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Adult ADHD

anybody else having a problem with this?

I'm about to see a doctor about some voodoo, I'm at the end of my rope here.  :P

muppet from
Thursday, July 1, 2004

I think it is controllable, so there is hope.
There have been results with biofeedback, medication, and
4 steps (
It doesn't have to be voodoo. There's real shit
going in the brain and it can be addressed.

son of parnas
Thursday, July 1, 2004

Looks like you are a victim in the latest wave of big pharmaceutical marketing and strategy.

My internet diagnosis:

You are a normal person.

You were convinced with "tarot card-crystal ball-tell you what you already know" persuasion techniques by way of grey area doctor recommendations, pamphlets, and tv commercials that you have some newly discovered psychological disorder.

The reality is that the symptons of ADHD are just bland descriptions that fit nearly everybody, so everybody will go out and buy those crappy pills, so big pharma execs can buy more yachts.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

What?  You mean my current manager? Concentrate on a project for a whole 5 minutes.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

lumberjack -

I can assure you that not everybody sits down to code and within 5 minutes becomes completely absorbed in some completely different project, lather rinse repeat, ad infinitum, to the point where they literally get NOTHING done.

This is my experience, night after night.  I sit down to code (or read, or write) and simply cannot stay focused for longer than 5 minutes on any one thing.  I have literally 12 open coding projects, 2 writing projects, 4 graphic design projects, and some models I'm working on in RL.  They've all been "open projects" for YEARS now.  I simply can't finish any of them.  I literally cannot concentrate for more than a few minutes on any single thing.

It used to be that I could at least concentrate at work.  This is no longer even the case some days.

I eat right, I get plenty of sleep, I exercise, hell, I've even tried to meditate.

I assure you, I'm the BIGGEST skeptic when it comes to new pharmaceutical/medical trends and ESPECIALLY television advertising, but I've got a very real thing going on here.

I even have a medical history which backs this up, but I won't get into it here.

In conclusion:  Don't assume that I'm some sort of idiot that's been suckered into the latest money-making marketting scheme of the drug companies.  I really do have a brain in my head, and fuck you for presuming to know what my capacity for intelligence and objectivity is, jackass.

Thanks for your comments :)

muppet from
Thursday, July 1, 2004

> Looks like you are a victim in the latest wave of big
> pharmaceutical marketing and strategy.

And if he isn't you would damn him with a lifetime
of problems because of your close mind. Because
something is over diagnosed doesn't mean
some people don't have it.

son of parnas
Friday, July 2, 2004

> I really do have a brain in my head, and fuck you for
> presuming to know what my capacity for intelligence and
> objectivity is, jackass.

You want to get that attitude problem checked out too.

Matthew Lock
Friday, July 2, 2004

I don't have an attitude problem, I have a problem with people with a self-rightous, holier-than-thou attitude, like lumberjack here.

"You know what your problem is....?"

because he knows me so well, he's going to diagnose me a hypochondriac and a sucker.

Sorry Matt, but I just don't accept that and I found it presumptious and rude.

muppet from
Friday, July 2, 2004

"...I sit down to code (or read, or write) and simply cannot stay focused for longer than 5 minutes on any one thing... "open projects" for YEARS now..."

Normal.  Especially if you work and have other obligations.

"It used to be that I could at least concentrate at work.  This is no longer even the case some days."

I'd say that's the rule rather than the exception.

"I really do have a brain in my head, and fuck you for presuming to know what my capacity for intelligence and objectivity is, jackass."

I don't have to presume anything about your intelligence or objectivity when you put the lack of both on such bold display.

Maybe you can get something for anger management as well.

Friday, July 2, 2004

Normal never to finish a single project, ever?

and yes, you do presume a lot.  You presume that I couldn't possibly have a problem, but rather I'm just a typical pill-poppinig American looking for the doctors to explain away my everyday, normal issues/hardships so I can pretend to deal with them without actually doing so.

You're probably one of those people who doesn't believe that there's any such thing as mental illness short of insanity.

muppet from
Friday, July 2, 2004

I'm with Muppet. If you have ADHD (or just ADD) you find the words other prople use to describe what they do in a day sound the same, but the reality is _totally_ different.

I finally found out I had ADHD after my son was diagnosed with it a few years ago. I started the ritalin, and now I understand what other  people are on about. The difference between ritalin and non ritalin is earth shattering to me.

