Do I have adult ADD, am I in denial? is there a telephone/online specialist?

Home Welcome to the ADDitude Forums For Adults Symptoms, Diagnosis & Beyond Do I have adult ADD, am I in denial? is there a telephone/online specialist?

This topic contains 10 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  theAteam 5 months, 4 weeks ago.

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  • #65480

    007
    Participant

    Hi Everyone.

    I’m posting here, like many before me I’m sure, as an adult who suspects he’s been living with this complex issue for a long time. I’m almost 36 and am at an important stage of my life for various reasons.
    First things first, I came here after listening to an audiobook (Delivered from distraction) and seeing some TEDx vids along with various articles. I’ll just explain my thoughts and background and see if it seems like it describes some symptoms. I got 77% on the test here, and 4/6 in the self-report scale checklist (where you need 4 or more to warrant further investigation).

    Hopefully this’ll make some sense to someone, and I appreciate in advance any thoughts It’ll be quite long as I am quite chatty, so apologies for the length, I honestly am not sure where to go from here.

    As a child, I was always near the top (if not top) of my class. It wasn’t much effort for me, and I was always doing well in exams. Once I reached the age of 16, I maintained straight As and my peers were aware of it, parents had little to worry about and teachers were pretty pleased. Awesome in that regard… but then a snowball made of poop rolled down a hill then flew into a fan and exploded all over my potential future (or so it seemed).

    After 16, just before University, it seemed that being smart wasn’t enough and focussed hard work had to kick in. This was the start of my perceived downfall at that point. I had coasted until then but whenever I needed to put in the extra hours, it was all filled with distractions, procrastination and last-minute results.

    I ended up getting a mixture of grades from A to E, and somehow through a miracle (based on teachers reports and prior exam results) got into one of the best universities around. University then became a place of endless distraction where it felt like the experiences of 16-18 were perpetuated. Again mixed results, with spectacular failures where I had to repeat every single year. I ended up getting a degree (6 years vs 3 years) at the lowest possible grade.

    Ended up getting a job, coasted through that, didn’t really get great results but talked myself out of being fired, then I moved overseas and coasted through another job and just about showing that when I can switch on my ability, I’m as good as anyone but the negatives were building up. Now I’m self employed and need to fix this issue or the suffering will really impact me and my family. I am in my mid 30s with zero assets and all the ability to make money yet cannot get out of it.
    I always felt my problem was procrastination, and that it was solvable through ‘hard work’ but something seems to stop me. I’ll list the issues that have plagued me throughout this story.

    Things which make it seem like undiagnosed ADD:

    – Amazingly late. Some people are fashionably late. I’ve created my own fashion and astonished that friends, family and jobs have kept me. This has been since childhood and from missing lectures, to job interviews, to always having to risk my life on the road to make it to a critical appointment it’s shocking to those around me.
    – I cannot sit for any period of time and focus on what I NEED to do. What I do however is accumulate spectacular amounts of information on anything but what I need. The internet has made this worse. From one click to the next I can talk to anyone about anything and am a fountain of useless information.
    – I go off on tangents frequently during conversation, and sometimes go off in my own world during regular convos with people, regardless of the importance of the convo. I’ll be drifting into something different.
    – The times when I ‘switch on’ and achieve things in a short space of time that’d take others 3 times as long, only adds to this pressure. It means people see me as lazy and full of unfulfilled potential. I myself regularly underestimate what I do and see the small things I do achieve as ‘nothing’ when to others it’s something. I have little that makes me feel a sense of achievement, especially for something I see as ‘nothing’.
    – Seeing all the peers who looked up to me race past me in life due to being able to perform, despite much worse grades in their teens is frustration for me as I couldn’t utilise my potential.
    – My wife says I’m always distracted, or I can’t sit still (I don’t feel like I twitch or shake my leg or something obvious, but she says I always am moving in my seat or ‘adjusting’ my position).
    – My sleep habits are atrocious, I try to stick to it but it’s like my body rejects sleeping only when I really NEED to sleep, and rejects waking up energetically unless it’s something related to anything/anyone else then it’s happy to oblige.
    – I am quite direct, sometimes blunt and offend some people without realising it. Very often I say things better left unsaid (usually in a humorous way but it’d be classed as an unusual sense of humour). I have an urge to comment on any topic (usually because I know about many topics) and get into some heated unnecessary discussion.
    – I’ve read too many self-help books, and have tried to implement exercise, lists, meditation etc, and rarely stick to it.
    – My improvements don’t last, and the feeling of reliving any past ‘failures’ is something I have to battle.
    – My procrastination is world class. Some spectacular examples to rival the worlds best procrastinators. I just cannot feel the urgency or importance on what is important and there’s always later or tomorrow (I’ll even put it in my schedule, and move that later). I have list upon lists.
    – My wife and friends are endlessly frustrated by my seeming inability to do what I need to for myself to achieve.

