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"I Live With Both ADHD and Depression"

Are my frustrating behaviors caused by adult ADHD, depression, or a combination of both?

5 Comments: "I Live With Both ADHD and Depression"

  1. I was diagnosed at 48 years old. When I was a young child in the 70s and early 80s, few people were talking about ADHD. I was the quiet kid with no friends (ever in my K-12 education) who never got in trouble and yet loathed himself. I was the kid with a mom who had undiagnosed ADHD. She was constantly screaming and it felt like walking on eggshells around her. I was the kid who would zone out during class but never told anyone because I thought it was normal. I was the kid who was picked on because he was different (turned out to be gay). I grew to be the high school student with mediocre grades. My guidance counselor had to call the state university where I applied and vouch for me since my grades were average and my SAT scores were miserable. I was the college student who refused to talk to anyone and hid away in his room all the time. I was the college student who wanted to study acting, but was too afraid to audition for anything and end up having to change his major. I was the college student who chose elementary education because I could not imagine trying to interact with adults all day long and I believed I was so math stupid that I would not go into anything that required higher math. I was the young adult who moved 1000 miles away from home believing that he was escaping a miserable childhood and an emotionally abusive mother only to realize that the misery followed. I moved 11 times after college – once each year. I was the adult who hated his teaching job the very first year yet stuck with it for 23 years until a nervous breakdown forced me to leave lest I kill myself. And after all of that – did I or anyone else see ADHD in me? No! After that nervous breakdown (March, 2020), I spent a year being treated for major depression with SSRI medications – all of which made me more depressed and think about suicide even more. During that time I saw a counselor. I wanted a psychiatrist but my doctor told me I didn’t need one – that my problems were not that serious. But then I ignored his advice and spent over 6 months on a waiting list to see what I THOUGHT would be a psychiatrist – but turned out to be a psychologist. And then FINALLY someone thought to say to me, “Have you been tested for ADHD?” So I got tested. And I was told that I have one of the most severe cases of ADHD this doctor had ever seen and that were it not for a very high intellect I would never have even made it through college let alone managed to make it to 48. He had been in the profession for decades – so that says a lot. Now I find myself the adult with ADHD/combined; unemployed for two years; unable to do just about anything; and trying to navigate a medical system where the psychiatrist that was designated to prescribe my ADHD medications for me is less than welcoming. I am having to overeducate myself about ADHD and stimulant medications so that I can be certain that I am getting appropriate treatment – because I cannot trust that my doctor has all of the current information. I am tired of the stigma that I have dealt with my whole life – of feeling worthless – of not living up to my potential. I am tired and I just want relief from the endless battle that goes on in my head. So, you are VERY LUCKY to have been diagnosed so YOUNG.

  2. I completely relate, I am 17 but see myself in you very much. Depression and ADHD often blend way too much into themselves and it’s so hard to figure out which is causing which!
    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it is definitely the confirmation and encouragement that I needed today.

  3. As for the workplace and all other social interactions except for close friends, I would keep a tight security lid on the ADD or ADHD condition. Your boss is the LAST person you want to bare your soul to. Your boss, by definition, is someone who determines if your career lives or dies.

    Going public with this curse will send your associates and coworkers scurrying to the internet, look up ADD or ADHD and assume that you check ALL the boxes.
    You will be looked at askance by your peers and your HR director might put your name on his secret layoff list. There are 30 million people out of work right now and taking any kind of reckless chances is not smart.

    I’ve had a successful 40 year career as an engineer and I got there by being good at my job and not being careless and stupid with my private information, so don’t let your own mouth be your worst enemy. You won’t stave off an attack but you could put a death sentence on your career.

    If you need help, get help and read ADDitude for its valuable advice and guidance.

  4. And it never occurred to me until I was about 60 that I “might”have a problem – – lucky I was seeing a good Psychiatrist for monitoring my depression treatment ( that was diagnosed as an adult, but not treated successfully with med until my 40’s). A funny story ( tome) is that someone I supervised burst out laughing when I told her about the ADHD dx: like, “you didn’t KNOW you were ADD?” I managed to do my work – well the paperwork was always a challenge, but I felt respected.

    One of the things I still have trouble with is in respecting myself and not calling myself names. I have a good friend who sometimes reminds me to stop the self blame. I think that it became a habit in the far past – because it was. like if you say out loud what “they” are thinking ( they – teachers, bosses,family, even friends) you are showing humility, and maybe staving off their verbal attack. Stopping it is one of the big positive self-help things you can do, along with exercise, replacing negativity with positive actions and comments

  5. Quote: “I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 21, which is relatively late in life, considering that most diagnoses are made during childhood, when symptoms first emerge.”

    You are speaking from the perspective of your generation. There are many older adults with undiagnosed (and/or untreated) ADHD.

    What is the average age of diagnosis for someone who is currently over 40 or over 50 or over 60 years old?

    I can tell you that “most” of those diagnoses weren’t in childhood.

    I am in my late 50s. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 40. After reading an article by Dr Ned Hallowell in Prevention magazine about adult symptoms of ADHD, I went to a doctor who specializes in treating ADHD.

    I’m thankful I did that because I too deal with depression. Knowing *all* of what I’m dealing with (including other chronic illnesses) lessens the burden.

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