Hi Brains, New Heart Here

Hi Brains,

Heart here. :heart: I’m so thankful to have found the How to ADHD channel and this community.

I started watching the How to ADHD channel almost by accident, and slowly recognized that this sounded a LOT like my husband and what he’s been struggling with. We’ve watched several of the videos together and he’s just made his first appointment to start getting tested.

The reason I’m here is, this has been an emotional journey, for both of us. And I’m hoping to maybe gather some stories from some of you lovely brains who can relate and any words of encouragement you can give.

I don’t want to air his whole life story on the internet, but for some context…

My husband was technically kind of diagnosed when he was in middle school. Basically, he didn’t do his homework, didn’t take notes, but still did very well on tests (at least in the subjects he was interested in) and his teachers didn’t know what to do with him so his family doc put him on some meds hoping that would “fix” the issue. It was all about making it easier on the teachers, not him. I’m sure some of you can relate.

The meds made him feel bad. They adjusted them a few times, but it didn’t help and so eventually, he stopped taking them. And it was assumed that he didn’t actually have ADHD or grew out of it. It sounds like things were left pretty inconclusive.

No evaluations were done. No therapists or psychiatrists. Just a GP, some pills and some pretty detrimental “accomodations” like letting him turn in all of his homework for the whole year at finals. From what I understand, this is probably the least helpful thing they could have done. Talk about overwhelm. :exploding_head:

Now he’s in his early 30s and realizing that it was proably ADHD all along. He’s feeling the weight of all that time where he could have had the help he needed. And all the struggles with work and school and just… life.

I have so many questions for you all. But most important are - First, do any of you have a similar story? What has helped you? I’d love to be able to compile some comments and show him some stories of other people to show that he’s not alone.

And second, what do you wish your partner knew or understood? We’ve just naturally found some accommodations without even knowing it was ADHD (self bagging garbage can anyone?) And now that I know what’s going on its a lot easier to laugh at the little piles of folded laundry around the apartment that never quite get into the closet. But I know there’s more out there. And I want to learn.

Thank you all!

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Welcome here . . . It’s late in the night now . . . I’ll get back later!

:sunglasses:

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Hi @ChynnaLu, and welcome to the HowToADHD forums! There are a lot of Brains here, but it’s nice to have a Heart join us!

I hope that you’re able to find some good information here to help your husband.


I go by JD. I’m 46 and was only diagnosed last year with the Inattentive presentation of ADHD.

My struggles in K-12 school were overlooked, because I got most of my homework in (although sometimes I think it was late and sometimes incomplete), and I generally got good grades. Like your husband, I did well on most tests. (In particular, I do not do well with memorization; but did well at almost anything else. I graduated high school with a 3.5 GPA.)

My struggles with ADHD have affected me in college, career, and family life.

  • I have trouble with my working memory, I’m generally unable to remember more than three things in a list;
  • I’m very easily distracted (and then have difficulty remembering what I was doing before I was interrupted);
  • I have poor time management skills, despite learning many different systems;
  • My organization skills are much like you husband’s, little piles everywhere;
  • And I struggle to complete things on time.

I also normally have an indistinct sense of time, as if it is elastic (5 minutes can seem like an hour, or an hour like 5 minutes). When I’m a casual conversation, I typically change subjects about five times within ten minutes (and often forget what I was talking about in the first place).
I’ve been taking Adderall XR (extended release), and it has helped me with these symptoms: my sense of time feels much more distinct, I can maintain focus on a conversation, and I can usually remember what I was doing before getting sidetracked.

(My meds wore off a few hours ago, so sorry if my post came off as rambling.)