    Reasons it may not be ADD (according to me):

    – I sometimes may forget where something is, but it doesn’t feel frequent. I don’t lose keys, wallets, and usually am ok in that regard. Sometimes I may forget where an important document is, or I need to ask my wife where something is, but I don’t feel it is chronic as described by some.
    – It really feels like these are things down to a weakness in my ability to work hard. X+Y= success, where X is ability and Y is hard work, and Y is missing. Perhaps it’s denial is that common?
    – I am usually excellent when it comes to doing things for other people, but never for me. It makes people all the more perplexed how I can help them out with something they struggle with, yet when it comes down to my career or objectives it’s zero. I jump at the opportunity to help people.
    – I am quite good at organising things. I just do not stick to them or NEVER am up to date with it.
    – I read a lot and have no issues finishing books. It feels like I can pay attention when I WANT to, not when I need to. It seems many sufferers struggle with attention issues when reading anything, and that doesn’t sound like it. To be fair though when I get into a book, or anything I ‘like’ I do it at the expense of practically everything.

    These are some of my experiences. Does that sound like ADD or does it seem like something else. I’ve definitely got some issue, yet I can’t help but feel I can somehow fix it (which will likely mean I won’t).

    My problem is that I am self employed and I travel a lot. It would be a nightmare logistically to get medications and they are restricted in some areas where I travel. I need to find a specialist that can diagnose me on the phone for example, and maybe provide some tips and advice over the course of a couple of sessions on the phone. Does anyone have any recommendations, and ideally a ‘low-cost’ way forward for me? This forum obviously is good as well but I would love to get the opinion of someone with direct professional experience. One time I saw a counsellor during my studies 15 years ago and they seemed to think there was nothing particularly wrong with me and suggested some meditation.

    If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much and I really look forward to any feedback or recommendations. If I don’t have ADD then perhaps my brain needs to be removed and studied because I’m out of ideas.

    • This topic was modified 11 months, 2 weeks ago by  007.
  • #65489

    marissa.dittmer
    Participant

    Oh you have ADD my friend. I was just diagnosed at 29 and your story is the male version of mine!

  • #65512

    ADHDmomma
    Keymaster

    ADDitude offers a guide on what to do if you think you have ADHD:

    You Think You’ve Got Adult ADHD – What To Know

    Treatment, especially medication, can help with the procrastination some. Also, understanding and working with the brain you have:

    Get Unstuck Now: Adults with ADHD Share Their Procrastination Fixes

    Being self-employed is especially hard because you don’t have any extrinsic motivation to kick it into gear. I’m wondering if you can use a virtual assistant to help keep you on track and do the mundane items that are so hard for those with ADHD to get done (planning, organization, paperwork…)

    Penny
    ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

  • #65568

    anomalocaris
    Participant

    It definitely sounds like ADD. I can’t afford treatment, but awareness of the issues allows me to find strategies to deal with them individually. Sadly, this has not helped enough to allow me to go on to a successful career, but I manage to make a living at a job I hate, in order to support the work I love but can’t get paid for. It’s a compromise, but no one’s life is perfect.

