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ADHD in Women

I am so frustrated!!!!!

Ok bear with me and sorry this is so long. I hope yo can follow along with this post. My name is Lisa and I am married to a wonderful, supportive, encouraging, and awesome husband name Glen. Have two wonderful kids. My daughter who is 17 in 11th grade has ADD/ADHD and she has been diagnosed for about 10 years now. Since she started school I have been researching and reading a lot about ADD/ADHD. I have been on and off antidepressants and seen therapists on and off all my life. This past July I got fired from my 16th job in the past two years. I kind of hit rock bottom. So I have been seeing this therapist since last March and absolutely love her.

So I have come a long way since March. So about August we decided that I needed to see a psychiatrist and finally did in September and never will I see him again. He spent 15 minutes with me and diagnosed me as being Biopolar 1 (which I have never been diagnosed as being Bipolar at all my entire life, but now that I have researched it and etc it makes a lot of sense). So this psychiatrist after seeing me 15 minutes and diagnosed me being Bipolar 1 said I will give you Senoquel on a low dose ... I couldn’t function and slept so much. So I called him and saw him again and 10 minutes later said let’s try this Risperidone medication. I said what about ADD/ADHD I believe I have that too and he says to me “who is the dr here” ... he says no you have Bipolar 1. Ok, so then he put me on Respirdone and the same thing it was horrible I was mentally and physically feeling the horrible side affects of it. He told me that he really wants to put me on Abilify so he gave me the prescription and I told him that I couldn’t get it because it costs so much. So he said well lets up the prescription of Resperidone so we did and it it just made things worse, so then my husband found out I can get Abilify through mail order and etc. So I called the psychiatrist and asked him (or his secretary) that I can get Abilify by mail order and she said OK I will have him call in the prescription ... so after waiting 3 days and anxious to start it ... it finally came and what does the idiot do he prescribes me more Risperidone. Does he listen to anyone or look at my chart before doing anything. What the hek. I need some medication and a lot of help to get me back on track and I need something that will help me focus and concentrate more so I can get better. So I finally see a psychiatrist a week from tomorrow and can’t wait and hopefully will get much better results and some long awaited answers. I also have applied for disability and when I went to my mental evaluation that took an hour and 15 minutes not 15 minutes. So frustrating!

So I have been on and off depressed, just found out that I am Bipolar 1, I still believe strongly that I am ADD/ADHD (which I know all of them are the same type of mental disabilities), I have anxiety, and etc. I feel hopeless, lost, depressed, confused, sad, hurt, lonely, powerless, and very, very, very low self esteem. But since I have been seeing my therapist since March that has dramatically changed but a lot needs to be done too.

I have never been so frustrated in my life. I believe and so does my therapist believes that I have ADD/ADHD. So I saw a new psychiatrist that I absolutely love and she referred me to get testing done for ADD/ADHD so I waited a week and called and they said I needed to set up the appointment. So I called and so I will hopefully get a call very soon to get a scheduled appointment. I don’t understand because this new psychiatrist who I am seeing doesn’t test for ADD/ADHD. Why is that??? Don’t and can’t all psychiatrists test for ADD/ADHD?????? Maybe I am back to square one and finding a new psychiatrist who can test for ADD/ADHD. I am so frustrated and upset. I want to move on and get somewhere with getting tested for ADD/ADHD I have been waiting for a very long time to find out if I am. I know I have depression and anxiety. Help!!!!!!

I am sorry for the long post, spelling errors, and rambling. Thank you for reading!


Yes, the process of getting to a diagnosis is sometimes very frustrating.  In your case, you seem to have been running into problems based not on what you need, but on what you understand and what your therapist understands about how to get to the diagnosis.

First of all, do some research before seeing a psychiatrist.  Interview the office staff (manager or secretasry) a little before you schedule an appointment.  Does the doctor test for ADD/ADHD?  Does the doctor spend time with the pateints or does the doctor only do medication check visits? 

Some doctors do the testing in their offices; others do not.  Try to find one that does the testing in office.  If that is not possible, then ask where the testing is done.

If nothing else, ask your family doctor to refer you to a psychiatrist who does testing for ADD/ADHD.  If he or she knows of one who does this, your search may be shortened. Be aware, however, that many doctors do not the the testing “in house”.

Talk to your daughter’s school to find out which of the doctors they have worked with to get testing done.  When a student has trouble in school, they sometimes order the testing themselves to try and find help for struggling students.

You can also contact your insurance carrier and ask them which of their doctors tests and treats ADD/ADHD.

