Nurses with Adult ADD

  1. Hi all,

    As a prospective Nursing Student I am curious if there is anybody out there with Adult ADD (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder). I was diagnosed with ADD as a child and have also been treated for this (and depression) as an adult. I was also diagnosed with severe migraines at age 6 and continue to suffer from them 30+ years later. As a child I was very much withdrawn from my classmates and often became innattentive or lost in my own world. This was attributed to ADD despite the fact I was performing 2-3 grade levels above my peers.

    Grades 1-12 were not very difficult for me despite many lapses, however once I reached college I soon became overwhelmed with the workload and working so many hours. I would do very well one semester, and then reach a point the next semester where I had so much going on that I would literally break down and not be able to stay focused on anything. Needless to say my grades and life suffered because of this.

    I eventually left college and took a rather unchallenging position for 10 years. It had little pressure and I was rarely overwhelmed, at least at work. My doctor even suggested ADD was partially responsible for me "settling" for such a position. However in my private life I still often had difficulty prioritizing and remaining organized. I have taken medication off and on for this and to be honest don't know if it has helped or not.

    Now my question to you: Any other sufferers? How did it impact your schooling? How has it affected your career? Would this even exclude me from getting into an ADN program? I went through a 3 year period of my life where I worked full-time and spent my remaining time caring for a terminally ill Mother and despite the difficulties, physically and emotionally, I handled the situation very well. As tragic as this situation was it did give me confidence that I can handle an intense workload and pressure situations. Maybe maturity has dulled it's affect?

    Thanks!
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  2. 50 Comments

  3. by   lvn2004
    Hi echo,

    I have the ADHD and have been through some of the same things you have experienced. I have had numerous jobs, get bored and frustrated easily and have a hard time concentrating. I am getting ready to start school in August and I am nervous about it because of what I have. I am currently on medication for the ADHD and for depression and it seems like it is helping me. Of course I won't be able to fully tell until I start school, but I am very determined to do this. Nursing is all I have ever had a real passion for. I have read similar posts as this one in the past and they say it can be done only we will have to work twice as hard at it. We can do this! It's definitely worth it.
  4. by   Liddle Noodnik
    Hiya

    I was told in counseling a couple years ago (I'm 44) that I have ADD. It explains my multiple job changes and my feeling (OFTEN) that I can't handle a job that is in keeping with my experience.


    I find I have to play tricks on myself to remember to do stuff, and it is horrid when I am too busy to keep notes on what has happened thru a shift, trying to organize it etc. I really like the way my job's set up now to remind me to do things (computer generated med lists, careplans, etc.)
  5. by   MaggieDRN
    Very interesting post. I,too,have ADD. Migraines from a very young age until the age of 46 and all the other classic symptoms. Hated schooling including LPN and my RN upgrading 17 years later. Survived it though and now have definitely found my niche in independent contracting. Even when I was a traveller it was good. You see, I get bored easily so by doing short term to 13 weekers and then moving on to another facility,etc is just the "medicine" I need to keep interested. I believe alot of ADD/ADHD people are non-conformists and travel nursing and independent contracting are good fits for the non-conformist (no dealing with the bullcrap of administrative stuff,no staff meetings where nothing gets accomplished, no involvement in staffing bull,etc).Sure, I basically do what I want to do when I want,I've also done things the hard way in order to satisfy myself.In the end I believe I have come out so much further ahead than those around me who continue to think within "the box".Thank-you for starting this post. If you are really interested in ADD/ADHD personalities, try reading about the Indigo children and adults-fascinating. Take care. MaggieDRN
  6. by   LoisJean
    Greetings, fellow ADDers. I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder two years ago. I am 56 years old.

    I belong to a generation of people who were not diagnosed in childhood because there was no such diagnosis- and certainly never such a diagnosis for females-not even when it was first cited as a disorder in the '70s-it was believed that it was a 'boy thing'.

    Some of the adjectives used to describe me, to my face and behind my back, by parents, teachers and schoolmates when I was a child were: lazy, stupid, flighty, precocious, rebellious, stuck-up, daydreamer. Other unattractive adjectives were added on by others and myself later in adulthood.

    Like many with this neuro deficit (or 'faulty wiring'), I exhibited certain difficulties: I mixed up my lefts and rights; I had numerical dyslexia. I could not tolerate nor respond well to increased levels of visual and verbal stimulation--like two people talking at once or more than one thing going on at once. Then again, if someone was talking directly to me or showing me something which my brain wouldn't let me understand, I would drift off into some kind of 'other place' and would lose all sense of concentration. I stared out of windows alot. These symptoms and many others led me to believe that I was 'different, wrong and not-as-good-as'. (Remember, in those days kids like me were considered under-achievers, mentally lazy and difficult.)

    As I reached adulthood, I had learned many coping skills to 'hide' what I believed were my failings and shortcomings. This continued on into nursing school where the internal stress of 'proving' myself as competent and capable forced me into a kind of brain numbing exertion-propelled by sheer fear- to produce excellent grades and clinical evals.

