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ADHD in Women

Newly Diagnosed at 43

Hello.  I am new to sharing online, but have made the commitment to join a support group of some kind.  This seemed like it might be the right one after researching several. 
Backstory: I have a pretty extensive neurological background and have been tested for numerous things without many answers.  After it was noted that I was having some difficulty reading, I was sent for a neuropsych evaluation when other issues were ruled out.  To say I was surprised by the diagnosis is an understatement.  I am not accustomed to hearing a doctor say they have at least one definitive diagnosis.

Unlike some stories I have read, I am not in any grief over the diagnosis. I am surprised that it has taken so long for someone to suggest this disorder to me since it seems that I have a severe diagnosis.  I, like many people, do not fully understand the disorder and figured that it would be very obvious.

I have decided for the time being, to research different therapies.  My doctor says that I am a candidate for a stimulant drug therapy, but to make that decision in a couple of months.  This will give me time to evaluate what course I would like to take.  I am concerned about stimulants and would like first hand accounts about this course of treatment.  Again, I have not shared on a site such as this and am not sure what to disclose.  Any advice is welcomed. Thanks.

Replies

Greetings Saphron 7,I was diagnosed last year @age 51. I was shocked as i was a straight a student in school,but as i’m learning there are different types. I have always been fidgety & never completely relax.Anyway,I was put on Strattera & it made me pretty nauseous & it had me so wired @ night that i couldn’t sleep(this is a non stimulant.go figure) & that never was an issue before. I never had any problems @ work i have been @ same place 21 years,so for now i’m going 2 be unmedicated. I will be glad 2 help in anyway i can. Best Wishes

Posted by specialk4762 on Aug 06, 2014 at 3:54am

Thanks so much, specialk4762.  I feel the same way about meds.  In hind sight, I can see where this hits the nail on the head, I am reluctant to do much about it.  I am successful at work and have been in a committed relationship for 16 years.  I do have, what we call, a very foggy memory.  I also lose things all the time and have trouble focusing.  I use all the excess energy to my employer’s advantage.  I think I will try meditation and an ADD therapist first.  I do self medicate (I think) with caffeine. Any tips you might have on organizing a better brain, I am willing to learn. smile

Posted by Saphron7 on Aug 06, 2014 at 4:23am

Hello Saphron 7. I was diagnosed a month ago at age 49, so I am new to this too. In some ways it came as a shock, but in other ways it made sense because explains my whole life. It also explains why an adulthood of antidepessants and anxiety meds never quite did the trick. Apparently I also have a pretty severe case, and it has been postulated that perimenopuse, and now full blown menopause, has worsened it.
I am now researching everything I can find on ADHD in oder to educate myself as much as I can. I am taking Adderall, 10 mg, twice a day, even though I have mixed feelings about stimulants. I don’t think my dosage is right, but I know I have to start somewhere. I am also seeing a therapist and am hopeful that will be helpful, too. I feel like I have almost 50 years to come to terms with and new skill sets to learn.
I also find myself the sole caregiver to my elderly, seriously ill parents, so I feel a lot of pressure (self imposed) to get better as quickly as I can so that I can do a competent job of caring for them. Support is going to be crucial and I hope to find it here.
Good luck to you and I offer you support and will be glad to share information.

Posted by Laura50 on Aug 06, 2014 at 5:06am

Hi Saphron7!

Finding the right therapist is crucial to your success. Here are some things to watch out for: http://www.additudemag.com/slideshow/48/.

You can treat focus and memory problems with brain training: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/5539.html. This type of treatment is especially helpful for memory problems.

Creating structure and routine can get you organized and help with losing things. This article offers 33 ways to get organized with Adult ADHD: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/729.html.

If you do decide to try medication, this primer on ADHD medication will be helpful: http://www.additudemag.com/adhd/article/9875.html. It may help you to make that decision as well.

Penny
ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 06, 2014 at 1:45pm

Thanks, Penny for the information and Laura50 for the support.

I am reading a pretty good book right now called “ADHD According to Zoe”.I have also just started “Delivered from Distraction”. 

I had a long talk with my mom today and she is not at all surprised.  In fact, it might be the answer to my 15 year old nephew’s issues.  I am going to do a ton of research on this. 

I have also been wondering about menopause. I figure that would be a wild ride.  My partner is somewhat skeptical about all of this.  She has committed to reading the literature and maybe going to a counseling session with me.  I think she fears that after all this time…she has gotten used to my “strangeness” and is a bit worried that I might change. 

I have been able to use my “energy” for positive things, but notice that with age it seems to be getting worse.  Is that even possible?  My partner thinks it has gotten worse over the last 2 years.  Could she be right?

