Paul’s Story

Im a 43 year old male. I was diagnosed with ADD about six months ago. Ive always been challenged to stay focused and organized, but never considered ADD because I wasnt hyper or disruptive as a child. It seems a common misconception with ADD, is that it necessarily includes excessive, and usually, distracting levels of energy. Rather than being fed with the energy some describe with ADD, Im frequently exhausted and overwhelmed by details and unfinished projects.

My office is typically piled with unfiled papers and half finished projects. After a few months the clutter drives me crazy, so I completely ignore everything else to get organized, promising myself that I wont let this happen again. It would be so much simpler to spend a few minutes each day keeping organized. Inevitably, within a week, the piles return.

I go to work each day, knowing what needs to be accomplished, but frequently overwhelmed by simple tasks such as making a necessary phone call, or returning a simple email. As the day progresses, thoughts of unfinished projects pop into my head, and I get discouraged by my inability to take care of them. Perhaps Ive lived so many years fighting to finish projects, that Im afraid to start new ones. When I finish a project, I look back at its simplicity, and recognize that it could have taken an hour, but I spent three days on it.

My biggest challenge is maintaining organization with finances. A few years ago, I needed to reallocate some retirement investments. I knew my current portfolio was declining. The statements came each month, I needed to spend a few minutes to look them over, then make a phone call to move the funds to alternative investments. It seems simple, but I spent months paralyzed, and for some reason unable to make that simple phone call. I lost more than $40,000, when a few minutes of my time could have easily maintained the value of the investment.

Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic form of mild depression (Dythsymia). Upon diagnosis, I recognized that I had lived with the depression for decades without knowing it. Ive responded reasonably well to medication, and I recognize that Ill probably need medication for the rest of my life. While anti depressants have lightened the grey cloud, focus, motivation, and organization have remained a challenge. Ive read that ADD and depression frequently co-exist.

My 13 year old son was diagnosed with ADD last year. He takes Concerta, and it has made a remarkable difference in his ability to function in school. One morning I tried the Concerta. I was astounded at the difference it made. I accomplished more that day than I had in the previous week. Rather than feeling overwhelmed, I was energized and focused. To make a long story short, Im receiving medical treatment for depression as well as ADD. Ive found that the Concerta becomes less effective after several days of consistent use. I try not to rely on it each day. I usually take Concerta 3-4 times a week.

Although Ive benefited from medical treatment, I worry about the long term effect of medications, particularly ADD medications. I hope to find non medicinal treatments. Diet and exercise make a difference, but havent been completely effective. The ADD medication has made a significant difference, but I dislike scheduling my productivity. While anti depressants maintain a steady state of effectiveness day after day, the ADD medications provide a distinct time window of productivity. Its like the lights suddenly go out, and Im left hanging and fighting to get through the rest of the day.

In spite of the challenges, I obtained a college degree, and Ive maintained a reasonably successful career. My wife has been remarkably patient, and were raising four bright, energetic children. With patience and understanding, Im learning to recognize and acknowledge the challenges that come with depression and ADD, without giving in to them. It has taken a long time for me to admit that these disorders are real. I wasted many years in denial, thinking I could fix everything with a better attitude. That was an expensive mistake, and a waste of precious time. Treatment is helping me be a much better husband, father, employee and friend. Dont be afraid to find help. I hope this helps someone. Don’t give up.