I keep it fairly quiet (I've become a master of slipping those little pills into my mouth at work without (I think) anyone noticing). I can get a piece of code or documentation done in (literally) 1/20th the time it used to take (I know, I've been keeping timesheets for years).

There are really good sides to the ADD: I've found it's outrageously useful if you're running workshops. YOu can keept track of a dozen opinions in a room of people with no trouble, and the ritalin screws that completely. Bad sides of ritalin: too much late at night and you might be to focussed on something else to pay proper attention to your partner...

And if the symptoms have got worse over a year or two,  depression could be a factor: the symptoms can be similar, and if you've been beating yourself up for years about not finishing anything, it's quite easy to feel depressed. Particularly when there are assholes that know you so well they can diagnose you as a total loser from a post on JoS. Ignore them

bah humbug
Friday, July 2, 2004

I get Ritalin for my "ADHD" paid for by insurance. I grind it up and sell it to a local "distributor" for big cash.

The extra money its brought in the last few years has really made my vacations much more enjoyable.

Donald Taswell
Friday, July 2, 2004

So he is a pill-popping American all right: off to see a doctor about an attitude and motivation problem that is really about self-improvement, not about pills.

Maybe the doctor would prescribe him a pill which would make him stop bother about not finishing projects. :)

Friday, July 2, 2004

The first thing to do is never to ask advice from a bunch of hostile laypeople who have no medical knowledge whatsoever and whose one wish is to brag about how much better they are than you.

I mean it. Ask advice from people who know what they're talking about and have no axe to grind.

Fernanda Stickpot
Friday, July 2, 2004

Away from work, my wife & I are specialist foster carers - the specialist part meaning we get the kids with real heavy duty problems.  In the 50+ kids we've fostered we've seen several cases of ADHD and there are a few things to remember.

First, ritalin (aka Equasym) isn't the be all and end all.  While in many cases it is effective, it doesn't work with everyone and you have to be careful that it's taken at the time it's supposed to be.  Second, it is a central nervous system stimulent and has to be treated with care.  The alternative drug treatment to ritalin is dextro-amphetamine (yes..speed) - 'nuff said.

My advice would be first take cod liver oil tablets.  In many cases it's effective (again personal experience), it doesn't have any wierd side effects and it's cheap.  If that doesn't work then go and see your doctor.  It's also worth thinking whether what you've described is actually mild depression.  In that case, again try non-medical means first.

a cynic writes...
Friday, July 2, 2004

Fernanda Stickpot  -

Yeah, good advice.  My only intention was to hear from other folks who had experience with this.  I figured it might figure highly in a developer's career, and since this place is full of developers...

anyway, to declare that it's a simple case of a need for self improvement shows that you honestly no nothing about the chemistry of the brain.  I am not an undisciplined person.  I've managed to keep my weight exactly where I want it, I've got my finances in order (my savings are increasing every day), I've made sweeping changes in the past year or so to set life on an even keel.

The one thing I can't seem to beat is this inability to concentrate.  Yes I've tried.

To declare that there's no such thing as ADD shows that you haven't met many people who have it.  There's something definite going on there, and it's not their fault.  What a bunch of ignorant, bigotted folks are on this site.  It shows itself whenever a developer posts from India, and now this.

Some of you REALLY ought not to be so proud of yourselves.

muppet from
Friday, July 2, 2004

Fernanda -

clearly (I hope) that entire message isn't directed at you, just the first bit.

muppet from
Friday, July 2, 2004


I know exactly what you mean.  I still encounter people who believe that my Asthma is just in my mind.  You just wish they could experience for themselves how it feels to fight for each breath for hours on end.

Thankfully I have salbutomol, but then I'm just a pill popping brit (well, inhaler puffing)

Ged Byrne
Friday, July 2, 2004

LOL, same here.

I still remember my PE instructor screaming at me to WALK IT OFF when I'd collapsed, red as a beet, on the basketball court.

Clearly I'm just a whimp.  :)

muppet from
Friday, July 2, 2004

I understand what you are going through. It took me 30 minutes to read this thread because I kept getting distracted by different things. I was diagnosed with ADD when I was a kid, but never took any drugs for it. My parents took me to some kind of therapist to try and teach different methods for concentrating on specific tasks. Did this work? Maybe.

