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.

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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.

First Few Chapters of Sadie Noelle’s New Book

Hey everyone! I finally did it. I started writing my book. Again. I will finish it this time though! I have the will to do so! I have the focus to complete it! Please tell me what you think of it so far!

DSM-5 Criteria for ADHD

People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development:

Inattention: Six or more symptoms of inattention for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of inattention have been present for at least 6 months, and they are inappropriate for developmental level:
Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or with other activities.
Often has trouble holding attention on tasks or play activities.
Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (e.g., loses focus, side-tracked).
Often has trouble organizing tasks and activities.
Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to do tasks that require mental effort over a long period of time (such as schoolwork or homework).
Often loses things necessary for tasks and activities (e.g. school materials, pencils, books, tools, wallets, keys, paperwork, eyeglasses, mobile telephones).
Is often easily distracted
Is often forgetful in daily activities.
Hyperactivity and Impulsivity: Six or more symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity for children up to age 16, or five or more for adolescents 17 and older and adults; symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity have been present for at least 6 months to an extent that is disruptive and inappropriate for the person’s developmental level:
Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
Often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected.
Often runs about or climbs in situations where it is not appropriate (adolescents or adults may be limited to feeling restless).
Often unable to play or take part in leisure activities quietly.
Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”.
Often talks excessively.
Often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed.
Often has trouble waiting his/her turn.
Often interrupts or intrudes on others (e.g., butts into conversations or games)
In addition, the following conditions must be met:

Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present before age 12 years.
Several symptoms are present in two or more setting, (e.g., at home, school or work; with friends or relatives; in other activities).
There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, school, or work functioning.
The symptoms do not happen only during the course of schizophrenia or another psychotic disorder. The symptoms are not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g. Mood Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Dissociative Disorder, or a Personality Disorder).
Based on the types of symptoms, three kinds (presentations) of ADHD can occur:

Combined Presentation: if enough symptoms of both criteria inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity were present for the past 6 months

Predominantly Inattentive Presentation: if enough symptoms of inattention, but not hyperactivity-impulsivity, were present for the past six months

Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Presentation: if enough symptoms of hyperactivity-impulsivity but not inattention were present for the past six months.

Because symptoms can change over time, the presentation may change over time as well.

ADHD in Adults

ADHD often lasts into adulthood. For more information about diagnosis and treatment throughout the lifespan, please visit the websites of the National Resource Center on ADHD and the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Reference American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. Arlington, VA., American Psychiatric Association, 2013.

There are two sentences about ADHD in adults in the DSM. Two sentences to explain what I’m suppose to do with the remainder of my life. Two simple sentences to explain…me.

There’s just so much with ADHD though. It’s hard to write about because this disorder is so simple yet so complex. It is everything you think it is, and yet…it’s not anything you had thought. When you read this book, do so with an open mind. Know that not everyone is going to be the same as me, I am not the same as everyone else.

It is important to understand there are different types of ADHD. Some people are impulsive, some are hyper, some just can’t focus, and some were blessed with all three differences. It is also important to realize how I think of ADHD while reading this book. I think of ADHD in terms of an odometer on a dashboard. Instead of one odometer, imagine there are two. One is for hyperactivity and one is for inattention.

Normal people, neurotypical, however you want to refer to people without ADHD don’t speed. They sometimes have some of the symptoms of ADHD, but they don’t go past 50 MPH, or if they do, it is reined back to control. This works towards both gauges.

People with just inattentiveness-based ADHD have an opposite problem. Instead of the gauges staying around 50 MPH, the inattentive gauge can roll up past 60, 70, 80 MPH (or higher). The hyperactivity gauge seldom goes over 50 MPH. People who are solely hyperactive-based have the opposite gauge. People who are combined never slow down. 40 MPH is unknown to them. I know. I have two gauges going 100 MPH at all times.

Welcome to my bus. Sadie’s ADHD bus, welcome on! Next stop, well not stop, the next place we travel is to Sadie’s baby years.

Chapter 1

We begin in New England. Our setting is a small town. Due to details revealed within this book, I have chosen to have anonymity towards this. Therefore the town is fictional, but I assure you, it is based on truth.

Welcome to Rockville, Rhode Island, a small, rich community nestled ten miles away from the Atlantic ocean. If you look to the left, you will see a small brick school which houses 342 children, preschool through eighth grade. After eighth grade, students are shipped over to the next town for high school. Here is the pride of Rockville, our 150 year old church. We also have a parish house just past the library. And here is the town hall, with the small police and fire department. We have our pizza house on the right, and…that’s about all there is in Rockville.

We once had farms. Once upon a distant time.

And here we are, at Sadie’s house. It’s an old farmhouse surrounded by small Douglass Firs. The farm is surrounded by wispy fields in which the horses are allowed to run. Sadie’s siblings, three beautiful children with golden hair play with an old beaten wagon.

And here is Sadie. Watching Sadie. Waddling Sadie. Sweet, small Sadie, who didn’t learn to walk. She learned how to run, her chestnut hair and golden skin, a polar opposite of her siblings. Luke, the oldest of the siblings, picks Sadie up and puts her into the wagon and pulls.

Sadie screams. “OUT!”

Luke, thinking she is cheering him on, pulls, running into the fields, panting, the sharp grass cutting his legs. He whips the wagon, realizing it is suddenly light. Sadie sits at the top of the hill, eyes wide, tears rolling down her chubby cheeks. Luke runs towards Sadie, Sadie screams, runs up the hill, towards the house, down the dirt driveway, towards the busy street.

