Filling In the Cracks

By R.A.

I am a 55-year-old man. I’ve suffered from ADHD all my life, I’m sure of it. Not to go too far into my past, I will say it was quite “unsafe” for a child. I have much anger and guilt around many things I saw and experienced.

This story begins and ends with me living in the present. I am functioning as a husband. I hold down a job in the television industry. I want us to have a child at the tender age of 55.
After years taking Adderall, my doctor switched me to Vyvanse and a tiny light switch went on. The new medication gave me a sense of clarity and what I would call positive mental attitude. I was on my way.
No drug is a magic potion. Take it for what it is, an opportunity. After taking the drug for going on two years, I realized the ADHD remained, and if anything was worse. I once again filled the cracks in my life with my old classic ADHD behaviors. Every time I didn’t feel well, I would find something unhealthy to do.

I spent hours and all my energy on Internet sessions. I’d vacillate between porn and gossip sites. I’d drink bottles of bourbon whiskey, chased with IPA (most carbs) beer. I am drunk right now and thinking cocaine would be just the thing to help me sort things out. I would eat all day and night, a steady diet of the worst junk food you can imagine. I ate entire jars of peanut butter and grape jelly in one sitting.

I would write long lists of things to do to get my life on track – starting next Monday – or first of the month. Then I’d smoke a pack of cigarettes, and a joint to make it all bearable. I’d dream that one day everything would change and I would be on top of the world. Yet here I sit watching old movies I’ve seen before and crime shows on Lifetime for hours and hours.
At 4 a.m. I crawl into bed, having ignored my wife all evening. I am afraid, alone, ashamed and manic. I sleep for two hours before my wife nudges me in my side. I am obese and need to use a CPAP machine, and she doesn’t want me to die in my sleep. At 7:30 am. she reminds me it’s time to take my thyroid meds, high cholesterol meds, high blood pressure meds, and so on. You get the picture. And at last my Vyvanse.

Okay here is where this story ends. I have ADHD. My friends and family don’t care. They don’t get it. Some of them have it too, but they don’t know it. This is my reality every day. There is a happy ending though. At 7:35 AM, right before I take my Vyvanse, I feel great. I see the possibility in the world because I at least know what cracks are out there waiting for me to fall into.
No drug is a magic potion. ADDA is not a magic potion either. ADDA reminds me of the possibilities of getting ahead of this thing. And every morning, night and moment.. I’m looking for the cracks… so I don’t fall into them.

    • L&nC
    • September 19, 2018
    Reply

    R.A. loved it! The expression in your writing, the draw and the interesting thought process I can relate too…47 yr. old male JUST recently been diagnosed with inattentive type. Of recent, (less than 2 months on it) I have been prescribed Adderall xr and a mid day IR. The prescription/med talk and the thought for the “newness” of the day ahead so well describes the thought process that I cant explain until I hear it (or read it). I have also been a freak/manic/insane person for many years prior. Alcoholic *tendencies from as far back as a 7th grader…..*HELL tendencies my ass I related better drunk, high or trying to get to that freeing of the mind drift moment, that I could only attain with substance abuse and didn’t care why or how but just that something more was possible.
    I have been clean and sober for years now (this time) and only recently discovered this new mind trip of ADD and what It can produce or destroy, however you want to look at it. I have to embrace this new discovery of this condition, just like I embrace my recovery and sobriety. I have a full time therapist that I consider a genuine humanitarian; meaning his thoughts, actions and insights are for helping others. If you know anything about alcoholics and our ability to hold “others” at arms distance, then the previous statement of another person AND IN the Psych. field, really becomes comical. I have never, NEVER responded to an online anything, but this maybe the first of many to come on this ADDA site, thanks for the feelings and frustrations and genuine relatable content in your story. I think I might have this ADD thing LMAO….F%^& the cracks, resolve is in sharing and relating; ADD or otherwise.

    • Sarah Cummings
    • September 18, 2018
    Reply

    This is such a powerful story. Thank you so much for sharing. Wishing you all the best!

    • iJoe
    • August 21, 2018
    Reply

    Wow, today is a lucky day for me having found this website! Reading the personal stories gave me a sense of normalcy in that I am not alone in my disease (ADD). I can relate to comments like..”my wife is in a permanent state of anger with me” and “if I hear another person tell me I am scattered I am going to scream!”. I am 61 years old and married for 37 roller coaster years. It’s difficult to say whether the roller coaster has been mostly up or down in that time. About 3 years ago I came across a book entitled “The Lost Art of Listening”. This book has been a huge help to me in my ability to stay focused while someone (mostly my wife) is talking to me. My mind tends not to wander when she is talking to me. I highly recommend it to anyone struggling with staying focused during conversations. Lastly, these discussions describing the many disabilities with ADD seem to overlook one positive aspect ….. high energy levels and being driven when we have focus. I am looking for help utilizing aspects in a constructive, controllable way.

