40 years of unbridled ADHD. But it's getting better.

To the beginning (some time after 1978)

I was a bright student. In elementary school I often had high grades. Nearly straight “A” student with high grades. Though my report cards if I look back on them say “Evan has so much potential, if he would just apply himself…”

But as a high performing student nobody ever thought much.

By high school things changed. I started smoking a lot of pot. I often didn’t go to school. I got a criminal record at a young age. The school had a ‘*’ on my attendance sheets saying they had given up trying to discipline me for attendance. I would walk out in the middle of class because I was bored and wanted to do something else.

I once asked an English professor why he made jokes about me never doing my homework while he came down hard on others. He said it was because I was fully capable of doing the work, but just didn’t want to, where as they needed to be pushed to do the practice to be able to gain the skills.

I would get a job and then quit. In one case I made a poor choice that got me fired (and a criminal record). At one point I quit my job, wanting something different and walked away from my home and found myself living on the streets. My mother told me to go back to school, so I went out the next day and signed up for a college course in 3D animation before the industry took off; it seemed interesting. But I didn’t follow through on that career after school.

I found myself jumping from job to job. I would get bored and quit. I had a student debt that I couldn’t pay. My grandfather told me that he didn’t care what I did in life, but just to be good at something. The word ‘potential’ stirred feelings of anger. As a young adult living with my mother, she eventually told me to leave, because she knew keeping me at home wasn’t helping.

Here I was, unable to keep a job. Unable to explain myself to the bill collectors. A criminal record. Smoking pot all the time to not feel. I was a failure. Kicked out of my home I decided that day it was time to give up. I couldn’t decide if I should try and die or go live on the streets where I didn’t have to try and live up to my own expectations.

It was that day my future wife took me into her home; with a child already she told me she needed me to be a parent. We were both broken; but I agreed to do this for the long term. I won’t get into the challenges of an undiagnosed ADHD trying to live with an undiagnosed Aspergers but I can assure you it came with challenges.

When I was quitting yet another job (a failure at supporting my family) I went to my family doctor for depression. Shortly after I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 26(ish). I wish I could say that was a turning point for me. It wasn’t. I was too lost in my own chaos to be able to try and understand what that really meant. I stopped seeing the psychiatrist. But I did start volunteering, and with my wife’s support I went back to finish my high school.

People around me started believing in me. In crazy ways. Though I saw a failure, they saw a leader. Maybe this was the beginning of the turning point; with a long road still ahead.

By the time I was about 30 I had randomly picked my family up and moved them from Central Canada to the West Coast over about a 3 month period. We arrived with no plan other than to leave our past behind. (We still bring a lot of baggage). It took a few years to start to find a groove, but when my wife told me that if we ever had to take welfare again, she would leave.

I decided to find a job. This time I was going to stay. For at least a full year. Quite the life goal for somebody in their mid 30’s. I did it. In fact I did it well. I went into retail where I could jump from person to person. In time I started to feel a bit of confidence in it. Over the years, instead of changing companies I changed roles. I did everything in that store. I could adapt to whatever the needs were at the time. I made it to lower management. But my ADHD (That I still didn’t think about or understand) created my ceiling.

I worked under a horrible manager that destroyed me emotionally. (and the rest of the staff). I eventually got him fired. My co-workers were told by other leaders that I was the only one fighting for them. That fight eventually cost me my job as well. But I managed to put in 7 years, moved up the ‘ranks’ and had people who appreciated me. Mission accomplished.

Finally with confidence I was able to approach a new company. I succeeded in technical support as an individual who could jump from one issue to the next, learn and gain context quickly, embracing new challenges every 10-15 minutes. Again, I started moving up the ranks. To second level support. But this time I didn’t want management where I needed to try and schedule and coordinate others; not so good at that. Hell, I can’t even schedule myself.

I moved on to data science (without going to school for it). I work from home and am given full autonomy over my job. If I need to learn a new skill to accomplish my goals, I am free to deep-dive that and learn the @#$% out of it; my brain can chase new things and it’s promoted. I have created enough daily schedule to be able to make sure I go to work every day. I still bounce around between different group’s needs and adjust to a constantly changing work environment. I have now been in the same position for over a year. (another first).

Taking advantage of being a remote worker I rather impulsively moved my family across the country again to where housing was more affordable (Western Canada is insane). I have a good job. I own a home. From somebody who lived on the streets I never saw this coming.

But days come where I can’t focus. I find myself pacing around my home, jumping on youtube. I just can’t do what I’m supposed to be doing; and I realized at 40 I need to pay attention (no pun intented) to adhd. People say meds help. But moving across the country I don’t have a family doctor. I can’t gain access to psychiatrist services without one and I’m looking at years of waiting before I can get ‘into’ the system. I have to learn to do this without the medication so many people say help.

I pour myself a double shot of 1.5x caffeine espresso. Jump on youtube and start learning what I should have 15 years ago. I find a tribe. I’m not alone. I’ll figure this out. And that’s my story.

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Welcome to the Tribe, fellow Brain Evan!:blush: Happy to have you here on the forum! And glad that you’ve done quite well by yourself and your family, although it has been quite a journey getting there…!:open_mouth:

Hopefully you’ll be able to find some suggestions and advice here on the forum (the search function is awesome!), and probably some information on medication as well. I would like to point out that for almost no one does the medication act like a magic pill that fixes everything. It just tones the symptoms down a bit once you’ve found the right medication and dosage. But it’s still a struggle, so awesome that you’ve gotten this far without medications!:clap::blush:

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Caffeine!!! I also tend to self medicate with coffee so you’re not alone :wink:
We’re glad that you’re here and taking the steps to understand your Brain that’s really important even if it’s hard. Good luck with everything Evan!

Yes, actually I had cut down on caffeine for the last couple years. But when I was reading I found that caffeine was a way that many people were inadvertently self-medicating. So I thought, maybe I need to bring more caffeine back into my life without having controlled stimulants. This is a recent decision, so ask me in a month or two how I’m finding it.

I’ll wait for those days that I identify that I’m really struggling to focus on work, ‘dose up’ and see if it helps. I’m also looking into natural supplements that may help. Ginseng, Gaba, Magnolia Bark. Things I can buy without needing a prescription. It will be a journey, but since I’m actually paying attention and more aware of my self, hopefully I’ll be able to notice the difference. (If only I was good at journaling)

I just had to fix my title. ‘unbridled ADHD’ not AHDH. Attention to detail is definitely not a strength.

Welcome! Sounds like you’ll learn that your experiences have been shared, in one way or another, by a lot of other people here!