Posted by Saphron7 on Aug 07, 2014 at 4:13am

Hi Saphron7,
I’m reading all the comments and responses and realize that this is particularly addressing you and women, but there are similarities with my husband.

My husband was diagnosed last year at age 49 and is now 50 . . . With the business of life and his dedication to his work (thanks to his ADHD tendencies), he has yet to get further help - So subscribing to this is really for me (for now).  (He promises he’ll go soon to get the ball rolling . . . We’ve had lots of medical and just this past week are dealing with lots of water damage in our home while we were gone.) . . .

With the above said, Yes, yes, yes, it does get worse over time . . . As adults our pressures increase (as seen above), our coping tools are stretched. . . . What may have just seemed quirky and his personality is now a much bigger problem and clearer to me and the kids . . .  (I actually had to talk to him for two years to get him to go and get diagnosed.) . . . Hopefully, he’ll soon get the help he needs soon.

.Anyway, it’s good that your on the path to getting help.  A good professional should be able to guide you.  Counseling, I believe should always be a part of the solution.  smile

Posted by Georgia Mom on Aug 08, 2014 at 1:21pm

Hi-
Diagnosed this year @ 58 - on the Vyvanse - went from 30 mg to 50 mg- really helps a lot-not jittery-no adverse sleeping reactions (take it after my early morning work-out)-concentration level is much better-communication level much better.  Hope this helps.

Posted by scoobertdoo on Aug 08, 2014 at 1:35pm

Hi Safron7,

Read Confessions of an ADDiva by Linda Roggli.  The peri-menopause years almost drove me over the edge and was what pushed me to get a diagnosis at 51.  My ADD son’s account of how stimulant meds had helped him convinced me to do the same.

Life changing - those two words describe the difference 30mg of Biphentin has made.  I’ll admit that the biggest relief was finally finding out what it was, but taking the next step and trying medication was a smart move for me. I feel calmer, have more patience (this coming from my husband) and am able to accomplish far more in a day than I ever thought possible.  The last because my brain isn’t chasing butterflies half the day.

Good luck!

Posted by ADHD Chronicles on Aug 08, 2014 at 2:31pm

I was diagnosed in my late 30s and started stimulants. I didn’t realize what a difference they made until the first day I didn’t take them. All of the sudden I noticed that noise in my head that had been shut off by the stimulants. I had never realized the three ring circus that lives in my brain could be silenced.

If you’re worried about trying them, start with a short acting one that will wear off quickly. Also start with a small dose, but recognize that if the dose is too small, it may not be strong enough to make a difference. You will learn quickly what side effects you get, and it could take several tries to find the right medication/dosage combination.

Posted by Jeri-Texas on Aug 08, 2014 at 3:13pm

Hi Saphron7,
I was diagnosed about three years ago at age 47. The diagnosis was life-changing. Stimulant meds (first Focalin and now Vyvanse) made it possible for me to focus on and complete tasks, and gave me the wherewithal to allow and practice structure in my life.
Within the past year and a half or so I have been in perimenopause, which has made my symptoms worse (my already-weak working memory, tendency toward irritability, and brain fog), and added in some pretty severe insomnia. So I am not a particularly happy camper these days, but on the plus side, perimenopause should not last forever, and it is well understood that perimenopause worsens ADHD symptoms, so I remind myself of that every 10 minutes or so.
So lately, other therapies have become as helpful as meds for me. They are: Body Balance Yoga, meditation, relaxation techniques (primarily breathing), regular aerobic exercise, support groups like this one, friends, and holding fast to my sense of humor.
One of the biggest problems with getting diagnosed as an adult is the way that ADHD is really only recently beginning to be better understood, even by professionals. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there, and new information every day. Give yourself time to read over it, and reread it if necessary. Let it soak in. And just keep trying different things until you find what helps you. The good news is that there are lots of things to try: different meds, different doses of meds, neurofeedback, meditation, support groups, exercise, nutrition, and combinations of some or all of these and other things. The bad news is that getting and staying informed about ADHD can become like a full-time job, at least to me. (I like research. Too much.)
All the best to you. There is good company here.

Posted by ral77851 on Aug 08, 2014 at 4:17pm

Some great advice ral77851. I was officially diagnosed a couple of years ago at the age of 47. I know I have dealt with it for years but never did anything about it. I do drink lots of caffeine and I know that cannot be good. I wanted to take the medication to see if it helped but the only kind I could take is Strattera and I just could not deal with the side effects. In addition, as a military reserve member, taking any kind of stimulant is cause for immediate discharge. I have been doing a ton of reading here in hopes of working with this but I really think that the medication is something to explore. I will in a year or two after I retire. I agree it gets worse with age, at least that is what I am discovering, and it is definitely more challenging.

