September 19, 2018 at 5:40 pm #99684
Since these forums are considered the “no judgement zone,” I truly hope I can get the advice I need with no rudeness or judgement. I am 28 years old and for at least 20 of those years I have struggled with what I am now realizing are symptoms of ADHD.
Throughout all of my years in school I’ve always been at the bottom of my class… meaning I’ve just barely gotten by. Barely passing my classes meeting the absolute minimum expectations. For the longest time I thought it was just because I didn’t like school and I just didn’t want to work hard because it sucked and well… it was hard. I know nobody likes to do hard things but realistically at the end of the day you have to work hard to succeed and even though I knew that, I just didn’t do it. I didn’t care.
My senior year of high school was the worst for me. I had a short schedule because I had most credits I needed so I only had 4 classes per day and even then I struggled to show up on time, or at all. I received a notice in the mail that if I missed anymore time I would not graduate. Back then I thought I was just going through a depression. I was not showing up for my first period class, coming in to second period with a mindset of “just going through the motions and getting the day over with.” That year I also had a lot of large papers to write and projects to finish and I procrastinated to the last minute because I was too afraid to start them because I thought I couldn’t do it. I over complicated everything and my mind would be in a million different places which made it hard to focus on 1 step at a time. Reading books was especially hard because I couldn’t retain what I had just read. I would have to read over sentences 5-6 times and force myself to understand what I just read and that made me not want to do it even more.
When I think back, not only was I having a hard time starting/finishing tasks but I was constantly falling asleep in class on the days that I did show up. This was getting me in trouble with the teachers and principal. Even though I averaged between 6-8 hours of sleep per night, I either just couldn’t get out of bed because the thought of sitting through 4 classes was exhausting alone, or I would fall asleep because I was bored and not paying attention.
I started attending a local community college immediately after high school and I was taking basic classes. English 101, psych 101, and then my math class was actually “remedial math.” I believe my first math class in college was math 082 or something like that. Basics. Fractions, decimals, basic algebra etc. I never got a grasp on math because again, I was not paying attention and not completing homework because it was just too hard and I couldn’t focus due to once again, over complicating it and over thinking.
I was casually talking about this to a co-worker one day (while I was still in college) and she mentioned to me that I should see a doctor about the issues because she went through the same thing, and she was prescribed vyvanse. She said it almost immediately solved her problems and she finished college with stellar grades, and pretty much did a complete 360 from where she was before. The job I had at the time only provided medical insurance to people that had been with the company for a certain period of time and since I was fairly new, I didn’t have it yet. I couldn’t afford to go to a doctor.
I hate to admit this (this is where the judgement free zone hopefully will come in) but that same co worker offered to bring me a couple of her vyvanse capsules to try. It was a low dose, and she said that she didn’t need it on a daily basis anymore. I agreed to try it out. After just a week of having the vyvanse, I became focused, motivated, productive, alert, and I ended up passing my 1st semester of school with flying colors. I was so happy.
That co worked ended up moving out of state so I lost access to the vyvanse and after that, I went right back to my old self. I wasn’t in any hurry to get more though. I didn’t become addicted because I wasn’t on it for very long. Since then, about 10 years later I am facing the same struggles in my workplace and at home. I have had attendance issues, I can’t complete basic cleaning tasks at home let alone start them without it being a big ordeal. I’m constantly tired, taking naps in my car at work multiple times per day. I do average 7 hours of sleep per night as well but before I start a difficult task at work, I feel like I can’t start it without either going to nap in my car, or playing a game on my phone or just leaving the building to do something else.
This time around, I had a friend that offered me an adderall. I took the adderall and I had the same thing happen that happened 10 years ago. I started taking it and my attendance issues have diminished, I have become a sponge for new knowledge that I’m ACTUALLY able to retain and not forget, I can pay attention fully to someone who is talking to me or explaining something to me without my mind wandering. Other background conversations are no longer distracting (I used to hear another conversation and I would immediately start listening to it instead of minding my own business which would distract me from the task at hand). Noises like a bag of chips, humming, singing, other people chewing are no longer things I significantly notice. I mean I notice them but they aren’t distracting and annoying like they used to be. For the first time in 10 years I feel normal. I feel like I got enough sleep, I don’t feel like I need to nap before starting something. I feel happy and just… normal.
