Longtime ADHD guy

Spent time off of my medication then I got rediagnosed with bipolar which ended up being a misdiagnosis. Now I’m back on my ADHD meds. Originally diagnosed with ADHD at about 7 years old In the 1980’s. Spent my college life off my meds. Got on disability and now back to work after finding out my bipolar disorder diagnosis was incorrect. Bring back on my ADHD medicine I’m working and looking to go back to college. Any advice on how to balance full time work with part time college with ADHD. Thanks


Welcome to the HowToADHD forum Derek ( @PapalPenguin )!

I’m another 80’s kid, but I flew under the radar with my ADHD back then. (Either I’m good at “masking” my inattentive traits, or I wasn’t noticed because of my lack of hyperactive-impulsive traits.) I only got diagnosed a couple of years ago at 45.

Yes, as you’ve experienced, untreated ADHD can be misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder, or other disorder. Or, the ADHD can come with “friends” (comorbid conditions). I was diagnosed with ADHD while I was going to counseling for Anxiety.

I’ve got some experience with college, but not since my diagnosis.

  • I went through 5 schools (3 community colleges, 2 universities), 5 majors, 9 years of undergraduate classes…still no degree
  • After I ran out of financial aid at my last university, I got a job there in the Information Technology department, where I worked for 10 years. I got to be familiar with various departments and programs available to help students with ADHD or other academic assistance. (I wish I’d known about those programs when I was a student there…I might have gotten my diagnosis sooner, and maybe could have finished my degree.)

SUGGESTIONS (just a couple…wish I had more):

The first suggestion I have is to try to create good routines for studying and doing homework. Make it a set routine, but one that works for you. For instance, you might schedule a certain time to do your work, no matter where you are (school, library, home…) Or, you might create a routine based on location (for instance, when near the college library and you have time to study, go in, get out your books, and study…set a timer, so that you’re not late to your next class, or late to work, etc.)

Another piece of advice that I’ve read has worked for many people who have ADHD is to be part of a study group, or have a “study buddy”. It’s good to socialize, but when in school, it helps many people to work on their studies if they are working alongside someone else who is studying (even if you’re not working on the same subject). This method of working alongside someone else is also known as “body doubling”.

  • I think this works because humans are social creatures. As such, many of us are more prompted by our own minds to work if we are among others who are also working.
  • (There are some people that this doesn’t work for: they might be too easily distracted by other people, or might have impulsive traits themselves that make it difficult, or maybe they are just very introverted and thus prefer to spend more time alone than with others, or they might have an actual social phobia.)

SOME QUESTIONS come to mind, based on the experience I have. You don’t have to answer any of these, unless you want to.
Are you going to a public college, or private college?
A public college or university is more likely to have academic assistance programs. The larger the school, the more likely it is to have more than one program. The university that I worked at had three programs that could help a student with ADHD (please note that the following examples are based on the school I worked at, and different colleges & universities will have different resources available…when in doubt, check with the office of the Dean of Students to find out what might be available to you):

  • the academic support program (providing tutoring, tools for studying, plus extra assistance services available to first generation college students, minorities, and those with disabilities…which including ADHD)
  • the disability access and resources department (for students with an impairment which is recognized as a disability, which can include ADHD or other neurological disorder)
  • the counseling & testing center (possibly able to diagnose ADHD, like they could do at the university where I worked, but certainly a good resource for counseling for anxiety & depression that might result from academic struggles, research-based strategies, etc.)

Editorial note: it’s too bad my academic advisor was more focused on his pending retirement than on actually advising me in a way that could have helped, like saying “it seems you’re struggling with your studies…you might consider academic assistance, or the counseling & testing center”.

  • You have to be your own advocate. When you notice that you are beginning to struggle or to fall behind, reach out…to your course TAs, Professors, Advisor, College Dean, tutoring, classmates, and whatever academic assistance programs are available to you.

Are you attending in person, remotely (i.e. online), or both?

Do you have other responsibilities beyond work and school? (Are you in a relationship? Are you currently raising a family? Are you in the military? Are you a member of a service organization, club, church, gamer group, or have other social commitments which you dedicate your time, talents or attention to?)

  • It’s good to be a well-rounded person, and so we all have things that we do that enrich our lives. My presumption is that you have at least one facet to your life beyond work and school that you regularly put your time and attention into… even if it’s making time to do something for yourself (hobbies, video games, keeping up with the MCU, or whatever).
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“Paypal Penguin” . . .

Welcome to a great place!

I am one of the seniors here. In less than a month I will be 76. I was diagnosed in my mid 50s. My adult son was diagnosed before he was five years of age.

Took my son over seven years to complete his college degree. First he attended three different colleges, changed majors 3+ times before he finally discovered what excited his brain. For him that was key. For someone with ADHD an excited brain is a must . . . a prerequisite if you will . . . for success!

btw: Why “Paypal PENGUIN”? (My sister’s husband was crazy about those flightless birds. Penguin figurines, Penguin stories, Penguin jokes . . . visits to the Aquarium in Brooklyn, NY!

There is a dry cleaner near me called “PENGUIN CLEANERS” which has an 8 foot tall cut-out of a penguin in the parking lot! Every time I look at that replica . . . I picture a long line of penguins standing in line . . . waiting . . . to get cleaned! :rofl:

All tangential remarks aside . . . WELCOME and I will look forward to you keeping us up-to-date on how things develop.

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I chose this name because I’m Catholic here Papal not PayPal LOL and I love penguins they are so cool

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I grew up in the Catholic Church, so I figured the “Papal” part of your screen name was a Catholic reference.

  • These days, I see myself as a non-denominational Christian. Or maybe “interdenominational” would be a better descriptor, since I think of myself in terms of “Catholic and … (every other denomination I identify with)”.

Penguins certainly are cool. My kids sure liked seeing them at the zoo, before COVID shut the world down.