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ADHD in Women

ADD different for women


I am one of the last people I would have ever thought would have been diagnosed with ADD until I learned that it “looks” different in women that it does in men.

My DD was diagnosed in January after my mom saw an article about how girls symptoms are different from boys- and she had almost every symptom that was common for girls.

I read more about it in a book by Kathleen Nadeau and couldn’t believe what I was reading.  My DD’s pediatrician diagnosed her and our lives have been wonderfully changed.  I started reading more about ADD, and started seeing some of my “quirks” in the descriptions of people with ADD, so I was tested. 

Even then, the male psychologist I went to said that maybe I didn’t “really” have ADD, because I was successful at work and mostly struggled with organization in the home.  He suggested that maybe the problem was really that I just work too hard and that what I really need is a housekeeper.

However, since he did a full battery of tests, I “flunked” enough of them, he felt secure enough in giving a diagnosis of ADD and recommending a trial of medication to my physician. I am wondering this… The articles and books I have been reading that discuss how ADD can be different for women indicate that some women have more impairment with organization, with social cues, social responsibility, and time management.

When I have tried to share with friends my struggles with organization, or trying to keep up with the house work, or meeting the social obligations of keeping friends or sending cards or buying gifts or making/keeping lunch dates, they look at me like I am crazy, and say “just keep up with it”, or “get a system”, or do a little at a time.

I am wondering, have you had difficulty getting diagnosed since you are female and your symptoms may be different?  Do others marginalize your symptoms since they don’t look like ADD is supposed to look? Finally, Have you overcome this and have suggestions for others?

Thanks for hearing me out and adding to the discussion.

Replies

Hi, Molly.  Yes, I’m recently diagnosed and having similar difficulties.  My own therapist didn’t catch that I was ADHD, despite talking week after week about challenges that I now know are all symptomatic of ADHD.  (She suggested I get a housekeeper, make to-do lists, leave twenty minutes earlier, etc.)

And a friend said, “Oh, I’ve always had those problems.  I probably have it too.”  It feels awful when you try to share this new “thing” you’re dealing with, and you are dismissed or misunderstood.  I’m finding not many people really know much about ADHD.  Actually, until I was diagnosed, I had no idea that my challenges with disorganization, putting my foot in my mouth, not being able to remember names, always sending the birthday cards late, etc.—could be symptoms of ADHD.

I’ve been reading as much as I can, trying to educate myself.  One book, in particular, “Women With Attention Deficit Disorder” by Sari Solden, has taught me so much about how this disorder affects women.  Page after page, it’s as though I’m reading about myself, and learning about myself.  Perhaps, it will be of some comfort to you, too. 

I’m glad this online community is out there.  It’s incredibly isolating when no one in your circle of friends, or close family can share in your experience.  I’ve hesitated joining different groups, and really kept this to myself, but today I decided to reach out.  Good luck to you!

MJ

Posted by mjraddnyc on Jul 06, 2011 at 8:51am

Molly and MJ, you both sound so much like me.  I was horrified when my family doctor suggested about six years ago that I might have ADD; but, like both of you, I discoverd that almost everything I read about ADD in women seemed to describe me.  Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I cried when I read their stories, which could well be mine.
    I was 59 when I was diagnosed, wondering how I could have been a successful teacher of high school English students for 30+ years if I had ADD.  I believe it to be true, although many of my friends just laugh, despite their knowing I rarely send a card on time, lose most invitations I get, fight a mostly-losing battle against frequent tardiness, and am still planning to make a scrapbook of my retirement festivities (in 2004)!
    The psychiatrist who confirmed my ADD diagnosis is convinced I taught myself accommodations that allowed me to function at a very high level.  I agree, but why have I stopped using them?!
  This was my first foray into joining an online group of any kind.  It is very comforting to know this outlet is available and to know there are other women like me dealing with the same issues.
    Thanks for listening!

    Wordlover

Posted by wordlover on Jul 06, 2011 at 9:48am

There is unfortunately still so much misinformation out there about ADD - particularly for adults, and especially in women. For those of you seeking more information—for yourselves and to help others understand attention deficit—I would recommend this special ADDitude guide to ADD in women.

Best of luck!

Posted by Anni Rodgers on Jul 06, 2011 at 5:26pm

It’s really kind of sad, isn’t it?  And it still surprises me that with all we know about ADHD at this time, we are still under-diagnosing and mis-diagnosing women! 

From what I’ve seen both personally and professionally, we seem to be the ones who internalize and beat ourselves up most about our ADD challenges.  Not that men don’t, but it is different for us.  Society still places demands on women that are different than men.  We are still largely expected to be the housekeepers (yuck!), organizers (Ugh!), and family and social coordinators (yikes!).  These are all ares where those of us with ADHD tend to struggle, so when we are not doing “well” in these areas, we often feel like failures. 

