First — I’m 48/m. Officially clinically diagnosed with ADHD in 2014 — along with severe anxiety and depression. On the most part have been doing really well. Until this weekend.
But the story starts 25 years ago…
Earlier, actually. I was a kid that most of you recognize. The subjects I didn’t have to work at had me at the top of my class. The ones where I had to put in a lot of effort, well, I either super-fixated and handed in a stellar A paper and neglected all other assignment for three weeks, or I just had failure to launch. Wasn’t a great student all around, but I did have great math SAT scores. So I got into college as an engineering major. I did fine with that until physics got too hard, so I switched to psychology.
In 1994-95 I went through a huge slump. Now I see the symptoms of anxiety, depression and ADHD bursting at the seams, but at the time it was me being dumb and irresponsible. I became more involved with self defeating and toxic behavior. And I withdrew from school right before the last semester finished. I still walked in graduation because I had enough credits had I decided to finish over the summer, but I didn’t. I was just done with school. There was no way that I could cope.
In the past 25 years I’ve had two long careers, I’ve started a family, bought a home, and really established myself. The lack of a degree became my shameful secret — not just that I didn’t graduate, but I knew there were people out there who were dumber than a box of rocks with college degrees, and I just felt that I couldn’t even do that. My depression grew deeper as time went on. There were a few times that I looked at restarting school, but I got freaked out right away. The feelings of hopelessness drove me towards suicidal ideation and professional intervention.
But professional intervention was what got me on my meds. And got me diagnosed through a psychoeducational assessment (the WAIS test). It really made a huge difference in my life. I felt more driven to accomplish things than I had before. And after I took an opportunity to voluntarily take a layoff from my company with a nice severance package, I looked at school again. I applied for re-instatement and was accepted for this semester. And I had been attending classes on campus as the oldest senior in my class (until March when we went online). 9 credits this semester, 6 over the summer, and I’m done. This was very exciting!
And you know what? I was doing incredibly well. 4.0 at the mid-semester break. I attribute it to both my own maturity level and ownership as well as my improved coping with my mental health conditions. I had learned how to process with my meds and not fight them.
My doctor wanted to take me down from my XR dose once a day to 5 times a week. At the beginning it was no problem. But now that everything is happening from home and the work load increases (and my job is creeping past a 9 to 5 gig), I’m doing more work on weekends. Weekends aren’t really as different anymore. Last week I expressed my concern — that I didn’t know which days should be my days off from my Adderall. He didn’t really have any good answers to that. Except perhaps taking smaller doses during the middle of the day if needed, which is something I would completely forget to do.
On Sunday I was trying to get work done. I was doing my thing in my office, and I just felt the fog. I had to read pararaphs over and over again and was still not retaining anything. I took online assessments and bombed them. But we had the opportunity to re-take once — so I did that. And did even worse. The more I thought about it the more it became worse and affected my anxiety.
This morning I took my Adderall as usual. Still — major concentration issues. I felt helpless. It brought me back to how I was feeling when I gave up on college in the spring of 1995. What the hell am I doing here? How did I fake my way through this far? Because I sure as shit don’t have any way to move forward. I got to the point where I couldn’t focus at all at home with the sounds of my wife, my kid, the cats — even if they were trying to be quiet. No libraries are open. No coffee shops. I took my laptop to my car and tried there for a change of scenery. Still bombed my quizzes.
I’m really hoping that I snap out of whatever the hell this is. That the Adderall kicks back in, or whatever else is going on in my head stops. Because yesterday and today brought on painful anxiety I hadn’t felt for years. I really want to finish school but I don’t know if i can if this keeps up.
TL;dr — Dropped out of college 25 years ago; since then I was diagnosed with ADHD. I started going back this year and was doing great until this weekend. Now I’m back to not being able to focus at all.