ADHD Voices: Delaid

Photo courtesy of Delaid

Hi my name is Delaid and I am 45 years old and amongst many other things diagnosed throughout my lifetime the most recent was a diagnosis of ADHD in September of 2019. The diagnosis of ADHD in my case is quite interesting from an objective perspective and I thought it might be of interest to other people who are late in life receiving an ADHD diagnosis.

Let me go back a few years to when I was 13 years old when I was diagnosed and treated for narcolepsy with dexamphetamine (Adderall in the USA). In July 2018 this stimulant therapy was ceased due to complications with other health conditions which appeared around that time. Absolutely nothing prepared me for what was about to occur when the stimulant therapy ceased. 

The first thing I noticed were tasks that I previously could tackle on my own and competently were falling to the wayside, to the point that I found myself in bed with Netflix on yet not watching anything just inside my head panicking about what the hell I was supposed to do and what was happening. 

I was not able to articulate to my psychiatrist or my medical team what was occurring because I had never experienced anything like this. All I could communicate was that in the last six to nine months I felt my depression was becoming so bad that I was unable to do even the most basic tasks. 

From July 2018 though to June 2019 I had multiple admissions for severe depression to a mental health unit. Each time I would describe simply that my depression was getting worse. Finally in June 2019 my husband advocated for me confirming that there was just not usual depression. 

Let me give you some examples of what was presented to my doctor:

● In the space of about six to nine months piles of paper that contained bills, important documents such as birth certificates mixed up with all sorts of other documents appeared 
● Baskets of unfolded laundry 
● Family members asking me for items and I had no idea where they were 
● Constantly running out of food in the house as I would forget to do the shopping 
● My home had become chaos and despite support from family members it would return to chaos
● I was being charged fees for missing medical appointments
● Some of my medical team discharged me as I was not turning up and therefore losing out on much needed support 
● I was constantly re-purchasing items because it was easier than the anxiety of searching for them 
● Hours spent in bed distraught as to how to fix this despite being surrounded with to-do lists 
● Yet I could plan a perfect snowboarding holiday & this seeming paradox really confused me and added to my deepening depression. 
● I would get deeply focused on an activity and easily angered if interrupted. 
● I couldn’t explain where hours of time had gone and got very distraught if asked about it 

It was noted that although there were elements of these aspects before my medication was discontinued, this was a huge change in my life that was noticeable by my husband. 

Discovering ADHD

During my June 2019 Admission my psychiatrist performed what I describe as a “reverse diagnosis”. I was prescribed Modafinil and monitored for 6 months and provided information on ADHD, Executive Dysfunction, Hyperfocus and Hyperactivity. 

Whilst Modafinil is not as effective for me as dexamphetamine, it has fewer side effects and has made a huge difference to my life. It treats both ADHD and narcolepsy. Immediately I was able to manage my day to day appointment schedule, which was a huge win for me. This meant no more missed appointment fees and I could rebuild my support network, including a peer ADHD life coach who has been awesome. 

I was no longer confused why I could organise some activities and not others, which lifted my mood. I joined an ADHD Discord group, and rather than sit in bed in angst I surrounded myself with support and ideas and I am slowly overcoming the challenges that medication doesn’t resolve.

I gained more confidence in asking family members (all adults) to take responsibility for their own important belongings. I accepted that sometimes it is just easier to order a new certificate if needed than to put myself through the stress of finding it, and then I put the new certificate in its new home. I have learned the art of throwing stuff out, ruthlessly. 

Yes my house is still Chaos. There are still baskets of laundry to be put away. There is still decluttering to be done. Each day I do at least one small thing to make my home a cleaner, more organised space. Yes some days it still gets me down, however I find the use of photographs really helps me see the progress. 

In September 2019 I was formally diagnosed with ADHD with my psychiatrist adding that I place the “H” in ADHD. 😀 

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If you’d like to connect with Delaid,
she can be found as @TheRealDelaid on Twitter

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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

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Book Review: Delivered From Distraction

I read Dr. Ned Hallowell’s “Delivered From Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder,” the 2017 revision of his 2005 book. This is a follow-up to his earlier book, “Driven to Distraction.” Full disclosure, I actually listened to the unabridged audiobook. It’s read beautifully by Dan Cashman. This was the first book that I read after finding out about my own ADHD.

