ADHD: Out of the Darkness, Into the Light
I have had something akin to an out-of-body experience these past few days. Well, perhaps not an out-of-body experience, but the strange feeling of my present self being somehow disconnected from my past self. It’s as if some stranger walked into my life and made a mess of it and then walked back out again. But, the stranger is me. I messed up my life in so many ways, and now I am fixing it.
It’s been a couple of years now, at 40-plus years of age, that I was diagnosed with ADHD. It explained a lot of the “weirdness” I felt. It was always as if I was different, but could never put my finger on exactly why. I was always told how bright I was, but always had difficulty translating intelligence into action. I have always been good at doing things “on the fly” but never very successful at organizing in advance. For years I had wondered if my difficulties owed to some abnormality in my brain – perhaps related to seizures I had as an infant.
So, my diagnosis a few years ago with ADHD – inattentive type – was both a confirmation of my sense of being somehow off or different, as well as a relief. After my initial diagnosis, I resisted going on medication to treat my ADHD. However, after some time passed, and not altogether satisfied with my progress, I obtained a prescription for Adderall XR. Adderall XR was amazing. For the first time in a long time I felt focused and could muster up enough concentration to get things done. However, after some time I began to feel like I was having heart palpitations. I had the feeling of being too aware of my own heartbeat. This may have owed to drinking too much caffeine. I still haven’t managed to wean myself from Diet Coke.
Not caring much for the palpitations, I asked to be put on another medication. My doctor switched me to Strattera. I have heard it said that Strattera often doesn’t work for many with ADHD, but I have been very happy with it thus far. I feel that my concentration – while not always exceptional – is much improved. I also feel that my mood is better with it than without it. My patience level is definitely much higher taking Strattera. Without it I am very impatient and my emotions – especially getting overly upset by very small things – tend to get the better of me.
While medication definitely has improved my life living with ADHD, it has only been part of a process. Sometimes the medication really seems to help, and other times not as much. Recently, I have been trying to utilize some other tools and strategies to improve my ADHD symptoms. One of my strategies has been to lose weight and watch what I eat more carefully. Admittedly, my diet is still not optimal – too much sugar (I love ice cream), but it is much improved and I have lost over 30 pounds from my not-so-distant heaviest weight in recent years.
Brain exercises have been an important tool in improving my ADHD symptoms as well. I have a subscription to Lumosity and try to do my brain exercises as often as possible. The effect of regularly training my brain has been astounding. The exercises cover everything from speed to attention, and from problem solving to flexibility and more. One of the more impressive results from the exercises has been a marked improvement in my motor skills. At work I drive a fork lift and do quite a few tasks that require a degree of bodily coordination. Normally, I have a tendency to be a little clumsy – some of that clumsiness owing to not always paying attention to my surrounding environment. However, with the brain exercises, I am much less clumsy and have less difficulty with motor skills.
Recently, I began to work on cleaning out my office area which is located in laundry room / unfinished part of my basement. I have been chipping away at this area off and on (mostly off) for quite some time. The past few days I have been working on small piles of paper a chunk at a time. I work 30 minutes going through a pile of paper – setting aside items to file and putting old bills, correspondence, etc. in a garbage bag to be shredded. It’s sorting through all of these papers that I begin to feel like I am outside of my own body. Mind you, there are papers from 5, 6, and 7 years ago. I think to myself, “Was I crazy letting all this crap pile up?” The answer is no. I wasn’t crazy – I just had undiagnosed ADHD.
The process of moving from undiagnosed ADHD, to receiving the diagnosis, going through the various stages (much like the grieving process), and finally to adopting strategies to help deal with my ADHD has been like going from darkness to light. There were so many areas in my life where I was blind to reality. Looking back at how I spent my time, effort, money, and focus I feel a little sorry for the old me. I also just want to slap the old me.
There is still lots of work to do – not only the cleaning up the piles of paper kind, but also working on improving my relationship with my wife. I did lots of stupid things in the past and violated her trust and confidence. It will take time to heal some of those old wounds, but I am intent on binding them. It has been a long and interesting journey so far. It isn’t always pleasant – facing up to the past wrongs is not fun. But there are moments when the light shines and pushes out the darkness. It’s those moments that all the struggles seem worth it.
- What We Know About ADHD (capeadhd.wordpress.com)
- The ADHD Label (capeadhd.wordpress.com)
- ADHD and Depression, Anxiety, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Learning Disabilities (webmd.com)
- Exercise Affects The Brain (medicalnewstoday.com)
- ADHD at 30 (metalmommaa.wordpress.com)
- Finding the Right Work for You: an ADHD Guide | Living with Adult ADHD (edadvocates.wordpress.com)
- ADHD and Emotional Intelligence (capeadhd.wordpress.com)
Posted on May 30, 2012, in ADHD and emotions, relationships, tips and tagged ADD, ADD and ADHD, Adderall, ADHD, ADHD ADD, Diagnosis, emotions, Lumosity, medication, medications, medicine, relationships, strategies, Strattera. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.