ADHD is a real problem, and has real solutions (and those solutions aren't all addictive).
If you feel like you are always running behind, always trying to catch up. If anyone says you are a great developer, but that you're always playing catch up, get checked. It can help change your life for the positive.
It has also been my observation that you can grow a tolerance to and dependence on ADHD medicine.
I support the author's goal of finding some other solution that motivates him to practice his focus.
Thank you so much for your concern, though. What are the solutions you're talking about? Do you mean medication? I think I'll give myself a few months to try and work things out myself (I think it's really just very, very bad habits entrenched throughout my adolescent years that I have to unlearn).
For solutions, I see a therapist to work through my OCD, and I take medication for my ADHD. It makes a difference. I notice it on days I happen to forget and don't have backup.
I never thought medication could make such a big difference, but it does. The idea of sitting down and just getting stuff done is amazing.
Anyways, the point of posting was to share. I was 33 when I got tested, and I wasn't get tested for ADHD! I'm not here to diagnose people, or to suggest you are doing things wrong. Rather, I just want to make it clear that you can get tested, and it might surprise you. It did for me. For far too long I saw all these posts on "how to get things done." I read GTD, followed all sorts of advice. Tried different strategies. Practiced pomodoro. Nothing worked.
I thought I was just lazy. Unmotivated. This resulted in a lot of repressed hatred for myself and my perceived failures. I still have a difficult time accepting success and compliments. I focus on the negative, and dismiss the positive as a fluke. Note, these are all relative to myself. In others, I see the best. When I congratulate someone, I really mean it. In myself? I was just lucky.
> I think I do exhibit ADHD symptoms, but I don't think I have it, or if I do, I don't have it bad.
I thought it was shameful that I was getting tested at all. I've lead a good life, I've been lucky, I've worked hard, and I've been successful. I thought I was being egotistical getting tested. Once I found out I had ADHD and OCD, and had to get over the idea that I was just a whining successful white guy. After all, who am I to complain about my situation when others have it so much worse off.
If you have it, you have it. Better to know about it and take the necessary steps to do something rather than dismiss it as a minor problem. Minor problems can add complexity, and they are still problems.
I haven't been medicated for years, but I'm struggling and thinking about looking into it again. I remember feeling like on meds I was an alternate personality - a different version of myself that I never felt comfortable as.
I keep thinking some of the advantages of ADD will give me an edge if I can just buckle down and get some real work done, but this has been going on for a while with far too little progress.
Not at all. I am still me.
> Do you take weekends off the meds to be yourself?
No. I can be myself and still take the medication.
> I remember feeling like on meds I was an alternate personality - a different version of myself that I never felt comfortable as.
There are different types of medications. The only side effects I've experienced is less of an appetite and my mouth feels more dry than usual. I drink more water as a result. If the medication changes you, there are other kinds you can try. As I mentioned, I take medication that is not addictive (adderall is addictive, for example, and must be carefully monitored).
> if I can just buckle down and get some real work done
I remember that feeling before I knew what I had. I remember the drives into work, feeling excited about what I had waiting for me, and thinking over the problems. But when it came time to actually do it, I'd get easily distracted, and by the end of the day, have nothing to show for it.
By the way, thanks for your posts here - they've been helpful.
And yes, both Ritalin and Adderall both made me nervous because of what I'd heard.
I tried it for a while several years ago, and, while it worked wonderfully (first period of my life where I actually had any reliable sense of time!), the side effects I had were unacceptable.
The mild dizziness, occasional headaches, and minor dry mouth were not a problem, but the main side effect was ... more troubling. Let's just say that, while the Strattera enhanced performance in some areas, it degraded performance in others.
Still, I heartily recommend those diagnosed with ADD or ADHD to give Strattera a try. Side effects went away within a week or so of discontinuing the drug, so no real risk.
I have non existent concept of time, so this might help.
I take the 100mg dose.
What troubles me the most is the future. What if this way of being comes up one day? What if people realize? To which, Seneca said: the past is certain, present is short an difficult to catch, the future is uncertain. So, focus on the present, if that's good, then don't worry about the future too much because that will kill your present.
I think Letters to Lucilius is a very good therapy book...
I do. It's just easier said than done.