I think that when we can stop the self-flagellation and educate ourselves about how ADHD is showing up in us as individuals, and then uncover and start to build upon our strengths, we can start to learn how rely on our natural strengths and talents to manage our challenges.  It takes work and it takes time, but a strength-based approach to ADHD can help us realize our potential and feel more fulfilled at the same time. 

OK.  I got a bit carried away there!  Sorry for the soapbox moment. 

But it’s hard to struggle where we struggle when others don’t get it!  What’s important, though, is that we get it and can start to move forward and stop beating ourselves up so badly!  I see it over and over again in the wonderful women with which I have privilege to work.  We can do these absolutely amazing things, but all we focus on is the fact that we forgot to send that birthday card!  When we can start to get past this stuff and change our perspective, it really does get easier!

I’m so glad you started this discussion!

Lynne Edris, ACG
Life & ADD Coach

Posted by ADD_Coach_Lynne on Jul 06, 2011 at 6:42pm

Thanks, everyone, for your replies.  I look forward to hearing from others. Lynne, I think one of the biggest reasons that women are under diagnosed and why we beat ourselves up so bad is because our problems are marginalized so much. 

If a woman has ADD the answer cannot always be, “get a housekeeper.”  If chronic disorganization is a primary issue, then it likely affects her ability to clean her home, plan meals, organize birthday parties and social engagements, decorate the home, maintain the laundry, handle school functions and extracurricular activities, and remember appointments.  In essence, it could affect the very core of what traditionally defines the role of a wife and mother.

I have finally reached a level of my career where I can delegate the tasks that are my weaknesses, therefore I am less affected by my ADD at work.  Generally, as long as I don’t have to plan a luncheon, and no one looks at my desk or files, my ADD is not an issue at work.  At home, however, I don’t do well with any of the things I listed above. Therefore, I have had to work very hard to feel good about myself as a “woman”.

Now I know my struggles can be identified with ADD and are not due to some mysterious personal shortcoming.  Personally, that helps me greatly.  Hopefully, it will help others, in the long run, too.

Posted by MollyMS on Jul 07, 2011 at 5:44am

Hi Molly, your post hit pretty close to home regarding the social aspects and feeling isolated. I was actually diagnosed when I was in second grade because I was this kid who would get so fidgety I would just stand up and walk out of the classroom. I think at the time teachers were trying to get me diagnosed with something else, but it was really apparent I had ADD when I was tested. But just because I had an official diagnosis, it didn’t make anything easier. Teachers didn’t think ADD was an actual disorder, and they certainly didn’t think a girl could have it. And I found that female teachers were the hardest to convince.

Needless to say, I didn’t make many friends since I “acted out” and as a result, I’ve found the social aspects of ADD to be the hardest. I’ve been working on this a lot and I have a few very good female friends now. But I still very much get the feeling you describe (mostly from acquaintances who don’t really understand I have ADD). It’s like I missed a lesson in social etiquette and no one will fill me in on the secrets. Like, when ARE you supposed to send thank you cards? I don’t necessarily forget, I just don’t really know when you’re supposed to. And female colleagues especially seem very much to look at me like, this is a really easy task. Or they don’t understand why I avoid eating lunch in the break room with all the other female colleagues (because it is a large group of people and it’s really hard for me to concentrate on more than one person talking at a time).

I think as a woman, we feel the need to be more socially forward, and as a result, it can be especially challenging to see from other females that you aren’t excelling at something they view as “simple.” I have found that, as awkward and stressful as I feel about a social situation going into it, 9/10 it’s not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I didn’t embarrass myself and I come out feeling like I learned something new. It’s an ongoing challenge, but I think it’s an especially rewarding one when you do succeed!

Posted by KitKat on Jul 07, 2011 at 9:58pm

Hello Ladies, Wow, anyone of ya’ll could be me, I am having difficulties with my MD who saw me for about 20 min’s the first trip and wrote it off as depression (go figure) and prescribed Wellbutrin. On followup there had been no change (gee how’d that happen) so I filled him in more on what my life is like and he said if the Wellbutrin did not work he would combine it with Adderall.  Tough cookie to crack.
    I too am very isolated at home, no true friends to speak of, no support system, messy house to no end, cant get ahead even tho i spend most of my weekend on it. I go to other peoples home and I am amazed that even tho they lead busy lives their homes are immaculate and organized and they spend weekends having fun, that part really SUX.
    At work I am good at what I do, but the job is high adrenaline and I keep moving looking for stuff to get into, (perhaps not such a good idea at age 49, LOL), many of my peers come to me to answers to their questions and I generally keep a cool head when stuff goes downhill. I really like to handle more complicated calls, so I jump on em when ever I can.
  Only at work when I started I wanted to promote upward as far as I could, But the paperwork, and the amount of stuff coming at you is unbelievable, so I never promoted, stayed put.
  I see many of these symptoms in my Mother, although she would never admit it and would not have a clue what ADD is all about.
  Forgive the rambling, as I said, no support system on the home front (single, DOH!), so I need to let some of this out.
  Anyhow, I’ll let ya know how future DR visits go, I will try to open up more to him on next visit.
  Oh, Anyone recommend anything to build social skills, apparently I dont have any.  Not kidding, they are pretty much non-existant .
  Stay safe,