I deal with this now by simply(Ha!) juggling 7 or 8 things at the same time and taking frequent breaks. I often get up from my desk and walk around the office, or simply stand up and stretch then sit back down and start working again. This seems to help quite a bit.

Friday, July 2, 2004

Also read Jerry Fletcher 'Patterns of high performance'.

Try to organize your work for your optimal productivity, not somebodies idea of 'grind and finish' . I prefer to have multiple tasks to switch between.

Friday, July 2, 2004

That's what I attempt to do, rotate through projects.  I've found this to be counter-productive, however, as by the time I cycle back to a project worked on earlier, I spend half my time backtracking my code to recapture my train of thought. 

I'm very VERY slowly making progress on a number of projects, but I can remember a time when I could put nose to grindstone and crank something out.  I'd like that back, from time to time, you know?

muppet from
Friday, July 2, 2004


How do you keep track of all the activities? 

Post it notes?  Task manager?  Desk piled high and you just dig in?

Ged Byrne
Friday, July 2, 2004

Well, if you listen to some of the self-help gurus that point out how interrupt driven our lives have become in the past 10-20 years I'm surprised the whole country is not country has been diagnosed with this.  Wake up, check e-mail, and try to get a few dozen things done *before* going to work and putting in another 8-10 hours there.  Then back home to watch the news which is now listening to 1 story as you read the crawl about some other story (like the latest Britney Spears item that he PR people have whispered around to 100 sources).

Yes, just like depression I believe it is real it's just that we tend to apply it to everything.  Even to explain the parent's lack of raising their child, "Oh I'm sorry little Johnny broke that Ming vase.... he has ADD so..."

Bottomline is I hear more whining about how busy everyone is trying to be superhuman that if someone just started bringing things down a notch they might not need to pop any pills.

Friday, July 2, 2004

> That's what I attempt to do, rotate through projects.  I've found this to be counter-productive, however, as by the time I cycle back to a project worked on earlier, I spend half my time backtracking my code to recapture my train of thought.

> I'm very VERY slowly making progress on a number of projects...

Whether it's ADHD or not
a. cut down on the number of projects
b. keep a written journal as you are working - write down what you are going to do next, then the problems you encountered, then the outcome. It'll help you focus on what you're doing and to get back on track when you return to a project.

Friday, July 2, 2004


If you 've got suggestions for "bringing things down a notch" then I'm all ears.

I get up, make breakfast, pack two lunches, get my daughter to school, go to work, come home, do laundry and dishes, make dinner, tuck daughter in bed, finish laundry and do some dusting/sweeping/mopping, iron, then go to bed.

In all of this, I don't even have TIME to watch the crawl on the news.  Where do I cut activities from? :)

muppet from
Friday, July 2, 2004

Muppet, simply put - quit your job.  As you've detailed and from my own experience running a household is a full-time job on top of your full-time job at your employer.  Most people I know are very envious of my wife who has taken off about 7 years out of the workforce to be a full-time mom.  If you do your math right when budgeting it can work.  The couples I talk to that say they couldn't swing that are really working to pay for all the toys they've accumulated or to maintain a standard of living that is completely out of line with their income.

Friday, July 2, 2004


I'm a single dad.  I live alone.  There's no two incomes going on, here.  :)

muppet from
Friday, July 2, 2004

The thing to remember about ADD is that it's an axis of personality, not a have-it-or-not.

On one side is the perfectly focused person, on the other side is the depths of ADD/ADHD.  The problem is where you draw the line, and that's the major problem with treating ADHD.

It's pretty much the same thing with depression, OCD, and a variety of other commonly-accused-of-being-made-up psychological issues.  However, it shows up pretty well on a variety of functional-brain-scans as being dramatically different from the normal brain, so the anti-ADHD folks have less of a leg to stand on as they'd like to believe.

I keep quiet about having ADD/ADHD *because* of folks like Lumberjack.

The problem is that we are becomming less of a society where one can be "successful" by a reasonable definition of "successful" with even a mostly marginal case of ADD, hence it becoming more of a problem than it ever was in the past.

And yes, it can be treated.  The dangerous simplification is that you can just take meds and be cured.

