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The torture of tedium
January 17, 2013 8:42 AM   Subscribe

When you have severe ADHD, even a simple trip to Ikea can be nearly impossible.
posted by Chrysostom (205 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh. I have severe ADHD and I love Ikea. So many things to play with and explore! And of course there's Swedish meatballs.
posted by happyroach at 8:50 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, yeah. Ikea induces ADHD in healthy people.

And that second paragraph is an apt play-by-play of what happens in my head pretty much all the time. I must not be severely enough afflicted to be medicated. It's more of a roller coaster ride I've embraced as enjoyable.

And sometimes it's fun to tell people they just need to keep up. :D
posted by yoga at 8:50 AM on January 17, 2013


"Time to end the madness. I swallow the little green pill: 10 mg of methylphenidate, the generic form of Ritalin."

I appreciate the article and it is great to see people talking about ADHD openly, and it is doubly-great to see that the stigmas around medicating it are eroding, but unless this dude weighs 95 lbs, 10mg of methylphenidate is practically a cup of coffee. In fact, I don't think it comes in a lower dosage than that. I mean, it is a really good thing that he doesn't need any more than that, but, yeah.
posted by griphus at 8:54 AM on January 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


Ikea becomes Abu Ghraib.

Somehow, I don't think so.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:55 AM on January 17, 2013 [26 favorites]


Ikea doesn't set me off too badly because there are arrows pointing to where you should go next. It's places like BB&B that make me insane; they change their product layout so often that even the employees can't tell me where to find what I need and I panic and hide out in the towels section, furtively fondling bath sheets.
posted by elizardbits at 8:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [23 favorites]


And that second paragraph is an apt play-by-play of what happens in my head pretty much all the time. I must not be severely enough afflicted to be medicated.

Yeah, I have to concur. I hate to sound like one of those "it's just a personality different" idiots, but...I get severely bored just walking down a long hallway. That's why I bring a book or puzzle pretty much everywhere I go. I'm constantly doing 2, 3 or even 4 things at once. Maybe I'm also ADHD but have learned to cope or something.
posted by DU at 8:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, like griphus, I am questioning this dude's medication issues; it sounds like the stimulant-based solutions are not right for him and he should talk to his doctor. Adderall makes me sleep BETTER. Without it, I'm up 5-6 times a night just wandering around my house looking for stuff to do. It's awful.
posted by elizardbits at 8:57 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Basically my point is that 10 mg of methylphenidate is not for "severe ADHD." It is for "borderline-not-having-ADHD." But I got my psychiatry M.D. from the Wikipedia School of Medicine, so who knows.)
posted by griphus at 8:57 AM on January 17, 2013


Ah, so between him and me basically IS just a personality difference. It just happens to be a personality difference that spans a diagnosis line.
posted by DU at 8:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even without issues or medication IKEA is damnable waking nightmare cause there is always some kid having the WORST DAY OF HIS LIFE in there, just apocalypticly wailing and sobbing like he's being tortured with red hot pokers. I think they come installed with the store or something.
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on January 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


Everywhere on earth you go there is always That One Kid. The only solution is to stay at home. (offer not valid for parents, ha ha)
posted by elizardbits at 9:01 AM on January 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


Reading this, it struck me that I may perhaps have a mild form of ADHD. It strikes in situations such as shopping, much like here, though not as intensely.

A quick puff of medicinal herb in the parking lot beforehand, however, and the experience becomes tolerable if not downright entertaining. Plus, no nasty side effects.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:02 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think Ikea might have been a bad example because I'm not ADHD and being in Ikea is the closest I come to the feeling of complete, raving madness. There's no windows and a never ending maze that looks like it's constantly shifting and basically it's like trying to walk in a dolly zoom.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:03 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is why Ikea has all those sofas and beds sitting around, so you can take a break.
posted by orme at 9:05 AM on January 17, 2013


I don’t want to sound like I’m doubting anything (I’m not), it’s just that ADHD seems like one of those things that is either often exaggerated or is really hard to explain. Based on life, I’d guess both. Whenever I read these kind of things I think "so, isn’t that everyone to some degree?"

Like DU pointed out, I guess it’s just a question of how much.

Ikea becomes Abu Ghraib.


That’s when my "get over yourself, drama queen" kicks in.
posted by bongo_x at 9:07 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


(Basically my point is that 10 mg of methylphenidate is not for "severe ADHD." It is for "borderline-not-having-ADHD." But I got my psychiatry M.D. from Wikipedia School of Medicine, so who knows.)

Yeah, without wanting to imply any intent of dismissing this guy's situation, I loled at that a little, but having 40mg of Adderall put you straight to sleep really changes your perspective on stimulants. A lot of people seem to be pointing that out in the comments, though, so hopefully he figures out a non-stimulant solution.
posted by invitapriore at 9:08 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading this, it struck me that I may perhaps have a mild form of ADHD.

It struck me that ADHD is probably wildly over-diagnosed. Paying attention is hard. That's humanity's longest-standing philosophical statement.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:10 AM on January 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


I have relatively mild AHDH and I love IKEA (but must BRING LIST). Torture to me is a waiting room with no reading material. I <3 you, iPhone!

However, this: I can be in class thinking about sex or having sex thinking about class.. This is a problem.

I'm also not sure why if he is so dependent on his meds, that he waits halfway through the trip to actually take them. That seems to me like a diabetic waiting for a hypoglycemic crisis to take their insulin.
posted by drlith at 9:13 AM on January 17, 2013


Yeah, I mean, no one doesn't get distracted, or frazzled when there's a lot of shit going on or doesn't feel overwhelmed. But when trying to sit down and pay your bills, or do grocery shopping, or finish your homework (or work-work) drives you to the point of anxiety and frustration by default, there's something a little more wrong than the human condition. ADHD is very real, and the medication for it has, literally, saved the life of many, many people I know.
posted by griphus at 9:14 AM on January 17, 2013 [29 favorites]


I'm also not sure why if he is so dependent on his meds, that he waits halfway through the trip to actually take them.

Yeah, you'd think that in the 24 years it's taken him to come to grips with his ADHD he would have heard about the extended release formulas of Ritalin.
posted by elizardbits at 9:18 AM on January 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


It struck me that ADHD is probably wildly over-diagnosed. Paying attention is hard. That's humanity's longest-standing philosophical statement.

Umm, no. ADHD is under-diagnosed, mostly due to the exact attitude on display in your comment.
posted by lohmannn at 9:21 AM on January 17, 2013 [39 favorites]


What griphus said, plus it's not a condition that is well-served by generalizing explanations, either. I mean, for example, when you can look at a pie chart of where your money goes and a visible slice of it is spent on food that gets ruined when you leave it out on the counter over night, and you realize that similar things happen in basically every other area of your life, and you've really worked at introducing systems to help yourself but nothing really works, you start to realize that maybe there's something else going on. I guess it is hard to explain.
posted by invitapriore at 9:22 AM on January 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


One good thing to come out of this article though. It lead me to look up these, which may be the key to saving the tips of my fingers from being constantly chewed off!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:25 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I don't want to sound dismissive about this, but I'm going to be dismissive about this."

Gee, thanks. Yeah, there's enough misdiagnosed people out there, but ADHD isn't an affectation, excuse for laziness, or a personality flaw. For all the people who don't get it, here's my take on this condition (which I have recently been diagnosed with):

You know that thing where you're bored a lot, or easily distracted, or forgetful? Well, multiply it by ten. And remove the ability to change this with pure willpower. It's frustrating as fuck.

As I described it to my psychologist: it's like having a pristine, powerful V12 engine in a beautiful, aerodynamically superior automobile... with no steering wheel.
posted by grubi at 9:26 AM on January 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


I came home once and encountered and my wife all wild-eyed and strange.

"Are you drunk?" I asked.

"Nope. I have been to IKEA!" she giggled.
posted by srboisvert at 9:27 AM on January 17, 2013 [17 favorites]


Also the fact that it is so easy to look at the type of problems caused by ADHD and say, well, doesn't that just happen to everyone? means that sometimes you can only get at the root cause by looking at the disorders that are frequently co-morbid with ADHD like depression and anxiety. I know that for me the realization that I was terribly depressed in school and the refrigerator stressed me out (and I don't mean that, like, the door made a terrible noise or the compressor was broken, I just mean like any stray thought about the refrigerator and its contents would make me kind of tense...honestly, it still does a little bit) was a sign to me that I should investigate further.
posted by invitapriore at 9:30 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, reading his description of his pre-medicated state was enough to convince me, "ah, THAT'S what it's like, what I experience isn't anywhere near that bad" and forever silence the occasional "wait, maybe I should be tested for this" question I've had.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:32 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have never been diagnosed with ADHD, but i am pretty sure I have it. I don't like to go to movies in the theater because there's no breaks and you can't do other things while it's going on like twitter. When I watch them at home I'll stop a movie to watch a TV show and stop that to watch a YouTube Video and the entire time I am surfing some website or another or writing emails and talking to my girlfriend or doing tech support calls and having wine.

I've thought of taking some sort of medication or another because there are things that take focus to actually learn, but then I have been this way for 40 years, so I've pretty much adapted.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:36 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ikea is the closest I come to the feeling of complete, raving madness.

That's kinda why I like it! That and the cheap bedclothes. And the kitchen utensils. And the lighting fixtures. Oh, and I should stock up on meatballs, they keep forever in the freezer. Oh, and I bet my cats would love one of these little rat toys. I could rub catnip on it and they could bat it around just like I'm batting around this throw pillow named Hëlmüt
posted by Greg Nog at 9:40 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


for example, when you can look at a pie chart of where your money goes and a visible slice of it is spent on food that gets ruined when you leave it out on the counter over night, and you realize that similar things happen in basically every other area of your life, and you've really worked at introducing systems to help yourself but nothing really works,

I dunno about the leaving the food out specifically, but yes, I have definitely worked on elaborate systems over the years to prevent myself from forgetting things. But those systems generally DO work. Oh yeah and one of the worst things about watching movies is the length.

However, a lot of this has gotten worse as I've gotten older. I think I'm just more aware now of how much I *could* be doing and constantly weighing it. "Is this movie really better than my book? I bet I could do both." etc.

I don't think of it as ADHD (if it even is, which probably not). I think of it as maximizing life.
posted by DU at 9:44 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The last time I was at Ikea it was a combination of Walking Dead and rolling a cart on an oiled up slip and slide.

I don't have ADHD, just zero patience for slow-ass people caught in a maze.

WHERE'S THE FRIGGEN DOOR TO GET OFF THIS FLOOR?
posted by stormpooper at 9:46 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have ADHD on the moderate/high scale I was a highly successful third grade for fifteen years It was a perfect match
posted by robbyrobs at 9:48 AM on January 17, 2013


A buddy of mine had a near nervous breakdown in Ikea once when he was trying to buy a bed because THIS mattress went with THIS frame but needed THESE slats but they were out of the slats so he could get THIS frame instead but that needed THAT mattress and...

