The 4 Secrets to Success with Adult ADHD

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A head of gears

If you think or know you have ADHD, you’re probably a little confused.  You may not feel like you have a “deficit” but you may not be entirely happy with how things are going in your life.

Let’s be honest.  Here’s some stuff that you just have to know.

1) First, if you have ADHD, you’re different.  Your brain works differently.  You can’t do anything about it directly (as far as I know, there isn’t a brain exchange program – yet), and, whether you like it or not, it has a major impact on your life.  Most people aren’t like you.

There’s a reason you’ve been having all the issues you’ve been having – it’s not your fault.

2) There are amazing things about you that you don’t appreciate.  Other people simply aren’t as energetic, friendly, interested in biofuels or spontaneous as you.  By focusing on your strengths, you will achieve great success and the respect, admiration and even envy of other people (“why can’t I start my own art agency/legal practice?” and, “why can’t I get that promotion?”)

3) Life will make it near impossible for you to focus on your strengths.

You will instead focus on the fact that you can’t sit still.  That you have trouble having “normal” conversations about small, boring things.  That you drive really fast, blasting music.  Whatever the symptoms the ADHD causes – those are the things that will hurt and depress you.

And when you focus on the bad things, other people will too.  People instinctively look to other people for social guidance, how to judge things, even more so than you might think.  (People with ADHD can be quite resistant to group think because they can’t ignore that nasty voice inside of them saying, “this is stupid!”)

If you are down and unhappy about your flaws, other people will see and judge them the same way you do.  They’ll think, “wow, that guy’s not normal.”

If you focus all your energy on doing things that you feel you have to, but are excruciatingly hard, you’ll never be happy.  And you won’t do them that well anyways!

Your gift is in certain areas, certain things, certain strengths.  You are AMAZING at those things but don’t realize it.  And trying to do the things you can’t, that people without ADHD can do easily, is a sure fire way to fail and be unhappy.

Would you expect a great and passionate painter to spend his time filling tax forms?  Or the CEO of the company to mop the floor?

The Hunter/Farmer model proposed by Hartmann is very empowering and just makes sense to a lot of people.  What it says, basically, is that people with ADHD are more like hunters – they need constant stimulation, variety, excitement and change.  Other people are like farmers – focused, able to do boring things for long times, and conventional.

Now, remember, ADHD isn’t just a matter of feeling, or personality types, or lifestyle.  (Although based on how many executives I know have ADHD, it can actually be an advantage at some jobs).  It’s a neurological condition that we have pretty much proven is a physical condition.

If you have ADHD, your brain has different wave patterns and activity than people without it.  Your basic energy processing system is different, as well as the way that you respond to stimulation.  For you to maintain focus on something, it has to be very, very interesting.

We’re starting to be able to prove that by pointing at specific brain activity and abnormalities.

4) If you have ADHD, you are still fully responsible for your life.  But treatment can change everything.  That’s not just hyperbole.  We’re talking about a complete change in everything – for the better.  Even so, and even though ADHD is a real problem that can make your life hell at times, you’re still responsible for everything you do.

If you have ADHD and you run a traffic light – you still get a ticket.  If you don’t do your homework and miss the final, you’ll get an F.

Remember, most other people are simply too busy to care about whether or not you have ADHD.  They care about what you do, whether they enjoy spending time with you, doing business, or whatever.  You are the only one ultimately responsible for your life.

And, ADHD or not – how can you make it great?

Wow, that really helped!

Some people read this article and are amazed at how accurate the advice it gives seems.

If you want to learn more, see here.

What Sucks & What Rocks About ADHD – what is good about having ADHD, and what is bad?

ADHD Medications

In 70-80% of people, when combined with therapy, medication works fairly well to treat ADHD.  See a Full List of ADHD Medications to learn what the most commonly used treatments are and how well they work.

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Pharmaceutical analyst who loves blogging about health and medical issues. Has written more than 150 articles and a book on attention deficit disorder. Correctly predicted delayed approval of Bydureon, approval of Provenge by FDA, and the non-approval of Acthar on June 11.

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53 COMMENTS

  1. This paticular page about adhd was very encourageing to me it explained a lot to me about myself. I’m thankful to find it thanks

  2. I have been living with adhd all my life. U r totally right bout how good u r at things that u enjoy. I cannot keep a factory job. Its too boring pushing buttons and watching a machine. The only jobs I can keep are construction jobs. I love building and remodeling and I am very good at it. U show me something once related to construction and ill remember it forever. Its just too bad that right now I haven’t been able to find a new construction job for 6 months even though I have 6 years experience. But my wife is very understanding and doesn’t push me to take another kind of job because she understands that I simply can’t stand any other kind of work and I’ve never had a factory job (except trailer factories because I still get to build and it requires thought and calculations) for more than 2 months.

  3. I spent years as a personal trainer for many large gym chains, ran a GNC and am now in the Decorative Concrete Industry working with my best friend of 24 years. I was diagnosed 2 years ago with ADHD and was prescribed Vyvanse. I was skeptical at first; However, it has helped me help others to focus on their goals and has changed my life for the better in so many ways. Thank you Shire.

