Self medicating before ADHD diagnosis?

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    • #141846

      When I think of an addict I think of someone who is sad, uneducated, angry and or abusive to others including themselves, a person who will break laws and morals to get what they want whenever they need a fix. This is probably most people’s opinions. The stigma of being an addict. This is probably why it is hard for me to admit that I am in fact an addict. Though I strongly believe there are levels within this label that people whom never experienced this problem in their own lives can see the differences. I would describe myself as a caring, giving, selfless person whom happens to have a long history of mental health misdiagnosis. My addictions never began on purpose but by accident. Let me rewind and state I have ADHD, maybe more specifically ADD.. with the new research popping up with scientific proof, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cases can lead to more challenges in finding the right help. I was once labeled as bipolar, depressed, BPD, OCD.. everything BUT ADHD. I accidentally found ways to help me correct some of the challenges that faced me everyday, when I took a medication called Ultram (at the time was not considered a controlled substance or even an opioid) I was prescribed this for my chronic endometriosis, sure.. it took care of the pain but it also helped me focus more! I got things done which I couldn’t before because I was often intimidated by certain tasks that caused my brain to want to immediately shut down! I don’t know why this particular drug helped, I wasn’t interested in any other opioid since it didn’t provide me with this effect. I don’t drink, In fact I get a sour stomach just smelling it, but according to whomever was treating me at the time, insisted I HAD to be an alcoholic too! One day I made the decision to stop this pill but quickly learned that I couldn’t! Not without feeling like I was dying or wishing I would die! However like many opioid like drugs, your body needs more over a period of time to give you the same effect. So I would take more on days I needed to get a lot done, but my supply ran out before I could get more. It wasn’t a problem getting it online up till 8 or so years ago, till they finally realized this is an addictive medication and now controlled. I hated being a slave and couldn’t face the realization that I had to face an excruciating period of pain in order to be free! I couldn’t afford to take a month off from work and I definitely couldn’t stop being a mom! I was introduced to the idea of suboxone and had to be put on a waiting list in order to get it. When I finally had a dr. No one knew or told me that I was trading one evil for another, even though I made this decision to better my life, to end my slavery.. I didn’t realize that even though I can live without this other drug, I now can’t live without the new one.. and adding the stigma to my medical charts that have done nothing but stopped me from finding the right help I needed to replace the drug that helped me cope with my ADHD. Finding a dr whom saw me as an individual has been and continues to be really struggle! “She’s an addict so we can prescribe her another controlled drug!” I just want to get my life to a place where paying my bills isn’t a challenge (which lead to more problems) my house a mess, being on time for once, even leaving the house in a carefree way as where now, I can’t do that! I finally did find a dr who has prescribed a stimulant but I don’t think it’s working, plus they don’t specialize in mental health, so I’m afraid to say something because of my past experience, it only elevates and confirms their beliefs that I’m just an addict looking for the right fix! Ok, I was addicted to one highly addictive drug, but no interest in others, does that still qualify me as the stigmatized view of being an addict? I just want to clean my life up.. in every aspect but I can’t do it on my own no mater how much I meditate or do yoga, eat right and sleep! If I could find anyone who is current on ADHD and how to treat it would improve my quality of life including my children! I live far away from any major cities and can’t find a dr whom takes my ins let alone understands what I’m going through! How do I get the help for my daughter and Me whom desperately need it! (My daughter also has ADHD and I need to help her too!)

