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Why isn't my life any better since diagnosis?

Why isn't my life any better since diagnosis?2013-11-28T19:24:15+00:00

The Forums Forums Ask The Community Why isn't my life any better since diagnosis?

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  • #123118

    Post count: 38

    Hi there:

    I guess this is a pretty general question. I was diagnosed 24 years ago, and I thought: Halleluja! Finally, I understand what’s going on and I can get some help! Well, I would stick with “help” for a while, medication, therapy, etc–but then I’d lose my job and my ability to pay for my “help.” I would think that, “hey, now that I’m on medication and getting “help” I won’t get fired from my jobs anymore. Maybe I can stick with school.” Well, I still got fired from my jobs, and I’d still struggle sticking with school. When I’d lose my job, I’d have to discontinue treatment. I’ve been in this cycle for 23 years. (Well, 15 actually. My husband has supported me financially for the last 7.)

    However–When I see Dr. Hallowell in a video clip here say, “it only gets better (after diagnosis)” I think…”Did I miss a meeting?” It didn’t get better for me. Does it only get better for middle class kids and people who can afford treatment?

    My life, even since diagnosis, has been one continuous struggle, to keep afloat, to get help, to keep jobs, to actually mostly look for jobs, because almost always got fired–(medication or no medication,) to keep going to school, to pay my rent, to pay my bills, not piss off my room-mates–now my husband, to take care of my child, remember his schedule, my schedule, to feel good about myself, and somehow keep dreaming that things will not only get better, but maybe I can still accomplish a thing or two.

    I was one of those kids that everyone thought was special. Gifted. Talented. I was an artist, a writer, an actress…I was good at sports, and I was “smart.” By junior high, the little things, like daydreaming, forgetting pencils (every-day!) my homework, completing homework, math (dread) were starting to become problems. My behavior, in response to continued harassment, nagging, criticism, begging, and punishment, (grounding until my grades got better) took a big toll on my self-esteem. Eventually, I dropped out high school, stole stuff, wound up in juvie, later I ran away from both my parents homes, respectively(they were divorced.)

    All that early promise I had is just…wasted. I wrote in another forum something to this effect: Everybody, even to this day thinks I’m “smart.” They think I’m talented. They like my paintings, they like the clothes I’ve made. They love my writing. When people here  me sing, they say–“wow,” you should be an Opera singer! (Which actually just makes me cry, because it’s one of the things I wanted to be in high school– One of my report cards in high-school looked like this: F F F F F F ….A! The “A,” was for Choir. Or wow, you should be…you’re so good at..blah blah blah.

    I want to give my talents away to someone who might actually do something with them. Here ya go, people–I’m multi-talented. 6 people can have one of my talents–go forth and do something amazing with it. I want to give my intelligence away to someone who will actually DO something with it.

    I am so tired of befriending doctors and lawyers, knowing that I am just as smart as they are, and yet…here I am. A high school drop out, with a history of homelesness, unemployment, and under-achievment. And furthermore, several of the Doctors and Lawyers I’ve known in my life, CLEARLY have ADHD! How did they MAKE IT THROUGH SCHOOL????  I had a doctor friend, who when we’d go to get in his car, one of the many papers littered about his car would float out the door in an updraft!  He went to Reed College, Cornell University, and Medical School! This man, was an alcoholic, and couldn’t remember his arse if wasn’t attached! He was chronically late to everything! WTF is MY excuse???

    I digress.

    Why didn’t it get better? Can it still get better? I want it to. Where and how do I start again?

    Sorry. This probably isn’t the appropriate place for this.

    I just feel like little lone wolf. I just want to howl my story into the wind to who ever will listen.



    Post count: 906


    This is totally the right place for this and you have nothing to apologize for. Most of the people here have had very similar experiences. I was really smart and full of potential too. And my greatest success in life so far has been managing to hold the same crappy minimum wage job for 6 years. Nothing to brag about.

    The simple answer is because there is no cure for ADHD. Getting a diagnosis only gives you the satisfaction of knowing this is something real and that there is an explanation for why you are the way you are. Even with medication you still have an ADHD brain and there is nothing you can do about that.