Posted by beezygirl on Aug 08, 2014 at 11:56pm

First off…..before I forget, thanks everyone for the support.  My family and partner are already tired of hearing about ADHD.  I just keep telling them “don’t worry, I’ll lose interest in it soon enough”. 

It is like someone turned on the light above my head and is allowing me to read my own life story.  I read these articles and think, oh….that’s why that happened.

In my early 20’s I self medicated with illegal stimulants and would always “fake” being amp’d up.  My friends would be at clubs dancing like maniacs and I would feel like I could go home and read a book. I had many friends that abused stimulants and I just couldn’t get addicted.  I think I know why now.  When I took them, I felt more grounded and “boring”, not like a party animal. I was better off hanging out with them pretending to be amp’d up.

Meditation is about impossible for me.  I actually start itching (actual skin itching) when I try to sit still for very long.  When I get massages for relaxation, I actually talk from the moment I lay down until they say “OK, we are out of time”.  My massage therapist is familiar with me now, so she just listens.  What’s funny is that I don’t really talk about anything personal.  I feel like I just need to release energy while I am having to lay so still.  And don’t get me started on my “road rage”.  I am actually very patient every other time….just not in a car. 

I am a bit worried that if I take meds that I will lose my edge at work.  My career is very suited for how my mind works.  In fact, I have been accused of being a workaholic.  But, it has afforded me much financial success.  The problem is that I can’t shut my brain down. 

Funny story.  My partner likes to go fishing.  I am not a fan, but will go to spend time with her.  I had all my “just bought” tackle and pole ready to fish.  My partner threw her line out and proceeded to sit back in her lawn chair and relax.  I cast my line 27 times in 10 minutes and broke the reel.  I then had to pull out my phone to research fixing a fishing reel and got fixated on watching YouTube videos on dancing dogs.  Needless to say, we decided that maybe I shouldn’t go fishing. 

What will the meds do?  Will they make me calmer, will they make me more focused, or will they make me zombie-like.

Posted by Saphron7 on Aug 09, 2014 at 6:29am

Hello there! I was diagnosed at the age of 40 as well. Stimulant therapy was and is also suggested for me and I have to be honest in saying that if felt like a light bulb came on in my life. Things stopped being so difficult. I can concentrate and get things done. I enjoy life now more than I ever did.
    I will be honest in saying that because the lightbulb went on and I have a history of addiction, the ideas danced around in my head that because I feel normal and well balanced that maybe I could feel more normal and more well balanced. I have read enough to know that this is not the way to go. I had a moment or two of playing around with my meds (concerta and ritalin) and it is not a pretty picture.
    Just remember that if you do decide to go on medication that your Dr. and you (of course!) will take it very seriously. Unfortunately, a lot of people who don’t have ADHD and ADD abuse the medications and give them a bad name. For me? It has changed my life. And my families lives. This site is awesome too. If I weren’t so busy out living my life I would post more!! Good luck to you!!

Posted by jenyerhot on Aug 09, 2014 at 9:13am

Hey Safron7,

Zombie-like?  Highly unlikely!  I work in a very creative field where my ability to design and code websites is a perfect match for my ADD. 

Meds have given me the ability to take an idea and develop it in a more organized manner than before. I don’t feel I’ve lost a drop of creativity, but rather gained a bit of control over it.  It’s also enabled me to keep my focus and hit the finish line on deadline more consistently.  This was tough in the past because once the shine is off a project and it’s time to mop up the small details, well, the project gets boring.  Nothing shiny to chase! 

Before I used to do whatever it took to trigger my hyper-focus to come online and carry me through tight deadlines and complicated tasks. Now I don’t need to subject myself to that (or others around me) and can put in a 12 hour day at my desk when need be with a consistent level of concentration.  Of course still with my knee bouncing and spinning in my chair once in a while to keep the “skin crawls” down.  Yeah, the meds calm my mind but the body still needs to go-go-go a bit.  I’m looking at a walking desk at the moment as a solution!

Of course my experience is my own, but in my field where ADD is a gift for the most part, the meds have been a surprisingly welcome addition.  Meds don’t take away your ADD, they just help you control it rather than the other way around.

BTW, fishing is NOT a good match for those of us with ADHD! IMHO Lol. Maybe fly fishing….but sitting still and relaxing?  Ha! Not even on meds would that work for me.