    • #141929
      fran w

      Hey, last night my 15 year old daughter told me that my mental health scared her, she was worried that she was going to lose me. I had to promise her I would never take my life, and whilst I promised it there was an underlying regret that that is not and never will be an option for me. I was drinking non alcoholic beer, wishing with every last fibre in my body that it was actually the real stuff because it was the only thing that stopped the mess in my head. Like you, no amount of meditation, or anything else for that matter stops the noise. I drank, that was my self medication… and everyone accused me of having a problem. I was diagnosed at 46 and 18months on I have just two people in my life who support me, one is a friend down the road and the other lives across the Atlantic in America. I have no other support, life is bloody hard work, but I finally found a doctor who listens to me, and she has my back. The mental health services are no help, most doctors are no help, and even the private specialist consultant that diagnosed me couldn’t really give a shit unless I pay her, I don’t have that sort of money, so I’m on my own. I am now on a controlled drug called Elvanse. I don’t know if it’s the best drug for me as I don’t know anyone who knows about ADHD but it helps with fatigue and you know what, if that’s all it helps me with, I can handle the rest. I stopped drinking, and smoking and my symptoms got worse, but I can’t relapse because the alcohol and the drug I take just don’t mix, but I miss it every day, and the idea of being in a stupefied state just one more time is an overwhelming reality. Follow ADHD posts on Instagram, read as many articles on this site as you can, find a therapist who will help you build your self esteem (I’m in that process) and don’t give up. Treat every day as a new chance, to survive if nothing else, you must learn to love yourself unconditionally, stop the inner critic, mindful self compassion will help with this. Eliminate from your life the stuff/people that don’t contribute positively and make your self a priority, because without you, your baby girl can’t have the mumma that you truly are. As I write this, I am reminded of what I need, this is the first time I’ve shared my story in response to someone else but I read your post by chance and I feel your pain… every last ounce of it… you aren’t alone in this world, remember that, but remember also that there is no hierarchy to pain and suffering, so not for one minute am I suggesting that you are suffering any less than the next person. It’s really really hard, but you have to keep going, even if it’s just for today, just for today, just for today.

      • #141989

        Fran, is that your name? I just wanted to say thank you! I posted this yesterday but it seems like days ago as I’m constantly checking to see if someone responded, but not without worry to see that someone called me a dirt bag or Troll, obviously not far from my experience w other forum attempts on other sites… Thanks to you, my fear has changed to relief! Relief is an understatement because I am so touched and moved by by your bravery in sharing your story, I don’t feel like I’m locked, in a dark closed space by myself anymore! I sometimes feel exhausted trying to explain or defend myself, because if you’re anything like me (and I’m guessing you may be)your explanation ends up being an overload of information where you lose the other person somewhere in the beginning or entirely. Because no matter how many times I try to justify myself to another, it’s always me trying to justify me to myself!( Lol, I’m having a hard time wording that just right and could spend many many min trying to fix it, but if I don’t move on, I’ll totally forget everything I else I wanted to say! This happens A LOT and I’m not sure how to avoid being stuck! However.. I am today because I have more important things I want to say!) .. oh wait, I already forgot! Kidding! (Kinda) but seriously, before seeing your response I was listening to ADDitude podcast 269, shedding shame, and it’s been a very long time I cried so freely. I usually hold my tears in no matter how much it burns.. not because I’m embarrassed (for once) but because I’m afraid if I start I won’t wanna stop! Then I read your post and I’m still crying! I don’t want to give up, If not for myself but because my daughter needs me! Every time I say that, I think of the oxygen masks on an airplane but I want to feel this self love organically and as an obligation! I am exhausted trying to find comfort and so tired of running into walls looking for it! Whether it’s me trying to get acceptance from my family (mom,dad,sisters etc), finding a judgement free zone, or even a Dr whom knows or willing to learn whom I actually am, and the things in between I’m trying to figure out as I go along! I don’t feel I’ve accomplished much however I get stuck and end up doing nothing because it’s so overwhelming! Like you, I am very isolated. Sure I hv parents but like I said, I can’t relax around them because I sense their disappointment! I have one friend from school whom I don’t talk to often because I feel I’m “that” friend who is always negative and been trying to spare her the on going issues in my life. I have had opportunity to invite others into my life but I keep waiting to get to a “better place” in my life that never comes! I recently became more proactive in self help (hence my discovery of this site) but I think the reason it isn’t working (as fast as I hoped) because I take on TOO much! I started this online learning center called the GreatCourses plus, I spend more time organizing or filling my wishlist, I run out of time learning an actual lesson! I do that with movie apps, online or actual shopping and I either never get to it or take hours trying to finish! People hate shopping w me because I spend more time putting things back on the shelf than I do in a line! I’m going to apologize for this long list of woes because that’s what I do! I apologize to everyone! Though I do have to say even though I feel foolish for being so pessimistic, I’m hoping this comes out being more helpful because someone might relate and not a pity party.
        Anyways, I have been writing for 2hrs now and I can’t remember what I said (afraid to reread since I’ll edit for another hour!) I just want to finish asking you this.. if you could have one wish, what would it be? (Keeping it within reality, you are still you meaning you can’t wish away your adhd, something that is actually attainable ) I’ll tell you what I wish.. I wish for someone to except me for me, whom I don’t have to explain myself to, someone to help encourage me, inspire me without feeling I need to give them a piece of my soul! I’m single mom, w one income (I don’t get child support or alimony or things like that) She is only 7 w ADHD so we can sometimes be the blind leading the blind.. I end up doing everything myself because it’s easier than teaching her to help, I never get a sick day even if I have a fever of 104, it’s a lot for anyone without ADHD let alone with… BUT I haven’t given up! I hope to hear from you again and I hope you see the humor in this post because you relate and I hope I helped you like you have helped me!!!

        • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by artlover.
        • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by Penny Williams.
    • #141993

      Oh bummer.. I just spent 2 hours writing back but it disappeared!!! Agh, lol.. not the first time this has happened (wasting time for.. nothing! Well maybe not completely for nothing, I did a lot of unloading and distracted me from myself in a roundabout way) anyways! I’ll give it time to pop up, if it doesn’t by the time I can find another chunk of time to write, I will! The one thing I don’t want to wait on, is telling you how much I appreciate your bravery on sharing your story! It meant SO much to me knowing I’m not alone! That maybe the first time ever feeling that way.. a least on this subject. I can on and on but I’ll save that for later.. not to mention I’m out of time! Lol
      But last thing I really stress, especially if you think anyway like me, where things like this matter..but know you made a difference today in someone’s life and I hope you can appreciate yourself for this! You really deserve it! I can’t thank you enough since words are only that.. words! They don’t begin to justify my appreciation! Talk 2 u soon!!

      • #142896
        fran w

        Hi again, my memory is sooooo bad I actually forgot I wrote on here. By chance I was scrolling through the 1000+ unopened emails on my phone and I so your lovely reply and I was so touched. It’s late, I need to sleep, but I wanted to touch base again, just so you didn’t feel you were being ignored… you write like I think!!! Your whole manner in which you wrote is e Carly how I find myself writing… it made me smile. So much of what you said, actually probably all of it I can relate to, so there’s something you have in common with another!! I’m having a better week, last week was tough, this week not so bad, that’s what I love about waking up every morning, (I used to struggle every single day before diagnosis and medication) the fact that it’s a chance to start again, afresh, anew and it really is… what has passed is in the past, I try not to worry about later in the day let alone tomorrow!! So, sending a virtual hug, thank you for replying and I’ll stay in touch. Fran. X

    • #142060

      First of all, franw: If you think of suicide please watch that clip.

      Second, artlover, your courage to post here is amazing. I know it’s hard. I would recommend Mark Manson. He is crude, but he put things in a way that really helped me. It takes a long time to start making changes, so start slow. Find a system like a bullet journal, and just start with a few small pieces of your life that you want to get done (dust one shelf, vacuum just one room, etc.). Small steps. You don’t make big changes overnight but a bunch of small and failed and repeated steps until it becomes a habit.

      • #142899
        fran w


    • #142281

      How I can relate!!

