ADHD and Office Jobs: How Medications Helped Me Focus

I survived the demands of school, college, and entry-level employment without being diagnosed with -- or treated for the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD). That changed when I got promoted at work, landed a desk job, and started to get distracted.

Deanna Wheeler, Adult with ADHD

For years my friends jokingly said I had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADD/ADHD. Sure, I had more energy than everybody else, but I earned good grades in school, my room was sort of neat, and I knew how to make and keep friends. ADD/ADHD? Me? I didn’t think so.

One of my college professors suspected I did, though. One afternoon she saw me “studying” in the library -- pacing round and round the stacks, textbook in hand, with an iPod blasting in my ears. She stopped me and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was studying for an economics final. She encouraged me to get tested for ADD/ADHD.

When the doctor diagnosed me, I thought, “OK, no big deal. I have ADD/ADHD. I’ve always found ways to succeed before.” When he prescribed medication, though, I balked. I had seen kids on medication, and it wasn’t pretty. I thought that meds would turn me into a zombie, cause me to lose my spark.

I did well without meds in my first job as a reporter. I was busy all the time -- chasing down leads, doing interviews -- and spent little time behind a desk. My understanding and accommodating boss kept my assignments short. I had no time to get distracted.

Then I received a promotion and spent my work days in an office, in front of a computer. My brain started wandering. A speck of dust on my desk distracted me. So I made the reluctant decision to go on medication. I didn’t turn into a zombie, I didn’t lose interest in things, I didn’t lose my spark.

Meds increase my attention, and that’s wonderful, even though I thought they’d do more. I still lose things and need to make lists to remember to do errands. One thing has changed: Instead of doing laps around the library to motivate myself to tackle a big task, my meds are always there to “inspire” me to get it done.

Read More Real Life ADD/ADHD Career Success Stories

Howie Mandel Speaks Out About His ADD/ADHD

Career Advice from Top Execs with Adult ADD/ADHD

An ADD/ADHD Lawyer's Story

This article appears in the Spring 2010 issue of ADDitude.

To read this issue of ADDitude in full, buy the back issue.

TAGS: Adult ADD: Late Diagnosis, ADHD Role Models, Focus at Work, ADHD Career Paths

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