ADD and Me (At Age 33)

Recently, I had been evaluated and now am being treated for attention deficit disorder (ADD), something I believe I’ve had for some time now. Over the last 6 years especially, in addition to having insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a sleep stealer, I’ve really struggled with staying on task or getting anything done. The hardest for me was even getting started on something.

Strugging at work

I noticed when my work started to suffer. I was no longer able to provide the type of feedback to people who needed it in their time of need, because, I too, was struggling on the inside - severely.

Over the last year, my workload has significantly been impacted by not being able to focus and I finally brought it up to my psychiatrist, who was very receptive and asked all the right questions.

Would my doctor believe me?

I will be honest, I was terrified of being and feeling invalidated when I was thinking of bringing it up to him. He sees me monthly and knows how little work I get done, but was assuming it was due to other mental health issues. I felt like it was going to be swept under the rug. I felt like I wasn’t going to be heard HOW much I am actually struggling and I was afraid to be believed, especially as a woman.

But that’s not what happened. And I’m so glad I brought it up to him, as he soon realized I had the behaviors in childhood. Symptoms were hidden or cloaked by anxiety during my teen years and absolutely spun out of control when I became an adult. I felt validated, relieved and now, we have something to work with as to why I may not be sleeping like people without these issues that blend into insomnia.

Researching sleep cycle issues

I, myself, have issues with falling asleep without certain medications. And even when taken, sometimes I will fall asleep for half an hour and then wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. It never made sense to me and I would lay awake eyes wide open and get so aggravated by the fact that I exercise daily, I do physically exhausting things throughout the day and WOW, my brain probably works out the most.

So I researched it. And wow did I find answers and other people who experienced things exactly like I did, both with and without mental health issues that may have gotten in the way of their sleep cycles.

What I discovered about ADD and sleep

According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), "once ADHD sufferers do fall asleep, it’s not always particularly restful. Restlessness and being a notably light sleeper come into the equation. When sleep is broken up in this type of way it causes unwanted drowsiness during the daytime, making even day-to-day life more difficult”.1

I could not relate to this more when I was researching sleep and how ADD/ADHD might affect sleep. Boy, did I feel validated! I learned, “When ADHD is thrown into the mix, the problem that individuals with ADHD experience; the sudden bursts of energy as soon as they get into bed, or simply being unable to get their mind into a power-down mode, means they end up lying in bed awake for too long before falling asleep.” 1

Difficulty starting and engaging in tasks

I spent the last year waking up at the same time every day, but every day I would try to work on something or go on my computer, it would last for a few minutes before I got very agitated and became totally unengaged in what I was trying to do. Soon, the want wasn’t even there.

I would spend every single day sitting in a chair or on my bed in misery or laying down feeling hopeless and guilty that I could never get anything done.

Because of some health issues, we’re starting out on a low dose of a medication that will help me focus more, stay on task, and most importantly, be able to start the task.

Finding hope and a new normal

Finally, I have found a ray of hope. It may have taken a few decades to actually be seen for it and acknowledgment that there is actually an underlying issue as to why my sleep cycle, my everyday routines, and even special events have been missed because I simply thought it was “just” depression.

I feel like I can better advocate for myself in this area of my health now, and feel very hopeful for the future. I’ve already begun to see some (little) improvements and I’m finding a new normal how to get work done when it’s appropriate and how to plan my day according to how I’m feeling that day.

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