      Last year November I hit an all time low, I wanted to cease to exist. I knew I needed to get help when I spent 2 hours on a suicide hotline with the most amazing human who showed so much compassion.

      I’m a very smart person, I could and probably can still be a neurosurgeon if my ADHD diagnosis is correct and concerta works. Before I get into my story, join HAMS or HAMS for women in Facebook. It is an amazing support group with members word wide. When it comes to alcohol the term used is Alcohol Use Disorder and not an alcoholic as is written in the DSM 5. Their motto is better is better and obviously how can we help with no judgement. This is Harm reduction and not AA.

      So I’ve always been depressed, with a very very low drive. I managed it , got a post grad, happy I passed but unhappy that it was not a Cum since my IQ is very high. Back to last year, I really think 2019 tried to kill me but just trusted God (born again 3 years ago) and his words that 35 will change everything. I went to see a psychiatrist which I’m not too trusting of because they just describe lots and lots of drugs, however this one wanted to start me low and slow since the Cymbalta my GP prescribed gave me every single side effect listed. Then over the past couple of months she got to know me and at the beginning of the year she asked if I’ve ever been tested for ADHD, I’m like no…I sat still in class why would I have ADHD. I’m an adult female, the chances are like 4%. Well I took the test and got 100% on it. FULL BLOWN ADHD.

      By now we had tried 2 different SSRI’s and she wanted to try a 3rd which I agreed to, but again side effect. I then spent a good 4 hours studying and reading journals, published papers on children not being diagnosed with ADHD and specifically in my case alcohol use. Not drinking to get drunk, but drinking to wash out all the crap going through my brain every night. Started socially at the age of 14, daily drinker for the last 7 years?

      So why did the SSRI’s not work, because it is a dopamine problem in my case. I took my first Concerta today, and I have never in my life felt such a need or urge to PRODUCE, because remember production is the basis of morale.

      So yes I self medicated with alcohol and my family was convinced I was a full blown alcoholic until I stopped drinking for a week without climbling the walls.

      And today was the first day in 5 years I did not get home and the first thing I did was pour myself a drink. Coincidence? No.

      My advice to you is to join HAMS and never stop advocating for your mental health. EVER!

      I know it is only day one for me, but I so wish I was diagnosed earlier. Because today I realised I’ve only ever worked hard enough to cover my needs, why because my dopamine is and had been wonky for over 20 years. Today I realised that I can and more importantly have the drive to WANT to work for more wants, like a nice watch or in my case a horse.

      So keep on trying to find help, I’m assuming you’re in the US (Hams ladies will be very helpful there), find the right doctor who will take the time to get to know you. My doc first diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder. But after today I know it is dopamine.

      ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF! Stand up for your rights and your health and try and see what works. Yours might be serotonin, it might even be a vitamin deficiency. And join Hams, they are super supportive.

      As for me I hope this is it, I can finally not just live but WANT to live.


      • #142300

        I had that desire to drink and Wellbutrin XL really helped with that. I haven’t drank in years, even a beer socially. It is amazing.

        Also if you have thought of suicide, please watch this. It really changed my wife’s perspective and mine too:

        I’m glad you’re better.

    • #194669

      I was on everything and ran my life into the ground. I was diagnosed as a child but didn’t know until I was an adult and got a mother diagnosis, then my mom tells me! I have been suffering and struggling trying to fix what is wrong with me all those years by self medicating. Now I just want what is best for me! I have given my life over to God & don’t want an addiction but for my life to be easier. HOW is it fair that the doctors discriminate against me (prior addiction) which is a direct symptom of my disease ADHD. I am prescribed everything but a stimulant which is what I KNOW will help me. It’s the only thing we haven’t tried. WHY?! Is it because I’m on medi-cal? Or is it because of my prior addiction issues? Help!? I’m in California, a 37 yr old mom of a teenaged son who is heading in the direction I was. He’s smoking weed to self medicate. I’m getting him diagnosed.

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