Male ADD Introduction

Having gone through all of the categories I am not seeing a great place to just post introductions, thus I will just post them here.  Reason I want to do an introduction is it will help support future post.  Many times I will read someone's post and find I really want to know their credentials.  I don't mean to say their educational or career experience but rather their experience credentials.  What is driving them to these thoughts, opinions and/or facts.  Who is the person behind the curtain driving the show.  It is impossible for me to provide all the insight needed to do true validation but I can only hope this helps.

Age - 30

Sex - Male

Diagnosed Age - 16 with ADD (didn't register in the H category)

Treatment History:

  • 16-18: tried Ritalin which was effective, but side effects associated with the medicine out weighed the benefits according to my mother. Behavioral therapy as well.
  • 19-26: tried herbal treatments (DHA, Ginko, DHEA, Omega-3, Source of Life, DMAE, L-Tyrosine, etc. etc.).  I did find that a small combination of these over time does help clear some of the focus symptoms, but not effectively enough to make large scale changes.  No behavioral therapy.  Ton's of self discovery, self research and reaching out for answers during this time, but not much of an online presence.  I did read all the classic books on ADD that had been out at the time.
  • 26-29 (6 months ago): untreated during this time.  I lost hope in the natural remedies and again had stomach related side effects from the amount of vitamins it takes to make a difference.  Honestly, I stopped intentionally focusing on ADD during this time I was overwhelmed at the time with many bad life choices.
  • 6 Months Ago - Current: I engaged therapy due to unmanageable life circumstances that I absolutely could not figure.  Honestly, I did not go with the intent that ADD was still my problem.  I was going for signs of depression and anxiety that I could not manage. I could not process emotions (pretty common for me), but could not process information and my communication maturity was non-existent.  Emotional maturity is a pretty heavy issue for me, but the last two though riddled with ADD difficulties I had found a system that worked.  No techniques I had discovered and/or developed were effective.  Just so happened that during the acceptance interview and was divulging my medical history that the ADD came back up.  I hadn't taken an official ADD diagnostic test since I was 16 and was very curious what the results would be.  Long story short I still had ADD but the level at which I had ADD either had changed or was mis-diagnosed.  Either could be the case as ADD diagnoses and treatment have come along way since the mid-nineties.  I had gone through so much with the natural route I was not against medical options and since I had tried the "Ritalin" family we decided to go with the "Adderall" class and started with Vyvanse.  Was almost the perfect dosage and medicinal treatment for my ADD.  Unfortunately it only lasted from 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM which covered the work day, but not the evening time which was in desperate need of work.  After a month of Vyvanse we (therapist and I) switched to Dexedrine SR twice a day which has worked out great.  It last long enough while not having extreme side effects.  In addition to medicinal treatment I am also in behavioral therapy sessions on top of a new vigor for research and reading.  I will never again in my life regardless of the outcome of my life situation stop treating ADD.  At 16 I was not experienced enough to know just how much the medicine was actually helping and thus did not communicate my needs well to the therapist or mother.  After 9-10 years of struggling through situations and living in a cloud I do not wish to ever go back.

Successes: (note I think these next two sections are vitally important as it shows that untreated and treated ADD individuals will have failures in both circumstances, plus it allows me to frame up a history in which I can rely on in future post)

