I've recently learned that I have ADD. I am a 33 year old woman. I have completed a graduate degree and have a decent job despite a lifetime of struggle at work, school, and home that I entirely blamed on myself. I still feel like I am significantly underperforming from where I could be. I literally have never done a single thing my life that wasn't rushed at the last minute. I've just been blessed with enough intelligence that my last minute rush jobs have been good enough to get me where I am today. I know and have always known that I am capable of far, far more than I have achieved if I were actually to ever stay on task with anything - music, art, science, improving my finances. The ADD diagnosis explained this and a lot of other things for me, but it's been about 3 months since I found out and I'm really having a hard time coming to grips with the diagnosis. I spent my entire life thinking there was nothing wrong with me, I just had to try harder, and now I find that I have a disability in my brain. I'm torn between the relief that it's not my fault and the sinking despair that I can never simply "choose" to not be this way - that I'll always be fighting this thing. Beyond that, since I am a scientist, I have been observing my own symptoms and am shocked over and over by how severe they actually are. I've had to put my phone down 23 times in the past hour. I've had to drag myself back to the task I was on 15 times before I even opened the word document I was supposed to create (and which I should be doing right now). I lost my phone 5 times today, my keys 3 times, misplaced half a dozen files, already, etc. etc. I know it's not healthy to observe these things, but I can't help it. It doesn't stop. And I'm getting really strung out. I sit up at night and feel like I don't have a sense of self at all. That my whole life has just occurred in the moment right now and there is no continuity, no bridge from moment to moment. I'm like an animal that simply reacts to the environment that's around me, or whatever happens to be floating through my brain. I feel like everything I am and everything I've done is caused or heavily influenced by ADD and that my identity is non-existent or at best adrift and transient in all of the noise. I felt like I couldn't keep up my whole life and now I'm drowning. And I can't help thinking that if I wasn't born with this, how much I could have accomplished. I need help, advice, support, anything?
Hi, I was diagnosed with ADD in my late 20's (I'm 31 now) so can relate to the different emotional stages of processing the diagnosis. I also struggle with underachievement and goal setting (especially as it pertains to what I want in life/my identity) and have been looking for an adult ADD support group...I've been surprised at how difficult it has been to find one. Hopefully we can continue to grow one here and offer support to one another online. Hang in
First, I am really sorry to hear you're in such despair. Second, I think I can provide reason for optimism. "Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out" — John Wooden Reason #1 for Optimism - ADD is very treatable with medication! That's not to say you'll be cured because you won't, but the symptoms can be minimized if not removed while the medication is in effect. The meds aren't perfect and may require trying a couple different ones until you get the one that's best for you but, take it from someone who's been dealing with this for over 10 years, the meds have the potential to turn your life around, often the first day you start taking them. So, look into medications. Reason #2 for Optimism — there are a ton of resources online and offline for people with ADD. Go to Additudemag.org and get started. Make sure not to forget the "mag" part of the web address, because with that you end up at a porn site. I discovered this the first time I went there and my kids were in the room, fortunately they were on the other side of the laptop screen! (My one criticism of this site, it looks like it was created by someone with ADD! There's stuff everywhere! Doesn't help a person with ADD) Reason #3 for Optimism — you can really help to treat the ADD symptoms by placing emphasis on sleep, nutrition, and exercise. Think about that for a minute, and think about the overall health benefits you can see as a result of discovering you have ADD. Reason #4 for Optimism — you've accomplished far more than many other people, and you've done it while dealing with a "disability""026and now you have a way to minimize or eliminate that disability. Imagine what you can accomplish if you get your ADD under control?! Take care of yourself, give yourself a free-pass for a day, and try to make one small improvement today. Start using your phone to set reminders for yourself. You've been tracking all your "negative behaviors", are you also tracking all the positive things you do? If not, do it! Start a balance sheet, if it's negatively out of balance today then congratulations, you're human! You've got a scientific problem to solve and it's called you! I hypothesize that if you can ease up on yourself a bit, get on some meds and emphasize sleep, nutrition, and exercise, that you're going to be an entirely different person. Anyway, if you were perfect then people would be annoyed by you, and you'd be annoyed by the rest of the imperfect world. Welcome aboard, and enjoy the ride.
