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.

3 Likes

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:

2 Likes

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)

1 Like

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!

1 Like

Welcome, I am so glad you’re here! Am I understanding correctly that you are now in Eastern Canada? If so, I may be able to help direct you to accessing mental health services and primary care (family doctor) services for your family. Let me know what province you’re in if you feel comfortable with that, and I can direct you to where to look for help! I’m new to this forum today and am in the process of getting an ADHD diagnosis myself, but my husband is a family physician and I have worked in medicine for a decade so I may know where to point you for help in accessing services!

1 Like

Thanks for the response, and for reading my lengthy story! And welcome to the forums. I am in Nova Scotia where there is a provincial wait list to get a family doctor, and having lived here for a year now we’re still on that list and I gather its a long one.

I’ve paid privately for an official assessment that I had to drive 2 hours to get and will be getting the results this coming weekend. If the assessment comes back as ADHD (as I highly expect it will) the challenge will be that I want to try medications and need an ongoing practitioner to monitor the use of controlled narcotics.

From what I can tell there isn’t a private message function in these forums. Are you a patreon on the discord server?

I’m also in Atlantic Canada. It’s nice to run into “neighbors” here!

2 Likes

Well, I got my official diagnosis today. Inattentive Type ADHD with Persistent Depressive Disorder. It’s a strange feeling. I mean, no surprises really. I kind of feel like I should celebrate because at least I have the documentation that may help get further supports.

That said, even though not having the diagnosis wouldn’t have made my life any easier, I mean I face the challenges, knew what they were already, etc… etc… but there’s still something saddening about it. Maybe that’s the depressive part.

Either way it’s definitely a mixed emotions experience.

3 Likes

Oh my goodness, yeah… I feel terribly about the situation in NS. It’s quite something. Really difficult to get primary care. :frowning: Every so often a new practice will open and apparently they don’t HAVE to take people off the waitlist - I see posts every so often about numbers you can call when a new clinic is opening. You probably see those too. Wishing you good luck and a good phone call from the wait list soon.

I just signed up for patreon to get on the discord server! Looking forward to chatting with you. I see you got your diagnosis. I am really hopeful you’ll find primary care soon. What a tough spot to be in.

Don’t take this the wrong way but I really enjoyed reading your initial post😁

I guess that’s the egotistical thing I get on here a lot, feeling kinda normal because no matter what I have done or been in the past, each of those things have been done by someone else on here😁 It’s just the precise combination and/or order of events that varies…

And that is the single most amazing thing about this resource. Yet again, thank you @Jessica, @scot, @HarleyKyn and others who keep this show on the road :heart::heart::heart:

And less selfishly, I am really happy to hear you are plugging away and getting somewhere, @Evan_S. And don’t knock self -medication, it can be the only practical solution. The reason I cut out caffeine was to find the right dosage of prescription stimulants. Now I am almost a full year in on the same dosage I am supposed to do a no-meds test drive to see what happens (this seems to be standard practice in the Netherlands, where l live). So guess what, I am experimenting with coffee instead of afternoon meds in the run up to going without.

My slight concern about coffee is the randomness of the amount of caffeine depending on who makes the coffee from what beans etc etc. So I suppose the really sensible thing to do would be to try and keep tabs on how much coffee and where it came from when assessing how effective it is…

Other sources of similar stimulants are chocolate, including the sprinkles on the coffee. Sometimes the effect of those has been strong enough for me to question whether or not that was really a decaf cappuccino I just had (and it really was).

Good luck with all the doctor and waiting list struggles. Hope you get that kind of support soon😚. We are all pretty strong without support (my evidence for this is that we have survived so far🙄) but support is very much a nice-to-have!

1 Like

I get a similar feeling and I think it’s a combination of solidarity and validation. There are things in life I find so difficult but that I tend to think are easy and wonder why they go badly for me. When I talk to other people who struggle with them it becomes much clearer to me that these things ARE difficult, but also that tackling them is part of the human condition. We are all going to work on them and probably accomplish good things.

1 Like

Welcome, brain. It’s nice to have a diagnosis (“oh, so I really AM trying harder than everyone else already! no WONDER everything has been difficult for me, and no wonder as well, that the typical advice of trying hard isn’t very helpful for me”) and great to be able to start collecting seemingly disparate life experiences into a more and more familiar category. I had no idea, until a few years into my study of ADHD after my initial diagnosis, that many things were all related to one another, many different things like, for example, irritability, and a propensity to distrust (in fact, argue with) authority figures such as school principals and sports referees and the like, and a failure to start any project until the deadline was so close that I was at near panic, and excess generosity to the point of self-destructive ‘martyr complex’ type behavior, and inability to properly value myself and therefore go after what I really want. All related? They sound like a bunch of different syndromes, don’t they? No, just get on with the ADHD reading, buddy, you’ll be surprised what all falls into that catch-all basin.

But it’s not a cure-all. Knowing there is a name-able, diagnosed problem, is a step in the right direction. But continuing to learn about ADHD, and about YOUR OWN PARTICULAR version of ADHD, how your presentations manifest themselves, will be a continuing lifetime challenge for you. Yes, it sounds a bit daunting, but, you’ll never be free of it. ADHD doesn’t get cured, it gets MANAGED. I wish you well and I’m glad you’re taking the first steps. I’m no farther along that you are, but I look forward to some mutually helpful discussions. :slight_smile:

1 Like

@cliftonprince
If we’re all so different how come you just described me to a T?:rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:

1 Like

I finally started using discord - my username on there is lesetoilesdansleciel :slight_smile: