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ADHD Adults

Stressed and Looking for Help

Hello, friends.  As the title to this post suggests, I’m looking for help/advice.  I don’t want to go into too much detail, but here’s my situation.

I have struggled with symptoms associated with ADHD for the majority of my life, but this has only recently become an issue for me.  I don’t know how many times I’ve been called an underachiever in my lifetime, but it’s probably more than 100.  That said, I always managed to make decent grades in high school (B’s and C’s), with some improvement in college (B’s with the occasional A), and I’ve always been a very strong standardized test-taker. 

What follows is in no way a boast and certainly not something I would ever say in person, but merely an attempt to illustrate my situation so that someone might be able to help me—I’m a smart person.  Before I graduated college, I scored very high on the LSAT (Law School Admissions Test), which earned me a scholarship to attend a well-regarded law school.  This was the first time I was ever really… excited about the prospect of academic work because I can see myself doing this sort of thing in my career down the road. 

Since I began school here, I’ve done very well, but at a price.  You see, in law school, the grade you receive for each class is based solely upon the final exam taken at the end of the semester.  There are no daily/weekly assignments, no bonus points, or anything like that.  You do your reading for the day, go to class, and repeat until it’s time to take the ONE test.  I find a lot of the material stimulating, but the academic format of my program makes me hate my life.  I constantly, CONSTANTLY fail to even open my book to read for class until 5:00 A.M. on the day of that class.  I just can’t make it happen before that time.  Bear in mind that we usually have anywhere from 50-100+ pages of reading to do for a day’s worth of classes.  I feel stressed and unrested 0 of the time. 

As you can probably imagine, I don’t always (RARELY) complete the entire reading for any of my classes.  This leads to me arriving at the end of the semester very behind the rest of the students in the class. So, I basically go sleepless for 2-3 weeks, cramming this information into my head so that I have it all with me as I take the final, only to forget it shortly thereafter due to my lack of repetition with the material.  I could tell you very little about the classes I’ve taken thus far.  That said, I usually perform very well on these exams, as they are almost entirely essay-based, and, for whatever reason, the professors find my writing persuasive.  As a result, I’m ranked very high in our class, according to GPA. 

This is the first time in my life that I’m really making good grades.  This summer, I clerked (interned, basically) at large law firm.  They were very pleased with the assignments I turned in, but criticized me for the length of time it took me to get those assignments turned in.  I don’t blame them.  For probably fifty percent or more of my day, I would just sit at my computer, thinking about anything except the work I was supposed to be completing.  I can’t explain it.  I really try to focus, but this just happens to me a lot. 

After receiving this criticism and considering the fact that this could really affect my employment opportunities down the road, I asked my family doctor about my situation and what I should do.  I hate it when people “self-diagnose” themselves with this or that condition, but I had begun to wonder if I have ADHD or something similar.  The short of what he told me is that I’m not the kind of person that has ADHD, referring specifically to the facts that I’m performing well in law school, played college basketball, and have never had an “issue” with this sort of thing before.  He attributed my situation to poor organizational skills.  I thanked him for his time and left, but I don’t know how seriously he took me. 

I guess I’m just wondering if any of you have had similar experiences or have advice for me.  I don’t want to go through another year of this, but I don’t even know if ADHD is my problem. 



“Based upon your responses to this adult ADD/ADHD screening quiz, you have replied in a way similar to people who have symptoms of moderate to severe attention deficit disorder. People who have answered similarly to you typically qualify for a diagnosis of ADHD or ADD, and have sought professional treatment for this mental health concern.

If you were diagnosed with ADHD, it would likely be of the Combined presentation, as you indicated significant symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity.”

Okay, now what?  My family doctor already put me off.  Should I look for a different doctor?  Should I be trying to see a specialist of some sort?

I really, really appreciate your comment, by the way. 


Posted by Tom Bombadil on Jul 24, 2014 at 3:21am

I saw a counsellor for a while about disorganisation - she told me I did we’ll in school and well in uni and I just needed to stop procrastinating,’ it wasnt ADHD’.
A year later I had done well but it was stressful and i had narrowly missed out on getting the marks to get into honours. I went to a psych who specialised in ADHD and asked for a really thorough test. It took 5 hours plus an interview session for me to be diagnosed with severe combined type ADHD.
If you think ADHD is a possibility it’s worth following it up with anyone who will help you. Even if it isn’t and you just have similar symptoms, they will be able to give you some great advice to reduce procrastination etc.
I say if your doctor tells you it’s not an issue again you should find another doctor, or better yet, a specialist.