"I have completed a graduate degree and have a decent job despite a lifetime of struggle at work, school, and home that I entirely blamed on myself. ... I literally have never done a single thing my life that wasn't rushed at the last minute. I've just been blessed with enough intelligence that my last minute rush jobs have been good enough to get me where I am today. ... The ADD diagnosis explained this and a lot of other things for me, but it's been about 3 months since I found out and I'm really having a hard time coming to grips with the diagnosis."
My story too . Just add in another 30 years before diagnosis at 63 (4 years ago). Like you, being smart and creative (because of my ADD) allowed me to overcome the issues and become a lawyer for a Fortune 100 company (now retired). It was always a terrible struggle, however, and I am still struggling with the diagnosis, the relationship problems, missed opportunities, etc. Then there is the anger, grief and frustration that the diagnosis wasn't made sooner - I am ADD inattentive, not hyperactive and, undiagnosed, spent decades of my life in and out of shrinks' offices getting treated for depression). "I spent my entire life thinking there was nothing wrong with me, I just had to try harder, and now I find that I have a disability in my brain."
It is important to understand that you will come to see that there is actually nothing wrong with you. Lose the disability/disorder idea. We/you are just wired differently and you need to learn more about how your brain works and how to deal with it. Being ADD is like being left-handed; it's not schizophrenia. You are terrific. ADD can be a blessing as well as a curse, depends on your point of view in a very real way. A significant percentage of successful entrepreneurs have ADD because their minds make more/different connections than others and they see opportunities where others do not, for example. One author calls our brain type the "Entrepreneurial Brain" - ("Unlock the Secrets to Your Entrepreneurial Brain Style" by Laurie Dupar).
This is a big job, but like another reply said there are a lot of resources out there. Two good books to start with are "Driven to Distraction (Revised): Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder" by Ed Hallowell and "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!: The Classic Self-Help Book for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder" by Kelly & Ramundo.
Join CHADD and ADDA, find local adult ADD support groups, find a knowledgeable psychiatrist to try you out on medication, find a coach. Lots of things to do. Can be overwhelming, which we are not good at, so take it on in chunks.
Hang in there, best of luck, you can do this! Your life can be substantially better within months, not years. You'll be surprised.
I understand how shocking the diagnosis can be, especially to a scientist. My husband is a scientist, diagnosed at age 37 with ADHD. And I can tell you, more than a decade into treatment, he is a happier, more fulfilled, healthier, more relaxed scientist -- and his work is an order of magnitude better than before. And with less nerve-wracking fixing of mistakes, etc.
My advice to you, is get started with treatment ASAP. The longer you spend spinning in this state, trying to figure it all out without benefit of Rx, the more you can drive yourself batty.
The fact is, despite the ADHD, you are still you. Your particular experience of the very variable syndrome called ADHD is just one small factor in who you are. And, as your treatment progresses, you will more clearly be able to see "you" versus ADHD symptoms.
By treatment I mean Rx, and also if you can find a therapist who is very familiar with ADHD, to help you reframe the past and let go of some mindsets that will no longer serve you ("I always forget things," etc.). If you cannot find a therapist, you can read a few good books.
Best of luck to you, and congratulations on finally getting the diagnosis!
I did not find out I had ADHD until I was 40. I was a nurse for 20 plus years. To this day, I do not know how I coped. Looking back, I was really forced to stay organized, took constant notes, kept a calendar, etc.
But, I got worse. I lose things all day, I have to have my husband keep a calendar and I keep a notebook in my purse for appointments, ideas, and other things. I have a coupon carrier that is clear that anything paper, like business cards, notes, phone numbers, etc. go in and once a week, I force myself to clean it out. But I have to do two things at once.
It has been 12 years since my diagnosis. For years, I interrupted others and could not figure out for the life of me, why I opened my mouth and spoke, as I have great manners. I found out that those of us with ADHD cannot keep all the thoughts inside long enough to reply, if you will, thus we blurt them out before another thought replaces it. I learned not to interrupt by carrying a notebook, actually getting it out when the conversation was with more than one person, jotting down my thought and then relaying it when it was my turn.
