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Readers Respond: What's It Like to Live With ADD / ADHD?

Responses: 44


Updated March 05, 2010

ADD & Proud to Say So!

After my youngest son was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten, I ransacked our local library shelves and read everything I could get my hands on...and in the process, discovered that just about everyone in our family (both sides) had some version of ADD/ADHD, back several generations. Suddenly, everything became so clear and YEARS of frustration, embarrassment, and pain were suddenly wiped away. Two books in particular, "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!" by Kate Kelly & Peggy Ramundo and "The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child" by Thom Hartman, changed my life. We are not freaks and maybe one day, they won't call it a disorder any more. But for now, I am proud to say I have ADD, and yes, ALL of my best friends and most of the influential people in my life have it, too. We are an intelligent, creative, and occasionally wacky bunch of people and I cherish the unique brain "wiring" that makes us so. Vive la Difference!

No treatment

I was diagnosed with ADHD Inattentive type (back then known as ADHD/R) 20 years ago. Since then I have had many therapists and many psychiatrists but NONE have ever treated me for it. They always consider treating depression and anxiety first. Yet, my inability to stay focused on anything - and at times hyperfocus without intent - has destroyed my professional life and my relationships with everyone. My wife is still sticking with me, though on her terms, which are not really good for me. She tolerates me most of the time but I do not ever get any support. I have found a SW/therapist that I can talk to, but I cannot get any straight answers from her either because she believes a professional should leave her own opinions out of therapy. The result is that I really have nobody at all to have a two-way relationship with - any kind of relationship. To make things even harder and more complicated, I grew up in post-Holocaust Vienna, Austria, and have diagnosed PTSD.

The Bitter Sweet Edge of Insanity

At 41 years old 5 doctors diagnosed me as severe ADD/ADHD and dyslexic. I had taken every single prescription medication to try to counteract the symptoms, and worked night and day to cover them too, and appear 'normal.' They stopped my salary when I started Ritalin, but the 120 Xanax and 120 Imovane and 120 Stilnox daily and Lithium and all the categories of anti-depressant medication were OK for them as long as I did my job. When I stopped all and stuck to the Ritalin, I officially became the drug addict of the family. Now that four other members have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD they may learn that Ritalin to a person born without the brain's connection wired right is as addicted to it like a diabetic to insulin, or a patient and his pacemaker. You can live and fight a life of being told you are stupid, and within the curse there is a gift, but nothing replaces the inner self-confidence you receive when the Ritalin is taken.
—Guest Photi M Bouri

Lost for too long....

I spent my entire childhood knowing that I was different, but not why! My poor mother could not figure out why I was so disorganized. She tried so hard to help me, there were many a night with tears spent from both of us. When I joined the work force, I managed to finally get it together some, but it was still hard for me to learn like everyone else. I still have times where my head is in the clouds, just lost somewhere.When I finally did some research and spoke with me mom about my findings, and about other family members that had similar traits, we realized that not only did she have some, but also numerous family members from both sides of the family had some of them.This has given hope and help to the next generation, it’s no longer kept in the closet and hidden away. Seek help anyway, and anywhere you can find it.Like I explained to my friend once, one and one equal two still, but for me it’s more like one and a half, and a half equal two. It all depends on how you look at it.


I was 22 when diagnosed with adhd, been very difficult to live with, 38 now and have been through some real xxxx so far and don`t know where to turn sometimes. Any ideas?

Living with ADD

My son is 14 now and is ADD when he was younger we battled very much with power struggles and with everyone else telling me my child was naughty (I’m a single parent) and I wasn’t firm enough. I put him onto Ritalin but found the side effects (eating only after 6pm and becoming very violent and then if he forgot his tabs then getting headaches and feeling nauseous also he got quite a few panic attacks) he was on the Ritalin for 3 years. I decided to stop the medicine and he became a wonderful person - fun loving and he grew suddenly to this big man now and is taller than me. I have put him onto Omega Vite the extra strength and find that this medicine helps him to cope with all his emotions and concentration at school. It is very tough sometimes but they just need constant attention and consistency. As long as I’m calm he is happy. If my emotions are haywire then I have problems with him. I find that at night when doing homework the less distraction the better he copes.
—Guest monica visser

Tired of it

Those with this diagnosis, when made in later life, are usually pretty bright, having escaped diagnosis earlier...and, as previously mentioned, sought evaluation and care due to a child who had behavioral problems, drug problems, legal problems etc. which seemingly came out of the blue because they had been so talented and gifted in early school years. Then after laborious investigation, eventually got diagnosed, but, unfortunately, had so many co-morbid diagnoses, and had made so many screw ups that a significant recovery seemed impossible. Then enter you(?), the responsible parent, but due to generational differences, somehow managed to survive, but felt significant turbulence, and were vastly relieved to get the same diagnosis yourself. Now all will be well and happy....or so you initially felt. Trouble is, the comorbidities of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and dysfunctional family etc. are not usually addressed enough even to low standards. My advice is tough love and pray.