Which, if you'll forgive me, is odd to openly talk about therapy sessions. But honestly, the more I've thought about this, I've wished that others had been open about their conditions. It's nothing I should be ashamed of. There is a stigma about seeing a therapist, but their shouldn't be.
It's part of the reason I try to share my own stories about ADHD and OCD. I think it's something, especially in this industry, that people ignore or don't know about. ADHD is something for hyperactive kids, not adults! =)
As for therapy - don't worry, I go myself and as well as helping me look at how I got here, I am pretty sure it is a worthwhile career to take up after I retire - what started as a therapy session is looking like life coaching and business coaching. I think the stigma will die.
I was surrounded by clear ADHD cases growing up. They were more-or-less bouncing off the walls and constantly getting in trouble. I knew I wasn't like "those kids". But the inattentive types—those that can't focus or tend to hyper-focus on one thing to the detriment of others—fall through the cracks because they're not acting out. And, if they're otherwise high-performing, they'll be able to pull through their work with the occasional forgotten assignment or scheduling snafu. Teachers, bosses, even the affected themselves seem to think just need to concentrate harder and they'll do better next time.
But, telling someone with ADHD to concentrate harder is like telling someone nearsighted to squint if they can't see the chalkboard. And it's not a flaw in their character anymore than myopia is.
Anyway, I don't know your life or backstory, just that seems pretty familiar to me (tried pomodoro, thought of/started on a similar system before abandoning it in graveyard that is my ~/Projects folder). If any of this has struck a chord, I've found that simply changing my work circumstances have helped me immeasurably. Two years ago, I was working at home and left to figure out every choice and solve every problem in a pretty open-ended project. I'd spend hours reading papers, tutorials, and blogs with little to show. Now I'm in an office with an open floor plan and a team working toward a common goal with a time constraint. Medication would probably help me even more, but I exercise quite a bit and am wary of side-effects. Therapy would probably be even better, especially because, while my organization and execution at work has gotten better, my own tasks are about where they were before.
If you're interested, I found "Driven to Distraction" by Hallowell & Ratey to be a pretty good reference (although, if you get through the whole thing, you might not actually have ADHD).
How does one go about "getting checked"? What's the proper way to explain this to your doctor?
What you described is pretty much exactly how I feel the majority of the time, and I've been meaning to go to a doctor to talk about it.. but a part of me keeps putting that off since I really have no idea how to properly describe the whole thing. I've been putting off making an appointment for close to a year now.
Part of me feels like I'm going to sound like someone making up stuff (as many do) in order to get prescribed those ADHD/ADD drugs.
So, I just had my wife search around for someone who could perform tests for OCD, and at the same time, decided to get checked for ADHD at the same time. So, I'm assuming she just did some Google searches for a private clinic. You could ask your doctor for a recommendation. I'd just flat out ask. "I'd like to get tested for ADHD. How do I go about doing that?"
They'll know the next step.
> but a part of me keeps putting that off since I really have no idea how to properly describe the whole thing
Don't worry about that. The tests aren't just you describing your feelings. You aren't a doctor, so don't try and diagnose yourself. I had an irrational fear that I might over compensate in one direction or another that would result in a misdiagnoses. =)
So, when you say you are going to make stuff up, you ignore the fact that doctors know about this. They don't just hand out the medication. You don't just go one time, and that's it. And they don't just listen to what you say. At least in my case, I had to take tests.
The best thing I can say is just be honest and you'll be fine.
For starters, I managed to play a new videogame for unhealthy amounts of time the last 2 weeks with such dedication. We're talking about waking up to turn on the PC and look what I have to achieve in the game for today then get it done. I never felt like something would make me get up other than food and toilet. Second, I managed to quit smoking cold turkey, after a decade of heavy smoking. I can't feel like I'm a victim of my own craves or I lack the power to just sit down and get things done. And yet, I do identify myself in the OP's blog post.
Would you suggest that I should still take the ADHD test? If yes, which doctor can I ask about it?
I struggle with attention issues myself, and have tried medication, but have noticed a difference in creativity when medicated (although much more productive). I'm an illustrator as well as a programmer and find those two interests not always working the same way. Maybe I just need to try something different (I was trying Ritalin).