Posted by TXDarlinLOL on Jul 11, 2011 at 8:35pm

Like everyone has said, THIS IS DESCRIBING ME!! I was diagnosed in 1st grade (I am 30 now)... all threw school I was tested and always going to the “special” classes. After I dropped out of collage (could not for the life of me get threw algebra 1) I decided I was not ADD and was in denial about it and forgot about it. That was until I could not pull my life together AT ALL. Seriously some of the worst years of my life so far. Anyway, I am back to knowing (admitting?) I have ADD and embracing it!! My life is slowly moving toward happiness and fulfillment. Yeeee HAwww smile Giving a shout out to all the ADD ladies out there!! We give some spice to this planet!

Posted by MissAujah on Jul 12, 2011 at 2:53am

Sorry, I would like to correct something here. Not all females have the inattentive type of ADHD and can well have the hyperactive type. I think about 5% not sure. Then there is the males again they can have the inattentive type. Not sure of what the percentage is there.

From my reading and observations a person with the inattentive form of ADD. Can and does become very knowlegable about usually one thing. ie Sister with inattentive ADD is on well top of her RN.

I met a guy with inattentive ADD, who had his doctrate in physicis. He said he would come home at night from his lectures, would go to his bed worn out and sleept, due to the stress of maintaing his concentration on the lecture materia. He is higher functioning. But is only versed in physicis.

http://www.thomhartmann.com/blog/2007/11/add-vs-adhd-and-women-vs-men

Just one article I have quickly found there are a lot more. Do a Google Scholar search and I am sure that you will come across some reseach papers re the matter.

Jenny
P.S. It is a good idea to go to a medical person, preferably a psycharitist, who is well versed in ADD and/or ADHD.

Posted by jennywren on Jul 12, 2011 at 5:10am

Hi. I havent been formally diagnosed but I’, sure I am ADHD. I have the inattentive type. You can ask my husband whom I’m separated from (hopefully, I can get a grip and begin to repair the damage). Anyway, I’m a special education highschool teacher during the day and a college professor at night. I have 2 master degrees. Trust me when I tell you it was hard as hell. I was an A student but it was not with out frustration and tears. It is my intention to become a principal at 57 but I’m afraid that the paper work and other stuff will be overwhelming. I’m not good at details but I can talk a mile a minute. Tha’ts where my strength lies in talking.  I’m, especially knowledgeable about dealing with special needs students, it’s amazing that I didn’t see myself sooner. It was only in my husband leaving me that I began the journey of self discovery and admitting that I indeed have issues. I just couldn’t see them.

Yes, do see a psychiatrist. My appoint is more than 5 weeks away (end of August, 2011) I know that I am going to need meds to manage my impulse and inattentive symptoms.  I can’t wait to get this party started. I will no longer feel as though life is passing me by. That I can participate with awareness is going be awesome.

Posted by corraosgirl on Jul 12, 2011 at 7:10am

I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 40…I’m 51 now. I have 2 children, my daughter (29)who I’m sure is ADD, but refuses to get checked. My son (25), was born mentally handicapped, was diagnosed ADHD and other mental disorders.
I wish that as a child, the school system would of payed more attention to me and would of understood ADD/ADHD better than they did. I/ my parents was told I was “just lazy” (I am and have been grossly overweight); so of course they blamed it on that.
I see SO much of me in my son…it’s scary. I feel as if I wasted the majority of my life, because all that time I BELIEVED their words. I believed I was just lazy, cause it fit! I did not know what was the matter, and the adults where the “smart ones”...
As for today? Well, my house is a mess, but I have 400 + friends on FB, lol! I am married as of Aug.3,2010…finally found a GOOD man…
I am sort of happy, but it’s cause I have finally lowered my standards. I am not stressing over things like I used to.
We are poor, my husband lost his job & got hurt, now he receives disability social security. I do not get any help at all, I’m to young/old…go figure!...I fall through the cracks.
I am pretty much happy go lucky, but as for friends? Not many outside of the internet.
I would love to be more organized, and for my house to be neat, but HOW!? I need meds? I hope not, I watched my son go through so much pain and trouble with meds…I cry a lot in frustration sometimes;less now that I have my husband cause bless his heart, he UNDERSTANDS…