Life is good here

It took 20 years for the doctor to put a title on my "creative inattentiveness," but after growing up without a name to the "disorder" and battling social, weight and "giftedness" problems, I was on Ritalin for long enough to organize, prioritize and grow, and marry the deaf musician who understands what it's like to miss out on 60% of your own life. ADD builds determination and character, exasperates my family and employer, stretches imagination, challenges the ideals of "normal" and emphasizes the importance of "carpe diem" -- "seize the day" -- because I might not have the attention span tomorrow to do that which needs doing. ADD decides who will stand with me through trial and who will fall away. Does it define who I am? Resoundingly, "Yes," and "No," because it has no boundaries. If there's any one thing to say about having ADD, it's "Persevere." Not everyone likes grape jelly on their toast, and you just might be a marmalade eater in a grape jelly toast cafe.
—Guest Sarah

Son and I both ADD/ADHD

I always thought my problem was my dyslexia but found it strange that it affected concentration, organization and communication more than my reading and writing. It took a long time to get an ADHD diagnosis for my son (now 11) as his behavior was initially dismissed as being a result of an absent father (even though we never ever even lived with him) and his intelligence. While learning about ADHD to help my son I realized that ADD sounded exactly like me. Eventually I got more and more tired of trying really hard to organize myself and my son and failing that I sought a diagnosis for myself also. We support each other and work together to find solutions to problems we face. Some days are really difficult and we both want to cry but we have so much energy and great ideas that we think we have the best fun together ever.

living with ADHD

I have a son aged 16 with ADHD and the one thing ADHD does to me and him is cause a lot of heartache. He gets so upset and so depressed and has attempted suicide many times however on saying this I also have learned so much about ADHD through him that it has made me a stronger and better person and I know I can cope with what this condition throws up at me on a daily basis. I also would not change Bob for anything.
—Guest josie

Living with family members who have ADHD

My husband and older son have ADHD. We've had a few days without challenges (Our son is 9). What I don't like about ADHD is the image portrayed - that the brain doesn't function "correctly". Both of these guys are so creative and imaginative, and very intelligent. Their brains just work "differently". Many people with ADHD have done great things with their lives. Without ADHD, we wouldn't have artists, musicians or entrepreneurs! On a typical day, since both are medicated (my son went through all the stimulants and is now on Strattera), my husband stays in his studio (graphic art/animation) into the night. Now he's hyperfocused, organized. Our son goes to school without too much fuss, comes home, plays with his younger brother, calls him names, hits him, talks rude to me, and gets time out or extra chores. Homework is completed in between. Our son confides in me and we have family night together at least weekly. We don't let ADHD ruin our lives - patience is a virtue.

In College

I'd always had concentration problems, but my parents never suspected that anything was wrong with me, and sometimes neither did I. For some reason I thought it was normal to not do my homework. Then when I was in high school I kept asking my parents to take me to see a psychiatrist. They finally did, and I was diagnosed with ADHD the beginning of my senior year. I think the reason my parents never did that any sooner is because I'm a girl, and I don't have any behavioral problems. I kind of felt like my school years had been wasted because of my ADD, but I'm in college now. I still have concentration problems, which is causing my grades to suffer, and I'm worried about how I'm going to deal with it when I graduate.
—Guest Juli

Living with ADHD

We have a 5 year old just coming into awareness of how ADHD makes him feel. He says, "Mommy, I just don't know what I'm thinking." Or, "Mommy, my brain is like a lot of pictures on a chain. I have to get to the right picture to know what I'm thinking." Or, "I just don't want to think about anything right now. I just don't want to think about what I'm thinking about." It's his way of recognizing his racing (multiple) thoughts we think. And, as to his behavior (which he is always reminded of at school) he said. "Mommy, do you know when I do bad things I don't know why I do them? It's not fair that I get yelled at when I didn't [mean to] do anything bad." There you have it - out of the mouthes of babes.
—Guest Mom (N.J.)

On the edge

I was twenty-two years old, confused about my future and confounded by the looming isolation of my social life. None of my high school friends wanted to spend time with me and I was not meeting anyone to establish another cycle of friendships. I sat in bars by myself and reflected on my troubled life. My mind raced so fast that I thought my head was going to either spin off my collarbone or explode from all of misfiring neurotransmitters. I never seriously considered suicide until the night I stumbled from a bar at a Laclede.

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