I'd worked with the guy for years and been through extremely stressful stuff with him, both personal and professional, but Ikea broke that man's spirit like nothing else. That's why Ikea is a team enterprise. Always bring backup than can gently but firmly herd you to the car while you whimper "I want to buy a bed, that's all I want."

My wife and I used to call our regular Ikea Breakup Central because of the number of couples we'd see having a nasty fight in the aisles.

Ikea makes you crazy, man.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:49 AM on January 17, 2013 [33 favorites]


ADHD is very real, and the medication for it has, literally, saved the life of many, many people I know.

No kidding. I invite anyone who doubts that ADHD is an Actual Thing and not just "part of life that everyone has to deal with sometimes" to spend two days hanging out with me: one while I'm unmedicated, then one while I'm medicated. You'll want to bring some xanax (for your own use) on the first day. Then maybe a rainbow-colored propeller beanie and a unicycle for the second (and maybe a warm jacket, we're going to the dog park to hang out with this fine mammal).

My wife and I used to call our regular Ikea Breakup Central because of the number of couples we'd see having a nasty fight in the aisles.

Haha yes! There's a great episode of 30 Rock about that specifically.
posted by jake at 9:54 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I invite anyone who doubts that ADHD is an Actual Thing and not just "part of life that everyone has to deal with sometimes" to spend two days hanging out with me: one while I'm unmedicated, then one while I'm medicated.

This. People for years dismissed me as "just an asshole," not realizing my behavior was pissing me off, too.
posted by grubi at 9:58 AM on January 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


There's a great description of what ADHD is like on Reddit: ADHD is about having broken filters on your perception.
posted by fragmede at 10:00 AM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Huh. I have severe ADHD and I love Ikea.

Ditto.

Thing is: They have a catalogue. They have a website. You figure out what you're getting before you go, and then, when you finally remember that that was a thing you were meaning to do, you go and get that one thing. And then you forget where you parked, but that's another issue. Point is, Ikea (and most places, really) completely ceases to be a huge funhouse of distraction if you're there for a solid, nailed-down reason.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:06 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


spend two days hanging out with me: one while I'm unmedicated, then one while I'm medicated.

Fun fact: every comment I made here from June 2012 through late August 2012 is the product of an unmedicated ADHD mind recovering from low-level medication-induced amphetamine psychosis. (or something rather like it, idek)

[blanket statement of apology]
posted by elizardbits at 10:06 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Last time I was in an IKEA with my parents (mostly to help them with the lifting) I remember thinking, "it's a good think IKEA doesn't sell guns, or I would never make it out of here."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:11 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have ADHD and I'm bipolar. For every possible way to forget or lose something, I've done it.

I have three sets of keys. I lose them constantly. I also have keys hidden on my cars and house, which work great until I lose them, too. At any given time, there is a 50% chance that I have no idea where my wallet is.

Is it really important to you that I be somewhere at a certain time? Call me the night before, a couple hours before, an hour before and then 10 minutes before I'm supposed to leave. The reminders that I leave for myself on my phone, email, post-it notes at strategic locations and sometimes even on my hand in Sharpie marker might not work. I can't count the number of times that I've cooked food and left it on the counter, bought groceries and left them in the car, arrived at my destination without the things I need or forgotten why I walked into a room. If I've just met you, the probability that I still remember your name is zero.

I'm told that my writing is good but it takes me forever because I don't write in any kind of linear fashion, zipping from here to there making edits and adding new ideas (like this one.) I have to read anything that I write several times to make sure it looks sane.

People tell me that I should "get organized!" I look at the jumbled pieces of my life completely at a loss as to how to do that. You might as well hand me half a ton of hamburger and ask me to construct a cow.

It's even worse without the medicine. Then I'm not only in an inattentive fog, but I'm an emotional train-wreck in an inattentive fog. I take 90 mg of Vyvanse with my other drugs and hope that I'll get something done each day.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:16 AM on January 17, 2013 [18 favorites]


Ikea (and most places, really) completely ceases to be a huge funhouse of distraction if you're there for a solid, nailed-down reason.

But then they become a source of white-hot foaming rage because the only thing i am here to get is a single god-damn lamp why can't i just go in and get to it and get out rather than having to walk through the entire showroom of kitchen tables and bedding and poannggggg chairs and all that other shit and then walk through the entire market room downstairs no i told you i do not need some bedding why can't i just jump ahead to lighting this sucks
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:18 AM on January 17, 2013


From the reddit post:

Perhaps you're getting an idea of why we have the task-management skills of a five-year-old - and why we tend to have an "oh fuck" expression on our face whenever you interrupt us in the middle of something.

I'm sure plenty of non-ADHD people do this too, so it has low sensitivity as a predictive metric, but I've had to give the "just because I make a face like you just shot me in the chest when you interrupt what I'm doing doesn't mean I hate you" speech to a lot of people.

The "it doesn't mean I don't hate you" part is actually kind of a lie but it's one of those lies that keeps society humming, or at least the part of society that I inhabit, so c'est la vie I guess.
posted by invitapriore at 10:19 AM on January 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm told that my writing is good but it takes me forever because I don't write in any kind of linear fashion, zipping from here to there making edits and adding new ideas (like this one.) I have to read anything that I write several times to make sure it looks sane.

Oh man, yeah. I highly suspect that my several-standard-deviations-above-average number of over-complicated inter-referential clauses per sentence is a function of my ADHD, though there are certainly many other ways that it manifests in peoples' communication habits.
posted by invitapriore at 10:22 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Doesn't anybody else go through Ikea backwards?
posted by captaincrouton at 10:23 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Is this movie really better than my book? I bet I could do both." etc.

There are people who don't read books while watching movies?

Freaks.
posted by madajb at 10:23 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also serial commenting is a MetaFilter-specific hazard of ADHD.
posted by invitapriore at 10:23 AM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


The nearest Ikea is in Chicago, about 150 miles away, so I've never been there. I'm fucked if they ever come to Indianapolis.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:24 AM on January 17, 2013


You guys know that there are shortcuts in Ikea, right? And sometimes monkeys.
posted by maudlin at 10:24 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


But then they become a source of white-hot foaming rage because the only thing i am here to get is a single god-damn lamp why can't i just go in and get to it and get out rather than having to walk through the entire showroom of kitchen tables and bedding and poannggggg chairs and all that other shit and then walk through the entire market room downstairs no i told you i do not need some bedding why can't i just jump ahead to lighting this sucks

You have to understand that walking through Ikea (or wherever) to get one thing and GTFO is a game! It's called Dodge the Slowpokes.

Also, you get to have this song looping in your head.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:26 AM on January 17, 2013


But then they become a source of white-hot foaming rage because the only thing i am here to get is a single god-damn lamp why can't i just go in and get to it and get out rather than having to walk through the entire showroom of kitchen tables and bedding and poannggggg chairs and all that other shit and then walk through the entire market room downstairs no i told you i do not need some bedding why can't i just jump ahead to lighting this sucks

Learn to love the Ikea shortcuts.
You know about the hidden corner ones, I'm sure, but also, those swinging employee doors, they're like the tunnels under the Magic Kingdom.
posted by madajb at 10:27 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


WARP TO LAMPS
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's a great description of what ADHD is like on Reddit: ADHD is about having broken filters on your perception.

From the Reddit: Normal people have a sort of mental secretary that takes the 99% of irrelevant crap that crosses their mind, and simply deletes it before they become consciously aware of it.

Really? That's "normal"?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:29 AM on January 17, 2013


You guys know that there are shortcuts in Ikea, right?

Those aren't shortcut, they're random teleports and that totally doesn't help because then you end up in some weird new place with no idea where you are. I've never turned around and walked immediately back through the shortcut, but I'm not even sure you'd wind up in the same place as you started. Aisles. Nice neat aisles. This is how you create a store that doesn't fuck with time and space.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:35 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I know Ikea has shortcuts, but there are nowhere near enough for my taste. Or, rather, what I want is for there to be no need for shortcuts because it is an open-plan floor and you get to pick which direction you need to go in (need to see the showroom? Go upstairs. Need lamps? Go that way. Bedding? That way. Just want meatballs? Down here on the first floor).

Actually what would really help - at least with the Brooklyn one - is being able to just jump straight ahead to the market. Right now you go up an escalator to the first floor, where the market is, but if you try to cut through that way to start picking up stuff they stop you and you have to go on this whole pointless ride up a second escalator to the showroom floor and then around a pole to the stairs back down to the market you were just at. Seriously, I know what I want, I know where it is, just let me go get it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:35 AM on January 17, 2013


The difference between getting bored easily and ADD is similar to the difference between being blue sometimes and having clinical depression.

Normal human feelings are not normal at constantly debilitating levels of amplification.
posted by desuetude at 10:38 AM on January 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


And another thing: Ikea needs express lanes at the checkout, because do you know how many times I have gone in just to get special light bulbs for that one lamp i have and i end up having to wait in line behind someone who's redoing their rec room?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:38 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


All three of my boys are autistic. My youngest son has ADHD just as bad as I do, but he is more of a rubber ball unencumbered by friction, gravity or any pesky thermodynamic laws.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Actually what would really help - at least with the Brooklyn one - is being able to just jump straight ahead to the market. Right now you go up an escalator to the first floor, where the market is, but if you try to cut through that way to start picking up stuff they stop you and you have to go on this whole pointless ride up a second escalator to the showroom floor and then around a pole to the stairs back down to the market you were just at. Seriously, I know what I want, I know where it is, just let me go get it.

Okay, yeah, that is some bullshit they're pulling. My Ikea (the monkey one!) you just wander in the exit instead of the entrance and wonder (with delight) where the showroom is.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:45 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Normal human feelings are not normal at constantly debilitating levels of amplification.

Yeah, like. People say to me "oh, I have the hardest time getting going in the morning, it's so hard to leave the house! I'm just like you!" And I'm just like, whatever, get back to me when you've had to wake up at 4am in order to make a 10am meeting 10 blocks from your house.
posted by elizardbits at 10:47 AM on January 17, 2013 [20 favorites]


On the other hand, ADHD has made it possible for me to do what I call "parallel thinking": I can think about two things at once, progressing through each pretty well, with one item on Track 1 and the other on Track 2. Unfortunately, I don't dictate what's on Track 2. So while a normal person might consciously think about chores or conversations with the spouse, I'm thinking about chores AND conversations with the spouse. The benefit is I can figure things out average folks would have to spend more time considering: I'm already thinking things through to their logical conclusion when someone else is still figuring out what was said.

But, again, I don't dictate the train schedule.
posted by grubi at 10:48 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Plus, I'm a little bummed that there's not as much info/conversation/reference material on the Hyperactive/Impulsive variety of ADHD (the kind I have) as there is for the Attention Deficit variety (or so it seems). Everyone talks about being easily distracted and flighty, but not enough about fidgety and absolutely NEEDING to be engaged mentally constantly. My wife (non-ADHD) likes to relax with TV that doesn't challenge her; I can't stand TV that doesn't -- I need to figure things out in order to relax.
posted by grubi at 10:51 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


fragmede: "There's a great description of what ADHD is like on Reddit: ADHD is about having broken filters on your perception."