Posted by shellwooley on Jul 12, 2011 at 4:40pm

This is such a great site! My Dr. didn’t believe me either when I went to be diagnosed. I had seen a commercial on tv about a guide for people with ADD and I realized I identified perfectly with them and did a lot of online research and was assured of it for myself but by the time I went to the Dr. last year (I was 35) I had learned to compensate for my difficulties and he didn’t believe me! Thankfully, another Dr. there in the same complex saw my info and gave me a referral. I too have a great deal of difficulty with social cues(am still single) and also with anxiety when it comes to speaking in front of people or even having my group of friends’ attention all on me at once-I hate calling attention to myself though I don’t mind it one-on-one, of course. Being referred to as “lazy” by people who don’t understand ADD is another thing I can definitely empathize with and before I found out about the ADD I dealt with depression because I believed it myself when I was going through sluggish periods of no motivation-which affected my work in a serious way-thankfully I had a very understanding -and longsuffering-supervisor at that time!! My room is a monstrosity right now because I just got a roommate(thankfully) so everything that I was storing in her room ended up in mine and I’m overwhelmed and trying to figure out where to start and so far have managed to transfer a mess in one corner to a mess on my bed…...sigh…..but I’m stil determined to take it slow and tackle a section at a time instead of being even more overwhelmed!=) Anyway, I guess I digressed=/  but I’m learning that as long as I manage to keep from comparing myself to others (who DON’T have ADD and therefore always seem to be on top of things-but don’t seem to have as much fun) and make the most of each day,I am very satisfied to be who I am!=)

Posted by gratekatsby@gmail.com on Jul 12, 2011 at 8:39pm

Like so many of you, I can relate to SO much of what you’ve described in the previous posts.  I have struggled for so much of my life with procrastination, overwhelm, social awkwardness, depression, and the nearly unbearable frustration of knowing what needs to be done but somehow not being able to simply DO IT.  I never even suspected ADHD until my therapist kept mentioning it and finally convinced me to be tested.  I gave in and was diagnosed nearly two years ago with ADHD inattentive type, and have been on Adderall ever since.

For most of my life, I “managed” somehow and made it through college (finally, after several changes of schools and majors) and eventually went on to earn a master’s degree.  I got a great job not long after finishing college, and have kept it for nearly 12 years now.  My therapist says that because I’m highly intelligent, and because I was home-schooled from the middle of the first grade, no one would have noticed my ADD, and I simply adapted and coped as best I could.

Well, my coping skills got blown out of the water in 2007, after I was involved in a serious car crash and developed PTSD.  The PTSD has since resolved, for the most part, but now I feel like I’m floundering - I’ve been underperforming at work for quite a while, and my house and my finances are constant frustrations.

The really good things in my life right now are my faith in God and my relationship with a man who loves me as I am (and who also has ADHD, although his tends more toward the hyperactive side).  I’m still really struggling, though, and trying to make some progress.  I’m thankful to have found this site to share some of what I’m going through and hopefully encourage others as well.

Posted by SquirrelGirl on Jul 12, 2011 at 8:50pm

I’m part Greek and we have a cultural joke that when you’re late, you’re running on Greek time. We sometimes joke that we tell our friends 1 hour earlier than event actually is so they’ll only run 1 hour late! Ha.

SO, what happens when you factor in ADHD?! My God, I’m lucky if I even GET to the event, appointment, meeting. LOL Just now diagnosed and 45 y.o. I think really, seriously? I can pretty much take something from each of your posts and wrap it all up and put an ADHD bow on it. I see me. But even though I’ve experienced sadness, disbelief, resentfulness and other emotions, I’m actually so grateful that I finally have a name for ME. Why I’m like how I am…scatterbrained, disorganized, chronically late, moody, unable to plan anything…At least we all have an excuse, right?  Think about other people out there who may not have a reason…they really are just lazy. I like to look at the bright side of things and if I didn’t have a sense of humor, I don’t think I’d have survived these last 45 years.

God’s blessings to all of you struggling or coming to grips with this diagnosis. It’s been a long road for many of us. But knowing we have this community is a great thing. Keep on trucking.

Posted by stacyleigh on Jul 13, 2011 at 3:59am

Amen, my sistas!  *LOL*

Love this discussion . . .

Lynne

Posted by ADD_Coach_Lynne on Jul 14, 2011 at 2:33am

Reading through this discussion, I can completely understand exactly what everyone is talking about.  I actually started crying because it is so nice to finally hear that there are other women who struggle with the same things that I do.

Organization is a HUGE problem for me.  My house usually looks like a bomb went off with random clothes and things lying all over the place.  This probably doesn’t help with my social situation either as I would be embarassed for anyone to come over and see my apartment.  When I’ve had roommates I was able to confine the mess to my room, but they would always laugh at how messy I was and just didn’t understand why it was so hard for me to do something that was “so easy” to them. 

I usually make jokes about my difficulties with time management and organization which makes everyone laugh it off, but it really does hurt to have people that are supposed to be your friends laugh at you for something that is not your fault.  As a result, I only have two friends that I feel really understand me and they both live on the other side of the state (I moved away for college).

One of the ways I’ve been able to cope is by just being honest about my ADHD with people.  If people judge me or laugh at me for it, they aren’t people who would be healthy to have in my life.  Of course you can’t do that with everyone, but it has really helped me to make some new friends and end some unhealthy relationships.