For your own sake, do not give up.  Keep trying to find what you need. 

Keep in mind that meds do not fix ADD/ADHD.  They are supposed to help with focus and such.  You will be simulanteously be finding tactics and tools to help yourself. 

I hope that some of that is helpful to you.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Dec 05, 2013 at 8:47am

I feel your frustration. My son was diagnosed with ADHD 5 yrs ago. Now he is a teenager and it is becoming more and more challenging as time passes. I have a history of depression, anxiety and more recently panic attacks. The older I get the worse it has gotten. I found out 2 days ago that I have 80% of the symptoms of adult ADHD. I never would have thought. It explains so much in my life, but doesn’t fix it. I have an appt. with my doctor at the end of the week to see what can be done to help me and by knowing now I can better help my son in the process. I used to have no hope for myself for so many reasons, but now, I feel a little bit better and more optimistic for myself and my son. Don’t give up. I won’t.

Posted by delphinemist on Dec 05, 2013 at 9:08am

Oh, gosh I can hear and understand your frustration….I have to admit I didn’t finish reading the entire post and for a very good reason.  I will first let you know, I too have ADD inattentive and also Bipolar I.  I knew I had ADD but not until I was about 30—I was pretty ignorant of it as I had always known of the hyperactive variety and read about the inattentive type and was tested and diagnosed but that story is for a different day.  I had been seen for depression since high school (grad 1988) and wasn’t diagnosed Bipolar I until a year and a half after my ADD diagnosis.  I take a nice balance of meds that work for both right now.  Why I am urgently writing is to STOP YOU FROM TAKING ABILIFY.  It was initially marketed for Bipolar and is no longer.  I’m not thinking so well right now because I too am looking for work and have been on the job merry go round due to the symptoms of both illnesses (you have me beat thankfully—jk) and am under a lot of stress so I will get back to you about the reasons I recently read.  For me it caused me to not be able to stop moving at first.  It was one of the most uncomfortable feelings I’ve ever had.  I paced and paced and didn’t think I could handle it.  They put me on cogentin (a parkinsons med) to settle this a bit.  It also sapped every bit of my personality—everyone thought I was angry with them and not talking to them for that reason.  I was a server and manager at a small diner.  Not the place to lose your personality.  I had thoughts in my head but I couldn’t speak them.  My muscles were always tense.  I was also taking Lexapro with it.  And still depressed and anxious because of what the Abilify did to me—-I couldn’t vocalize it though haha.  My Dr. was an ASSHOLE.  He never asked me how I felt.  When I tried to tell him how I felt, as I always understood it to be how a session with a psychiatrist who was prescribing mood altering medications is supposed to be, he SHUSHED ME.  I finally dragged my mother in (I was 37) to advocate for me and got him to prescribe clonopin so I could be less anxious and that seemed to give me a bit of my personality back but it didn’t do much.  I’m always in favor of sticking it out with a medication to see if it will work, though, as anyone with Bipolar who has been on meds that haven’t worked will tell you, it’s extremely frustrating after awhile and you have to really draw on your patience…I was on it for 3 years and felt like I lost that many years of my life.  See if they would consider something like Lamictal which is more tolerated.  DO YOURSELF A HUGE FAVOR AND DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH FIRST.  And be very selective with your next psychiatrist….the asshole Dr wouldn’t even listen to me and took me right off adderall—-now I understand it can destabilize someone with mania but for me, it can damn near put me to sleep and I"m on a very low dose of 20mg XR.  He didn’t even LISTEN to me when I tried to tell him what it was like for me and I felt like I lost 7 years of my life to not being able to take that either because when I don’t take it I can’t organize 2 dimes and a nickel.  I’ve always done a lot of research on meds I’m going to take and try to work together with my Drs.  The Dr I see now appreciates that I take the time to do so but he has the final say.  That is how it should be.  When I’m thinking more clearly I’ll add to this.  Sorry I’m rushed and so opinionated but Abilify is not truly a mood stabilizer and you owe it to yourself to find a psychiatrist who works with you because you can end up losing a lot of precious time to someone who does more harm than good.  PLUS, I NEVER CLICK ON THESE LINKS IN MY EMAIL AND I JUST HAPPEN TO THIS ONE TIME AND SAW YOUR POST—I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THESE THINGS,, HELL, I DON’T KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT THEM BUT MAYBE THERE IS MAGIC IN THE AIR JUST THIS ONCE.  GOOD LUCK!