  4. Hi, My name is Jana. I am an adult with four children. Two of which have ADHD. It is a horrible struggle trying to get them to focus on things esp. reading. It is also a struggle every new school year with a new teacher that doesn’t understand a child with ADHD, nor have the time to try to understand. We have used Adderall for years, my youngest child put on it at the age of three by the request of a preschhol teacher (who may I ad did understand about the disease). We will be switcing to Vyvanse this week and I will update the site in a month or so when we see if there is a difference and if it is positive or negative.

  5. I have been reading this and i am thinking, wow! I have ADHD! I cant belive this article wasnt written especially for me. a friend recently suggested that i might have ADHD because i spend half my life looking for something i’ve misplaced: my wallet, keys, scarf, sunglasses, etc. I have had trouble all my life with procrastination. Biofuels fascinate me! LOL And if im not interested in something or a conversation, my little voice is screaming “S T U P I D “. I am going to see a dr asap and try some speed!

    • actually, mark, this article was written just for you. I’m going to delete it now that you found it ;-)

      *ahem* that said, if you liked it, you should tots get my book ^^

  6. Where do I send the $8.50 ?

  7. I LOVED this explanation and POSITIVE way of looking at AD/HD!

    My younger brother was diagnosed with ADD in elementary school (in the 80’s) and was looked down upon. My middle brother was diagnosed with AD/HD and Dyslexia in college. Having both of my younger siblings diagnosed with learning disorders, I too went and got tested! It turned out I have AD/HD and I am the highest hyper activity level and the highest distractability level!

    Since my middle brother and I were able to concentrate enough to still be above average students through coping mechanisms, we stayed below the radar until college! I wish I would have known when I was younger!!! I could have ACTUALLY learned something if I read the books or did my homework or turned in papers consistently and not late.

    Anyway, my youngest brother still to this day has a negative outlook about ADD and AD/HD. I hope to send him this article and brighten his outlook! Thank you for contributing to the knowledge of this disorder (I don’t like this term, by-the-way, but am unsure of a better term at the moment) and showing the positives that ‘disorder’ can bring!!!

  8. I get the part about focusing on your interests, but i have 3 questions about it.

    First, how can I do this if I am forced to go to school and do well in subjects that dont interest you at all? Its not like I can just say “oh, its ok, I have ADHD so as long as I get an A+ in English and History, its ok for me to fail Science and Math.” How do I deal?

    Second, how do i find my interests and what I’m particularly good at? At this point in my life I feel like I still have no idea what I want to do, I’m not interested in anything, and I don’t seem to be very good at anything.

    Third, will taking medication prevent me from having these things that I’m supposed to be particularly good at?

    I’d appreciate any advice in terms of these 3 issues because I dont know what I want to do with my future and I feel like I never will.

    • Jill –

      if you have ADHD, treatment can be extremely helpful. At the right dose, an ADHD medication helps you focus and deal with, say Science and Math, while letting you keep your passion for English and History. While not ignoring the risks, ADHD treatments like Ritalin, Vyvanse and Adderall can help people, for the first time ever, enjoy studying, long conversations, et cetra, according to Dr. Wender, a clinician/researcher who wrote a set of guidelines for ADHD.

      We’re talking finally being able to do things the way other people do while not losing sight of the things that make you you. Please seriously consider finding a therapist or someone who can help you deal with these issues.

      As for finding your interests – that’s tough. It’s probably not going to happen in high school but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get the most you can from your education.

      Hope that helps.

      Best wishes,
      David

  9. I’ve had add my whole life. When I was in school as a kid I could literally not stay in my seat. Now, when I’m in college, my mind wanders on the internet, while I physically stay in my seat. I have to have something on my computer screen to make me feel safe like I won’t (God forbid) get bored. However, it works for me.

    I’ve been taking Vyvanse for a while, and although I get very tired sometimes when it wears off, it helps me a lot. When I first started taking medication it completely changed my life.

    I get bored with the subjects in class I don’t want to deal with, but on my area of interest, the Middle East and its politics, my mind zeroes in for hours on end. I spend almost every waking moment of my life reading news and history on the internet or in books, usually about the Middle East. I was able to travel there in December and it was amazing. I am good at something.

    I got accepted at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, in a degree for Middle East Politics and I’m starting to learn Arabic. I’ve had several people in my college tell me I’m the smartest person at the school. I’m the president of a middle east oriented club on campus, in addition to outside activism.

    This is the cause and calling of my life, I’m good at it, I find it interesting and exciting, so why run away from it? I embrace it and I try to ignore things that bore me. This is the tradeoff in my life. I have to make my life revolve around my interest, not the other way around. It’s hard for me to have a conversation which isn’t political in nature, especially if it’s not about the Middle East or international politics. So, my girlfriend is Palestinian and she helps me learn Arabic. We talk about Palestine and Israel and the other countries for hours and we both love it.

    This is the advice I have for other add people: don’t fight your nature, embrace it. You will find people who fit what you’re looking for. Don’t let life box you in.