I know how you feel. I changed jobs a lot. I did so many impulsive things. I am very intelligent and can write a heck of an essay or remember information and apply it, but was reduced to tears when I was faced with organizing and putting away a couple basketfuls of clothing. I locked my keys in my car. I even got married on an impulse once...yet I just kept thinking, if I am smart, what is wrong with me? I, like you was intelligent enough to pull myself through many wrong decisions, but then they began to catch up with me.
I wiggled and squirmed in chairs. I kept three or four books going at once as I read, I did not finish many projects...I can so relate to you. When I first dated my now husband, he took me to a show and I got up just to pace the lobby several times, squirmed and shifted in my seat and was about to burst because I needed, not wanted to talk.
I am in recovery. I have 15 years sober. My second psychiatrist was a recovery doc too. He ask my what substance made me feel the most normal. Well, long ago, I remembered how old uppers made me feel, normal, when others were paranoid and could not sleep, I would sleep, luckily, that was not my drug of choice or anything, and I never sought it out. But in the 80s, a popular socially acceptable party drug did the same thing to me once, I felt normal, went home and went to bed, when all my friends thought some monster or whatever was outside and they acted all nutty.
That doc told me because I jumped topics, talked a lot, and from what I told him about the occasional substance incidences in my 20s, that I probably had ADHD. I had always been hyper, creative and impulsive. I have always felt restless and moved a lot to try to settle that internal restlessness.
Finally, at 39, not 40, sorry, I moved and got a new doc for bipolar disorder. He noticed many things that I mentioned and diagnosed me with ADHD. I refused to take stimulants at first, I did not really know much about them and thought they were party drugs. Finally, I got tired of all the symptoms and bursts of anger, the impulsiveness that even hurt others, etc. and agreed to try a low dose of Adderall.
I had gone back to school and one day in class, walla, I was sitting still, and focusing. It went from there and I got better.
Educate yourself. Use organizing tools, use those notebooks, and mostly celebrate who you are ADHD and all. It is a condition of the brain and don't let it guilt you or define you. Celebrate the creativity and other qualities it has given you The ones that bother you, make them work for you by using tools that are suggested. Do not beat yourself up.
I have always said of my bp disorder and ADHD, I may have them , but they do not define me. All of us grieve changes and all, and you are trying to accept it now.
That is normal. " Waste not fresh tears over old griefs." Mary hope I helped
I am new to this also. Good to read other Posts like this. I am finally facing this ADD crap. Right in the middle of my clinicals also! I did great in any academic (with 17 credits) material and load in school but am having such difficulty with my mind retaining different and new info in which I am being taught on the job "on my feet" learning. If I am being shown, told or taught multiple things, one after the other (usually related to forms and paperwork) then I always forget a few or part of what was shown to me. And it happens too dam much for me to work around it. I want to learn how to work with this dilemma so that I can live up to the potential I know I am otherwise capable of. It should be called something worse than ADD!
I was diagnosed with ADHD about three years ago, I am now 28. I started out on medications to control the symptoms and ended up stopping the medicine because I couldn't get a decent balance between the benefits and the side effects. I have found that lists and schedules help. I also allow flexibility in my daily routine. I make sure that I eat healthy and get a solid 8 hours each night. I set clocks ahead so I don't run late. I avoid excessive amounts of sugars and preservatives in my food. I cut of caffeine at noon and allow myself time to wind down at night.
Yes,Well the fact is, despite the ADHD, you are still you. Your particular experience of the very variable syndrome called ADHD is just one small factor in who you are. And, as your treatment progresses, you will more clearly be able to see you versus ADHD symptoms as well as my concern.
Please do not give up! It is OK to have ADD. I am 55 and was not diagnosed until I was 40. I felt just like you, you are normal. Take a deep breath and relax. I too work in a professional position. I have a masters in science. Just remember how it was before your diagnosis. Take your medication, I hope you are on one. I take two different ones, Just try to relax and not get worked up over this. It is no different than a diabetic. We have to structure our days and believe me, I too have trouble staying on task. When it is worse if I stress myself about something. Everything will be OK and good! I don't have all the answers, we just have to recognize what our trigger points are and move forward. I use to be embarressed about having this. Now I would share with others to be tested. My life has been so much better. I like me, and hope this helps you ! Please know you are not Alone.
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