Starting to discover if I have ADHD (I do!)

I’m 45, and I just started meeting with a mental health counselor to be assessed for ADHD. I admitted to myself about ten years ago that I have persistent problems with attention and task completion that went beyond habits. Before that, I thought that I just had trouble with getting distracted and with forming good habits, and that if I could just figure out how to build those key habits, then my life would be successful. …yeah, it’s just not that simple. (I have tried to learn and practice numerous time-management, note-taking

The last ten years of my life have been a time of trial and discovery, which has made me look back on my life and realize that I have ALWAYS had trouble with attention. I resisted getting assessed for ADHD because I’m not outwardly hyperactive. It was actually anxiety due to a bad job situation that prompted me to contact the counselor.

On the bright side, I got a better job, so I almost cancelled the appointment. I did decide to keep the appointment to deal with the after-effects of the anxiety that I went through for so long (about 3 years), but changed my focus from Reason #1 for anxiety and Reason #2 for ADHD assessment…to flipping that.

I’m really glad that I did, keep the appointment, and I’ve now met with the counselor twice. Still waiting to see if I’ll be diagnosed with ADHD, but it’s clear that I have some form of Executive Function deficiency. Regardless, I want to know what can help me. I’ve got the job I wanted, that I feel like I had to fight a long uphill battle for, and I really want to do well at it.

I also want to re-enroll at the university where I work and actually finish a degree. (I’ve gone to 5 colleges, changed my major 5 times, am still 8 classes short of earning a degree. In my last school, the one I’m working at, I had to retake several classes.) While I did well enough in K-12, my struggles in college and with work projects, plus inattentiveness & memory issues at home that certainly irk my wife, have finally brought me to the point that I am seeking help.

I’m looking to learn whatever I can about how to live successfully with ADHD/Executive Function deficiency.


Congratulations on getting the job you want and on seeking help, those are both difficult things that you should be proud of.

A lot of managing executive functioning difficulties is trial and error. There are a lot of methods and coping mechanisms out there; all of them will work for someone, none of them will work for everyone. Whether or not you get diagnosed with ADHD, it might be a good idea to start cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) which tends to be very helpful for people with executive functioning disorders. CBT focuses on building skills and coping mechanisms.

Some of the strategies I’ve found work for me personally:

  1. Gamification: basically turning tasks I find boring into a game I can play with myself (or others). Games are great at giving immediate positive feedback, which can help ADHDers engage with otherwise boring tasks.
  2. Bullet journals: the How To ADHD YouTube channel has some videos on how to set these up. Personally, the method works well for me, it’s a lot more flexible than most organizational systems and planners.
  3. Medication: obviously this is something you’d have to talk to your doctor about, but it is worth at least considering. Meds, particularly stimulant meds, can work wonders for executive functioning issues when taken responsibly.
  4. Generally learning about ADHD: I mainly do this by hanging around on this forum, watching How To ADHD videos, and other science videos / articles explaining ADHD. While researching ADHD there’ve been a lot of times I go “Wait, that’s a symptom? I thought that was just a personal failing!” The more you know about ADHD and executive functioning disorders, the better you can understand your struggles and manage your symptoms.

Best of luck!


Got a diagnosis from me counselor last week: Anxiety and ADHD. (Definitely the Inattentive presentation)

Earliest appointment I could get with my doctor is still 2 weeks away. I’m planning to ask him about non-stimulant meds.


:+1: Best of luck to you!

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Just pondering (not for the first time), that if I hadn’t gone through such a hard time in my job the last 3 years, I never would have gone to a counselor, and I never would have been assessed.

Ironically, if I’d stayed in the job I was most comfortable in (Technology Support Representative) I probably never would have gotten diagnosed as ADHD. The work had a high degree of novelty, most work requests too a short time to fix, the urgency of many requests kicked up my adrenaline to help me focus even on longer-duration issues, and my natural tendency to serve people charged up my emotional batteries.

I get nostalgic a lot for that work. I enjoyed it so much. I sum it up as “serving people and solving problems”. If I could go back to it right now, I’d even be willing to take a pay cut to do so (though not too much).

I have to remind myself that I fought for the last 2 years to get the opportunity to do what I’m doing now.
I keep looking for ways to make my new job more like the one I miss so much.

I’m seeing the doctor at the end of next week. I hope medication will help me focus better.

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I was just realizing that I’ve spent about the last 30 years “trying to figure myself out”. And now that I know that I have ADHD, I feel like I finally have (at least in large part).

I know that I’ve got a lot of learning to do and that I’ll have to constantly work on certain things. But just understanding my brain better and having a better idea of why it works this way is a huge relief!


It feels awesome, doesn’t it? I’ve been doing some serious journaling and meditation, and just realised I’ve spent my life organising around anxiety as a way to 1. Get things done 2. Not forget everything 3. Feel a semblance of control and continuity
I realise now I can choose another way–a less painful, but far more structured existence that allows a more fully realised range of human emotions.


Well said and truly “Pithy”! :sunglasses:


Well, even though I have a diagnosis for Anxiety and ADHD, my doctor is starting me on treatment (medication) for the Anxiety first, and doing a follow-up in about a month. The good news is that the medicine is doing something. Time seems less wibbly-wobbly and more distinct.

Also, continuing with the counseling every other week.

I still think I’ll need treatment for inattention issues.
Even when life was going well a while back and I had no anxiety, I was still inattentive. I used to refer to myself as “scatter-brained” all the time.

(My mom used to liken me to “The Absent-Minded Professor”, jokingly but still in a loving way. She is not the type of person to tear anybody down, but rather tries to build people up. I didn’t mind the reference much because I loved Jerry Lewis films, and I knew that the “professor” part of the nickname was became she was proud of my intelligence and my interest in learning.)

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(I’m going to continue adding random observations about my ADHD journey here.)

Harmony posted elsewhere that she experiences “channel switching”.

This happens to me a lot, especially when I go to write down an idea, dream, or something that just happened. I could ponder it for up to 45 minutes. I could talk about it for a few minutes, but then it starts to slip away while I’m talking. But if I start to write it down, within fifteen seconds it can start to fade (experience has taught me to start with the core idea)… although sometimes I can hyperfocus and keep writing, but it will often turn into stream of consciousness writing and get off topic.

At work, I’m sometimes more able to focus, but if I didn’t take notes while I was doing something that I have to report on, if can be hard to remember all the steps I took in the process. I take notes on meetings in order to keep my mind wandering to a minimum. I’ll miss some discussion because I’m taking notes, but at least I’ll catch 70% rather than 40%.


I’ve done lots of research, and because of what I’ve learned about ADHD medications, my own ADHD traits, and how well I respond to different medications (effectiveness of Adderall, compared with effectiveness of escitalopram, aka Lexapro, an anti-anxiety SSRI)…I think that I want to try Strattera (atomoxetine).

  • I talked to my doctor about it before he started me on Adderall. He said that they usually start with a stimulant medication, because it’s 1) effective for more people, 2) takes less time to see if it is effective, and 3) the effects wear off within a day. Atomoxetine can take weeks to become effective (IF it does work for the patient); if a patient has to stop taking it, the withdrawal symptoms can be anywhere from mild to very unpleasant, and can last for days or weeks.
  • Atomoxetine is a type of medication called an SSNRI, which is similar to the SSRI medications prescribed to treat depression &/or anxiety. My doctor had put me on an anti-anxiety SSRI for about 3-4 months, and it worked very well for me (and I only experienced one mild side-effect when taking it, and weird-but-mild side-effects which lasted just over a week when I stopped taking it.)
  • Based on my experience with the SSRI, I think that I’d react well to atomoxetine, but my doctor wants my ADHD to also be evaluated by a psychologist, and the psychologist that he referred me to is booked solid for months. I think that he won’t consider a change of medication until I’ve had that evaluation.

Other reasons that I think atomoxetine might work better for me include:

  • I believe (thought I’m not certain) that I read or heard somewhere that atomoxetine can be more effective for people with the Inattentive presentation of ADHD (which I certainly have), than for those with the Hyperactive-Impulsive presentation (which I most certainly do not have);
  • at least one study shows it as effective for people with both ADHD and dyslexia (which I believe I have a mild form of because of the reading problems I’ve often experienced, though I’ve never been diagnosed);
  • in Dr. Russell Barkley’s presentations posted on YouTube about Sluggish Cognitive Tempo (SCT), an ADHD-like condition (about 50% of people with SCT also have ADHD), he said that atomoxetine was an effective medication for it - and I identify with almost every symptom of SCT; (SCT is much less known or studied than ADHD, and can be misdiagnosed as Inattentive ADHD, depression, Autism Spectrum Disorder, a learning disorder, or possibly something else)
  • at least one study showed atomoxetine as more effective for SCT then methylphenidate was.

Adderall wasn’t as helpful as I needed it to be. I asked my doctor again about trying atomoxetine, and he finally agreed to give it a try.

I’m taking the generic, not the brand (Strattera).

  • Yesterday was Day 1: about two hours after I took it, I started to feel a change… Throughout the day, my thinking became more clear and my thoughts competing less for attention. Possible side-effect: I felt a little drowsy.
  • Today is Day 2: During the first hour after I took the meds, my sense of time slowed down. With my normal, unchecked ADHD, my rapid change of figure sometimes seems like Nightcrawler from the X-Men teleporting again and again and again. This morning, for over an hour, the experience with my brain felt a little like Quicksilver from the X-Men movies, when he appeared to be taking his time moving around, while everything else was nearly at a standstill (not that drastic, but just a comparison of how drastic if a difference that it seemed like). That slowdown balanced out after lunch, and now my sense of time passing seems what I consider to be “normal”. I’m able to focus on one thing at a time without being easily distracted! It is at least as effective as the Adderall was (I think it is noticeably better, so far).

It often takes days or weeks for some people to see a positive difference from atomoxetine. I think that I’ve only seen a few comments of others who had such an early change, as I have noticed with me. I hope that my ADHD traits continue to improve as my brain gets used to the medication. (As an SNRI, which is similar in function to an SSRI, atomoxetine has to build up in the body for the full effect. When going off of it, there is also a long draw-down which is likely to have negative side-effects, but I hope that this is the medication that works for me.)


I’m documenting my experience with atomoxetine at:

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