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Friday, September 7, 2012

Questions or comments? I'm looking for more interaction!

Just posting this so I can get a larger viewing audience.  If anyone has any questions they may have for someone with ADHD feel free to post it or email me! Thanks.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Support systems

Without any support system, I continually failed at univeristy and watched my personal life get turned upside down. I ended up becoming addicted to video games which were effectivly enabling me to ignore the issues at hand by allowing me to pretend there was nothing wrong. Currently I have several support systems put in place that not only push me to suceed, but also are able to prevent me from falling into a vicious cycle of skipping class.

The first time I experienced a support system that was able help me was at Landmark College. First off, everyone in the student body had some form of a learning disability with over 60% having ADD or ADHD. The fact that I had found 400 people dealing with the same problems I face and have had the same academic experiences I have had offered a new sense of fortitude and drive that I never had before. Second, teachers and the administrators know how to help you suceed academically and personally by showing you ways to maximize each individual strength, mitigate weaknesses, and organize yourself in way that is comfortable for you.

I must digress for a second here. Just because you have ADHD and go to landmark doesn't mean sucess is automatic. There is a stark difference in academic performance in the students who, like me, chose to attend Landmark in comparison to the students who were forced to attend Landmark by their parents.
For me, an effective support system is one that notices when you "start falling of the band wagon" and is able to help you put things in perspective and put you back on track. A gentleman commented on one of my posts stating that when he misses class he gets anxious and ends up continually skipping class to the point of failure or low marks. This is an issue I have and most others with adhd contend with. Having people that experience the same problems and can reconize what's happening around you helps tremendously and if you can be part of their support system, its even better.

On a very personal note, I feel parents ARE NOT effective support systems. I know that my mother and most parents out there only want the best for their children and try to push them by calling and checking assignment completion etc. This actually seems to hinder the student more. Many of my close friends from Landmark (including my own) biggest issue at school wasn't the academics, but instead was the pressure from home. More then one of my friends ended up failing because their parents were not able to let them have the space needed to make mistakes and learn from them. The Advising system at landmark is actually in place to help buffer parental control.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hey guys, I know I haven't posted anything in a little over a week but I have been busy with midterms and engineering projects. I have some stuff that I will be posting about later today or tomorrow that relates some of the actual problems that have come up from ADHD in the past 2 weeks like forgetfulness (I lost my keys at the library one day and three days later locked my keys in my girlfriends trunk), procrastination and waiting to the last minute, and some communication issues with family.

I hope those few of you that are reading this blog will wait for an update. If you have anything that you would like me to discuss particularly just comment about it on the comment section below.

-Joe

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

ADHD Medication

Today I want to post about the ADHD medication I have taken and the effects that they have had on me. For any male readers out there, I will be sharing the sexual side effects I have encountered as well. I will give my opinions on the drugs I have taken and tell you which ones I prefer and which ones I absolutely despise.

The most common form of ADHD medication is a stimulant. You normally hear in the news about Ritalin or Adderall. Some of the other prescribed stimulants are Focalin, Vyvance, Concerta, and Dexedrine. I have taken all of these medications except Concerta and it has been over a decade since I have used Ritalin and Dexedrine. The one stimulant that I find to be most helpful is Adderall.

The other medication is an ADD/ADHD specific medication is Strattera, and I absolutely hate that medication. Doctors tend to like to prescribe this medication since it lacks the ability to be abused recreationally like the other ADHD medications. 

I will admit the reason why I have tried all these medications is that over time they stop working effectively. Apparently my body builds up a resistance to the medication and it is necessary for me to switch to a different one. (I can not afford 800$+ a month outta pocket)

Adderall
The one medication I find to help me the most. I find that the time release works the best since I do not like the constant up and down feeling that you can get between each dosing if you take the non-time released form of this medication. I personally take Adderall XR 30mg tablets. I take 2 of them in the morning then the third in the afternoon. This dosing is what works best for me. Adderall effects my ability to focus to a higher degree then any of the other medications, doesn't make me more irritable or angry.  My executive functioning capability is greatly increased and I am able to make schedules/plans and carry them out much more efficiently then if I wasn't medicated. The side effects that I have from it are a lack of appetite (which I dont always complain about), occasionally the inability to sleep (only if I take my second dose too late in the day), and how it makes me need to go #2 as soon as it kicks in. I can tell exactly when it kicks in and out so there is never any sort of guessing if it is still in my system or not.

Sexually this drug has not had any lasting effects on me. It does kill my sex drive while I am on it and becoming aroused while on it is very difficult. However, the second the Adderall is out of my system I have no problem performing, 

I have never gotten drunk while under the effects of Adderall but I have had a drink or two while it was still in my system. For me drinking while Adderall is still in my system only compounds the drunk feeling. As an example, when I have a drink while Adderall is in my system I wont drive a car since my head is spinning. One drink feels like 3 or 4 to me. I do not recommend drinking with it.