Posted by AnnaBanana on Jul 21, 2011 at 8:22am

Both my dad and brother are classic ADHD. They both are extremely intense, impulsive,  hyper people who can hyper focus on anything they find interesting. I on the other hand am the opposite of them, with more distractibility and inattention - which prevented anyone from seeing my ADD struggles as legitimate ADD problems. At 32, and frustrated with my lack of success and a generally disorganized life I sought out help for what I thought was ADD.  I met with 2 psychologists who i did not feel listened to what I was saying, or the type of help I was seeking.  I found out about an ADHD Clinic that had just opened and was able to meet with a very kind, supportive and empowering woman.  She worked with me to identify the cause of my struggles, I was given an intelligence test to rule out any learning disabilities, the TOVA test which can show a person’s impulsivity and distractibility, questionnaires, and my mom was interviewed as well.  As I suspected, I do have ADD after all.  I meet with my therapist weekly, and I completed Mastering Your Adult ADHD, which has greatly helped me regain control over my life. Unfortunately the folks at the ADHD clinic could not write prescriptions for ADHD medication, so I had to meet with my doctor, who was less than enthused to write me any prescriptions for ADHD medication. My therapist wrote a letter explaining the results of my tests and the reasons I was seeking medication. My doctor reluctantly wrote a prescription for Concerta, which was not a good fit for me, and caused me to become hyperactive.  When I discussed my symptoms with my doctor she tried to convince me the symptoms were because I did not have ADD. Like many people with ADD I have been told over and over I am smart, but I need to apply myself and stop being lazy! I could tell the doctor was thinking this and that I was another patient faking ADD to get the meds. I am a wimp! And I have a very hard time sticking up for myself, but I needed my doctor to hear me and understand how frustrated I was with always knowing what I needed to do, but not being able to do it. That whatever was holding me back was not something that I could just “buck up” or “power though.”  I had tried that all my life and it didn’t work for me the way it did for my dad and brother. This was not something I could do on my own and that my issues were real and just as debilitating as someone with ADHD. My doctor finally heard me, and wrote me a prescription for Strattera. That was 3 months ago now. Strattera is a great fit for me and with the new skills I have learned from completing the Mastering Your Adult ADHD module I am doing great. I have gone from D’s and F’s to all A’s in my online classes and am looking forward to the fall semester starting.  I do still have problems with people accepting I have ADD because it is not as in your face as my male family members ADHD is. I can see the importance of speaking up for, and advocating for myself when I need to.  But for the most part if someone doesn’t get that I have ADD when I tell them I don’t really care too much. I’m sure there were times when I didn’t get something they were telling me because I spaced out, or I simply couldn’t relate. Compared to my dad and brother I am so glad my ADD has taken a more quite form and doesn’t make me an exhausting, loud, difficult person to be around. When I walk into a room people do think”WOW! That chick’s got ADHD!!” I get to pick and choose who I tell.

Posted by EAMart on Aug 01, 2011 at 8:55am

Hi EAMart!  Congratulations on your success with your online classes and completing your CBT Program with your therapist!  It must feel SO great to start taking back control of your life!  I bought the workbook for Mastering Your Adult ADHD, but haven’t been so great at using it on my own.  And my current therapist just doesn’t really “get” my struggles, which I now know are symptomatic of my ADD.  I had a consult with a new therapist who practices using a similar model to the program you completed, but I’m really stretched financially right now - with psychiatrists visits and medication w/out insurance.  (I’m under-employed as a waitress right now—classic “not living up to my potential” ADD—but grateful to at least be working.) When our busy season picks up in the fall, I’m hoping to either start with the CBT Program or start working with a coach.  It’s not cheap managing and treating ADD! 
Also, that is so awesome that Straterra is working out for you!  Concerta made me too hyper and edgy as well, and triggered my anxiety.  Now I’m two weeks into Vyvanse, which is better than Concerta, but definitely not what I was hoping for.  I’m wondering if maybe stimulants just aren’t for me. 
I am so sorry for the negativity and resistance from your doctor!  How awful!  And from a woman…  Yet another glaring example of how little is known, even within the medical profession, about Adult ADHD and how it manifests in women.
How do we go about changing that?  I’m so grateful to have this forum to relate to other women who have also been struggling in silence for too long!  It takes so much courage and effort—especially when you are in the throes of barely functioning, but not knowing WHY, blaming yourself—to just get to the damn appointment and talk about how crappy you are feeling.  Then to have your doctor dismiss you or give you attitude or treat you like a drug-seeker—it’s unconscionable and humiliating!  Ok, enough ranting… Keep up the great progress!

Posted by mjraddnyc on Aug 01, 2011 at 10:25am

How great is it to finally not feel alone with all those little “differences” we have!

It’s pretty isolating to be a woman with ADD because of our gross misunderstanding of this subtle and complex disorder as a culture and the near-complete lack of acknowledgment of it in females.  So, finding you guys is really validating.