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I am 74 years old

Male

Retired

ADHD (diagnosed over 20 years ago); Not taking ADHD medications; take Prozac (generic) and Wellbutrin (generic) for depression and anxiety

Married 47 years (same woman)

2 adult children (1 of each); son has ADHD (diagnosed at age 4, some 38 years ago) with 12 y.o. ADHD daughter

I’m pessimistic; obsessively worry; ruminate about future events

My greatest challenge is poor impulse control (with everything) and expressing anger

I overreact to “small potato” things . . . And get stuck staying angry. I don’t often yell; I don’t curse or use foul language (except when driving, alone), but I get a hard edge in my tone. And then go silent and smolder. This happens mostly with my wife. In fact she is dismayed how I can be that way with her and then 5 minutes later be pleasant with friends. She has low tolerance for any level of anger from me.

I have a very strong “startle response”!! Sneak up behind me and say “BOO” . . . I will jump, flail my arms, shout out . . .

Over the years I have been in therapy, all of which helped me get unstuck with my life . . . But the emotions continue . . .

I did well . . . academically that is . . . in school, college, and graduate school (MSW) . . .

I love research . . . like a scavenger hunt

As a pre-teen I read books . . . Now rarely (have great difficulty getting underway . . .

My short-term memory “sucks”

Have trouble envisioning how things in the future will work out

Get anxious with unexpected changes . . . Much prefer “homeostasis”

Was the “class-clown” . . . still am . . . love to pun

I tease others but rarely detect when someone is “just kidding” with me (i.e. pulling my leg) . . . take everything seriously / literally

Have no sense of direction . . . turn me around twice and I’m lost

Enough here already!

Feel free to ask me (and most others here too) questions.

Again . . . WELCOME (and perhaps your husband will look around here too . . . Jessica’s videos are very instructive, supportive . . . and entertaining to boot!

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I was never diagnosed as a kid, and was probably flying under the radar because I did well on tests and didn’t get in trouble in class. I was always super inattentive, distracted, and internally restless. At my parent teacher conferences the feedback would always be, “He’s a good student, but he doesn’t apply himself.” Throughout college and professional life I continued to struggle with distraction, racing thoughts, amotivation, hyperfocus, inattentiveness, making mistakes, and feeling generally overwhelmed by simple things. I found that I learned ways to cope, so I never really considered ADHD.

I started seeing a new mental health medication provider and told him about my symptoms. I have been treated since a teen for a mood disorder, but when I mentioned some of the things he asked about ADHD. He sent me for neuropsychological testing which was “not supportive of ADHD.” I know now from Dr. Russell Barkley and other research that neuropsych testing is not an accurate tool for diagnosing ADHD. I continued to work with that medication provider and he tried me on a non-stimulant (Wellbutrin) for attention. It did help, but ultimately it had sexual side effects and I went off it. My symptoms returned in force, and so I was started on a stimulant (Vyvanse). It has been life changing.

I would say finding a good doctor who takes the time to get to know you and your struggles is key. And finding the right medication if you are looking for medication, whether it’s a stimulant or non-stimulant.

As far as relationships, I am in a relationship with a non-ADHD person. It definitely causes some tension at times, especially when I ask questions, interrupt things, or get inattentive about ceratin things around the house. I have pretty high tolerance for chaos and disorganization, and she does not. I also tend to be in attentive when it comes to things like sexual intimacy, so that can require some effort. Some of the “ADHD After Dark” videos and books can be useful in relationships. Fortunately she does not try to parent me, and we work on finding a balance, and managing my need for structure and certainty.

Bottom line, I would say that the more your partner is willing to educate themselves the better. My partner listens to me, but she hasn’t gone farther to educate herself. It would be nice if she did. There are really great resources out there in addition to the “How To ADHD” channel. I’d suggest the “ADHD reWired” podcast, as well as Additude Magazine online. Additude hosts a lot of free webinars and they geared to persons with ADHD, providers, and family/friends.

Thank you for being here. Thank you for taking the extra step to support your partner. ADHD is a journey, and it is not the same journey for anyone. Hopefully he finds his way and you find a way to navigate the challenges and success as well.

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Another good website is https://chadd.org/

For great informational videos, watch anything on ADHD featuring Dr. Edward Hallowell (aka Dr. Ned Hallowell) or Dr. Russell Barkley. Both have also published well-regarded books. Hallowell is a practitioner, and Barkley a researcher, and their personalities are very different, but they both have great enthusiasm about sharing their knowledge about ADHD.

