Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Hi everybody, sorry for the delay in blog posts. I started school last week and so I was busy. I know I never promised posts on a certain time line but vaguely weekly is my plan. (Warning: there is probably typos/misspelled words… deal with it lol)

Anyway, as you can see from the title this blog is about Elephants. Just kidding, it’s about ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. For thoes of you who don’t know ADHD is a sub type of  ADD, and ADHD is defined by Wikipedia as… “is a psychiatric disorder of the neurodevelopment type in which there are significant problems of attention and/or hyperactivity and acting impulsively that are not appropriate for a person’s age.”

So the first time I had ever heard about ADHD was mostly through jokes, you know people say “Oh I’m so ADD today” and things like that. Later in my life I head the term used with the talk of he drug Ritalin. Ritalin is a stimulant drug that is often prescribed to treat ADD. The drug is also abused a lot and I remember seeing that in the movie Charlie Bartlett. (Decent movie BTW, Love me some Robert Downey Jr.) Anyways, I don’t know what I really thought about it prior to this year other than just the basic stereo types.
In my freshman year of college I read a paper in english on horrible ADHD medications are. How teachers just targeted problem students and because they acted out or got bad grades is was likely because they had ADHD and needed to be put on medication to calm them down. I read how the drugs they are giving them are often called “kiddie Cocane” and it was basically these horrible drugs that had insane side affects and parents where just forcing pills down their kids throats, and some of the kids didn’t even have ADHD and were being giving drugs under incorrect diagnosis. Needless to say I was appalled that this was what people were doing. I couldn’t understand why the parents didn’t just take the time to train their lazy, bratty kids to focus better, and punish them if they still choose to act out. I was blind to the fact that this was a one-sided view, and I never even questioned the facts in this paper, that is until this year.

In June of this year I was diagnosed with adult ADHD.

I have for the most part I always struggled in school. When I was in elementary school, I did horrible. I had C’s and D’s in nearly every subject and struggled a lot. My parents and teachers repeatedly saw my stupid mistakes on things and were frustrated that I didn’t care and was just being lazy and needed to buckle down and try harder. I was held back and repeated the first grade and the problems still persisted.

In the 4th grade I had a teacher that changed my life. She whole heartedly believed that I could to the work and encouraged me to push myself to earn the grades I wanted. I am the kind of person who would rather be yelled at then have someone be disappointed in me. I hated disappointing my teacher and parents. I also hated fighting them on every piece of school work. My Mom and teachers wanted to go over my failed tests over and over and the problem was I was failing because I was making stupid mistakes and rushing through things. I finally started working as hard as I possibly could and I finally saw some results. I started to get B’s and C’s. I was so happy that I was finally passing things that i didn’t care that I was genuinely overworking my self to make it happen.

Middle school was a wake up call to me. I was a year older than all my friends and I still struggled so much with the responsibility of a planner, and classes and staying organized and being on time to class and stating up with my work. I got detention the first week for being late to class because I got my binder stuck in my locker when I had gone down stairs to switch them after having grabbed the wrong on. Honestly, I was just drowning. It was becoming harder to out work my classmates and earn a C. I started to give up but the persistance of my parents, telling me that they knew I could do it and I was smart enough and not wanting to disappoint them pushed me to work harder. Between 6th and 10th grade I got my self together, I make my self learn to use a planner forced my self to get organized and stay organized even if I had to reorganize everything overnight. I spent hours upon hours studying and doing home work and I had begun to like school. I was finally getting good grades. I got my first 4.0  in my freshman year of high school. I was beaming with pride. To me I had just kind of accepted that school was harder for me and I just had to work harder.

As I said in my first post 10th grade was not a good year for me. I liked a boy and he was a jerk and blah blah blah marching band. Anyways my grades took a bit of a hurting that year but I again was determined. I took every bad grade or any grade less than an A as a personal offense and completely beat myself up over it. I remember being so angry at myself, just being livid that I had worked so hard and then bombed the test. I also was not very good at expressing my emotions I just let the anger build up and push me to work harder.

My junior year of high school (aka My freshman year of college) I started with some of the same. I knew I just had to work harder because college was harder. I did well in college. I was doing what ever it took and I really did okay.