  • #65708

    007
    Participant

    Thank you very much with all your help. I am at a reading stage now, trying to implement various strategies. @marissa and @anomalocaris, best of luck with your treatment/progress and I hope it works out.
    @penny, thanks for the links. I’ve seen some of them and there are plenty of parallels to what I’ve gone through. My main obstacle is execution. I don’t think my organisation skills are lacking in the ‘making a template with tasks/times’ stage, but I just find time disappears and things get delayed as a pattern and it’s a constant battle to try to make it happen. A funny symptom I have is that on the days I’m really determined to start early and get something productive done, the day progresses disappointingly. One the other hand, the days where I’ve done nothing, then somehow randomly squeeze some work in, I achieve 5 times as much.

    The path to consistency is tricky and the pressures post 30 (life’s pressures for family/career/money) are so high that one has no choice.

    I think at the moment I’m trying to get past the ‘wtf is this the reason life has gone this way’ stage and trying to have empathy for those that thought I was underachieving due to laziness (which I don’t blame them for). Just tricky not to feel ‘hard done by’.

    I try not to be defeatist, and it’s too easy to look online and pat myself on the back that ‘it’s not my fault etc.’ but without being a little tough how does one progress?

    There are people with ADHD that have achieved very highly, and are workaholics. Logically I have to believe that it’s possible to even reach 25 percent of what they do 🙁

  • #73838

    dopenotdopey
    Participant

    Hi everyone,

    Like 007 I suspect I have ADHD, female mid-40s, journalist, 2 kids.
    I did well in school but gradually grades slipped as I didn’t do/finish homework, procrastinated on studying for tests, found it extremely hard to pay attention in class (I still find lectures etc very difficult – the boredom is like a physical overwhelm)
    Anyway I was described as ‘giddy’, ‘dopey’ – one teacher said I was like the seven dwarfs rolled into one. Reports mostly had ‘could try harder’, ‘tends to lack full concentration’ etc.
    My best childhood friend I suspect is also ADHD, and while I had friends through school I felt sensitive about being teased for my lateness, being dopey.
    I always felt like there was something wrong with me socially – I still find I drift in and out of conversations (esp in groups) no matter how hard I try to focus, I blurt out and interrupt (problem with finding natural gaps in conversation).
    After school I did a business studies course and dropped out, then I took a job in civil service as a temporary thing and stayed there 6+ years.
    I was very unhappy in the job, bored, frustrated, suffering from depression, anxiety, though never spoke to medical professional about these problems. Eventually after 1.5 years of severe depression and heavy alcohol abuse I found yoga and meditation which helped. I left that job and went back to college full-time. I worked a part-time job in evenings and weekends plus a summer job and did okay in college though struggled with handing in assignments on time, studying for exams.
    I have worked as a journalist for 10+ years, and have found that I can have hyperfocus on many aspects of the job which helps. For much of my career I had daily deadlines which also worked for me.
    Like 007 I love to read, can be good at organising certain things, and in my career even in the boring jobs was a hard worker.
    I used to be habitually late, but since changing career I’ve become better at being on time even in my personal life.
    I’ve travelled by myself, and lived abroad for a year and managed to organise myself to get to the airport etc.
    My personal life is challenging: my partner has a chronic illness and can’t work, I’ve been supporting him since soon after I finished college. We have 2 great kids and this is the reason I began looking into this – our daughter – 9 – we both agree is more than likely ADHD – combined type/predominantly inattentive.
    My partner finds it hard to deal with her disorganisation, clutter, lack of ability to finish things, untidiness. She is very bright, early talker and walker, loves to read. We are looking into getting her assessed.
    My pain points are:
    Procrastination – even this post is a way for me not to start an assignment
    Focus/attention – I find it very hard to focus in many situations. I’ve started and stopped learning to drive many times over the past few years, and while my instructor says I’m a good careful driver she has accused me of not responding to her instructions. I realise I’ve also had a problem with following verbal instructions while doing something else. I can dance relatively well (I’ve been told) but couldn’t follow directions in a class – difficulty with automatically telling right from left).
    Anxiety – about finances, about health, about kids.
    Disorganisation – I struggle with clutter and I’m constantly berating myself for the mess. I often start a clear-out and can make good headway but almost never finish.
    Finishing projects – I may start off with huge enthusiam for a project – spend hours and hours of time researching – at the expense of what I’m supposed to be doing – and then lose interest.
    Social – as above I also felt like I didn’t fit in – I still have friendships from childhood, early adult years but find it difficult to make new friends

    Sensitivities – I have been told I’m oversensitive emotionally. I also have smell and noise sensitivities than others don’t seem to have.