    During my many years of clinical nursing, I always worked in high pressure areas of hospitals because the greater the pressure the more I had to force myself to concentrate. During these years I found that when my thinking processes were in high gear, my body would respond in kind...therefore giving the appearence of 'together' and 'quick'. I had little tolerance for slow paced units or areas where I could easily go into my 'daydreaming' mode. My insides demanded a high speed life and boredom was intolerable for me.

    Thus, I lived my life this way. Until I could no longer live that way...because, as I aged the symptoms become worse and my coping skills weakened-- (I always remember that the defination of 'cope' is: "to struggle to produce some kind of success"; it is also a word which describes a 'covering' worn by priests to symbolize the covering up of sins. So, the word, 'cope' is no longer in my vocabulary.)

    I had been self-employed as an Independent Nurse for 6 years prior to my diagnosis of ADD. I found that working my own schedule, creating my own notation forms, working in an environment of my choosing had done wonders for my sense of control. I still had great difficulty keeping paper contained, schedules straight and so on, but at least when I screwed up I had only myself to yell at. I absolutely thrived in this type of working environment. And I was successful as a Nurse Entrepreneur. My business grew- and so did requirements to keep it going.

    Two years ago I found that I was losing important notes, forgetting appointments, showing up at the wrong place at the wrong time, missing personal and professional appointments...all this while continuing to take on more and more work. My office environment was indescriblely bad! I bought books on how to remove clutter from my life, I scrounged the stores and alleys for cardboard boxes to collect all my crap in--I think I collected at least 200 boxes because I was on a MISSION-but I forgot that the mission was to remove clutter-instead it became a mission to collect boxes!

    I rearranged the furniture at least 5 times a week and ended up with even more of a mess. I fought headaches, fatigue, joint and muscle pains and that ever present haunting sense of personal failure. I ranged from hyper to blob-like. I would think: "Today I am going to finish cleaning my office and get every file in place"; instead I'd find myself at the computer playing cards for hours on end...by the time I realized how much time had gone by, all of my resolve to clean and sort had gone out the window and had been replaced with a sense of 'why bother'.

    I sought out a psychiatric councelor because I found my mind trying to contrive a non-messy suicide-one that wouldn't impact too many people. As I tried hard to explain my life to her, (verbalizing feelings was always difficult for me as I would be given to fits of a kind of stuttering and mixing up my words), she saw something in me that she had in herself. So, she had me tested that day and sure enough....ADD. Because I was suicidal at that time, she got me in that day with a MD who deals with Adult ADDers who immediately put me on Effexor and then Concerta. Within 4 weeks the change in me and my insides was incredible.


    I have researched ADD and have read many books about it. I find myself everywhere in the description of ADD. It answers so many questions that I had about myself and ultimately it has brought me great relief. There isn't a day goes by and I'm not recognizing another action (or inaction) related to ADD. I have learned how to deal with my symptoms without the benefit of Concerta - altho I don't leave home without it-(I also have a bottle of shorter duration Ritalin); I have found that from time to time my brain will kick into overdrive and I become unfocused and scattered beyond my control. I continue on the Effexor. I actually like working WITH my symptoms and discovering ways to kind of override them.

    Professionally diagnosed ADD in the adult is recognized as a legally acceptable disability. Therefore, BY LAW, schools, colleges, universities and workplaces must provide the appropriate accommodations for people with this disorder.

    I'm so glad to hear from other nurses who have suffered (or still suffer) from ADD. When I first saw this thread, I got the same feeling I had when I first saw the Nurse Entrepreneur forum....JOY!

    Any of you feel free to pm me if needed. And, yes, lets try to keep this thread going--perhaps we can help someone because I believe this disorder is very prevelent and very undiagnosed in many adult men and women. Maybe we should see if Brian will start a new forum..like, 'NURSING FOR NUTS' or 'IT'S NOT ME, IT'S MY WIREING!'

    Peace,
    Lois Jean
  7. by   glascow
    this post deleted
    Last edit by glascow on Apr 23, '05
  8. by   Liddle Noodnik
    So good to hear all this. I have been dx with bipolar illness (type 2) but o course many of the symptoms cross over into the ADD dx.

    I especially related to you Lois, thanks.
  9. by   glascow
    this post deleted
    Last edit by glascow on Apr 23, '05
  10. by   renerian
    My son has ADD. He is 23 and he is doing fine in nursing school. He does get overwhelmed at times but he is fairing well overall.

    renerian
  11. by   shelleybelle
    I just know for sure I have ADD, but my insurance doesn't pay for "behavioral" testing, counseling, etc. My CFNP I see regularly is convinced I have it, but won't give me a Rx for anything without me being tested. It scared the living daylights out of me when I first entered Nursing School. I'd been fired from my job, gotten a divorce, etc. Even though a psychiatrist hasn't formally diagnosed me, I do feel much better "knowing" I have a real problem and that I'm not just lazy or stupid.

