Adult ADHD Support
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55 year old woman, newly diagnosed

My flightiness explained! Menopause really exacerbated my symptoms, even though I've gotten my hormone levels balanced. I’m just starting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and have an appointment with a psychiatrist In March. I also have battled migraines for 10+ years, and am hopeful treatment for that can help break the cycle of migraine pain. I am apprehensive to take medicine, as I am sober 27 years. However, I’m more apprehensive to continue my life as a scatterbrain. It’s also very enlightening to realize how many people in my life that also have ADHD and are medicated. I’m grateful for this forum to have contact with others further along the path.

Are there other later in life women who’ve found that menopause aggravated symptoms? What has helped you with symptoms outside of ADHD medications and hormone supplementation.

Thanks!

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Hi JLJLMT, I'm on the north side of 30s and was just diagnosed last week. I hear you about medication; I grew up in a family with substance abuse and the prospect of it scares me, but, like you, I'm more scared of not getting my crap together enough to do good things in this world! If meds are what it takes, then I guess so be it; I don't when or if I'm going to put on meds yet. It's so good to have a place like this to compare notes and also that nowadays there are many resources related to recognizing potential substance abuse. CBT seems really helpful, from what I've read. I've been trying out the EFT tapping thing that I saw on YouTube... it looks hilarious so definitely don't watch yourself in a mirror while doing it if you try that lol. I sort of worked for me last night in calming me down before a college test. I didn't bomb it but I didn't do as well as I'd wanted. I will say, though, that exercise has a tremendous when I regularly do it. Dr. Medina's "Brain Rules" books explain that better than I could. He's a genius!

All the best!

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Thanks for reaching out.

I have done tapping when I was seeing a therapist in the past and it is helpful. I will look into Dr. Madina's Book

Good luck with your education. That’s fabulous! Having deadlines in college was really, really helpful in my earlier years (even though I didn’t know I had a problem). I would lock myself away all day in a study room at the local library because there were no distractions. The subject matter lent its self to studying with flash cards, so I would go over and over the material, discarding the cards I "got", repeating the ones I didn’t "get". Invariably, on the morning of exams I’d have a few cards left to really imprint on my mind before the test and I always had at least one essay question that was on those last few flash cards. I got straight A's for several semesters. I remember my boyfriend at the time (who aced calculus without even going to class) mocked my study habits because I had to work so hard. That was tough...to be getting great results and made fun of because of the effort it took...ouch!

And exercise certainly does help...I’m preparing for my walk now.

All the best to you on your journey!

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Thank you!! It feels simultaneously wonderful and daunting going back to college twenty years later! I miss those straight A-s days :( these days, everything is more challenging, but my timing is off, too. Things ARE easier to learn at different ages. Formative years go without saying, and then 11 or so, then 18/19 (college age), then mid-40s (should've waited to return lol), then the last surge in learning happens in your early 80s in one particular discipline... ARITHMETIC. Yeah, imagine being 83 and blowing the doors off anyone at math. Humans are weird.

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Hi J, I was diagnosed at 62 😳 after I retired. Without the structure a full time job provides—-I was a hot mess trying to create my own routines and structure. That’s when I spoke with my doctor. She referred me for an evaluation and I scored very high for inattentive type ADD. I’ve helped others deal with attention issues my whole life but needed help myself. I’m coaching others and myself to learn strategies to manage my symptoms. I tried several meds and found Concerta to be the best for me. Check out online resources and support groups. Understanding the adhd brain and discovering your strengths can help you manage symptoms.

Best wishes!

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Thank you for your reply....through a series of life events I semi-retired 8 years ago. I can certainly identify with your experience! I try to get my loose ends together, but I can’t find them, and when I do find one, I can’t find the one that matches it and around and around and around I go.

At this point I have mainly evaluated and diagnosed myself. I have 12/14 symptoms according to some online resources. I see the psychiatrist in mid-March. My counselor says I have many of the qualities of ADD/ADHD, but I believe it’s outside her scope of practice to diagnose me. I’m interested in the testing you’ve gone through. Can you tell me more about that, please?

It is comforting to identify so strongly with others who have this condition. Dementia runs in my family, so I have thought for years that was my issue. I have been tested six ways from Sunday and they keep saying I don’t have it. Which, trust me, I’m so grateful for, but SOMETHING is profoundly wrong. I could just cry to know I’m not alone.

Thank you again for reaching out.

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I am 55 too at least there seem to be something going within your life and your condition, for me not much is happening right now. Sorry but the only thing I can tell you is that I’m really down in the dumps

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I hate to hear it. I hope you can find the help you need.

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Hi! I was diagnosed with ADHD about ten years ago. I am now 62. (!) Part of the reason the diagnosis was so apparent was that I was going through menopause. Yes, my ADHD symptoms flourished with all the hormonal vacillations. Forgetfulness, disorganization, short term memory problems...all intensified. Earlier in life my symptoms just passed for absent-mindedness. But I now know that ADHD has always been there. I was lucky to squeak by because I did well academically. Weak social skills. Lifelong generalized anxiety, social anxiety. Difficulty getting and keeping a job.

