I’m a 36-year-old female with twin special needs children. One boy has high functioning autism. The other diagnosed with a PDD-NOS autism, and most recently ADHD.
I have had troubles my entire life. Who hasn’t, really? But mine just seemed extreme. I’ve constantly gone to doctors for bouts of depression and anxiety. When I start losing control of my routines and I’m dropping the ball on a lot of things, I really start beating myself up over it.
Then my son was diagnosed with ADHD by a child psychologist and is being treated by his pediatrician. And his problems? They mirror what I went through as a kid, only I don’t remember running around nearly as much as he does.
Luckily I saved some report cards and notes from teachers when I was younger.
First grade – always lacked self-control. Had a hard time following directions, not listening, didn’t accept responsibility. Second grade – nothing below satisfactory. Third grade – lots of trouble. Problems with self-control, responsibility, and completing assignments. There are also two notes from that teacher:
“… is easily distracted from every assignment. She needs to improve her attention span. …. is a very abled child but doesn’t complete assignment, if she does complete an assignment she can’t find it. We have talked about these skills and how to improve. With your co-operation I hope we can strengthen these weak skills to get …. on task.”
“Please have … practice her math facts and reading. … received an unsatisfactory for Literature because she didn’t do any book reports this marking period. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable vacation.”
Fourth grade – lost report card. Fifth grade, started out bad, but improved.
This is pretty much because my parents threatened to take things away from me or hold me back a grade. I daydreamed a LOT, my mind was always wandering, I couldn’t focus very well. I was always losing my lunch money, pencils, homework, or notes that I even needed to do homework.
Middle school I remember just getting by. I also started smoking cigarettes.
High school I almost failed. Once again, couldn’t focus, lost things frequently, and I started feeling the anxiety and depression then.
Second year of high school two close friends died within a month of each other. I was grief stricken, problems at home, and just had the thought of taking a bottle of pills so it could all go away. Immediately afterwards, I regretted it, and sought help. I was sent to a mental hospital, an EEG was run, and I don’t remember the diagnosis, but was told “You basically think faster than you can keep up with.”
They put me on medication and sent me on my way nine days later. I stopped taking the medication after a month because I couldn’t stand the way it made me lethargic and zombie-like.
I’ve had numerous jobs, numerous relationships, and the bad ones would send me spiraling out of control until I finally walked away from them.
I’ve tried my best to get myself straightened out over time with general practitioners. Antidepressants and benzodiazepines have made me tired, put a fog over my brain, make me even more forgetful, and wreckless… some antidepressants have done nothing at all.
I met my husband and started getting myself stabilized. Found a job where I could get out of my seat once in awhile without someone complaining about it. I even managed to quit smoking several years ago. I’ve socially withdrawn because when I talk, people seem to look at me like I’ve got three heads. I do have a problem with staying on topic because I’m always looking around and sometimes something catches my attention. I once even almost forgot my new babies at home when my mother asked me if I wanted to go out for lunch. I said “Sure! I’ll grab my purse.” She asked “What about the boys?” It freaked me out that I would forget them for a second and was glad that she was around. I still stay up until around 2 AM, my mind thinking about things I need to do or trying to research ways to help my kids.
Fast-forward to last week. I went to my GP with some anxiety issues. I’m highly distracted lately, especially with the kids being home, the noise they and their electronics and the television makes, the stuff they always ask for me to do, everything seems to be going on at once, my focus and concentration is getting worse, nothing is getting done, and sometimes even as much as TEN SECONDS after someone says something that I have to remember, I go to put it on my phone list (which I use to remember things that I have to do) and I’ve drawn a blank and need to have it repeated. Or I forget things that I need to pick up at the store.
The new GP (I just moved here) asked about hallucinations, any mania. I don’t have that. I don’t have extreme highs or lows. I feel defeated sometimes with everything that I deal with, but it is what it is, and I try my hardest to keep moving forward. Prescribed me an antidepressant and an antihistamine, said it would take 4-6 weeks to work. I had to quit it on the 3rd day. The 1st day my autistic son had to wake me up off the couch because the medicine made me doze off, telling me that my other son needed assistance in the bathroom. 2nd day my husband looked at me (I wasn’t taking the antihistamine for anxiety anymore after the previous day’s incident) asking me if I was okay to drive. 3rd day & the day after… a nasty headache set in.
I’ve got an appointment next week to meet with a psychiatrist. And I’m pretty anxious about it.
Sincerely, I apologize for this novella. I really needed to rant.
Did you know that ADHD is almost always hereditary? From what you describe here, combined with your son’s diagnosis, I would say it’s a safe bet that is the correct diagnosis for you. Some people also believe there is a connection between autism and ADHD, though I don’t think that has been proven. Depression and anxiety are very common companions of ADHD as well. But your lack of success with antidepressants makes me think that the doctors are missing something there.