Quoted for emphasis because wow, that entire thread is fantastic. I've spent half an hour reading it and pulling out highlights that resonate (either because I do it or a loved one does it), and there are a lot.
posted by Phire at 10:53 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish drugs would help with my ADHD like it does with the guy in the article. I was on Ritalin until age 12, and then when adolescence kicked in, I started having severe side effects to any of the stimulant drugs. Nothing works for me now, and I wish it did.
posted by happyroach at 10:54 AM on January 17, 2013


Ikea is easy though; I just write down furniture names to use as game character names...which frustrates anyone shopping with me.
posted by happyroach at 10:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I forgot my pill case on Tuesday and had a sobbing breakdown at my desk. It's not that I have problems with my workload or the prioritization of it, it's that I get interrupted at LEAST five times an hour and I can barely manage to re-focus on my work WITH my medication. Without it? Absolutely, completely lost.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Normal human feelings are not normal at constantly debilitating levels of amplification.

I'm not sure that's true, either that or there are far more people in need of drug therapy in this highly disfunctional world we've got here!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:01 AM on January 17, 2013


I started having severe side effects to any of the stimulant drugs.

Depending on how old you are now (i.e. 18 vs. 45,) ADHD is one of those fields where the older medicines are still regularly prescribed, but there's new formulations and methods of application coming out pretty regularly. You may want to check with a psychiatrist to see what's up nowadays.
posted by griphus at 11:02 AM on January 17, 2013


I have three sets of keys. I lose them constantly. I also have keys hidden on my cars and house, which work great until I lose them, too. At any given time, there is a 50% chance that I have no idea where my wallet is...Is it really important to you that I be somewhere at a certain time? Call me the night before...I can't count the number of times that I've cooked food and left it on the counter, bought groceries and left them in the car, arrived at my destination without the things I need or forgotten why I walked into a room. If I've just met you, the probability that I still remember your name is zero.

The thing is, this describes me nearly 100%. It describes about half the people I know. I don’t know that those are things to be upset about, that’s just life. We live in a very artificial world full of trivial things that we are not wired to deal with. Again, maybe it’s just hard to explain.

The difference between getting bored easily and ADD is similar to the difference between being blue sometimes and having clinical depression.

As with most things in life, it’s not black and white. I don’t really know anything about ADHD, but it is a continuum, and I just wonder if a lot of people on the lower end of the scale aren't diagnosed, or self diagnosing, because they think they should be "better" at these things, like everyone else has their shit way more together.
posted by bongo_x at 11:03 AM on January 17, 2013


I'm not sure that's true, either that or there are far more people in need of drug therapy in this highly disfunctional world we've got here!

Considering that, as a society, we don't have alcoholism and drug abuse remotely under control, what we need is more people getting formal drug therapy instead of doing it themselves (whether they know they're doing it or not.)
posted by griphus at 11:03 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, that Reddit has some real gems. Especially this:

I can get overwhelmed by mundane tasks due to lack of energy, but I don't get overwhelmed in a crisis.

YES.
posted by grubi at 11:04 AM on January 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Here's the canonical AskMe ADHD thread for anyone who won't touch Reddit with a ten foot pole.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:06 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yes, everyone feels like they have ADHD sometimes.

Everyone also feels sad sometimes. But not everyone has clinical depression.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:08 AM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I'm forgetful and distractable sometimes too!" is to ADHD as "I'm sad sometimes too!" is to depression. Inattentiveness (for example) and sadness are normal parts of the human experience, but it becomes ADHD or depression when it has a seriously negative impact on your life.

I don't have either one, but those types of statements come off as vaguely insulting, like "I have these symptoms and I can manage just fine, why can't you?"
posted by desjardins at 11:09 AM on January 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


When I was working in various libraries, I LOVED teaching and working the reference desk. I turned into a total Lab.

OH BOY -- A PERSON! DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? I CAN HELP YOU FIND AN ANSWER FOR THAT QUESTION! I HAVE A COMPUTER! I HAVE BIG BOOKS! I CAN TAKE YOU OVER TO THOSE ROWS OF SHELVES AND FIND SOMETHING THAT CAN HELP YOU! OH, ANOTHER PERSON! DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION? I CAN HELP YOU! SQUIRREL!

Having people approach me with neat new problems on an ongoing basis that I could actually help them with was heaven, but cataloguing and inputting data was death by a thousand paper cuts.
posted by maudlin at 11:10 AM on January 17, 2013 [33 favorites]


those types of statements come off as vaguely insulting, like "I have these symptoms and I can manage just fine, why can't you?"

Yes. My response to that is "Because willpower isn't enough for people with ADHD. That's what makes this a condition and not a temporary state."
posted by grubi at 11:10 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing is, this describes me nearly 100%. It describes about half the people I know. I don’t know that those are things to be upset about, that’s just life.

Um, bongo, if you are forgetting wallet, keys, the fact that you cooked food 50% of the time, that may not be "life," that may be a sign that YOU have ADHD as well.

I mean, yay that you have made peace with it, but at least acknowledge others would rather not have to.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:11 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't have either one, but those types of statements come off as vaguely insulting, like "I have these symptoms and I can manage just fine, why can't you?"

There's nothing vague about it. It's insulting.

It's like going up to a paraplegic and saying, "I know just how you feel -- my foot fell asleep for a whole minute the other day!"
posted by Sys Rq at 11:11 AM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


The thing is, this describes me nearly 100%. It describes about half the people I know. I don’t know that those are things to be upset about, that’s just life. We live in a very artificial world full of trivial things that we are not wired to deal with. Again, maybe it’s just hard to explain.

This is kind of frustrating, though, because it's hard to respond to vague qualifications like "nearly 100%" and "about half the people I know" and find where the legitimate differences may lie. I mean, you say yourself that you don't know that much about ADHD, so I'm wondering then whence the apparent stability of your opinion about a phenomenon as complicated and wide-ranging as how ADHD is diagnosed.
posted by invitapriore at 11:15 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do dearly wish that we'd eventually evolve to a state where we can look at this without using a disease model or a disorder model or a "something's broken" model, because, man, I can do things with my brain that most people can't even dream about. Thing is, when people marvel at my ability to fix, build, or otherwise make anything and do it well, it's not years of slow, patient, linear thinking that's made me learn those things—it's that I can be standing in a room where someone's doing something mechanical, jabbering on as I'm inclined to do about pretty much nothing, and all that information still floods in and gets filed away without my noticing.

Yeah, I'm bored as hell by American Idol, sports, church, and algebra classes led by slow-talking by-the-bookers, and I really have to keep a lot of lists and drink a fair amount of tea to keep from getting called to chase butterflies, but if you've ever read something I wrote and thought there was something good in it, it's because of that massive flood of data that's always pouring in. For me, at least, the secret is to give up trying to interpret it at all and just let it go wherever it goes in the folds and wrinkles in my head. When I need it, it's there.

There are degrees, to be sure, and mine's obviously a life in which I have been relatively successful at finding means and building mechanisms to deal with the crossover between hunter world and farmer world (both of which, for the record, are lovely places), but the approach we have when we make everything medical is a real sore point for me.

To each their own, of course.
posted by sonascope at 11:16 AM on January 17, 2013 [15 favorites]


I would like to jump in and add to the marijuana conversation. Smoking pot and going to IKEA could be a bad idea. You'll end up walking out with 4 of everything you don't need, like those metal tins with holes that you put cutlery in to dry. So cheap! Gotta get get more than one...
posted by ReeMonster at 11:17 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are degrees, to be sure, and mine's obviously a life in which I have been relatively successful at finding means and building mechanisms to deal with the crossover between hunter world and farmer world (both of which, for the record, are lovely places), but the approach we have when we make everything medical is a real sore point for me.

I don't know, the system isn't perfect, but theoretically psychology only pathologizes a certain collection of symptoms to the extent that they manifest harmfully in a person's environment. It'd be nice if society was a little more friendly with regards to neuro-diversity and was more attendant to the various gifts that people have (though hopefully without any of the stupid woo-woo bullshit that leads to people saying things like "people with depression are gifted with emotional depth! everything has an upside!" because fuck those people to Ultra-Hell), but it's really not, and until that changes I'm pretty comfortable with calling it a disorder insofar as that gets me the help I need to do things like keeping a roof over my head.
posted by invitapriore at 11:30 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


My husband and I have started referring to our annual IKEA trips as "the marital stress test." I'm pretty sure that IKEA could make a killing by installing a marriage counseling station (KOUNSELL) near the entrance to the market.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 11:32 AM on January 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


My wife and I used to call our regular Ikea Breakup Central because of the number of couples we'd see having a nasty fight in the aisles.

Oh god yes. To say nothing of what happens when you get home and have to assemble the damned bedframe from 1400 separate parts like some sort of hellspawned LEGO kit, complete with an instruction manual full of vaguely anthropomorphic Ziggy doppelgangers telling you not to intentionally hit your own fingers with a hammer. IKEA furniture assembly is easily the leading lifetime cause of marital strife for my wife and I, and we have been to IKEA four times.
posted by Mayor West at 11:42 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I failed grade 9 math 3 times despite going to every single class. If you don't believe ADHD is a real condition, you probably don't know what it's like to have such difficulty focusing on simple mundane work that it leads to hyperventilating panic attacks, self-harm, and the inevitable shit you catch for punching a hole through the dry-wall in your bedroom. Eventually, once you've vented enough of your frustration and nervous energy that way, you can curl up in bed and cry yourself to sleep thinking about the fucking horror your life will be, flunking out of high-school.
posted by Evstar at 11:45 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I failed grade 9 math 3 times despite going to every single class. If you don't believe ADHD is a real condition, you probably don't know what it's like to have such difficulty focusing on simple mundane work that it leads to hyperventilating panic attacks, self-harm, and the inevitable shit you catch for punching a hole through the dry-wall in your bedroom. Eventually, once you've vented enough of your frustration and nervous energy that way, you can curl up in bed and cry yourself to sleep thinking about the fucking horror your life will be, flunking out of high-school.

When does that start to be abnormal for a 9th grader?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:49 AM on January 17, 2013


When they're in 11th grade taking grade 9 math again?
posted by Evstar at 11:52 AM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


When does that start to be abnormal for a 9th grader?

Did you even read it?:

to have such difficulty focusing on simple mundane work that it leads to hyperventilating panic attacks, self-harm, and the inevitable shit you catch for punching a hole through the dry-wall in your bedroom

When does that start to be abnormal for a 9th grader? You should be asking when does it start to be normal?
posted by grubi at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm no neurologist or anything, but I ended up at a boarding school and feel like I saw a pretty decent cross-section of the inner workings of high school aged people in those dorms and that sounds pretty much par for the course.