Posted by ADHD Chronicles on Aug 09, 2014 at 2:02pm

Don’t worry, I have given up fishing. Ha

When I was diagnosed with ADHD, the doctor did a pretty extensive medical history review.  I have a tremor (movement disorder).  It is pretty significant and I have been seen by the best movement neurologist in the country.  The frequency is very high and is outside the ranges for Essential Tremor.  It is too fast to be considered Parkinson’s.  I had a Deep Brain Stimulator implanted in ‘99.
The neuropsych told me that they are now doing research into the connection between tremor and ADHD.  The way it was explained to me is that an excited brain could have may reactions such as tremor, rapid thinking, etc. 

Has anyone here with ADHD also suffered from significant tremors?

Posted by Saphron7 on Aug 10, 2014 at 1:01am

Hey Gang! Saphron7..I was diagnosed about 6 months before my 43rd birthday (@October 2013)... I actually found ADDitude while researching accommodations for one of my student’s ADHD 504 plan (I am a HS Counselor)... as I read I realized the characteristics were describing ME…SO, of course, my BUTTERFLY attention span has shifted totally away from my initial reason for being on the site. I literally sat in my office for HOURS reading… It was as if someone had uploaded my life experiences onto this website. In school, I was CONSTANTLY in trouble for TALKING, TAPPING, ROAMING/EXPLORING the classroom, etc…  Teachers would consistently describe me as, “A bright student that refused to apply myself.” My mother would talk, fuss,rant about my, “NOT APPLYING MYSELF” & she would ask me for an explanation and of course my answer was the standard shoulder shrug and I don’t know… which frustrated my mother to no end. She punished me, spanked me, tried reward systems; which worked temporarily. In HS, I was an honor student; however, if an assignment did not pique my interest or expand my knowledge base… I would simply choose not to complete that assignment.. SO, I became labeled as the LAZY honor student… at no point did my mother ever discuss my issues with my Dr… I do not think she even considered the fact that it could be a medical issue…“Weed” was my drug of choice in HS; and, similar to your experience.. it had a totally different affect on me than my friends; but, I mocked their behaviors to not raise suspicion…

My son was diagnosed with ADHD in 4th grade and his pediatrician started him on a low dosage of Vyvanse.. I did not know enough about ADD/ADHD at the time of his diagnosis to realize the connection.. Like his father my son is not a fan of medication… They don’t even like to take aspirin; so, in 7th grade he decided that he would rather use behavior therapy instead.. It worked very well for him..

When I spoke to my Dr about what I had read… she took me through the criteria used to diagnose.. I showed signs of ALL 8 areas… The only ADD/ADHD medication I was familiar with was Ritalin & after being in education almost 20 years and seeing the way it caused students to become Zombies,,, I was extremely nervous about trying medication… my doctor was very thorough in explaining the alternatives that are now available. Initially, I was prescribed STRATTERA…. OMG! You would have thought I had taken a Tylenol PM or Ambien… I COULD NOT stay awake… In doing some research, I came across numerous posts from people experiencing the same thing.. Her next move was Adderall 10mg once a day.. From the FIRST dosage, I was in ABSOLUTE HEAVEN… It took a month or so to get my dosage at the appropriate level; but, it has TRULY BEEN the BEST thing that has happened to me! My current dosage is Adderall 30mg 2x’s/day… I did have a couple of nights of insomnia; but, I had to adapt a scheduled time for consumption… I learned that I HAD to take my second pill no later than 11am, if I planned on sleeping…. My first dosage is taken when I wake up around 5:30-5:45.. The only other side affect I have is it was totally wiped my appetite.. so I have to schedule meals and make myself eat… I lost a total of about 23lbs.. (I AM DEFINITELY NOT COMPLAINING ABOUT THAT.. LOL).. HOWEVER, the difference it has made in my life is REMARKABLE…..

My mother is not a proponent of ADD/ADHD diagnosis and medication treatment.. and the only way I could get her to truly understand the affect was to use this scenario….. BEFORE Adderall all of my thoughts were on NON-STICK Post It Notes floating freely about my head; dancing to their own tune and changing stations frequently…. WITH Adderall, all of my thoughts are categorized and organized in the appropriate file… It has been amazing for FOCUS and TASK COMPLETION for me…We are currently discussing a change of medication because the body can become accustomed to the Adderall and loose some of its effectiveness..

FOR ME, it has been life changing, but I am still reading and learning daily. Explore multiple options and have open, honest conversations with your Dr about your concerns and etc… I am researching a therapist as the next layer of services in my ACTION PLAN…..  The main thing I want to express to you is it is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of… As you continue to learn about the wonderful world of ADD/ADHD.. you gain a sort of ADD/ADHD Radar…. You will begin to notice people around you who are also members of our secret society… lol…

I wish you the best of luck as you begin this journey… If I can be of ANY assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to me… .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)... Happy Hunting!!

