Monday, March 7, 2011

ADHD & Me aka 'All Aboard the Crazy Train'

ADHD Rock Star Tshirt

I've gotten quite a few emails regarding ADD/ADHD since I posted a couple of weeks ago that I started meds for it.

I thought I'd answer those questions in a blog post - and perhaps it could help others that have struggled throughout the years - or help them understand a loved one that may have the disorder.

Like many other 'disorders' or other issues that don't show up in a MRI or blood test - I was quick to dismiss this.

Everyone feels overwhelmed at times.
Everyone feels scatterbrained.
Everyone misplaces things.
Everyone struggles.
Everyone's mind races.
Everyone is impulsive at times.

It's normal.

And yes.  It is.
But when it impairs your daily life - perhaps you could use help.

I've always been hyper.
I never sat still as a child - I always, like now, had to have my hands busy doing something.
My poor mother.

image from
Used with permission

Bless her heart!
I remember when I was a child, growing up in our little apartment in Chicago - we had what we called a 'space heater'.  It was basically a hot fire box, gas charged, that heated the entire apartment.  Since the apartment was so small - it wasn't a big feat.
I couldn't just watch TV.  I had to have elaborate things going on while I did.
So here is this hot space heater with a grill looking top to it....the image about is the closest thing I could find to it - but ours had a top on it similar to a gas cooking grill.

I would cut strips of paper, wet them and 'fry' them on the heater.
Oh ya.
I was making 'bacon'.
I loved hearing the paper sizzle.
I can't believe I didn't burn the house down, or that my mom even let me do it!

I somehow acquired a roll of contact paper and set out to 'pretty' everything up in the apartment.
I covered the oatmeal containers, shelves, and I even covered my mom's large blue box of 'Kotex' (are you old enough to remember those ginormous boxes!?) making her a 'Kotex Dispenser' that I thought she could mount to the wall.

She never did mount that to the wall...come to think about it!

I remember in Kindergarten when Ms. Drebing left the room for a moment and had us all sitting in a circle with direct orders -'do not get up'.  As soon as the door shut, I was up...coaxing my classmates to get up - hold hands - stretch out - and we could make a really good circle, thereby pleasing Ms. Drebing.
She wasn't pleased. 
I stayed in for recess that day, along with the others I'd actually coerced to get up!

Unlike most other children with ADD/ADHD I did well in school.
See - that was the reason I'm nearly 50 years old and I never took this seriously.
I was on the honor roll - I liked school.

Fast forward to 1983.
I was newly married, setting up a house of my own.
It was a disaster.
It took every ounce of mental and emotional strength I had to keep things straight and put a meal on the table after work.
I was so resentful and frustrated most of the time.

This continued for many years, and like I've said before - buying this old farmhouse just compounded things.

Now - let's fast forward to the year 1998 -
I've been living in this old farmhouse - renovating it - had a pretty successful crafts business - my parents are elderly and quite ill - I'm babysitting my beloved Aaron who at this time is 3 -
and -
I weighed nearly 300 lbs.


I learned that I could calm all my frustrations with food.
Worked out well until I couldn't tie my shoes anymore, or breathe for that matter.

Classic ADD/ADHD behavior.
Self medication.

By 1999 I'd lost about 80lbs - mainly by just not eating.

It was right about then that I got my first computer.
God help me - I spent so much time on that thing.
Oh the wasted hours, that I can never reclaim.
It's why I'm super sensitive about being online too much now.
I know how easily my addictive personality could get sucked right back into it.

In 2002 or so, I really began examining myself and my behaviors.
Oh I'm SO introspective....maybe a bit too much.

I felt I really had a handle on things about the house.
I set up a pretty rigid schedule for myself, that I still follow today - as far as housekeeping, shopping, yard work.
It really has been one of the best things I've ever done for myself.

In 2004 I found the Coach that I'm working with again now...
With his help I lost 80 more pounds.
The picture of me with my friend Laurie - was me at my lowest adult weight...about 155.
I felt great!

Let's fast forward to today.
I'm overweight.
Again -
Not getting into that today - but I relapsed into old patterns and behaviors and one day, I woke up fat.
Sounds crazy, but that's how my mind views it.
I have no recollection of the getting fat.
For real.