    It was when I read this piece in The Pool (https://www.the-pool.com/health/mind/2017/44/ness-lyons-diagnosed-with-adhd-at-42) that I had a lightbulb moment – relief at first, then denial, anger, frustration. I want my daughter to realise her potential and be confident in the world.
    Do I have ADHD/ADD?

  • #73880

    dopenotdopey
    Participant

    Hi everyone,
    I am a female, 45, working in media and have just recently suspected I have ADHD.
    However, like 007, I love to read, in fact reading is what helps me relax ever since I was a kid.
    I have a reasonably successful career and two kids. I’m the breadwinner – my partner has a chronic illness since shortly after I left college, sometimes the financial worries overwhelm me.
    Like many of you I was bright at school but didn’t live up to my potential. I was called ‘dopey’, ‘giddy’ and ‘scatty’. One teacher even told me I was like the Seven Dwarfs rolled into one. School reports went like ‘could try harder’, ‘tends to lack concentration’ etc. I finished school with okay results, I mostly blamed myself for my lack of motivation, laziness, inability to pay attention. I didn’t do homework – I found it very hard to get started and tended to study for exams at the last minute.
    After dropping out of a business course I took up a junior level civil service job – a temporary stop-gap until I figured out what I wanted to do. Many years later, suffering from severe depression and alcohol abuse I left that job and returned to college to study journalism. What helped me then was I took up yoga and meditation which balanced me enough to plan ahead.
    Although this is a tough career I have found the deadlines actually helped me to finish things and because I find most of the work interesting.
    Now as a freelancer I do struggle with the motivation and finishing tasks. I often feel overwhelmed but I’m reluctant to go back into an office – very stressful, long commute, kids, partner’s illness)
    I did some contract days in an office last summer. It was a combined role of editing and writing with admin. I was working 4-5 days (3+ hours commute per day) plus keeping up with other freelance work in the evenings and weekends. In the end it was the admin work that made me almost lose it. The woman I was working for told me I needed to take a few days off because I seemed ‘scatty’. She put it down to my partner’s illness, my aunt was also very ill at the time, but apart from the commute, the admin work was the worst part for me.
    I used to think I just had a low boredom threshold because others didn’t seem to feel the same level of frustration I would experience sitting in a lecture. Even recently taking part in a video editing workshop I was scolded for skipping ahead.
    Here are the things I struggle with most:
    Procrastination – has been extreme – even this post is an excuse not to finish something I need to.
    Organisation – planning – I can be good about keeping a spreadsheet of my cashflow but my paperwork is a mess. I tend towards hoarding and clutter is constant battle.
    Memory – I’m better at keeping appointments, being on time but it takes a huge effort. Old friends still expect me to be late when we meet up
    Finishing – this is one of my biggest issues – I constantly begin projects all fired up at the expense of everything else – and then most of the time I lose interest
    Attention – I find I drift off in conversations (esp groups), find it hard to follow verbal instructions (driving lessons/dance classes), miss conversation cues and interrupt without meaning to
    Social – I still have friendships from childhood, early adulthood, but struggle to make new friends – see above conversation cues
    Sensitivities – Is this related? I’m hypersensitive to noise, smells, bright lights
    Hyperfocus – I can focus to the point of ignoring everything else, and become obsessed with a subject – which can be a plus in my career or a minus
    I didn’t know much about ADHD until we started to suspect our daughter – age nine – has it. She’s bright and quite shy outside home so teachers haven’t said anything to us. But we’re fairly certain she has it. Very hyper talkative, flits from one thing to another, very untidy, disorganised, difficult to get her to finish things. Social anxiety, and sensitive. I don’t want to say oversensitive because whether or not her sensitivity is excessive is not for me to say. She’s a great kid, very creative, kind and thoughtful.
    While we don’t want to her to feel labelled I don’t want her to grow up with low-esteem and an unfulfilling career.
    If you’ve gotten this far thanks for reading.