There are definitely some good ADHD books, too. Drs. Hallowell and Barkley each have a number of books on ADHD. Dr. Barkley recently mentioned that a new edition to his book “Taking Charge of Adult ADHD” is coming out this summer, which is updated with research findings from the last 10 years.


Another related topic to research is “Executive Functioning” (Executive Functioning Skills, Executive Functioning Disorder, Executive Skills, Executive Dysfunctioning).

The catch is, experts don’t agree on how many “executive functioning skills” there are, so they also differ in the labels used or their definitions.

One book I have on this is called “The Smart but Scattered - Guide to Success”, by Dawson and Guare, in which the authors list their “12 Essential Executive Functioning Skills”.

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He’s also a proud :brain:!

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Yes, he is! And his frequent co-author Dr. John Ratey is a :brain: as well.

And you could say that Dr. Russell Barkley is a Heart! (He has shared in some of his recorded talks that his fraternal twin brother had ADHD.)

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Oh :confused:
I just googled wellbutrin and side effects on libido. I guess I can now be 100% sure that I have adhd, as my Google search showed something very surprising until I added ‘adhd’ as a search term. If you are depressed, bupropion is likely to increase your libido. If you have adhd, it’s likely to have thd opposite effect :flushed:

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HI @j_d_aengus, Thank you so much for your response :smile:

A lot of what you’re saying really resonates.

It’s weird because certain aspects of my husband’s working memory are very good. He’s a salesperson and can remember every detail that person says and apply it to the sale. But ask him to do three tasks and not so much. His memory is like a steel trap on some things but he definitely struggles with things like grocery lists, chore lists, etc. He’s almost hyper-aware of where he puts his things 90% of the time but that last 10% is panic. I almost think he’s found a way of coping on his own over the years. For example, he wears pants with lots of pockets and puts the same things in each pocket each time. But if something messes with that system it’s a struggle.

He definitely has trouble with distraction. Especially if it’s a boring task. The laundry piles are a good example. I came home one day and the laundry was folded and put away. But every area of the house I went into had something that had been left behind. “Why is there a washcloth on the desk?” “Oh I was folding those and then I forgot about it when I let the dog out” “Why is my robe on the coat rack of all places?” “Oh Yeah, I was doing laundry over there and moved it because then I could watch TV and kinda forgot it was there” “Why is there a folded towel in the middle of the floor” “Oh I took a break to play video games and forgot” This makes a lot more sense now but used to drive me nuts. This week when it happened we just had a good laugh each time I found a new little pile of laundry.

Time management is an interesting one. He thinks he’s super precise with time. But… I’m not convinced. He’s often just barely squeezing in on time. Often in a panic. But it isn’t every because he misjudged how long it would take or that he based his travel time on ideal traffic conditions, it’s because something else obviously interfered. Which I say in all humor and love. In fact, trying to estimate how long things will likely take seems to be a major point of struggle. Especially with getting to work. I feel like he’s trying to gamify getting to work with the least amount of extra time when he gets there because sitting in his car and waiting is torturous, but at the same time, I see the amount of anxiety he goes through to get there just in time every day. He’s not often actually late. He just like… parks 1 minute before he needs to clock in and runs to the door after a very stressful morning. This is such a foreign concept to me. I am a trained opera singer and 10 minutes early is considered late. So that’s just something I’ve adopted in life. I just want to help him feel a little less stressed in the morning.