In the last two years or so, I'd been reading all about ADD/ADHD, especially when I saw so many of the classic symptoms in Aaron.
And then I realized how similar we were.
I started looking at myself and lights started going on in my head.

Could I?
I think I am...
What if?

Then I saw a documentary called 'Totally ADD & Loving It' on PBS.
I wept throughout the thing.
I felt it described me perfectly, and especially the part in which Patrick McKenna says 'I felt envious of my friends who could just sit - and feel peace - I've never felt that'.
Damn that 'H' in the adHd!

When I started talking about going to a Dr. to look into it - I was met with concern from my friends and family -
"You're fine - please don't change -
what if they find something ELSE wrong with you (that was Glen's concern!) 
Glen was saying things like this ' You don't want them digging in your head - what if they start labeling you with other things, like OCD, GAD, Depression, etc.'

But go to the Dr. I did.

I requested medication - cause, honestly, up until this point - I felt that I had worked SO hard at lifestyle changes, and setting up routines, and eliminating clutter, and getting organized.

(this is getting long - sorry - but I hope it can help someone)

I was put on 20mg of Vyvanse.
The first week....
Oh happy day!  I was mentally organized!
The fireworks in my head went down to a flare.
My angry mob of thoughts fighting for the exit door were all in a line, waiting patiently.
I felt a whole new life unfolding in front of me.

Ahhh...the but.

I couldn't sleep.
At all.
Two hours a night if I was lucky.
Vyvanse is an amphetamine.

I also want to inject here that at the SAME time I started the medication, I started working with my Coach again to address my weight.  (More on that later)
I have to tell you - for the last two weeks - I've been emotionally/mentally pushed to my limits.
Completely changing my lifestyle of eating and adding about 90 minutes of exercise a day - doing alot of reading and homework for my Bootcamp, not sleeping, etc...

It was tough. 
A bit tough.
I haven't had butter in three weeks.

Week Two of the medication just about killed me.
My heart was racing, I wasn't sleeping.
I felt like I was coming out of my skin.
I was covered in chills and my pupils were pinpoints.
But I was focused, by God.
I was focused.

I cut the dose in half.
Still no sleep.
I was emotional.
I was also menstrual.
I was crying alot - Lord - you couldn't even say something nice to me without my eyes welling up.
I felt like gratefulness was going to kill me.
Doesn't that sound crazy!?
Oh, I felt crazy.
"Oh God, I'm just so grateful"
I seemed to say that alot...


Today - it's nearly 10 am and I'm still sitting here in my flannel nightgown.
I needed to get all of this out whilst it was fresh in my head.
I haven't taken the medication in four days.
I'm choosing sleep over it, for now.
I'm allowing myself to sleep in some now.

The first two days off the medication - and my head was really squirrely.
I felt like a tornado was going on in my head and I was a helpless victim of unorganized thoughts.
I called the Red Cross and they refused to come.
And yet - I functioned.
The house is clean, we are eating - I'm exercising - losing weight - things are rolling along pretty good.
Dare say - I more than 'just got by' - I may have even thrived abit.

For me - it all boils down to the thriving.
I'm no where satisfied to 'get by'.
To me 'getting by' is so close to death.
I want to thrive - I want to live - I want it all.

I'm going to try and be hyper vigilant about things right now.
It's easy for me to see certain behaviors that are classic symptoms.

Next time I'm tempted to bring home a box of baby turkeys with no place to put them - I can think 'oh Jayme, this is your ADHD talkin' - don't get the turkeys just yet'.
Next time, I'm tempted to bring home 3# of live bees when I don't know what the heck I'm doing - hmmm...perhaps that's impulsive.
Or a dog.
Or four more cats.

Maybe I can start thinking before I open my mouth a little bit.
Maybe I can give someone else a chance to say something.
Maybe I can follow my routine, and be thankful that I have extra energy to spare at the end of the day.
Maybe I can laugh at myself when I can't find the keys for the 9,779,988th time.


Maybe I'll go back on the meds again.
Maybe not.

I feel in a very 'maybe' place with the whole thing.
And that's ok.


