Dr. Umesh Jain
is now exclusively responsible
for TotallyADD.com
and its content
Dr. Umesh Jain is now exclusively responsible for TotallyADD.com and its content

The Forums Forums What is it? Do I Have it? Mild ADD? Or Midlife Crisis? Wondering/Obsessing, and in Need of a Pep Talk

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  • Curlymoe115

    In Jr and Sr Highschool I was voted the girl most likely to end up a bag lady. Because I carried everything from school with me day after day. Not in an organized, compartmentalized bag, but in a plastic shopping bag where everything was squished to the bottom. Now I carry a purse. Same thing, just looks neater. I have thousands of receipts but I can never find the one I need that day. Luckily I have a phenomenal memory 98 percent of the time. Except for things that I need to remember where I put them, like keys, bank card, purse, book or any of the other millions of other trivial things. But I can remember a conversation that took place 10 years ago. I can still picture the Sex Education Class (28 years ago) that we took when I was in grade 7 including the teacher telling us he was single and he was Chaste. Masturbation was touching yourself, so for months I couldn’t even put my hand on my own leg, fully dressed, without feeling guilty. 😆

    Funny how some things stick with you but something that happened 10 minutes ago just poof because you didn’t make a mental note. DH is always accusing me of not telling him things (and I will admit once in a while it is true) because he can’t remember a conversation from 10 minutes ago just about anytime. I can still picture our first meeting and can describe it with perfect clarity, and he only remembers us meeting a month later. He never remembers birthdays, anniversaries, Doctor or Dentist appointments unless it is written down and he goes and looks. If I know we have an appointment I take pains to leave early so we aren’t late. I will write the time an hour earlier on the calendar because they leave late (but still early :wink:) for the appointment. In the morning he hates when I nag him to get out the door. These I am good at. But I can’t get organized around the house. And because people do not see my house they really can’t tell that I have ADHD. I have a great memory so I do really well on tests. I am an obsessive note taker because it roots it in my head. I can remember your maternal grandmothers dogs name because I made a mental note but I can barely remember to pay the Visa by the due date. I have to look a million places to find the library book that is due because I don’t make a point of putting it back in the bag for the next trip to the Library. Unfortunately DH has made me the ultimate authority for everything. He goes to work to make the money so everything else is up to me. Hates to go out for meals but it is always “not that again”. So I have embraced GOOD ENOUGH Housekeeping. There are no bugs crawling in the house so it is good enough. The kids are fed, they are wearing clean clothes (wrinkles come out in a few minutes if you wear them), the lights, water and heat are still on, I haven’t killed the pets, DH has a lunch and gets supper, there are groceries in the house. I could continue but I think I am doing okay. And my sister is an obsessive housekeeper but she is always carping about something. So my house may not pass military inspection but I am the nice one. I have never been the squeaky wheel, I have the grease.

    ADD/ADHD are spectrum things. You may have some symptoms (disorganized, procrastinates, disordered) but not others. No two ADD people are the same. Cut yourself some slack, and just take it one day at a time. There are sheets that can be downloaded off this site in the DR. section where you can fill out some activity based sheets. Fill one out on yourself and then ask your family, and close friends to fill them out. Tell them to be honest and not worry about hurting your feelings. Then if you need to see your family doctor for referral you have something to back up what you are saying. Often is persistent. Does it happen on a fairly regular schedule. Depending on your hormonal cycle are there times of the month when it happens more regularly. If you are good about writing things down get a journal and jot down feelings when they happen. I know when I am PMSing I am really bad for feeling that I am going to be in an accident. So I have to make sure that if I do drive I pay strict attention.

    If your problem is not Superwoman Syndrome, and you should have done much more (who needs to sleep) then it is really possible you have ADHD. Now whether it needs to be treated and medicated depends on how debilitating it is. Most people cycle through things in their lives. That is why so many make it to adult hood before they are ever diagnosed. You appear normal, so therefore symptoms were either very faint, or compared to others your age you seemed to be normal. It is only when we see ourselves failing that we start to panic and worry that we are not. Until you see a doctor and get a second opinion see if all the strategies that “normies” employ like calendars, daytimers, alarms, ect can make everything all right. Me, I misplace or forget to use these things but I am a stay at home so I don’t have many appointments anyway. And that is what the Post dated bill payment function is for in Automated Banking.


    Wow. Several things going on in your little head.