Focalin
Focalin is the other psycostimulant I use when my insurance company refuses to fill my Adderall prescription (which is a whole different and irritating topic). This medication I only take 30mg XR in the morning and a 20mg XR in the afternoon.  It has the same effects as the Adderall but not as strong. The major reason I do not like taking this medication is that it makes my stomach hurt and can occasionally make me vomit.

Vyvance and Dexedrine
I was taking 70mg of Vyvance a day when I stopped taking it. It made me exceedingly anti-social and also made me very irritable. I would get mad at people for minor annoyances. I remember how I became irate talking to my grandmother on the phone one day since she was breaking up (bad service - not her fault) and pretty much called her every name in the book since she couldn't realize she had bad service.

Sex on this drug, like Adderall is extremely difficult but once out of your system has no mal-sexual side effects.

Strattera
I took this medication for 3 months before I refused to take it any more. Unlike the other ADHD medications, Strattera takes two weeks to a month to actually start having any sort of effect on you and the same amount of time to leave your system after you stop taking the medication. This is the reason it can not be abused in recreational settings. It doesn't effect dopamine like the other but instead targets norepinephrine which is a different hormone in the brain that effects ADHD. 

I do not feel this drugs benefits (which I couldn't tell) outweighed the slew of bad side effects that I had. First off this drug makes you extremely drowsy. A week after starting Strattera I was walking up my stairs towards the kitchen to get ready to cook dinner when I decided that I was tired and took a nap halfway up the stairs. Who takes naps on stairs when you have a bedroom less then 20 feet away or a couch 10 feet away. That is plainly ridiculous. I was told by my Psychiatrist (I switched soon after stopping this medication) that this will only last a few weeks and it will go away. It never did.

Sexually this drug is a nightmare. I don't know about you guys, but I enjoy having sex. I like knowing that I can perform sexually. I like knowing that I will be able to please my partner as well as having the satisfaction of finishing. With Adderall or the other drugs I at least know that once it is out of my system it is game time but with Strattera, no time is game time. It should be sold as a form of male birth control because you will be too embarrassed to even try having sex while this drug is in your system. Besides having a decreased libido, you will never be able to get fully erect and if you do manage to have sex you will leak. By leaking, I mean your semen will slowly come out over the period of your sexual encounter and you will never have that "finishing" feeling. Sometimes I would even leak while I wasn't aroused making wet spots in my boxers.


I know this is long, but I hope it is informative. I wish there was a viewer friendly way that I could post this information. If there is one, I apologize for not using it. I am still new to this whole blogging thing.

Monday, February 27, 2012

ADHD in my relationships


I know for me, this ability to compartmentalize issues and pretend they are not there is not something that is not just associated with school. I will avoid people that care about me and want to help me just so I don't have to face a problem or an issue that I have with them or that they have with me. This is probably why I haven't spoken to my mother in 3 weeks.

Maintaining relationships is one of the hardest things for me. I am not talking about relationships with minor aquatints or friends from school, I am specifically talking about family relationships. I originally thought the constant fighting and mistrust that my mother has for me was something that was unique to our relationship and was proven wrong when I went to Landmark College. At Landmark every student has a learning disability (LD) like ADHD, Dyslexia, Language learning disability etc. and I interacted with hundreds of other college students that have ADHD just like me and almost everyone of them had the same kind of relationship with their parents.

I know my mother only wants to help me and that her fighting with me and her pushing me is her way of doing so, however, this only pushed me away from her, made me shut off completely from her and actually distracts me from my school work compounding the problem.  I have friends with ADHD that are far more intelligent then me fail out of school due to the parents trying to "help" them by fighting with them. Like I stated above, we compartmentalize our problems and if our parents are fighting with us about school, not only will we avoid our parents, we sometimes avoid school since we view it as the catalyst of the fighting.

I know this makes no sense, even reading it to myself it sounds foolish, but it is one of the issues that is almost impossible to understand. Even my explanation falls completely short of the feelings and reasoning's that we make to not go to class. This was one of the major contributing factors for me failing out of college the first time that I went.

I have had many failed relationships due to impulsive and the fact that ADHDers are knows to fall in love fast and fall out of love fast. Why is this? Well when you "fall in love," hormones and endorphin's are released at a increased rate. Some of these are the hormones that we have less of in our frontal lobe so we crave the "falling in love" feeling since it is able to produce these hormones. This is why many people with ADHD get married on a whim only to have it ending in divorce 3 months later or why we are hot and heavy in a relationship and then become very cold over night.  It is difficult create and maintain a serious relationship with someone and having ADHD absolutely adds extra strain on the relationship.