Maybe I was just surrounded with a bunch of people with ADHD?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:58 AM on January 17, 2013


I get interrupted at LEAST five times an hour and I can barely manage to re-focus on my work WITH my medication.

I'm on the other end of the emotional spectrum so my main issue is reminding myself not to threaten to stab any of my coworkers when they interrupt me for the 5th time in an hour with a question that they could easily find the answer to on their own if they weren't so fucking lazy and I wasn't the most competent person in my office.

hissss
posted by elizardbits at 11:58 AM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I never said it stopped when I left high-school.
posted by Evstar at 11:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fact: Ikea is deliberately, calculatingly psychologically manipulative for the specific purposes of increased impulse buys.

I've heard rumors of people who can visit an Ikea and actually buy the one thing they actually want/need, but I don't believe them. Every single time I've gone there with anyone at all they've bought at least one additional thing. Tea lights. A new rug in the new colors of the season. Next thing you know they're buying drapes or throw pillows to match the rug. And bedding. And a shower curtain.

And some weird piece of rubber or plastic that looks like it was a failed industrial design student's final project. What is it? A trivet? Do you hang it on the wall? Drape it over a lamp? Does it hold toothbrushes, or house keys? Who cares? Get twenty of them and pile them in the corner! It matches the new rug!

Hey, look, a string of blinking lights! Totally need that. And a bin full of stuffed squirrels! Better get two, no three! Now I definitely need a bunch of those new plastic totes (that match the new rug) and I'll finally sort all of the clutter and crap I have and maybe my apartment will match that showroom, but wait... those totes and boxes will fit better under that new bed!

Dear God! Look at that mountain of plastic bowls and cups! What kind of houseplant is that? It has twee little whimsical flowers on it with colors that match the rug! Where in the hell do they get these weird plants like they came from a Dr. Seuss book? BRING ME MORE THROW PILLOWS. I NEED THAT DESK LAMP. ALSO NEED NEW WASTEBASKETS TO THROW AWAY ALL OF THIS PACKAGING. HOLY SHIT IS THAT A SEX TOY oh no it's just some kind of weird vegetable peeler BUT LOOK, SHINY GLASS THINGS I BET I CAN MAKE A JUNGLE GYM AND SKATEPARK IF I REARRANGE THOSE THREE SHOWROOMS WITH THIS HEX KEY I STOLE FROM THE PARTS DEPARTMENT WHAT THE CRAP IS THIS DESK MADE OUT OF CARDBOARD OH GOD THE COLORS, THE COLORS ARE SWIRLING AGAIN ABORT ABORT ABORT FUCK IT I'M CHUGGING THIS BOTTLE OF CONCENTRATED LINGONBERRY JUICE RIGHT HERE WHERE'S THE FUCKING EXIT I CAN'T BREATHE AND I THINK I MIGHT JUST EAT THAT SMALL, STICKY CHILD IF IT DOESN'T STOP MAKING THAT GODDAMN NOISE SOON OK CALM DOWN, CALM DOWN IF YOU MAKE IT TO THE KITCHEN YOU CAN ARM YOURSELF AND MAYBE FIGHT YOUR WAY OUT BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE MAKE SOME ARMOR OUT OF THE CUTTING BOARDS AND HERE'S A CHEF'S KNIFE AND OH GOD THERE'S THAT STINKY, NOISY KID AGAIN AND HE'S LICKING ALL OF THE CUTLERY AND PUTTING IT BACK OH GOD THE COLORS RUN, RUN AND SMASH, SMASHING IS GOOD, IT MAKES ROOM FOR THE RUNNING OK OK RIDE THE SHOPPING CART ESCALATOR DOWN TO THE GROUND FLOOR YOU CAN ESCAPE TO THE OUTSIDE FROM THERE IF YOU CRAWL OVER THE CARTS IN THE HUGE STORAGE BAY OH MY FUCKING GOD I'M SURROUNDED BY SLOW, SHAMBLING ZOMBIES DON'T YOU FUCKING TOUCH ME YOU ZOMBIES OR I'LL CUT YOU WITH THIS STINKY NOISY KID OH GOD IT'S TOO LATE QUARANTINE AND STERILIZE THE SITE WHY THE HELL DOES IKEA NOT SELL MATCHES WHEN IT SELLS CANDLES OH GOD BURN THE WHOLE PLACE DOWN THE CONTAMINANTS ARE LEAKING...

Another true fact: Force me to go to into or near an Ikea and the above may actually happen. That place is no good for my brain. No, no, you can keep your delicious little Swedish meatballs and roasted potatoes and lingonberry jam, it's just not worth it.

All I wanted was... actually I forgot what I wanted. I think I just wanted a bag of cheap tea lights. But wait, look, a cute stuffed toy squirrel...
posted by loquacious at 11:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Is IKEA/mall/department store-induced depression a recognized mental illness? Because those places depress the shit out of me.

I don't have ADHD, but one time I got sort of lost in Toronto landmark Honest Ed's and my wife told me I looked like I was ready to start panicking.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:08 PM on January 17, 2013


But wait, look, a cute stuffed toy squirrel...

Oh, man, I totally dropped that. Sorry.
posted by maudlin at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2013


I'm on the other end of the emotional spectrum so my main issue is reminding myself not to threaten to stab any of my coworkers when they interrupt me for the 5th time in an hour with a question that they could easily find the answer to on their own if they weren't so fucking lazy and I wasn't the most competent person in my office.

Oh no, I've got that going on as well. I'm in civil service; I'm surrounded by lazy idiots.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2013


I'm no neurologist or anything, but I ended up at a boarding school and feel like I saw a pretty decent cross-section of the inner workings of high school aged people in those dorms and that sounds pretty much par for the course.

Maybe I was just surrounded with a bunch of people with ADHD?


You saw lots of kids hyperventilating because they couldn't adequately handle mundane tasks?
posted by grubi at 12:13 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Evstar: I failed grade 9 math 3 times despite going to every single class.

The 10th Regiment of Foot: When does that start to be abnormal for a 9th grader?

Are you being purposefully obtuse, or actively trying to annoy and frustrate people who are talking about an illness that makes their lives miserable? Please, tell us: what percentage of high-school students fail a 9th-grade math class three years in a row?

The 10th Regiment of Foot: I'm no neurologist or anything

That is patently clear.
posted by tzikeh at 12:14 PM on January 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm in civil service; I'm surrounded by lazy idiots.

HEY

I need you to fax that to me with this specific cover sheet we have to fax you first because it isn't on the internet and I will get back to you with a witty response within 3-4 weeks, assuming we don't pretend we lost the fax.
posted by griphus at 12:16 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


loquacious: "Fact: Ikea is deliberately, calculatingly psychologically manipulative for the specific purposes of increased impulse buys."

Well...yeah. Ikea is in the business of selling you as much product as possible. It's the same reason all the gum and candy is by the supermarket register.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:17 PM on January 17, 2013


Huh. I have severe ADHD and I love Ikea. So many things to play with and explore! And of course there's Swedish meatballs.

Totally. I love my condition and the way my brain works. I had the "I'm not taking the meds anymore" conversation with my parents and the psychiatrist I was seeing then. I'm fortunate in that they were wary, but supportive and I've never looked back.

To be sure, there are lots of challenges. Sometimes I pay attention to so many things that I forget names, appointments, locations of objects, what I was doing, and other important stuff. Still, the payoff of the whole world being a playground of learning is worth it to me, even if it sometimes drives other people crazy, or causes me some frustrations when mundane tasks just can't be blown off. My biggest challenge is trying to be me while still being sensitive to what the people I care about need from me.

There are consequences to this sort of behavior, and I accept and manage those.

For those who aren't having such a great time with their condition, I feel you. I hope you get to a good place with it.

I do dearly wish that we'd eventually evolve to a state where we can look at this without using a disease model or a disorder model or a "something's broken" model, because, man, I can do things with my brain that most people can't even dream about... For me, at least, the secret is to give up trying to interpret it at all and just let it go wherever it goes in the folds and wrinkles in my head. When I need it, it's there.

This. A MILLION TIMES THIS!

I'm happiest and actually most productive when I don't fight my instincts to play and be distracted by anything and everything. It seems counter intuitive, but it's absolutely true.
posted by snottydick at 12:18 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


ADHD is about having broken filters on your perception.

That description is rather kinda scary. The flood of post-its raining down on you? All my life. Mind going flit, flit, flit. I bounce ideas around in my head all the damn time, it's really hard to hold a conversation with someone unless I'm really invested with it because my mind is wandering off and solving other problems while I'm doing it. Speaking of which, I think I've just come up with a simpler regex I can use for my 'find the IP in block of text' thing.

But I can't be ADD because I'm basically pretty physically lazy. And I have this thing, where I focus on one thing exclusively, the rest of the world drops away, and I get distraction free - I can go in that state for hours on end. Hours, and hours playing a game. Shit, it's 3AM. Working on some code. Man, lunchtime already? I only just sat down. If I get interrupted though, I'm completely sunk, and getting my train of thought back is basically impossible.

I've actually been distracted out of taking my lunch to work, on several occasions, by my wife reminding me to take my lunch to work. What the? Who? Oh, yeah, will do. Where was I? um... briefcase! Got it. Now keys.. okay, see you honey!

Ohoh! Yup. been there, done that. Task managers and todo lists usually last about a day, 3 on the outside before they sink without a trace never to be checked again. I currently have tasks to collate from like 5 places. Usually the first task on a new list is to import the other ones. And now I think about it, there's two things I MUST NOT FORGET to do first thing this morning that I forgot. Crap. There was a thing on gizmodo about task managers, looked handy.

Of course, if I don't have something to focus on, It's like Christ, I've been here an hour but the clock only says 3 minutes. Thank god for the internet on my phone. Refresh. New tab. New tab. New tab. New tab. Refresh SMBC, metafilter, XKCD, FMylife, bbc news, refresh.

And I just realised I do, actually, fidget a lot. I'm always chewing on a pen, my fingers, I always have to fiddle with paperclips, bending, unbending. When walking, twirling my keyring, letting my feet go while my mind freewheels from feet to sky to birds to birdong, to did I download that tune thing from indie whatsit? But I still have so much other games to play, I'm never gonna finish Far Cry 3...

Also, there's a diminishing-returns thing going on when trying to concentrate on what you might call a non-interactive task. Entering a big block of numbers into a spreadsheet, for instance. Keeping focused on the task takes exponentially more effort each minute, for less and less result. If you've ever held a brick out at arm's length for an extended period, you'll know the feeling.

Oh god yes. But I can't possible be ADD, because of the focus thing.

The exception to this is a thing we get called hyperfocus. Occasionally, when something just clicks with us, we can get ridiculously deeply drawn into it, and NOTHING can distract us. We've locked our metaphorical office door, and we're not coming out for anything short of a tornado. I've sat reading a book on a deathly-quiet country train platform, and not noticed a honking great train pull in about a foot from my nose, until someone tapped me on the shoulder. The same can happen with certain video games - what the fuck, it was light, now it's 4am.