But now I am more satisfied with life than ever. I have come to accept myself with all my glitches. A big part of this is owed to my finding great support groups. I connected with the local CHADD affiliate and became close friends with the wonderful coordinator. She asked me to coordinate the Adults program. So I established a monthly support group meeting at a local diner. Being with those terrific, sensitive, insightful people is my monthly boost! We talk, share, problem-solve, support each other unconditionally, and we laugh! I would say a reliable support system is KEY!

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Thanks for sharing your experience. I am making progress now and working with a counselor. She’s been very helpful. I just took a quotient test on Friday and get the results next week. I’m anxious to start the medication. At first I didn’t want to take anything, but I’ve changed my mind. I know so many people who are on ADHD medication! That has really surprised me. I am interested in a support group. I started looking into it, but got distracted. There’s so much to do!

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Hi JLJLMT, I’m 55 and was recently diagnosed with ADHD. I’m going for the medication, period. I don’t know what you’ve been sober from for 27 years, but if it’s alcohol, I would think that ADHD medication does not have much to do with that. I drank a bit in my 30’s and I don’t buy that if you ever drink again that you have fallen off the wagon and are in dire straits. I’m not by any means encouraging you to start drinking. I just kinda stopped drinking on my own mostly because I don’t like being around drunk people, drunk or sober. I think it’s fine for you to get on stimulants and you may probably feel better and the last thing on your mind may be alcohol. You should give yourself a chance.

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I’m glad you’re comfortable with your course of action!

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I’m a little younger than you, J, but I was only diagnosed a couple years ago. I’m 48. I don’t take medication at this time because I find it makes my anxiety a little worse and the medication I’ve been on doesn’t really make me feel any different. So I’ve been relying mostly on CBT and it works quite well for me. I already had developed quite a few coping skills and good practices before I ever diagnosed. My boyfriend also has ADHD, much worse than mine. He and I began couples therapy as well as him bing in individual therapy. We addressed both our relationship issues as well as the ADHD (it was while we were in therapy together I learned I had it too) and I was looking forward to having our therapist teach us new coping skills. The joke was on me because the things he recommended (timers, alarms, calendaring, journaling, mindfulness) I was already doing! Lol. I guess all that “be more organized” research I did before my diagnosis really did pay off! :)

I think one of my favorite CBT things I learned was to break things down into small tasks. I now see why I didn’t do well when my mom would tell me “clean your room”. I really need something more like “make the bed, put all your clothes in the hamper, shoes in the rack, books on the shelves, empty your garbage then come back and I’ll tell you five more things.” Now at work - and sometimes at home - when I begin to get that lost feeling, I stop and begin making my list, five things at a time. I set a lot of timers and reminders so I don’t forget things like clothes in the laundry and watering plants. I know I am “outta sight, outta mind” so my mirror usually has a few post its on it to remind me of things (“Put the library returns in the car” and “make a vet appt”, stuff like that) and I am a big fan of the “Do It Now” principal, knowing if I just do it instead of trying to remember it, I’ll be much more successful.

Just remember that you were a successful person before you got this diagnosis and that didn’t change. Now you just have a vocabulary to address the feelings and issues. CBT helps A LOT and personally I feel it is even more important than meds. Meds will help turn down the volume in ADHD but if you don’t have a good set of coping skills and habits to implement, you’ll still be at ground zero.

Good luck!!

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Thanks for the positive feedback! Yes, CBT has been wonderful. I’m making progress and the panic I was feeling has diminished significantly. I really appreciate the lists...although I still have a hard time just masking one list and/or remembering where I left the lists! But, progress not perfection is my motto.

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I was diagnosed at age 51. Hormone therapy worked wonders for me. I needed about double the dose of the average woman, even though my estrogen levels looked fine when tested. Finding the right medication was huge. It took seven different tries, until I found Concerta worked best. If you don’t feel better from the medication, you’re not on the right one. When you find the right one, you’ll now. CBT is also helpful at rebuilding my life in a new way. I’ve found that educating myself has given me immense understanding. I have been reading books given to me by my doctors, not reading info on the Internet. There are too many people with opinions, instead of facts, online. Check out the Facebook page ADDiva for more women over 40 with ADD. Here are the books:

Understanding women with ADHD -by Kathleen Nadeau

You mean I’m not lazy, stupid or crazy?! -by Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo

Let’s fix it! -by Linda Roggli

The best is yet to come!!

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Diagnosed at 68. I do want a second opinion because the actual testing was questionable. How were you tested? I was concerned about meds as I am also in long term recovery. Plus, if I wasn't working from home, I would have said, "Why bother at this point in time?" After researching, I realized it's been an issue all my life. When you started looking back over your life, did you ask yourself, "How could I have not seen all these major issues?" Have been on Adderall which has helped some, at least gives me the energy to keep working. I was successful in my work career, but now realize if I had been treated I might have worked more efficiently, not procrastinated over details and, probably, worked less hours. Oh well, it takes what it takes.

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