Good luck!

Posted by calicat9 on Jul 24, 2014 at 6:30am

I can empathize with you because I have been thinking that my symptoms did not match the “typical” ADHDer.  I was recently diagnosed by my PCP on my second or follow-up visit with her. On my first visit, I had gone with my partner of 8 years, who was able to discuss my symptoms with the doctor as well and validate what I was also saying. The primary reason we saw the doctor and actually told her I thought I might have ADHD stemmed from issues with a lack of focus “in the bedroom,” on my part.  (My partner was actually the one who suggested I ‘google’ ADHD and problems with sex, and whoa.. I found a LOT of information that was stunning to me. It explained a LOT, let’s put it that way! ... even though I still felt bad about myself and completely inept as a partner, even though I was the one who was left sexually unsatisfied all of the time, primarily because I could not get random, 900 mph thoughts flinging and flying through my mind during sex. Ugh, how embarrassing.. oh well…I also gained a lot of insight and answers about a whole host of other problematic behaviors of mine that I could not ever seem to resolve, no matter what I did: “try harder” to not do X; yoga, marathon training, traditional counseling/therapy, alternative kinds of counseling (shamanism, depth hypnosis, etc.), journaling, meditating (which was truly difficult for me—monkey mind on steroids), etc. Sure, some of it has helped, no doubt, but I still felt completely overwhelmed much of the time with a low tolerance for frustration, lots of irritability and mood swings, anger outburst, mainly at our dogs (we have ‘fur-kids, no human children.), etc.)  I shared some of that with the doctor, with validation from my partner, and she agreed that there was something definitely going on and that we weren’t in her office “spinning a tale” to get drugs (i.e., the proverbial drug seeker, which, I have learned, some folks are, sadly, which ruins it for the rest of who truly do have some challenges and could really benefit from medication).

My doctor decided to put my on 15mgs 2X/day of Adderall (generic) and then to return to see her in 3 weeks. I responded right away to the medication in a very positive way. I could feel my brain slowing down greatly so that my mind no longer raced with various thoughts.  It felt as though I were enveloped in supportive arms, in a way. I know that may sound weird, but I don’t know how else to describe it.  I could focus for longer periods of time; my anger outbursts pretty much stopped (with one exception), I no longer get stressed out and overwhelmed by what I need to do in a given day and for work. (I teach at a large regional comprehensive university and am teaching 2 summer courses offered in a 6 week format).

Upon my return to the doctor last week, I did tell her that I was responding well to the Adderall but that I could sense when the medication “dropped off” and was no longer working.  I asked her about the Adderall XR, and what she thought about it, and she said that since it is an extended release medication, I should have more success with that. She was convinced that my issues and challenges were ADHD (she also shared that she has it as well and did not fit a typical profile).  I do want to mention that, when I first went to see her with my partner, she had wondered if I had hypomania, because I was talking pretty fast and it look awhile for me to get to the point.  That is and always has been my pattern of speech.  When I finally started talking, as an infant, I never stopped.  I talked too much, so I was told. No wonder I became a professor, right? But despite that, she went ahead and prescribed me the regular Adderall.  I did some research on hypomania, and let’s just say that, no, I do not suffer from it at all.  I have been depressed at times, never diagnosed with depression per se, but I feel that it is likely as a result of my ADHD and negative consequences I have experienced as a result of it.  I also shared with my doctor my results of taking some of those self-tests you can find online.  I took several different ones and definitely scored in the “ADHD” range. Of the 3 main types, I feel I have aspects of the ‘Combined Type.” (excessive talking and racing thoughts and ideas; low activation/motivation for boring tasks, hard time focusing for any length of time on ‘boring’ or unpleasant tasks, lots of procrastination even with things/projects I enjoy, zoning out during conversations (I had an abusive ex-girlfriend tell me on multiple occasions that I had a disassociative disorder or suffered from disassociation. I actually believed her for awhile), low frustration tolerance, anger outbursts, feelings of overwhelm, disorganization especially at home and some work-related things sensory processing issues as well like over-reaction to loud noises, repetitive noises like ticking clocks or creaking in a car, light touch on my body, strong odors, motion (no roller-coasters or ‘Blair Witch’ movies for me!), etc. (I likely have some level of SPD, sensory processing disorder, but I can manage with my symptoms, so I am not going to pursue it in terms of treatment, etc beyond what I can do for myself in terms of self-care)).