Well... fuck. That's a thing with ADD? Seriously? Bloody hell.

Just.... oh fuck. I think I may need to head to ask mefi. And no, I'm not kidding, I'm sitting here with a really sinking feeling. Co-morbid with Depression? Which I've been on medication for for two years? Oh. just. Just.

Fuck.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:18 PM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Are you being purposefully obtuse, or actively trying to annoy and frustrate people who are talking about an illness that makes their lives miserable?

How about neither? I didn't hear anything in that description that really sounded outside what was typical behavior. Perhaps we were/are all in need of treatment, or maybe there's more to this diagnosis than what is being described. I don't know. Maybe if I got answers to questions I might understand more. Maybe I'd figure out that I do need treatment for this myself if there is apparently an alternative.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2013


And I'm just like, whatever, get back to me when you've had to wake up at 4am in order to make a 10am meeting 10 blocks from your house.

That ISN'T normal? Fuck.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "Interestingly, reading his description of his pre-medicated state was enough to convince me, "ah, THAT'S what it's like, what I experience isn't anywhere near that bad" and forever silence the occasional "wait, maybe I should be tested for this" question I've had."

I had precisely the opposite response. Not that I'll do anything about it this time, either. I probably never will, at least if I can manage to keep muddling through. I don't see the sense in going to a psychiatrist and getting a prescription for meds I can't afford anyway. I get enough validation from articles like this one.
posted by wierdo at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2013


ADD/ADHD still allows for laser-like focus in narrow areas of interest.
posted by elizardbits at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


oh i see that has been addressed LET'S GO RIDE BIKES sigh
posted by elizardbits at 12:23 PM on January 17, 2013 [10 favorites]


There's an Ikea ten minutes from me and I have been there more times than I care to contemplate. I can get in and out. I am numb to the IKEA brain-sucker that takes over the first time you see Snalllblaek and try to make it sound like - something. I walk against the crowds, I use the shortcuts, I don't go to the cafe. I've been enough times that I am totally inured to their bullshit, just as, over the years I have become inured to the manipulative environment of 'The Shopping Mall.'

I'm sure there are studies out there but when you go into a 'Shopping Mall' you are going into the territory of the enemy. You are going into a controlled environment the sole intention of which is to take your money and leave you with shit you either don't need or won't like by the time you get home.

You have have to go with an armored heart, you have to go prepared to be disappointed, you have to go prepared to realize that everything the music and lighting and smiles of the salespeople the smells even, promise, is a manipulative lie. You have to go in with the understanding that IKEA/ The Shopping Mall is a hostile environment, one that does not have your best interest in mind.

And then go in and take the reasonably priced sheets. Pick up some lachs and maybe a bag of meatballs. Shelves, if you need them, if they're on the list, and get out.

My own game at IKEA is to get in and out in less than half an hour. This is actually hard because the distances you have to cover are not insignificant. But frankly I don't think I've ever left IKEA feeling 'Good.' It's something you have to get through to get some shelves or whatever. fucking IKEA, you don't have to have any malady to be set off by it - that place is fucked up.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:23 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Ikea yo.

But then again I'm a reincarnation of the Buddha.
posted by grobstein at 12:25 PM on January 17, 2013


"I'm forgetful and distractable sometimes too!" is to ADHD as "I'm sad sometimes too!" is to depression. Inattentiveness (for example) and sadness are normal parts of the human experience, but it becomes ADHD or depression when it has a seriously negative impact on your life.

This is exactly what I’m saying. I wonder if some people aren’t deciding, or being told, that it’s having a more serious impact on their lives than they would have otherwise come to believe on their own. As in "dude that’s not right, you have a condition". Everyone has a different quality of vision, a degree of compulsiveness, etc. I would think it would be a little insulting for someone with a serious problem to hear the "I forget things too, I’m just like you" comments, yet these discussions always have people saying that it’s under reported, and "maybe you have it too". I don’t think I hear people saying "You dwell on things? You have OCD!" or "You need glasses to read? You’re visually impared!" in the same way. Why all the inclusiveness?

If ADHD is a continuum should everyone get treated with drugs the way everyone gets glasses or contacts, no matter how slight their vision problems (assuming they do)? I would be inclined to think not, but maybe I’m wrong. Are the drugs that harmless? Maybe the inclusiveness is correct and healthy. I tend to think that drugs should be a last resort for nearly everything, and that major changes can be made with lifestyle and behavioral changes. But maybe I’m just lucky.

I do dearly wish that we'd eventually evolve to a state where we can look at this without using a disease model or a disorder model or a "something's broken" model

I think this is where I am coming from. It often sounds to me like "you need to take this pill to fix you, other people are doing it better" rather than trying to control an out of control condition.

so I'm wondering then whence the apparent stability of your opinion about a phenomenon as complicated and wide-ranging as how ADHD is diagnosed.

Well, I was mostly thinking of the self diagnosing that goes on, but I’m sure there is plenty of actual questionable diagnosing to sell drugs. But as I said, maybe there’s nothing wrong with that.

Again, I’m not trying to imply that no one has a serious problem with ADHD, or that it’s made up, or that it’s even rare. I’m not really going to respond to the people who suggested I said that, or make a joke about not reading carefully. I’m not trying to dismiss your suffering. I’m not even talking at all about the people with undeniable, serious problems. I honestly don’t have any agenda here, just curiosity.
posted by bongo_x at 12:32 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: I didn't hear anything in that description that really sounded outside what was typical behavior.

This:

to have such difficulty focusing on simple mundane work that it leads to hyperventilating panic attacks, self-harm, and the inevitable shit you catch for punching a hole through the dry-wall in your bedroom

doesn't seem to be outside typical behavior?

According to you, "typical" high-school students all have hyperventilating panic attacks and hurt themselves because they can't focus for the ten minutes it takes a neurotypical person to solve a few homework problems.

I have a hard time believing that to be true. In fact, I know it isn't. I spend parts of my week as a tutor to high-school students. Most are neurotypical kids whose parents want them to have extra help, or who need some guidance, or a bit more/different instruction than they get in class. I have one pupil who has ADHD--and you don't know what you're talking about.
posted by tzikeh at 12:34 PM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


elizardbits: "oh i see that has been addressed LET'S GO RIDE BIKES sigh"

That is one of the very few activities that can induce my mind to shut down. I think that might actually be because it is starving for oxygen and so has no spare energy whatsoever with which to do anything at all, but at least it's an option.
posted by wierdo at 12:38 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Intuitively I would guess that that inclusiveness is a result of the fact that many of the areas of life that ADHD can affect are individually-oriented or conducted, like paying bills or studying or what have you. So it's not so much "YOU TOO might have ADHD" so much as "it's unlikely that you have the experience to accurately gauge whether this behavior or sensation is normal, so we encourage your talking to someone who does."

As far as it goes, I think the "is ADHD well-diagnosed?" question usually assumes that, if it's not, then it's the case that correct diagnoses are basically a proper subset of diagnoses total and so the problem is that a lot of people who don't have it are getting diagnosed wrongly. I think it's probably more reasonable to assume that it's more like a Venn diagram and so there are a sizable number of people who are getting handed drugs by lazy psychiatrists and a sizable number of people who haven't been diagnosed but probably should be. And then of course you have the probably larger set of people who are correctly diagnosed sitting in the overlap in the middle.
posted by invitapriore at 12:46 PM on January 17, 2013


According to you, "typical" high-school students all have hyperventilating panic attacks and hurt themselves because they can't focus for the ten minutes it takes a neurotypical person to solve a few homework problems.

Not exactly, according to my observations in my school, what was typical behavior included flunking classes, panic attacks, cutting and other self-harming behavior, and destruction of property. Additionally, you could throw in suicidal thoughts, violence against others, crying fits, depression, self-medication, and general poor impulse control. You may think me obtuse, but to me those things seem pretty tied with being a normal teenager, those were not outlier behaviors.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:47 PM on January 17, 2013


I just don't think those things, taken as a whole, are "normal teenager" behavior. There are a whole host of reasons why the kids at your school were doing those things. Was this boarding school a "last resort" kind of place? Were they bored rich kids of bored rich parents? Were they totally and utterly homesick?

The teenagers I knew and know, the ones with supportive families and good teachers and friends, the ones who have healthy outlets like sports and theater and art, they don't do those things. They really don't. The ones who do? Need help.
posted by cooker girl at 12:51 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not exactly, according to my observations in my school, what was typical behavior included flunking classes, panic attacks, cutting and other self-harming behavior, and destruction of property. Additionally, you could throw in suicidal thoughts, violence against others, crying fits, depression, self-medication, and general poor impulse control. You may think me obtuse, but to me those things seem pretty tied with being a normal teenager, those were not outlier behaviors.

I think those are common high school behaviors in part because adolescence is when a lot of mental illnesses first start manifesting, so you've got a population that is first experiencing mental illness and therefore less likely to be undergoing treatment.

I'd also add that some of the stuff on your list (poor impulse control, destruction of property) probably can be normal teenage behaviors unrelated to other mental illness, but others (cutting, suicidal thoughts) absolutely aren't. I assume you wouldn't, if you found out a high schooler was cutting themselves, say "that's just normal high school behavior" and leave it at that.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:55 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


> According to you, "typical" .... all have ....

Wait, the rule about quotation?
posted by hank at 1:01 PM on January 17, 2013


Fact: Ikea is deliberately, calculatingly psychologically manipulative for the specific purposes of increased impulse buys.

I know, isn't it awesome?
I mean, maybe it's just me, but I love going to places like this (Ikea, Disneyworld, etc) and observing all the tricks and cues they use.

I've heard rumors of people who can visit an Ikea and actually buy the one thing they actually want/need, but I don't believe them

The nearest Ikea is some distance from me. When I am out that way, I have been known to just go and wander for a bit, just for the experience, without buying a thing.
posted by madajb at 1:03 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hello.

Given my inability to focus on work, complete tasks, or concentrate on anything that wasn't Super Nintendo, I was regarded as 'lazy' and treated like a jerk deliberately wasting everyone's time, because clearly I couldn't be "stupid" because I aced a bunch of GT tests when I was 6. It's so embarrassing that I still have fear responses in terms of pleasure reading because my inability to finish a book brings me some measure of shame. I spent many years jealous of other people who could actually start a class and come out the other end having actually learned something that they could keep with them, instead of spending the semester trying to squeeze enough blood from a stone to get above a D, let alone fail entirely.

The only thing that gave me any hope that I wasn't a complete idiot was one summer night in 2005, some confluence of hyperfocus and lifelong passion for rock t-shirts sent me down a path to becoming an accomplished screen-printer. for the first time in years, I taught myself a skill.

in 2007, the looming threat of going back to school after spending 6 years getting my 2 year degree sent me into massive panic attacks, before I sought help for what I thought was ADD. It turns out I have major anxiety issues that manifest themselves as ADD symptoms; fear responses at every turn that manifested themselves as boredom or disinterest, preferring a series of superficial distractions to an actual life.

