My second-ever diagnosis was ADHD, back in 2004. You know, I’m not even sure why they thought I had ADHD at the time; I don’t think I had enough education about the illness to recognize it. However, when I was evaluated by the practice’s psychiatrist, he thought that ADHD might be contributing to my issues. In 2004 I was sixteen, and my impression of ADHD was an elementary-aged child running around his classroom, unable to control himself. I had always done well in school; behavior was only an issue when I talked too much, or one time in fifth grade when I stopped doing my homework for a couple of weeks.
At sixteen, I was on the honor roll, taking three Advanced Placement (college credit) classes, and was a shoe-in to all of the universities in the area. I noticed, though, that I could not stay attentive to math for too long; that it was just too irritating and disruptive to my brain to work on problems. My grades in Algebra 2 suffered. I wasn’t happy unless I was active all of the time, especially at home. I got bored easily, and I was extremely impulsive.
That year, I was on Straterra, and I can remember sitting in my English class, having taken the med that morning. Funny enough, I bonded with another student named Peter that also took the drug for his ADHD. A few months later, though, I refused to take the Straterra, for reasons that I can’t even remember—the excitement of being “different” had worn off.
I went five years after that not taking any medication for ADHD, and even without medication I managed to graduate high school with a full scholarship and finish my Bachelor’s Degree in English. I remember the symptoms, though, all through that time—irritability, trouble staying motivated, hypersensitivity to criticism, an explosive temper, a sense of insecurity—I often acted recklessly without regard to consequences, continued to get bored easily (my dad would say, if you’re bored, you’re boring). I attributed all of this to the Bipolar Disorder diagnosis I got at 19, in 2009.
I realize some of these symptoms can also be found in the course of a Bipolar mood swing. That is why it has taken me so long to get on board with ADHD treatment. I didn’t think that ADHD affected me anymore. But it does.
At 21, I started taking Adderall a couple of times a day, with the intention of switching to Extended Release medication when I decided on an affordable option. I eventually switched over to Vyvanse, and took that for about a year and then decided not to take it. I changed my mind again in 2011 and began taking Vyvanse for a second time. Finally, in 2012, I decided it was making me feel too jumpy and making my heart beat pretty fast. I got off the ADHD medication, but I was upset at the way I felt when I was off the drug for a while.
There was a time when I wasn’t working, just studying, and the ADHD wasn’t really a big factor. However, in 2012, I started a job in which I need to juggle a lot of tasks at a time, remember a lot of things, and stay calm and in control.
This is why I need treatment.
Here are some of the things I notice that I have issues with, which are common ADHD symptoms:
- Zoning out without realizing it
- Extreme distractibility (at work and at home)
- Difficulty focusing when listening to others
- A tendency to overlook details
- Less than satisfactory listening skills
- Poor organizational skills at home, but good ones at work (hmm…)
- Tendency to procrastinate (usually when something social is involved)
- Addictive tendencies
- Sense of underachievement
- Doesn’t deal well with frustration
- Easily flustered and stressed
- Mood swings
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling of inner restlessness and agitation
- Racing thoughts
- Craving for excitement
- Doing a million things at once
I can’t believe all of these things actually have to do with ADHD, and they’re not just flaws that I have. I have thought that a lot of the above symptoms were my fault and they were character issues. Now I finally accept that ADHD is an issue that I have to deal with just like my Bipolar. I could reduce a lot of the negative things in my life by taking care of my ADHD.
I am now on Straterra again, after talking with my doctor about a non-stimulant option. I am on my fourth day of taking the medication, and it could take 3-5 weeks for the medication to “kick in”. However, I am hopeful that my personal outlook, my outlook at home, and my performance at work will be increased thanks to a non-stimulant med.
My advice is to continue your treatment if you have ADHD. Don’t bounce from medication to medication like me, stopping when you whimsically feel like it. ADHD is a serious issue that needs to be treated. You could be suffering unnecessarily if you are not having a conversation with your doctor about your ADHD treatment.
I want to hear from you: Do you have ADD/ADHD? What are your methods of care for the disorder? Do you feel you’re getting all of the assistance you need with the disorder? If you don’t have the disorder, what interests you about ADD/ADHD? Maybe you have a relative with the disorder or maybe you want to dispel the myths about the illness. Comment below!