How ADHD Affected Me: Part 2

Note: If you haven’t read my previous blog, please do. This one will make more sense.

College was a whole new animal. For the first time in my life I had to do everything on my own. Many realizations occurred to me in a very short time period.

My biggest realization was that I was much more anti-social than I had originally thought. At first, I went out with my roommates and explored the city, but a combination of computer games and my roommates’ choice of activities led me to stay in my room more and more.

On the academic side, I did much better with my grades in college than in high school, but I hadn’t really changed my study habits. I did better because the work came easy to me, so I did all my work in class. The problem with that was, the classes didn’t force me to develop better study habits, so I didn’t. I’d even venture to say that I might have regressed a little. Despite my poor study habits, I ended my college career with Honors.

After graduating, I planned on going back home and continuing my education even further; however, I received an offer from a large company that I just couldn’t refuse. The offer was amazing, but I took it as an opportunity to see what I could accomplish in the world. The job required me to move to the other side of the country, which isolated me from any influences I was used to. I didn’t have any friends or family nearby, so I had to be my own pioneer. The only thing I knew was my career.

As it turns out, my career was exactly what my ADHD needed. It changed just enough to keep me interested but not overwhelmed, yet it challenged me in ways that kept my mind in shape. I could think of a couple of other jobs within this career field that would have probably fit me better in the long run, but this one was perfect for where I was in my life.

Well, that’s all for now. It looks like I’ll be turning this into a three-part blog. I thought I could fit it all in with just two posts, but that won’t be the case. In my next post, I’ll pick up where I left off and bring you to my present life.

See you then!

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How ADHD Affected Me: Part 1

If you read my last post, you know that I have almost every symptom of ADHD. Although ADHD isn’t life-threatening, I like to think of it as socially life-threatening. In my next two posts, I want to give you a glimpse of how it affected my life from the first signs until now.

The first signs of ADHD in my life were when I was in elementary school. I used to get “Unsatisfactory” on  report card for using my time wisely. Part of it was due to my ability to comprehend things really well. I would finish my work then draw until it was time to go. I used my creativity to challenge myself. Unfortunately, being creative isn’t always considered an acceptable way to use spare time. My teachers saw it as me not taking advantage of the time and studying, but it was how I dealt with the boredom and lack of challenge.

I had a hard time focusing and prioritizing because ADHD makes everything seem important. Only a few things seemed important enough to hyper-focus on in my life. If I wasn’t creating something or solving a puzzle, I couldn’t stay focused.

By the time I reached high school, I was a master of compensating for my symptoms. I could compensate for them really well, but I couldn’t hide them completely. One great example was how I dealt with my most obvious symptom–laziness.

I had figured out that I could get away with doing little to no homework, but make up for it on the tests. One time, one of my classmates got fed up with my lack of effort and said to me, “Why don’t you just do your work? You’re smart enough. We try so hard to understand it, but you don’t even try.” I didn’t take their advice because I was already convinced that I didn’t have to. It wasn’t until I failed my first semester of calculus that I realized I needed to put more effort into my homework. Nothing really changed, though. I still only did enough to get by with a decent grade.

It still amazes me how deep this disorder rooted itself into my life without even realizing it.

In my next post, I’ll talk about my life from college until now and address more of the social aspect of ADHD on my life. I didn’t want to overload you with too much at once. Some people, like me, don’t have the attention span for long posts. 🙂

My Personal Prologue

I’m starting this blog to give people a glimpse into the life of someone ADHD. Some people think it’s a fake disease, and I’ll admit that I was one of them. I always thought it was an excuse to not behave or not get work done. So how did I come to find out that I had this “fake” disease? It all started when I got married.

My wife and I were happy, but we were having some trouble resolving issues. The main problem was that I couldn’t remember what we had just argued about, so we decided to go to a counselor. Skip a few months, and they said they thought I was depressed and I needed to get a psycho-neurological evaluation, which is a big word for “brain test.” My doctor thought it might be a thyroid issue but referred me anyway, so I took the test and surprised everyone. The psychologist said I was a textbook case for adult ADHD, combined type. I was a little skeptical, but then I saw the list of symptoms. Here’s a list of symptoms for a child from WebMD (mine are in bold):

    • difficulty paying attention to details and tendency to make careless mistakes in school or other activities; producing work that is often messy and careless
    • easily distracted by irrelevant stimuli and frequently interrupting ongoing tasks to attend to trivial noises or events that are usually ignored by others
    • inability to sustain attention on tasks or activities
    • difficulty finishing schoolwork or paperwork or performing tasks that require concentration
    • frequent shifts from one uncompleted activity to another
    • procrastination
    • disorganized work habits
    • forgetfulness in daily activities (for example, missing appointments, forgetting to bring lunch)
    • failure to complete tasks such as homework or chores
    • frequent shifts in conversation, not listening to others, not keeping one’s mind on conversations, and not following details or rules of activities in social situations
    • fidgeting, squirming when seated
    • getting up frequently to walk or run around
    • running or climbing excessively when it’s inappropriate (in teens this may appear as restlessness)
    • having difficulty playing quietly or engaging in quiet leisure activities
    • being always on the go
    • often talking excessively
    • impatience
    • difficulty delaying responses
    • blurting out answers before questions have been completed
    • difficulty awaiting one’s turn
    • frequently interrupting or intruding on others to the point of causing problems in social or work settings
    • initiating conversations at inappropriate times

As you can see, I have most of the symptoms. Looking back on my life, I can clearly see that I’ve had this since grade school. The reason it went undetected for so long was further explained to me after the psychologist gave me my diagnosis. I have a very high IQ, which means that I was able to compensate and cover up my symptoms throughout my life. For that reason alone, I can say that if you have a child who is displaying some of the symptoms listed above, yet does well in school, you might want to talk to your doctor about having them tested. The symptoms can intensify over time, so it’s better to try to correct it early.

So here I am: age 24, taking medicine to help combat a disease I once thought was bogus. Life is interesting.