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ADHD Adults

Need help living with ADD symptoms

Recently, as in the last few years, especially over the last year, I’ve found myself unable to remember vocabulary, missing large gaps of memory, severe demotivation, anxiety, unable to finish lists/goals, knowing how to do something but being unable to do it when I sit down to start, depression, withdrawal, over indulgence on impulses, among others.

For the past six years I’ve been living alone, working overseas as a teacher or traveling. I found this to be useful as I become restless in a country starting around a year and a half and if I feel trapped (unable to leave or do things due to obligations/finances) I become severely depressed and often slip into heavy drinking.

Last year I had worked my way up to teaching at a University in Istanbul and it was a great job however once the protests broke out and I saw the abuses by the police and media coverup by the government I felt obliged to use my photography skills to capture what was happening and dispense this to people. I ended up losing my job and shortly after making some large purchases due to my increased salary, having them stolen and leaving me homeless and broke for 5 months in Istanbul.

I finally decided to throw the towel in and asked my parents for help. My mother took a loan and was able to fly me home. I’ve been here ever since but unable to find anything but a 1 month temp job since I don’t have the ‘experience’ or references that people want here. Where I live, you need a car to get around so I’m also much less social..sometimes not even leaving the house for a week, (but lately I do get out and meet people and have started running again).

I’m usually able to persevere through almost any hardship.  However, I’m worried sick about my memory loss and being unable to accomplish anything I set myself down to do (if I’m helping someone else…I can perform above and beyond..just never for myself). 
I would like to leave the country again as I feel best on the road and enjoy living among other cultures. Before I can leave though, I feel I must take care of these issues because overseas I rarely am able to find help due to language barriers or medical systems. I also want to be as successful as I know I can be.

Any pointers in the right direction..a therapist, strategies, etc would be appreciated.  I feel a bit lost these days.


If it were me, I’d want to confirm that the large gaps in memory and difficulties with recalling vocabulary is ADD or something else.  Perhaps you might consider a re-evaluation to see if there is something else going on besides or instead of ADHD.

Posted by Juggler on May 09, 2014 at 9:11am

I’m trying to find a doctor..but I’m also aware of how much it may cost. I’ve only worked one month in the past 9 and don’t have insurance. So I’m just hoping for the best right now. 

The memory loss and vocabulary bother me a bit too…I didn’t have those issues before but they’ve become more and more prevalent.

Posted by wandering_Glen on May 09, 2014 at 11:12am

Wow I thought I was the only one I suffer from ADD anxiety, and depression since I was 14 I started taking medicine for it but now 15 years later its unlike anything I’ve went thru and I have stoped reaching out for help or speaking period   I felt stupid explaining what im going thru to anyone let alone my doctor but its true it must be i cant tell you how exhausted and scary and stressful having these symptoms are but u already know what im talking about i still consider myself crazy and or cursed or just brain damaged but with having no memory and the pain I feel in my body everyday im at the worst in my life and even more difficult being married with kids and I feel like im still a child myself always feeling guilty for being stupid and weird and either really nervous or really sad im at the point I’ve wanted to den I having any mentAl problem in fear of what others may think im just really surprised I haven’t lost it totally what I just read cleared up about 3 yrs of memory loss unquestioned im afraid to ask im so insecure and unsure about everything its pathetic really im tired of suffering and not taking care of myself and i have pushed myself into a corner no intrest no job no memory im surprised im even still married im ready to live my life not die from it i need answers so i can be the mother and wife ive once knew i could be my daughter is almost ten and has add she shares a lot of my behaviors and traits it worryies me i donot want her not loving herself for it like i do

Posted by jennylee on May 09, 2014 at 11:33am

A doctor is one of the people you shouldn’t feel ashamed to talk to..they deal with people who have all sorts of issues every day.  But I do’s been a long time for me to actually reach out and talk about this, or as I did some dr’s about helping me.
I’ve actually had some pretty bad experiences with doctors during my teen and college years. Two have told me I’d never amount to anything.  Probably one of the reasons I’ve worked so hard to do crazy and amazing things.

I worry about my children when I have them as well. How well can I raise them. I often wonder if I’ll ever be able to have a long term relationship. Or when I do find love…accept it and treat it well.

Memory loss is really scary.  I hardly remember anything from before 2008 when I left the States. It’s all cloudy. I also sometimes wonder if I’m going crazy..I noticed since I returned..that sometimes I’ve even got a stutter, which I never had before. 

I’m hoping that is something from the anxiety during the protests but yeah..scary stuff. The brain is fragile and complicated.  I’d recommend seeing a doctor or begin by reaching out to one and see where that leads you.

Posted by wandering_Glen on May 09, 2014 at 12:21pm

A couple thoughts, wandering_Glen,

1) My first thought upon reading your story is that the excitement of travel and living in other cultures is a sort-of treatment for your ADHD. The adrenaline helps your focus, and the high interest level helps as well. Maybe finding a new passion while you are at home will help.

2) Running is proven to help with ADHD. There are people who run, bike, or swim daily as “treatment” for ADHD. I believe studies show 2 hours of aerobic exercise a day is comparable to medication.