Some points of advice..  The apparent (and totally not-rigorously-tested) benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil, etc) do not really hit on the right set of neurotransmitters and brain structures to knock out ADD.  It does have other positive effects to some ADD brains, however.  The relevant stimulants each have their own set of properties, but they generally act on the dopamine receptors.  Caffiene doesn't act on the dopamine receptors, so it really doesn't end up working too well.

Other thing, if you do try the medical route, everybody with ADD who I've talked to who has tried Strattera has found it to cause unacceptable side effects.  Oh yeah, and using street drugs, most especially Crystal Meth, to self-medicate is hell in and of itself, for a long list of reasons (talked to some ex-tweaker ADHD sufferers, and it's not a fun trip, suffice it to say)

Flamebait Sr.
Friday, July 2, 2004

>>Other thing, if you do try the medical route, everybody with ADD who I've talked to who has tried Strattera has found it to cause unacceptable side effects.

Interesting, since I have ADHD and have been on Strattera for about a year without any (noticable) side effects. My daughter was on it for a while and the only bad thing about it for her was that it just didn't work well enough (she's back on a stimulant and doing great).

Strattera seems to be doing great for me - my wife said that the results are like night and day. I've noticed a marked improvement at work, but she says that the results are noticable with everyday tasks.

I did notice that being tired has a large impact on the effectivness of any ADHD medication. When either my kids or I am tired, the medicine seems to have little effect.

I wasn't diagnosed until I was in my late 30's. I went to the doctor about it because my kids have it (and they very obviously have it). The information their doctor gave us said that at least some ADHD is inherited. After looking at the symptoms and other information, my wife and I both came to the conclusion that I probably had it (and my dad, and his dad).

Going to the doctor was one of the best things I've done. I used to get frustrated (very!) with my lack of productivity and why I couldn't concentrate on tasks. I'm much more productive now, but more importantly I am much happier with my life.

As my kid's doctor pointed out, having ADHD used to not be a big problem for people.  Their tasks and time-frames were different so it didn't impact their lives as much. He said that the percentage of people with ADHD probably isn't changing as much as it's becoming a problem to those people who have it.  And, as he also said, having ADHD is only a problem in how it impacts your life - if it's not causing problems then there's no reason to treat it, but if it is causing problems then that's the time to treat it.

Friday, July 2, 2004

One non-chemical way to address your problems is to work two people to a computer.  This has the current lingo "pair programming" but it's just working as a team with someone.

The reduction in web surfing, manic email checking, book leafing, window-staring, and notepad doodling will very likely be worth a truckload of Ritalin.

If your partner is ready to throw you out the window after two weeks of trying to get you to pay attention, well then you probably do need medical attention.  But many, many people who have the symptoms you describe will shape right up given the proper environement.

Friday, July 2, 2004

'a cynic' writes: " The alternative drug treatment to ritalin is dextro-amphetamine (yes..speed)"

Uh, no. You're about a decade out of date.

There are a variety of drug treatments. There's a new one called Strattera which isn't a stimulant at all, it works on serotonin.

Jon Hendry
Friday, July 2, 2004


My mom had to bring us up on her own, so I know how hard it must be.

Are you certain that you are suffering from ADHD?  Has it been confirmed?  As mentioned already, your also describing the symptoms of stress and depression.

As for those assuming that your you just some yuppie working too hard to accumulate toys...  You people are starting to get to me, you really are.  Take a deep breath and look beyond your cul-de-sac.

Ged Byrne
Saturday, July 3, 2004

Jon - Four years of date possibly - it was roughly four years ago I was picking up a presciption for a six year old for amphetamine. 

I hadn't come across Strattera before so I just did a quick search - it appears to only have been licensed for use in the UK in the last two months (there's an eli lilly press release out there dated 3 june ), which explains it.

a cynic writes...
Saturday, July 3, 2004

You seem to assume that everyone knows what ADHD is. Is it an AmericanCulturalAssumption ? Do my fellow developers from the old continent know what it means ? Has this syndrom not yet reached our coasts ?

Sunday, July 4, 2004

I agree with one thing: I hate it when people assume things about me without knowing me.

And "ADHD" people are some of the worst at this.  They like to tell us that everybody else has it so much easier than them, therefore they need to drug themselves, or get twice as much time on exams, or some other crazy thing.