What stands out about this book?

Dr. Hallowell is open about the fact that he has ADHD. Writing as one of us adds a level of depth to his understanding that many experts are lacking. He wrote this book with the ADHDer in mind, knowing that many of us struggle to finish reading books, even when we start with the best of intentions. So he wrote the first chapter as a bit of a catch-all. Its subtitle is to the point: “Read this if you can’t read the whole book.”

The book is perhaps the perfect introductory material for those new to ADHD, either undiagnosed or recently diagnosed. While recognizing the many struggles brought on by ADHD, the tone throughout the book is overwhelmingly positive. Hallowell absolutely believes that ADHD is a strength, and helps frame it that way as he presents it to you. I really appreciated the following tips that he gave in one of the early chapters.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective ADD Adults:

  1. Do what you’re good at. Don’t spend too much time trying to get good at what you’re bad at (You did enough of that in school).
  2. Delegate what you’re bad at to others, as often as possible.
  3. Connect your energy to a creative outlet.
  4. Get well enough organized to achieve your goals. The key here is “well enough.” That doesn’t mean you have to be very well organized at all—just well enough organized to achieve your goals.
  5. Ask for and heed advice from people you trust—and ignore, as best you can, the dream-breakers and finger-waggers.
  6. Make sure you keep up regular contact with a few close friends.
  7. Go with your positive side. Even though you have a negative side, make decisions and run your life with your positive side.

What makes this book useful?

The strength of this book is its ability to reach the ADHD novice and give her or him the tools needed to get on a path toward understanding and potential diagnosis. In the book, Dr. Hallowell includes a guide for using the ASRS (Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale).

The beginning questions on the ASRS are these, with each being given a response on a continuum including Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often, and Very often:

  1. How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project, once the challenging parts have been done?
  2. How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?
  3. How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?
  4. When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?
  5. How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands and feet when you have to sit down for a long time?
  6. How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, as if you were driven by a motor?

Dr. Hallowell then gives his own self-assessment quiz, which is more descriptive and not diagnostic, but which I found very helpful. As I was questioning whether I had ADHD. the list really solidified in my mind that I wasn’t simply making all this up.

Beyond the basics of ADHD, Hallowell has provided a wealth of information regarding ADHD in this book. There are real-life examples of folks who he has diagnosed through his practice. These stories further serve to bring to life the impacts of ADHD as well as illustrating many potential solutions to make ADHD a positive force in your life.

Topics covered in other sections of the book include: conditions that coexist with ADHD, distinguishing bipolar disorder from ADHD, dyslexia, the role of genetics in ADHD, addictions, treatments, nutrition, supplements, and physical exercise recommendations, getting rid of piles, choosing the right partner, etc.

What didn’t work for me

Honestly there was nothing in this reading that didn’t work for me. I have heard from some people who feel that it’s too simple and would prefer a deeper dive into many of the topics presented, but they agree with my assessment that it’s an excellent introductory book to the ADHD world. Even knowing as much as I do now, I would absolutely consider it my go-to resource for ADHD.

Final verdict

This book is a must-read for the ADHDer or those trying to understand the ADHDer in their life. Dr. Hallowell sees ADHD as a gift, which I know shed some very positive light in my own life as I was struggling to come to terms with knowing I had ADHD. This book answered so many questions I had about ADHD, and explained so plainly the various impacts ADHD can have on your life. But it also comes with a strong message of hope, that properly treated, ADHD can be a great asset to your life.

If you only read one book on ADHD, make it this one. You won’t regret it.

🧠🧠🧠🧠 🧠 5/5 Brains – Excellent Read

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If you are interested in purchasing Delivered From Distraction, you can do so here on Amazon. And for further reading on Dr. Amen’s approach, you can visit his website at DrHallowell.com.

I am not paid or sponsored in any way through this post or the links I share. They are provided solely for the benefit of my readers.

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Signs of ADHD From Before I Was 12

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At some point in your ADHD journey, you’ll need to consider the subject of this post. It’s an important topic, and one your doctor or psychiatrist will likely ask you about if you’re seeking an ADHD diagnosis as an adult.

