Talking About ADHD in the Workplace

Long time no posts. Sorry, life happened. And there was a lot which happened with life.

Today, I’m here to talk about talking to your employer about your ADHD. It’s not easy. Everyone is effected by ADHD a little differently. Some people are more prone to interrupting, some people can’t keep still, some people can’t focus. Some of us can’t communicate, some of us are emotional, some of us are too busy noticing everything else to notice the big detail right in front of us.

But we all have ADHD (or are deeply impacted by someone with ADHD). That’s why we are here, scouring the web, searching for that one thing to make it just a little bit easier…

And our ADHD does impact us at work. Whether we like it or not, we think we need it or not, there are things which we could receive to make life a little bit easier.

But we are prone to so much…we don’t even think about the half of it. We run the risk of oversharing, of missing important cues, and of blurting it all out.

So how do we let our employer know we have ADHD?

First lesson is to NOT DO IT RIGHT OFF THE BAT. I have told employers as I was filling out new hire paperwork about my ADHD. Guess what? I found myself without a job very quickly. People make the weakest excuses when they are trying to protect themselves from a lawsuit.

So, already, we are against the odds. We have to keep a secret and we have to wait. Lovely.

Next is to gauge how your employer reacts. I’m lucky, I’m in the field where ADHD is common. Well, a lot of people are treating ADHD in my field. Not a lot of people have it. But I have had employers who shift the blame onto parenting, say ADHD doesn’t exist, or just think I’m stupid/lazy.

Try bringing up ADHD during a casual setting and seeing if it is even safe to bring up how it effects you.

Newsflash: If your employer says it’s a parenting issue (i.e., doesn’t happen in adults), or it doesn’t exist, or any other misconception, it’s not up to you to correct them. Do not proceed forward with telling them you have ADHD, and honestly, I would start looking for a new job if you can. It’s probably not the best fit for you. Of course, this is a situation by situation problem.

The point of this is to see if it’s even safe to mention you have ADHD. This is true for anyone who lives in a state where you can get fired for existing. Don’t assume your ADHD puts you into the disability bubble, or that you can just sue them for wrongful termination. Good luck with that.

If your employer shows compassion and understanding towards ADHD, then you’re good. It’s still not the time to mention you have ADHD though.

With the company I’m currently with, email is the way to go. Thank goodness for that. I had a night where I didn’t sleep well, and I told my employer I was probably going to be struggling that day as my ADHD became more pronounced when I don’t sleep well.

She handled it well, asking what she could do to further assist me.

The reason why this went so well?

One is I found a workplace where I am accepted.

The big reason though?

I didn’t use my ADHD as an excuse. It stinks, because yeah, at the end of the day, our ADHD is an excuse for our behaviors (it’s more than that, but that’s what it seems), but mentioning that you do XYZ due to ADHD is just going to upset your employer and might land you on the streets.

What am I getting at? I’m telling you to do two things here. Don’t mention your ADHD right off the bat (in some situations, this may be okay), and don’t use your ADHD as an excuse.

Don’t get into trouble then mention you have ADHD. It takes time, but try to find the triggers of your ADHD and bring them up to your boss BEFORE you get into trouble. My big digs are meetings/trainings and lack of sleep. Both set me for failure. Lucky me, trainings are all you get when you are new to a company…I’m still working on the how to with handling trainings.

It takes time to find that right place, and that right place might not always be the right place for you. Best of luck!

Slipping into Chocolate Wine with Drunken Wishes

Sipping chocolate wine…wishing I could be…that coveted word…normal.

This is how normal people relax after a long day, right? This is how it works, right?

One sip. My vision gets fuzzy, warmth floods my cheeks. Is this normal?

Two sips. The stress of the world floats away…the memories of today blur into the red wine, gone into an abyss of my stomach…Am I normal yet?

Three sips. The conversation I had while working at the office today slowly drips by…at the office, I am Sadie, I am not ADHD, I am normal. I don’t know anything about ADHD when at the office. I don’t take medication, that must be a different person, popping pills while speeding to work. I’m normal, right?

“ADHD doesn’t impact people as much as they say it does. They are just lazy.” That sentence, that stupid sentence.

“My friend uses his ADHD as an advantage, he doesn’t let him impact his work. People just need to learn to work with their ADHD.”

Take a fourth sip. Maybe you’ll be able to control your tongue. Don’t spill it all, Sadie. He’ll just use you as an example. Smile, nod, walk away. You don’t have ADHD. You’re completely normal.

You’ve lost jobs because you simply mentioned your ADHD. You’ve lost so much. Don’t lost this gig, Sadie. Fifth sip. See? You’re normal.

“I don’t even think ADHD should be a real disorder…”

Bite tongue, red blood, red like the wine you’re drinking, take a sixth sip. Normal. Be Normal.