Posted by RhasiFreeman on Aug 10, 2014 at 2:56am

Thanks for all the information.  I really think I am leaning towards trying medication in a couple of months.  My doctor gave the the number of a counselor that impressed her at a seminar.  I am going to do that first.  The great news about my diagnosis is that my family has now had it’s eyes opened about my 15 year old nephew.  My sister works in education and is reluctant to have him tested and diagnosed.  She doesn’t want the stigma to follow him.  I guess some teachers are not as understanding about kids with ADD/ADHD when they are all sitting around in the teachers lounge complaining about students.  I am sure that is a minority of teachers.

I have started Lumosity.  I have also started using OneNote to help prioritize my day. 

Again, thanks for all the advice and support.  I am just starting this process, but want to make the best use of my time while researching.

Posted by Saphron7 on Aug 10, 2014 at 4:23am

Saphron7..You are MORE than WELCOME. Everyone in this post is now a part of your VILLAGE… We have to support one another; because, honestly, it is difficult for someone without ADD/ADHD to TRULY understand the struggles we face…

Time Management has ALWAYS been my PITIFUL.. I work 7 minutes from my house (literally)... I am usually up no later than 5:30am every morning.. I do not have to be at work until 8:45am…. And I would be late EVERYDAY… because instead of preparing for my day.. I may go to the kitchen to get a bottle of water and decide that I need to clean out the freezer or start a load of laundry…#ButterFlyBrain…  SOO I had my son set EVERY clock in our house up; but, NOT tell me the difference.. Then I committed to not doing my usual of turning on the TV or my phone which would give me the actual time.. I went strictly by what the clocks said.. And SOO far it has worked..

Most teachers that are uncomfortable with ADD/ADHD students lack the background knowledge necessary to understand how it affects the kid… 

The good news is his Dr can diagnosis. If necessary, she can choose to implement a 504 Accommodation plan… which only serves to level the playing field for him.. I does not modify his curriculum at all. It simply provides additional supports that will foster his success. It can be something as simple as what you are doing… implementing the use of a planner or electronic calender to record and keep track of assignments that are due. This is something that any kid might do & it does not look any different than his peers. If she chooses the medication route.. they have time release options available now that can be administered in the privacy of their home; therefore, no one is privy to the fact that he is taking medication… When my son was in HS, we went through the process to develop a 504 plan for him; however, I chose to file it with the Counselor for use at a later date.. if it became necessary… This way you have the resources in place JUST IN CASE.. If he is continually successful then there is no need to disrupt his life (seemingly our mere existence is troublesome for teenagers..lol).. However, please have her research the effects of allowing it to fester.. As our responsibilities increase so do the symptoms…

Posted by RhasiFreeman on Aug 10, 2014 at 5:35am

I was diagnosed in October (almost a year ago) at age 43. I read a lot, went to seminars, learned some tools like positive self-talk etc.  I tried omega-3’s but they did nothing. I’ve been on concerta for about a week now and am starting to notice results. The first day was terrible, but that was likely because I gave up on coffee. Now I’m able to focus better. Now I’m more centered. I can focus on something without getting distracted. I still get random thoughts popping into my head, but they don’t scream to be heard; I can push them away. Also the brain fog seems to be gone- I don’t have to punch through a cloud just to access my own mind.  Looking forward to seeing what I might be able to achieve with a little help.

Posted by MorrisFluffyTail on Aug 13, 2014 at 1:21pm

Thanks RhasiFreeman & MorrisFluffy Tail (love the name by the way, it’s fun to say)

I didn’t even think about having to possibly give up caffeine. I rarely drink and I don’t smoke…..but I do love my coffee.  Would I give up caffeine if I go on meds?

I am currently on the road for work.  I travel about 5 months out of the year.  Not all at once, but that is what it adds up to.  That is not always easy, but I stay at the same places most of the time and they all know me. I am compulsively early.  I noticed that a lot of people suffer with punctuality issues.  That is one area that I worry about. Does anyone else have that issue?  I am also compulsively tidy.  Unorganized, but tidy…..?

I have confided in a couple of friends about the diagnosis.  I also asked them to take the Jasper/Goldberg Questionnaire.  After they took the test, one man and one woman whom both tested in the low category, each smiled and said…....“so we get it now”.  I guess once they saw the questions on that quick test, my actions must have made sense to them. lol

Thanks my friends.

Posted by Saphron7 on Aug 14, 2014 at 3:44am

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