    As a fellow mom of three, I sympathize. Also, as a fellow mom of three, I would ask how long you have been this way? My third child sent me into a horrible post-partum depression, which added to my ADD horribly, as they have overlapping symptoms. Having a third, you are suddenly outnumbered. If your third is a bear, like my sweet angel that kept pawing at me, screaming at me, and nursed every 20 minutes for 18 months because she was growing like a cow on growth hormones, you really might need to take time out and get some of that kind of therapy. Anti-depressants were actually worse for me, but I do credit them with saving my life. However, the ADD was there before and after the babies (sweet angel is now 6).

    So many things can be out of whack at this point in your life, really, you do need to see your doc. If your primary physician is a supportive individual that you trust, start there. Beware of people who call themselves “post-partum” specialists. Ask for credentials before listening to anything they say. There are nut jobs out there who think that because they experienced this, that they are experts, and even pass out cards and dangerous medical advice. I ran into one.

    Your primary doc should be able to refer you to a credentialed mental health specialist. Your doc should also be able to do things like check hormone levels and do a complete ADD evaluation. He or she also has access to your medical history. If you have known them for a while, they also have a good idea about your personality, and if you talk like a true ADDer in the doc’s office, a fair amount of your family history as well.

    Reading on your own can be a two-edged sword. While it may be enlightening, and get you on the proper path to treatment, it can also be one of those things where you become so engrossed with the particular symptoms, you actually start feeling like you have those. Really, you aren’t qualified to diagnose yourself. Again, I’d go with the doc. The worst that can happen is that you get the help you need for the actual problem you have, instead of running around trying to self-treat and doing all the wrong (and possibly unwittingly dangerous) things.

    Just so you know, this isn’t the worst thing to have. I have a lot of fun being this way, personally. Way more fun than that post-partum depression was, I guarantee!


    By the way, the ADD testing is a lot like the testing on this site. In fact, there is a place on this site where you can view the tests. However, don’t study for it. Just go to the doc, be your own lovely self, and answer the questions honestly. It’s really no big deal. Getting the right kind help is most important.

    Oh, and this: You said, “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. ”

    Also a sign of a giftedness. Sometimes one gets mistooken for another. My daughter is highly gifted, and does this. She also probably has a touch of ADD. Well she’s practically perfect, in my humble opinion :)

    Then it got hard for you. There’s a video on here where a woman talks about how girls with ADD will do fine in highly structured environments, and then it gets harder as the structure becomes less and less as she proceeds through schooling.

    Seriously, call your doc. What do you have to lose, here?


    @Curly – Funny you mentioned memory. I memorised three essays for an exam once. I can remember the date my first cat died. But my past is mostly a fog until something prompts a memory. And I almost never remember birthdays and such. I eventually got into the habit of keeping a calendar in the kitchen, writing on it, and looking at it daily. It took a long time (years and years) and plenty of missed or nearly missed (thank goodness for those places that do reminder calls the day before) appointments to get to that point though. Even still I manage to miss things. I was chatting to a friend today and telling her about my daughter’s progress with an anxiety issue and I suddenly remembered a related appointment my daughter has in the morning that I had not remembered. It’s on the calendar, but so are three other things. Too much clutter in one small square somehow turned my mind off each separate item. I still haven’t worked around the birthday thing. Too many variable to act on. Remember the birthday. Then get the motivation to go out and buy card/gift (or remember to do it when next at the shops). Then I have to remember the card/gift is there to give when I see the person next. Even just wishing someone a happy birthday is hard. I remember at midnight that a friend is about to have a birthday, but have forgotten by the time I see them.

    I do really well on tests too. Something about the time limit and the way they’re set out seems to stimulate my brain into working well.

    I certainly don’t hope to be a superwoman. I’d settle for being able to keep my house half as clean and tidy as most other people’s houses I visit. Laundry put away, dishes done, regular meals cooked, and surfaces wiped over regularly enough that they don’t need scrubbing to get them clean. I am happy to shove clutter into a room and shut the door so visitors don’t see, but I currently have too much clutter for that. I’d like to be able to start something and see it though to completion without a deadline to force me to do it in a mad, last minute rush.

    I am getting better in some areas of my life. My organisation has improved during my adult years. I am better at time management than I was (mostly in the area of judging how long something will take). And if things have a spot to go, then I have learned to return it there after use most of the time so I don’t lose it. But I am also getting worse in others. My memory is becoming increasingly more of an issue. As has my procrastination. I have developed painful arthritis in my knees and back, which has given me just one more excuse not to get moving (even though I know I should), as well as putting an early end to those hyperfocus days when I am capable of spending all day madly cleaning. And the frequency of those days is on the decline too. I have come to a level of acceptance about who I am. I try to play to my strengths and avoid my weaknesses. But I admit I probably need help. Somehow. Because more and more often I get the feeling that things are getting out of control and that my weaknesses are overshadowing my strengths.