Anyway, sorry for the long ramble here. The point is that I think I had a very good experience getting medication and someone to listen to me because (a) my partner went in to the appointment with me and could validate what I was experiencing as ADHD and (b) I have had a good relationship already with my PCP. I have been seeing her for nearly 8 years now, and she’s helped me with some hormone issues and testing, and I got resolution with a lot of that.  I understand that it is difficult when you are going to law school or any post-secondary university to establish a real long term relationship with a doctor. Believe me, I have had some doozies of experiences with numerous doctors in the past, and therapists before finally feeling a good, solid connection to my current doctor. I have to drive over 20 miles to see her, but it is so worth it.  So, given that likely limitation, I recommend that you have a friend or someone close to you who is aware of your challenges and can vouch for you; someone who supports you and believes you and can validate what you are saying.  It may take seeing a few doctors before you visit with the ‘one’ who listens and decides, even if not 100% convinced, to prescribe an ADHD medication and then schedules a follow up within 2-3 weeks to see how it is working.

It is worth bringing in the results of those tests and even other literature that shows that even individuals with a higher than average IQ/intelligence who do well in school and are in law school and “appear” to be functioning well, etc. can and do have ADHD.  I am one of those people, those women.  I was someone who always loved school and could easily hyper-focus on my school work to get it done.  I also grew up in a household where expectations for doing well in school were high. My parents were strict and provided tons of structure for both me and my brother.  My brother and I are also adopted (I do believe that is factor in my ADHD and some of my sensory processing issues, as I lived in an institution run by Catholic nuns for the first 3 months of my life before I was adopted.  Anyway, I digress….) According to my parents, my intelligence level is much higher than average, though interestingly, I don’t recall ever actually taking an IQ test. I’ve always done poorly on standardized tests, and the one that tests for spatial relations, etc., forget it. But I always performed well in school at all levels, taking honors classes in high school, graduating near the top of my class. I had a TON of structure and support (and was quite sheltered from many things), and so, I think that enabled me to have little difficult with my ADHD traits and behaviors. I was not hyperactive either. In fact, I likely erred on the other end of the spectrum, struggling with my weight for at least half of my life and with food—and with my mother regarding what I ate, how much, how I dressed, etc. (sloppy, baggy pants, more masculine than feminine… yeah, she wasn’t thrilled. Another sensory thing I think… I have always hated tight fitting clothes and elastic waistbands, etc., even to this day, I wear clothes, pants mainly, that are a little too big).  Back to the education thing… I also did very very well in college, top honors, etc. But I procrastinated until the 11th hour with all of my papers. I did get them in on time, but had to work hard to do a good job and stayed up all night to get them done. I also started drinking, and heavily at that, in college, likely to self-medicate. Drinking also garnered friends, which I lacked for most of my life until high school.

I went to graduate school as well, earning a PhD in Sociology and also went to law school, completing that as well (joint degree program). I earned a Masters, JD, and PhD in 6 1/2 years (not working really at all, except teaching 1 course a semester in the night school at my university). So… by all accounts, how could I possibly have ADHD and achieve all that?  Oh, and to boot, I landed a tenure-track job at the only school that offered me an interview, and received tenure and the initial promotion on time, and got promoted to the top level (full Prof) on time as well.  So.. hmm, explain all that, with ADHD?? In a nutshell, not without adding in all of the extreme overwhelm, alcoholism I eventually delved down into (I will have 10 years sobriety at the end of this month, God willing), crazy short-term relationships and sexual trists and the like… Yeah, NOT pretty.