Armed with this information, I made sure I told my girl friend before we started dating that I have ADHD and exactly what it does to me. I told her how it effects me, what I do to cope with it, and made sure she understood that things would probably be more difficult in certain areas then those people dating that didn't have ADHD. She understands this, has supported me wholly,  and has actually learned to love some of the minor ADHD problems. Some examples of the issues we have encountered are failure to communicate time schedules, saying I will call but utterly forgetting, not being able to realize when she needs space or attention, and her biggest pet peeve is how I always wait to the last minute to commit to a plan or a date.

I have a lot more to say but don't want to write a book in one night. I hope this is informative and more information along with stories and experiences will be getting posted in the next couple of days.

Thanks for reading.

How ADHD effects me in school

Everyone who has ADHD experiences each of the different issues to a different degree. This can depend on the severity of their ADHD and it can also depend on the environment that individual is in. I am going to give a brief outline of how my ADHD manifests itself and how I have seen it manifest in others.

School is where my ADHD is most prevalent. The amount of executive functioning required on a daily basis of a college student is unbelievable. My biggest issue in University is class attendance. Class attendance was never an issue when I was in grade school since I never actually had to plan out my own schedule or make myself stick said schedule. My mother made sure I was out the door at the right time every morning, made sure that I had dinner when I got home. My class schedule was put together by my school and I only had 5 minutes between classes so there was relatively no downtime in which I could get distracted to miss my next class. I was fortunate enough that my mother was able to send me to a prestigious college preparatory school where the classes were small and there wasn't any way I could just slip by unnoticed in the back of the class. I knew I had Boy Scouts on Mondays, CCD on Tuesdays, Wed. night was always a free night, and then CAP on Thursdays. I was required to do an after school activity by my high school so I ran Cross Country and Track.

When it came time to take a test I didn't need extra time or need my test given to me in a different format (For all you students out there, you should know that if you are registered in your high school or University with a learning disability and the test the teacher gives you is in a format that you have problems with ie. multiple choice or fill in the blank, you can request to have it given to you in a different format and by law they must provide you a different formatted test). My ADHD showed mostly at home when I needed to do my homework, work on a project, organize books, or study for test.

How many of you have heard from your teachers or your parents, "If you just put your mind to it you can do it."? I know my mother said it to me all the time in attempts to encourage me and motivate me. With ADHD just putting your mind to it isn't the problem. The problem is executing the proper steps to do what you have set your mind to after you have set your mind to do it.

In college I have experienced issues with turning in assignments on time but what the biggest downfall is my inability to change environments. I have trouble making it to class which in turn makes me miss more classes because I don't want to actually admit to myself that I have done something wrong and I compartmentalize my issue and pretend its not there. This specific issue is something that I am still contending with in school despite the fact that I have spent the past 2 years learning how to manage my ADHD. I have friends that I met with ADHD that have the same issue and go through the same feelings I do.

-Continued on Relationship post



What is ADHD?


The most annoying and character insulting comment anyone has ever made to me was "ADHD doesn't exist. It is just something people say as an excuse to be lazy or to not pay attention." This was a comment that was said to me by someone I was working with last summer after I told him that I have ADHD. What made his comment even more infuriating besides that fact that he is completely wrong is that he is going to be working as a middle school educator. I feel sorry for any student that has ADHD and is going to be in his classroom because a teacher can make it or break it for a student with ADHD.

I understand that ADHD has been very over-diagnosed and/or misdiagnosed but this doesn't mean it's an excuse disorder. This just means awareness about the disorder needs to be raised among the medical and educational community. So for those of you that still do not know exactly what ADHD is and the root causes of it, I am going to attempt to give you a concise but thorough description.

Physiologically: 
ADHD is a disorder that is caused by a lack of certain hormones in the frontal lobe. Dopamine and Norepinehrine are the two that are treatable through medication. Since we lack these hormones, we have decreased brain activity in our frontal lobe which (counter intuitively) causes excess physical activity hence "hyperactivity." The increased hyperactivity is our bodies way of trying to keep our minds stimulated. The decreased level of both Dopamine and Norepinehrine are major contributors to a persons ability to pay attention, make decisions, and react to environmental stimuli.

Outward manifestation:
The lack of these hormones is why ADHDers are known to make poor impulsive decisions, have problems keeping jobs, struggle to maintain relationships, procrastinate, wait to the last minute to do things, and have problems switching environments etc. Most of the issues that are "typical" for ADHD are all directly connected to Executive Functioning.

Executive Functioning:
This is a term used in cognitive psychology that groups together functions controlled by the frontal lobe which include (but are not limited to) planning, attention, problem solving, verbal reasoning, multi-tasking, inhibitions, and the ability to initiate a task. Executive Function also include use of an individuals working memory (short term, long term, temporary memory).