  • Graduated High School (barely): I don't consider this a great success but non the less it was not something those close to me thought would happen.
  • Graduated College (Bachelors in 3 years): this was during my natural remedy phase with no behavioral coaching or therapy.  I had full force ADD symptoms (realized in hindsight).  I have a very strong need and desire to prove to myself and others that success is a decision we make daily in every moment.  I picked the right college and used this desire/need to drive myself from a motivational perspective.  In other words I hyper focused on school and anything that helped me build systems that would support a successful experience.  Funny thing it took me one and a half years to get the system right and thus my GPA during the first half was 2.5-2.7 ish (low C level).  The final year and a half was 3.5-3.7 ish and thus I finished up around 3.0 in basic courses and 3.4 in core program courses (again easier to hyper-focus on interesting topics.
  • Job Market (IT Degree)had crashed about the year of my graduation and people weren't bringing in new talent and were keeping their experienced folks.  Decided to get a Master while the market sucked and add to the paper resume).  Finished Graduate school in 1.5 years with a Masters in Project Management (I call this one out specifically because it has changed my life in more than just a career perspective).
  • I held a job with a very large financial organization while in college (19-26) and got promoted within 3 times due to high performance.  I actually promoted into a project management roll about the same time I started my Masters program in project management with this company.  When I finished my degree program I had 7 years with the same company working in the field and was able to find great work in that field with an airlines company.
  • Failed experience with the airlines company (will explain more in next section) and had a lot to do with my "justification" to stop treating ADD (natural remedies and even self research).  It was the first time in my education and career I had failed since really high school.  I did not deal with this experience well at all.
  • Interestingly enough I got another great opportunity with a very large bank and worked great in that environment was very successful.  It was a short (hired gun) contract and upon completion was not expected to be extended or converted to associate.
  • I moved on to another very large bank contract and have been in this roll ever since (between 2-3 years).  Am very successful at this job and will be here for a very long time.

Failures: (note all of my big successes were education and career based, not emotional, psychological, spiritual or relationship based)

  • Emotional Intelligence: I spent many many many years educating, learning honing skills in business and social relationships, communications, organizational skills, etc. etc.  I refined my skillsets in these areas but neglected emotional intelligence.  Many reasons: 1) I didn't want to face the reality and pain I would be required to go through to understand, learn and move on from my past issues (ie broken home, no father figure, deaths of close family, etc.)  2) I couldn't see a reason to focus energy on something that is painful and without benefit (how I felt at the time).  I couldn't see how important emotional development was to my personal relationships and the long term reality of not dealing with those issues then. 3) ADD symptoms I was experiencing but did not understand were making it impossible deal with emotional issues.  I spent many years being successful in education, business and social (at distance) relationships and was content with my position.  I should note that I did not have a committed relationship between 2001 and 2007.
  • Psychological Intelligence: Though I have spent countless hours researching, talking to and processing behavior of people with and without ADD it was always without good treatment of my condition.  Things I've read and digested over the years are just now clicking and making sense.  This is one of my greatest regrets and depressing realizations (other than #1).  I spent so many years trying to understand the psychology of ADD, but never actual gave myself the right tools needed to be successful.  I can see so many experiences over the last 9-10 years that would be so much more rich and value adding experience had I treated my problem.  Please know this is not something I realized then and only in the last six months with treatment have been able to think through.
  • Relationships: all my relationships have been impacted by my ADD symptoms and the behavioral habits I established by not treating those symptoms.  I have had two serious relationships in 12 years.  I can't say all of our issues were ADD related, but the ADD symptoms did contribute to communication and understanding issues making it impossible to see each others position.  My first relationship ended in 2001 and my current relationship is on-going with severe issues.  
  • Trust: I don't blame ADD for my trust issues but again not treating it for so long contributed to my inability to resolve trust issues caused by other traumatic events.
  • Co-Dependant: In the last year I have finally started to see some of my co-dependent issues.  My mother is an enabler and a co-dependent herself and was my primary caregiver.  Individuals with ADD already are predisposed to being co-dependent and my mother was the ultimate caregiver.  It was a blessing and curse.  Due to being in a broken home having that unconditional support which provided a very necessary feeling of safety and consistency helped reduce the confidence and behavioral issues I could of had based on trauma during my youth.  On the other hand it did nothing to teach me about responsibility (not for actions) but for my day to day well being.  I was taught very well that my words, actions and commitments are my responsibility and my word is my bond.  Yet, when it came to the teaching and pushing needed to help educate and fight co-dependency in daily responsibilities, was non existent.  I am co-dependent (per my therapist) in one main area; day to day basic care responsibilities (things that fall into the house hold maintenance and care area).  Interestingly enough (I haven't figured this out yet) I am not an emotional co-dependent, I actually resist emotional dependency on anyone and having anyone be co-dependent on me.  My assumption is this has something thing to do with #1 and 2 failures and ADD.
  • Airline Failure: this was a result of two main things: completely ignoring ADD by decision and taking on a job above my experience level.  I was more interested in making big money and should have been more honest with myself about my capabilities.  I was not ready for that level of job and had to fight everyday 16 hours just to keep my head above water.  My ethics on commitment is the only thing that kept me from quiting and not finishing the contract.  I had blackouts, anxiety, time span memory loss and other psychological issues during the last 3 months due to the stress of the experience.  I didn't quit but at the same time I was not successful, I failed daily and it was my fault.  They actually wanted to renew for another year, but I chose not to and move into another roll.  In hindsight I truly believe if I had adequately treated my ADD #1 I wouldn't have taken the job, but if I had I wouldn't have failed at the same level.  I still was in way to deep, but treating the ADD would have allowed those symptoms to not contribute to further failures.  I can see daily behaviors on my part as a result of ADD that would not have been a problem had I treated ADD.