  1. Leaving shortly to meet with a counselor--my son was diagnosed with ADD three-quarters of the way through his senior year in high school. I have so many regrets about things we did wrong, the damage we did not knowing how real his struggles were.

    I need to come back to this, to read it more closely and check out that PBS link. Sometimes, I think God gives us just what we need, when we need it, even using the internet sometimes. Almost as though it's providence or something.

    Blessings to you. Praising God who is making all things new--even all of my regrets.

  2. you are simply a fascinating individual and I am going to read and re-read all your posts!! I connect on some levels with you but as I have aged...and things have changed...I have finally understood I am not on a race to fit it all in!! Seems thats what I was to live. Now I just sit down and breath deep and realize...I AM living!! and I love it!!

  3. You are very brave to "bare all" to your blog followers. Your frankness and frustrations are appreciated. We all have these problems at times. My adult son was diagnosed with adult ADHD. That has answered many problems he has had that have affected his ability to concentrate in many areas of his life.
    I join you in your weight struggle. You are wise to get help while you are young and your body will respond.
    Absolutely love your blog.

  4. Try different meds Jayme. My middle daughter has ADD I know there are other meds. They all do not work the same for everyone and you sometimes need to try until you get the correct meds. It is very hard to live with....Very hard. This daugher was diagnoised with ADD in second grade, has lived with depression since she was 16'ish and also has a sleep disorder. She is raising 4 boys...she is 27 and on a second marriage. Hard, hard hard for me to watch her struggles.

  5. I second what Brenda says, try a different medicine. Noah is ADHD and we went through SEVERAL different meds with him before we found the right combo of changed behavior, ability to sleep, and being able to eat. Bob was on meds for a while (until no insurance) and it helped him so much to be able to stay on task. Bob's biggest symptom was that he was never able to finish anything. It is an amazing testimony of God's grace that He has helped you to overcome the handicaps that ADHD brings, and to embrace the benefits it gives you. I could NEVER get done in a week what you are able to get done in a day. Again, I would encourage you to try other meds. :) Thanks for sharing. I am going to have Noah read this when he gets home from school. Like you, he gets good grades. His biggest problem is that without meds, he is very angry and not able to control his emotions and impulsivity very much.

  6. Hi Jayme, my husband recently had an assessment with a naturopath and apparently fish oils - specifically wild fish oils, are extremely helpful with those suffering from ADD/ADHD. Perhaps your doctor might approve of you trying this for a few weeks? They can be purchased over the counter (with the other vitamin supplements) here in Canada. Best of luck! Becki

  7. My stepson has ADHD and has struggled terribly, still has no focus and no ability to plan his life at age 23. He refuses to take meds or get help. I agree with the others, there are several meds to try. You can also try a small dose of something at night to help with sleep. Hopefully you will find the right balance in your life.

  8. Jayme,
    Different meds! Don't settle. I really think you need a different type of medicine. Talk with your doctor. You can have clarity and sleep. For years I have struggled with a similar problem and I felt like a punk failure because I had to be on "drugs". It felt like a spiritual failure. It's not Mrs.
    Chicken. Wouldn't you want someone you love(Aaron) to ask for help?
    God bless you sweet lady,
    A long time "stalker"

  9. I read about half the way down and had to go change the laundry. On the way back to the computer, I loaded up the bread maker. Passed the front door, and realized I had to put the seedlings out, so I did. Took a shower, let the dog in, called Mom, and came back to the screen to finish writing my comment, but I hadn't started yet.

    I was diagnosed in 1995, as was my daughter. Her dad had ADHD and was bipolar. Her two kids have ADHD, one has oppositional defiant disorder.

    From what I read about your story (which I think I could have finished if there were three posts instead of one!!!!)it is entirely possible you are my long lost, 10 year younger, twin.

    I have chosen not to take medications, because I have been like this so long that "normal" feels weird.

    Can't remember what else I wanted to say, and I need to vacuum.

  10. Oh, I forgot -- I "self-medicated" up to 380, lost 150 and kept it off. Still fat, but I don't care anymore. This is who I am, on all levels.