Seventh sip. Hangovers are all the rage. Blackouts mean your neurons are changing pathways…maybe you’ll wake up normal.

Maybe you’ll wake up…with the whisper of guilt and chocolate on your tongue…go to work, and be able to not be filled with rage. You’ll smile at the right moments, follow the directions given to you, you’ll know what to say when someone tries to make you look bad. People won’t make you look bad though. You won’t feel like you’re doing every single thing wrong. You won’t start bawling with anxiety every time you think you made a mistake. You won’t have to pull over when driving because you’re certain you’ve even messed up the simple task of driving. You won’t feel like a failure, you won’t be a failure. You’ll be normal.

Just a silly drunken wish.

Clearly, You’re Disillusioned

Negative thought patterns are a very common product of ADHD. I’m sure many psychologists could come here and diagnose me as schizophrenic, or with a personality disorder, or as anything else, however it’s just ADHD with big old slash of depression/anxiety down the middle.

I’m paranoid. I am neurotic. And I have absolutely no reason to feel such a way. Yet, it still lurks there, with everyone I meet, everyone I become friends with…

“You’re a failure, you’re annoying, they only like you out of pity.”

Great, thanks random negative self-talk. It’d be nice to think someone actually likes me for me. But why would I think that?

Why do I have this failure to be positive and…normal? Don’t people with ADHD usually have great social skills?

First off, no. Yes, people with ADHD are sociable creatures (typically, some are very shy and introverted as well! Not all ADHD is created equally. For this post, I will most likely be focusing on the ADHD which is most similar to my ADHD) and typically people with ADHD have the gift of gab-and the gift of humor. And the not-so-great gift of being overwhelming and annoying.

And right there I have revealed why people with ADHD often find it to be a struggle. We are constantly being accepted into situations, welcomed, and then suddenly find ourselves denied or ignored without any reason. It’s typically because we committed another social faux pas or we just were too much for the person. And we’re smart enough to notice this happening.

As a kid though…we’re not going to know the why. And so we develop a bit of negative self talk to explain the why…and this becomes so deeply rooted into our thoughts, it carries with us throughout our life. Imagine having ADHD along with this kind of thought pattern. It’s a lonely life, one where we constantly question every single person’s intentions in the back of our mind. We are waiting for the push away from every person, because that’s what we had as a child.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy can help with this. So can having people who are understanding and forgiving. I think the best way to learn is have people simply tell you, but for you to be able to understand people aren’t always right. Some people are just so caught up within their own problems, they are just going to take it out on you.

ADHD, Growing Up, and Why Medication is Important

I was originally going to cover all of this in my story, but I think it needs to be covered sooner then I can finish writing that story. Anyways, short point first. If you’re ADHD, or ADHD with a comorbid disorder, please don’t just jump off your medication even if you think it isn’t needed. Talk to your doctor first, and listen to him/her! There are a lot off medical risks you are taking when you jump off your medication.

I was diagnosed with ADHD and depression when I was 6 and placed on medication. My parents told me that I would never outgrow my ADHD and I would be on medication for the rest of my life. They had seen the test results, the scannings of my brain, and had many doctors’ words. I didn’t get the early intervention, and I would never be completely “normal.”

I didn’t believe them. I did well academically in high school, and I found my classes to be easy. I didn’t really fidget, I didn’t really daydream, I didn’t really need any of the supports given to those with ADHD. Of course, the support I really needed was with communication skills, but there are limited programs for that. I threatened to go off my medication, and my mom threatened to kick me out of the house. That nipped any chances right there.

Then I started college. I started dating a college boy, and I was in LOVE. He was terrible, abusive, and will be talked about more in another post. He also firmly believed ADHD was only a childhood disorder, and I had outgrown it. He got me to stop taking my medication. I believed him. After all, I didn’t have the symptoms of ADHD anymore. I wasn’t hyper. I was normal…clearly, it was just how my parents raised me after all, as this man of my dreams insisted.

That led up to a relapse of mono for me (I have gotten it around 6 times). This is why I didn’t realize how horrible going off of Zoloft could be (as I decided to ditch that as well). We will hit on that shortly, don’t fret. Come December, I had a traumatic experience, I was freed from mono, and I had also broken up with the boyfriend.

And I was still off my medication. I had gone to college with my life savings, and I had spent it all. I found a method that worked for the rest of December though. I’d go out every night, get hammered, smoke some weed, then come back to the room and study. I somehow passed my first semester of college.

I went home for my winter break, and my parents forced me back onto my medication. Somehow they could tell. I continued to take them like a good girl until my junior year of college. I felt like I was at a place where I didn’t need medication anymore, and I was worried I had a dependency on them. I decided to cut the dose of Ritalin I was on, and just to stop taking the dose of Zoloft entirely.