I was diagnosed 8 mos ago at the age of 42, after more than a decade of therapy for depression, anxiety, family problems, relationship problems, yadda yadda—you know the drill.

I too, had no clue. I brushed of my shrink’s diagnosis. I thought it was for rowdy little boys who couldn’t read. Growing up, I was a rowdy little girl who did nothing BUT read. And I always did well in school without applying myself too much (with the exception of math, which still gives me a rash to think). I remember a younger brother’s friend back in the ‘80s taking Ritalin and describing it as “when someone tells a joke, you just don’t even feel like laughing.” Yikes!

Life has been one frustration, romantic rejection and firing after another, but I’m hoping to turn that around now…it’s just tough without a good, understanding support system like a boyfriend or an understanding family member.

Hoping to get a little more support here—just by reading your stories—as I move fwd with coaching and goal-setting for the future…

Posted by BetterLateThanDead on Aug 11, 2011 at 4:51pm

It is so good to find a site like this! Not the only one, not alone anymore with it feeling like I’m stupid or crazy.
I had a group of friends that meet for Role-Playing Games on a weekly basis, and about 2/3 were actually diagnosed as ADD or ADHD. We used to joke that all of us were, but that’s how I took it.
I’d always had problems in school - I was the daydreamer who never applied herself and didn’t pay attention. That carried on into work life. I’d make stupid mistakes, just missed the cue. For years I’d get the little “talking to” from my supervisors, and with more and more stress it got worse and worse.
I “just need to be more productive” and “just need to pay attention” - all that jazz. However, one day my supervisor used a key phrase in her comments - I don’t remember what it was, but it was something my officially-diagnosed ADD friends used to say. And I thought, maybe I’d better look into this.
I could have cried. The more I read, the more I saw of myself in those articles. So there I was, diagnosed as Inattentive ADD at age 57. I keep thinking, where was this 30 years ago when it could have made a difference?
I was put on Strattera, and the world came into focus. My productivity started to go up. But then the real fun began. My company’s prescription plan required me to purchase all maintenance medications (like my Metformin for diabetes and my Strattera for ADD) from them on a 3-month basis. I could no longer purchase from my local pharmacy each month. But I had financial problems from a loan I was paying back at ruinous interest, so I couldn’t do the 3 months at a time. I had to go off the Strattera and started on Prozac. I could buy that at the local pharmacy because I could go through their discount program for generic meds. Strattera wasn’t available for that.
And my productivity went down, and my heart went out of it. And I lost my job after 16 years with the company.
Now unemployed for over a year, but I’m on Strattera out of my own pocket (no insurance ‘cause no income). I’m living off my IRA and paying out penalties because I’m not old enough to take from the IRAs, but I have to pay the mortgage somehow.
I’m taking online courses (more expense!) for a change of career and have just started year 2 of my program. I have also started actively looking for a job, and I have hope.
I can do this. I’m not stupid, and I’m not crazy, and I’m strong and I’m stubborn.
Now if I can just get rid of the leech-roommate…

Posted by warjna on Aug 12, 2011 at 5:47am

I love everything about this site and ADDitude magazine!  I am 61 and was not diagnosed until age 50.  I am not going to go into a lengthy message on my story (don’t have time…LOL) but one issue really bothers me.  When I was diagnosed I sent a copy of “Women with ADD” to my sister.  She sent it back 2 weeks later with a post it note saying, “I skimmed through this and I cannot believe you think you have this”...and then there is my mother that does not have a CLUE.  Several years ago my sister and I attended a family funeral together and as we were sitting and chatting with cousins we had not seen since childhood the ADD topic came up (you know, how we can spot a fellow ADDer) and 2 of my cousins said to me “your’re ADD too, aren’t you?”  The 3 of us laughed and began sharing our stories and struggles (my sister sat there MUTE, almost like a deer in the headlights (LOL).  It felt so good to talk to actual family members with ADD as well as having my sister hear about our struggles.  My mother is a whole ‘nother story.  While I understand her generation (she is 86) just do not “deal” with anything that might be uncomfortable it makes me sad that she not only doesn’t have a clue but she doesn’t want a clue.  My daughter is bipolar (my mother had 9 siblings, 3 of which were seriously bipolar) and when my daughter was diagnosed I read everything I could get my hands on to educate me on her disorder.  I have many wonderful books on ADHD as I have tried to educate myself about my disorder as well.  So I am unable to talk to my mother about my ADD or my daughter’s bipolar disorder (which was possibly inherited from my mother’s side of the family….) because it’s better to just not go there. 

My question to all of you…am I expecting too much or being selfish that it seems important to me for my mother to at least “try” to listen and understand about my ADD and the struggles I have gone through my entire life, even though she is 86?

Thank you for taking time to read these rambling thoughts.