Please keep in mind that the above items are not meant to be full insight into all of my experiences.  I just wanted to highlight main key areas in both the success and failure areas of life.  I meet people all the time who only look at one dimension of my persona and either see a complete failure or a huge success.  One conclusion that can be empiracly stated is I have done a very poor job of balancing my life over time.  I do not multi-task and in many cases hyper focus the dimensions of my life.  I am neither a failure or success but rather on a journey that will never end, with a plethora of all experiences.

My goals for the future:

  • Balance: continue to pursue knowledge, strive for truth (reality) but in a more balanced approach.  Stop spending years in one area of life and ignoring all others.
  • Emotional and Psychological Intelligence: while trying to remain balanced try to catch up for lost time.  With a treated mind approach these two areas and maximize opportunites for growth.
  • Relationships: same as above educate, digest and put into practice solid skills that will improve my relationships.
  • Build A Reality Based Map: to fully explain this I have to give credit and recommend a book called "The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck".  I cannot due justice to his explanation of truth, reality and map making.  I can only say that I want to always work to improve my map and its basis on reality.
  • Continually Reassess: in all areas always reassess my position in life.  Over time everyone loses a grasp on their reality because it requires conscious effort and 100% honesty.  No individual possess the ability to provide 100% conscious effort and be 100% truthful all the time.  Thus we always have to be assessing and testing our maps (reality) to ensure we are on the right path.  I will always reassess because I know I am imperfect.
  • Make Amends: stole this from the AA 12 Step program.  When possible I want to try and make amends as I realize greviances related to past failures.
  • Treat ADD: I don't believe in my life time there will be a cure found to ADD.  I have accepted the fact that I will always have ADD and at some level have to deal with the symptoms.  I will always these steps in treatment of ADD: 1) Medicate and Therapy 2) Try to change habitual ADD behaviors 3) Develop a solid communication structure with anyone is faced with interacting with me 4) Continually educate myself on new studies, treatments, theories, procedures and material associated with psychological well being and ADD.

Important:  I believe that even in taking all 4 steps listed above in treatment of ADD one can never full rid themselves of the ADD symptoms.  I believe this based on technical research I've read by creditable doctors and organizations in the medical field.  I truly believe ADD is a result of Pre-Frontal Cortex deficiencies.  Specifically a lack of activity in the Pre-Frontal Cortex associated with normal daily activities/interactions.  There are specific brain scans that can be done that show blood flow and neuro-activity in the different parts of the brain.  When a person with ADD is stimulated in ways that cause activity to increase in a "non-ADD brain" in an ADD brain there is identifiable drops in blood flow/activity.  If you understand the executive functions controlled by the Pre-Frontal Cortex and then compare those to ADD symptom areas it is very hard to deny the connection.  That said I think at this point in the development of treatment options there is not a medication, behavioral therapist and or procedure that when combined 100% elevate the problems caused by ADD.

Executive Functions - 1) attention span, 2) perseverance, 3) judgment, 4) organization, 5) impulse control, 6) self-monitoring and supervision, 7) problem solving, 8) critical thinking, 9) forward thinking, 10) learning from experience, 11) ability to feel and express emotions, 12) interaction with the limbic system, and 13) empathy

ADD Symptoms (not comprehensive) - 1) Short attention span, 2) distractibility, 3) lack of perseverance, 4) impulse control problems, 5) hyperactivity, 6) chronic lateness and poor time management, 7) disorganization, 8) procrastination, 9) unavailability of emotions, 10) misperceptions, 11) poor judgment, 12) trouble learning from experience, 13) short-term memory loss, and 14) social and test anxiety

