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!'