Even us "normal" people have 12 projects we're working on at once, that we've been working on for years.  Even us "normal" people have trouble concentrating for more than 5 minutes on most things.  That's not ADHD; that's life.

You'll be a lot happier if you learn to live with yourself, instead of fighting yourself.  "bah humbug" says it's "outrageously useful if you're running workshops".  Excellent -- assuming he's good at it, he's the sort I'd hire to do that.

I knew a guy in college who did Ritalin to make it through lectures, but didn't need it for normal life.  Conclusion: his job should not involve sitting in lectures for 6 hours, or anything like it!  But he was great at parliamentary debate.

This isn't a "disease" or a "condition".  It's just you.  People who hate math shouldn't get jobs as accountants; people who have trouble concentrating shouldn't get jobs where they have to sit and be calm for 8 hours a day.

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Thank you for your useless diatribe, kyle.

muppet from
Sunday, July 4, 2004

Likewise, muppet. :-)

Monday, July 5, 2004

maybe you've got adhd, kyle

bah humbug
Monday, July 5, 2004

First of all I'm german so ADS or ADHD is not an american only problem.
I've got ads and I would wish that people like Kyle would walk in my shoes before telling how to deal with it.
My ADS -problem  has been discovered only 1 year ago.
In my mid thirties.
I'm also - like more or less all the people here - a developer and since I take Ritalin ( or Medikinet) my symptons has improved.
It's easier to concentrate on the work, to do unpleasant work, to listen relaxed to other people in discussions etc..
Even sex has improved.
Sleeping with a woman without thinking about other things is a pleasant experience.
If I had found earlier out why I'm behaving in that way, I'm sure I would have finished my university.

Not all the problems are solved only by taking Ritalin.
Even now I have big problems to resist a reflex to buy a nice toy or to start reading a new book when I've got 6 lying around in a halfread state.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

I watched a video of a great lecture by Dr Christopher Green from a few years back, when he was asked a similar question.  I paraphrase his reply:

"In Britain the do not ADHD.  They have special secure schools with problem children that teachers cannot deal with, but no ADHD.  Here in Australia we do not have these secure schools, instead we have ADHD.  I know which one I would rather have."

Ged Byrne
Tuesday, July 6, 2004

There are a lot of key points that are often missed by those who ridicule ADHD.  I know...I was one of the unbelievers, all the while not realizing that I was one of "them"... 

First of all, there's a biological basis for it.  Brain scans show the differences in brain activity.

Second, it's not an excuse.  While it means life can be extremely difficult, it's not a pass to get away with anything you want...and it doesn't mean you can't succeed.  It means you have to do things differently, play to your strengths, perhaps use medications.

Third, looking at Kyle's comment and considering points 1 & 2, there are some subtleties here.  Kyle might say that physicists are worthless if they can't communicate their hypotheses or findings, so Stephen Hawking should have found profession that was right for him, but I disagree and feel that using technological advances, electronic or pharmaceutic, are appropriate and what separate us from other animals.  But career choice CAN make your life more challenging, or rewarding.

Fourth, an interesting phenomenon is how both detractors and supporters of persons with ADHD will often try to point out that it's just a "difference" and not a disorder.  Unfortunately, not everything is acceptable in society, and it's difficult to survive in modern times at some level of "normality" unless you interact with society.  Differences are often not acceptable; even if you want to argue semantics of "difference" vs. "disorder," what matters is the EFFECT.

Fifth, if you still don't believe in ADHD, look at the different effects of amphetamines on people with ADHD vs normies.  Speed will make both more productive, but normies will get "wired"...while ADDers will calm down and focus. 

Sixth, sorry for posting so much on my first time here, but I'm about to lose my job again because of yet another employer switching to cubicles* and I'm a bit flustered.  So back to point #2, we can't always determine our environment...
...and I'm not sure about the success thing... >sigh< 

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

To pick up on your fourth point, I have to add that I can't envisage any society where concentration was *never* necessary.

Certainly our society goes out of its way both to demand concentration from us and to force us into situations where concentration is impossible (hence the cubicles).

However, I don't think the problem would disappear if these conditions changed.

Fernanda Stickpot
Thursday, July 8, 2004

Does anyone know of an online support group for adults with ADHD? I am on AOL and will open a site IF there are enough people interested. Please advise.

Gayla Johnson
Saturday, July 24, 2004

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