    You do have to do the work yourself.  The medication is just to give you a little kick to get you started and make it easier to manage your symptoms. It  won’t magically make everything better. But I am sure you have heard that before and don’t need to hear it again.  And as we all know, trying harder doesn’t help.

    As for those people who have ADHD but are still successful, there are a number of possible reasons why they were able to find success. One is that they were lucky enough to find a career that works for them early in life. They may have also had a better support system and better resources to help them. They may have really super high IQ’s. Or they may not really be as successful as you think they are.

    You can’t compare yourself to them. It will only  hurt your self esteem. You are as smart as they are and don’t forget it. It doesn’t matter that you are not a doctor or a lawyer. It doesn’t make you any less smart.

    It’s kind of hard for me to give any specific advice about things that might help because I don’t know myself. I just got my official diagnosis yesterday. I haven’t even started on the medication yet. But it might help to sit down and brainstorm about what you really want to do. What would make you happy? What do you love enough that you can focus on it and do it really well?

    What skills do you have? What are your talents? And what kind of job can you get with those skills and talents? Look into what it takes to get that job and figure out if it’s possible to do it or not. If it isn’t possible, then is there something similar that is?

    It might help to give you something to focus on, a jumping off point. Then you can start trying to figure out how to get it done. And you will need help with that, from your husband or a coach or friend. Don’t try to do it all yourself. You will always have the same problems you have now no matter what you do. So it’s important to have that support.


    Post count: 430


    Great! You got your diagnosis… Now what? Here comes the hard part, bud.

    You get to learn as much as you can about your self, ADD and how ADD affects you.

    You get to ask your significant other(s) for help.

    You get to learn about the treatments for ADD. Drug therapy, counseling, coaching, and something I recently discovered, Occupational Therapy.


    You have been diagnosed with a brain disorder. It’s incurable. It’s inoperable.

    That realization alone, would send most people to the shrink’s couch. It’s a lot to absorb, but because you sought out a diagnosis, you probably thought you had ADD.

    I am married, and my wife is my best friend who has seen me at my best and worst. She and I both don’t want me to be at my worst ever again, so we work very hard to prevent that.  She is my advocate. She takes notes, organizes my questions and keeps me on track. It takes some work on both our parts.

    I take Adderall. I have said many times, that it was tailor made for my brain. However, it took 6 months to find it, and find the correct dosage and timing. It took work and lots of experimentation with me as the guinea pig.

    I see a counselor so I can deal with all the stuff that has happened in my past. I work with a life coach/ occupational therapist who teaches me how to employ tools and recognize when ADD is taking over situations. This means my wife does not have to work so hard to keep me focused and on track.

    I constantly read books, studies, and articles about ADD, because for me understanding what it is, helps me work around it.

    I don’t know what works for you, but if I were to offer any advice, I would second Blackdog’s suggestions. I would add this. Figure out what ADD symptoms bother you the most. Prioritizing them, will help you make changes that affect you the most significantly early on in the process.

    Remember, there is no magical pill or exercise or treatment of any sort that will make your symptoms go away. Anyone claiming they have a “cure” or they can make all your symptoms vanish, is a liar. There are things you can do to make the symptoms have less of an affect on your life. drug therapy alone won’t help much, but with counseling an learning, you can make a huge difference in your own life. That is as good as it gets, but it takes work.

    Also comparing yourself with a “normal”, is like comparing a blind chess player to a sighted chess player. While both types of players can become very good at the game, they have unique approaches to playing the game.


    Post count: 363

    Yeah. My life has improved since diagnosis only because I’ve stopped blaming myself for being different. It is no longer a moral issue.

    Therapy has been of limited value for me. Coaching has been more useful, but also limited. I learned to accept the condition, but haven’t learned much about how to better manage my life. I know I’m smart. I’m sure you are as well.  It is not about intelligence, either.

    The amount of money needed to pay for support services can be pretty appalling. A lot of people in what I think of as the ADHD Industry are self-serving and manipulative. The economic reality, for many of us who struggle to stay employed and employable, is that we often just can’t pony up hundreds or even thousands of dollars for help.

    I checked the ADDCA website for lists of coaches, and was disappointed that there aren’t any who specialize in job counseling. How ironic is that?

    Fortunately there are some free ADHD resources around the web. Articles. Attention Talk Radio is good. There are some good books, though a lot of the material is redundant, and as with most books, about 50% filler.