So, the point of all of this is to ask if it would be worth it at this point to speak with a doctor about getting medicated. I know that taking prescription pills that are not prescribed is not only unsafe but it’s not… legal. I know this. But I have been taking them for good reason and they have worked. I do not want to tell the doctor that I have done this in fear that they may think I have abuse issues and not prescribe me the medication, I just don’t know how else to tell him/her that I know this is what I need because of experience. I feel that my 20 something years of symptoms would be enough, but because adderall/vyvanse are controlled substances and highly addictive, through research I’ve learned that doctors don’t like to prescribe this medication unless they feel 150% confident that it’s the only option left.
Does anyone have any advice for me on how to go about this? Thank you for reading this long and drawn out post. I know it was suuuuper long and detailed but I wanted to tell my whole story.
September 19, 2018 at 8:12 pm #99689Penny0418Participant
It sounds like you are tired of a feeling unmotivated and struggling to perform at work. Great for you for your willingness to seek help. Made me sad to read your posting with descriptions f how you suffered without stimulants yet thrived with the medications only to not have the medications again. Not all docs are resistant to giving individuals medications that they need to have fulfilling lives. Stimulants have been around since the 1960’s and are very safe. The best way to find a doc who prescribes adhd meds is to ask parents of school aged kids. What city is closest to you?
September 19, 2018 at 10:50 pm #99692
Thank you for your response! It took me a really long time to come to terms with and accept the fact that I really do possibly have ADHD. Only because I never wanted to have to “depend” on medication to feel “normal.” When I was 24 I worked as a receptionist at a family doctors office and I actually did make an appointment with one of the providers there to tell them about these same issues. I was already nervous about the appointment because I was still taking some classes at the community college (I dropped out when I no longer had access to the medication sadly but I re-enrolled a few years later to try again) and being 24 years old, in college… sadly that’s an age group and situation that the drug gets abused a lot. I felt like requesting to be medicated would just make them think “here we go another person trying to fake ADHD just to get adderall.” That and the fact that I worked for them probably didn’t help. They knew I was young and well… not the most mature for that age.
Anyway the appointment ended up being exactly what I expected. She told me “you just seem depressed. Here’s some Wellbutrin, it’s an anti-depressant. Take this and you should be fine. You don’t need to be prescribed anything for ADHD because you are just depressed.” The Wellbutrin was awful and made me feel like a vegetable. If anything it made me more depressed. So I stopped taking it.
The closest city to me is Phoenix, Az. I know there are a few clinics here that have physicians that specialize in ADHD but their office hours don’t mix well with my work hours and well… because of all of my attendance issues earlier in the year I really have no paid time off left.
September 20, 2018 at 8:07 am #99693Andrea@adhdprimedParticipant
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling a doctor that you’ve tried the medications and that they work. You have a history of symptoms. I doubt that anyone is going to think less of you for skirting the law to try to help yourself. Accepting medication offers isn’t “abuse”.
Still, if yu’re going to take medication, you need to go through a doctor who can consistently prescribe the same medication and with whom you can discuss your dose. Make sure it’s a doctor with ADHD experience. That doctor will probably be a psychiatrist. Doctors in other specialties have the authority to prescribe, but there’s a good chance that they lack the knowledge or experience to prescribe ADHD medication.
If they suggest other types of medication or treatment before Adderall and vyvanse, take those suggestions and see how you do. A doctor who specializes in ADHD has experience with the treatments.
What other strategies have undertaken to manage your ADHD symptoms?
September 20, 2018 at 4:57 pm #99811
When I was younger and going through issues with school I didn’t really try anything to help because I didn’t realize that I needed to. I didn’t know much about adhd and I thought it was just me being careless.