Changing conversation topics is also very familiar. Sometimes I can’t keep up. I try very hard, but it’s almost comical how behind him I am sometimes. The other day I found myself wondering if I had a working memory problem myself because I couldn’t connect the dots to what he was saying at all. And I’m trying so hard to keep up that I can’t remember what he said before what he’s saying now. So I asked him how the several things he said related and he just said “They don’t” And I felt a lot better. :rofl:

I’m curious about your experience with Adderall XR. I know that everyone is different. I know that while he’s open to it, but he’s really worried about not being able to be as creative or think as fast. From my perspective, it’s a bird in the hand vs 2 in the bush issue. Except there are 30 birds/creative ideas that he’s trying to catch/execute and there’s a bunch of cats/self-criticism trying to eat them all at the same time. And every hour there’s a new set of birds. Or at least that’s my perception of what he’s been describing to me. He’s got so many great creative ideas and I know if he could just catch one it would be magnificent, and it hurts to watch him flit from thing to thing unable to sit down and “do the thing”. But I also understand his fear of not being himself on medication. Do you find that the Adderall XR impairs your creativity or wit?

And thank you for all of the excellent resources. So far I’ve explored the “How to ADHD” and “Totally ADD” Youtube Channels, as well as beginning to listen to ADD 2.0. I really appreciate the resources. I’m kind of a research nerd. And the more I can understand the more I can help.

Again, thank you.

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Hi Brooklyn,

Thank you so much for your response. I recognize a lot of both me and my husband in what you describe.

This is unrelated but your description of your startle response made me chuckle because my mom is the same way. I’ve kind of developed that too over the years, but not as much.

This idea of “stuckness” really resonates. I feel like when he gets angry or upset he doesn’t know how to get out of it. Even if the issue has been resolved. I think we all get that way sometimes, where we’re just okay with being mad for a bit. But for him its much more common that if he gets upset there’s not much I can do in way of apologizing or correcting the issue. He’s just going to be mad for a while. Or not even mad sometimes, just… shut down. Has there ever been something that your wife has done that has helped you escape that cycle? Or something that you were able to do for yourself?

My husband has often described feelings of being stuck and being unable to imagine the future. I’m kind of the opposite. I pivot very easily and am very goal orientated. I’ve found that there were several times where I thought I was helping him push towards his goals, but in reality I had taken them over out of an attempt to help which doesn’t let him feel any less stuck or in control of his own destiny. But at the same time he has trouble attributing his own successes to himself. If he asks for any help he won’t take credit for the thing at all. Do you have any strategies for getting unstuck?

The idea of homeostasis is definitely something I’m sure he can relate too. Whereas I thrive on new places and people. It’s definitely been a balancing act for us.

Ruminating and Worry is also a relatable struggle. Sometimes it feels like he’s stuck in a worry loop. And I can’t get him out of it.

I’m the one with the lack of directional skills in our family. I often joke that I didn’t come with a GPS installed.

I’m sure he’ll look around here soon. You guys are a very helpful bunch :slight_smile:

Thank you again.

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Hi, @quietlylost,

THIS. This whole paragraph is very much what we’ve talked about and what seems to be happening with him.

When you say that Vyvanse has been life changing, can you describe that a little more? I have heard that phrase in a bunch of videos… but what does it actually mean for you? My husband has mentioned that he’s almost afraid of the expectation that the meds would be life-changing, because he doesn’t want to disappoint, which breaks my heart. I don’t need him to change in any way. I just know he’s so frustrated and internally restless. Anything that helps him feel better will make me happy.

I’ll definitely check out the ADHD After Dark series. They sound very useful.

He’s definitely wiling to educate himself. We’ve watched a lot of videos together. At the same time, its a lot more emotionally overwhelming for him than it is for me. I am a researcher by nature. And I don’t struggle with these things. So gathering a bunch of information about it is an intellectual exercise and an experiment. And hopefully we find a path that helps him feel better about himself.

Thank you for all the resources I will definitely check them out!

Thank you again.

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Sorry that all my responses were super long and that I didn’t realize that I could respond to multiple people in one post. I thought they would show up under each post like in facebook comments. :sweat_smile: I appreciate you all. Thank you!

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If my wife stands her ground and very quickly on responds firmly without anger or counter-attack, says “Bar STOP . . . Do you see what you are doing?” . . . And if necessary repeat herself . . . Then there are times where I can stop. But her response needs to be as soon as she sees where things are headed . . . so I don’t build up a big head of steam and get stuck . . .