Posted by Hechiblue on Dec 05, 2013 at 9:22am

I learned something everyday from this sight and it’s beautiful people, today I would like to thank Hechiblue for your generous informative post (for me it is). When someone gives such personal information it opens up a new world for others suffering in the same situation. Great advice and thank you again

Posted by BexIssues on Dec 05, 2013 at 10:45pm

Thank you BexIssues.  I’m sure I would stand to gain a lot if I got on this board like I should.  In real life I have virtually no support.  I lost my last job in Aug and it was the first I’ve had that offered mental health ins and coverage for Adderall (which works best for me) in 10 years.  I took Concerta through the Johnson & Johnson rx assistance program (free) but it really didnn’t do much…it’s better than nothing though.  So, enough poor me, I’m sure I’ll get into that again soon enough but it’s not my goal.  My heart really goes out when I hear of anyone trying to cope with the issues I’ve already been through because at times I really felt like giving up.  Not knowing what I had—thought depression. Job with insurance, job gone due to symptoms of unknown illness(es).  County medical assistance, doesn’t cover mental health…does cover mental health but only through this clinic switch Drs switch back, new diagnoses, new meds….for years and years.  I was particularly depressed and 30 and not going anywhere with education (had always wanted to go to college right out of high school and was bright enough to not have to study until 10th grade when I suddenly felt like I was thinking through a wet wool blanket and I didn’t just “absorb” information as I was wondering if that bird on the playground really did fly to San Juan Capistrano every winter and if once upon a time wire coat hangers, the bane of Joan Crawford’s existence, were twisted by hand—and I had no study habits.  I would get so excited about research papers only to find that I couldn’t get the words to come LET ALONE ORGANIZE THEM.  I didn’t complete some.  I still scooted by with Cs & Bs after being threatened with the possibility of losing my car keys (not sure how, I didn’t try any harder).  So, I was depressed, very anxious because I put a lot of pressure on myself at jobs & social situations because I knew my wily mind (like a wet bar of soap, the tighter I tried to grasp it the more it slipped from my hands).  I liked to go the the book store and pathetically browse the art & self help sections.  Women With ADD (by Sari Solden) caught my eye for some reason and I picked it up and just happened to flip to the case study about a fictional young girl with inattentive type which went on to show how she developed through the years and it made me cry—-it was me to a T. I bought it and read it and highlighted and dogeared it and got tested (thankfully I had insurance at the time) and started seeing an amazing counselor who was attempting to keep me on track during our sessions (no small feat) and I started taking Adderall 20mg XR (which I got through the free program they had because my insurance copay was really high and my wages were really low) before the meth heads wrecked it for everyone…with Lexapro for depression.  After about a year or so and ups and downs he dragged me by the arm into the Drs office and declared I was Bipolar.  READ: A YEAR AND A HALF OF COUNSELING——NOT 10 OR 15 OR 20 MINUTES OR A WEEK STRAIGHT.  I was definitely focused and more organized and less stressed because of the meds and the supportive counseling but my moods still shifted——the Adderall also kept me from shaking my feet and legs and clicking my pen incessantly at work…but I was up and happy and cleaning my apartment in the middle of the night (after the A wore off) then depressed and sad….but I still didn’t have a support system outside of counseling—none of my friends cared to take the time to understand nor did my family….some of my friends at work didn’t like me on Adderall because they couldn’t push me around anymore.  One insecure manipulator in particular didn’t like that I was quiet because she couldn’t get me to ramble about personal thoughts & feelings she could later use against me to put me down etc (if you know how those folks operate). I also stood up for myself because my bar of soap dried up so I could hang on to it.  I also entered into a relationship with a manipulative alcoholic who hid this from me (how was I blindsided by that???) and once I got emotionally vested I lost my job due to outsourcing…my insurance, my meds—-and then I was screwed and unequipped to deal with that kind of mental torture.  But I gathered my strength w/o the support of others and I found some free help and that is when I got involved with Dr. SHUSH.  I told him what I had ad suggested he get in touch with Dr. Good Guy because with Adderall and the stigma attached to it I’m always worried about seeming like I’m drug seeking and hence probably seem like a drug seeker.  I let him know I was tested and had the paperwork but he didn’t care…I told him the Bipolar meds I was on Depakote which didn’t work because it made me a slug and want to eat sugar all the time and you have to have blood work done and I didn’t have insurance for that but he didn’t care.  He put me on it anyway then got rid of Lexapro and put me on Prozac (told him I had tried it and didn’t work) So, it was Depakote and Prozac and absolutely NO STIMULANT.  Even though he didn’t know how it worked for me and he shushed me so I talked for about 3 minutes (literally) and that was that.  I was a size 2 when I went in.  I gained 75lbs in 6 months.  I was depressed and sluggish (which w/inattentive ADD I’d fought against all my life) and the weight gain happened so fast I couldn’t reconcile fat me with skinny me (when it happens over a year or so it’s different) and I didn’t want to leave the house but I worked in a diner so I was in front of people every day.  I had to get new clothes all the time.  Finally I brought in the pants I was (oh, he weighed me every month—it was almost sadistic) wearing the day of the appointment (what prompted me to go in was a paranoia of thinking my manipulative friend at work was trying to get me fired and my stupid alcoholic bf who pretended to be so understanding of my condition lied and added to my stress—I hadn’t slept in 7 days and had a psychotic break—-he was supposed to help me move for the 2nd time and stood me up so I moved alone up for 24 hours.  Then he showed up and I thought he drilled holes in my walls and was spying on me because he mentioned seeing things I didn’t think he knew about—-also some coat hangers were gone from a closet and I made a police report—-after the 7th night/day of no sleep I just walked straight to the community mental health resource center for intake and waited the 2 weeks for them to get me into Dr SHUSH who I had the misfortune to have seen 3 years prior and he was my only option at this point).  and a pair of pants I was wearing at that time and held them up together and told him I was depressed over that and if he didn’t take me off Depakote that day I would take myself off it and end up institutionalized crazy as F than gain anymore weight and have limbs amputated and go blind from diabetes.  That is when I discovered Abilify and it being touted as a Bipolar med.  If you notice now, it’s only marketed as a supplement to antidepressants that don’t work.  I went to a Bipolar support group which was nice but it was formatted.  (Condition of my therapy).  Sometimes we free styled it though and I talked about my experience w/Dr SHUSH (they all saw me blow up from start to finish) and I damn near started a riot.  So blah blah blah, I left there and paid full price to go back to the good doc and get back on the right meds.  Tried Vyvanse—-which I didn’t even know was a stimulant until last month.  Back on Concerta because it was free…then got job with insurance and was back on Adderall for the first time in 10 years.  It works—I’ve heard you are either an amphetamine salt or methylphenidate person.  I’m the former.  As for Bipolar meds (or any meds for that matter) they all work differently for different people and as shitty as it is, it’s trial and error.  Find the right Dr. and do try to stick it out for awhile but don’t lose years of your life to either a Dr or a med.  Lamictal has the least amount of side effects as far as Bipolar meds go.  There are more options out there than ever.  A great book for both folks with Bipolar and their friends and family is the Bipolar Survival Guide (I duct taped the cover and carried it around like a bible when I was first diagnosed) by David J. Miklowitz. 