Posted by Ms Becky on Aug 18, 2011 at 1:29pm

I love everything about this site and ADDitude magazine!  I am 61 and was not diagnosed until age 50.  I am not going to go into a lengthy message on my story (don’t have time…LOL) but one issue really bothers me.  When I was diagnosed I sent a copy of “Women with ADD” to my sister.  She sent it back 2 weeks later with a post it note saying, “I skimmed through this and I cannot believe you think you have this”...and then there is my mother that does not have a CLUE.  Several years ago my sister and I attended a family funeral together and as we were sitting and chatting with cousins we had not seen since childhood the ADD topic came up (you know, how we can spot a fellow ADDer) and 2 of my cousins said to me “your’re ADD too, aren’t you?”  The 3 of us laughed and began sharing our stories and struggles (my sister sat there MUTE, almost like a deer in the headlights (LOL).  It felt so good to talk to actual family members with ADD as well as having my sister hear about our struggles.  My mother is a whole ‘nother story.  While I understand her generation (she is 86) just do not “deal” with anything that might be uncomfortable it makes me sad that she not only doesn’t have a clue but she doesn’t want a clue.  My daughter is bipolar (my mother had 9 siblings, 3 of which were seriously bipolar) and when my daughter was diagnosed I read everything I could get my hands on to educate me on her disorder.  I have many wonderful books on ADHD as I have tried to educate myself about my disorder as well.  So I am unable to talk to my mother about my ADD or my daughter’s bipolar disorder (which was possibly inherited from my mother’s side of the family….) because it’s better to just not go there. 

My question to all of you…am I expecting too much or being selfish that it seems important to me for my mother to at least “try” to listen and understand about my ADD and the struggles I have gone through my entire life, even though she is 86?

Thank you for taking time to read these rambling thoughts.

Posted by Ms Becky on Aug 18, 2011 at 1:29pm

I wished my family would get it…I have just been diagnosised at 56..It makes me sad that I have beat myself up for all these years over something that I really couldn’t help.  Horrible time management, messy house, impatience with my kids…and on and on.  I also have the perfectionist problem…If I can’t do it right I shut down and don’t do it at all. 
After getting off of Cymbalta…for SADS and Fibromyalgia, I swore I wasn’t going to go back on any drugs.  Well after crying the winter away and barely being able to work, I started seeing a counselor.  She is the one that diagnosised me with ADD.  I have recently started on Wellbutrin.  The crying has eased up, Praise Jesus.  But I am not having any relief from all the other symptoms.
Thank you all for sharing.  It’s nice to know that I am not alone.

Posted by Teesa on Aug 19, 2011 at 10:51pm

Teesa ...  I have the perfectionist problem as well.  I also avoid many things to keep my frustrations to a minimum.  I am trying to teach my self that things don’t always have to be done perfectly, they just have to be done!

Posted by Tii333 on Sep 18, 2011 at 6:07am

It helps—a lot—to stop going to the hardware store for cabbage!
Once I hear from a ‘friend’ anything that indicates he or he has no idea what ADD/ADHD is—but is very wedded to an ignorant opinion, I don’t talk to them about it. I don’t try and educate them, I don’t try or have a need to convince them. There’s absolutely no reason for it.
At the same time, I am responsible for finding and using the tools that help me cope with my ADD (inattentive). Yeah, I can say, “Oh, I’m late because I have ADD,” but the fact is I’m was late because I didn’t plan, or I had one but didn’t follow it.
I used to be late ALL the time. In fact, my friends would tell me to be somewhere an hour early because knew I’d be an hour late!
After finally, really getting that my lateness (way post-tardy) negatively affected my relationships with people I cared for, I started learning what people did who were on time, and I started following suggestions for people with ADHD.
It wasn’t easy, but I’m now usually early at most events. So if I can do it, anyone (really) can do it. It is, however, not easy, and it is absolutely not natural.
A big lightbulb moment was when I realized doing things like planning and putting appts in my calendar to call my friends or send birthday cards, etc. would never feel natural, but I could do it anyway. I am by no means perfect, but I am better than before.

Posted by BetterDays on Sep 20, 2011 at 8:54am

This is amazing! It is so good to not feel alone! I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 18 or 19(details aren’t my forte lol) It was my freshman year of college and I was on the verge of failing out. In was reckless in my drinking and social interactions(to a point, too paranoid to really go nuts) after that they tried concerts which worked but then plateaued so the dosage was increased and it messed with my heart. I then tried vyvanse,sraterra,adderral,and wellbutrin, none without unbearable side effects that outweighed any reward. Most were heart related so too dangerous to tough out. I became frustrated and gave up. I tried to manage it myself. I am now 21 and a 4th yr and only one semester behind with an average gpa. I am going though my first major heart break after my long term boyfriend and I split for the time being. His issues not mine. However, this experience has seemed to kick my ADD into high gear. It’s terrible. I am highly emotional,overly sensitive, terribly impulsive with reactions, and have major anxiety that he is running Around on me. (we’re split but it’s complicated) I often have what we call meltdowns where I cry and puke for hours. My ex is ridiculously supportive and understanding as I am usually with him when it happens. He has even started crying when I’m upset because he feels so horrible. He’s a gem and I love him dearly. But this is ruining our relationship. We were seeing each other and talking but as of two weeks ago we are on a total break (for a few weeks,his call) because I am driving him nuts(and myself) I am better when I don’t see him. But I can’t explain the total loss of control i feel in these meltdowns. Like I know what I’m doing is detrimental to the relationship but I can’t stop. The pain is just to overwhelmingly intense. This is also affecting my school work. I’ve always had a terrible memory, and extremely low motivation, as well as very little ability to pay attention. But since our deterioration it’s been ten times worse. I’m really scared at this point. I have an extreme,paralyzing fear of failure that is counter productive. I feel like I’m self destructing. I’m seeing a therapist every other week but I feel like it’s not enough. I need to succeed.