    Well Quizzical, as you can tell by the responses, you are most definitely not alone! I think that we all doubt what’s going on. Chalk it up to bad days, and for us ladies, the dreaded ‘hormones’. We’ve spent our entire lives trying to ‘self regulate’ because we know that whatever ‘it’ is that’s going on in our heads isn’t normal, then comes the shame, the self doubt, the spiral…STAY AWAY FROM THE SPIRAL!

    I am also of the mindset that while family docs or primary care physicians are great for a sinus infection or strep throat, DO NOT go to one for diagnosis of any sort of mental illness. I’ve worked in the medical field, in the admin, capacity, for 13 years (yikes!) and I can tell you that the average doc spends 20 mins or less with their patients!! You cannot get an accurate diagnosis, or the reassurance and information that you need in 20 minutes. What you do get is a few head nods, a prescription for a med that may or may not help you and a hearty “Have a good day.”

    Check with your insurance to see what kind of mental health services are covered. Talk to people. This site is a miracle, I truly believe that. Utilize the internet to see what services are offered in your area and remember there is NOTHING WRONG with asking for help! How many of us spent years floundering because we were doubtful of the legitimacy of our problems? I alway said that I was an “A student in a C student’s body.” Now I say, “where there’s smoke, there’s fire, or at least something really hot.”

    I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had walk through the doors at my doc’s office with LEGITIMATE MEDICAL ISSUES who talked themselves out of treatment because they are self described ‘hypochondriacs’, ‘drama queens’, ‘head cases’, etc. My doc always says “You have to give me a chance to save your life.” and I believe that for any one with any kind of issue. Even if 80% of the time, it’s ‘nothing’, that means 20% of the time, it’s SOMETHING. Go and be assessed. All that you have to lose is a copay, basically.



    My ADHD got worse when I hit my 40s (married with two boys, also ADHD). My usual coping techniques, like staying up all night long to finish what I’ve put off, didn’t work anymore. Staying up all night makes my ADHD 10 times worse for the next 2-4 days! Also, at 45, I’m peri-menopausal — hormones are all over the place — also making my ADHD worse. Plus graduate school has a lot more reading than college — it’s impossible to take notes on 1000s of pages each month (note-taking worked great as an under-grad) — and more big projects requiring more planning.

    I finally got help through meds. They really make a world of difference. Getting things done takes less effort. I didn’t realize how much effort it took just to get through the day, until, with medication, life became easier. Counseling definitely helps with coping and beating yourself up for all those years, but not with all the other stuff…at least with me.

    I love Dr. Edward Hallowell’s book, “Delivered From Distraction”. He says in the introduction, “You have struggle heroically your whole life. Now it is time for you to receive the medical treatment you should have received many years ago” (p.xxx). AMEN!


    I have to disagree about primary care docs. Mine spent over and hour with me talking about my ADD (in addition to me chatting about it, but not wanting help, in every unrelated appt. for over a two years), had access to legitimate DCM tests, the same that are on this site, and did something a psychiatrist I saw for ADD did not…he BELIEVED me!

    By contrast, the psychiatrist, whom I first saw for ADD a few years back, blew it off and misdiagnosed me with depression, beginning a round of meds that were way more addictive and definitely did nothing for my situation. In fact, they made it much worse. However, I’m sure there are many legitimate professionals in the psychiatric field, and would not lump them all together because of my bad experience with one (actually, two, and a string of therapists, but that’s another long story).

    My cool guy is not rare, either. When I lived in another state, I saw a guy for primary care that was wonderful (although I never discussed ADD with him), and he was the first guy I saw in that state. Really, there are bad people in any profession. I do find that I’ve had better luck with Family Practitioners, but even these I’ve had to sift through. If I find someone who listens and is willing to learn, then I stick with them.

    I saw an ENT recently who said the biggest part of diagnosing a patient is listening to their description of symptoms. This just can’t be done in 15 minutes for something like ADD. A good doctor, of any specialty, knows this. If you have a good primary doc that knows you, you are comfortable with him or her, and is a great listener who doesn’t rush you out of the office, why shop around?

    This was the mistake I made with the psychiatrist and with some other docs I saw, before I learned how to look for the right person. They didn’t listen, were willing to dose me with the wrong meds for the wrong thing, or ran me out of their office after 15 minutes (except the psychiatrist, who wanted to convince me of my then non-existent depression for the whole hour). I should have not returned.

    While I try to be respectful of not wasting the doc’s time (emphasis on try, I do have ADD, you know), I definitely don’t want them to rush me out the door, especially considering how much money they will be making in that 15 minutes. Just because one is a doctor, does not mean their time is more precious. If yours has that attitude, keep looking.


