could SEE clearly why. Looking forward the lights came on too because I could picture life in a much different way.
Sure things are still tough, and with that I accept that it took me 41 years to get to this point, it will likely take a few more years to integrate ADD into my life rather than just identifying that I can manage it and just trying to get by. I’ve compared not knowing or understanding this like driving in a snow storm, once the pieces come together for you the storm ends. Flurries pop up, but if you keep moving in the right direction they should stop.
You also reminded me of myself when you said “Reminded me that I used that strategy a lot in my later school days – I just wrote down EVERYTHING the professors said, whether I needed to remember it later or not. Because as soon as I stopped writing, phhht…..Brain disengaged.” We made it this far by learning how to cope, how far we’ve made it depends on how well we managed without help. Now imagine your potential with the right help.
Thanks, CallMeCrazy. I hope I can find the right help; so far I’ve not had much luck finding someone who 1) takes my insurance, 2) Is seeing new patients 3) Will return my calls!
All the extra waiting gives me more time to think “I don’t have it so bad, so why should I bother? I probably don’t even have this.” And then I take a walk and think of three more things from my past that argue for ADD. And then the next day I forget what they are….AnonymousInactive
Quizzical, I hope you get to some help soon. I have sort of started down that road myself in a slightly different manner, so maybe we can share experiences as we go. On an angry impulse (how ADHD is that?!) after my son lost yet another pair of school shoes within 2 months, I spoke to a psychologist about our trials with him and she suggested ADHD testing. So I booked an appointment then and there to have it done. Don’t know how I am going to pay for it but I didn’t think of that at the time. Have contemplated ADHD in the past, but have always been turned off the possibility by him not being particularly hyperactive or really dreamy, so by the time I got home I was regretting my impulse. But did some research online and had my eyes opened big time. I seriously think it is possible he has ADHD inattentive type. And he is my clone, so I have to face the fact that there is a good chance I have it too. A couple of phone calls from his teachers in the interim have made me even more certain. In all his performing arts subjects he is doing well, and his teachers (who seem to cope differently with different learning styles) deal with his differences constructively (though when he told one of them he was being tested for ADHD she replied that it explained a lot). They are also movement based subjects, so there is not as much sitting still in class. Other teachers who teach in a more standard setting find him chatty, easily distracted, disorganised, disruptive at times, and he struggles to complete set work/homework. At home he just does not do chores. Unless he wants money for something and then he wants do do as much as possible as quick as possible so he can go to the shops to spend the money he earns. And I am just as bad as he is. I am surprised my marriage has survived 16 years. I don’t think I have remembered a single wedding anniversary. I know the date, but it passes me by without recognition every year. My husband deals with birthday cards and bills. Our house is a mess. I can’t implement strategies to help my son be more organised because I am just as disorganised as he is. I don’t often run late, but if something interrupts my rigid schedule then I rush around to be ready, forget important items, and feel “off” all day because of the rush. I am a procrastinator and time waster. I ramble. My house is a mess and I struggle to get started on projects. I think I am actually more terrified of being told neither of us have ADHD, because then I would have to confront the fact that I am lazy, unmotivated, disorganised and a poor parent. NOT nice. And very scary!!
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