Posted by Indiana10 on Sep 24, 2011 at 6:56am

Since so many of us suffer with the same issues, why are we not taken seriously by the ‘pros’.  I hate ADD and taking ‘pills’, it’s so insulting when doctors / pharmacists treat you like some drug seeking teenager that just wants to get high.  All I want is to be able to stay awake, focus and have enough energy to actually live a normal life.  I take my meds on an ‘as needed’ basis they are very effective, that is until I run out and have to wait until I can fill my next prescription.  If I know what works, why am I treated like a child that can’t be trusted with the ‘cookie jar’.  I’m 48,  have a masters degree and run a small non profit organization, I need to function on a daily basis and am so frustrated that my ADD has become so hard to control.  I hate asking anyone for help—but, this is unbearable—HELP!!

Posted by lsf on Sep 26, 2011 at 12:00am

Ive had ADD since childhood. I used to be on ritialin, but complained of headaches, so my parents took me off it. Id say I was in 6 or 7th at the time and haven’t been on any med for it since. I was able to graduate from high school on time, but barley passing some classes like english. Since completing hs I have had 2 kids and haven’t had a job that lasted longer than a yr. I tryed college after hs but then life took its toll and ended up getting kicked out. I have tryed since then to go back to school, but this time online. I got further this time than the 1st time, but again didn’t finish. I feel like such a failure because I can’t finish anything that I start. I’m a stay at home mom of 2 boys. My oldest is adhd and has other issuies.  My husband is always frustrated with me cause I have a hard time cleaning my house. We have tryed the whole list thing and that works for a short time. I have a hard time with people socialy as well. Ive started to see a counsler cause Im sooo stressed out. I haven’t started on any meds yet. Waiting for a dr to open up that specializes with these diagonses.

Posted by momofboys05 on Nov 01, 2011 at 2:06am

Ms Becky….we must be related!!  Although my mom is 72. She ABSOLUTELY has ADD, but as much as I’m “tempted” to suggest it to her, I don’t dare. She would NEVER embrace it. Denial is her way of life! My extended family is full of alcholics and for a long time she was in denial of that even! Not anymore, because I was finally like, “Really, Mom?  You’ve GOT to be kidding!!”  But I don’t hold out the same hope for ADD. The only thing I’ve ever heard her say about ADD was about a child and she said “There’s no such thing—-it’s just bad parenting!” (Good! Then I can blame her for all my struggles! LOL!) I also have a sister who NO DOUBT has ADD, but she’s in denial as well.  She works with special needs kids and feels that all kids are “over diagnosed.”  With regard to your mother, I would suggest just letting it go.  Read the post from “BetterDays” above.  It’s perfect.  There’s just no reason to go there with your mother, you’ll only be frustrated.  Thanks for your post! I could so relate!!

Posted by Scatterbrained on May 16, 2012 at 7:44am

Omg, you all could be my sisters!!! I have Inattentive ADHD , originally diagnosed at age 7. Never was good at organization or time management, and totally relate to the social cues issues!!!!!! This site rocks, I swear I felt a tremendous weight lift off my shoulders when I joined last week. I made it thru school and college. I was started on Ritalin, but switched to Dexedrine bc I had meltdowns on the Ritalin .... I’ve got to get off the iPad and start wrapping Christmas presents…. Fun ( NOT!)

Posted by Lilapsophile on Dec 19, 2013 at 12:56am

I am so relieved after reading this, and other posts that I am tearing up.  I was diagnosed in an off-handed way by a psychiatrist as she handed over depression medications because I just couldn’t keep up with every day life.  Now, 4 years later I’m reading about ADHD and am absolutely astounded.  I have spent my life trying to overcome my “shortcomings,” beating myself up over lack of organization, procrastination, frequent emotional overload, and feeling like life was just too much for me to handle.  I have just been thinking I was a ‘bad human’, bad at being a daughter, girlfriend, friend, everything!  Only today am I realizing that this is the reason for the majority of my struggles through life!  Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories with me and helping me to realize that I am not crazy.  I have never felt so normal, somehow.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Posted by Beccaf03 on Mar 19, 2014 at 3:03am

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