When you say you are going to see a psychiatrist do you mean you are going for an assessment, or just for a regular appointment? And are you hoping to get an ADHD diagnosis?
You should take your old report cards with you when you go. And write down some examples of your symptoms, like the one about how you go to write something down and then can’t remember it. But getting a diagnosis of ADHD is not always easy. Some psychiatrists still don’t believe that ADHD exists and many don’t believe that it persists into adulthood. If you don’t get the results you want from the psych you see next week then you can try looking for one who specializes in ADHD. If possible, you should try to get a full assessment done. But they can be quite expensive.
In the meantime, hang in there. And feel free to come here and rant away. No apologies necessary.
From what I’ve read, it’s hereditary, and as I said, my son’s symptoms are everything I experienced. Minus the running. I don’t remember doing that much.
I’m going in for an assessment because general practitioners only treat what they see and possibly what the patient sees. I never knew about ADHD much until I went to get my son diagnosed, and saw everything I’ve lived with. And then, I see the depression/anxiety issues others have dealt with. The forgetfulness thing never came up before because I’ve been able to cope and compensate. Keys by the door. Shoes by the door or outside my closet. Cell phone on 1 of 2 chargers or by computer. Purse in my room in the same spot. I use my to-do lists and cell phone calendar religiously. Eye glasses by the bed. But I have 2 little beings constantly distracting me, often talking over top of each other, with stuff going on in the background, and I find myself dropping the ball more and more.
Childhood I daydreamed. A LOT. As I got older though, the daydreams turned into zoning out. Not fun in the middle of an important meeting about my kids future at school, I’m looking directly at the teacher, and I hear her words but they’re not processing in my head. Or talking with the school social worker for an interview about my kids, and I notice a mug that looks like my favorite one that you can’t get anymore sitting on his shelf and blurt it out.
This one seems to specialize in childhood ADHD, I didn’t pick him, it’s a practice, but he sees adults too.
I’m not really hoping for a diagnosis of ADHD, but to me, it sure as hell makes a lot more sense than depression/anxiety bouts over the years. I go without it for a very long time until I get stressed. Then I get anxious. And my mind starts to declare war on me by withholding information I need, the routines start falling apart, and in the end, so do I.Patte RosebankParticipant
Most ADHD is indeed hereditary.
And now, scientists in the UK are studying ADHD and Autism symptoms in babies.
You are describing the inattentive subtype of ADHD perfectly. You are also describing me perfectly. We could be twins.
Except for the coping strategies, like always putting your purse in the same spot and your keys by the door. I try, but it never lasts long. I started keeping my keys clipped to my purse a long time ago because I don’t forget my purse as often as I forget my keys. But then I change purses and forget to transfer the keys. Or I am just going to the corner store to buy milk so I stick the money in my pocket and leave my purse, and the keys, at home. I almost did that one today. Remembered just as I was about to close the door behind me.
Having twin boys is a lot of work for anyone, even without throwing special needs into the mix. It is understandable that you would “drop the ball”. Try not to be too hard on yourself and don’t worry about the little things.
Most of the psychiatrists who specialize in ADHD focus on children, since diagnosing adults is relatively new. But the process isn’t that much different. The symptoms just change a little over time, like daydreaming becoming zoning out.
It sounds like you are doing everything you need to already so you don’t really need any more advice.
I can understand you not wanting the ADHD diagnosis. But if it is the right diagnosis it will make a huge difference. Whatever treatment option you choose to go with, it will help with that stress/anxiety/depression cycle. Just knowing what the cause of the problem is gives you a good place to start to figure out the solution.
Just an update.
Visited the psychiatrist today. He took one look at my old report cards, and immediately assumed that I’ve been diagnosed before. I told him I wasn’t, ADHD didn’t exist as a condition when I was a kid.
Starting on Ritalin IR and working my way through there. I always knew something was wrong with me and my faulty memory, my constant not sleeping at night, my foot tapping, my impulsive behavior, and now I’ve got a name for it. ADHD combined type.
And now I know what I need to work on and I’m finally getting help after all these years.
That is great news. It’s a relief to be able to put a name to it, isn’t it?
Normally I would say that diagnosis was too fast, that there should have been more a thorough assessment. But your history combined with your son’s diagnosis does pretty much confirm it in your case.
I hope the Ritalin works for you and you get some relief from it. You already have some great coping strategies so I am sure you will do well.