  10. I am 37/F. I have a daughter that is 12 and she is ADHD. Since we found Vyvanse, we hardly have the (H) anymore. I need some sound advice please. My daughter was diagnosed witht this in first grade. I knew there was an issue with her reading and social life. I did not want to put her on meds at all. I eventually learned that this was not an option. After failed meds.. First I wanted to try Stratera (do not know if I am spelling the meds rite) because they said it was the only non stimulant kind.. Any WAy.. none of this worked for her. I finally got her on Vyvanse and the differnce in her grades, work, social life and concentrtion are amazing ! The big QESTION here is.. Am I ADD? I truely belive I am. I am back in college for follow up accounting degree and concentration is a big obsticle in my way ! I fidget, I cant focus.. I read the same thing 3 times to make myself get it… I am going to see my doctor tomorrow and I hope he allows me to try this to see if I can get the same results my child did.

  11. … as I was saying.. I was doing 3 things besdies that post at the same time and now that I proof read .. what a mess. I will make this one short. I have been diagnosed with depression several times but none of the meds they put on work and I am not about to keep adding and adding meds till I am on 10 and zombie fied”. I agree with some comments here about “embracing” what you have and using it to your advantage. Maybe If I was able to concentrate and focus better I would be a better influence for my child as well. I am worried when I see my doctor tomorrow he will not want to try this. If he does not see this in me or will not find ouf if this works for me what are my other options ? Please help, desperate to enjoy life…..

  12. I know that the terms ADD and ADHD are supposed to be interchangeable, but I seriously don’t think they should be, since they are very different. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was 6 years old, and I have NEVER had the “H” a day in my life! My brain acts very much like someone’s with ADHD (not being able to read a book unless it’s extremely interesting, my brain bouncing from subject to subject so fast that if I don’t write my thoughts down immediately when they pop in my head, they’re gone…etc.), but as the “hyperactivity” issues go, they are non-existant! I have always naturally been the most lethargic, low energy, can-barely-get-outta-bed type of person I know.

    I started out on Ritalin when I was 6, which never helped me much, then I got put on Adderall when I was 12 and it was an amazing improvement! I have been on some form of stimulant medication my entire life, and my body, as well as my brain, has never been able to properly function without one. Adderall not only treated my ADD, it also worked on my depression, constant total lack of energy, and it kept my metabolism and weight in check. Over the years before I found something that would work for me, I tried all kinds of different meds, and none even came close to helping me the way that the Adderall did. It always made me feel like a normal person is supposed to, much more than any other treatment method I’ve tried ever could even hope to. In other words, it worked VERY well with my body chemistry. And I really took comfort in the fact that, as long as I had my medication, I would be able to deal with anything. But with that wonderful solution, came a terrible hidden problem. Many people (doctors included), and especially lawmakers, that don’t seem to understand that some of us actually need THIS specific medication, tend to treat people that take Adderall, even for legitimit reasons, much like they’d treat criminals, or drug addicts. I had been taking the Adderall for 12 years, and even though I had a lot of other problems in my life, my ability to function like a normal person was great. Until the day that my doctor, whom I had been seeing my entire life, decided to abruptly drop me as a patient, probably because of how hard the lawmakers are crackin’ down on the decent people that truly need their medication, and the doctors that prescribe it. The honest law-abiding citizens are the only people that actually suffer from these laws, because criminals can find ways around them, but anyways.

    This was something that I’d always been afraid of. Now I had to find a new doctor. It took me 4 months to get an appointment with another doctor, and because being on some form of stimulant medication everyday for the last 18 years, and then having to abruptly stop taking them, screwed my body up so bad, I went from like 145lbs to 200lbs, just in the 4 months that it took me to find another doctor! I am currently back on my old dosage of Adderall, that is again helping me with my ADD, and depression, but my body is still 50+ lbs overweight, my metabolism is almost non-existant, I have hideous stretchmarks all over my body, and many other weight-gain related health issues now. Even though I have no problem now with getting my doctor to write my prescriptions, now I’m having a hell of a time finding a pharmacy that carries the right kind, because I have sensitivities, and bad reactions to most of the generic brands, except for the kind I’m used to. So, my question is Do you have any suggestions on what I could do to ensure that this never happens to me, or anyone else again?

  13. There is a really big difference in the H and No H, or plain old inattentive version. first, its harder to get diagnosed, we’re the quiet daydreamers who don’t ever get in trouble but don’t do well in school. Instead of being called a ‘behavior” problem, we get labelled with ‘character” problems, Lazy, unmotivated, etc. We fail repeatedly, get depressed, self-medicate, and gradually start to believe less in ourselves, expect less.
    I think the bottom line is that if you think you have add/hd, go see a qualified MD, and in most cases this means seeing a psychiartist, and that is getting more and more difficult. (just about NONE of them in my area take my insurance) Read up on it, advocate for yourself, there is a life out there and tools to help you get it!!

