Why I’m Choosing to Treat My ADHD with Medication

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

This week I’ll be going to visit my psychiatrist with the intent of choosing a medication to treat my ADHD. I know that medication for ADHD is a controversial subject, perhaps even more so where children are involved. So I feel that it’s important to share why I am making this choice for myself, though I recognize it may not be the right choice for everyone.

What I’ve been learning

Since my therapist first brought up ADHD to me, life has been a blur. I immediately poured incredible amounts of time and effort into learning all I could about ADHD. I joined the ADHD Twitter community, started an ADHD support group on Discord, and started this blog. I’ve read three books on ADHD, I’ve watched webinars, read blogs, and done several self-assessments. I’ve called and talked to most of my family members and I have filled page after page in my journal, trying to wrap my head around what it means to have ADHD as an adult and to try to determine the scope of its impact on my life.

Since then I have also learned an entirely new vocabulary. Words like neurodiverse, neurotypical, hyperfocus, time blindness, and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria are now all part of my vocabulary, when a short time ago I hadn’t even heard any of them before. Interestingly enough, when my therapist brought up ADHD I was looking for a new hyperfocus. I wonder if you can tell what my new one is?

In my journal I have recorded everything from my initial reactions to discovering I have ADHD to listing all the “signs of ADHD” that I immediately recognized as I looked back. I have a page full of former fixations and others containing descriptions of my struggles at work and at home which I attribute to having lived so long with undiagnosed ADHD.

It’s not a decision I take lightly

I share all of this to say, though it has only been a short time that I have been aware of my own ADHD, the decision to seek medication is not one that I have chosen lightly. It has come through a great deal of personal study as well as working with my therapist and psychiatrist.

A common thread among resources that I’ve read is that the most effective treatments of ADHD include a balance of therapy and medication. I have been able to make a good deal of progress with therapy. I have begun to understand ADHD and its many impacts on my life. I have been able to add many healthy coping mechanisms to my life and break down many mental barriers, all thanks to therapy.

But it is not enough. I still struggle in so many ways day to day at both work and home. Having talked at length with both my therapist and my psychiatrist about these continued struggles, we are all on the same page in deciding to turn to medication as an additional resource to treat my ADHD.

I know that medication isn’t magical. There will still be plenty of work that is required. I understand that for roughly 20% of ADHDers, medication is ineffective. And I know that it can easily take months of work to find the right medication and dosage to effectively treat ADHD.

But I want more. And I owe it to myself and to my family to seek the treatment that I can right now. Those who have been reading along know the struggles that led me to therapy and my hope is that continued therapy with the addition of appropriate medication will help continue my upward trajectory.

Stay tuned…

I will of course use this blog as a means to continue sharing my journey and my struggles. Every day I encounter folks who either just discovered that they have ADHD or who are beginning to wonder if they do. And they need a place to go where they can be understood. Where they can connect with others who are kind and welcoming and who share their stories for the benefit of those who come after.

So whether you support the use of medication to treat ADHD or not, I invite you to follow along this journey of mine and I will share my experience with you. If you disagree with my decision, please be glad that you have every right to your opinion and you may use it to inform decisions regarding your own life.

As for mine, I will do what’s best for me. For now, seeking medication is the course I intend to take. For whatever reason you follow, I hope that hearing my journey will be of some benefit to you as you find yourself making your way on your own ADHD journey.

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ADHD Voices: Kenny

Photo courtesy of Kenny Vasquez

I was diagnosed with ADHD in April 2018 at 36 years of age, but I always knew that I had ADHD. When I was four my mom asked the pediatrician to prescribe something that would calm me down. His answer was, “Ma’am, do you really want your kid to be a drugged-up dummy?” People would comment on how fidgety I was or that I was an excellent “multi-tasker”, and I would say that it was because I had ADHD. In fact, I would often tell people that I wasn’t going to bother getting diagnosed because it didn’t affect my life. Ah, the bliss of being young, dumb, and growing up in the 80’s.

Life between birth and 22 was full of ignorance and bliss. Aside from constantly getting in trouble for daydreaming and talking, life was easy and carefree. At 23 I got married and realized that having someone depend on you really puts a spotlight on how bad your ADHD is. Getting to places late, not paying bills on time, mounting to-do items at home, etc. Not to mention that ADHD also impacts my emotions and temper. This was the beginning of 15 years of fights, most of which occurred because we were battling my ADHD without knowing it. 

The day my first son was born was one of the happiest of my life, but I quickly became overwhelmed. Since my ADHD brain easily becomes bored and is always looking for something new, I accepted a job overseeing distribution in Central and South America, which began a period of traveling for work every two weeks. I also accepted heavy religious responsibilities within my local congregation. I didn’t know how to say no. I tried my best, struggling to be a good father, but really felt my failures as a husband.

At 29, I just couldn’t deal with my life as it was. I quit my job to find something that required no travel and I dropped all religious responsibilities. This allowed me to focus more on my family, but I still faced a couple of major problems. I was still living with undiagnosed ADHD, remaining the same unreliable person my wife had been tolerating since we got married. On top of that, this was the first time that I felt like I had truly failed. I didn’t realize it (or I was in denial) at the time, but I was suffering from secondary depression and anxiety as a result of ADHD. These would persist for the next nine years and would affect my family life, stunt my professional growth, and worst of all, cause me to strongly consider taking my own life. I came dangerously close to attempting it on more than one occasion. 