Since I have started to recognize the symptoms getting worse I did a lot of research to see how I could manage it. At one point I cut out any and all caffeine, I changed my work schedule from 6am to 3pm to 9am to 6pm and since I did that, I thought it would help the excessive sleepy ness getting an extra couple hours of sleep at night but even when I was working 6-3 I was still getting a lot of sleep, but when I would get to work I just wasn’t ready mentally to start working until 8 or 9 am. I would tell myself @you HAVE to get started on your work when you get in” but that wasn’t enough. I just mentally could not get going. Now that my schedule has changed I can start working right when I get in, but I still feel exhausted and like I need naps during the day. I started supplementing with B12 and multi vitamins, drinking more water, and I started putting in headphones at my desk to try to combat the extremely distracting background noise (I work in a call center environment so there’s always background noise) but my company recently stopped allowing headphones so I can’t use that method anymore.
I could go on and on about other little things I’ve tried but nothing works. Today, I am struggling SO bad with getting distracted by loud excessive laughing and other people talking, singing, etc. it’s making me very irritable. I had to step away from the office otherwise I felt like I was going to lose it. I started crying it was so bad and I see people around me working normally like those noises don’t even bother them. I’ve talked to management about it and have begged them to allow me the use of headphones but unless I have a doctors note saying it’s medically necessary they will not allow it. Day by day I become more and more discouraged and now I’m at a point where I’m legitimately mad that I can’t control this on my own. It’s so frustrating. I just need help. 🙁
October 17, 2018 at 8:07 am #101615Andrea@adhdprimedParticipant
I just noticed your reply to me. I hadn’t clicked on the option to notify me of follow-up replies. I hope that your situation has improved!
Kesmith nailed it with their answer. You may have been misdiagnosed and medication is a tool.
I also think that you should look for another job, one at a company with a strong mental health policy and/or wellness mandate. Many companies will have “careers” sections on their websites and many of those sections mention those policies/mandates. There are also websites that allow employees and former employees to leave reviews about the company so you can use that to help gauge what it’s like to work at a company. That said, not every company that claims to have a mental health mandate will practice it. I realize that looking for a job takes energy, which, if you’re like me, you lack when you’re at a job that feels defeating.
ADHDmomma is correct about the legalities. It’s unlikely to happen, but it’s a risk.
September 20, 2018 at 8:45 am #99733Penny WilliamsKeymaster
When someone gives you a schedule II controlled substance (all stimulant medications in the US), they could go to prison for a very long time for selling drugs. Most people don’t realize that. Yes, even if they just gave it to you. I’m not judging, just providing this information so you can consider the consequences for the individual providing them too.
Of course, the best thing is to get your own prescription. Here’s how to get diagnosed so you can do that:
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
September 20, 2018 at 9:02 pm #99825kesmith1329Participant
It sounds to me like you may have an element of rejection sensitivity disorder or social anxiety. I feared for a long time what the actual doctor would think of me. Plus my adhd and comorbid anxiety made it hard for me to effectively communicate my issues…. which I still struggle with. Even now when I go to the psychiatrist I feel like I am complaining about my laziness or lack of self-discipline.
My suggestion would be to schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist to address ADHD. Tell them you sought help from a family doctor who you think may have misdiagnosed your ADHD with depression. Which the depression meds only led you to feel worse. Maybe mention how long you’ve been struggling with this and how it has lead you to feel as though you are not living up to your full potential/ affecting your quality of life.
And that maybe you have been depressed but you think it may be a response to your untreated ADHD. Something that helps me is that I am making these appointments to try and better myself. At the end of the day, yes that Doctor may judge you or yes they may deep down think ADHD doesn’t exist. But you cannot give up on seeking help for yourself even if that means finding another opinion/doctor. But it does take a while to get an appointment. It took me a long time to build up the courage to simply make the phone call…. and even when I did then I had to wait months to actually see them.
So my advice is to make an appointment!! And keep your head up!
Oh and another key thing is “medication is just a tool in your toolbox”. Coping strategies + right medication/dosage + counseling/mindfulness/balanced thoughts + healthy habits = TREATMENT! But don’t get overwhelmed… life is a constant journey of growth, struggle, improvement, learning, etc.
I wish you well!
September 21, 2018 at 5:33 pm #99913
Wow! After reading your response I feel like you hit the nail right on the head!
I DEFINITELY do have social anxiety and I’ve always known that… I rarely socialize at work with people, in situations where I am in a group outing regardless if I know people or not I’m typically not a conversation starter and I don’t speak unless spoken to first. I also do have sensitivity to the possibility of rejection. That comes from a really difficult past but I won’t go too much into that.