  14. My son was diagnosed a few years ago. He is just like me in everyway, we look like twins except I have signs of ageing. Anyway, I have to say that he changed for the better when he was diagnosed. Grades went up mainly, but he past my current abilities like a rocket ship as far as what he was able to accomplish. ADD was not something they diagnosed a lot in the 70’s when I was a pup, I know that they labeled me as lazy and not living up to my potential. They tested me for all sorts of things but it never came back as ADD that I know of. Even if the doctors were to tell my parents that I had it, they would have never agreed with it just out of being labeled in that day and how it may embarrass the family. I told my mother the other day I wished they had put me on meds, bless her heart she still thinks that I should just try harder. She doesn’t understand.

    I really feel that I missed out on so many opportunities. I took the self test and I am so bad I can not believe that I have made it as far as I have. Mixing up words and letters, to practically having to hold in a yawn when speaking to anyone, unless it is very interesting conversation. It is a battle to make a point because I have a thousand things running through my head making it very hard to sleep so much I have to take Ambien. I have very little desire to wake up and I am always in a hurry. When I read that part I knew. I am late at times but make a real effort to be on time, but it is hard. When I am early, I will hurry even more to get their even earlier. Forgetting my keys, wallet, rings; I can not make it to the car without forgetting something.

    After reading all about ADD and after the self test I am 100% I have ADD so I have made an appointment with my GP next week. I asked if they treated ADD before I made the appointment. I read that some doctors want to put you on none stimulant meds first, maybe do anti-depressants. I am not depressed.

    Am I wasting my time with an internal medicine doctor? Should I see a therapist when I don’t need therapy? I feel hopeless!

  15. I come from an African upbringing. I didn’t have ADHD when i was younger, I was just “difficult”. It was not until later that my Godmother took me for testing that I found out there was a reason that I was the way. Though my mom approves, the rest of my family does understand that i need to be put on medication. It’s not that they don’t my case is that severe, though it is. It’s because they still don’t believe that ADHD exist.
    This article helped put things in perspective. Thank you.!

  16. I went to a neurologist for migraines and I explain some things to him going on in my life and how I felt. Long story short, after a couple of tests, I have ADHD, I am 31 years old and just figured it out. This article explains perfectly what it’s like and yes I agree completely, we are responsible for our lives. I have been prescribed medication and I look forward to learning more about this condition and how I can overcome it. Don’t let ADHD hinder you, I am a CEO and I contribute my ADHD is a part of me climbing that ladder to get there. 

  17. Jay- Don’t worry that you aren’t doing the right thing, just do something.  bring a copy of whatever self assessments you have done, tell your GP about your son, about your own academic/work history.  You say you  feel hopeless.  I spent YEARS being treated for depression before I was diagnosed.  and I WAS depressed from years and years of underachieving and feeling like some kind of impostor (by then I had a masters degree!?) .  So go to your GP, see what he/she says, the worst thing that could happen is that you will be put on something that doesn’t work, and you can rule that med out and move on, or they may make a referral to someone who will definitively treat you.  I am a big believer in meds plus therapy for the person who gets dx later in life because we have years of faulty assumptions we walk around with, and we have to start to relabel and rebuild our own self-image.  Not to mention we have to get over all the resentment and anger towards all those people who just didn’t know any better, and learn new strategies for getting things done…..(Me: you mean I can get stuff done now instead of waiting till the last minute and working in a crazy panic?) 
    any step you take is the right one.  

  18. Your characterization fits me exactly. I need stimulation and excitement, or I can’t do anything. i got by as a computer programmer for years, because the thrill of typing in letters and seeing a screen respond majically never leaves me. Then I became an entreprenuer/inventor – nothing is more exciting than creating something new that actually sells in volume in the marketplace!! I love building around the house, why?? Because I create somethiing useful that wasn’t there before. Of course, I didn’t build up too many “skills,” over the years, so now that my patents are licensed, they better bring in some money or I’m hurting a bit.

    I got a bigger problem, however, which is this. I have an anxiety disorder which is cured by the medication Nardil — it works like a dream. But it seems to be the only one that does this, and its dangerous to take both Nardil and psychostimulants at the same time.

  19. And I have a follow-up. I realized I had ADHD when my son obviously had the condition and I learned that ADHD is the most genetically derived of all the pychological conditions. I have been treating my son with psychostimulants, and I noticed something striking. If he has not taken any meds for a while, and then I start him on Ritalin or Focalin, I get an amazing improvement on the first day. The second day is a little less, and then, after a while the benefit settles out at only a fraction of what it was at the beginning.

    I believe I know what is going on. I found a website by a Dr Digges who explained that, while the hyperactivity suppression benefit of ritalin is related to the level of the chemical in the blood, the concentration benefit of Ritalin is reelated to the increase of the level with time, i.e. the slope. So, on the first day, my son has no ritalin built up in his system, and the pill creates a steep slope in the concentration vs time behaviour. When he takes the pill on day two, however, the slope is not as dramatic because he is not starting out with a Rtialin level of zero.

    I saw this effect over and over, and I wonder why Ritalin is rated as effective as Adderall. I believe it may be because the measures of effectiveness do not separate concentration with suppression of hyperactivity.
    I’m about to start Harry on Adderall, and hope that works better. In any event, I can say this — his improvement on the FIRST day of Ritalin was absolutely dramatic and, although I might not be able to repeat it, it at least tells me what his potential is.