Why is this so?

ADHD doesn’t come out of nowhere. Yes, the symptoms can be masked and/or may not have a significant impact early in life. Especially those ADHDers with the inattentive sub-type like me can often go undiagnosed until we hit “the wall.” This could happen in middle or high school, college, or that first high-expectations job. But that wall will eventually present itself and you’ll realize something is wrong.

For me the wall came in college, when I nearly flunked out my first semester. That’s an easy enough thing to point to and looking back, the struggles I had were clearly due to undiagnosed ADHD. But as I mentioned, ADHD doesn’t just suddenly appear late in life. So as you examine your life before age 12, you should be able to identify symptoms of ADHD, even if they didn’t necessarily impede you from obtaining early success in school.

Possible indicators of ADHD from before I was 12

  • I was terrible at keeping up with homework
  • I was a heavy procrastinator
  • I would struggle with large projects, being indecisive about how exactly I wanted them to be done; initially wanting perfection, but often settling for whatever I half-assed at the last minute
  • I was drawn to screens. Typically video games or cartoons. Saturday mornings I would get up by myself (even though I had three siblings) and I would watch cartoons starting at 6:30am until about 11am (when programming switched to daytime TV). When I realized there was a cartoon at 6, I got up earlier. And then 5:30am. I had to get as much as I could.
  • I was prone to addictive behaviors with my fixations, which at various ages included Dinosaurs (ages 3-5), school, reading, video games (original Nintendo!), Cub Scouts, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cartoons, Legos, baseball – both playing and collecting cards, and food – especially sweets.
  • Low impulse control overcame personal values. I would often lie in order to cover up school problems and I frequently stole items related to my fixations.
  • My room was typically a messy disaster
  • I struggled regulating emotions, and when I got angry I would slam my bedroom door and throw my belongings around my room
  • I was asked by peers about my showering habits (in 3rd and even 7th grade)
  • I had private violin lessons for years but only practiced independently a handful of times
  • I had very few friends
  • When given the opportunity I would play video games for hours. One day in the summer I played the original Legend of Zelda from breakfast until dinner, not realizing that I’d developed a painful blister on my thumb from doing it.
  • I was very sensitive to social rejection and would often cry because of it
  • I preferred my fixations to my peers, at times even reading on the playground rather than engaging with others

When you look at that list it can seem like a lot of negative. There were a lot of great things about my childhood – they’re just not the focus of this post. When I went looking for ADHD in my early life, that’s what I found. In an earlier post, I discussed why I didn’t get diagnosed when I was younger. That one covers the other side of things – the behaviors that helped cover up these symptoms.

In fact, when I first shared my ADHD with my dad and a couple of my siblings they were surprised to hear about it. Because as extensive as this list seems, and as much impact as ADHD actually had on me, it was covered up by early success in school and a lot of little lies at home.

So is everything on that list exclusive to ADHD? No. You can lie, steal, throw tantrums and love cartoons and video games and not have ADHD. But when all of this evidence is taken in the context of my life since then, as well as the continued struggles that emerged from these early indicators, it’s clear that they fit the pattern of ADHD and help to complete the puzzle that is my life.

Examining your childhood for ADHD

As you consider your life before you were 12 looking for signs of ADHD, some helpful questions might be these:

  • Did you have any fixations that lasted for months or years, where that was all you wanted to do or learn about or talk about?
  • Did you struggle with organization and planning at home and/or school?
  • Did you have low impulse control, possibly giving in to lying or sneaking and stealing to get what you wanted right away?
  • Did your bedroom look like a tornado went through it, even if you cleaned it earlier in the day?
  • Did you struggle with regulating emotions – where you were often overcome by anger, sadness, or even happiness to where you weren’t in control?
  • Did you have trouble keeping up with mundane tasks like homework, chores, and self-care?
  • Did you feel socially isolated?

Though this list is neither diagnostic nor exhaustive, I found some of these questions helpful in guiding me through the process. I hope they will also help you as you work to connect the dots between being an adult with ADHD and discovering the child you were with ADHD.

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