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ADHD in Women

A bit old to change

I’m in my late 50s and have a son with ADD and asperger traits. I recently realised that he’s not the only one- I have very similar problems but very different ways of dealing with them. Somehow I thought I was really good at concentrating as I pick up everything that is going on around me. I can rarely focus on one thing, which effects my career and the expectations of everyone around me. My home is very untidy and disorganised, I’ve recently got a BIG promotion after underachieving, in spite of being very well qualified and experienced, most of my life. Now I’m scared. I’m motivated now and keeping up with the work, but I’m petrified they will find me out and I will fail. I’ve somehow got through so far with working long hours and being very driven. As long as I feel motivated this is fine, but I tend to burn out every few years. HELP!

Replies

I feel your pain!  I am 63 and was diagnosed at age 50…..one positive was I could look back and understand WHY I struggled with school and why I had to work harder and longer (I am now retired) at my job.  Are you on any meds?  I have been on Adderall for quite some time (when I worked I used to set the timer on my cell to remember to take it 2 times a day….if that timer went off and I was distracted…..would forget to take meds….LOL).
I went to a Psychologist that worked with ADD folks and she really helped.  Don’t know what kind of work you do but maybe some of this will help:
1. Color coding….if you use file folders this will be very helpful.
2. Try to NOT have piles, especially on your desk.  There are graduated file holders (would fit on a corner of you desk) this will help you be able to SEE the or papers (they won’t be in a pile)
3.  If you are in an office atmosphere the surroundings sounds are terrible.  Hopefully you are in a cubicle.  There are small devices that have various sounds (white air) to help filter noises-distractions.
4.  I made up several different forms to help me.
I am not sure I have them on computer as the home one crashed and we have a new one.  But I will look and we can find a way to get them to you.
5.  Tell your boss.  Don’t try to hide it…..it becomes humorous (seriously) and just wait to see how many of your co-workers have it….in time you can just pick them out (LOL). ADD is considered a disability under federal law.
6.  I don’t remember the rules on here about “outside” communication but I would love to talk to you….
7.  If you have an office at home…..don’t let it get out of control.  I would work from home several days a week.  I would ask my husband to help me get it back in shape.  One reason we procrastinate is we don’t know how or where to start….and it is not something we like to do even though we know it must be done.
I apologize for going on and on .... I have learned so much and have many books so I could educate myself and read about others.
Hope some of this helps.  Again, I would love to talk with you…...don’t know how or if that is something you would be comfortable with.  I am assuming you are a female…..if not…...this will have to do.

Posted by Ms Becky on Feb 27, 2014 at 1:18am

Hi, Guilliananna,  If your situation was not a near duplicate of my own, I might find myself agreeing with you.

I was diagnosed on my 50 birthday with ADD “Inattentive Type” and laughed so hard that I cried.  My psychiatrist was surprised that this had been missed so often in my prior 50 years.  I had been treated for some many other problems with no improvement!  Between my psychiatrist and a therapist well trained in dealing with ADD (because he had ADD, too!) I was able to begin sorting through the things that had acted as “road blocks” and make some changes toward helping myself find my own way to live well with ADD.

Frankly, my life was a near duplicate of yours.  The only difference is that I had no children to pass my bad habits on to.  Lucky for them! 

Becky, the previous responder to your thread, is right on target.  Once I began making changes at home, I also began making them in the office.  I did not have to explain all of that to a boss because I was self-employed, but the clients were sure surprised!  “Who Are You?”, by The Who, was chosen as my phone’s ring tone for the longest time…  LOL

Start with the most immediate problem, which would seem to be your office.  Get your desk put together in a way that suits you and allows you to find what you need when you need it.  If you need reminders for meetings and such, put them on your cell phone and your computer.  If you are away from either one of them, the other will prompt you to what is to be done next. 

Color coding things is a terrific way to motivate yourself to keep specific paperwork where it should be and avoids stacks of papers that you will have to look through later.  As much as possible, deal with each piece of paper only once.

Get a PIM program (Outlook is really good for use at home and work) and use it.  Subscribe to an online calendar for your home, too.  Use a planner and print out a monthly calendar to “plot” things so that you know ahead of time when you will have a time conflict.  I use COZI online.  It I a family planner that I can use to set up anything and then have messages sent to each of our cell phones.  It is easy to use and quite flexible.

Apply the same kind of techniques to organizing in your home.  You will accomplish two things:  You will have things where you need them to be; and, you will be teaching your child by example that he, too, can live well and successfully with ADD.

You are not too old for this.  What may be happening is that you are afraid of failing.  Guess what?  It Is a rare thing for anyone to get everything right on the first attempt.  Just keep starting over making changes to suit your work and your family so that you end up with a system that works.