And I hope you will stick around and participate in the forums, if you have the time for it. You could offer some great advice to others, especially the parents who are struggling. 🙂
Definitely going to stick around. Though I have a few friends that I also know have ADHD, there are still some people that don’t think it’s a real condition. One “friend” upset me greatly when she said I should “leave my autistic son alone” and you knows, just let him be him instead of getting him therapy. And that I shouldn’t medicate my ADHD son. I’m just not going to bother with her anymore, and deleted her from my existence. I just got his report card a few days ago, and he’s SIGNIFICANTLY improved on his grades. His reading has gone up, his math scores are maxed, his “life and citizenship skills” have dramatically improved. Teacher is happy, I am happy, and most importantly — he’s happy. I don’t want him to have to suffer and be punished for who he just is. I don’t want him to suffer the depression and anxiety that comes along with the condition. I got him help as soon as I possibly could.
But I also realized I needed help myself. The psychiatrist noticed I had a lot of emotional ties behind my responses, and I do. It’s all been out of frustration. I’m angry that I’ve had to struggle all this time. Being more aware of what I have (especially after doing lots of research) I have a better understanding of what I can do in the future. I’ve always gone to doctors with different pieces of the puzzle, but it wasn’t until I was concerned about my son that I could put the pieces together for myself.
I’m not telling my husband what I have. I’m not telling him what drug I’m taking. I want to see how HE sees me after a month to see if he sees the same difference in me that I do.
Today I actually have some relief though. And even though I’m not depressed, suddenly there seems to be a lot more hope.
Well, I would like to give that friend of yours a piece of my mind. Especially about the autism. Early intervention is critical for children with autism. The earlier the better. It makes all the difference. And if your ADHD son has improved on the medication and isn’t having any negative effects from it then it was obviously a good choice. And it doesn’t necessarily mean he will always have to be on medication. He may find his symptoms are not as bad when he gets older and be able to manage without it.
I wouldn’t write your friend off completely though. Everyone has an opinion but few people have any real knowledge of ADHD and Autism and it is that lack of knowledge that makes them say stupid things like that.
And I can’t believe that I just said that. I sound all grown up and rational and stuff. What happened? 😯
I recently stuck my foot in my mouth (where it can usually be found) when I mentioned medication to my sister-in-law. I had assumed that her son with ADHD is taking medication. I didn’t know that she is against it. According to her all he needs is someone standing beside him making sure he is doing his school work. That’s great, but what’s he going to do in the real world where he doesn’t have someone to hold his hand every minute? And considering that he is doing very poorly in school right now I would say that strategy isn’t working. (well, I wouldn’t say it, but I’m thinking it)
I am in favour of trying to go medication free whenever possible though. It is, in my opinion, healthier in the long run. But it comes down to quality of life. If the medication is going to significantly improve chances of being happy and successful, and the positives outweigh the negatives, then it makes sense to use it.
I got tired of spinning my wheels, of working hard to get nowhere, of being depressed and miserable all the time. So I started taking medication. It’s too soon to tell if it is really going to make a difference, but at least I feel better, which at this point in time is enough to make it worthwhile.
That is an interesting idea, keeping it from your husband to see if he notices a difference. It is very helpful to have that outside perspective to judge things by, since it is so hard for us to judge for ourselves. But I hope you can count on him to be supportive if/when he does find out.
I’m writing her off because she’s a total whack job. She has no kids, telling me how to raise mine, and she’s my age still living with her parents. I looked up her court records for giggles, and there’s at least 20 entries for her listed as “defendant” — it’s easier to tell other people how to solve their problems rather than work on their own.
Early intervention and different therapies have been key to their current and future outcome. I noticed problems around 10 months and had them tested and diagnosed before they were 2.
I went medication free and almost ultimately flunked out of school. I missed a lot of the concepts taught. I had to work extremely hard just to graduate. I’ve volunteered in my son’s class and saw how distracted he was. I didn’t want that happening to him too. Luckily, he’s a likable kid, lots of friends, and a lot more outgoing than I was. But he was also acting without thinking, even for a split second, and getting himself hurt.
The only negative medicating him is his weight loss. It was pretty dramatic. Weekends and school breaks he’s med-free to gain back some weight. This summer he’ll be off of them most of the time to recuperate.
I decided to seek help when the anxiety started setting in again, there’s so much to do, and I get overwhelmed as to where to start first. I lose things left and right. I go to the store to buy ONE thing, come home with 20 items, but not the item I went to the store to buy in the first place. In meetings with their teachers I’ve been zoning out, missing parts of the conversation, and they’re important. The ADHD son is making so many friends, and that means I’ll have to deal with the parents of those friends. I don’t socialize much because I ramble and get funny looks. 🙂
Today is only the first day, and it’s been an improvement. I would have been wandering around the house, wondering what to do first… for six hours. I’ve already been to the store for what I actually needed, managed to get the living room cleaned, gathered up the laundry, and still have time for myself before the kids come home.
My husband knows I went to the psychiatrist, doesn’t know what for, doesn’t know the diagnosis, doesn’t know what medication. I think he’ll be supportive, especially since he was supportive of helping our son, and if he sees a significant improvement in my mood and what I can accomplish.
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