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

The Forums Forums Emotional Journey My Story The Distracted Violist: How ADHD has affected my Weight, Self Esteem, and Dreams

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  • Violexie0071
    Member
    #91111 |

    I was simply hashing out my feelings and emotions until I came up with words that actually describe how I feel and what I’m going through pretty accurately. And since they do – I figured that I should share it with you guys.

    I feel overwhelmed often, especially when it comes to my weight – like there is NO way that I can fix everything that needs tweaking on my own. In the end all of my failures are mine and that is a demon I know all to well.

    My ADHD is something very new to me. I only just discovered that I had this disorder last spring. I have been unknowingly battling it my whole life. It’s like I’ve been slaying an invisible dragon that I didn’t know was there and feeling badly about myself for barely making it out alive. But now I can see the beast, and know that he is as much a part of me as he is my enemy.

    People with ADHD tend to be creative, insightful, talented, and visionary. I have been a violinist since the age of five and I picked up the viola on a whim when I was 15 for a double audition to the Mannes College of Music Prep division in NYC. I have always excelled in writing, history, and the arts. While science and math were not particularly stimulating to me in secondary school, I always did well in them. I spent the first 5 years of college sliding by the skin of my teeth. My goals dropped from Pre-Med to Education (which is my true passion anyway) but I watched my self esteem from my massive HS senior year weight loss crumble away as I labeled myself as incompetent and unable to live up to my own standards.

    Learning about ADHD has helped me to understand my eating habits and irratic weight gain. I am impulsive. If something looks sweet, salty, or visually alluring I eat it regardless of my appetite. I wouldn’t have admitted that about 6 years ago – I had no idea. I thought that weight-loss was only all about portion control, a balanced diet, and exercise. And I mean, when I got the lap band when I was 17, I did experience a magnificent weight loss and boost in health and self esteem. If I could go back in time I would make the same decision about that surgery. Managing your portions are a big piece of the puzzle and the lapband is NOT a cop out or a silver bullet like so many people wrongfully think. But here’s the thing, I’m not greedy, I’m not a glutton. I have poor impulsivity control and then I hyper focus and fixate on the given temptation. [Hyperactivity, Inattention, and Impulsivity are the three main cornerstones of ADHD. I have the inattentive sub-type with minor hyperactive symptoms.] Often I just follow my impulses with out thinking and then I have no room for actual food. And who wants health food when you’ve been fixating on cheeze doodles and jolly ranchers all day? When you are in hyperfocus, it is like nothing can stop you from fixating on that one thing. This is dangerous when it’s paired up with impulsivity because I can get the impulse to do or eat something and then it turns into a fixation.

    I am learning. I am coping. I am getting back on the horse again. This journey isn’t just about having a better self esteem or being healthy or slimmer. This is about getting my whole life back on track. I want to be the competent, distinguished, reliable, and wonderful person that I know I can be. I’m tired of never living up to my full potential, I’m tired of doing 25% of what I’m capable of! It’s going to be tough, but it’s time to break free from the chains of ADHD and show the world what I really can be.

    ~The Distracted Violist

    Hiya Violexie, I’m only responding to your post because it hasn’t had one yet! :D I reckon that you’ve done well to achieve what you have achieved! Potential is a word that I grew to loathe as a kid, for I supposedly had the ‘potential’ to be anything, yet all that I’ve ever tasted is mediocrity as the quintessential under-achiever! 😆 Just like you I’m at the early stages of coming to grips with the ‘label’ of the self-destructive jihadist that lurks within…on my good days I find myself catching my breath as I dare to contemplate savouring the unknown delight in seeing something come to fruition that isn’t as a pile of smouldering rubble loosely connected to the long trail of debris that litters the path of my shambolic train wreck of a life… 😆

    Violexie0071
    Member

    Thanks for your post Allan. I appreciate what you have to say and I’m thankful for your camaraderie.