    The best advice I have received is to notice when you are at your best, and try to recreate those circumstances as often as possible. As mentioned elsewhere, having embraced my total weirdness, I’ve noticed I’m at my best when I’m writing, so that’s what I’m trying to do more of.

    ADHD is a real limitation that won’t change. There is no magic solution. Ending the self-blame is important.

    Don’t listen to any “experts” who try to guilt-trip you about where you are with your ADHD, either. A lot of them do it – I find it pretty revolting, actually.



    Post count: 906

    @shutterbug55 Thank you for that. Some great advice there. Identifying what symptoms affect you the most is something I was just thinking about yesterday. Because I was thinking about seeing my doctor next week who really doesn’t get it and probably never will.

    I have difficulty expressing myself and when asked about my symptoms I ususally end up saying something like “well, I have a lot of trouble remembering things and concentrating”. Which instantly gets me diagnosed as depressed.

    But the number one problem for me is disorganization. That is where the ADHD shows it’s ugly head the most. But because I am embarrassed to admit how cluttered my house is and how I can’t find things, I make up stories and cover it up. So no one ever knows.

    And since joining TADD and remained everyone’s comments I have started to recognize just how much ADHD affects my life every day. All the little tiny things that I don’t even notice because I am so used to it. Like  when my mother asks me to get the Tylenol out of the medicine cabinet and I say okay then go to the kitchen and get a bowl of cereal.

    @sdwa That is the only reason I went for the diagnosis, to get that validation that this is something real and it’s not just a failure on my part. Well, that and to get my doctor to prescribe the medication.

    The rea sources are expensive and I am now in a position where I simply can’t afford it. But it does help to learn as much as you can on your own. And there is a great group of “coaches” right here that willingly share their knowledge every day, free of charge. 🙂


    Post count: 8

    I understand that the medication might not last so it’s important to bring in therapy to help organize one’s life – then when and if the medication fails you have some system in place.

    Or at least this is my theory. So every day with medication is also a day with therapy (kind of )

    that’s the only way I can see my life getting better – hope yours does too. .


    Patte Rosebank
    Post count: 1517

    @Arttubelady, medication alone isn’t a “magic bullet”. It’s more like training wheels, to help us with figuring out the strategies to keep us on-track…but we still need to learn how to ride that bike!

    And here’s the really frustrating part: When we find a strategy that works for us, it’s so exciting that we embrace it wholeheartedly, as “The Answer!”

    But, after a while, it becomes routine…and boring…so it no longer works for us. And we have to find a new strategy to replace it…which, eventually, will get routine & boring too. So, we’ll have to find a new strategy to replace it.  Or, maybe, we’ll be able to go back to the first strategy, since it’ll seem new & exciting again…for a while.

    “New & exciting” is the key, because our brains thrive on what’s interesting. If it’s not interesting to us, it just doesn’t engage our brains enough to get us going.

    It’s definitely a life-long process!


    Post count: 11

    I won’t pretend that I know what you’re going through, because not only do we have completely different lives but because ADD affects everybody differently. However, I would like to offer some advice of my own:

    Things didn’t change much after my diagnosis and only changed a little when I started taking a medication that worked for me. It wasn’t a simple solution – I took advantage of the benefits that meds gave me in order to focus on one part of my life, school, and ignored everything else. Adderall makes it easier for me to think things through to either resist my impulses or force myself to do something; it doesn’t make my impulses go away or give me the drive that I lack. The reason that nothing else changed was because I didn’t do anything to change them; I didn’t build good habits or deal with the side effects of my meds, instead I made sure that I did well in school.

    I would recommend three things, which I’m still working towards myself: building a support network, such as the Totally ADD forums, professionals, and/or loved ones; looking into and using the resources and information that are available to you, such as websites or library books; and finding out what works for you.

    There is one more thing that I was considering. I’ve noticed it myself, and it may not be the case; please take this with a grain of salt: a diagnosis is an answer, but it can also become a label or an excuse. It can be easy to just attribute the difficulties to ADD and just give up trying, accept them as inevitable. It’s something that I need to work on – I need to distinguish between the fact “I have ADD” and the excuse “I have ADD”.

    I don’t know how helpful any of this will be.

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