I started that process by subscribing to Flylady.  The first thing I did after a couple of days of joining her email list was to go out and buy her book.  Her one caution is, “You are not behind!  Start where you are and keep working at things a little bit at a time.”  I was doubtful, but I learned, like thousands of others, that she is right.  Start where you are.  Download the control journal sample from her website and begin revising it to fit your home and situation.  You might even download the student version for your son.

Where organizing is concerned, start slowly.  You do not have to tackle all of the closets in the house.  Start with one.  That is what I did.  By the time I got to the last closet, I had things figured out and could go back and make changes in the first ones that I did. 

One simple thing that I did was to start using a meal planner.  I downloaded a form in PDF and began planning the meals and then planned the next trip to the grocery store.  I spent far less money and we were eating better!  Wow!

Take your time!  Think about what you know needs to change and then begin working out your plan so that you can reach your goals.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Mar 01, 2014 at 2:46am

Becky….I am recently diagnosed and would love to know what forms helped you.  I have just started medication but it’s not the right dose yet…..so still not focusing very well.  My doctor is very conservative and it will be awhile until I get this thing figured out.  I feel like I am always busy but get nothing done.  I am very unorganized and need help just trying to figure out how to get basic things done around the house….like not forget the laundry in the washer for 2 days so I have to rewash it again…..just to forget it again….and so on.  Thanks.  Linda

Posted by lindapod on Mar 02, 2014 at 7:26am

Gilliananne,
The title of this thread caught my eye. “A bit old to change” I was feeling this way as well. When I realized change would happen no matter my age and that this thinking did not serve me or anyone I was able to drop it. In reading your post I think your age is not bothering you so much as your fear of failing.

My life has been somewhat like yours. I have been working on new strategies to help myself since being diagnosed at age 62. This was 2 years ago when I found myself between jobs, a husband traveling and gone most of the time and able to structure my day however I wished for the first time in my life. I never lived alone before this. All the symptoms/frustrations/difficulties I have had over my life became magnified to the point that I thought I was losing my mind – maybe Alzheimer’s I thought. I was relieved to know it is ADD.

I improved greatly with medication, but all the difficulties were not fixed. I tried working with a psychologist for a short time who had claimed expertise with ADD in adults without any help. I then went back to work. I am going to try again with another psychologist who fits me better.

I have sorted out strategies that help where the meds didn’t but do have remaining problems and new frustrations. The harder I try the worse they become. I find I am even more distracted because of this and get scared and then whatever I am afraid this distraction will cause comes true. Clearly I need more help, although I am doing better by not allowing the fear to take hold of my thinking anymore. I survived when those fears came true in the past. The fear is not useful - never was.

Yesterday, I saw a new PBS special by Dr. Amen, called “Healing ADD With the Amens”. I gained some new ideas to try going forward.
The special highlighted the prevalent myths about ADD held as fact by the majority of people, including doctors and other professionals serving ADDers. Before my diagnosis and subsequent ADD education, I myself was one who felt it was an over diagnosed fad type thing perpetuated by over worked teachers and overly competitive parents. Luckily I never expressed this faulty thinking with anyone adding to the very real frustrations of these parents and teachers.

This special also highlighted the many ways ADD manifests in individuals and offered solutions depending on how the ADDer is struggling. I will try out a couple of the ideas I heard. If Dr. Amen is right, the problem areas I have where I try very hard and get worse may be fixable.

Like you, when I am motivated my career/job difficulties are fewer. Like you, I work long hours. Like you, I burn out after a while. This is because I shirk my home responsibilities which then become overwhelming. Sometimes what was a just a responsibility is now a new problem. My relationships suffer. I feel guilt and shame. I become depressed.

My meds made the work I do for my job easier but instead of working fewer hours I expand the work I am doing trying to improve my mentoring techniques, develop work processes, etc. I am successful in this area but think I might be even more successful if I were able to balance – not hyper-focus for long periods of time. 

My field in the workplace is highly competitive. With the soft economy – cut throat. For this reason I will never discuss my ADD with anyone other than my family and doctor. It is not a matter of will it be used against me, it is when will it be used against me. With all the myth surrounding ADD it would be very easy for the unscrupulous, competitive sort to do so or the company I work for to consider if/when downsizing occurs.

Sorry about the length of this response. I had a little setback today for a new volunteer project I am developing to serve recovering addicts and/or their children that surprised me and found this writing a help in sorting it out. Your post had absolutely nothing to do with the setback. My ADD mind somehow solves problems by focusing on something else.

The setback had to do with how some women interact with each other and seem to think in terms of scarcity when thinking in terms of abundance would be better for everyone’s success. The setback is now gone and I have a better path forward. Does your mind work this way also?

Good luck to you

Posted by Barbwired on Mar 08, 2014 at 10:20am

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