It was great for about three weeks. I had to work a little harder at not crying, but it was spring, and I was free of Zoloft! Then my world crashed. I stopped going to classes, I stopped getting out of bed…I just didn’t want to deal with the suffering anymore. It wasn’t even like a depressed slump, it was worse.

When I tried to get out of bed, the world would spin. It was like a old film, random black spots would consume over me, flickering past my eyes. I felt like gravity was sucking me into the ground. Every time I took a step, it felt like I had a spring in my step, but yet I was still being sucked to the ground. I felt empty and foggy. And I felt like I couldn’t think. It was the weirdest and worst sensation.

One of my friends started me right back up on the full dose of both my Ritalin and my Zoloft. I’m not sure if this was the right approach (I should have called my doctor!). I was okay, but the Ritalin had lessen with it’s helpfulness.

I then managed to complete college…get a job…get a new, better job…then I realized. My Ritalin hadn’t be working for a couple years. With my poor Ritalin taking habits, I had developed an immunity towards it’s effectiveness. I was then switched to Straterra (did horrible there, fell apart completely), and then to Adderall, which is what I take now.

It was a hard lesson. Perhaps I felt around the age of 20 I should have outgrown my ADHD. Perhaps I wanted to get rid of the dreary tasks associated with taking medication (getting scripts filled, taking the medicine). Perhaps I just wanted a breathe of what it was like to not have that life…to be normal. Perhaps I just couldn’t get into a good schedule with my meds.

Taking medication isn’t fun, especially medication for brain disorders (I am including both ADHD and mental illnesses here). They help, but they don’t cure. It’s not going to be something you take for 5 days and find you are all better. I’m not saying life without medication isn’t possible, it is very possible. Just make sure you are following the directions of your doctor.

What I’m tell you is not to mess around with your medication without the assistance of your doctor. Don’t just stop taking your medication, it will harm you, even if you feel fine at first. It’s not worth the pain. Do it with the help of your doctor.

A Shout Out

This is a shout out to the people who didn’t get diagnosed with ADD/ADHD until they were adults.

This is a shout out to the adults who spent their entire life being told they were lazy year after year, because they didn’t do well in school and a shout out to the adults who were called stupid so often they began to truly believe, and even worse, accept they were dumb.

This is a shout out to the adults whose parents refused to acknowledge ADHD was real, and refused to give them the medication or treatment they desperately needed and a shout out to the adults who were told repeatedly it was the parents’ fault, or their diet, or even lack of exercise, and was not a condition.

This is a shout out to the adults who thought they were going insane as they tried to piece together their life, tried to figure out what was wrong and a shout out for the adults who were misdiagnosed as Bipolar, Borderline, or other disorder which they didn’t have.

This is a shout out for the adults who felt like they never quite fit in, or were looking in from the outside.

This is a shout out for the adults who were told if they just tried harder, if they just focused, if they just worked, it would all be okay.

This is a shout out for the adults who developed anxiety, depression, or other similar disorders because of their ADHD.

This is a shout out to the adults who believe they were and still are a failure because that’s all they have been told.

This is a shout out to the adults who tried to cope not with medication, but with drugs…and find themselves in jail or unable to get the medication they need to succeed.

This is a shout out to the adults who have been fighting with their doctors, with therapists, with the education institutions for the treatment they need.

This is a shout out for the adults who gritted their teeth, did the impossible and completed school without the aids needed…and a shout out for the adults that gritted their teeth, did the impossible, and found it wasn’t enough to complete their dreams.

This is a shout out to the adults who live with the constant wonder, the anger, the fear of what their life is and what it could have been if it had been found earlier, if it had been easier, what their life could had been.

Matt Walsh, I Have Nothing Nice to Say to You

A dear friend of mine just posted a link to Matt Walsh’s blog…approving what he had written…my response to him and to Matt Walsh’s blog post.

Remind me not to take my ADHD medication the next time we hang out. I have already seen this blog and I am EXTREMELY upset by it.

ADHD is something which effects my entire life. It’s not just a issue of distraction, it’s an impairment of the executive functioning of the brain which covers emotional reactions, self control, time management, working memory. It’s something which I will NEVER outgrow and which medicine can only help in a minuscule amount. I will always be hyper, I constantly have to fight and struggle to be the best I can be, which doesn’t usually amount to anything. I struggle to understand what social norm I failed to adhere to in a daily matter. I have lost things which are so important to me because of my ADHD, things which I tried my hardest at and just was not able too. I am constantly one step behind my peers because I can’t function like a “normal” person no matter how hard I try. It comes with sensory processing issues, emotional issues, social impairments (which are completely different from the social difficulties caused by ASD), sleeping impairments, self esteem deficiencies, memory problems, eating problems (I wish I still had that), low impulse control, emotional regulation control (I literally can’t control when I start crying. All I want to do is stop, but I can’t)…it even impacts my balance and coordination as I have a smaller cerebellum than most!