Fast froward to this year. In November of 2012, I learned I had Synesthesia. For thoes of you Synesthesia as defined my wikipedia “is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.” Basically, that means that for a synnie (person with synesthesia) they can smell colors, or hear  colors, or the alphabet has color to them and so on. For me I have 9 types of synesthesia. (I’ll blog about that if you want, lemme know). So when I learned what it was I was shocked that not everyone thought like this. I was shocked that not everyone one associated the color red with the letter A. After all, how could I ever know I was different if I had only ever thought one way my whole life. Thats what got me thinking. What other things did I think in my head that where abnormal. I started finitely studying my habits and thoughts and then asked people “do you do this” and stuff like that.

I knew I had some very faint ADHD symptoms my whole life. I never talked to a doctor about it because I didn’t see the point. I never felt I had enough to be diagnosed and honestly could not wrap my mind around the though of my mind being broken. After all, if it was broken wouldn’t I know it, it was my own mind for goodness sake. Also I knew the only thing they could ever do fro me was drugs (or thats what I thought) and I didnt wanan be on drugs my whole life. Anyways, I discovered things in my behavior that where abnormal. (more than the usual, lol)

  • I wiggle my knee up and down really fast anytime I sit. I pat my hands on my legs to a beat when I am standing, I wiggle my foot back and forth from the second I wake up till I get out of bed and from when I get in to bed to when I fall asleep. I can stop, but it is so uncomfortable it actually hurts in a way. 
  • I cant relax and drive. I cant just go through the motions and drive I have to think about every moment before I do it. ( I even totaled my first car Gloria, because I didn’t see the other guy coming, see pictures below) Same with data entry I cant relax my mind and enter in the same thing over and over in like a spread sheet or something. 
  • I can not tell left from right with out thinking about it first, like I cant associate my left side with the word left. 

The list goes on and on. As I researched these things I kept coming back to ADHD. All those things where symptoms.

In spring quarter of last year I started looking in to being tested for ADHD. I was still anti medication and and just though maybe if I knew that this is a problem for me I can work to fix it some other way. By now I was sure that it was possibly contributing to my having to work so hard in school. Also, spring quarter I was becoming less and less capable of over working to keep the same grades. The dips where becoming more noticeable.

Finally, I made a appointment with my doctor. With in 12 minuets of me talking to him about it he said he felt I should be tested. He also pointed out that I wiggled the entire time we talked. I was then refered to a counceler/psychologist guy who does the testing for my doctors office. I was asked to take a survey and then we just talked. They survey asked me to grade my self on a sometimes, often, never, always type scale. I was nearly every single one of the things he it asked. In the first 20 min, he gave me the official diagnosis of Adult ADHD.  That was just the beginning though. Turns out this guy has adult ADHD too. We started talking medicaitons and how to live with it and other ways of coping with it and tons of stuff. He changed my mind on medicaton. He told me that if he could go back he would have rather been on medicaitons at leat wile in school. I told him my reservations on medications and he agreed that there is a lot of that, but I was a adult, fully able to comprehend what was being done for me, I could not ignore my symptoms and that I was in control of my own body. We also talked about non stimulant drugs because there is less threat of an addiction to thoes. ( FYI people with ADHD are prone to addictive personalities more so than others). After a wile he had me convinced to try a medication and if I didn’t like it I could stop when ever I choose, after all how would I ever know if medication was not for me if I never tried. Also It was just for wile I was in school so that finally my efforts would be rewarded.

I started taking Strattera “It’s a non-stimulant that may provide relief for your ADHD symptoms. Strattera works gradually, so that improvements are seen over time. Strattera may help increase attention and decrease hyperactivity/impulsivity in patients with ADHD” that’s the little plug from the drug people that make it. I started taking it the first day of summer quarter I was planning to take a math class with a 60% fail rate and I had taken 3 times to pass the class before it so if the meds where going to work I would notice for sure. The first week was… Weird. I felt anxious, quiet, calm, and kind of out of it. I also has no appetite and didn’t even feel hungry like my mind never got the memo that my body needed more food. It was very odd. I was ready to quit by day three I hated it those first days, the anxiety had me the worst. However, I knew you had to take it a wile to have to work. After all it was ment to work gradually. So I stayed on it.
At the end of week one I had a family day at the lake with my Dad’s little brother and his wife and my cousins. My aunt is a teacher on the west side of the state and happens to have experience teaching kids with ADHD. My Mom brought it up with out telling her that I had it and we started talking about how it effects a persons brain. Their inability to stay focused on things and she just had a great way of explaining that it’s not something people can learn to live with its a thing that is there forever and you can learn to cope but that will always mean working harder than everyone else, she was also completely pro medication (in those that a medication would help obv.)