  20. I am 46 years old and I have just been diagnosed with HDHD about 2 months ago and was prescribed Strattera. I did not like the side effects and could not really tell a difference in my ability to focus or concentrate. I have just recently been prescribed Vyvanse. I believe the Vyvanse is starting to make a difference. I think with the new medication and some self dicipline and a revamp of my organizational skills, I will be heading down the right path. It nice to finally know what I have been dealing with my whole life.
    Any ideas from people who are more experienced than I am in dealing with ADHD and what it takes to develop new organizational practices after a lifetime of bad ones would be helpfull. Thanks for the intuative article.

  21. In the school of psychology–this article is way off. There is much you can do about ADHD (DrugTherapy, CBT, REBT, Behavioral, etc.). I feel like this article speaks as if you need to. The most important thing about ADHD is pursuing your passion and being honest with yourself.

  22. Sorry for the double post, I had my email wrong….Fuck me, if I weren’t at work, I’d be bawling. I’m 38 years old and this has never been explained to me, the biofuels thing almost knocked me off my chair. I am a Professor, ummm…Teaching Alternative Fuels….crap. Well, I found this because my Neurologist, while treaing me for a neck injury prescribed me Vyanse. Just took the first dose. It is funny, I always liked speed in high school! I felt that it made me think better. We’ll see!

    Pieces!

  23. I’m 44 and recently figured out I’ve STRUGGLED with ADD all my life. Took my first dose of Adderall two hours ago and it’s incredible. Running the gambit of emotions: happy to figure out that I AM different, sad that I didn’t figure it out sooner, sorry for the trail I’ve left behind me and looking forward to living my life as the person that has been trapped inside all these years.
    Over the past couple weeks I’ve read my life story on various websites and can check back on all the datapoints since college. Was able to get a masters degree ranked near top of class(in tax – funny) , passed CPA in one sitting, ‘worked’ for big 4 firm, scored < 90th percentile on LSAT and GMAT but have always underachieved in work and relationships. Made it on smarts and personality until accountability and responsibility caught up to me. Had conversation with GP this morning and he said exactly what Jane says – try meds for a month and go from there. Glad I did.

  24. i am sooooo glad this article was written. it really explained me to myself and all my life, i have felt like a misfit. just today started taking adderall and already a difference. i’ve been being treated for bio-polarism most of my life but now have a doctor seeing the real picture. so glad i’m not alone and now there is something really addressing my issues. i even got written-up at work for “lack of consentration and focus”! now i know it’s not my fault, my brain is different and that’s okay. i get why if it’s not interesting to me, i can’t focus on it. also, i get bored very easily and hate to repeat redundant tasks. no more trying to fit in or making excuses for who i am … like me or don’t like me because of how i’m wired, it no longer matters. i am just so happy to finally have the release to be who i am! thank you for helping all of us to understand ourselves. i wish all adhd people in the world long, healthy and HAPPY lives!!

  25. I am a little confused about the information in this article, but what I did get is: 1) I am wired differently and am differend (yes, this is true all my 65 years), 2) I can’t handle small talk, group think, and gatherings are excruciating–family reunion Saturday–omg! 3) I have that voice in my head saying “that’s NOT it!” (got that), 4) what was four? oh, concentration–sure, after a Zen retreat I can concentrate–it is depressing! Vyvanse is pretty good. Less muscle movements than Concerta, write fewer novels, now, however, on Vyvance more into brainwave entrainment! Why do not these articles address the “lonliness” factor? Alone in a crowd! Alone even with my loved ones… OH, no…don’t say depression–we know about-SSRI that one! Cheer up! We’re messengers from the Outer Limits! Enjoy it! It’s your life! OH, wear earphones! I’ve moved almost completely to Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach for music–sacred chant!

  26. to all those who have ADD/ADHD LIKE ME: Love yourselves. Find your calling. whether its tax video games or politics. add/adhd makes us different and we learn differently from others. we have to accept that. ive spent all my life trying not to feel out of place i am socially inept and unorganized. im always late and i procrastinate a lot. my paperwork is a mess. BUT i’m done with feeling terrible! and i am trying so hard to understand myself better and work with my limitations. i will be damned if i let my children feel that way too! my calling is to advocate for myself and my family. do your research on yourself and for your children! no one else will!!!!!
    if your children have it, LOVE them! accept it. and try to understand them. my parents did not understand and i’ve never been diagnosed with it. but i do know that i have it. i try not to be unsupportive to my family, always patient and kind..but its really hard especially when your kids have it. it really hurts when you yourself put them down by calling them lazy or forgetful or whatever. those words were told to me many times and still sting today. i cant forget tthem. don’t do it to your kids!!! they will last a lifetime of doubt and pain in the pysche.

  27. I am preparing for the CPA exam . strugling so much . I am 50 years old. I have been told I have ADD for ever. How will Vyvanse affect my test taking results. How long would the effect of the drug affect my performance/ positively or negatively?How many hours before the actual exam?