    • Aron Gamman
    • August 12, 2018
    Reply

    Thanks for speaking for yourself therefore helping to speak for the rest of us, R.A. I feel you. I’m 46. I feel like I fell into a warp when I was in my twenties, looking for my place in the world but well, I never found it. I’m still looking for my niche. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Paralegal studies. Neither ever went anywhere. I had the feeling of elation when I was twenty-eight when I found out I had ADHD. I have something to explain why I’m such a f-up. But by now, I’ve been medicated and the initial help that gave just led to a static life. I’m caught in a low end part-time job and my wife just seems like she live in permanent anger mode. Where do I go from here? Which is the place that’s clear?

    I try to express myself, but I just often find myself pulling others down with me. It’s Sunday morning and my wife has abandoned me with the kids to do school shopping. Thank you, even if my words are not serving me very well.

    • Melinda
    • August 11, 2018
    Reply

    That was powerful. Please keep writing abt your experiences. I am 53 and female and have done just about ALL the unhealthy things you can think of. I appreciate your story. There is community for you on r/ADHD on Reddit.com

    Take advantage of the internet, continue to research and grow.

      • kim.conroy16
      • August 11, 2018
      Reply

      I will be fifty in September.

      I just have to say that first off your writing is insanely awesome. As an ADDer, I tend to read the first few sentences and go on to another page but you caught my attention immediately.

      I kind of got a sudden wave of nausea for a moment as I relived some of the same insanity you’ve described. Although I have not dabbled in weed or coke, I did my fair share of shall we say double dosing or triple dosing on my meds, large bottles of wine, the size that could serve four rather than one. Then, to look around for another bottle? Highway to hell?

      My house looked like a tornado had hit it. There were piles of clothes everywhere. I would sit in front of my large computer monitor surfing the internet for ten hours straight in the privacy of my home office. I wasn’t sure if I was manic or depressed to be quite honest. Either way I was always heading down the rabbit hole. A week later I’d get my sh– together and be on the straight and narrow. God forbid anything be out of place. It was a roller coaster ride for so many years.

      My first job I held for 13 years; the second one for 10 years. I was “let go” with a nice severance package and able to collect unemployment for two years. Thanks Obama. So aside from my wine and meds habit, I picked up smoking full-time. When I would sign up for online classes I would barricade myself in my office with a box of Drumsticks (the ice cream cones), a 2-liter of diet Coke and a pack of cigarettes.

      I didn’t have any friends or any good family relationships because I think I was so embarrassed being fat and messy and jobless. I was definitely introverted to the extreme. Things are a lot different now but in many ways still the same. I’ve become an extra extrovert and the only way I stay sane is by trying to help other people. I now tell a lot of people I have ADD and some other issues. I am outgoing and friendly and I’m always striking up a conversation with who’s ever around.

      I’ll finish up this violin concerto just to say every day is a challenge. I am a self-help junkie. I’ve researched every possible thing there is to about ADD. I have two seven year old nephews who have ADD, one is being treated, the other one struggles because his parents don’t really get it and I don’t think they want to deal with it. How sorry I feel for him. Imagine both educated parents don’t have time to deal with it. It sickens me. However, they have to buy the best of everything so I guess working a lot of overtime to enjoy the finer things in life supersedes helping your child who is going to go through hell growing up.

      Anyways, it’s getting late and I still have two more hours to crank out some work. Unfortunately, it’s always been all or nothing for me but in recent years something is changing and I can now see different shades of grey. Don’t look for cracks anymore. Put your head up and look forward. Try to find a therapist or a coach, someone who can help to hold you accountable. There are always people that are willing to help but believe me it takes a lot of research, making phone calls, etc.

      Right now I am trying hard to work on self-care. I’m pretty plump, coming up on 50 soon, smoke, eat bad foods but not anywhere near what I used to eat. I am trying to simplify my life by getting rid of the tons of clutter I’ve collected. I am trying to figure out simple routines that will keep me on track throughout the day. I am trying to be consistent and not overwhelm myself because I’ve taken on way too much. But regardless, I will always always struggle or slide down the rabbit hole. I’m going to keep picking myself up and trying all over again.