Over 20 years ago we were driving about in a nearby big city . . . on a trip that I did not want to take . . . but went only because I did not want her to go alone . . . and we got lost . . . (I panic when “lost”) . . . Well I got angry and shouted “I just want to get the f*** out of here!” She immediately, calmly asked me a question: “Barry are you angry or are you anxious?” Within a split-second I responded: “ I’m angry because I am anxious!“ That was an epiphany for me. That connection had never before occurred to me. And here I was an MSW working in the mental health field and someone who had years of personal psychotherapy. But never had that insight. I immediately calmed down, and with tears running down my face told her that I would see somebody ASAP and get myself started on some medication. Something she had suggested several times over the years. within a week I saw a psychiatrist and started taking Prozac.

I have zero sense of direction. Funny, My son and my brother-in-law were once up Maine in a canoe on a lake. We paddled to a small island, beached the canoe and began to explore the woods. We were soon out of sight of where we came in to the island. I started to panic. My teenage son . . . who has ADHD (the :apple: did not fall far from the :evergreen_tree:) kept walking with his uncle . . . and I thought they were going in the wrong direction. They dismissed my concerns and just kept going. When they decided it was time to go back to the canoe my son found us the way and we came out of the woods within 10 feet of where we had entered.

I think I’ll stop here and say good night! Hope some of this was helpful.

:sunglasses:

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Good night, Barry!

Me neither. I have to learn routes by practice.

  • I’ve been working for 10 years at the same university where I was a student the 4 years before that. After 14 years on one campus, I know my way around almost every building. (There are still a few places there where I can lose my way, but not very many.)

My wife has a great sense of direction, and so she rarely gets lost. When she does (if she’s not running late for an appointment), she says, “we’re on an adventure!” Then, the kids and I reply, “Adventure!!!”

  • She usually only has to visit a place once to remember how to get back there again.

I’m an ace at following a map (a skill I inherited from my dad and his dad), so when we’re going somewhere new or if we’re on a long trip I’m always the navigator.

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I guess, nobody comes with GPS onboard. It’s a skill that could be trained.
I think, i used to lost myself on the roads as well. When i started to drive, i had to set the route and reference points by maps and satellite images, and it helped. There weren’t phones with GPS yet. It was somewhat clunky time.
I got and learned how to use one when i decided to buy a truck. In the next couple of years i knew most of the 1.4mil city layout, maybe 75-80%, and i could generally plot routes from everywhere to everywhere without GPS at this time, it just was more handy, guiding through traffic jams and all.
Then i moved out, stopped working in short haul delivery, and all that skill got somewhat rusty. City changes faster than i update my knowledge now.

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Welcome @ChynnaLu to this ADHD forum.

I am aged 42.

I live in the UK.

I have dyspraxia, ADHD and aspergers traits diagnoses.

I received a diagnosis of ADHD last August aged 41. I had a nervous breakdown. I realised something is not right . I received a diagnosis of dyspraxia, aged 33 in May 2012, privately. I had a 10 minute chat with a psychiatrist, he said aspergers traits not a problem. I did not know how to make decisions and empathy in a focused mind . Age 9, I attended an assessment, there was evidence of dyspraxia, ADHD and aspergers traits. I was supposed physiotherapy. My mother “believed” my dyspraxia would get better - that is a laugh .

If I did not get diagnosed with aspergers traits I doubt I would have got diagnosed with ADHD or dyspraxia,

School, university, work difficult.

I was told by the psychiatrist who diagnosed me with ADHD I did far below my potential due to ADHD. I would have been able to do a PhD , with top grades in my undergraduate degree. If I had support for dyspraxia, I would have been able to get a full Masters degree.

I have a degree, postgraduate qualification, professional qualification, not much luck with girls , never married , no kids , poor work history.

Life is better with a diagnosis of ADHD.

I had treatment . I had Concetra. I stopped at 54mg. I got a tight chest , maybe because I have dyspraxia and / or aspergers traits.I will get the medication cheaper.