    I graduate from Nursing School this coming Tuesday. It's been a wild ride... but worth it. My recommendation to new students - SIT UP FRONT. I don't care what class it is, who the instructor is or anything else - I always sit up front right in front of the instructor if at all possible. It keeps me focused for a longer period of time. I also have to take frequent breaks at night while I'm studying for tests. Cramming for a test does absolutely nothing for me. I study it, pray about it and go to bed. I don't look at it again until I take the test. I've made straight A's & B's all the way through I did fail a few tests, but that only made me work harder. I don't take any medication, although when I first started school I was on Effexor, then Wellbutrin. I can't say whether or not they worked. I never really felt any different on or off of them. For me, the best medicine is a long walk (or short one if I can't spare the time). I either go in the morning before school, during lunch or in the evening. Sometimes it may be for only 10mins, but every little bit helps. Good luck to you all... don't be scared away from nursing or school! I think nursing is a wonderful place for ADD folks - you focus on the needs of others and besides - you usually stay too busy to get bored or unfocused!
  12. by   lunakat
    I am just a little curious, just recently started hearing about ADD. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed w/depression. Inability to concentrate, extremely tired, bored easily fidget often and extremely short fuse. The depression meds help allot with my concentration and short temper. The problem is that when I stop taking them it all comes back. So should I be tested for ADD? Have any of you been diagnosed with depression first? I just don't want to jump on this wagon with my doctor with out a little background first.
  13. by   CseMgr1
    Originally posted by MaggieDRN
    Very interesting post. I,too,have ADD. Migraines from a very young age until the age of 46 and all the other classic symptoms. Hated schooling including LPN and my RN upgrading 17 years later. Survived it though and now have definitely found my niche in independent contracting. Even when I was a traveller it was good. You see, I get bored easily so by doing short term to 13 weekers and then moving on to another facility,etc is just the "medicine" I need to keep interested. I believe alot of ADD/ADHD people are non-conformists and travel nursing and independent contracting are good fits for the non-conformist (no dealing with the bullcrap of administrative stuff,no staff meetings where nothing gets accomplished, no involvement in staffing bull,etc).Sure, I basically do what I want to do when I want,I've also done things the hard way in order to satisfy myself.In the end I believe I have come out so much further ahead than those around me who continue to think within "the box".Thank-you for starting this post. If you are really interested in ADD/ADHD personalities, try reading about the Indigo children and adults-fascinating. Take care. MaggieDRN
    Maggie...can you write back or start a thread on independent contracting? I am VERY interested in this area!

    Thanks, Pam
  14. by   LoisJean
    lunakat: Yes, I had been diagnosed with depression some years before I was diagnosed with ADD and had been taking Zoloft for it. However, I know now that the depression was partly (and maybe all) due to the symptoms of ADD which were worsening as I aged.

    glascow: I don't understand why your psychiatrist said that to diagnose you with ADD as an adult you had to have been diagnosed with it as a child. My doc told me that more and more adults are being diagnosed now with ADD who had no way of being diagnosed as children because ADD was unknown then.

    I wanted to say too, that my 87 year old mother has all the earmarks of ADHD. My mother is now unable to give me any description of herself as a child d/t dementia. But I interviewed her sister (my aunt) and discovered that Mom was a "very difficult to understand" child and was always "getting paddled" for "acting out and not paying attention". I am 100% certain that my mother has it. My 37 year old daughter has been diagnosed with it and so had her 7 year old son, Carter. My 39 year old son also shows symptoms which seem to be worsening. He has read the books and listened to me explain the heridity factor involved.

    Neither my daughter or my grandson are on any medication for this. She, like me, will take a Ritalin only when the symptoms become severe, but she prefers to use focus training and other concentrative exercises for herself and Carter. It is working well.

    I think each of us could write a book about our personal adventures with ADD. I know that before I knew what it was I thought I was the most incapable person on the planet. Today, I must say that I have some fun with it...and it's always a learning experience for me.

    For instance, there are times when I'm in conversation with some one and say: "Excuse me, but I have Attention Deficit Disability, (I prefer the word 'disability' instead of 'disorder'), and I'm having difficulty following you. I need you to speak slower to me so that I don't lose one of your words" (or)..."Doctor, I have ADD, I need to be certain I have understood you correctly. You have ordered......." It's amazing to me how many people respond with good nature. Before I had this diagnosis I would have never wanted anyone to know the difficulty I was having understanding them--keeping their words straight in my head. Even note taking became a confusing way to do things and then more times than not I'd lose the notes or worse, question what I had written down. If it was a doctors order I would have to call back to confirm what I had written...(not cool).

    Thanks all for posting. I know this sounds familiar and probably silly, but I thought I was the only nurse in the world with this thing.

    Peace,
    Lois Jean

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