Look, squirrel! Living with Adult ADD

565_3330923ADHD, or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, has been a hotly debated condition in children for decades.  Recently, ADHD has been reclassified to separate it into 3 specific types.

  • Combined ADHD (the most common subtype), which involves symptoms of of both inattentiveness and hyperactivity/impulsivity
  • Inattentive ADHD (previously known as ADD), which is marked by impaired attention and concentration
  • Hyperactive-impulsive ADHD, which is marked by hyperactivity without inattentiveness

Inattentive ADHD also has many characteristics in common with depression.  Inattentiveness, forgetfulness, a lack of motivation, anger outbursts and other things can sometimes make this type of ADHD hard to pinpoint in adults.  When I was a stay at home mom, my ex-husband used to walk in the door and complain, “What have you DONE all day?” (Like staying home with a 3 year old and an infant even needed explanations of what was done from dawn to dusk).  I would get up, go start a load of laundry, see that the dish towels needed to be folded, take them to the kitchen, notice that the dishes needed to be done, run the dish water, start to put the dishes away, go into the living room, straighten the coffee table, pull out the vacuum, notice the ceiling fan………. and so on.  I would literally spend the entire day cleaning the house and not have anything to show for it.  Not one completed task.  I was constantly feeling frustrated that I seemed to never get ahead, yet I couldn’t figure out a way to organize and prioritize.

432_2981907When my marriage was in chaos, I was put on anti-depressants and diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.  I had always been a happy person, but I was lethargic, sad and distracted all of the time.  For a couple of years, I took my medicine faithfully, but always wondered if there was something else.  I had gone back to work and was constantly getting in trouble for not staying in my seat.  I would get up to go to the bathroom, something would catch my attention and BAM, I was gone.  I went to my doctor,  expressed my concerns and was given a large packet of paperwork and told to fill it out.  I had no idea what it was.  I turned it in, scheduled a follow up and when I saw her the next time the first thing she did was laugh when I walked in the door. (We had a great relationship so that was par for the course).  She told me that I’d been given a Depression Screening questionnaire and it was more than obvious that I wasn’t depressed, but I was ADD as all get out.  I had no idea and hadn’t even considered the possibility of that being an issue.  I was put on a standard dose of medication and behavior modification by my provider and almost overnight, things changed.  Everything seemed so much clearer.  I was able to do things that I couldn’t do before.  My boss even pulled me aside one day a few weeks later because she’d noticed the drastic change.  Things that I had struggled to understand for years suddenly made sense.

In this very fast paced world with so many distractions, it’s very easy to think that people may have Inattentive ADHD.  However, people who actually have it versus those who are overstimulated, over-scheduled, and overloaded find it very hard to just complete simple day to day tasks without feeling like they are completely overwhelmed.  Medication is not always the issue, there are other treatments as well.  I had to learn to do many things differently.  Reduce stimulation too close to bedtime.  Exercise more.  Eat better.  I didn’t just get a magic pill that made everything better.  I had to change other things in my life too.  But I’m glad I did.  I’m a much better mother, daughter, co-worker and friend now that I have a better understanding of how I work.


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Melissa McAtee

Melissa McAtee

I'm a single mom of 2 originally from the Midwest. How many people can you say that you know from the Town of Normal? I have one son, age 14 and one daughter, age 17. I'm also engaged to be married in June, 2015. We also have 2 furbabies, Tinkerbella Pixiedust, a 9 pound Chin-Tzu, and Jack Sparrow, our rescue Boxer. I have quite a few nicknames; including Mama Mack, Wonder Woman and Chocolate Mary Poppins (all of which are totally true....).