*I'm really sorry about the excessive length! If you're not interested in the background information, please just skip to the last 4 paragraphs*
I don't know for sure that I have ADD. I think I do, I've spent a good deal of time researching the symptoms, and too many of them fit me to be a coincidence.
A quick background. I'm currently 35 years old, working for $14 an hour at the local Home Depot. I was never diagnosed ADD as a child. Looking back, I see behaviour that I think is consistent with ADD, however. I was punished more than once at my elementary school for 'cheating,' which wasn't cheating, but careless mistakes in scoring my own work (I'd have to explain the school I was at, but yes, we scored much of our own work). I spent a lot of time daydreaming, sometimes wasting entire days just lost in my own imagination. In Jr. High and High School, I attended more conventional schools, and did from somewhat well to very poorly, depending on how much my attendance and homework was monitored by my teachers. I've never had much success with homework, generally only doing what I absolutely must, preferring to take marks of zero on my homework and making up the difference with excellent exam scores. Frankly, I think I was always too smart for my own good in school, because I was able to manage 'acceptable' scores (low B's to D's . . . only one F), and was always able to talk my way out of trouble over my attendance and homework deficiencies. In High School, I missed A LOT of classes.
My High School marks were sufficient to get me into the University Transfer program at a local community college, where I achieved sufficient marks to transfer to the local University. Since 1994, I've spent roughly 8 years off and on working on a Bachelor's Degree. Every semester, I promise myself I'm going to 'do it right this time,' and register for a full load of classes. I generally start out well, attending all my lectures, but seldom do any homework. About the time that the midterms roll around, I drop 1 or 2 classes, the ones I'm furthest behind in, and normally manage to do enough work to pull out B's and C's in the 2 or 3 classes that I retain. Obviously, this system is not constructive.
I always seem to succeed in low level, hourly wage style jobs where there is a lot of structure. I tend to work very hard in those situations, and am promoted quickly. At the supervisor level, however, the loss of structure kills my performance and my career stalls. I always manage to dress this up in subsequent interviews, but the truth is my performance in management roles is dismal.
I was always chubby as a kid, but since leaving high school, I've become outright obese. Again, I can often start a weight loss regimen, starting out motivated, even losing 70 pounds once (alas a drop in the bucket), but never maintain my motivation and stop doing what I know is the right thing.
The best way I can describe my inability to do homework, or eat right, or exercise is that there seems to be a disconnect in my mind between the 'now' and 'the big picture.' I can't seem to do what I know I need to do to get the results I want.
So . . . Last September, at the urging of my fiancee and my brother, I went to my family doctor and told him that I think I have ADD. My family doctor referred my to a psychologist that specializes in ADD, but as I'm a university student I decided to see if I could get an evaluation for free through the school (the psychologist would have been $160 a session, and I just didn't have it). The school eventually hooked me up with a goverment agency that, after various interviews, referred me to a psychologist for an assessment; ostensibly for ADD, but also, unknown to me, for depression.
The result of the assessment was that I may have the inattentive subset of ADD, but because there is no objective test for ADD, and I'd done research on it before the assessment, I likely inflated my self report. The assessment further noted that I am extremely depressed, and likely suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. Because my IQ verbal and other untimed IQ scores were so high (116 through 125 for the various subsets) and I appear to have a good memory, it was determined that I do not suffer from a learning disability. My performance and timed scores were markedly worse, ranging from 84 to 90. My processing speed is apparently extremely slow, rated at the 7th grade level.
I accepted the results of the report, and started medication, both for ADD and for depression. As money continues to be an issue and because psychologists are not covered by the 'universal' health care where I live (Alberta, Canada), I've had difficulty finding counselling, though I continue to look for options.
My original treatment consisted of Celexa for the depression and Dexedrine for the ADD. I had a great deal of trouble sleeping in the first three weeks, and my doctor blamed the Dexedrine and switched me to Concerta. The Celexa, however, drove me into a depression that caused me to seriously consider killing myself; going so far as to plan it in detail and leave notes that I didn't want a funeral. At the urging of my fiancee though, I realized the seriousness of my situation and discontinued the Celexa, returning to my doctor who then prescribed Wellbutrin. I've been on something of a roller coaster on the Wellbutrin so far, but it's only been a month, and things seem to be levelling out somewhat, so I'm planning to reevaluated it after the 8 weeks that was recommended.