I could write a book, and likely should.  My other point, aside from recommending you take someone with you to your appointments who can support you and vouch for you, is to know that ADHD can and does affect ANYONE, regardless of how well or how poorly they do in school or life or whatever.  I don’t “fit the profile” academically nor even with my work life. I have been at the university about 15 years and will retire from there eventually, if all continues to go well, and move forward. (I am only 44 so I have a ways to go yet!). However, that being said, I did take a professional and official leave of absence from my teaching gig and worked at as a research analyst for a now defunct state agency dealing with alcohol and drugs (prevention, regulating and licensing treatment facilities, criminal justice aspects, and a research unit).  It was for 1 or maybe 1 1/2 years (I can’t recall), but I only lasted 6 months. I wanted to quit after 4 months but I stayed the 6 mos so I could collect on my vacation pay that I earned….like any capitalist would, right? I realized that I could not deal with the ‘clock-in/clock-out’ routine when dealing with a micromanaging supervisor who was more interested in critiquing my lunch-time running/gym attire than talking about the (boring) project group I was assigned to.  It was an awful work experience, to be honest, but educational and eye-opening in a lot of ways (as it turned out, the problem was the office manager, not me or the employees in the office. most of us either quit or took demotions to transfer out.).  But I was going in late, calling in sick, getting my pay docked, etc. As a tenured professor, there is a lot of flexibility in terms of our schedule and ability to work from home or wherever, which is great, but trust me, there are pitfalls I struggle with quite often as well.  I am learning a lot.

I encourage you to read as much as you can about ADHD, ADHD and women, etc. (as much as your schedule and life will allow).  Perhaps consider attending a local support group of CHADD ( It is a national organization with local chapters that meet about once a month as a support group for parents of kids with ADHD, adults with ADHD, and partners of adults with ADHD. I have only attended one meeting so far since I have just recently been diagnosed, but I am planning to attend again in August. It is refreshing and so good to hear from others who struggle with the same things—or different—than you do. And you are not judged at all, whether you have a diagnosis or not.  It is at least a place to start.  And don’t give up finding a doctor or mental health person to help you. Set the intention in your mind that you are taking the necessary steps to get what you need to get this support and you will arrive. It may take time, but it will happen. It is happening, since you’ve started seeking answers by posting here grin

Hang in there, and I wish you all the best in your journey in dealing with ADHD and with law school! I’ve done it and come out the other side, and I know you can and are doing it, too. One step and one day at a time. And be gentle with yourself. That one is a challenge for me at times, but I am learning to remind myself of that every day. Oh, and as my partner often reminds me, don’t compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.  In other words, just focus on what is going on with you and don’t compare yourself to what someone else is doing or not doing. I actually got that lesson in my 1st year legal research and writing class.  The class was a doozy worthy of a separate post, but it was probably the best piece of advice I ever got in law school.  I share it with my own students all the time, when I hear them start down that path (mostly my Master’s students at the thesis stage).

Okay, enough rambling from me. Bye for now!

Namaste, Sue

Posted by yogini_sue on Jul 24, 2014 at 6:08pm

I did very well in school. I have a professional career. I can’t remember my telephone code to get my messages, interrupt my coworkers in meetings by blurting out my thoughts while they are speaking. Nobody has seen the surface of my desk in months. I forget assignments. I shift gears in the middle of assignments and take them in different directions.

I am pretty intelligent (per testing, not my opinion necessarily).  That’s why I was able to compensate for the ADD in so many ways so that I look “too successful” to have ADD - but I have it - pretty big time.

My child with ADHD is gifted (superior to highly superior intelligence). The giftedness masks the ADHD when the “average” performance is measured. When you break down the specific elements of my child’s school responsibilities, it becomes very clear that there are significant problems - high average grades in most classes - many A final grades. Many final exams in the high 90s. Looks great. However, the specific assignment grades show dozens of zeros and grades in the 40s, 50s & 60s. Those poor grades are all related to similar brain requirements. A clear pattern.

Point is: you can’t look at the whole picture alone and make a judgement. You have to break down the specific life activities.

Yes, you probably have poor organizational skills. I do. I can’t for the life of me make any system stick because I can never maintain focus long enough to put it in place or make it a habit. My poor organization is a cause of many of my life troubles; but it is also a symptom of my malfunctioning neurotransmitters.