3) If you have been out of work, you should be able to apply for Medicaid. Then doctors and behavioral therapy and such will be accessible to you.

Hang in there!
ADDconnect Moderator & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on May 09, 2014 at 4:18pm

adhdmomma had some very good tips. Exercise is an effective treatment for many ADD’ers. It was one factor that kept mine in check when I was exercising very heavily in my 20s to mid 40’s. BUT at 59, I can’t toss the heavy weights around or do as much extended aerobic exercise. I still need my Vit ‘E’xercise as much as possible. The problem is circumstances such as pollen season right now triggering either true allergies or possibly mast cell degranulation pseudo allergies. Similar symptoms but different cause and some differences in treatment. I was unable to exercise for several days and could barely think. Injuries, weather, lack of time also restrict me periodically.

Exercise helps in at least 2 ways. Helping to increase blood flow to the brain and by helping to drive the needed neurotransmitters into the receptors. Even the less ‘HD’ types may have some low grade restlessness and the exercise fulfills the need to move and relieve this.

I’m late dx’d and only recently started adderall. It works quite well for me with minimal side effects so I am very grateful for it even though I hate taking meds. I suspected for several years but circumstances made finding a doctor with experience treating ADD and working on some other health factors that also affected my ADD symptoms and helped reduce them, just not enough to eliminate the need for meds. Those factors are my next subject.

Diet, chemical sensitivity, hormones, lifestyle, these affect us all but some of us are more reactive to certain factors.

Diet—for me this is as much about what not to eat as what to eat. I found I have lactose intolerance but either using a lactase supplement or eating cheese or cultured products like yogurt and kefir are fine. I also have salicylate sensitivity. This is a class of chemicals found primarily in fruits and vegetables that are related to aspirin. I react to a larger class of chemicals called phenols also. This is due to lower levels of enzymes needed to metabolize these chemicals. Harder to find enzymes that help counter this as there are so many different sals/phenols and enzymes. A food diary, rotation diet and keeping exposure of major triggers to a minimum. For me nightshades, especially tomatoes and potatoes are my worst triggers.
I also avoid wheat, not necessarily all gluten. Wheat has other factors that affect some people. I get cognitive, mood and physical symptoms, spacey, self critical, gut cramps, swollen joints AND I get hungry more often if I eat even really good whole wheat bread vs the same amount of rye bread—note these both are home made so I know they are 100% organic whole wheat and 100% organic whole rye—a sticky flour hard to work with. Something in wheat attacks connective tissue and affects appetite in a way other grains do not—for me and some others. It also lowers my exercise tolerance and increases recovery time. Not worth it at all. The Feingold diet is a good start for sals/phenol sensitives.

It’s too complex to detail here but finding out what your needs are for vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and such can help a great deal. Some forms of B12, folate, niacin and other vitamins are not tolerated by individuals. Genetic factors at work here. I have low grade pyroluria—a blood factor that in times of stress when I need them most, cause my body to lock up and excrete B6, zinc, manganese and magnesium which are all needed to produce some of our already messed up neurotransmitters. If I get white spots on my fingernails, that means I have a zinc deficiency and boost all the above—I can usually ‘feel’ it first and that makes me look at my nails.

I can’t tolerate junk food or fake food. No transfats, no soybean or corn oil, virtually no food that comes in a mix, hamburger helper, prepared or semi prepared. The good news is that making it myself tastes a hell of a lot better, either cheaper or on par because I use better ingredients and is much better for my ADD symptoms and overall health. I use only olive and coconut oil and butter. No fake cheese like velveeta, no processed meat like bologna. I dislike soft drinks so not drinking sodas, artificially flavored anything is not a chore. I don’t drink alcohol in any form—I don’t like the buzz and it makes me sick—chemical sensitivity again.

I have also tried many supplements that can affect ADD to some degree such as amino acids like l tyrosine and DLPA. They helped but not enough. They are precursors to norepinephrine and dopamine but that doesn’t mean they always convert, are transported or taken up by the correct receptors. No matter how much some of the alternative practitioners try to proclaim, this approach does NOT always work. It did help up to a point.

I did find 2 things that do help me. Olive leaf extract is an herbal OTC supplement that can boost norepinephrine. It helps my mental and physical energy. NE is needed by our muscles and whole body for energy. I can’t use it too often or I get sals reactions—more below.

One other product that helps is an OTC in the US and some countries, supplement called Noopept. It boosts acetylcholine. there are some other brain boosting supplements but I have only tried one other adrafinal which converts to modafinal in the body. modafinal is sometimes of benefit for ADD and also used for narcolepsy. again not enough benefit at max safe dose. The Noopept is subtle,not stimulating but thoughts are clearer and senses improved, better reflexes and overall well being. It’s inexpensive. Usual effective dose appears to be 1-4 scoops with the tiny scoop provided. more is not better and can have a sedating effect. acetylcholine is one of those with a goldilocks spot, not too much not too little.