  11. I just love you! And now I think I have ADHD. But I do need my sleep. Have you ever tried Yoga and meditation? It works for balance and focus. No side effects.

  12. I have read in many places that people with ADD actually focus when they add caffeine in their diet! I know that sounds contradictory, but it really does help my husband and son. Also I have read that at least 20 minutes of walking out in nature a day helps a ton too.

  13. Lots of things to think about. I truly hope you can find a middle ground -- I take meds for anxiety and depression and for the most part, I'm doing fine.

  14. My husband wasn't diagnosed until he was 40. All he ever heard in his head was his mother telling him that ADD didn't exist and there was 'nothing wrong with him.' When he turned 40, he had PTSD from his job as a police officer (he was dealing with a LOT of dead bodies, including children) and that's when he started to lose his fear of mental health. I remember calling off of work to be with him the first time he took the ADD meds. He was so afraid. He almost didn't take it, b/c he kept hearing his mother's voice in his head. But he took that first pill and hasn't looked back since. He wanted to wear a 'I LOVE ADDERALL' shirt to work! It made his mind stop. It made him able to think and sit still. And, it allowed him to sleep, which he hasn't done as long as I've known him, 24 years. Before this, he self medicated too, with alcohol. Trust me, it didn't make for an easy marriage. But we worked together and got through some rough times. There's finally peace in our home.

    I would like to stress that every medication is different, and if you choose to go on medication, you should enlist the help of your hubby. He will see things you can't. For instance, my husband was happy on Adderall, but ins upped our copay, and we switched to the generic form. WRONG MOVE. He became a zombie, with no emotion. Amazing, that ADDERALL was fine, but the GENERIC was not. We agreed it was worth it to pay the increase in copay. Then, I sent my ADD husband to the pharmacy to get his meds and the pharmacist convinced him to get the generic, b/c it's the same stuff. My husband didn't tell me this. So for two weeks, I kept looking at him, and saying, what's going on? Nothing, he'd say. I could tell he was different. I could see it in his reactions, to how he acted. Finally, he fessed up. So, have Glenco watch you! He'll know what's going on. Sometimes, when you can't.

    I think medication isn't for everyone and that everyone is different. What works for one might not work for another. My husband is also in therapy with an amazing woman! She teaches cognitive therapy techniques and also helps him with his PTSD. There are some great forums out there, too. It's not a do this/do that type of thing. You have to find what works for you, and your hubby! Don't forget him! :) As the spouse of an ADD'r, we sometimes go, WTF! Hah! And I'm a computer programmer, so my logical mind doesn't understand it. I can't see how he can sometimes get from point A to point B. But I try. Sorry for the long book, but you have, ONCE AGAIN, touched on something that is near and dear to me. I wish you lots of love and peace with this. Good Luck!

  15. I have a slight OCD problem. When a boyfriend of my suggested medicine I went to the Dr., filled the prescription came home and reality set in. I said to myself why alter my brain with this medicine? Other people have the same issues and I talked myself right out of the meds. I think you are a person who should volunteer somewhere Jayme. You have super personality and being home is great but being with other people takes your mind off the ADHD. You have been a great person I can see with your nephew and that gave you purpose. Go be a mentor to someone. You have so much to offer. I don't know you personally I just look forward to reading your blog.

  16. Hi Jayme.
    Years ago, I did some research on-line on ADD. I found a web site written by a biologist in MA whose son was diagnosed with ADD. On her site, she explained how the brain is made up of fats and how it sends out messages into the bloodstream to bring fats to repair itself. When children/adults eat artificial fats, especially hydrogenated, that is all the brain has to work with and is essentially repairing itself with artificial materials. This causes the signals going down the neural pathways to not be able to make the necessary connections and one's attention to be disrupted. The comment regarding fish oil is what brought this back to me. I believe the biologist said that an increase of omega oils really helped her son.

    I hope I remembered that correctly!
    God bless you on this journey!

  17. What a beautiful, gorgeous post! Thanks for mentioning our film and our site - much appreciated.

    All the best to you and your family!

  18. What a great article, Jayme! Thanks for the mention. I've posted a link here from the totallyadd forum so others can read about your journey.