I am seeing the local ADHD service, probably next year, where they will get integrate my dyspraxia, ADHD and aspergers traits etc.

In May, I am going to a cheap , place in the North of England to buy a house. I will get rent money at least £500/month $600 dollars a month ).

I am doing a board game , seen the patent lawyer . I hope to do creative writing.

Good luck !

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He might have ASD traits which often accompanies ADHD . I have this.

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When I first took Vyvanse, it was like my brain cleared and I was able to see the world in a new way. People will often describe medication (or even just finally getting a diagnosis) like wearing a new pair of glasses.

Prior to being on Vyvanse the doctor would always ask me, “How’s your anxiety?” I reported that I never really had any. As soon as I took Vyvanse I felt a sense of calm and a decline in my internal restlessness. Whereas at work I would normally procrastinate and struggle to get a project started, I was able to start a task without delay and finish it to completion. I have always had racing thoughts in my head and I thought that was just normal, or part of my mood disorder.

People have described ADHD like “a butterly in a tornado” or “watching 30 different TV channels at once but someone else has the control.” I think for me it was a lot like that. When I take the Vyvanse I am able to do things that a neurotypical person might find easier. I can pay attention when someone is speaking to me. I can complete a task. I can follow a task list and do it one item at a time.

Without the medication or when it wears off, I’m a space cadet. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the grocery store and left the groceries in the car or on the floor for hours if not a day or two. I will forget laundry in the machine, leave doors unlocked, and forget important things like keys, wallet, and cell phones. I will start to do one task like cleaning the litter box and then get distracted by recycling that needs to be taken out or a pan that needs to be washed, or even setting up the coffee machine for two days from now.

Vyvanse for me brought the world into focus, and it calmed my heart and calmed my mind. It led to an incredible peace, but also a difficult grieving. I thought, “Is this what it was supposed to be like the whole time?” I think grief is a normal process with ADHD, so he may want to prepare for that.

Ultimately everyone’s medication story is different, and not every medication works for everyone. Medication works in most ADHD cases (85-95%) but there are some people for whom it doesn’t work. So, it’s always great to get other tools and supports along the way.

Hope that helps!

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For me, the ADHD diagnosis brought much relief. Understanding that the shortcomings which I’d had throughout my life were due to my neurology, and not due to a lack of commitment on my part, or on some “moral failing” like laziness.

  • My lifelong struggles include problems with working memory, time management, organization, planning & prioritization, task initiation, and most especially with managing my focus & attention. These were all due to Inattentive ADHD.

Dr. Ned Hallowell describes that ADHD is like “having a Ferrari engine brain, but bicycle brakes”. My brain sometimes changes direction so fast that it’s like a Light Cycle from TRON. Sometimes, at the peak of my distractibility, my thoughts feel like they jump around like Nightcrawler from the X-Men teleporting again and again and again!

My experience with Adderall XR hasn’t been like yours with Vyvanse. It is much more subtle. I’m still distractible, but a bit less so. If my attention gets off-track, I’m able to consciously steer it back. My sense of the rate they time is passing goes from super-elastic, to only a little bit elastic. Aside from that, I still have a lot of the same issues.

I know that “pills don’t teach skills”, but I was hoping that medication would help me to be able to be more decisive, to be able to direct my actions better.

I’m still hoping for that “like seeing with glasses for the first time” kind of experience with ADHD medication.
I’m going to talk to my doctor about trying non-stimulant ADHD medication atomoxetine (Strattera), since increasing my dosage of Adderall XR wasn’t any better than the original low dose. (And because Lexapro, the SSRI that I was on for anxiety, worked more effectively in my brain than Adderall has. Atomoxetine is in a similar family of medications.)

  • In addition to ADHD, I also met the diagnostic criteria for Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT), which has been shown to respond best to atomoxetine…but since the condition is not as well known, I don’t think that my doctor would consider it as a diagnosis. (I’m sure he would only add it to my chart if I received as n SCT diagnosis from a Psychologist or Psychiatrist.)
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