  28. I’ve been on Vyvanse since my freshman year in highschool- I’m a senior now. In terms of my academic performance, it has helped me tremendously. I was able to focus in subjects I have always had issues with- math in particular. My grades were mainly all A’s throughout high school and as a result I have been accepted into some of the country’s best colleges- Amherst College and Brown. However, the medication has also impacted me in negative ways. Socially, I’m way more awkward. I was once the social-butterfly that would make friends in a matter of minutes. I have a hard time articulating my thoughts (I feel like my thought processes happen faster than my ability form them into coherent sentences, and I can never find the right words to express myself.. this leads to horrible headaches and major frustration) it has robbed me of my creativity- I used to be an incredible creative writer, now everything I write seems forced and unnatural (although my analytical writing has improved greatly). I feel like I’ve become way more logical, which is both good and bad. I’m not as impulsive and think my words through carefully. I feel like I never live in the present because I’m too busy thinking of the next thing that needs to be done and I over-analyze everything I do. Honestly, I wish I was normal to begin with and never had to take these things in the first place. But at the same time they are the reason that I will be going to Amherst in the fall……. I wish I could focus without having to give up my personality and my creativity. It’s something that has really affected me and is constantly on my mind, both on and off the meds. 

  29. I read most of the posts in this thread, then ran across one I wrote about 4 months ago.  I’m 65 with ADHD, and reading these posts seemed pretty unfamiliar to me, then there it was, I’d been here done this, already and didn’t remember.  I read my note–it is disorganized and illogical, however it does say that I feel better on some form of ADHD medication, and Vyvanse feels good, but I don’t write any more.  I had pumped out four novels in less than a year…using a disciplined approach and self-dicipline on Concerta.  Now, I’m better at exercise, walks, long pre-dawn walks, and move about more, stopped eating in the middle of the night but am retired, and don’t find I am as interested in getting out of the house anymore.  I do not miss Concerta: lots of small muscle movements, and pressured speech now on Vyvanse gone, but I am always wanting my next dose–I seem to feel both that the Vyvanse is never in my system enough, and simultaneously it is too stimulating all the time…but in practice I am more relaxed and everyone notices I focus better, communicate more in a friendly social manner, and I’ve slowly begun to restructure how I organize and keep my areas clean and orderly, sort of a combination of self-hypnosis (Using Erick Brown’s self-hypnosis program especially ORGANIZATIONAL stuff, but also Right Brain supportive stuff) and GETTING THINGS DONE is my favorite book to reread.  I miss out on a lot because I block on names, people names, plant names, names of items, but I can read complex philosophy, have learned Portuguese on my own just from Internet, read a book or so a month on creative writing, and another book a month on some science issues.  I am a total news junkie, and expert on foreign relations and how we’ve basically been digging ourselves into a corner hole for years.  My fears are being realized in Egypt at this moment.

    I was able to stay focused on an old friendship that had so many issues that before I alienated my good friend, but now, on Vyvanse, I’m interacting with humility and generosity and the reward of regaining my favorite but long lost friend is big big big.  I tested myself on why I can’t write novels any these days, and there is no problem writing 4,000 words a day…so the mechanical ability and creative ability it there, but I am planing what I write now, and I’m not pressured,..and before was writing stuff that was too controversial for me to want to publish, but now I’m finding I have much more rewarding communications in writing online with friends, and much more ability to focus on characterization and plot structure…more analytical in a way, but more energy and less speeding…speeding for speeding sake is missed but not missed, because it was fun but I never got traction.

    So, I’m saying…I am better on meds.  I learned this in 1967.  I despise the process of getting a prescription a month like I am a child and cannot be given refills, but my doctor is a friend, too.   I like him and he likes me, but the rules of getting the prescription once a month is just an inconvience.  I find that I am able to deal with my prayer issues and faith issues more on an adult level, and although I am deeply grounded and drawn to mystical interests, I’m also able to embrace social justice and be more interested in pragmatic spirituality, like being concerned about the state of how the poor need care, how children are victimized, and less focused these days on trying t achieve nirvana.

    I have fibromyalgia and it is a constant added problem.  The high procrastination and the tendency to daydream is less on Vyvanse.  

    THE ONE BIGGEST thing that happened was going from little exercise to one or one and a half hours of rigorous fun listening to iPod music WALKING at pre-dawn time each day, unless it is colder than 30 outside, then I skip that day.

    Some sexual improvement on Vyvanse and the impotency of Concerta and Prozac combined is not as much an issue.  Sex is less an issue too, and I suppose that I am somewhat glad to be out of the pressure cooker on that one.

    Good luck everyone.  It is necessary to communicate to your significant other: Hey! I am listening to you but I have trouble focusing some times and say, would you repeat to me what you just said, since the part about on the first day there was a void and he created light….

  30. Ditto! I am amazed that I finally found someone who understands what I am going through and pinpointed exactly how I feel. I have been feeling this way since 8yrs old and am at my last straw. Friends have suggested adderall and says that it works great. I have tried 3 other types of medications without any results so I will give adderall a try even though my doctor wants me to try vyvanse. Thank you so much for speaking out in our favor and helping the world understand what were going through.