    Laura, That is interesting about peri-menopause. I have been having the very occasional hot flush and intermittent symptoms that suggest I am approaching the peri-menopause phase of my life (I am 40 this year) and I have noticed that my house is messier and I am less inclined to do the mad rush to clean it before visitors come.

    Sounds like that book is worth a read. A few people have recommended it.


    KrazyKat, I’ve read that even the perimenopausal NON-ADHD woman can experience ADHD-like symptoms like forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating, plus other stuff like anger, anxiety, depression…so for us ADHD-gals, it can definitely complicate matters!

    Here’s a short article from Patricia Quinn, MD (http://www.addvance.com/help/women/hormones.html).


    Holy cow! Where have I been?!? All these great replies, and I’ve been off…well, the usual here, there, everywhere. :)

    I suppose the first thing I should do is give an update on the diagnosis attempt: To date, I haven’t been seen or managed to get an appointment. Initially I was quite fired up to get seen…Well, maybe fired up doesn’t have it exactly right. Maybe “anxious” is a better word, as in, I nervously called my primary-care doctor’s office asking for a list of psychiatrists who specialized in adult ADHD, and I could barely get the words out without choking up.

    Got a list of several names and numbers, and started making calls…and leaving a lot of messages. I was amazed how rare it was to have my call returned the same day. Once I did hear back, I learned that two were not seeing new patients. One would see me, but doesn’t take my insurance, so I opted not to go to him. One had openings….in August. One had a non-working phone number. Actually, that one’s kind of funny. I dialed the number twice and got “We’re sorry; the number you have dialed is not in service.” Checked the number on the web site: Oh, dopey me! I wrote one of the digits wrong – no WONDER! I will now dial the correct number….We’re sorry; the number you have dialed is not in service.”

    I think that was the point that I kind of lost my nerve on the whole deal. After all…why am I jumping through all these hoops when maybe I don’t really have this?….

    On the evening of the non-working number call, I did a little frustrated venting to my husband, which resulted in an interesting conversation with my husband. His conclusion was, “Why do you need an ‘official’ diagnosis? Why can’t you just say you have it, and just….drink coffee?” I’m oversimplifying his point, and obviously he’s oversimplifying, but his basic question was, unless you want to go on meds, why see a doctor? And since I wasn’t sure I really needed to be on meds at the time of that chat, I didn’t have a better answer than, “Well, it would make me feel like everything wasn’t all my fault.”

    And then he swept me up in his arms and exclaimed, “Imperfections?!? My darling, whatever are you talking about???”

    OK, maybe that last part is a bit of fiction. :) I think, unlike the rest of my family, he can at least see and understand that I flake out a little more than is convenient, and perhaps slightly more than is average. But he didn’t seem to get on board with the basic idea that there is anything inherently different about having a professional decide whether my space-cadet tendencies have a name, versus me deciding by my own self that I could call it ADD, employ some ADD-style strategies to my life, and, sure, drink more coffee on those days when I have to focus more.

    So I mulled on that for a while. Still mulling on it, actually, and that’s a whole separate posting, the mulling. Stay tuned.


    Quizzical, I know exactly where you are coming from when it comes to losing your nerve about appointments. I have expressed to a few people in my life about my thoughts that something was not quite right with my son, and nobody seemed to agree. My own mother just said something like “it’s payback! you were exactly the same and just as frustrating, and look at you now – you’re fine”. Well, no, I don’t think I am fine. I can’t keep a clean house, I can count on one hand how many times I have remembered our wedding anniversary in 16 years, and I just cannot find the motivation to do anything, even if I really want to. Anyway, I am getting off track….

    I made my son’s appointment in a moment of anger and frustration after yet another issue cropped up at his school. If not for that, I wouldn’t have done anything due to such self doubt about it. But I am finally vindicated – he had his assessment (2 hours worth) and it showed that he was so obviously ADHD that the psychologist decided she did not need to get the teacher feedback she deemed so important at the commencement of the session!! My son was so exhausted from his 90 minute part of the assessment (that tested his executive functions, I think), that he fell asleep at 7.30pm. And to think, school requires more than 90 minutes of focus a day. No wonder he is not holding things together.