  • #78674

    amrahs
    Participant

    This is me or my doppelganger!
    Oh, I signed up for this forum recently. I am sorry in advance but this is my first post and it is like sharing my story (as if it were unique :)). Reading through some of those and found myself reading this as if I wrote this. 007 is just me. I learnt about my possible ADD an year ago (long story, why I am not medicated). Here are some of the things about me. I am by some measures quite successful but I wonder really how much. My case is a bit curious (to me at least reading about others).

    Not to brag about but there are some things I want to mention before I go on. I have found myself to be very good at math, problem solving and puzzles-aptitude.

    I was seen as one of the brightest in my class till 16. In fact, I was a fast tracker. I was in a premier technical school at the age of 16. Then it took a turn for worse. Here are some highlights of that time, before and after too:
    1) I couldn’t pay attention to details. There were just too many books. I would read only what I liked – for examples books of other disciplines, etc.
    2) I passed mostly with borderline marks. Teachers and peers wouldn’t believe the marks I scored as they thought highly of me.
    3) I almost “didn’t” get my “great” first job because they had a cutoff mark which I couldn’t achieve. To this date I don’t know why they accepted me. I have a feeling that I scored well in their aptitude test which they couldn’t ignore. So, I had a well paying job at 20 (insanely lucky).
    4) For most of my 15 years of career, I have mostly worked much longer hours out of interest for this field. Now I realized, it was more because I was always distracted and I just needed too long to finish even what I liked (we are talking an average of 12 hours a day).
    5) By the way, during my whole schooling and college life, I couldn’t ever finish my paper and would be watching other kids writing their answers in exams. I was just too distracted.
    6) Now, with wife and two little kids, I am finding under a mountain of unfinished trivial but necessary tasks which I never do. There are plumbing repairs I promised my wife that I didn’t do in two years. My office room is so cluttered 75% of times that I can’t step in without stepping on some paper or another.
    7) All my life, I have felt that I am the most worthless person (have been successful and have had very good and kind friends, still). I have journals full of self critique and pity.
    8) Procrastinations: I may have a record as well like 007. Just last week, I had a presentation to the President of my company, and I found myself preparing for it the midnight before the meeting even though I had 10 days to prepare. Another example is that after being diagnosed about 14 months ago by a doctor, I am yet to share it with my wife. You guys know it before her :(. I had promised myself that I would tell her first and then decide on medication. Never got there.
    9) Oh one more thing which I really hate. I love books but I can’t read them… I 100-pager book would take about 2 months for me to read.

    So, how did I find out. My son (4 then) started showing very clear signs of ADD. I read. Then I came to know that one of the parents may have been so and also the other symptoms matched with my own.

    One thing I would like to point out. For why my general life may have looked (to my friends and family) alright so far. I am just guessing. I meditate a little since my childhood. Maybe it has helped me keep a little tab my haphazard brain. I had to put effort, no doubt. It makes me wonder, will I be better with medication – meaning, will I achieve more. I am sorry, I think I should be satisfied compared to other people’s agony here. At least, I could do well for myself so far. I want to know if medication helps or hurts.

  • #80387

    theAteam
    Participant

    Do you drink caffeine? If so, Can you drink caffeine and go to sleep? If “yes” then you probably have ADHD/ADD. Caffeine is s stimulant like Adderall and slows us down. People who don’t have ADHD/ADD get wired on caffeine. It has the opposite effect in an ADHD/ADD brain!

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 4 weeks ago by  theAteam.
  • #80400

    dopenotdopey
    Participant

    Yes, I can drink coffee and tea at bedtime or even nap straight after several cups of coffee. Other people think it’s strange. Now I understand why.

  • #80402

    theAteam
    Participant

    Medication definitely helps. The key is getting on the right dose. I believe less mags is better. You should feel like yourself. I take Adderall 15 XR. If you go on medication you would cut back on your caffeine because it can counteract the medication. It would be like giving yourself too much medicine when mixed with caffeine. I recently heard a speaker say that “ADHD is the only diagnosis that will better your life.” I think that’s true because it explains Why we feel the way we do. ADHD also has many positives. DR. Thomas Brown Has the best information and book on ADHD/ADD. You can find him on the Internet. Good luck with your diagnosis.

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