  31. adhd article

  32. Sherri Anderson

    My 10 year old daughter was diagnosed with ADD and learning disablities when she was 6 years old. She has managed to get average grades, until she entered the 4th grade. It has been a challengeing school year for her (and her dad and I). Her MD recently recommended Adderall XR. However, I’ve been reading so many mixed results of this medication. I have not given her the first pill, as I am so worried about the side effects. I want to do the right thing for her, and I don’t want her 5th grade year to be such a struggle. Not sure what to do, and wondered if there were other parents who have had good or bad results they could share to help me make up my mind?
    Thanks~Sherri

  33. Sherry, don’t know if you’re still reading this site but wanted to tell you about my granddaughter, 9yrs, who lives with us full-time and has been diagnosed with ADHD since 1st grade. We started her on 10mg of Adderall and huge difference in helping her be able to sit and complete work in school. She had a master teacher who understood these kids and saw their struggles almost immediately disappear. Like you we didn’t like the side effects of stimulents, but hers mainly was the lack of appetite. Whe dropped 5lbs the first year on it but has since gained back …we just keep feeding her right up to bedtime when her appetite seems to increase. Calming activities a half hour before bedtime like puzzles or coloring calm her and usually she drifts off to sleep by 9pm. We have had to double her dose this year to 20mgs for effectiveness and is having a bit of struggle getting to sleep. We tried Stratera but didn’t see much effect for her and caused headaches. Vyvanse is one we may try maybe in summer , ….I’m sure by now you have tried something for the school year but just keep in there and encourage your daughter …tthey need something to help them be able to learn and have successful friendships at school.

  34. haha im dyeing to write down my feelings and miraculous vyvanse story but I ran out of vyvanse 2 days ago and cant get my thoughts together to do so.  Am going to the doctor tomorrow to hopefully prescribe another prescription of vyvanse.  Just wanted to thank you all for your input, I was having a really hard time today and you peeps storys have done what vyvanse has been doing for me the past 60 days.  Thank you all very very much for your honest input and understanding of add.  Its people like all of you that I feel are legitimately genuine. 

  35. I have just been put on 10 mg of ritilin 2 times a day. of coarse i have an exteme lack of focus, never finish a project, ect. my therapist had me on depakote, mood swings he says, I simply said I have no get up and go, where to start, what to do. after one week, im now sliding back into the whole of no concentration, but I can feel like I know what has to be done. the first few days was off the hook, felt great and got things done. I do have a problem with taking medications though, for instance, I just dropped methadone, It put me on a shedule but my life seemed dull, 20 mgs a day for chronic pain. one month clean from a cold turkey stop. Maybe coming off the methadone isnt near over and the ritalin is not working as well because of that. My concentration will come and go. Just having issues on what to do first in my day, its almost like the ritalin has almost stopped working. I work 8 months on the road and have summers off. I actually go nuts and just think about all i have to do while im not working, So, basically I just need to get up and go get it done, My mind is so creative at the same time , I feel no hurry to rush and get it all done, At the same time, I feel the need to rush and get it done. I think the ritalin is actually chillin me out. Does this make any sense at all, please help.

  36. This is kind of dumb. Of course you would be highly motivated to do the things you’re good at. And of course it’s going to be easier to focus when you’re enjoying what you’re doing. Sorry that you don’t like math so you can’t concentrate – doesn’t mean you need to medicate yourself over it.

  37. Lindsay. I’m sorry you don’t have any idea what you are commenting on. Perhaps you are good at math and should post on a site about that. Doing math with ADHD is like trying to work a jigsaw puzzle wearing mittens  You may know what to do but you can’t hold onto the pieces long enough to do anything with them. Take your codesension elsewhere. 

    • You go girl! Thank you for saying what I was about to say. haha. seriously must be clueless on what she is commenting on. Please do take it elsewhere because we do not appreciate your comment. ;)

  38. This is so inspirational!

  39. Vontrace Wasper

    Diagnosed 6 days ago. 43, self taught software developer, gifted musician, perfect pitch.. Couldn’t pass college pre-algebra. Yes, it all rings true. I need to ask if anyone else whose contributed to this board has felt an overwhelming sense of waste after diagnosis. Not in the way of “my life has been a waste”, but the bigger picture of all of us brilliant synapse misfiring people not contributing to society. Our late, or in too many cases, misdiagnosis has cost us all dearly in time, opportunity, and potential. I believe we are special thinkers and problem solvers. But we were cut out on our paths and tracked low in school, assumed to be lazy, and overlooked in our professions, usually by the normals who would study endlessly for spelling bees without any of the critical or multi-path thinking that makes people like us who we are. My neurologist administering my add test found that after 10 minutes of the beginning of the batteries of tests, my attention would flatline and she could see that I was changing my responses based redoing the rules in my head to maintain interest. I used to think that this is how all smart people’s brains function. Nope, just us. There so many like us, and we know others in the same boat without the courage to pursue treatment. Wasting all their brain cycles telling themselves that they are lazy and undisciplined. Those of us who’ve made it this far, consider reaching out to the undiagnosed let them know about this thread and family we represent.