I find my meds help me put into place behavioral changes. I wasn’t diagnosed until my 40s, so I have a lot of bad habits. My meds don’t work magic because I have a lot to undo, but without them, I can’t even identify how bad things are for me, I can’t work out solutions.

You may not have to jump to another doc, but I would ask for a formal evaluation. Maybe a referral from your doc to a neuropsychologist.  My doc referred me to a psychologist for testing because I thought I had a brain tumor or early Alzheimers. I never suspected ADD, but that’s what the testing showed.  My gp wanted to rule out ADD before sending me to have my actual brain examined, I guess.

Posted by Juggler on Jul 24, 2014 at 6:46pm

I too, have problems with procrastination and keeping my desk more organized.  What is your current diet like?  Do you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages (I drink too many in a day, I know).  If so, switch to something more natural to get you going…something that either doesn’t have any caffeine, or perhaps less caffeine.  Herbal green tea (any kind) is a good alternative to soda and coffee.  What about multiple vitamins?  I would recommend taking a supplement that gives you at least 100% of your daily vitamin intake.  Also, a regular exercise routine wouldn’t hurt.  I avoid any medications as I tend to have negative reactions to anything that has the potential for severe side effects.  Your inattentiveness at work may also point to your being incompatible to that specific work.  Write a list of all the things you like and then all the things you DON’T like about the job.  I found this wonderful book that might help you.  It’s called “Follow Your True Colors to the Work You Love.”  Make sure you get a new copy, or a slightly used one that still contains the cards inside.  It may be that you are incompatible to the work because of your personality.  You might be better off in an office where you are allowed to be more of an introvert, and are using your greatest strengths.  ADD/ADHD can make things difficult, but only you can make them impossible.

Posted by carol_klavon on Jul 25, 2014 at 2:27am

I’m sorry if this is posted in the wrong place.  I followed the link to talk about rejection sensitivity dysphoria.  I feel pretty sure I have it, and I’m reading ‘Feeling Good’ to try to help get over it.  In addition, a therapist has prescribed guanfacine.  I am 71 years old and have been fighting this for my whole life.  I was really hoping to get help by the guanfacine.  Can’t be sure if it helps the rejection sensitivity, but it is causing a very low blood pressure and a weak feeling.  Has anyone else taken this?  It is generic, but I don’t know if it is timed release or not.  It only costs $10, so I bet it isn’t time release.  But I have been reluctant to break it in half without being sure it’s OK. I’ll as my pharmacist,  but thought I’d ask here.  I’d really like to hear from someone who has this problem with rejection and also from anyone who has used guanfacine, especially as an adult.  I won’t accomplish much if it doesn’t improve.

Posted by minniespearl on Jul 25, 2014 at 5:15pm

Hi Tom!

There is a wealth of information on succeeding at work with ADHD over on Here are a few articles with some of my favorite strategies and advice:

Implement some new strategies consistently, but also give yourself time to acclimate and find your stride.

Good luck!
ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Jul 28, 2014 at 2:35pm


I can totally relate.  I’m a young lawyer.  Have been practicing for a little over 3 years but have been working in some way in the profession for over 12 years.  You sound like you have an amazingly high IQ which could be confirmed by a psychologist.  Interestingly, I did a lot of what you stated about cramming at the very end for exams the 1st time I did my 1L year.  Unfortunately, I did not get a decent GPA so I left law school and tried it again a few years later…much more successfully this time around.  grin

Because I was able to figure out a combination of medicine and strategy the 2nd time around, things were much easier.  However, I am approaching they same “crashed out” feeling that I had the 1st time around at my job these days.  I used to think it was just boredom but I do really attribute it to my ADHD.  There are days when I can be amazingly productive and “totally in the zone” and others where it takes me hours to get something seemingly quite simple accomplished. 

If you are going to enter the legal profession, you need to play to your strengths and weaknesses.  I’ve become very close friends with one of my fellow associates who keeps me on task.  She makes sure that I do my billing and get my work done.  Same goes for the assistant in my department.  I don’t know how I would survive these days without them because my volume of work has quadrupled.  Putting these kinds of things in to place will help you. 

Best of luck!

Posted by conchita83 on Jul 28, 2014 at 4:20pm

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