In October of 2014, we were blessed with our second little boy. Then in February of 2016 I was recruited by a financial services firm with the prospect of being a sweat equity partner and I accepted. This was one of the most emotionally and financially draining, difficult and disappointing experiences of my life. Not only did I not make the kind of money I was expecting, but it also caused the largest issues my marriage had ever seen.

However, it was also the catalyst that helped me turn everything around.

See, I had forgotten just how talented and smart I could be. ADHD made me think I was a failure because I started and dropped so many projects. In the words of so many teachers and employers, I was not working to my potential. Although that particular opportunity did not work out in the end, I excelled at my position and started feeling like I could be capable of great things. I had not felt like that in a long time. 

Finally, in April of 2018, at 36 years of age, I realized that perhaps my ADHD was affecting me a little more than I thought. I was diagnosed, started on medication, and things started to get better. Medication made a huge difference in my life. The first drug prescribed was a stimulant, which allowed me to focus and concentrate like never before. But I realized that it was only a band-aid, addressing some of the mental aspects of ADHD but not resolving the underlying issues it had caused.  

In August of 2019 everything changed. I was accepted into a clinical trial for a very promising non-stimulant ADHD drug. It allowed me to think clearly for the first time in my life. I started to give serious thought to major events that had happened in my life and the results were painful. My wife begged me to see a therapist. I resisted fiercely but eventually relented and went. I am so grateful to my wife because therapy has truly changed my life. I have begun the immense task of purging 36 years of pent-up feelings and frustrations, and although at times this is painful, I have never felt better.

Today, even on medication, I still have days where I am wholly unmotivated. I struggle with my emotions and self-confidence and it feels like I am trudging through mud. But at least now I know why and I know how to fight those feelings. I have the tools, the support, and the motivation. 

I have 36 years to make up for and I am just getting started. 

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Kenny can be found as @TheADHDExec on Twitter and YouTube

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ADHD Voices is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of folks like you and me who have ADHD. Posts in the series are written by guest authors, sharing windows into their lives and struggles, written by them, for you and me. If you’d like to share your story, please contact me on social media or through my email, ADHDsurprise @ gmail.com

Improve Your Self-Care With the #10for20Challenge

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

The #10for20Challenge is all about self-care. The concept was initially shared by Dani Donovan three years ago, when she proposed it as an alternative to New Year’s resolutions. When I discovered the challenge on Twitter last month, I was immediately interested because I absolutely hate New Year’s Resolutions. Let me explain.

Whoever decided to say that the first of the year is the ‘perfect time to set new goals’ has obviously never been inside my ADHD brain. Sure. I went through the motions of setting New Year’s resolutions for many years, because it’s practically an expectation. But that also meant for me that every year I was expected by what…society? to come up with a list of goals to improve myself.

So for several years, yes I made the damn list and for each and every one of those years I did little to nothing to work towards the goals on the list. But it certainly was fun to tote it around for a month and tell everyone all the great things I was planning on doing.

Of course then came the feelings of embarrassment, anxiety, and shame around having not measured up yet again. But that is part of the problem. New Year’s resolutions feel like something that is forced on me from the outside. And that’s a great recipe for this ADHDer to say “screw it” and move along with my life.

The #10for20Challenge is different

10 for 20 is about you. It’s about taking back some of your time each day—20 minutes—in order to focus on something that already makes you happy or something that you want to do more of. Start by making a list of ten things that fit that description, and then pick any one of them to do each day. It’s as simple as that.

My 10 for 20 Challenge list looks like this:

1. Talk with someone about something that matters
2. Write
3. Move my body
4. Listen to music
5. Organize something
6. Help solve a problem
7. Play a video game
8. Sing
9. Play with my kids
10. Learn about something new

When I look at that list, I don’t get worried about not measuring up, I get excited by seeing things I love and things that make me feel better after I’ve done them. It looks like a list of friends waiting to greet me at the end of a long day, as well as a few acquaintances who make me feel better the more I get to know them.

How the challenge improves your self-care

Where it really shines is when taken in the context of the following illustration I found on Twitter. It shows how all too often we try using just one thing for all of our self-care. And when that one thing gets stale we are left without, and end up just providing more fuel for anxiety and depression.

The strength of the #10for20Challenge is in its flexibility. Its a menu of “can-do” items rather than “to-do” or “must-do” items. And when you are able to make this time for yourself, odds are good that with a list of ten you’ll have something to do that’s also available at the time you want to do it..

As someone who has struggled with self-care for most of my adult life, I implore you to explore this idea. Try it out. Make a list. Post it where you can see it or have easy access to it. And then set aside 20 minutes a day to do something on that list. For you.

And screw the fact that it’s already February—these aren’t your mom and dad’s New Year’s resolutions. There is nothing that says it’s too early or too late to start anything. With ADHD you’ve got to strike when the iron is hot, not when some arbitrary date rolls around. So get started now and enjoy the positive change that comes to your life.

Have you tried the 10 for 20 Challenge? Are you going to try it now? Feel free to reach out and share your experiences with it by commenting below or sharing on social media using the hashtag:

#10for20Challenge

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