This is my perspective only, but I hope it helps. I will be 50 in just over a month. Until 5 weeks ago, I have lived my entire life with out having been diagnosed with ADHD. Up until December of last year, I wasn’t even aware of the possibility that I might have it. But I have struggled continuously to stay focused on projects at work and at home. Without realizing it, I had developed coping strategies that worked so-so. Like I would always keep both a physical project and a mental project going at the same time so that I could switch off between them whenever I felt I could no longer keep my mind on it.
One area that has been very much affected by this is education in traditional settings. I did great in high school because I could literally read the material once and I could recite it and test well on it, but I never had to apply myself to consistent effort in studying. College was an entirely different story. I could not stay focused and I wrote it off to “never having learned study skills” because high school came so easily for me. By the end of my Freshman year, I was feeling so stressed out and overwhelmed I dropped out. I attempted college three more times in my life and each time I came up against the same issues of not being able to stay focused on studying. I kept going back to the same story about study skills. Each time I ended up dropping out and this started to affect my self esteem as I thought I was a failure as a student and it would NEVER be any different.
For various other reasons , I started school one more time last September. The first semester went great but at the end I was starting to get that same struggling feeling and I started to again start to have feelings of low self esteem because I thought I was going to fail again.
Then, in December, I had a conversation that opened my eyes to the probability that I had AHDH. This caused me to start doing online self assessments and all of them pointed to “go see a doctor”. Unfortunately, the earliest appointment for evaluation I could get was early April. Previously, I had learned Transcendental Meditation and had adopted a low-carb, high-fat way of eating. Also I shared my likelihood of having ADHD with my boss and she suggested taking caffeine. So beginning in December I tried to use all three ‘natural’ methods to combat my symptoms. It seemed to work for about two months.
One thing to note, I have noticed for the last 20+ years that I have a cycle where I can stay engaged in life and work reasonably well for about 2-3 months and then the stress and feelings of being overwhelmed start to build. Then at about the 3 – 3 1/2 month mark, it becomes too much and I literally have to withdraw from everything and everybody for about 3 days. During this time I basically do nothing except veg in front of my computer screen. Somewhere on the third day, it is like a switch gets flipped and suddenly I am bored. It is at that moment that I can once again re-engage life and continue forward.
I have not taken a vacation in all those 20+ years because I end up taking my vacation time as “sick” days because of this cycle. I now know that this is a build up of too much stimulation and it eventually overwhelms me.
In early February the cycle started its inevitable spiral downwards and this time faced with need to withdraw but also the need to stay engaged in my college classes, I was a state of crisis. I literally was ready to drop everything and I mean EVERYTHING – school, work, relationships – and run away. My ‘natural’ methods were no longer sufficient and I felt I was going to lose everything.
This cycle was so bad because that now I suspected I knew the reason for the cycle, yet I could not get to see my doctor for another 2 months, the ‘natural’ methods were not keeping the feelings of being overwhelmed at bay. Other people that I had spoken with who had started medication had spoke of the difference it made for them. I felt such a feeling of hopelessness. I felt like Moses because it was like seeing the promised land of medication but knowing I may never get there. It was still 2 months away and I knew deep in my heart that I wasn’t going to make it another 2 months before I did something drastic.
Five weeks ago, I got a call from the psychiatry department that there had been a cancellation and if I could be there in 30 minutes, I could get my evaluation. I jumped at it. I was diagnosed that day as inattentive ADHD. I started medication the next day. To say that it was life changing, is being modest. I am crying while I type this because I literally feel that I got my life back from the edge. The difference was so phenomenal that I did more homework in the first 7 days on medication than I had done ALL of the semester so far. The unfortunate part is that by the time I started medication, I had dug a hole too deep to be overcome in a short time, even with my new found focus. I ended up dropping back to just one class for the rest of the semester, but I am so much more engaged now that I ROCKIN’ this class now.
I know you worry about possible side effects like you described. I beg you, though, if your daughter is in anywhere near the same place of despair that I was, please let her try. I literally feel that it brought me back from the edge of a precipice and I am in such a better place now. Take care and be well.