After a few unsuccessful tries with different pills, I found myself on Cymbalta. After the week or so it took for my system to adjust, it was about as close to escaping Plato's cave as I believe I'll ever know.

I'm not going to get angry or upset at anyone here, I will only say that if you think that your experience and mine are the same because sometimes you get bored or lose track of time, I hope you one day comprehend the privilege you enjoy that lets you make such an inaccurate comparison.

Thanks.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:07 PM on January 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


I have to break away from this discussion, but I did want to say that I really was not attempting to diminish anyone's struggles or downplay this disorder. I am genuinely curious about where the diagnosis line is drawn. Thank you for your reasoned responses and I'm sorry if I came off as intentionally dismissive, provocative, or obtuse.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm happiest and actually most productive when I don't fight my instincts to play and be distracted by anything and everything. It seems counter intuitive, but it's absolutely true.
posted by snottydick at 14:18 on January 17 [+] [!]


That's not the issue. Sure, just riding the current is fun and fine and happy, and crazy amounts of things get accomplished, but what about all that shit that needs to... no.. not needs; the stuff that needs to get done somehow manages to get done -- no, the stuff that other people fucking want you to do. The boring shit. You know, like work.

ADHD would be so much better if it was all hyperfocus all the time like a goddamn weapon you could just aim at shit. It isn't.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 1:10 PM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot, the thing that really helps is to keep in mind that it's not just the behavior or a tendency. It's that "the symptoms must also create a real handicap in at least two of the following areas of the [patient's] life..." Flaking out at school and only school isn't ADHD. Flaking out or spacing out or finding it difficult to do mundane things (BTW, these things include laundry and cooking food) regardless of context... that's ADHD.

For me, it wasn't "Boy, *I* do those things". It was realizing that this behavior adversely affected every job I've ever had, every relationship (with parents, siblings, co-workers, other students, friends, romantic interests...) I've ever had, school, and just regular living. What makes it a condition and not just a set of habits is the enormous impact it has and the complete inability to control these behaviors.

I hope this helps.
posted by grubi at 1:15 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


ADHD would be so much better if it was all hyperfocus all the time like a goddamn weapon you could just aim at shit. It isn't.

Also if ADHD-brain wasn't that idiot who looks down the barrel of his weapon to find out why it isn't working and shoots himself in the head.

OKAY I HAVE THE ABILITY TO HYPERFOCUS SO LET'S GET THESE JOB APPLICATIONS DONE AND RESUMES SENT OUT AND HEY WHY IS IT 2 AM AND WHO OPENED ALL THESE WIKIPEDIA TABS
posted by griphus at 1:19 PM on January 17, 2013 [16 favorites]


WHY AM I READING ABOUT THE SILK ROAD WHEN I STARTED ON FOOT FUNGUS
posted by elizardbits at 1:20 PM on January 17, 2013 [24 favorites]


Oh, elizardbits: you GET me.
posted by grubi at 1:21 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


> This is exactly what I’m saying. I wonder if some people aren’t deciding, or being told, that it’s having a more serious impact on their lives than they would have otherwise come to believe on their own. As in "dude that’s not right, you have a condition".

It's entirely possible that some people come to a diagnosis this way. But that isn't my experience, and it isn't the experience of a great many people I've talked to about ADD. It's far more likely that people downplay the impact it's having on their lives until they suddenly can't deny it anymore. Ask my parents about the years of hair-pulling, arguing with teachers, constant nagging about homework… and how fruitless it all was in the face of this thing that kept me from getting things done.

In the winter of ninth grade, I failed three subjects. One of them was the bullshit, easy-A religion class that was taught by an elderly pushover of a teacher. I was failing that class because early on in the semester I lost the piece of paper that said when everything was due. And every night, when I eventually did the inventory of homework I had to do that night, I thought to myself, "shit, gotta get that homework schedule from the teacher tomorrow," and yet every day I'd somehow forget.

In my position, any kid that could have done the work would have done the work, because it would've been better than the alternative where your dad yells at you and your mom is frustrated to the point of wordlessness. I got punished routinely for getting bad grades, lying about the bad grades, saying I would mow the lawn and then not mowing the lawn, trying to clean my room and then not cleaning my room… and it didn't matter. The point of the punishment was to correct the bad behavior, but ADD was preventing that feedback loop from closing.

The comparisons to depression (and to other mental illnesses) are apt. Lots of people don't seek a diagnosis for mental illness until they've exhausted all other alternatives. In my case, it took an academic crisis before my parents finally took me to a child psychologist. My dad was wary about putting me on pills, but he acquiesced because he was at his wit's end. It took me failing a cake-walk religion class to convince him that something was Actually Wrong, that no amount of willpower and persistence (on his part or mine) was going to fix this.

As to whether it's overdiagnosed or underdiagnosed: a bit of both, in my unscientific opinion. For some people, it's a false diagnosis along the way to the eventual correct diagnosis of depression or bipolar or OCD or something else. Yet there are others who'll never get the diagnosis they should, either because they're somehow lucky enough to avoid the major crises that would force their hand, or because they have those crises but blame them on other things.
posted by savetheclocktower at 1:26 PM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, and by the way: there are always hit-and-run diagnoses, always people in threads about ADD who go "hmm, these symptoms sound familiar; maybe I have it, too."

If people have those thoughts and then don't follow up on them, it's often because they're getting by just fine. Lots of people find ways to cope with mild ADD that involve elaborate, highly-personal organization schemes, or careers that free them from the 9-5 grind, or something like that.

If people have those thoughts and do follow up, it's probably because it's far past time for them to finally confront this thing that's so disruptive to their daily lives. People don't visit psychiatrists on a lark. People don't casually put themselves in a situation where they have to take a pill every day for the rest of their lives.
posted by savetheclocktower at 1:32 PM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Recent studies have suggested that prostrate cancer has been over diagnosed and that patients are undergoing therapies that have little benefit. Yet no one shows up in cancer threads to question someone's chemo.
posted by humanfont at 1:39 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even in the fog I'm in, there are several times a day when everything lines up like the clockwork gears in that Tomb Raider movie where I find the perfect solution by putting together many seemingly unrelated pieces of data.

Whether one should be called normal, sick or gifted depends on how debilitating your symptoms are and, ultimately, how unhappy they make you. Everyone forgets stuff sometimes. Not everyone spends most of their time looking for things, playing catch-up for forgetting things and feeling miserable because everything is so fucked up all the time.
posted by double block and bleed at 1:42 PM on January 17, 2013


I don't have ADHD, but one time I got sort of lost in Toronto landmark Honest Ed's and my wife told me I looked like I was ready to start panicking.

That is actually a totally normal response to Honest Ed's. So much so that it was even an element of one of the boss battles in the comic version of Scott Pilgrim.

I'm only immune because I grew up in the Annex.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:46 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


The interesting and appealing thing about what sonascope and savetheclocktower said is that these views allow for the possibility of borderline cases. We have to acknowledge that even things like psychosis and bipolar disorder are manifestations of normal behaviors and processes that become abnormal and maladaptive because of their intensity, frequency, or duration.

That's the tricky thing with psychiatric health and wellness. There's pressure, for a lot of reasons, to create clear, bright-line distinctions; but in practice, almost no one looks like the stereotypical presentation of the condition, at least not all the time; and many more-or-less OK people will display characteristics of one or more 'conditions' or 'disorders' in their lifetime. Sometimes it only becomes clear in retrospect, after many years of suffering; and sometimes, people will have symptoms that really do look like ADHD or major depression, but you know, it can be an episodic thing. And I think some people are afraid to get help because they think that they are going to get a diagnosis that means they are defined by a disease or condition for the rest of their years.

I think we have to look at things differently. We have to be willing to say, 'This person may not present as classical ADHD, but my clinical judgment suggests that a medication trial, or CBT, or both, may help her get through tasks better.' And we should be willing to pay for that. Right now, it can be difficult to get a prescription or therapy covered if you don't fit the description, even if your clinician thinks there is a problem that can be helped by those therapies. This creates a lot of pressure to get a clear diagnosis of some disorder, and these diagnostic boxes are pretty narrow unfortunately. Then the label can help perpetuate a course of treatment that may be somewhat beneficial, but may be missing the real essence of what's going on with the patient.

And of course this doesn't always happen, but so many people present with a hodgepodge of symptoms and it can be tough to tease it all out. ADHD can cause symptoms of depression, and vice versa; and it can be really tough to say what's the best course to take. I guess what I'm saying is that we really need a mental health approach that does more than pay lipservice to the idea of treating patients, rather than treating disease; because right now our scheme in the US is set up around distinct reimbursable conditions with distinct codes that have to be invoked and in many cases supported by testing, and this approach is failing a lot of people.
posted by Mister_A at 1:50 PM on January 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh lord. My sister and I went to visit the IKEA by the Maul of America when it first opened. Now, my sister has a touch of agoraphobia and is prone to panic attacks; and I would rather be outside than inside and I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by lots of lights/people/etc. You can probably guess how we reacted to it.

My sister swaddled herself tighter and tighter into her winter coat, fell into a silent panic, and clung to my arm. I kept trying and failing to find any hint of an exterior wall: "There are no windows in this place! Where are we? Where are we in the building? How do we get out? How much more of this place is there? Where are we? We're never going to get out! Bwaaahhh!!" We huddled together as we followed the mobs of people through what seemed like a thousand adult-sized dioramas of Ideal Scandinavian Living Design. The place was packed and everyone was moving. It was a maze and it seemed like the walls kept changing. We kept running into things, into people, into each other. We clung together for dear life. It was sheer luck that my sister didn't have a full-on panic attack, and that I held it together enough for the both of us. It was awful.

When we got out we practically kissed the ground and vowed never to go back. We didn't even find the meatballs, which was why we went in the first place.

Ikea will test you.
posted by Elly Vortex at 1:58 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the things I've always done (and this may be ADHD or it may not be; hopefully someone can clarify) is I can have conscious thoughts while speaking to someone. I don't mean coherent conscious thoughts about the subject at hand; I mean I can automatically be engaging in a normal conversation about Topic A, and at the same time, I am plotting out something else in my head, maybe planning my day, or thinking about chores and errands. And I don't lose my place in either stream of thought -- I never come across in conversation as not paying attention, and I don't fail to think my thought through: I'm somehow able to do both perfectly fine. This is that "parallel thinking" I described above.
posted by grubi at 2:15 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I swear to God, mefi conversations about ADHD saved my marriage, or at least saved us a lot of ongoing strife.

We always joked that Bzou had ADHD. He forgot things! He'd accidentally stay up til 2am playing games when he was actually waiting for the laundry to finish at 10. Which is still in the machine. He could walk into the kitchen to make dinner, clean it from top to bottom and walk out starving in order to check his email. He never 'just' plays a game, by itself. It's a game and alt-tab while loading, or dead, and email and news and reddit.

