ADD and life with constant medication.

I’ve mentioned before that I am an adult who has the condition commonly referred to as ADD and that I’m currently taking medication to off-set the effects of that condition. The problem with relying on medication for something like this is that you have to take it every day for the rest of your life if you want to continue to receive the benefits from it. Being a difference in how the brain is hardwired makes ADD something that can’t be “cured” even if I wanted to, which I don’t because it brings with it as many advantages as it does disadvantages.

Still, it can be tricky at times to recognize just how the medication is helping me to focus my attention and get through the day. That is until I run out, like I have recently. I’ve been off my prescription for the past week due to the fact that the counselor I see having moved from one clinic to another. As a counselor he’s unable to prescribe the medication so I have to see the new clinic’s psychiatrist before my prescription can be renewed and that hasn’t happened yet. As a result I’ve run out.

I managed to survive 30 years without being aware of my ADD, let alone having any medication to help me deal with it, so I didn’t think missing a few days would be that big of a deal. The fact that it can be difficult to tell when the meds are working doesn’t help. Even with medication ADD still affects my life because the meds only help to reduce my distractability, it doesn’t eliminate it. There are bad days when my ADD comes shining through despite being on medication for it and on those days I find it difficult to accomplish anything. Without the meds my distractability has returned to where it was before and I’m coming home from work mentally exhausted. You can see the change right here in my blog as well. The number of entries for the past few days has been unusually light in part because I can’t keep my attention focused long enough to formulate what I consider to be a decent entry. I haven’t paid as much attention to the news either so some of the stuff I’d normally be ranting about has escaped my attention. I’ve been gaming quite a bit more lately and even that is having a hard time holding my attention and I’ve been feeling restless and creatively frustrated. There’s at least three web designs I’ve been working on that aren’t going anywhere at the moment because I can’t get my ideas out of my head and into the computer.

It’s amazing how much one little pill a day can make a difference in your life. I’m not fond of the idea of having to take this pill every day just so I can focus my attention a little better. It’s too much like relying on a crutch when I should be able to just do what needs to be done, but after the past few days I can’t deny that it is a big help. My caffeine intake has gone up considerably as a form of compensation. Many people with ADD are caffeine junkies as form of unaware self-medication. I can’t wait to get my prescription refilled.

Even as I sit here typing this I’m going over it in my head and trying to decide if it makes any sense or is even worth posting. I’m not entirely sure what my point was supposed to be outside of “having ADD can suck” or something along those lines. I suppose I felt the need to explain my lack of updates as of late. Or maybe I just wanted to show folks how ADD can affect your life. Or maybe I’m just being whiny. I’m not sure.

20 thoughts on “ADD and life with constant medication.

  1. I some times think I’m suffering from ADD as well. What happens with me is I focus on one thing to the exclusion of everything else. This leads to problems at times, of course, but I learned a long time back to focus that liability; I was able to become a successful programmer because of it.

    (This also explains how a blog on gaming became a political blog when I wasn’t paying attention…)

    But man, it sucks to be in the throes of it.

  2. That’s called “hyper-focusing” and it is a common trait among people with ADD. The old joke among psychologists is: “There is no ADD in front of a good video game.” And I’m living proof of that. I can hyper-focus on a video game to the extent that the house can be on fire and I wouldn’t notice.

  3. Ahh, right, hyper-focusing. I used to know some of the terminology. No one believed me for a long time when I told them about it, but at least Kim believes me now, having lived through it.

  4. I suffered from ADD for 35 years and I suffer no more thanks to research into brainwave research.  I am a therapist who works in the areas of stress reduction, post traumatic stress disorder, and ADD/ADHD.  The problem with those with ADD is twofold.  One, an inability to utilize glucose in the brain and two, a constant state of Alpha (or slower) brainwave activity.  By entraining the brain to a 14hz or greater stimulis (both visually and audibly) the brain moves into the new pattern much as two women move into the same “cycle” after spending time together.  The effects have been studied and verified but medicine is slow to embrace a practice which has a potential to cure, rather than medicate.  The satisfaction I feel from seeing a child on Adderol, Welbutrin or Ritalin freeing themselves from that medication is indescribable.  Unlike the Scientology quackos which deny ADD altogether and offer no explanation or tharapy, brainwave entrainment offers a cure for some (I have NEVER had to medicate) and a respite for others.  I use a David Paradise XL for my sessions but a computer based system is available which is user configurable.  go to to download a trial version.  Make sure you enable the full window flashing option as just sound alone will not do the trick.  The computer based program is about $40…much cheaper than meds.  The best think is, You get to keep all of the benefits of ADD without the negatives.  Impulsivity has virtually vanished from my life (my worse component of ADD) as has procrastination and forgetfulness.  I am able to start multiple projects at once and retain hyperfocus in all of them.  Les, feel free to call me if you want.  My number is on both of my websites.

