How I compensated for my undiagnosed ADD until being diagnosed.

I have marveled about how much stress, impatience, anxiety, and much more I went through just because I had no idea it was ADD.  As far back as I can remember which is about second grade, this tracks to.  Inspired, I wanted to write about it because since my diagnosis in say January, it has taken months to come to terms with it, also realizing how much more I could have accomplished if it had been addressed much earlier in life.  This post is me sorting out my thoughts you could say and putting it down on paper or in this case online.

When my psychiatrist suggested I go through the extensive testing of ADD, the first thought was, “REALLY?  FUCKING REALLY?  Another diagnosis.  How did no one catch this especially since I was in special education and my parents were teachers?”  Needless to say, I complete the testing and bada-boom bada -bin, ADD.  It sure helped a lot that my mother saved my entire life’s school records from special education, teachers, report cards, testing results, so I brought it all in to be analyzed.  Sure enough, life long and never addressed.  Sigh.

I went to the local book store and found a good book to learn about this and learn how to work with it which I am still working through in my own time.  The medicine made a great difference positively and that took time to find the right medicine that works for me.  The best thing that worked for me is to let it all sink in slowly, not rushed, and to let all the emotions that came with it to flow out.  That includes shock, anger, pissed off, disappointment, and regret.

Currently , I am used to the label or having it.  A funny side effect of taking the medicine for it is that if taken with coffee , the caffeine intensifies the effect of the meds, so you have to be very careful when taking together otherwise you feel like moshing at a concert if you drink too much or drink coffee on an empty stomach.  Now, I eat first, then drink coffee, and only drink a small amount at a small pace.

When I started reading my book they give you a whole slew of effects of being ADD.  I read the whole list and more and thought, damn.  This is my whole life.  I cannot believe what I did to compensate for this without knowing what I really was compensating for.  All the life events, the stressors, school; it all came back with the examples of what was really happening.  At the time I just thought it was my diagnosis of OCD or depression that had something to do with it.  No, not at all.  The OCD and depression is a different playing field and I was on the wrong one.

For instance, the book says things to the effect of do you have problems finishing projects or long-term projects?  Yes, I jump around all the time.  Eventually they get done, not really in a timely manner.  Also, I would find activities that I would find fun, get what I wanted out of them and then leave to find something new.  Sometimes, these activities would last for years, like ballet, but ultimately I left for something new.  Do you have problems recalling information in class or after reading, check.  Easily distracted in class or at work.  All day long, every day of my life.  People walking by, noises, conversations, all distractions.  Took me a lot longer to get school work done than others.  In college, I needed to be in my room, no radio, or tv and silence in order to concentrate.  If I went to the library, I really needed to be in that private study area with the door closed and facing away from the window.  Otherwise , I will just socialize or people watch, and get nothing done.  Another question was do you make impulsive decisions?  God, yes.  All day, everyday, then regret some.  Some were big ones where I paid the price dearly.

Also, the book talks about lack of self-esteem, worried too much what others think of you, lack of confidence, and stuff related to that.  I had all that growing up, just didn’t know why but didn’t tell anyone about it.  The funny thing is because I was able to behave in school, and complete school, no one suspected ADD.  Damn.  Idiots I say.  School was always very hard for me and I often wondered why others made it look so easy.  I was jealous and confused wanting to just fit in school and college, always feeling different in ways.

The funniest thing about being ADD is the extreme hard ability to plan.  Now, my therapist tells me because I have OCD, it caps the unorganized severity that ADD/ADHD people go through.  Therefore I am very organized , and enjoying planning.  BUT, when it comes to getting up in the morning, or planning for the next day of work or school, I was very sub par in that region.  I dreaded getting up in the morning, getting ready, making lunches, crap like that.  It felt like the most boring thing in the world and would just rather sit and do it very slowly.  I DETESTED everything about it but never knew why.  You might as well taken a bulldozer to get me through those tasks and stick to it.  Often I was late for class, work, never anticipated whether or driving conditions, therefore putting stress on me when I was late or pushing it to the last-minute.

Now, I plan, and am on time for work and other things.  I actually plan for whether or driving conditions.  I still do not like cooking or packing lunches or grocery shopping.  That all still seems tedious but the severity of doing them is taken back some by the meds.  Another thing I always noticed is I could read a paragraph many times over and still did not know what I read.  But if it was something very interesting to read, I would absorb it.  Textbooks in school, very boring, hated it all.  The only thing that interested  me in classes was sociology, psychology, and art related classes.  The rest you could just dump in the trash and the rest of classes just felt like one big tedious time-wasting chore where I would often daydream to compensate for the boredom.

Speaking of boredom, I was bored often in life, things just were not that interesting other than my social life or my hobbies.  People often become depressed who are ADHD/ADD sufferers because the lack of stimuli in their minds.  Who knew?  The meds put that stimuli back in to get through the day of boring tasks.  Often I would put off school work to go socialize or do my hobbies until the night before unless my parents demanded it to be done sooner.  Then I would have to drag myself to the table.

Often, people talk to me and I just check out in my mind if it’s not interesting.  Whether it be friends, family, or teachers, it really didn’t matter.  This was usual.  Daydreamed all through school, only aiming to get a B average to get it out-of-the-way and satisfy the needs of my parents or whomever.  I actually preferred to be left alone to just daydream.  I really liked it there.

I was always in tune if you talked about my interests but otherwise I just acted like I was listening like a robot programmed to respond when you stopped talking or asked a question.  I really tried to be nice and polite at all times, but usually people’s conversations are not thought-provoking or they are trite.  I never wanted to talk about the local gossip in school, the weather, your kids, your cooking, sports, or trivial stuff like that.  I always had to go outside of my city or outside of grade school to find people who had more meaningful things to ponder like I did.  I found those people no matter what place in life I was.  To this day , it is very hard to find people who want to talk about deep thinking topics.  Man is it hard.  They are out there but way too hard to find them.

I have concluded that if I were diagnosed earlier in life I would have done much better in school at every grade level, had more confidence, not so intensely shy in elementary school, and would have been much more efficient in tasks or projects and finish all of them in a timely manner.  Don’t get me wrong, I did finish college and graduate but at great lengths and great stressors.  Often I wonder where I would be now in the present day, but I will never get the answer to that will I now?

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