  19. "For me - it all boils down to the thriving.
    I'm no where satisfied to 'get by'.
    To me 'getting by' is so close to death.
    I want to thrive - I want to live - I want it all."


    You deserve it all. Go for it!

  20. The brain is so weird. Mine freaks me out all the time. Is that normal? Maybe not, but it makes me interesting.

    I think you thrive. You have motivated me to get my act together, to be more organized and more disciplined. I say this with my house in a bombish state while I goof around on the internet. But hey! Baby steps.

  21. Jayme, work on the inside is always more difficult than work on the outside. It is easier right now to focus on your physical health because you feel more in control.

    Perhaps it is advantageous right now to work on your mental health. Taking a medication does not equate to illness. You are not sick, Jayme. Ask your doctor to educate you on expected side-effects and then work with him/her to find the right dose/med.

    The 'working through' period of many disorders is the toughest time. But, clearly you are not alone. You can do this. If not for yourself, do it for Aaron. I believe you highlighted a very significant matter - Aaron may be displaying signs as well. Would you not want and push him to find answers? Be his role model, Jayme. In the future, he may need to draw upon your strength and knowledge... Do you want to tell him that you sought answers but did not complete your quest because the path grew narrow?

    Jayme, you do deserve it all. Do not discount your life. You do not have to be a pink chicken when it comes to your happiness and living.

  22. My oldest daughter(24 now) was diagnosed with ADD no H in second grade and took meds for a few years for it. The meds seemed to help some but we discovered that she had really bad eyesight and some major hearing loss(she cant hear out of one ear at all). Correcting those two things as much as we could helped the most. What kid is going to be able to sit still and focus when you cant see or hear what your supposed to be focused on.

    And being OCD isnt all bad. I am in some areas but I also have the abuility to tell my mind to Shut the hell up and it doesnt matter. LOL
    There are lots of meds that can work without making you not feel like yourself.

  23. I really feel your pain. I went to the Totally ADD site and took the test. Then I read the challenges. I nearly threw up at the one for putting things in better order than when I found them. Makes me so nervous. I have clogged up my life with so many tasks, responsibilities, promises and hobbies that I think I am smothering. I can't seem to finish much of anything and the piles are getting higher.
    Keep blogging. I want to see you succeed. It gives hope to the rest of us. Thanks Jamie.

  24. Dearest Jayme-

    Once upon a time there was a dear, sweet lady with an inspirational blog called Tales From the Coop Keeper.

    This blog was different from any other in blog land because she didn't inspire her readers with her things-but instead- which was ever so much better- she inspired us with her

    So now, when this lovely blogger talks about her schedule for doing things in her yard or in her home-
    we all believe that we can do that too.

    When she shares her delicious recipes and shares her experiences in the kitchen- we all believe that we can do that too.

    And when she shares her struggles-
    we are doubly inspired, because

    I am honored to call you friend.

    White Spray Paint

  25. Hi Jayme,
    I have been keeping up with yor posts, but haven't written in a while. I know how important comments are (I adore them too) and that you are not lacking in that department, I just realized that I have not been doing my part lately.
    You have been so gracious in commenting on my blog a few times and I appreciate the contact you have made- even though you complimented about a picture of my Mom....thinkin it was me. Its the thought that counts right???
    I still love your posts and would trade a homeschooling vacation to the Grand Canyon for a cozy stay in the squirrel. I'm pretty sure my Peeps would be down with it too.
    I love that I read your posts and feel like I am reading about a friend. I am concerned wit yo, laugh with you, and honestly really don't want to take that test!!!
    I hope you can find something that works for you and am SO glad to know that if I never get to meet you on earth, that I will meet you in the 'Sweet By and By'

  26. Type 1s are notoriously diagnosed with Add or Adhd. Type 3s come in a close second. :) Not to say meds can't help, but just saying be aware that you aren't broken....

    Take care of your beautiful self. Every stinking fiber.

  27. So sorry you're going through such struggles. I hope and pray you get it all worked out. You're such a creative, smart, beautiful person. You shouldn't have to suffer. I find that sharing my "ailments" with my blog friends helps tremendously. I hope your sharing helps you. Take care, dear lady.