The depression part of it I’m sure has to do with the ADHD. I think I have over time become depressed because I have struggled to have the quality of life that I want because of my forgetfulness, my lack of organization, constant sleepyness and low performance at work due to procrastination. Also the fact that I ended up not finishing college and don’t have a degree… I feel like my career options have become limited and i really do want to go back and finish at some point but I’m afraid to make the same mistakes as before. Lack discipline and focus to the point where I flunk out. Sometimes I sit and really think “If I would have just done this sooner the outcome would have been in my favor.” Or “why do I lack confidence in my abilities so much to where I just avoid certain situations?” I have gone as far as to go out of my way to avoid situations where I don’t feel confident enough, and as silly as it may sound I find myself trying to avoid being in the same elevator as other people at the same time. I work in a high rise building and we have keypads on the wall where we select the floor number that we are trying to get to. It’s randomly assigned so if I say I’m going to floor 13 and someone else behind me says they are going to floor 5, sometimes it’ll put us in the same elevator and sometimes it won’t. If I know there will be other people in my elevator, I wait for the door to close and re-type in my floor number just to get a different elevator. It’s ridiculous I know but it’s the reality of what I face. That is a lot from the anxiety. When people I don’t know try to just be friendly and say something to me like “I like your shirt!” Or just something. Anything. I clam up and shut down.
I always ask myself why I’m like that. I wish I weren’t. I’m a really nice and friendly person but because of the social anxiety I come off as stand-offish.
I do truly believe that most if not all of these issues stem from my ADHD. I am struggling to make the appointment in fear of rejection by the doctor I see. I can, however show medical records proving I’ve tried to get help and just as you said, possibly misdiagnosed or maybe diagnosed without the realization that my extreme ADHD has been the root of my anxiety and depression. I’ll admit when I did take the adderall and vyvanse for the short time I did, it was the most “normal” I had ever felt in my entire 28 years of existence. And when I say “normal” I mean I didn’t have social anxiety. New people being around or in my life didn’t freak me out. I had no problem starting conversations. I would be able to hold meaningful conversations and I wouldn’t zone out when someone was talking to me even if I had no true interest in what they were saying. I made eye contact with people. Rejection didn’t scare me one bit, and I didn’t let it get in the way of anything. I was confident in myself and my abilities. Procrastination wasn’t an option in any aspect of my life. I was clean and organized, clutter bothered me a lot. Everything I just listed, to me, is “normal” and the way things should be. I mean sure, I know medication is not going to solve all of those problems 100% of the time because in reality life is messy and far from perfect so I know I won’t feel that way every moment of every day for the rest of my life, but I know how I reacted to the medicine and I really want to live my life that way because it made me happy. I wasn’t depressed or anxious.
Again, I apologize for all of these long drawn out posts. This is the first time I’ve really opened up about my ADHD and it’s felt really good to just be able to talk about it but these forums have given me a “lightbulb moment” and sort of an epiphany that what I’ve been thinking is correct and it’s giving me the confidence to call and make an appointment to get help. One thing I should also add is I don’t have the “addictive” or “obsessive” type of personality either. I think that’s a positive thing because I don’t really obsess over anything and I’ve never been addicted to anything like medication, food, alcohol (I don’t even drink actually)… and even when I lost access to adderall and vyvanse, as I mentioned in a previous post I wasn’t feening for it or desperately trying to get more. I just went on with my life… even though I went back to my old depressed, anxious, disorganized, insecure life. It sucked but… I knew I wasn’t supposed to be taking it without an RX and that was that. But now, at 28 years old, I have come to terms with the fact that I probably do need medication to help treat this… and I say “help” because I understand that medicine alone isn’t treatment. I plan on seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist on a regular basis to hold me accountable and keep me in check. I know I won’t need the medication for the rest of my life. I’ve read stories of people that were on the medication for less than a year and with proper doctors visits and following instructions of a doctor, they didn’t need it after a while and were eventually able to live the life they wanted without the medicine. That’s the goal. This would just be a kick start or a “tool” like you mentioned to help me and long term I will be able to feel the effects of the medication without actually taking it 🙂
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