    But…..I did not bring up my own issues :( I sort of skirted around the topic a bit, saying he was very like me, but I couldn’t find the right time to ask about being assessed myself. Mostly because I went in first and answered lots of questions about my son. By the end of my session, I was starting to feel that my parenting skills were being attacked and that the psychologist didn’t believe my son had ADHD. Looking back, I think they were questions she had to ask (eg. do I “bail him out of trouble”, and would he benefit from more serious consequences to his behaviour), but at the time I felt like I was wasting her time by being there, she obviously didn’t believe my son had ADHD, and if she didn’t believe my son had ADHD then there was no way she would believe I did. I now think I have big insecurity issues lol ;) When my son came out and she told me he had ADHD, I said that I was so relieved because I was starting to feel like a bad parent. She was so strong in her denial, stating that my son was a gorgeous boy who was a pleasure to assess, and a real credit to me and my husband.

    We go back on Thursday for two more hours (just parents), to get information, discuss options, and work out strategies to help my son. Maybe I might get up the courage to ask about being assessed. Perhaps if she says “any questions?” then I might just be able to bring the issue up. But maybe not. I just don’t know anymore. Aaarrgghhhh!!!! But at least my son is getting help. It is something to be very grateful for.


    KrazyKat, you’re singing my song on the insecurity issues! I’ve got a million of ’em!

    It must be hard to sort out everything at this stage; I can only imagine how difficult it is to have all this going on in your thoughts while at the same time sorting through everything with your son’s diagnosis. Have courage! It sounds like your Thursday session is the perfect time to ask about an assessment for yourself, so seize the opportunity!


    Wanted to respond to Geoduck’s comment about giftedness because it’s such a good point, and at times I’ve wondered if my mind went wandering off in class because the class wasn’t challenging enough. Certainly I got by in those early years without having to do a whole lot of studying – which made it quite a shock later on where good study habits were far more essential.

    So hard to tease everything apart, really: I remember I started hitting the wall in math class around sixth grade but really started struggling in 7th – was it hormonal? That whole “math anxiety” thing that supposedly plagues adolescent girls? Or was it because 7th grade is when they started splitting off the more advanced students from the rest of the class, and maybe I wasn’t entirely up to the challenge of the advanced class I was in?

    Or was it something about that year’s particular curriculum? There seem to be certain categories in math that I grasped and others that left me in the dust.

    Or was it just the new setting, the building…or the added distraction of sneaking peeks at boys (sure, there were boys in grade school, but boys were icky then :) )….who knows?

    For some reason I have trouble considering myself gifted, although when cornered I’ll admit I was a pretty bright grade-school kid. I have this memory of everything suddenly getting really hard, but what’s funny about that is, for the most part, on paper, it all stays good, even during most of those years when I thought I was struggling so mightily – the grades were all still mostly honor-roll level, with the only really notable exceptions happening during my senior year, when I was emotionally going under pretty generally.

    But, truthfully, I can’t see myself as gifted. To me a gifted kid is someone who pursues interests far more passionately than I ever did. I look at people like my husband and my kids and I would call them gifted, but somehow, for me, I just can’t consider that I might have ever worn that badge. Truth, or insecurity issues? Or both?


    Quoting Steffie101:

    “I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had walk through the doors at my doc’s office with LEGITIMATE MEDICAL ISSUES who talked themselves out of treatment because they are self described ‘hypochondriacs’, ‘drama queens’, ‘head cases’, etc. My doc always says “You have to give me a chance to save your life.” and I believe that for any one with any kind of issue. Even if 80% of the time, it’s ‘nothing’, that means 20% of the time, it’s SOMETHING. Go and be assessed. All that you have to lose is a copay, basically. “

    Those are the words I really need to hear, and I thank you SO MUCH for saying this. I’m one of those people that HATES going to the doctor unless I can be absolutely sure I have a “reason” – and somewhere along the line I have managed to equate “reason” with “positive diagnosis”, as if I am somehow a foolish person – not to mention a horrible person, wasting the doctor’s time – to have something checked out that turns out to be nothing. Have I mentioned my million insecurities? :) Your post was extraordinarily reassuring.


    And now, to Laura, who is my exact age, at least for the next couple of weeks (I’ve got a birthday just around the corner), and who, like me, is riding the peri-menopause coaster:

    Isn’t it a fun ride? Good grief! Hormonal uproar, month after month. I’m definitely far more PMSish in my forties than I ever was before. I never understood that whole “crying-because-I’m-happy” business until this decade hit: “Look! Superman just saved Lois Lane! BAWWWWW!!!”

    I’m tempted to keep a calendar of my flake-outs because I KNOW they would correspond to the end of the month. Yep, that’s when I left a whole bag of just-purchased stuff at the Target counter…..

    I’ve heard that ADD women might need to adjust the dosage of their meds during certain times of the month. Which has me wondering: anybody out there take ADD meds ONLY during “those” times of the month? Is that even possible? Just one of my many, many wonderings these days….

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