    In my life time, I’ve only ever been labeled an under achiever by my parents. But college was… rough. It still is, I’m really still at the start of things. I’m a biology major in a competitive school known for its sciences and features class sizes of 300 and up. The atmosphere is very cut-throat – every man for himself – fight kick and scratch for every point. Almost every other person you meet at my University is pre med. Don’t get me wrong, I still have this strange love for my school, but it is a situation where you must give 100% or you will sink – and I have been operating at a fraction of my full capacity especially with the added stress of college. Then my junior year, I couldn’t take the torture of getting C after C in a field of study that beat me over the head more than it could ever stimulate me. My parents would disown me if I ever dropped the biology major – so I added Music as a second major. In my senior year, I applied for the science education program (this was two years ago in the spring) and got accepted – so now I am also perusing a masters in education.

    So here I am in my 6th year of college just now figuring out how to function and actually compensate for ADHD. Sure adding fields of study that I am more readily stimulated by and passionate about helps, but at this stage everything is an upper division course on a highly scholarly and academic level. 25% doesn’t cut it. And it disgusts me. I want nothing more than to give 100% and reap the rewards that I know I am capable of getting. What can I say? I have to take things one day at a time. Today it’s 25%. Maybe tomorrow will be 35% and perhaps next week 40%.

    Fabulous
    Member

    Hi Violexie! I hear you! I struggle with my weight too. I use a tracker to stay on my diet, but I find that I have “relapses.”

    But, like you, I do get back on the horse again, which I have come to believe is the most important part of making any change. It’s nice to hear from you. I’m making flax focaccia as I write this, so I’ll share the recipe: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/breads/r/flaxbasicfoc.htm

    (And I will give you a heads-up if it is terrible!!! LOL I’ve never made it before.)

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    I have always had weight problems myself. I just found out about my ADHD 4 months ago. I was put on medication for it, Vyvanse and Adderall. It has changed my life in so many ways for the better. But one additional benefit is my loss of appetite due to the medication. I am also able to focus on an actual diet and stick with it. (planning meals and making healthy food choices). The medication has also made my impulsivity to over eat more controllable. I have also regained my motivation to exercise. I have lost 40 lbs since my treatment began.

    Violexie, are you on any medication to help you with your ADHD issues??? If so do you get the same benefits as I? I truly believe that a lot of my struggles with my weight were due to my untreated ADHD. (inability to focus and finish things as well as impulsivity, self esteem ect.)) I am 48 years old. I managed many times in my life to lose a considerable amount of weight only to put it back on within a couple of years. Over the past couple of years it has been next to impossible due to not being able to stick with it and not being able to control my impulsivity not to over eat and make healthier food choices. I believe that as I have been getting older my ADHD symptoms have become more pronounced and more difficult to control/deal with.. The medication has really helped me. I suggest trying some medication out if you are not. If you are on medication maybe a change in type may help, there are many options.

    Wishing you all the best!

    shutterbug55
    Participant

    Hi Violexie0071,

    Very few posts have moved me to tears like yours. ADDrs are not Lazy, Crazy or Stupid (I love that book). The world tells us we are all the time, and points at our faults and says “SEE?! I told you! … And this proves it!”.

    I would give anything to play an instrument, but I can’t get my fingers to move that way. I am in awe of people who can, because I love music so much. It is one of the few things in this world that bring me peace.

    I have a weight problem as well, and that is where my impulse control is lacking. I know this, and I have asked my family to remove junk foods from my sight. I don’t know where they put it, and I don’t go looking :) I joined Weight Watchers, and noticed there are SO MANY ADD people there!

    I saw you are a new member to this site. Welcome! LOTS of hugs to you.