I feel that I had some positive results on the Concerta, but because my depression was so bad as a result of the Celexa, I didn't do much reading or studying at all to really evaluate things. I've since switched back to the Dexedrine, as again, money is difficult and there's a generic option for the Dexedrine where there isn't for the Concerta. I do find my ability to concentrate much improved, though still imperfect on the Dexedrine.
This leads me, finally, to my most recent and severe frustration . . . Because psychiatrists are covered through my health care, my family doctor referred me to one recently, in hopes of further evaluating my condition and perhaps helping me to find counselling, and I can honestly say that the frustrations that I've run up against until now pale against what 90 minutes with this 'doctor' were like!
He spent 90 minutes ignoring more or less everything I told him. He hadn't read the background info that my doctor had forwarded him, yet apparently knew enough to tell me that he feels that I'm suffering because I'm not willing to accept that I don't have the tools to succeed beyond my current level of success! The fact that I haven't already succeeded beyond where I'm at are a result of factor X, which is not ADD, and because it's not identifiable, I need to simply accept things, change my way of thinking and be happy. Even when I told him that if I can't progress to a level beyond where I'm at I'm ready to die (which is true), he insisted that I simply don't have the tools to do what I want to do. He used the analogy of a four foot tall man who wants to play professional basketball, it's simply not going to happen, so get over it. He then informed me that he'd recommend some other medications to my doctor that might help me deal with my lot in life.
I don't understand the closedmindedness that I'm running into in the psychological and psychiatric profession! I'm frustrated beyond belief, I've lost a virtually a full year of school due to the anxiety and depression that I've experienced leading up to and subsequent to my assessment, and I don't seem to be making any progress with treatment apart from the fact that I apparently now have the ability to get pretty much any medication I want.
I don't WANT a happy pill! I WANT someone to listen to me and to help me figure out what's standing in my way so I CAN succeed in life! I want someone to help me come up with a strategy to overcome whatever it is that's wrong with me, not just throw medication at me and tell me to deal with it.
Anyway, this latest incident has both strengthened my resolve and caused me to question myself. Always at the back of my mind are the all too familiar self recriminations . . . I'm just lazy, if I wanted it bad enough, I could just do it, I'm pathetic and indeed don't have the tools to become a more useful member of society (please don't tell me how great working in lumber at the Home Depot is, I can't think of a less relevant job . . . yes, I'm looking for something new, but likely won't find anything that's truly better). Right now I'm motivated because I'm angry, but I know that anger won't last forever. The biggest thing is, I agree that I've been a spectacular failure in life so far, but I know . . . I KNOW, that I have the intellect and ability to really do well, I just have to find a way around this disconnect or block in my brain.
Has anyone else had difficulty getting diagnosed as an adult? Should I simply make use of available resources online and do my best to treat myself, and forget trying for a diagnosis and 'professional' help? I guess I needed to vent a little and maybe I'm looking for reassurance that I'm not totally alone in this. I'm frustrated beyond belief right now . . . and I feel like I'm whining.
Re: Frustrated and Angry . . . (way too long. :( )
It never fails to amaze me that people who set themselves up as helping professionals (psychiatrists, medical doctors, even veterinarians) have all the answers and inform you that you don't have a clue, even if you've been living with the situation for years, if not your whole life. Whatever "solution" they have to offer is not a solution if it doesn't fit you. And they won't know if their magic solution fits you or not until they listen to you. I hear your frustration. And anger.
Shortened version of my history: I was diagnosed in my mid 40's as having ADD, after my entire life of feeling like a failure. I had 3 months on Ritalin, during which time I felt like the world was open to me for the first time -- I felt like I might have a chance to learn to be something other than a failure. Then my husband and I moved to Germany 12 years ago. At that time, Ritalin was looked upon with suspicion in this country. Basically, I was told that Ritalin was addictive and that I would not be allowed to have another prescription. Over a year ago I couldn't take it any more and started asking around trying to find out if there existed a doctor anywhere who might prescribe Ritalin to a middle-aged lady. By that time my German language skills had improved to where I could get my point across, and I started tracking down the leads that were given to me. It took most of a year before I found someone who was willing to prescribe Ritalin for me.
You can read other posts of mine to read more of my story, but the main thing I want to emphasise is that sometimes it takes persistance and reminders from your significant other that you are on a journey to find the help that you need. Drugs may or may not be what you need, but being listened to certainly is. Everytime I came out of a doctors office in tears because it turned out after waiting months for an appointment that they didn't treat ADD or they didn't treat adults with ADD or they didn't prescribe Ritalin, my husband reminded me that we had taken one more step in the attempt to find help for me, even if that step was simply crossing off one more doctor from my list. It really helped that he kept reminding me of that.