  5. I have been considering getting help with my self-diagnosed ADD.  and reading everything here has been VERY helpful.  Much more helpful then taking a short questionaire online!  thanks.

  6. I’m glad you found this helpful, BabyShark, but keep in mind that you should probably seek out a professional to aid in diagnosing if you really have ADD.

  7. I’ve recently stopped seeing a psychiatrist after only 2 sessions.  He wasn’t the first psychiatrist I’ve seen and I fear that I have the same problems you do.  I’m currently in high school right now and I find that I have terrible difficulty completing my work or doing anything for that matter.  Would it be too much to ask where you seeked counsel?  I feel awkward speaking with psychiatrists and they tend to go offtopic.  I original sought one out to deal with this problem, but he feels that I am depressed and have other issues.  When I’m speaking with him, I believe he doesn’t try to focus on this problem.

    Any information would be great, thank you.

  8. Have you considered the possibility that perhaps your issues aren’t ADD related, but might be depression related? One of the things a good psychiatrist or counselor will do is screen you for other possible issues before settling on ADD, though it is possible to have both ADD and depression as the former can be a catalyst for the latter.

    I have a local counselor by the name of Bruce Binstock who is ADD himself which is helpful because he fully understands what it’s like to have ADD. A good online resource for information on ADD is ADDitude Magazine. In particular you may want to look at the section on ADD Coaches.

  9. Good instinct, Eric.  If you sense that a psychiatrist isn’t helping you, keep looking and guard your autonomy.  Watch out for anyone who says they have THE solution to ADD.

    The psychiatrist may be right – you might be depressed because of all the shit you have had to put up with from living with ADD in the society of the congenitally boring.  But it doesn’t make sense to focus on the depression when it is caused by something.  Focus on the cause, doc!

    ADD really comes in several flavors, including or not including hyperactivity, with or without cingulate locking function (related to OCD) and various other sprinkles and syrups.  This is why a given medication will work great on one person, have little effect on another, and actually be harmful on a third person.  It is the reason why you can find anecdotes both for and against every therapy or medication.

    The problem is that many therapists feel they know what is best for “people with ADD.”  But you are not a “people with ADD” you have a specific makeup that results in the symptoms that are bothering you. 

    I have found a lot of help in the writings of Thom Hartman, who reframes ADD in anthropological terms.  A friend of mine had a SPECT scan with Dr. Daniel Amen, which identified specific areas of his brain function.  Amen (who often prescribes medication) didn’t prescribe any meds, but did give him some strategies for improving concentration in the situations that bothered him.

    Often the counsellor/psychiatrist/doctor has only a cursory knowledge of ADD.  Find out everything you can from as many sources as you can so you’ll be in control!  Best of luck.

  10. I would actually caution against going into a session convinced you already know the diagnosis. That keeps you from considering other, possibly more valid possibilities.  (Gee, sounds a lot like other topics on this site, doesn’t it? wink)

    It’s very true that one of the symptoms of clinical depression is an inability to concentrate (along with memory problems).  By all means, find someone who has proven experience with ADD, and make sure you can really talk to him/her—but then be open to whatever they suggest.


  11. I would actually caution against going into a session convinced you already know the diagnosis. That keeps you from considering other, possibly more valid possibilities.

    I’m not recommending personal research for self-diagnosis but because a troubling number of doctors really don’t know a lot about ADD, and many more feel there is a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Combined with an “I know what is best for you” attitude, such doctors can cause a lot of pain.  It’s extremely important for the “patient” to keep his or her autonomy. 

    Broad personal research will enable you to credibly say, “Hmm, that doesn’t sound right to me.”  At the risk of offending any psychiatrists reading this, psychiatry is an industry badly in need of some humility.

    There’s no single test for ADD – Amen’s SPECT scans cost a couple thousand, the battery of personality and concentration tests I went through were comparably expensive.  But fortunately most standard non-medication cognitive therapies for ADD are beneficial for almost anyone. 

    Now after 13 years I have come to see ADD not so much as a “disorder” as a difference.  But in a conformist environment those are nearly synonymous.

  12. Les posted while I was composing my whiny tirade about psychiatrists but I would definitely second his suggestion to visit the ADDitude site. 

    He and GM are both right that lots of things can be misdiagnosed as ADD because anything from depression to chronic pain can interfere with concentration.

