Hey brains, I was recently diagnosed with ADD at 39 years old after struggling to keep a science career going in my chosen area and losing my job. Continued work failures and other rejections in my personal life lead to post traumatic stress disorder, when a genetic drugs screening test found I had a gene common in people with ADHD. I was also off the charts on the world health organization questionnaire.
Ever since I was in charge of my own learning and timetable from the 3rd year of university, I had struggled keeping up with assignments and grades started plummeting. Got through a Phd, but took twice the amount of time of 5-6 years instead of 3 years, and I was never that enthusiastic on what I achieved. Had a number of postdocs but only managed three papers in the ten years since my Phd. I always struggled with making cogent achievable science objectives, and kept looking for new and more exciting results rather than writing up the ones I already had.
Now nearly 40 years old, my world fell apart after losing my dream job and not being able to pursue the work that most interested me and being able to regain some ground by publishing some of my results. I am now researching a topic that I don’t find all that exciting and can’t stop thinking about my previous work and results. After moving on I started to feel like an abject failure as a man, I lost all confidence in myself and had started think my life was worthless.
Now, I have my diagnosis I want to tell the world as gives me an explanation for all my woes in life, but this kind of feels like an easy way out and a cop out. Ironically, it does force me to lay all my failures on myself or at least my ADD traits and not on anyone else or on external circumstances. Unfortunately, I feel my friends find it challenging hearing me talk about my diagnosis and feel there is some resistance in convincing others my diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is correct. It has been mentioned I can overcome anything if I just put my mind to it, shouldn’t use it as a crutch as an excuse for all my deficits and let it define me. While I do agree, don’t feel others quite appreciate how more difficult it is for me to do things more normative brain function can achieve with ease. I know anyone with a physical disability will have the determination to get on with life despite all the challenges they might face day to day and so I know I should be approaching this with the same positive can do attitude. I am also confused as some experts say there are no genetic tests, but I have been told by my nurse I have a gene associated with ADHD. They also say the condition usually requires months of observations of myself and my parents to make a diagnosis, but I was immediately diagnosed after finding the gene and taking a questionnaire. For me the signs are all around me from my own experiences and impulses and behaviors in my relatives. Then I get confused by a number of clinical psychologists, such as Jordan Peterson, who are very skeptical about the diagnosis and feel most who are diagnosed are more likely to just have a unconscientious personality, and a lack discipline and motivation and can overcome it by getting over the discomfort of planning and becoming more organized. There is a side of truth of this in my case though, as given I am unable to pursue my main area of interest and have lost all confidence, I am finding it excruciatingly difficult to find enthusiasm and motivation for my current work and get through tasks without distraction.
I would like to find an ADD/ADHD support group for other scientists / researchers like myself who struggled to publish work or found ways to overcome their deficits and have a good record. But so far I haven’t found any such group. I would also like to find an accountability partner who preferentially also work in a science/research field.
Moreover, it seems Ritalin is making my ADHD much worse and getting extremely emotionally impulsive and depressed on the comedown that happens after only 1 hour of taking the medication. I just don’t know where to turn to get my life back on track and to regain some confidence, and not sure my career is salvageable and how to come to terms and peace to move on from what I find most interesting and all the discoveries I made in my last position. That idea is hell to me and right now it feels that where I am.
Not sure if this resolution resonates with anyone, but if it does I would really appreciate the chance to connect and get your thoughts.