    Yeah, I’m with you shutterbug, I wish that I had the ability to play an instrument! I just love the piano, the flute, and the violin! If only I could play one of those!!!!!! Or, all of those…. :( To play an instrument, and to be able to paint or draw! Those are talents that I covet more than anything else! *sigh* Instead, what did I get? Bloody ADHD! 😆

    I’m very curious about your measures to ‘compensate’. What are they? How do you manage to pretend to be as competitive as the others? I was never able to do that in certain environments like the classroom, or workplace, for I don’t want to be competitive. It seems so absurd to be friends with somebody while at the same time trying to advance onself at their expense! That’s one of the many weird paradoxes of robot world that I just cannot comprehend…. 😯

    Violexie0071
    Member

    Wow. All the support you guys, I’m feeling the <3. Let try me respond systematically.

    Fabulous: lol The tone of your post lifted my spirits! So it was nice to hear from you too. I can definitely identify with the relapses. For me, it’s this defeated apathy I feel after I experience a weight-loss failure. And then eventually I gain so much weight that I get fed up with myself and try to diet again. I use Caloriecount.com. I think it’s pretty simple because their food database is pretty extensive and the website tells you (on a very general basis) if the food is good for you.

    Pookie: First off, I love your screen name. Secondly, yes I just started Vyvanse 60 mg on Sunday. As far as the effects, I have noted a curbed appetite and a MUCH greater will power to resist impulses. This is only the end of the third day of being on the medication. I have gotten 8 hours of sleep since I started it and I pretty much feel like a crack head. But my body is still getting used to it. That and I am trying to establish a good bedtime routine that will calm me down enough so that when I take my xanax I fall asleep and stay asleep. I started logging my foods on Caloriecount again on Sunday and it is truly my hope that the medication + behavioral control strategies will result in me actually losing the weight and making a positive change. As far as everything else you mentioned in your post, I second all of it. Except for the fact that I am 23 years old. It’s like almost creepy to see how much I have in common with everyone else on this website and many of you are much older than me and on the surface live completely different lives from me!

    Shutter: Awww I’m touched that I moved you. I don’t usually open myself up raw like that on the internet but it seems like a good supporting community on here. Whenever I was on a diet I used to get so angry at my mom for buying donuts and cookies and leaving them on the counter. And then she would get all defensive like: Well if you can’t resist it then you’ll never lose weight anyway! She never got that for me, it’s a little bit easier to resist enticing foods away from home because you usually have to pay for them, but at home I was defenseless against that box of Entemenn’s crumb topped donuts! >.> Anywho, thank you for your warm welcome, and thank you for the hugs! *Hugs back!*

    Allan: I think you kind of missed some what I was saying. The atmosphere at my college is very competitive. It’s very hard to do well there. I quite sure that my University is on the list of the top 10 schools that have the most depressed and suicidal students. And we’re high up too, somewhere near Stanford.

    Me personally, I am not really concerned with competition with a specific individual – it’s more like a competition between yourself and everyone else. When the tests are graded and the averages are determined, where do you lie? In most of the classes your grade depends on how well or poorly everyone else did. So like, no – I am not trying to one up my friends or classmates. That’s petty high school drama that I left behind in 2007 when I graduated!

    As far as compensation … like IDK. I’m smart? I’m talented? I’m genuinely and intrinsically passionate about learning. I’m driven, and I have ridiculously high standards that NOBODY can tell me that I shouldn’t live up to. Before the past 6 months, I HAD NO IDEA I had any kind of disability or disorder or anything. I thought that I was “normal” yet defective in my own right. Like, idk I can’t really tell you how I compensated for something that I didn’t know existed. I was able to get by only using a fraction of my potential until these past few years in University. You ask anybody who goes to my school – could you be successful working two jobs and being a full time student pursuing two majors and a masters on top of that – BUT you can only use about 30% of your full potential. People would laugh. It’s impossible. There was a breaking point. After I couldn’t handle the recurring pattern of mediocracy, mid semester crisis, and the occasional failure I had to seek help. It’s like a switch went off in my head: Ok, something is wrong with me. There is something else here I know I’m capable of more why am I doing so poorly?

    WARNING: Tangent Alert

    Last year one of my students moved on to a new teacher (always with my blessing) but I had been teaching her for the previous 5 years before that. She has ADHD. It’s really her who I owe credit to figuring out what was holding me back my whole life. I always see myself in my pupils, but I slowly began to notice specific patterns of behavior, personality, self esteem, downfall, and success in her that were identical to me. That and over the course of 5 years I had plenty of experience with medicated Kimmy, and unmedicated Kimmy. Though she was clearly hyperactive and I’m inattentive, Kimmy’s behavior, habits, and personality was the most similar to mine when she was unmedicated. Days when she forgot to take her meds or perhaps the prescription had run out. Interestingly enough I usually preferred her with out meds. I never said anything because it wasn’t my place. Sure she was harder to redirect, made more silly mistakes, and would sometimes overwhelm me with chatter and noodling – but she was her happy, bubbly, bouncy, fun, adorable, creative, and most importantly passionate self. A child grows the most as an artist when they have this passion. This fire to to learn and do and conquer – like many ADDers have! When she was on her meds, she would often be sad, seem depressed, had low self esteem, tired, non responsive and oddly detached. Yes we were more productive and got more things done and she made less mistakes when she was on her meds, but idk looking back I definitely think she either needed a dose adjustment or to try a different drug. I also want to add that she was one of my most (if not the most) talented students – truly a rising star. (That’s kind of an overlooked trait of ADD I think.) That’s why she eventually left me fore her junior and senior years of high school for someone with more experience. I actually tried to convince her parents to take her to a prep academy like the ones I went to years before but they refused to leave because they and she loved me and she was doing well under my instruction.

    The whole point of that tangent was that teaching Kimmy, and seeing at least one form of ADHD up close and personal (and having the rare opportunity to study it treated and with out medication) planted the seed in my head. I was far from really taking the possibility seriously at the time but I could never shake the fact that Kimmy and I had so much in common when she hadn’t taken that pill in the morning. Fast forward a few years and here I am today.

    Gday Violexie…it comes as no huge surprise that I might have missed your point, apologies for that! 😳 Self-esteem is always a bit of a thorny issue, no? I don’t hold myself in very high regard, and what few dreams I have left I keep buried deep within for I only expect crap to come my way. I don’t mean that in a self-pitiful way, it’s just my perspective on how I’ve always expected pragmatic reality to manifest itself. I find the optimism that you have perhaps inadvertently disclosed to be quite inspirational, for it gives habitual losers like me the faintest glimmer of hope that there is a way out of the ravine. Years of cumulative disappointment in self have a very adverse effect upon almost every aspect of one’s life to the point of being static, crippled by the paralysis of self-doubt. If one is always told that one is a useless fuck-up that is of no value to anybody then one seems doomed to perpetuate this cycle of negative affirmation, if that makes any sense? 😆 It’s terrific that you’ve managed to achieve some very impressive goals in a super-competitive environment, and even though you might inherently know that you’d be held in far higher regard if you weren’t handicapped by the curse of ADHD, you’ve still managed to maintain a consistency of excellence that has carried you to where you presently are…you’re achieving amazing things! You’re still young, and you have a wonderful opportunity to do so much! At least you’ve been alerted to the beast within, and with treatment and meds you’ll be in a far better position to tame it than if you’d wasted half of your life wrestling with that sucker… :D I hope that you go from strength to strength, and get your accreditation with a distinction or two as icing on the cake! 😯