It’s the most frustrating thing. I try, you know how hard I try. Every single social interaction is a battle for me because of my ADHD. Learning is extremely difficult for me. It’s hard when i am in a class trying to focus and I get distracted by the littlest stimuli and my mouth moves before I am able to control it. Think of it like Tourettes in a manner. Both impact the basal ganglia. I have been battling my lack of self control MY ENTIRE life, and I have come a long way, but I still haven’t gotten far enough. And honestly, at 24 years of age, I don’t see how much more self control I can get. My brain just doesn’t allow it. I will keep working at it though, just like I work at everything. I don’t think I know anything else.

Growing up was extremely difficult for me. It wasn’t my parents fault. They were and are absolutely amazing. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, or I didn’t want, it was I couldn’t control anything. That’s the different between neurotypical people and neurodiverse people. A neurotypical child will eventually be able to calm down. A neurodiverse child literally can’t stop. It was a nonstop battle for my family and for me growing up. It’s a nonstop battle for me today, it’s going to be a nonstop battle for the rest of my life as I will NEVER be good enough. I will ALWAYS be ADHD.

In the article, he mentions the DSM-V talking about the inability to focus on tasks unless they are of interest. The DSM-V is not referring to what he is mentioning, it is referring to hyperfocusing. Think of Asperger’s with the narrow-minded interests. It’s the same thing in a way. I perseverate on certain topics and I am able to focus on them. NOTHING else gets done though. I will not eat when I am hyperfocusing, I will not pay attention to time…I am literally lost within this one topic. And do NOT try to change my focus when I am hyperfocused because I know if I get distracted, I won’t be able to complete the task at hand. It’s happened so, so, so many times.

It is VERY overdiagnosed, and I do agree medication is given out like candy. I would do ANYTHING to change how overdiagnosed it is as it impacts me negatively. I would do ANYTHING for people to understand just how complicated ADHD is. I would love for people to not use ADHD as an excuse (which I have been guilty of). I would have LOVED to receive ADHD treatment which was more on focus for my needs.

They don’t really have a method for treating impairments of social skills in ADHD. I need a treatment for that. They gave me the social skill treatment they use for ASD, and treated me as if I had ASD. I don’t. I do have one of the most severe cases of ADHD. If you want, I will track down my old MRI in which you can see some of the areas in my brain which are impacted. I can also track down the hundreds of files which have diagnosed me with a ton of other disorders…then upon further investigation, have been proven to not be correct. The ADHD is the ONLY diagnosis which makes sense for ALL of my quirks. Guess what? There’s a bunch of people who are just like me as well…and they all try their hardest to be normal.

But they won’t be able too. Because of my ADHD, I am less likely to hold down a job, keep friends, finish school (which, in terms of intelligence as this often comes up, I have a Master’s degree. I am lucky as I do not have many of the academic deficiencies as most with ADHD do. I also can provide my IQ test results if anyone would like to know…I digress, back to topic). Substance abuse, promiscuity, low self esteem, trouble with the law, gambling addiction, and suicide are EXTREMELY common with those with ADHD. I got lucky there as well, I know many people who didn’t. Worse part? It’s all because of a lack of impulse control, a deficit of executive functioning. It is something which I stay far away from and constantly monitor. I won’t learn from others mistakes, or I will seldom learn. I have to learn firsthand to understand something.

Oh, and I’m not entirely convinced you can outgrow ADHD either. It’s a lifelong disorder. I will always be super hyper first thing in the morning, running around until I take my medication and my brain actually slows down enough for me to be somewhat normal.

I will also find the many (more so than what dear Matt Walsh has provided you with) articles which PROVE ADHD is a real existence. I highly recommend looking looking at Dr. Russell Barkley. He has YouTube videos which explain exactly what ADHD is. On a side note, I was part of his studies back in the late 90’s…so perhaps a bias is noted here. I will be more than willing to find the article after article after article by psychologists, doctors, neuroscientists, parents, teachers, people with ADHD, etc, etc. and link them all up here for you.

I really hope you change your opinion on the matter. It’s not a disorder which everyone has. Would you say everyone has ASD, or depression, or OCD? I don’t believe you would sir. However, they are very similar to ADHD in which there isn’t a medical test which can definitely proven the existence. I am more than willing to talk, show articles, introduce you to doctors/scientists/whomever, I will even go off my medicine to show you ADHD is a disorder, and a life-changing disorder. It is not the norm, it isn’t something doctors made up in order to make money. Need proof that it isn’t? Feel free to switch some of my Adderalls up in a double-blind test. Not all of my ADHD behaviors may come out (as I have a build up of Adderall) but a lot will. ADHD is a real condition. And it’s a LOT more complicated than what Mr. Walsh has shown here.