Jared, the second oldest at six, bolts towards Sadie, seeing her run, seeing her fearlessly, foolishly run into the busy road, cars rushing back from the beach. Jared grabs her, pulls her away from the road, carries her into the house. “MOM! Sadie ran into the road!”

Myrtle Walsh looks at her son. Myrtle came to America from Liverpool in 1979 for college and never went back. She didn’t have any plans to come back either. She sighs. “Again, Sadie?”

Myrtle worked with children while at college. She worked with the little disabled children, the ones without homes, the ones who would never have homes. She had seen this before. Low attention, low impulse control, always moving. In England, it was hardly talked about. It was a disorder, but it was seldom reported. But here in America, it seemed so common. And Sadie, she was always on the go. It seemed she never slept.

Sadie was a finicky child to begin with. She would talk, but it seemed she wasn’t talking to anyone. She was brilliant, two years old and already reading a few words, but she couldn’t count. Compared to her sister Mary, Sadie was far from the norm. She didn’t seem to understand when her siblings were annoyed with her, constantly wanting to be around, but unsure of how to fit in. She was also defiant, so defiant.

Myrtle closed her eyes as Sadie howled. Just four weeks ago, Sadie had gone in for major reconstructive surgery on her soft palette. Somehow, Sadie had tripped over one of the dining chairs, which was a common occurrence. There wasn’t much more Myrtle or her husband Steve could do than to gently remind Sadie not to run in the house. Whatever the couple said seemed to not register with Sadie. That was the case four weeks ago.

Somehow Sadie had gotten the wooden spoon Myrtle had used for serving mashed potatoes and had that in her mouth when she tripped, which in turn ripped up her throat. Myrtle never will forget the gurgling scream as blood pour out Sadie’s mouth and dripped out of her nose as her three siblings rallied around her, shouting that’s what she got for not listening while crying at the same time.

Sadie received surgery that night. The next morning when the nurse came in to do the 4 AM checks, Sadie got out of the bed, running down the hall, dancing and singing. She was nicely kicked out of the hospital quickly after that. It made sense. After all, Sadie was not resting on a wing where other patients were.

What was wrong with little Sadie Noelle Walsh?

So that’s the beginning. I need your help to continue though. Please tell me what you thought! If you hated it, please tell me! If you loved it, please tell me! If there’s a grammar or spelling problem, just let me know. I have an unique story, yet my story is the untold story of millions of people!

A Little, Blue Pill

What is ADHD to me?

ADHD is a blessing yet also a curse. It has good and bad. And ADHD is different for everyone. I can only allude to some of the traits, I can’t explain what it is for someone who isn’t like me. ADHD. I remember when I was first told I had this when I was eight. My parents sat me down, explaining I wasn’t like the other kids, but I wasn’t very different from the other kids either. I felt alienated and confused. Sally had ADHD, she was liked by the classmates, they didn’t pick on her. Why was I getting beaten up daily? What was so different from me? ADHD isn’t the same in every child or adult. I get upset with one of my best friends who also has ADHD because she is so different from me…at first I thought she was making it all up. She wasn’t. She is definitely ADHD.

So what is ADHD to me?

It’s a small, blue pill. It’s a small blue pill with so many senses, so many flavors…what makes me different.

It’s the pill I had to swallow before lunch which really alienated me from my peers. I was sick. I was different.

But I am me.

I am the girl who puked at her first college party because of the smell of weed. I am the girl who should have been a drug dog because of how strong I can smell it.

I am the girl who couldn’t go into a grocery store because the shelves were an overload, the people darting was just too much.

I am the girl who was so smart, creepy smart, scary smart, yet wasn’t able to control what flew out of her mouth.

I am the girl who was so smart yet didn’t get why people thought she was strange.

I am the girl…the fighter, the angry one…

The girl you know is a sweetie yet…she did that?

ADHD makes my mouth move without any control from my brain. It makes me worry until I am sick. It makes me moody, and quick to react. ADHD makes it so I can sit on a couch all day without noticing time, yet if I am bored, time will stop. ADHD makes it so I can focus on one thing and finish it perfectly, yet…if I can’t do it perfectly, I will just give up. ADHD makes it so something which takes too long becomes rushed or I just don’t finish. But with that little, blue pill. It sometimes gets easier, to the point where you can feel normal…then you remember you aren’t.

Foolish mistakes. Misunderstood intentions. Feeling dumb. Feeling like a failure. Feeling like the world would be better without you.

Then it happens. Something just clicks and it all becomes easy, it all makes sense. The world screams forward, running, you are flying, you are so successful…then something cracks in you, and you sabotage yourself. You fall, crying, failing, misery. And you’re back to feeling…dumb. Alone. Failure. With just you and your little, blue pill.

ADHD is a little, blue pill.

“Just take this Sadie, so you can focus and sit still.”

It hurts though. How does it physically hurt to sit still? The world isn’t making sense, I can’t understand…I can’t learn. I need movement. I need to bounce. I need to pick. I need…

A little, blue pill.

“Look how tiny Sadie is!”

My growth was stunted because of my ADHD. I don’t eat because of my ADHD. I don’t sleep. I don’t think.

One more little, blue pill. One more, for the rest of your life.