One of the things I have become aware of in this journey is that, since many things have always been difficult for me, and my parents and school teachers continually reminded me that I was a failure and would never complete anything or amount to anything in my life, I came to believe this myself. So I have a habit of getting excited about starting things and then I have a snag in the works (even if it simply means that I can't finish a project today because it's too big) and I automatically get depressed and think that I'm a failure and never go back to the project. It was programmed into my small child brain that I was a failure, so that's all I knew how to be.
I am finally realizing that I am not a failure -- sometimes I have to be reminded of the successes that I have achieved -- only the failures registered in my brain but that doesn't mean that the successes don't exist! I have finally had access to Ritalin since June, and that has helped a great deal. As I said, drugs may or may not be of help to you. But being able to discuss other ways of dealing with things, within the description of how your brain is wired, will be of great help to you.
It is a human trait to categorize things, and to assume that everything fits into one of the categories that we know. Doctors have a great deal of power over the people sitting in front of them. If they happen to have already pegged you into a particular category, then nothing you say will convince them that you might either fit into a category that they haven't thought of, or that you might even be the unique person that you are, or that you even have anything of value to offer to the discussion. Yes, it is frustrating and angry-making to find that the doctor dismisses the fact that you have lived with yourself for your entire life, and they have just met you and therefore can't possibly know anything about you.
I am going to suggest to you the same thing that my husband said to me. This is a journey. You have started a journey to try to make some changes in your life. Just because you have run into some snags (ignorant arrogant know-it-all doctors) does not mean that you are a failure, or that you won't find another doctor who thinks that using his ears is at least as important as using his mouth. Please don't give up. HealthBoards is a great place to rant. We'll listen. And rant right back to you!
Re: Frustrated and Angry . . . (way too long. :( )
Asinine doctors are the only thing that have screwed me up more than ADHD.
You are EXTREMELY intelligent. Your low processing speed is because you can't focus NOT because your chip is under-clocked.
Here is what you do and I am serious ...
Take your credit card and go see the $160 guy for help. After he gets you on the right meds --- probrobly Dex alone at a lower dose --- you'll make $160/hr (US) and have no problem paying off your CC bill.
Last edited by addprogrammer; 02-24-2008 at 06:10 AM.
Reason: Added info
Re: Frustrated and Angry . . . (way too long. :( )
The most objective test for ADHD is a substantial difference between verbal and performance IQ. 10 points is strongly suggestive, 20 is even more strongly so. (30 like me is even more fun!)
Just to put it in context, if you have a verbal of 114, you are smarter than about 81 percent of the population in terms of understanding what people teach you. If you have a performance of 86, that means you most likely getting worse grades than about 81 percent of people, when grades are based on your areas of weakness! Yes, meds can help bridge the gap, they did for me.
And, yes, one of the worst things a doctor can do is say, "There's no help for you, take some happy pills so you can accept it." I had an orthopedist do that to me once, although it was quite clear he knew there was something wrong with me and didn't know what it was.
Re: Frustrated and Angry . . . (way too long. :( )
Thank you all for your responses. It's nice to know that I'm not so entirely unique as to be untreatable.
I will take the advice of seeing the ADD specialist. I've realized that it was a mistake to look elsewhere at the beginning, as ADD seems to be either discounted or misunderstood by a lot of the psychiatric profession. My intent is to become a lot more assertive and aggressive in seeking treatment for what I believe is ADD, and if it's not ADD, I want an alternate diagnosis that fits my symptoms (I don't believe that I fit the profile of Borderline Personality Disorder, I do have a lot of self hate but I feel it's tied into my failure to live up to my own standards).
My IQ verbal was rated at 121, my overall performance IQ at 90, so it looks like 30 points in my situation as well. The lowest score for me was my processing speed, at 84. I don't know how that plays into the whole thing, but it looks like I need to do more research. Thank you very much for the heads up. *edit* btw, can you point to a source that I can buy/print/quote regarding the verbal/performance difference? I'm having trouble finding one online, though I'm not the best googler in the world. Just looking for more information to bring to my next meeting. *end edit*
Thank you for the 'journey' analogy, I'm really finding that it's going to take time. Fortunately, I have a very supportive fiancee, and a few close others that I can count on to keep me sane. All I can do is keep plugging, be assertive and convince these people to listen.
Last edited by Thunor; 02-24-2008 at 01:28 PM.
Reason: wanted to add something