Free Falling - I don't want to be fired. - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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Free Falling - I don't want to be fired.

GingaEmmy profile image

I'm new to this site and this is my first post. I feel like I have no control. I have been feeling so overwhelmed at work and in my life in general. I can't concentrate, I'm not motivated, I miss deadlines, but I take notes, I make reminders in my calendar - nothing works. My boss told me this week that if I don't get my act together she will have to take steps to let me go - she actually asked me if I was trying to get fired. I believe I have had ADHD my whole life. I've always struggled with being able to keep concentrated and on task. I've never been taught what to do to help get through life and work with ADHD. My parents didn't want me to be labeled so I didn't receive extra help I probably needed in school. Looking for suggestions, resources, your own stories, anything that you think might be helpful.

14 Replies

GingaEmmy, I empathize so much with your experience. I have also had ADHD all my life, but I was only diagnosed a week ago, at the age of 36. It has negatively affected my relationships, occupational and academic success, and physical and mental health. I'm sorry you didn't get the help you needed when you were a kid. You should have. Your account of your conversation with your boss reminds me of conversations I have had with my employers and family members about underperforming at work. I have been asked that same question, "Are you trying to get fired?" It is essential that you understand that the answer to that question is definitively and unambiguously NO. No, we are not trying to get fired. We are not trying to be unmotivated and disorganized. We are not trying to miss deadlines. In fact, we are trying to do our very best to be responsible adults, and we have a condition that gets in the way. It does not mean that we are incapable, or unintelligent, or careless. Our condition my be difficult for others to understand because it is invisible. After all, we are not in wheel chairs and we don't wear blood sugar monitors. That does not mean that our condition is not just as real as something more visible.

If I may ask, how are you managing your ADHD? I see you mentioned notes and calendar reminders. Those don't seem to work for me either. Are you using any other strategies? I have only just begun my journey, but I am already finding medication quite helpful. An executive functioning coach was suggested to me, and I am looking into it.

Most importantly, remember that you are not alone, and you have a community of people here rooting for you and cheering you on. There is hope!

Thank you for your reply. It is almost funny that she asked because I have been so lost I've been asking myself Do I want to get fired? But no of course not. That would just bring on more shame and self-defeating thinking.

I have been taking medication for ADHD for a while but I don't know if it is making a difference. I was reading about executive functioning coaches. I also found this website and they offer resources and learning but it costs $200/month. I need to turn my work performance around so I am willing to try anything.

brego_mom profile image
brego_mom in reply to GingaEmmy

I know how frustrating it is to watch your life slipping out of your control, but you haven’t run out of options. Although I am still waiting for a prescription, I have seen/read in multiple places that not all meds work for all people. There are several classes of medications and multiple options within those classes, so I would recommend asking your doctor about alternatives. Good luck!

ADHDI relate to your plight. I’m a 44 year old, post menopausal nurse, going through a 23 year divorce, who was diagnosed 10 months ago and I feel like crying some days because I feel overwhelmed and incompetent at times. Are you on any medication? I actually went to my neurologist to rule out dementia or at least a condition that shows up in blood test or a radiological imaging that would substantiate my diagnosis . Never in my wildest dream would I have even consider ADHD in a differential diagnosis. I would forget the simplest thing multiple times in one day. As the stress increased in 2020 especially with Covid-19, I would loose time double checking my work as not to seem incompetent, which snowballed because I have almost no time management skills at that point. I constantly use my Apple Watch to find my iPhone about 20 times per day which is my pseudo personal assistant. I also lost the job IPhone somewhere in my house for months now and am embarrassed to notify IT. My performance appraisal was abysmal, and the team I work with was getting frustrated with me. I think my coping skills, pre ADHD diagnosis, hit it's threshold and things were just spiraling out of control. After doing a cognitive assessment test with a 5 year comparison it illustrated my drastic decline in executive function. All this time I thought maybe it was anxiety and or depression even maybe brain tumor, but my neurologist referred me to a psych provider to r/o depression/ ADHD. When I got the diagnosis I cried because now I know why I’ve felt like something was wrong me, because “normal” people’s brain doesn’t work like mine, resulting in me feeling defective . Trial and error with multiple stimulants and their doses has led me to Vyvanse 40mg and Wellbutrin 300mg along with forte-nightly psych sessions which has improved my attention and productivity about 70-75% which to me is fantastic. It is a constant daily struggle for me even though, like you I write things down, try to be more accountable for my time, using the elevator pitch technique when answering questions instead of going on a tangent, e more cognizant of spacing out, make a daily list of duties to accomplish that day and focus at one at a time and if that doesn’t work seek professional care and ask HR for accommodations.

What type of job do you do? Do you have healthcare? I didn’t mean to ramble, as you know it comes with the territory, but I hope my story helps you in some way and know you are not alone. First thing is first , if you haven’t initiated this, get a specialist, preferably a neuropsychologist, to be further evaluated and then you both will formulate a plan that tailors to your specific needs. It is a daily struggle despite pharmaceutical and psychological intervention, however there are many of us that has developed some sort of individualized skills to , “function in an Neuro normative society.” The support of family and friends has a beneficial impact on your sustained success. Again, you are not alone. Help is on the way.

Ironically, I work in human resources. Very small HR department. We have put people on performance improvement plans before but it's for show, not because management actually thought the individual could improve their performance. It's a CYA for the company.

