Looking for advice about inattentive ADHD symptoms

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    • #73792


      I’m looking for some help and advice. I have not been diagnosed with ADHD, but after researching the causes of poor concentration and procrastination online, I came across an article about inattentive ADHD in women which resonated with me. That was around six months ago, during the summer, after I got quite upset about how terribly work was going and how I was struggling to organise myself and be productive. Since then, I have tried hard to improve my concentration and limit my procrastination (e.g. using timers to work in ten-minute blocks, with a set number of blocks to complete in a day), but with limited success.

      I work from home, and I usually don’t buckle down to any effective work until late afternoon. I am usually sitting at my desk by 11am or noon (I struggle to get up in the mornings, and then I walk my dog), but another few hours will go by until I actually start working. I couldn’t tell you what I do with this time! I’m checking articles, getting up and down to deal with trivial things in the flat, making cups of tea or coffee – I don’t know! It’s like time passes differently for me in the morning. When I do manage to work in the morning, I am extremely inefficient. Then, at around 4pm, I start to concentrate more easily, and at around 8pm, I feel like my brain is clearing and sharpening, and I find that I work best at this time, sometimes until 1 or 2 in the morning.

      Do any others with ADHD find that they get a concentration boost late at night?

      I also find it stressful to switch between tasks. I usually have two or three projects lined up, but I work on them one at a time (they take about a week each), and I can’t focus on anything else until my current project is ticked off my list. This even extends to replying to emails and doing admin. Parcels wait to go to the post office for weeks. I’ll know we need an ingredient for dinner but I can’t bring myself to pop out to the shop and buy it (and we live in the city on a main street with shops and a post office!). I just can’t switch back and forth at all.

      I really rely on the stress of deadlines to get anything done. My work is usually handed in a day after the deadline, or on the day itself (if I’m lucky). This is getting worse.

      Social invitations sometimes stress me out as well, as I don’t really like to plan ahead. In a strange way, I often feel like invitations are an intrusion on my time and space. I usually brush off this feeling and make the plans though, as I know seeing friends is something I always enjoy once I’m actually out! I think my friends would be surprised to hear that I feel this way; I can sometimes be a little awkward and blunt, but I’m not shy (though I used to be) or antisocial.

      I was a smart child (e.g. I had a reading age of sixteen when I was eight), so I don’t know if this meant symptoms went unnoticed, or if I just didn’t have to learn proper focus and concentration because schoolwork was quite easy for me? I did have, as a child, an obsession with even numbers and symmetry. I gave myself blisters from sharpening all my colouring pencils down to the same length. My mum was also called into school because I kept missing break time as I was trying to get my shoelaces the same length before tying them. But I always did well in school, top of the class (or top three) in all of my subjects.

      At school and university, I did a lot of work and studying at night, after wasting hours on trivial things (like playing Minesweeper!). I hated lectures and felt that I didn’t learn anything from them, preferring to study and learn in my own time, usually by writing things down. I don’t absorb information through listening. I work from home now, which possibly doesn’t help, but when I worked in an office I rarely got any work done before lunchtime. My boss never noticed!

      I don’t know if these things are because a) I have inattentive ADHD which I have always managed to work around, or b) I have never had to seriously learn the skills of concentration and focus. I am educated to postgraduate level and I have a reasonably successful career as a freelance editor in the publishing industry. In the past year, I have been taking on new responsibilities and working towards greater ambitions, and I feel that perhaps I’ve hit a ‘tipping point’ where my problems – whatever they are – have become obvious. I feel like I am massively underachieving, and it’s starting to affect my self-esteem.

      On the other hand, no teachers ever raised concerns about my concentration at school, and neither did my parents. I enjoy reading, which takes focus. If I am working on my creative writing, I can concentrate on it for longer. I can be a little messy, but I’d say a ‘normal’ amount. My home is pretty well organised. I don’t lose my keys (they’re always in the same place) and I keep on top of laundry. I don’t tend to lose things. I don’t tend to forget appointments either – but then I hardly ever have any!

      Does any of this sound like inattentive ADHD? I have spoken to my GP and she is willing to refer me for testing, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to waste anybody’s time (especially as the NHS is already stretched to breaking point). Some of the symptoms seem to fit, but sometimes I have good days and think I’m just overthinking and overreacting.

      Sometimes I worry that I’m lazy, but deep down I know that’s not it. I want to work hard and achieve my goals. I have never shirked responsibilities or taken the ‘easy option’. I participated in many clubs and activities at school, and now I enjoy going to the gym, running and walking my dog.

      For context, I’m female and in my late twenties. I live with my partner, who is lovely and very supportive. I don’t have kids but I am a stepmum (the kids don’t live with us full-time).

      If you’ve finished this long post, then thank you!

      • This topic was modified 4 years ago by jelly16.
      • This topic was modified 4 years ago by jelly16.
      • This topic was modified 4 years ago by Penny Williams.
    • #73885
      Penny Williams

      Maybe this online self-test will help you decide if you should follow through on the ADHD evaluation:

      [Self-Test] ADHD Symptoms in Women and Girls

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

    • #73983

      Hi jelly, I made it through your post. I have recently gone through the diagnosis and treatment process so maybe some of the things I learned will help you. The self test above is the place to start. You are obviously smart so try the test several times. The questions are so subjective my results were all over the place depending upon my mood when I took the test. A lot depends on how you look at the questions. An example would be if you have difficulty planning and completing complicated projects. I absolutely can do it but it is also difficult so how do you answer? The actual screening with a prescriber will decide if you get to try the medication, and there is a serious push to limit prescriptions because of abuse. Just so you know ADHD by definition has a hyperactivity component even if you are unaware of it or don’t recognize the symptoms. I had the classic “boy” symptoms at six years old but in my 50’s that hyperactivity displayed as what looked like anxiety. I did not start treatment until I was 60 years old. The questionnaire and severity of impact on your life is what gets you the initial prescription but it is your reaction to the meds that is used to actually confirm the diagnosis. The truth is that anyone can take amphetamines and have improved concentration within an hour. If you don’t have adhd for sure the improved concentration comes at the cost of becoming an amphetamine junkie and definitely not worth it. The real confirmation comes if hyperactivity and impulsiveness improve over a period of a month or so. You certainly wouldn’t expect children , or anyone, to become calmer with sustained use of amphetamines but that is what happens with ADHD. Unless you can figure out what your hyperactive and impulsive symptoms are you really don’t have much to diagnose an improvement and probably should not be diagnosed and given further medication. Is it possible that your learning in spite of the difficulties you describe is your hyperactivity? Yes, delayed circadian rhythms seem common with ADHD and you may have to treat that separately just like if you had ADHD and a broken arm. The drugs don’t work without the counseling and the counseling doesn’t work without the drugs. Amphetamines are 88% effective for people screened for ADHD and the non narcotic medication is maybe 40% effective . You also need to know that most adults know they have ADHD before their doctors know and it very much looks to most doctors like you are shopping for a prescription. I was also more or less forced to try anti depressants first and that was a disaster. I literally wouldn’t do anything that could possibly be put off. Now I have a long post. Best of luck.

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