I never really got it though. I have anxiety, and depression, and there's a lot of overlap. I just thought it was normal, or him, or laziness. Then six months ago we went to a kindy information night that turned into something like an educational timeshare; you will love us! We are awesome! Let us show you the ways! It stretched out from the expected 30 minutes to 2 hours. We were slightly late so we were jammed up the front in tiny little child chairs right in front of the staff. We were the only ones with a child, who is preternaturally well behaved, so no way to doodle, or fidget, and no excuse to leave because our child is sitting nicely on the floor.

I honestly thought he was going to throw a fit, or something. I watched his shoulders tighten and him just crawl in on himself. I just let it wash over me while I listened for the stuff we actually wanted to know (teachers, times, lunches etc.). He just could barely keep it together. When we were finally released and had to go hunting people to change days and all that jazz, it was like he was hopped up on something. He could barely speak a full sentence before careering off on something. He was inexcusably rude (not to them, but loud enough while we were leaving that they probably heard) about the timeshare style presentation ("They already have our money, stop fucking telling us to come here, we're here already!").

I realised that I had never ever seen him sit down for two hours on one thing, apart from the occasional movie (and even then there's snacks, or email breaks at home, or something). He had structured his entire life, work and home, so he never had these sustained 'marathons' of engagement. At work he is in an environment that constantly reacts to things, constantly has a backlog of work to flit around in. Even with games he never stays in the one game for that long. He is smart, but shit at school. He is generous, but forgets to do what he says he will do.

It was causing more and more problems for us. I was getting more irate at the piles of 'never done' and him dropping the ball when I really needed him to back me up (my anxiety had peaked and I'd quit my job with his blessing, but he still wasn't looking for work 'properly' while I tried to get through a day without a panic attack thinking about how useless I was to be having a panic attack) (he got a job the way he always has, knowing someone who knows someone who thinks his work is great and hires him on the spot).

I was irate and he was trying so hard, but it just wasn't working. Until that night when I finally worked out that I couldn't joke about his ADD anymore. I couldn't wait for him to go get a diagnosis. I couldn't keep going the way we were. So I shifted and adjusted. He has ADHD; it means we have calendars and I set reminders on mine that are linked to his phone. It means we have meal schedules, it means we have routines, it means I have given up and he can fiddle with shit at the table because Christ knows our daughter is probably the same and I'd rather they did that then tamp it down and explode into an energy ball of annoyance afterwards because of some idea about politeness. I've learnt that he needs to be looking at me to react, but he still listens to me if he's doing something, unless it's one of those laser focus moments and I may as well not exist. That I need to have pens and paper so he can at least doodle if we're stuck in a meeting. That we talk about things in short bursts, not long conversations. That I can be a better person than the people who act like it's about willpower, or attention span, or him just not being enough (the same things people say about my anxiety disorder, my depression). That I can give him the same respect that he gives me, adjusting for our illnesses. In sickness and in health.

We're slowly working on it, and it's getting better, so thanks for all the help people.
posted by geek anachronism at 2:24 PM on January 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


what about all that shit that needs to... no.. not needs; the stuff that needs to get done somehow manages to get done -- no, the stuff that other people fucking want you to do. The boring shit. You know, like work.

Yeah. Fuck those things. Sometimes they get done and sometimes they don't. It's challenging. I said there are consequences and that I accept & manage them. Hell, sometimes I just weasel out of them.

I'm currently fortunate to have a job that does allow me to manage my own time, if you could call it that. I'm happier here than anywhere else. I've always been a disorganized, but effective mess at all my jobs, and I've been fortunate enough to have had slightly chaotic workplaces that are suited to my strengths & weaknesses.

Personal relationships are hard, I'll grant you that, and they take work. I'm not always the best friend to people, but I try to cover it up by compensating when I can. The people who get me stick around the ones who don't can fuck right off anyway. I printed out this thread and the Reddit thread and highlighted a lot of random quotes from y'all because I want to make sure that my wife understands me better and so that we can have a conversation about how I can be who I am and still be there for her, and vice versa.

ADHD would be so much better if it was all hyperfocus all the time like a goddamn weapon you could just aim at shit. It isn't..

True, but the more I stop trying to focus when my brain does not wish to, the lower my stress levels are and the happier I am. I refuse to be a victim to my panic/anxiety feelings. That doesn't mean I don't have them, but I've got a toolbox and it's a life's work to strike that balance. I believe I'm managing my condition and harnessing it in a way that's useful to me, and only doing minimal harm to me and mine.

Obviously, people are at different places on the spectrum of ADD/ADHD, and other aspects of our personalities have a bearing on how we manage it. People with ADD/ADHD spectrum issues have different temperaments, different cultural values, different levels of self-confidence, different lifestyle choices, different environments, and may have additional mental health issues like depression that impact how we manage our day to day. Worse yet, the drugs don't work the same way for everyone.

I'm just sharing my perspective because I'm really enjoying reading what you all have to say from your perspectives. I've been hitting a lot of walls lately, and some of what I'm reading is helping me see where those walls are so that I can do a better job of avoiding them.

I'm really going to try to do a better job of remembering to make to-do lists, for example.
posted by snottydick at 2:28 PM on January 17, 2013


The article in the post reminded me of when I used to hang out on an ADHD forum. I think my ADHD is about a five or six on a level of ten. But reading the posts of some nine and tens was downright frightening. I can hold a job (though I often suck if the job is tedious), maintain a conversation (just don't bore me), and some days hyper-focus will snap in line when I'm writing. But there are some people that are far more fucked up than me, that have never developed coping mechanisms, that are in Europe and have a much harder time getting meds than in the US and Canada. I still feel their pain.

I quit meds because of side effects. I was definitely a better employee when I was medicated but when the meds started messing with my blood pressure and heart rate I was done with it. My wife said she's rather live with a fuckup than see me put in a grave.

Now I just ingest four cans of diet soda in a day, cut it off at 6:00 pm so I can get to sleep, work at home and generally get stuff done in a sort of ragged order. And every other day, when I'm writing, the hyperfocus comes and its a beautiful thing.

We used to live ten minutes from the Mall of America IKEA. Damn, it's not that hard folks, even for someone like me. We learned the layout and when we went in, went to the part of the store that held what we wanted. You gotta use the shortcuts, use the employee doors, don't let the tricks get to you. It ain't rocket science.
posted by Ber at 2:29 PM on January 17, 2013


OK. That does it. I am going to experience the Ikea experience before I die. I hope.
posted by notreally at 2:37 PM on January 17, 2013


Why on earth would a rational person go to Ikea more than once? It is an awful place filled with awful stuff manufactured in awful third world conditions. Just don't.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:28 PM on January 17, 2013


but meatballs!
posted by desjardins at 3:41 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


This reminds me why I don't like IKEA. The main reason I don't like IKEA is that their furniture falls apart after a few years. (This is NOT meant as a thread derail about how crappy IKEA furniture is.) I must be the only person in the developed world who attempted to mend an IKEA dresser on which the prefab bolts were coming loose, by drilling holes and sinking screws. This was one of the solid pine dressers, only the drawer bottoms were particle board and after awhile bent out of shape.

The other reason I don't like IKEA is the IKEA design aesthetic. It's meant to be comprehensible to dozens of cultures, but seems fundamentally alien, as if designed in an alternate universe from this one (one where the dominant language is Swedish) with the intent of the Pioneer plaque.
posted by bad grammar at 4:17 PM on January 17, 2013


can you really derail a thread about ADHD?

I keed, I keed
posted by desjardins at 4:28 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]



(Basically my point is that 10 mg of methylphenidate is not for "severe ADHD." It is for "borderline-not-having-ADHD." But I got my psychiatry M.D. from the Wikipedia School of Medicine, so who knows.)



He might be under-medicated, or he might not be taking time release medication, and thus, the 10mg might be a maintenance dose. It's not uncommon - I take a larger amount when I first wake up, and then smaller amounts later in the day.

Adderall does come in 5mg increments. I started with those, and never saw them again until the Great Adderall Shortage when I went to five pharamacies and the one that finally was able to fill my scrip only had 5s.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:04 PM on January 17, 2013


The 10th Regiment of Foot: I am genuinely curious about where the diagnosis line is drawn.

This will apparently change in the DSM V, but the standard for the DSM has been causes significant impairment, which is an inherently and deliberately subjective line (I would argue the push to change this measure in the DSM V is an attempt to standardize human experience out of the false belief that will somehow make psychiatry better, but I'm open to other theories on the change). Most diagnosis have minimum timelines; major depression requires six months of symptoms, for example, if I'm remembering my DSM correctly; in order to be diagnosed with a personality disorder, you need to be over 18, etc... These are largely arbitrary and based upon establishing a pattern rather than some sort of rigerously scientifically investigated thing.

In my experience, mental illness comes from a combination of three distinct things: 1) inherent differences in brain function, strengths, and weaknesses; 2) early developmental differences which have an effect on the brain (like the recent correlational studies on infant stress and brain development); 3) the current environment and it's features.

For example, a person could have a neurotypical brain, could have had a standard and healthy infancy and childhood, but began to be molested when they were eight and so are now exhibiting symptoms of depression and anger (expressing itself as impatience, lack of focus, etc...) which have been diagnosed as ADHD. A person could have a quick-focus-changing mind (a la some theories on ADHD), have a normal and healthy childhood, and be expected to memorize long reams of meaningless information and so is acting out in class in an aggressive way and have also been diagnosed as ADHD.

The treatment for these two people would have to be different; in the former case, the treatment should include finding and neutralizing the molestor, PTSD-style treatment of the trauma, flashbacks, etc..., and then helping the person regain their ability to trust others in a way which makes them comfortable. Then the symptoms should east. The treatment in the latter case should include altering their environment so more novelty is introduced, some plans in place for them to communicate their needs and multitask if it helps, to make the information has meaning of some sort, even if it isn't inherent, and perhaps a medication intervention to help with the brain variations (I have serious reservations about medicating children and teenagers due to how much we don't know about brain development, so tend to be biased toward situational changes).

When I was a child, I had a list of over twenty steps needed to be done in order to turn in homework successfully. One of those steps (after take to school, take to class) was turn in the homework, because I literally had the homework in class and forgot to turn it in one day. It was eye opening to me when my Human Development professor said that if your list of steps is over five or so, you may be looking at ADD; it forced me to rethink how I approach my own coping with the world, and I've been much more successful when I've started exploiting my strengths (focus on the hear and now, high amounts of problem solving under pressure, relentless need for novelty of ideas, etc...) and accepted and tries to mitigate my weaknesses (we have to write notes for EVERYTHING WE DO? OMG, Medicaid you SUCK). I'm lucky I have a very tolerant and wonderful boss, is all I'm saying (and that I'm really good with people who have florid psychosis; they love that about me). I've never sought out medication, but I have considered it and would be more strongly considering it if my personal interventions weren't working decently.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:06 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, for reasons which I firmly believe are entirely unrelated to my ADD, fuck going to IKEA. Unless there is a monkey in a stylish coat there or a whole bunch of cats, but no there will not be. That only happens on the internet.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:08 PM on January 17, 2013


can you really derail a thread about ADHD?

