Becoming More Aware, Each October and All Year Long

My family, and the friends I have left, are made aware daily that I have ADHD. Each day is a struggle for me to keep going, to keep motivated and to live a life that most people take for granted. I focus on so many baby steps each day that I get lost in that focus. I just started therapy after a 4-month wait. The therapist asked me what would make me happy and I told her… a job.

She responded, “Jobs are few and far between.” And that she had just started her position as a therapist part-time only recently. She said the economy was to blame. As I held back tears, I knew the past seven years of unemployment has left me with the question I need to answer in the following weeks of therapy…Why have I been unemployed for seven years? Is it because the economy has been bad? Is it because I had a long term cancer battle? Is it because of the economy? Or is it because of my adult ADHD? It is very likely the latter and I need to learn how to deal with the aforementioned condition and its symptoms.

I currently take Vyvanse to deal with my hyperactivity, impulsivity and lack of focus and motivation, but the medicine makes me not talk and that weirds people out in an office setting. I feel comfortable because I’m less likely to say something stupid, but others around me are wondering why I’m so quiet.

I have social symptoms I deal with each time I go to a party or social event. I constantly remind myself to not blurt out inappropriate things, but sometimes I slip and do anyway. I go through practice scenarios in my head before events and on the way home after an event I’ll ask whoever I’m with how I performed at the party. I’ll ask if I embarrassed anyone or if I said anything stupid or made anyone mad. I am usually unaware of about 75 percent of the ensuing mishaps and this infuriates my boyfriend especially. I know this because he is the first person in my life that has had the patience to stick around and actually tell me why so many people can’t put up with me and just take off without explanation despite how nice I am to people.

There are many things I’ll never understand about other people. Like many ADHDers, I miss a great deal of what’s happening under the surface – with body language and eye rolls and more – but at least with all the great information shared during ADHD Awareness Month, and through ADDA’s activities the other 11 months of the year, I am learning to understand my ADHD better. My hope, as I’m sure many of you can related, is to be able to manage my ADHD symptoms better and function better and hopefully be less annoying and more successful in life without thinking so much, without working so hard… and hopefully land a job before I trip up on the landmines we all face in situations like interviews.

We have a great article this issue where Patti Schwab shares her frustration (a frustration we all share) at ADHD not being “real” because of a lack or awareness in the medical profession. During ADHD Awareness Month, what do you wish people knew about adult ADHD? We’d love to read your comments!

Michelle Teel


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      • What's ADHD like? Better edited
      • October 19, 2016

      What would I want People to know about ADHD? It’s a difference. A different lens on oneself, the world and others. It’s a constant struggle, from my first vivid recollections at age 3, 4 , in what was called nursery school, through kindergarten, until now, just months from too far from 50. (When I was first diagnosed) It’s not a deficit in recall or attention to details. I can recall many long ago people, places and events, that others are surprised at. At the time, events and interactions that I noticed didn’t seem to be important to others, but they were to me, and now seem to be to those who’s recollections were happily refreshed.

      I spent hours in the library, copying my own notes, listening to recordings of lectures that I had already attended, with more touching up of notes, mostly by hand, or typewriter, later followed by my Apple II E, acquired while working on a second degree. More of a needed “direction” than a choice. But like everything I was “better than Average, but”.

      I was bullied growing up, but, looking back, I was more scared of what everyone else “seemed” to look at as “normal”, or “my fault”, without even knowing what “faults” I was committing, or about to commit, until people were more than willing to point out, after it was too late for me to do anything about them, for the actual faults, and then for what seemed like just for “grins” sake. Almost like I was conditioning them to treat me like I was for their own use and entertainment, especially since I didn’t seem to have a real direction of my own, but managed to do an awful lot anyway.
      I ran, I worked physically hard, I was quiet, but helpful, after I was hyper introextrovertish, and scared, shy, and once overly excited about life in my Pre teen years. A condition I haven’t allowed myself to have in years. I’ve gotten so good at it I don’t even know how an adult should or would experience that. Any time I seem to have a hint of excitement that might involve others, they seem to literally run away. So now I can pretend to be a friend from a distance staying too far back from a red line that gets drawn but is really invisible to me. Try to help as best I can, to be accepted, but don’t get so close that I get totally rather than partially rejected.

      Did I mention the hyperactivity part before running 6 – 10 miles a day, climbing trees, I’m told at 2, dropping bowling balls on friend feet, the few that I had, at my birthday party. There was the blurting out what was in packages at other celebrations; “open the walker talkie set first” or whatever it was, and being punished, to the point that celebrations weren’t all that celebratory for me.

      I could go on about all the good and great things that I have and have had, they were definitely there, and I am very greatful for them. But I was always struggling, always concerned about my next slip up, always expecting the next downfall, which often seemed to always hit following a period where I seemed to be reaching some peaks of success. The inner thoughts “Don’t you understand that you should expect it when you least expect it.” There, for me, in my head, you have just read what I consider to be “a” thought. Not a complaint or a whine, or even a summary, only part of a constant train, but, as always, more than I want to pull right now. What’s on your mind?

    1. Reply

      Thanks Michelle, for contributing to our ADHD Awareness with your personal and heartfelt reminder- that we need to take care of ourselves on a variety of levels, and we need to do it EVERY DAY.
      Tom Dooley ACG- ADHD Coach

    2. Reply

      I am a doc of 37 yrs experience, past 11 yrs doing just ADHD work. I was diagnosed with ADHD about 14 yrs ago, surprised at first (“how does anyone with ADHD get through med school?” “that was your hyperfocus”. yup, medicine is my passion.
      What would I want people to know about ADHD?

      1- ADHD does not mean hyperactive, half people with it have Inattentive Type, not obvious behaviors
      2- Few , if any, “grow out of it”. many have developed workarounds, but they don’t usually work for everything
      3- “everyone has ADHD” – no. many people have some trouble with some things – put things off, forget things, etc. But they don’t have a lot of them and all the time, over years and some since childhood
      4- Intelligence or life accomplishments have nothing to do with ADHD – doctors, professors, executives in businesses – usually their area of expertise is something they passionate about, that’s easy for ADHDers to do. They probably had to study longer than others, or took longer to get the degree. ADHD makes it difficult to show how intelligent one is.
      5- If you “don’t believe in it” – it’s not a question of faith. Do you accept the scientific method? Do you accept pictures as fact ? – thinner nerve bundles and slower brain maturation seen on imaging studies, done at National Institutes of Health, not by pharma company or anyone paid by them. And meds change brain structure to align with “normal” patterns.

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