      Thanks R.A. for getting this conversation going and thanks to everyone who posted a reply. Somehow it helps me to know I am not the only one.

        • Kady Dee
        • August 18, 2018
        Reply

        What Kim said! 🙂

    • Philip Dean
    • August 11, 2018
    Reply

    This sounds so very familiar. I’m 66 right now, diagnosed at 62 with ADHD and various Learning Disabilities. I suspect Dyslexia/dyscalculia/dyspraxia, maybe sensory processing issues too, but don’t have the resources or the immediate need to try to nail it down exactly, since I retired following a disability a few years back. My illness had made me wonder if I could be having symptoms of early Alzheimers, since my mother passed away from it during this time, and since I was more disorganized than ever before, lost more things, and so on. So, I found a Psychologist to test me for Alzheimer’s, as well as for ADHD and dyslexia. She found no red flags for Alzheimer’s, but we got a baseline for future reference, and she diagnosed me with ADHD and unspecified Learning Disabilities.

    Medication-wise, first I tried guanfacine, but it gave me terrible dry mouth and did not seem to help (I got re-tested to see if it was helping at all). I was then prescribed a low dose of Adderall but had to stop it for a year when I had an episode of atrial flutter (irregular and fast heartbeat), which now seems to be fixed by the ablation I had a year and a half ago (verified by the surgeon, who then OK’d restarting the Adderall. I may retry the guanfacine to see if it has any synergy with the Adderall… “but I digress.”

    The Adderall is, as you say, not a magic pill. A friend described it as allowing one to hang on to a thought for about another second longer, allowing one to sometimes actually remember why one came into the room. or (my metaphor) hang onto one’s willpower just long enough to walk past the cannoli maybe every other time instead of every third time. But I’ll take it!

    They say hindsight is 20/20, but I don’t think that was always true before getting my diagnosis… “i should have just made up my mind”, “i should have tried harder”, “I should have just stuck with it”, etc., seemed to be what I saw when I looked back. Getting my diagnosis, even before starting medication, was like getting corrective lenses and being able to see clearly that I did try hard at work, at school, at home, at play, and that many tasks would genuinely take me longer to finish due to these circumstances beyond my control (that is, the adhd, dyslexia, etc), at least to the degree I was able to complete the task at hand.

    So, these last 4 years I have been researching ways, medical and else-wise, to improve my built-in weak spots and strengths. I so appreciate that I can now make some sense of all those undiagnosed years and find better ways to do things…. and not do things. And I really Really appreciate sites like add.org and totallyadd.com for the great work they’re doing…

    I could go on, but Naah… the point is just, Big Thanks for sharing your story and insights! Keep up the good work, and I wish you all the best on your Path!
    .

    • Donna
    • August 10, 2018
    Reply

    Robin, I could not have said it better. I too struggle with the off the rail feeling of being too impulsive and needing external structure, Good advice.

    • Heather Dewey Pettet
    • August 9, 2018
    Reply

    You know, that was very well written. I should know, I am a writer. It took many years to be able to say that. But I am a writer and editor. Please continue to talk about your experiences. People will get it, eventually. And just so you know, I can relate to your situation. I did not grow up in the best of circumstances, myself. But somehow I’ve been able to eke out a life for myself and my family. I’m going to write one of these stories, myself. And, keep writing. Journaling may help.

    • Robin
    • August 8, 2018
    Reply

    R.A., I don’t think you’re a bad person. I just think ADHD is running away with your life.

    One of the biggest problems we ADHDers have is the need for external structure. When it’s not there, we just follow our impulses. We feel bad about it and can’t seem to break free. But with the right knowledge and support, we can build our own structures.

    You’re doing the right thing. Keep on reading and listening to the ADDA authors and speakers. A coach is great if you can afford it–it will speed up your progress. I can’t afford a coach right now, but ADDA, totallyadd.com and crushertv.com have enabled me to make some very significant changes!

    The biggest one is that ADHD is not totally running my life anymore. I not only see the cracks more clearly, but I am developing the ability to jump over them or find a way around them.

    I will always have to do this, but I don’t care. The flip side of my ADHD is that I have a few wonderful talents that I will finally be able to use consistently when I get this thing harnessed.

    I suspect your family does care; they just don’t know how to help you because it is not their experience. Stay connected with other ADHDers, who have walked where you walk and know the way out.

    Hang in there!

    • regi allen
    • August 8, 2018
    Reply

    living in the mioment.

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