At the end of week two, I was a different person. I felt like I had been given my life for the first time. I felt like I was learning math for the first time in school and I understood it so well it was a completely new experience. I noticed my driving improve to the point that I was better at it and able to focus on it appropriately. I started sleeping less but I was sleeping better ( I think because I no longer went to bed mentally exhausted every night. I didn’t run my thoughts till I was literally mentally exhausted. For the very first time I was living life with out ADHD and it was amazing.
I stated to see how much ADHD affected my entire life. Finally, seeing what normal was I was able to see how abnormal my mind is naturally. The thing that changed the most was a little deeper, I think I may have been slightly depressed before taking meds. It took such a toll on me to suck at school. It truthfully was killing me. I took all my failures and constantly beat my self up for it. I was so angry with  myself for being too stupid to pass a class that all my friends passed when some of them didn’t even take notes.
After that revelation I started to research ADHD in females. This was one of the first articles I read

“Girls “are more likely to be daydreaming, staring out the window, twisting their hair,” Matlen said. They might even be seen as airheads, she said. They might be labeled as lazy or a poor student who doesn’t try hard enough, she said. “Parents hear, ‘If she’d only try harder. She has the ability [but] she just chooses not to use it,” Matlen said. But ADHD has nothing to do with laziness or lack of effort.
Quite the opposite, “these girls are bright students who are simply very distracted by their rich, inner lives,” she said. “Girls with ADHD are generally not diagnosed until much later if they are smart, if they have structure and support from family [and] if they are inattentive,” according to Sari Solden, LMFT, a psychotherapist and author of Women with Attention Deficit Disorder and Journeys Through ADDulthood.”

That small paragraph was me in a nutshell. The article went on to describe how women take these failures and let it hurt them instead of having to realize it’s not them its the ADHD. Learning this made me feel like I could forgive myself. I could move forward and start my life. I thank the Lord honestly, no one backed me in looking in to the possibility of me having ADHD because I didn’t display typical symptoms. I was written off as not having it when in reality I totally have it I am just a girl and display the symptoms differently and its more of a mental thing since girls are more introverted. I thank the Lord because I felt it in my heart that there was something different about me and I needed to figure it out no matter what it was.

Today, I am still taking Strattra, I never want to stop taking it. I’m still in the process of adjusting dosage because my original dosage mad my heart rate increase and my blood pressure so I was bumped to a lower dosage and monitoring my blood pressure at the lower level and hopefully will be able to work my way to a perfect dosage. My problem with the current dosage is that it wears off after 5-6 hours and my day is a lot longer than that.

Anyways, I have a question for all of you guys. What are your thoughts on medications for neurological things such as ADHD? As I have gone through my struggles in my life I have always rested in that no one can take my mind from me, no one can penetrate my thoughts with out my permission and no one can take the escape of my own thoughts and prayers. It still sort of bothers me that I take a medication that alters my sanctuary, my one place where no one can mess with me. You know? Also, I fight with the thought that maybe the Lord made me to think this way and have ADHD for a reason, am I going against that by taking a medication? Like I have no issue taking asthma medication. Like my lungs don’t work right and if I take this it fixes that and its just the way things are. I think because its in my mind that it bothers me. I would love to hear everyones thoughts on this really I would.

My Pieces of Advice:

  1. If you think you have ADHD and are scared or embarrassed to go be tested, don’t be. Its not your fault it doesn’t make you look stupid or anything and knowing that you have it can change everything after all how can you battle something when you don’t know what it is. 
  2. If you have ADHD and are questioning taking a medication I say try it I know the side affects are scary but they are rare and you have the power to stop them any time you want but you will never know if you don’y try. 
  3. Don’t give up if the first drug you try is not for you, there are more than one option. Also, stay with it sometimes the side affects are only for a few days and then you never see them again. 
  4. IF you are a parent and think your kid may have ADHD, research it. Listen to them, they know how their brain works better than you do and talk to their doctor. You not a bad parent for having questions, your a great parent for asking questions. 
  5. It is in no way your fault that your child has ADHD or that you have ADHD. No one should carry that burden it’s no one’s fault. 
  6. he worst thing you can do is give up, or use it as an excuse to not try. ADHD is a disability, but nothing NOTHING can hold you back from doing what you want to. You can have anything you want in life if you work hard enough for it and want it bad enough, with or with out ADHD.

Thanks guys for reading.
Let me know your thoughts, talk to me, ask questions I’m an open book I will answer anyones questions to the very best that I can.
Love you guys!
-Kyra

My car wreck from June 2013

My Second Math test after being on Strattera, It was the highest grade in the class. 

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