So in conclusion and back to BexIssues as it relates to my pathetic tale of woe:  It truly breaks my heart to think of someone going through years of what I did.  I only have me though—-you have a husband and lovely children who would go through it with you and that would be tough on everyone plus that leaves you a lot less time than I had.  Every once in a while I allow myself a tiny little pity party ( I asked my counselor recently if I could give myself permission once in a blue moon)  but it’s counter productive—-ahaha I’m thankful to have finally been diagnosed and moving forward—-blessings are counted everyday.  I hope things work out for you.  I wish I could give you a hug and tell you everything will be fine—-sometimes that’s all you need to hear.

Posted by Hechiblue on Dec 05, 2013 at 11:41pm

Well, true to ADD form I didn’t read that until I clicked submit and my thoughts are here and there with parenthesis within parenthesis within parenthesis…if you need me to clarify anything let me know…I’ll be happy to at least try or perhaps confuse you even more.  Check out those books girl!  They will give you a great starting point for talking with your new Dr.

Posted by Hechiblue on Dec 05, 2013 at 11:55pm

There is no definitive/“acid” test for ADD, however, there are a # of self-screeners that you can complete yourself.  The symptoms of Bipolar & ADD can overlap, & there have been numerous folks misdiagnosed one way or the other; I’ve had a couple in my practice. It’s critical that you find a psychiatrist experienced w/ ADD, & who will take the time to talk to you, vs. just writing a script then streeting you.  Struggling w/ the symptoms of ADD can produce depression & anxiety, & anxiety can often be a symptom of a disregulated ADD brain.

Posted by LCK on Dec 06, 2013 at 3:57am

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