Tag Archives: Medical

ADHD is Real and I Have It

(Image/medscape.com)

(Image/medscape.com)

I’ve always been this way, so I never bothered to consider something might be wrong.

It’s not that I procrastinate ALL the time. Often, it’s just because I forget. Sometimes I mark the calendar and write reminder notes and set alerts on my phone. And I still forget.

Sometimes I forget to pay a bill.

Sometimes I forget birthdays.

Sometimes I forget to return a phone call.

Sometimes I schedule two things on the same day at the same time.

Sometimes I don’t remember to do the same thing for several days in a row.

Sometimes I put things off and forget about them and then something bad happens, like my natural gas gets shut off or my auto insurance lapses.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think I was intentionally trying to self-sabotage. As if I prefer when my life is a stressful emergency.

I always thought it was something I’d outgrow. I believed natural maturation would work out many of these little incidents that sometimes cause much bigger problems.

Why I Think Know I Have ADHD

A clinical psychologist several states away was reading some of the stories I write here when it became clear to her that I most likely have ADHD, and like many adults, have gone through life undiagnosed.

You see, when the only thing you know is what goes on inside your own head, it’s impossible to understand how others think and feel and experience life. But this doctor has spent her entire professional career talking to, and working with, people like me. So she knew right away.

She just wanted me to come to the same conclusion on my own. She sent me a few things to read.

This ADHD test for adults was one of the first things to get my attention. Answering “yes” to 15 of them is a big ADHD red flag. I said yes to all but one. And even that’s a maybe.

  1. I have difficulty getting organized.
  2. When given a task, I usually procrastinate rather than doing it right away.
  3. I work on a lot of projects, but can’t seem to complete most of them.
  4. I tend to make decisions and act on them impulsively — like spending money, getting sexually involved with someone, diving into new activities, and changing plans.
  5. I get bored easily.
  6. No matter how much I do or how hard I try, I just can’t seem to reach my goals.
  7. I often get distracted when people are talking; I just tune out or drift off.
  8. I get so wrapped up in some things I do that I can hardly stop to take a break or switch to doing something else.
  9. I tend to overdo things even when they’re not good for me — like compulsive shopping, drinking too much, overworking, and overeating.
  10. I get frustrated easily and I get impatient when things are going too slowly.
  11. My self-esteem is not as high as that of others I know.
  12. I need a lot of stimulation from things like action movies and video games, new purchases, being among lively friends, driving fast or engaging in extreme sports.
  13. I tend to say or do things without thinking, and sometimes that gets me into trouble.
  14. I’d rather do things my own way than follow the rules and procedures of others.
  15. I often find myself tapping a pencil, swinging my leg, or doing something else to work off nervous energy.
  16. I can feel suddenly depressed when I’m separated from people, projects or things that I like to be involved with.
  17. I see myself differently than others see me, and when someone gets angry with me for doing something that upset them I’m often very surprised.
  18. Even though I worry a lot about dangerous things that are unlikely to happen to me, I tend to be careless and accident prone.
  19. Even though I have a lot of fears, people would describe me as a risk taker.
  20. I make a lot of careless mistakes.
  21. I have blood relatives who suffer from ADD, depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse.

Another Eureka Moment

I was reading a book about male-female relationships when I had my first major Ah-ha! moment. I was reading stories about common fights and communication breakdowns between spouses, and I realized it wasn’t just my wife and I that have these problems. It was EVERYBODY. It makes you feel better when you realize you’re not the only one. Moreover, this book was explaining to me the evolutionary reasons why men are as they are and women are as they are, and how the two styles (when both parties are unaware of them) cause friction in relationships and often lead to divorce.

It fundamentally changed me on the inside. I finally knew something important and believed I could be the spouse she needed. But it was so broken. I couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

This ADHD thing? It’s EXACTLY like that all over again.

Everything I read screams at me: THIS IS THE REASON.

It’s been hard to stomach as I consider the ramifications.

What if I’d known at a much younger age?

What if I’d begun to manage it years ago?

How much better might my marriage have been?

How much further might my career have advanced?

How many more friends might I have kept?

People with ADHD have trouble managing friendships and staying in touch with people.

When my wife first left, I latched on to all my friends because I felt like dying and I just wanted to be around people I cared about and who cared about me in return. As time went on and I went through several stages of healing post-divorce, I lost touch with many friends. When you’re in your mid-thirties, everyone is busy and many have kids. You have to plan several days, often weeks, in advance if you want to see certain people.

I have never planned anything weeks in advance in my entire life. I used to think I preferred spontaneity. But really it’s a stress trigger. I can barely handle everything that needs done today. How can I possibly think about four weeks from now? Four weeks from now is a figment of my imagination.

People with ADHD have trouble with marriage.

Being pleasant and kind-hearted isn’t enough when your spouse thinks you don’t love or respect her because you forget everything, or mindlessly do things that suggest her feelings don’t matter. People with ADHD have trouble with time management, with organization, with financial planning and management, and cleaning the home.

I was reading this article in ADDitude Magazine, and this quote from a frustrated wife totally hit home, because she could have said it about me and my ex-wife.

“We would be late for an appointment, and he would be leisurely doing things when we should have been rushing out the door,” recalls Patricia, who lives with Chris and their three-year-old, Gabriella, in West Chicago, Illinois. “He could walk right by a pair of dirty socks on the floor and not notice them, even if the laundry basket was just a foot away. If the house was a mess, he’d say, ‘Write me a list, and I’ll do everything.’ But I resisted. Why should I have to write a list? He should know what needs to be done.”

My wife thought I was childish and immature. (And I AM childish and immature!) But there was always more going on. Over and over again I’d try to explain myself.