    I was treated for depression twice before I was diagnosed ADD.  When I was finally treated for ADD, the depression went away on its own.  But that is what worked for me – you should not regard it as normative for you.

  13. I agree that with any relatively “newly” discovered (or defined) syndrome, there will be a lot of professionals who aren’t up to speed on it yet.  But on the other hand, when there’s a brand-new hammer out there, there’s also a disquietingly large number of nails that suddenly show up.  Is it just that all those people were waiting for the right diagnosis?  Or is it possible that some of them are taking it like a horoscope—trimming it to fit their lives because they didn’t like the previous forecast?

    I have no doubt that there are plenty of people with real AD(H)D that are finally getting the right treatment.  But I see so danged much in the popular press about it these days that it half seems like the country is going overboard on it like a trend, the way we do with so many other things.  I certainly would ask for a second and third opinion if my child were diagnosed with ADD, especially before considering any medication.

  14. Right on.  ADD isn’t new, but it used to be called “Minimal Brain Disfunction” which must not have been very reassuring to parents either.  Some time before that it was cause for exorcism.  Someone told me Euro-shrinks just call it a personality type and won’t medicate for ADD alone.

    Sometime in the future it will probably be called something else.  Fine with me.  I don’t feel disordered – I think society is disordered.  Most people I meet seem to be moving in slow motion to me.  I want to give them stimulants.

  15. All three professionals I spoke to told me that it wasn’t easy to diagnose ADD.  What frustrates me most is that I have received no help.  It’s not like I’m really pushing for the drugs, but they didn’t really tell me what to do.  I’m tired of talking about my life as it’s not that interesting and I swear I do the same thing everyday.  I’m tired of talking, I want action and it looks like it’ll be a while before I can see a psychiatrist.  My mother is tired of looking for them and I don’t think she’s going to try.

  16. They’re right, Eric, it is hard to diagnose – I believe because the diagnostic criteria are still not fully developed, and because so many other things can look like ADD.  Also Dr. Amen identifies 6 types of ADD and each of those occurs in varying degrees of severity and with other problems.

    I understand your mother’s fatigue with the problem.  You’re both pretty frustrated.

    But please try not to get discouraged.  You are right to want action.  You do not have to wait for a psychiatrist or anyone else to get started. 

    What are some constructive things you can start doing right now? 
    1) Learn as much as you can from a variety of sources – your search will go faster.  Start with that ADDitude website and work out from there.
    2) Clean up your sleep habits to the extent you can.  Get out of bed at the same time every day no matter when you went to sleep.  Irregular sleep cycles make all 6 types of ADD worse. 
    3) Get aerobic exercise every day, which is known to relieve stress, combat depression and to help concentration. 
    4) Clean up your diet.  No junk food, avoid sugar, no fad diets – eat as healthy as you can. 
    5) Fix what you can and keep fixing, even if it’s just throw out one piece of clutter each day before you go to school. 
    6) Realize that others project their issues onto you!  Society is pretty intolerant of differences so you’ve probably internalized some of their BS.  But they didn’t know, you didn’t know, and now we know, you know?

    Get help when you can but never stop helping yourself.  All the best, Eric.

    Captcha: idea

  17. DOF speaks sooth.  All of those suggestions are excellent, no matter what ails you.  (And what’s best of all, none of them can possibly hurt you even if your diagnosis ends up being something completely different.)

    Eric, another thing you can try on your own is to call a crisis hotline in your area.  They can give you quick referrals to psychiatrists to save you and your mom some grief.  Depending on the kind of help you need, they can also match you up with professionals who work on a sliding scale.

    But I can sure empathize with your wanting to STOP TALKING and START DOING SOMETHING.  Hang in there.  I hope you can get some good help soon.


  18. Interesting, I have many of the symptoms that have been described here but I have never considered it could be a medical or any other kind of problem. I always figured it to be a personality quirk; you know something that makes you an individual.

    I kind of gawked at this post. How visually unpleasant, roomates sharing aunt flow, plastic dispensers and absorptive pads…(shudder)

    I suffered from ADD for 35 years and I suffer no more thanks to research into brainwave research.  I am a therapist who works in the areas of stress reduction, post traumatic stress disorder, and ADD/ADHD.  The problem with those with ADD is twofold.  One, an inability to utilize glucose in the brain and two, a constant state of Alpha (or slower) brainwave activity.  By entraining the brain to a 14hz or greater stimulis (both visually and audibly) the brain moves into the new pattern much as two women move into the same “cycle

  19. Try EEG Neurofeedback, where they train your brain to perform at certain frequencies through simple “games”
    I have ADD and though neurofeedback is expensive (a few Gs) it is working for me and in the long run it is cheaper than medicine

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