The sals/phenols makes me also react badly to many household cleaning and personal care products—most often those heavily scented with some stinky perfume. I use unscented detergents, don’t use softeners, unscented shampoo, soap and use only shea butter or coconut oil if my skin gets dry. So I ‘go green’ to save my own health as well as save the planet. Walking through a tire store makes me dizzy and nauseated as do other stinky sections of stores, cleaning products, plastics and lawn/garden departments when fertlizer, weednfeed and crap are out.

All this is a good foundation but there is another factor critical for me. Hormone levels. In hindsight, just like having low to mid grade ADD symptoms I’ve had low grade hypothyroid symptoms and adrenal function that dips plus puberty and now menopause. I was lucky to seldom have PMS but the start and stop of my fertile years were bumpy.

2 things to consider here. 1 is that your body and ADD symptoms can change drastically through your life. Mine have waxed and waned when stress overtaxed my adrenals, impaired exercise and such. Access to real food—at times I have to eat road food but regret it, do have to walk through stinky stores or am other wise chemical exposed, right now the pollen season is hitting me. But I see more evidence that normal aging increases ADD symptoms. For me I think it was menopause. Balancing hormones reduces my symptoms. And my adrenal glands simply could not put out the same amount of adrenaline—my favorite self medication! or cortisol any longer. I admit to being an adrenaline junkie, thrill seeker but my adrenals need a decreased work load. And I find the adderall gives me most of what the adrenaline did without the crash later.

Yet after all that, while each factor did help, I opted to try meds.

I do suggest you try to explore these types of factors. There can be underlying physical needs that make your ADD worse. Balancing these may prevent need for meds but if circumstances change and you need meds use them without guilt or shame unless side effects of course are too bad.

But my lifelong underlying anxiety, low self esteem, depression are basically gone. Guess what? It wasn’t due to being stupid, lazy, crazy wasn’t due to low serotonin as usually depression is blamed on. It was low dopamine and norepinephrine. I was stunned that a stimulant calms me. I think the anxiety was my adrenals pushing hard to make my brain work, and that approach didn’t work well causing frustration and a loop that always failed. The depression was also overall poor brain function, couldn’t get things working right, felt flat or stuck and in the pit of hell.

3 psychiatrists and multiple counselors and doctors all missed my ADD. It was my PCP who is ADD and not dx’d until she was in med school. She recognized herself in me. Many ADD’ers 30+ are not dx’d as we slipped past the changing awareness that it’s not a childhood thing everyone outgrows. The low to mid level symptoms adults may have learned to cope enough not to be dx’d but dx and treatment plus more info on ADD coping strategies DOES make life much easier.

So you may have many factors you CAN identify and influence yourself. I know its not easy with brain fog or anxiety to do so. If you need to, try meds and then start to check out the other stuff so you can reduce your need for meds as well as having overall better physical and mental health. It is worth it.

my best to you all

Posted by Gadfly on May 09, 2014 at 6:00pm

I hear ya and our stories are so similar… I ‘blew the whistle’ on environmental offences being made at a previous job of mine and I, too, lost my job.

Here is a job for you to consider:  and it’s on American Territory:

It’s a GREAT gig.  It’s a tropical paradise here.  What corruption and craziness there is here leans to the humorous vs. the nefarious.  You will not get rich but there is a great ex-pat community here.

I was a Utility Manager, City Manager and so many others prior to taking this job.  I love this.  You may also. 

You need any BA or BS degree,  praxis 1 and 2 (2 in some specialty).  Score requirements are not particularly high (understatement).  That’s it.

If you want to teach and do so in a low stress environment on a tropical paradise, this is worthy of your consideration.

Posted by LakeLife on May 10, 2014 at 1:59am

Take this for what it’s worth as I have never experienced anything that you have. You sound like you’ve had an incredible life for yourself. Good for you!

That said, I think you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. It may be nothing but you want to make sure quickly. This way you can start on your plans and move forward.

Posted by chrisd on May 12, 2014 at 5:35am

That’s how I came to this my search for a doctor.
I’ve had doctors in the past that have told me I would never amount to anything. I should be happy just working a regular minimum wage job because that’s probably all I’d ever be able to do. 

I don’t have insurance or even a steady job since returning..but am hoping to find a doctor that is actually HELPFUL and does not look down on my life plan/choices but rather helps me to get past the mental blocks and depression stages so I can soar and do what I know I can. 

I’m really hoping to find some leads here on this website.

I finally reached out to one psychology group…however they are Christian based, I’m not sure how well we will be able to match with their advice and background.

Posted by wandering_Glen on May 12, 2014 at 11:43pm

I’m still trying to find a doctor (I don’t have a job or insurance).

I honestly feel like a failure as I can’t make myself do the things I know I need to do to be successful and happy…to be independent again.

What’s worse, my younger brother has the same issues and I have no idea how to help him get the structure he needs so he can be successful and happier (instead of using games as an escape from stress). It’s so frustrating.

I hate just existing without any purpose or having one but mentally being unable to do it.

Posted by wandering_Glen on May 28, 2014 at 1:16am

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