I would NEVER do this to you on purpose! Why would I want you angry with me? Why do you think I want to disappoint you? Why do you believe I want to fight with you?

There were so many things to do when our son was born. I was totally lost, and I wanted to be helpful. I wanted someone to tell me what to do, and then I would do it well and I’d be useful. She always felt like I was too hands-off. Like I wasn’t assertive enough to figure out on my own what needed done and just do it.

Maybe I was supposed to do that. Maybe I’m just making excuses. Maybe this is all bullshit.

But then I read this:

“The Whites, it turns out, are typical of couples in which at least one partner has ADHD. In a survey of such couples, conducted recently by Wayne State University in Detroit, respondents indicated that their spouses ‘don’t remember being told things,’ ‘zone out in conversations,’ ‘have trouble getting started on a task,’ ‘underestimate the time needed to complete a task,’ ‘don’t finish projects,’ and ‘leave a mess.’”

Is this me desperately searching for answers in an attempt to apply meaning to things that have happened to me?

I don’t think so.

If my ex-wife read all these ADHD stories I’ve been digesting the past week, I suspect she’d draw the same conclusion.

I have all these things I want to do with my life.

Career and relationship goals. Financial and physical goals. Social and spiritual goals.

What if this teeny little part of my brain working just a little bit different than most other people is the primary reason I have some of these issues?

What if it’s the reason my marriage ended?

What if it’s the answer to the ever-nagging question: WHY?

Treatment begins Thursday.

And maybe after things will never be the same.

Just maybe, I’ll be unstoppable.

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A Funny Little Thing

kevin hart

Because of work stuff, I can’t write today.

Soon (tomorrow?) I’m going to tell you about the time a clinical psychologist befriended me via this blog and asked me whether I’d ever looked into the possibility of having ADHD.

I scoffed at first. No way! I’m totally normal! Everyone lets their auto insurance lapse and has trouble planning ahead! Everyone sucks at keeping their house clean and forgets things all the time!

And then I read about ADHD. About how it impacts your day-to-day life. What the common traits are of the people (about 5% of the population) affected by it.

I thought ADHD was a bullshit label people used to drug hyper kids. Kind of a fake, made-up thing.

But then I read what undiagnosed ADHD adults experience at home and at work.

Whoa. That’s me.

Then I read some more. That’s me too!

And some more. Goodness.

And even more. HOLY SHIT.

Another Eureka moment.

Why have all of these things happened to me? Why do I do the things I do the way I do? Why can’t I fix this?

Now I think I know why.

And just maybe, this will change everything.

More to come.

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Must Be This Healthy To Ride

I was only hospitalized for 24 hours. But I was sick much longer. I'm sorry for disappearing.

I was only hospitalized for 24 hours. But I was sick much longer. I’m sorry for disappearing.

Because I have a wicked imagination and scare easily, I thought I might be dying.

An infection in one of my tonsils was causing a type of pain I’d never felt before. Visions of Roger Ebert were flashing through my head for more than a week.

Maybe I have a tumor.

Maybe I have throat cancer.

Maybe I’m going to lose my ability to speak.

Maybe I’m going to die.

So, I’m a little dramatic. Sue me. It REALLY hurt.

I saw my third doctor in 10 days, and one quick look at my mouth and she admitted me directly to a local hospital Wednesday morning.

It was my son’s 6th birthday. I was devastated.

The tonsil infection required a very short, very minor, but extraordinarily painful surgery. I mouthed bad words at the surgeon and beamed I hate you messages to her through my tear-filled eyes.

But things got much better after that.

My fear of imminent death dissipated. Intense pressure which had built up in the back of my throat and mouth and jaw and ear, began to release.

I took Percocet for the first time. It’s lovely.

My mother was in town for my son’s birthday. She was an incredible help. My ex-wife graciously visited with my son so he could open presents from me in my hospital room.

The combination of spending that short time with him and seeing him smiling on his birthday, combined with healing and painkillers helped turn things around.

I’m sorry for disappearing.

Before I knew what was happening, I wrote an unpublished post earlier this week titled “If This Is My Last Post.” I wanted to write whatever I thought were appropriate last words in the off-chance I was dying. But there was so much sickness and discomfort, I could never get it ready for publication. Perhaps I’ll revisit it one day.

This is my 300th post.

I wanted to write something special to commemorate it but as the past two weeks—hell, the past 35 years—have taught me, life just happens.

So, I don’t have anything special for #300.

Just this note: I’m still alive.

Maybe it’s an opportunity to think about second chances and to think further about what it is I really want to accomplish in this life.

Maybe it’s an opportunity to zone out on painkillers and watch a bunch of Netflix.

I feel like big changes are coming in my life.

Changes that could be hard, but with lasting benefits—kind of like my hospital procedure.

Dynamics in personal relationships are changing.

My lifestyle may have to change.

My address may have to change.

The only constant in this life is change.

What choice do we have but to rise up and embrace what’s coming? Good or bad, don’t we want every moment to be the best it can possibly be?

I know I do.

I made the mistake of writing on more than one occasion that I “kind of wanted to die.” Just because it all hurt so bad when my family went away.

And I was wrong about that.

Because I was scared of death and more this past week. But not just yet. Breathe. In, then out. Still here.

And that’s a good thing.

As it breaks, the summer will wake

But the winter will wash what is left, of the taste

As it breaks, the summer will warm

But the winter will crave what has gone

Will crave what has all

Gone away

People change

But you know some people never do

You know—when people change

They gain a peace, but they lose one too.

– Future Islands, Seasons Change (Waiting on You)

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