My job isn't hard, I'm not stupid. I just don't know what is going to help me. I am on medication for anxiety and depression. I'm on medication for ADHD. I feel like I'm missing the fundamental knowledge of dealing with the symptoms. Honestly when my boss hinted that I was being lazy and that I didn't care, I was shocked and really upset. Deep down, I did think I must be lazy and apathetic because my job is easy, why can't I just do it?! It would be easier if I was lazy and didn't care because then I wouldn't feel stupid and frustrated! I feel like I'm holding myself back - my manager also said that I am in my own way. But I don't know know what getting out of my own way looks like or how to do that.

I really appreciate the time you took to comfort a stranger. Thank you.

Hi 👋 if U have a therapist, there is special therapy that U can use for ADD. There is also a group called CHADD based in Maryland. They specialize in ADD and ADHD. They have webinars, a magazine and lifecoaches to help U Good luck hugs 🤗 Shnookie

I think most folks have provided some good ideas already, my 2 cents:

1. Get diagnosed - See a therapist and psychiatrist, preferably with ADHD specialization, to get an official diagnosis. Take it to work and get accommodations to save you job or at least give you some time to make changes. You know they can't fire you without providing support first. Also make sure you are clear with what you need from the therapist. "I need to leave here with something I can use tomorrow when..."

2. Meds - Medications will give you focus especially at first when you find the right one. Adults tend to do better on Methylphenidate(Adderall) based stimulants. I struggled with the fast acting as I have a high stimulant metabolism so the extended release like Vyvanse has worked really well.

3. Health - Take care of your self! Learn to notice when you are struggling before it gets out of control (usually easier said than done). A therapist can help with this.

Journaling is really good as well. Eat as healthy as you can but make sure you get

#1. Sleep #2. Exercise! Everyone who is sleep deprived "has ADHD" so it's twice as bad for us. Exercise has been proven over and over to boost brain health and every other physical benefit, it will help you sleep better too.

4. Get tools - Don't settle on a therapist until they are providing you with tools you can use everyday and working with you to refine them or provide something else when one doesn't work. Therapists can be your accountability partner too.

You'll find certain things will become boring so you will want to have multiple tools that work for the same symptoms to swap out in the long run. (Also remember you can use you excitement (or fear) to you advantage, When you find the new and shiny you will stay with it for a while or when it's about to hit the fan your neurochemicals get a boost and you can likely pull it together to get things done for a bit) I bought a small tablet and Evernote so I could have my notes sync'd on every device I use, incase I left my tablet at home or I forgot to charge it.

Practice and make it fun. Make charts add colors move things around sticky notes every where. What ever it takes. Get someone to sit with you (Body doubling) while you get work done. Set 20min timers (Pomodoro method) to take a break or remind you to get back to it.

5. Educate - Read/Listen to books, watch Youtube videos, reach out here, CHADD... Everything you can do to learn about the impact ADHD really has. It is soo invasive and it's not an attention issue it's am Executive Function deficit. So you have to create external prosthetics for everything that exisits or needs to be done at another time (Not now). We can only see the "Now".

Russel Barkley is a good place to start. Hallowell is ok, some good info but he's trying to sell stuff these days.

You'll need to educate the people around you too(your support system) so they can better understand why you do the things you do and to be able to better separate the symptoms from the person, for you too. We come off as un caring and lazy but that's so far from the truth. Our power lies in our ability to creatively think outside of the box and hyper focus on things that we are interested in and when there are high pressure/looming deadlines.

I hope this five you a place to start. This site is a great resource too. There are a lot of hole in the books that are available out there for Adult ADHD and late diagnosis. So asking questions of real people is super helpful. You're not alone, you're certainly not lazy and you'll get through this. I would say we have to work twice as hard as everyone else since the world isn't setup for how we work, but that's another conversation.

GingaEmmy profile image
GingaEmmy in reply to Lenon526

Wow. Thank you! This is very helpful and more than I expected from strangers on the internet! Thank you, thank you.

Lenon526 profile image
Lenon526 in reply to GingaEmmy

No problem at all. It can be frustrating enough dealing with our struggles I'm happy to share what I can. It's surprisingly hard to find info around just living with ADHD and what a day looks like for someone who has figured out a few things.

I'm still figuring things out but I've been doing everything I can to research things and get my life in order to maintain my job and relationship with my wife, family and friends. Please reach out if you have any other questions.

GingaEmmy profile image
GingaEmmy in reply to Lenon526

Thank you. I might just take you up on that.

Hi GingaEmmy. I am 57 and just diagnosed. My son who is 23 years old son has ADHD and I was on that journey w him his whole life. He’s managing very well now. I’m a wreck and overwhelmed about it but wanted to say hi-keep sharing. You are not alone.

Hi Lisa9122, try making time for yourself this weekend. You deserve to be managing well too.

I feel like I've been in your shoes-- It's so hard to watch yourself spiral even though you're trying your best, or maybe it feels like you don't know how to try your best anymore. I think seeking out a diagnosis would be very beneficial to you! In the meantime, if coffee or other forms of caffeine help you, there's nothing wrong with using them to manage what could be ADHD symptoms to save your job. If you end up losing your job, hopefully you can jump right into something new and interesting that you might be able to hyper-focus on for quite a while, ideally with as little financial turmoil as possible but I know it can be tough out there. I know exercise as well as medication help me-- and going to the gym never really worked for me, so I just do some pushups or crunches every time I'm feeling bored! I'll even do them at school down a hallway where no one's looking sometimes. I'm wishing you the best in this!

I am sorry, I have not found any ways to deal with those things. It is a miracle that I had my job for 13 yrs and was constantly worried I would be fired. I was a file clerk, and I was totally disorganized. We had a ton of paper documents and I had to find things for 10 different people at the same time and it was so nerve wracking. They said I could reapply but they clearly didn't want me back.

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