I say that to make this final point for this post.  I will always have to interact with people that do not have ADD and they with me.  If you agree with the above then you might also agree that an ADD brain functions at a physiological level differently than a non ADD brain.  If there is no cure and a way to alleviate all ADD symptoms then I will always have ADD related behaviors (at some level, hopefully very small and minuet).  Melissa has done a great job of illustrating just how much effort is required by both parties involved when dealing with an ADD impacted relationship.  Unfortunately, my ADD will never be 100% transparent to those I am close to and in a relationship.  I will never process information the same way someone without ADD does and thus my response will never be the same.  I am not trying set this up as a huge justification for ADD'ers never to take responsibility.  It is the person with ADD full responsibility to understand, research, treat and take action in areas impacted by their ADD.  Yet, it would be unrealistic for me not to recognize that I will always require the other person to educate themselves on ADD, understand how the two brains differ and work with me to develop solid communication structures.  It is another level of effort that you might not have to spend as much time working on in relationships with non-ADD individuals.  

Bottom line: it is unrealistic for me to expect a non-ADD individual to interact as if they have an ADD problem, just as it is unrealistic for a non-ADD individual to expect someone with ADD to ever interact as if they have a non-ADD brain.  It will always require effort, education, understanding and communication to ensure a healthy relationship.  From either position expecting anything different is expecting that persons (non ADD or ADD) to make a physiological change to themselves by just thinking about it more, trying harder, etc.  I have yet to read, meet or know of a human being that made physical change to their body just by concentrating or thinking harder.

Please keep in mind:

  1. ADD is not a result of a choice the individual makes it is a condition we are born with and/or is perpetuated by influences out of our control.  The physiological problems are not within our control to change.  Though we are the minority today I think you can find statistic (especially in the US) that it is a growing condition.  It could very well be that we will always be the minority but until they find a cure their are enough of us out there that everyone at some point will have to interact with their opposite.
  2. ADD should not be an excuse to not take responsibility for our lives, treatment and growth.  
  3. Untreated ADD individuals will always have relationship problems more than what I describe as just the basic physiological differences.   Untreated ADD makes it virtually impossible to operate with in the accepted sociatal standards set by humanity.  To be successful in any area of life treatment will be required.

These are my experiences and beliefs at a high fundamental level.  I hope this does help frame up any future post I make by providing insight into my life.

To Be Continued: I want to add an additional section detailing more of my current circumstances, issues and reality.

Goals

Thanks for your long and informative post about your experiences and what you are dealing with.  I like the fact that you are giving who you are and how you interact with others so much thought.

You mention that it's unrealistic to expect that ADHD people and non-ADHD will think alike, even with treatment.  I would challenge you to go one step further.  I don't think it's desirable for people with ADHD and without to think in the same way.  In fact, it's really great that we don't all think the same.  The issue isn't making a person with ADHD into a person without, but to find ways to use the talents and quirks you have to shine light on your life and the lives of others.  In a relationship, that means that there are basics that need to be taken care of that ADHD can interfere with (such as making sure you attend to your partner, rather than get so distracted from her that she is left feeling lonely and unhappy) and making sure that you have structures in place that let you hold up your end of the bargain around the house to a degree that makes everyone happy.  Also, completely open communication about ADHD (and making ADHD neutral in your relationship, rather than a hot button) is important.  But once a strong foundation is in place, then part of living with one ADHD partner and one without is celebrating what makes you different, and genuinely appreciating it.  I can appreciate, for example, that my husband multi-tasks in his brain ALL of the time, and sometimes that trait drives me nuts (like when I can't get his attention because his brain is already full of other stuff).  But most of the time I marvel at this skill that he has and how it informs his life so differently from my own.  His view of me has similar types of feelings (he appreciates my intuitive strengths in emotional issues, for example.)

As you are setting goals for yourself, don't just focus on what you think needs to be improved or fixed.  Also identify where your very real strengths lie and be proud of them.  You clearly have many (one of which is the desire to understand yourself better).

Male ADHD.

I loved this post. My ADHD husband will be reading it tonight. I do believe he will benefit greatly from it, as he is resolved to take action, and is motivated. Thank you for sharing.