  28. Your a brave one, Ms. Jayme. When it comes to medication you will be the one that knows what's best. Recognizing your demons is the hard part and facing them even harder. Daughter Amy has not found the answer yet to her OCD and now they say bi-polar disorder. One doctor, then another...try this med, now try this one. Her 30 years wracked with feelings of just not feeling "normal" everyone else. I'm Mom and I worry, I can't put a bandaid on this.

  29. Jayme,
    The medication for ADHD is amphetamine, BUT when taken by someone who truly suffers from the disorder it CALMS them. I did not have time to read all the comments from everyone else today, so perhaps they have covered all this.

    Have you spoken to your Dr. about your reaction to this medication? Sorry to be a "long distance mom" on the topic, but I am a bit worried for you. :)


  30. I so enjoyed our talk and well remember how we'd both watched that PBS show... So happy to hear you followed up and are learning more. There are never black n white answers but I'm sure you'll find what works for you. As Cindy said so well ~ "you aren't broken." You're amazing! You've helped me to keep things in mind both for myself, and Sarah... THANK YOU! Praying for you and "that boy Aaron."

  31. You're in my thoughts and prayers. It was very brave to bare your soul. We all have problems and need each other on this journey of life. God bless you, Peggy

  32. I need to re-read this post.. you really had my head spinning so must go back and read it slowwwly.

    Love ya.

  33. If only we had ended up in the same kindergarten class. We could have worked together to drive our teacher nuts! *LOL* I was expelled. The man who lived next to the school raised minnows and it rained. The tanks flooded and I caught a minnow in a paper cup. And the teacher wouldn't let me take it in so I was going to take it home until she started chasing me down the sidewalk. Not knowing what else to do I turned around and thew the fish, muddy water and all right into her face. They didn't have waterproof mascara back then, so she had long black streaks on her face that actually went pretty well with her tall, black beehive hairdo. She didn't think so, though. And it was the first day of school so I got off to a bad start. I always blamed my problems on a misunderstanding with the teacher.

  34. I'm catching up here, Min. All I can say is that I'm proud of you.

    Oh, one more thing: Glen's innermost fear cracked me Straight. Up.

  35. Hey lady, I remember you burned my mittens on that space heater lol. I'm glad you are back on track with the weight loss. Cynthia

  36. I'm hearing that song "I got to be me" playing in my head at the moment!
    We all have the issues we have to daily work on...ADD or not.
    I loved reading about your paper bacon sizzling! God gave you a wonderful and creative mind! Girl..."Go with It"!

  37. Thanks for sharing this. I can TOTALLY relate! I'm sure I have ADHD but I've never been formally diagnosed, although there is no question in my mind (or anyone who knows me). At least two of my kiddos have it as well (one has been diagnosed). I don't like to think of it as a disorder. I like to think of it as a gift. I just wish the rest of the world would see it that way! :)

  38. You are very brave to tackle this problem head on instead of letting it go... so much easier to just pretend there is no problem. I have been reading about a study using a food plan instead of taking medicine to control ADHD. I would much rather limit my food choices instead of taking meds. Wish that would work for you. You need to be able to sleep.

  39. Hope Boot Camp is going well. Love, Love, Love your videos. Keep'em coming.

  40. My tag has been walkwithfarmgirl for almost 10 years now. I feel a kindred spirit in you in all of what you say--I could be your older sister at 54! But I've struggled with all these ADD (?) things all my life and just discovered 3 months ago that it might be ADD--and I could weep with joy that there are others like me. It has kept me in the city (Montreal, Canada) for most of my life when I KNOW I should be on a farm. Crafts, hyper, my family calls me "busy" all the time. I wish they'd just let me be. But it hasn't been good for me: bad marriage, kids suffered, money problems, struggling at work -- of course I work in an office and do complicated paperwork--just didn't understand why it was so overwhelming and why I always felt like my head was going to explode with demands. And then I started Ritalin; yowzer!! I can think and have finished more things than I ever have in my life!! I haven't been "diagnosed" yet but I'm pretty sure that this ADD has been in my life for a long, long time.
    But enough about me.
    Thank you so much for your lovely site and posts. I will be here often!


Thanks so much for leaving a comment!