Wanted to introduce myself to this awesome community. I am here seeking help and seeking to give it. I am 38 years old and my battle began about 21 years ago. I am very lucky to have been diagnosed with ADD (or ADHD or SCT, whatever we’re calling it now) at such a young age. I have to give incredible credit to my parents and teachers for being progressive enough to believe in this stuff. It’s always been controversial but in the 80s, it was even more so. My parents knew that I was a slow learner, and a big day dreamer, so they took me to get tested. I was diagnosed with ADD and put into Special Education class.
Back then, all students with special needs (that were actually recognized as such) were placed into Special Ed. One class for all grades. I was in there with some students my age, and some much older. I spent a year in this class, and then the next year I had a new teacher. She and her assistant began to wonder if I really needed this kind of accommodation. I was a kid who had trouble paying attention and following directions for assignments, and there were other kids in the class who had violent outbursts towards the teachers. My problem, while recognized as a problem, was considered pretty mild. The classroom was right next to a standard 1st grade class, and I knew some of the kids there. One day, the teacher asked me if I’d like to experiment with spending part of the day in the 1st grade class. I agreed, not really knowing what was going on, though my parents did explain it to me. My visits to the 1st grade class lasted longer and longer, until one day my Special Ed teacher stopped me before entering her classroom, and told me to start the day in the 1st grade class. I ended up spending the whole day there, and as I remember I never went back. My parents explained that this didn’t mean I would never be back in Special Ed, and that this was an experiment. If it went wrong, I’d be back there. If it went right, I’d be “declassified.” Declassified in this case meant that I wouldn’t need Special Ed anymore, not that my medical diagnosis would change.
During this time, I was still being pulled out of class by specialists and aides who usually worked with me 1 on 1. I started taking Ritalin, which again I have to give my parents credit for. I was so young and some teachers and even medical professionals thought this was not a good idea. When the dose wasn’t really doing much, my parents kept asking to raise the dose. My second grade teacher criticized my mother for “drugging up” her kid. Two weeks later she took that back and praised my mother’s decision, noting a big change. I for one, don’t really remember the change but I know it was there.
4th grade I was officially declassified, but again I emphasize that this does not mean my diagnosis changed, only the way the school system felt they needed to handle it. The medication continued, changing the dosage many times. If there was another medicine for my ADD, it came in the way of martial arts. Karate helped me achieve focus, concentration, and it gave me something to aim for. I’m not saying that ADD didn’t negatively impact Karate as well, but it was a great source of help.
Middle school was a real struggle for me and my parents, as the ritalin seemed to be losing its effect and impulsivity was rising. Particularly as I was becoming a teenager, though my executive age made aspects of my brain noticibly younger. It helped kids tease and make fun of me as well. The older I got, the more the age deficit became a problem. I was legally able to drive earlier than most kids, but even with a license, my parents didn’t let me drive without them. I was angry about that back then, now I’m thankful for it. That action probably saved my life and several others.
Late in High School I started working, and my parents were sure it was going to interfere with my already poor academic performance. It actually helped instead, because now I had less time to procrastinate, less time for impulsive thinking. I was no great student but I was starting to change for the better. The ritalin was basically useless for me at the time, and my parents and I made the decision to eliminate it. They felt it was time to find other ways to deal with it. It seemed I had, as in college I became a great student. Things looked promising to me.
The promise didn’t come through. I found I was awful at the career I had gone to college to prepare for. Years of not being able to get more than temporary work, left a big question mark on my life. I tried medication again without success. And my insurance wasn’t covering it anymore so I decided not to spend all that money on medicine that I wasn’t sure was going to work. Impulsive behavior again played a big role as I floundered from one possible career idea to another. I dabbled in everything from teaching, to acting, to being a youtube critic, to professional martial arts, and even working at a donut shop. None of these took off.
My romantic life was not very successful either. Most of my speed date conversations ended when I told them what I did for a living, or often what I wasn’t doing for a living. But new hope came in a long distance relationship that started through online dating. I decided to take a plunge and relocate, and it worked to surprising effect. Not only did I get engaged, but I was able to find full time work much easier. My wife and I married in 2015 and will be celebrating our 4 year anniversary soon. Married life did reawaken my attention to ADD and it’s problems and I decided to return to medication and also research as much as I could. Communities like this one have been very helpful.
As an ADD warrior I am always looking for counsel and tools to help me in my battle. Some time last year, I invented an ADD utility belt to help me get organized and stop forgetting things so much. So far it has been very successful and I’d like to discuss it further some time.