  40. Wow! Just Wow! I am blown away by all the people just like me. I am a 41 year old man that has a very good idea he has ADHD but hasn’t been to the doctor yet. I am an artist and work in the video game industry. I am unemployed right now and can’t afford to go to the doctor but as soon as I land a new job I’m talking to my doctor. I believe I have struggled with this disorder my whole life. Like most of you I was labeled as lazy when I was a kid. I was an above average student in school and never had many disciplinary problems. In college I was an excellent student and graduated with a 3.7 GPA, however I have not had much success in my career as an artist. I have been laid off many times from various different companies and the last two companies just laid “me” off. No one else. I guess it was the kindest way to get rid of me. After reading this article I was almost in tears I was so happy. It finally makes sense to me. All the feelings of self-pity, loathing, failure, instant boredom, hating peer small talk at work, hating to redo anything, rarely finishing any project, inability to focus and stay on task; all made sense now. I have two teenage daughters. My oldest has Autism and my youngest was diagnosed with ADHD about a year ago. When we started my youngest on Adderall it was the difference between night and day. Amazing! Today I took one of her pills as a test. Man, what a difference! I could actually sit down and work on a project on the computer I was about to abandone because I had become bored with it, not because there was anything wrong with it, in my mind I couldn’t bring myself to complete some of the repetitive tasks that are necessary to get me to the next “fun and exciting” part of the project. On the med I was able to focus, my mind wasn’t thinking about something else I’d rather be doing, and most importantly, I was content and engaged in the task at hand. I’m on anti-depressants and have been for over 12 years. They help but I believe they are simply a band-aid to the real underlying issue with me and that is ADHD. Eventually when I do get on medication for the real issue I believe I can say good-bye to my anti-depressants and I know my life will be positively changed forever. I can hardly wait to enjoy life as me. The REAL me.

  41. As a 31 year old who has dealt with ADHD for basically my entire life this article almost made me cry.

    I have never had a pep talk about ADHD before…

  42. My daughter, now 12, has ADHD.  I’ve resisted medication and always on the fence wondering if it will help in the short but hurt in the long term?  She performs under her ability although manages good grades. We are so close but have explosive exchanges (verbal). Now that the teen years loom nearby I’m back to believing I should go the med route.  I’m wondering if, because there is an afternoon  sort of tired effect, and that is when homework and sports take place, how is this affected? Any advise? Also how do you find a GOOD psychiatrist?

  43. im a MOTHER OF A 6YR OLD BOY WHO TEACHERS BELIEVE IS ADHD I HAVENT HAD HIM TESTED YET BUT AM VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE ADDICTIVE SIDE OF THE ADDERAL AND RITLIN…IS THERE ANYTHING THAT CAN HELP HIM WITHOUT THE ADDICTION

  44. I am pleased to have learned a lot about this condition. My son has been diagnosed since he was 5 years old. He is 10 now. He is on concerta XR. His teacher knows whenever he forgets to take them. The down side is insomnia and almost non existent appetite. I saw a lot of me in him, I”ve concluded that I must have the same condition. I have just made an appointment to go see my doctor, hoping hew will put me on VYVANSE. Many of the people here seem to recommend it more than other brands. May be if works for me, then my son has to switch.

  45. Mary- Re finding a GOOD psychiatrist.: I start with recommendations, if you aren’t comfortable asking friends, you may try a teacher or school counselor.  if your insurance provider has a list, take it with you and ask if people would recommend (or importantly, stay away from) certain providers.  The pm slump often happens when the meds wear off, for me, vyvanse  lasted longer, with adderall xr I have to take a ‘booster’ 5mg or else I don’t leave work until 7 pm.  
    Michelle- keep looking at and reading up on addiction and ADHD meds.  there’s not much of a correlation, but I do know that teens with untreated AD/HD very often self-medicate, to alleviate the pain of chronic failure, or they try to use as many over-the-counter stimulants as possible.  be informed, medication doesn’t ‘cure’ the condition, it allows people to function, to exercise productive choices.  Your son will still need your guidance.  

  46. I am seventeen and its hard having adhd… This article helps so much by making me feel better about having adhd. I like how this article takes notice that it freaking sucks sometimes! A few times a week  I’m in class and I just can’t pay attention and i try so hard to, but I just can’t as if I have no choice. It hurts to be thought of just lazy or not a hard worker sometimes. But right now I am REALLY pushing my adhd

  47. THIS ARTICLE IS AMAZING!! Having come upon this article at the most lowest and hardest times of my life, it has inspired and helped me greatly!! Especially, helping me to think in a different perspective and providing some guidance in utilizing my ADHD, instead of hating and despising it. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. and I really mean that from the deepest part of my heart. Thank you.

  48. I am a 21 year old male. I always struggled with my ADHD (diagnosed in third grade). I tried everything from Ritalin to Vyvanse. Always struggled with depression and insomnia and mood swings. I tried therapy which really does help, especially with your medication. Eventually i learned to deal with it by communicating with others more openly and just slowing life down. sounds weird but learning to deal with the depression and the mood swings and the way i got easily annoyed or bored made life alot easier

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