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Violexie,

    Yup love those Entemann’s!!! Hopefully your side effects from the medication subside. If not, the dose may be too high. Otherwise enjoy the appetite suppression and take advantage of it. Healthy food choices and exercise will definately help. I really hope the medication assists you in your weight loss endeavor. It will still require persistence on your part as I am sure you are fully aware. Like you I was never able to lose weight when I lived with my folks having poor food choices at my fingertips would always lead to failure for me. You are very fortunate that you became aware of your ADHD at a relatively young age…be grateful. When I was diagnosed I could not help but feeling robbed of half my life! I try now to leave the past in the past and move on. I am not that old yet!!! LOL Like you after I was made aware what was really wrong with me I found the internet/blogs very informative. I knew nothing about ADHD prior to my diagnosis. For years I was being treated for Bipolar, depression and anxiety! What a mess!!! All the meds only made things worse for me and I am so grateful I now know what is wrong with me. I want to wish you all the best with your weight loss and other endeavors. Keep us updated on your progress. I believe sharing one’s experience, strength and hope is key to success….

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Violexie,

    Yup love those Entemann’s!!! Hopefully your side effects from the medication subside. If not, the dose may be too high. Otherwise enjoy the appetite suppression and take advantage of it. Healthy food choices and exercise will definately help. I really hope the medication assists you in your weight loss endeavor. It will still require persistence on your part as I am sure you are fully aware. Like you I was never able to lose weight when I lived with my folks having poor food choices at my fingertips would always lead to failure for me. You are very fortunate that you became aware of your ADHD at a relatively young age…be grateful. When I was diagnosed I could not help but feeling robbed of half my life! I try now to leave the past in the past and move on. I am not that old yet!!! LOL Like you after I was made aware what was really wrong with me I found the internet/blogs very informative. I knew nothing about ADHD prior to my diagnosis. For years I was being treated for Bipolar, depression and anxiety! What a mess!!! All the meds only made things worse for me and I am so grateful I now know what is wrong with me. I want to wish you all the best with your weight loss and other endeavors. Keep us updated on your progress. I believe sharing one’s experience, strength and hope is key to success….

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Violexie,

    Yup love those Entemann’s!!! Hopefully your side effects from the medication subside. If not, the dose may be too high. Otherwise enjoy the appetite suppression and take advantage of it. Healthy food choices and exercise will definately help. I really hope the medication assists you in your weight loss endeavor. It will still require persistence on your part as I am sure you are fully aware. Like you I was never able to lose weight when I lived with my folks having poor food choices at my fingertips would always lead to failure for me. You are very fortunate that you became aware of your ADHD at a relatively young age…be grateful. When I was diagnosed I could not help but feeling robbed of half my life! I try now to leave the past in the past and move on. I am not that old yet!!! LOL Like you after I was made aware what was really wrong with me I found the internet/blogs very informative. I knew nothing about ADHD prior to my diagnosis. For years I was being treated for Bipolar, depression and anxiety! What a mess!!! All the meds only made things worse for me and I am so grateful I now know what is wrong with me. I want to wish you all the best with your weight loss and other endeavors. Keep us updated on your progress. I believe sharing one’s experience, strength and hope is key to success….

    Anonymous
    Inactive

    Violexie,

    Yup love those Entemann’s!!! Hopefully your side effects from the medication subside. If not, the dose may be too high. Otherwise enjoy the appetite suppression and take advantage of it. Healthy food choices and exercise will definately help. I really hope the medication assists you in your weight loss endeavor. It will still require persistence on your part as I am sure you are fully aware. Like you I was never able to lose weight when I lived with my folks having poor food choices at my fingertips would always lead to failure for me. You are very fortunate that you became aware of your ADHD at a relatively young age…be grateful. When I was diagnosed I could not help but feeling robbed of half my life! I try now to leave the past in the past and move on. I am not that old yet!!! LOL Like you after I was made aware what was really wrong with me I found the internet/blogs very informative. I knew nothing about ADHD prior to my diagnosis. For years I was being treated for Bipolar, depression and anxiety! What a mess!!! All the meds only made things worse for me and I am so grateful I now know what is wrong with me. I want to wish you all the best with your weight loss and other endeavors. Keep us updated on your progress. I believe sharing one’s experience, strength and hope is key to success….

    Fabulous
    Member

    WARNING: the flax focaccia is pretty gross. 😯

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