Ooohhh, don't tempt me.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:11 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Damn you all, now I want meatballs.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:13 PM on January 17, 2013


I want to write a D&D module set in an Ikea store.
posted by The Whelk at 5:20 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just got on adderal and let me tell you all that it is magical stuff I wish I'd been taking years ago.

One of the important ways my ADHD manifested was that I was wholly incapable of cleaning the house. Now, you will say that everyone has that issue, except my house quite literally looked like an episode of Hoarders. I could see it needed done, but my brain would smoothly transition me to reading about funerary customs in Sumerian myth until 3am and I would just... not clean. Other things: I would get locked into a loop doing six or so leisure activities at once but not be able to focus on any of them well enough to enjoy them. I could lose my keys within seconds of setting them down, and lose them so thoroughly it would be an hour of searching to find them. I would deliberately wait to write thirty page papers until the last minute because the stress helped me focus. I would sit down to work and be completely incapable of forcing myself to do anything, on a regular basis.

The adderal gives me what I think of as a little mom-voice that REMINDS me when I need to do something. So my house, while not ready for a magazine photoshoot, is as clean as a normal single person's house. I pay my bills on time. I don't lose things. I think is the real root of the improvement is that consciousness of the passage of time. I can still focus like a laser on things. It's just that it happens when I choose, so I don't find myself robotically researching the genealogy of the pretender to the throne of Portugal at two in the morning, all the while the thought 'I need to go to bed' running on a loop in my head with no willpower to action it.

For all that, I have an extremely mild case, at least judging from the battery of questions in the three-hour long psychological evaluation i had to take in order to be diagnosed. I haven't gotten arrested, or lost my license due to speeding tickets, or got into trouble with drugs or reckless behavior. If the medication has made such a drastic improvement in my life I can't imagine how someone with those symptoms must feel when they get treated.
posted by winna at 5:27 PM on January 17, 2013 [9 favorites]


For some reason, I feel compelled to point out that this cartoon right here that makes the social networking rounds on an obnoxiously regular basis is complete and utter bullshit.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:41 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Metafilter helped me get diagnosed, too. I read the other ADHD thread we had here a while back and this lightbulb went off and I got tested.

The 10 mg of Ritalin seems like nothing at all to me. I take 20mg of Adderall, and my shrink wants me to take 40 because I really seem to need to, but I got worried about side effects after seeing this scary website full of images of people on meth, and the last thing I want is to turn into some skullfaced old before her time toothless chick. So for a while I had a few extra Adderall that I could cut in half and take to make 30 mg a day and I still fought that, but I think that's right because on 20 things are falling through the cracks more than they should. I wake up late and get up late and can't fall asleep right and procrastinate too much and all the rest. (Did anyone else have, in addition to this thread, tabs for Reddit/the Pomodoro technique/Mefi ADHD thread/various members' profiles/the Ikea website, etc.? I think I only had about 6 of them going at once this time.)

AND that's with me also drinking caffeine all day, too! So, yeah. Guess I need to move my appointment up and go ahead and say okay to the 30 mg.

Anyway, I was really glad to hear someone else saying that 10mg is not much at all, too.
posted by misha at 5:44 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


What would be awesome is if Ikea did rooms to look like an unmedicated ADHD person's house. There could be mountains of laundry sitting on top of the Pax wardrobe system instead of inside it and a kitchen island of lost car keys instead of pots and pans.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:47 PM on January 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is exactly what I’m saying. I wonder if some people aren’t deciding, or being told, that it’s having a more serious impact on their lives than they would have otherwise come to believe on their own. As in "dude that’s not right, you have a condition". *

Well in my case there were things I had to be told about because I was too distracted to notice they were going on. For instance I frequently would just wander off mid-conversation. mid sentence even, and I had absolutely no idea I was dong this.

On top of this there was a whole bunch of stuff I 'd either gotten used to not being able to do or ascribed to personal failure, and a whole lot more that might be described as a coping strategy but was actually very dysfunctional. It's o.k. that in my previous job nobody cared that I never, ever turned up on time as long as I got the work done (they cared more that if things went wrong at 4am on Saturday and took 24 hours to fix, I would go at at 4am and work non stop till they were). It was not ok that this was the only way I could hold down a job, no matter how much I convinced myself I didn't want to work places that did care about that kind of thing, anyway.

A lot of the therapy work I did after diagnosis was untangling all this and there was a lot of therapist gently telling me that these were things I shouldn't have to put up with, or pointing out just how much things were effecting me when I had become inured to them and just how I had limited my choices. Some of this was by choice but only in the sense that I choose something that was at least workable, no matter how eccentric, rather that something that wasn't (and this effected major life choices: work, relationships etc).



If ADHD is a continuum should everyone get treated with drugs the way everyone gets glasses or contacts, no matter how slight their vision problems (assuming they do)?

Well no. There are lots of people whose vision would be improved by wearing glasses but chose not to (though that's another rant).

I would be inclined to think not, but maybe I’m wrong. Are the drugs that harmless?

They are mostly addictive drugs that are frequently abused (and illegal unless prescribed). They do have ever effect everyone in the same ways regardless of whether they have ADHD or not: its more that people with ADHD start from a different place and end up somewhere that is more like other people without drugs.

I don't get prescribed amphetamine class drugs, because (I think) I have a history of drug taking on my medical record ( I won't lie to a doc about it) which is ironic because for all the drugs I did do I almost never touched amphetamines because why waste good money and risk criminality to do the washing up

Maybe the inclusiveness is correct and healthy. I tend to think that drugs should be a last resort for nearly everything, and that major changes can be made with lifestyle and behavioral changes. But maybe I’m just lucky.

I think you are. Its not like I didn't try a lot of things before diagnosis but everyone of them hit a brick wall, no matter how well thought out (to the point i could instruct other people on how to do things, and they could but I still couldn't). Until I started taking medication that is, when I could do things to improve my life and they would actually work. I don't think I'm the only person to have had this experience.
posted by tallus at 6:06 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like Ikea, and I've never made any impulse purchases there (mmm...maybe tealights, once). I love sitting around in one of their rooms and pretending it's mine, pick up weird pieces of cutlery and wonder what they're for, fondle the many soft toys and rugs, estimate how many books I can cram into one of those posh looking glass door shelves, swivel myself around on an office chair..... Love their meatballs, and the Ikea in Singapore have pretty cheap grilled chicken wings that are quite delectable.

Half the time I go in, I come out empty-handed, because the item I wanted to get isn't there, or not quite what I was looking for. But it still makes for a nice day out. Quite fun to find the hidden doors and shortcuts too! But I'm one of those people who wander through stationery shops for fun, and whose idea of a romantic Valentine's Day was to drag my first ex to a bookshop for some browsing.
posted by Alnedra at 6:06 PM on January 17, 2013


WHY AM I READING ABOUT THE SILK ROAD WHEN I STARTED ON FOOT FUNGUS

Oh my god! MetaFilter makes you ADD!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


but I got worried about side effects after seeing this scary website full of images of people on meth, and the last thing I want is to turn into some skullfaced old before her time toothless chick.

I worried about this a little, but remember those people are not taking therapeutic doses.

I don't get prescribed amphetamine class drugs, because (I think) I have a history of drug taking on my medical record ( I won't lie to a doc about it) which is ironic because for all the drugs I did do I almost never touched amphetamines because why waste good money and risk criminality to do the washing up

My family medical history is a masterpiece of fiction in which we don't die at about sixty-five of everything they ask you about, but I also don't know why people abuse amphetamines. The packaging warns you in ninety different ways not to share it or take more than your dosage, but it seems crazy to me that anyone would. I'd just end up cleaning the baseboards and tidying up loose ends at work with a thumping heart and dry mouth. How anyone can think that's a good time is baffling to me.
posted by winna at 6:18 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


People having trouble with Ikea might be helped by this game walkthrough guide:
IKEA is a fully immersive, 3D environmental adventure that allows you to role-play the character of someone who gives a shit about home furnishings. In traversing IKEA, you will experience a meticulously detailed alternate reality filled with garish colors, clear-lacquered birch veneer, and a host of NON-PLAYER CHARACTERS (NPCs) with the glazed looks of the recently anesthetized.
posted by foxfirefey at 6:25 PM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am so grateful there was no IKEA when I was a child. I thought spending the afternoon in the fabric store was torture! But at least I could spend my time organizing the button bin.

IKEA is like a casino in which you can only lose money and all of the hypnotized clientele are young couples or parents.

Fortunately, they got rid of all of their interesting food in favor of stuff I can get a lot of places, so there is no reason to ever go there again.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:27 PM on January 17, 2013


foxfirefey, that quote is brilliant!
posted by small_ruminant at 6:28 PM on January 17, 2013


Well, this has been very educational and given me something to think about. As I reflected on it I realized there might be a reason why many of the people I know fit into these profiles; I’ve always had fairly "interesting" jobs and friends. I don’t work in an office, never have had that kind of job and can’t imagine it, didn’t go to college, and have mostly been surrounded with people who would say the same.

Again I fall into the trap I’m always warning others of; thinking that your situation and environment is typical and extrapolating from there about others.
posted by bongo_x at 6:52 PM on January 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


My wife and I used to call our regular Ikea Breakup Central because of the number of couples we'd see having a nasty fight in the aisles.

I have a theory that this is a deliberate and integral part of Ikea's business plan. Because after the breakup one half of that couple will need to go back and buy all the furniture again.
posted by arha at 7:23 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The 10th Regiment of Foot: "WHY AM I READING ABOUT THE SILK ROAD WHEN I STARTED ON FOOT FUNGUS

Oh my god! MetaFilter makes you ADD!
"

I didn't "catch" ADD from Metafilter but I love it here because it's an endless smorgasbord of stories, ideas and links that I can chase down the rabbit hole to my heart's delight.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:30 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because after the breakup one half of that couple will need to go back and buy all the furniture again.

67% of IKEA’s business is people getting their first apartment and the recently divorced. Look it up.
posted by bongo_x at 7:33 PM on January 17, 2013


I knew it! Ikea's just helping the process along.
posted by arha at 7:34 PM on January 17, 2013


My rule for Ikea is simple, and it's actually the basic rule for every purchase I make over five bucks or so—when I go there, I take a list, and if something's not on the list, it doesn't go in my big yellow bag. If I see something really cool and shiny, I mark it down and let it brew for a while.

Do I need this thing?

Is the value I get from it going to be equal to the work I put in to earn what it cost?

How will this thing die? Is this thing just a shiny thing? Will it add to my contentment?


My general rule for living is one set by William Morris, and it's one of those absolute fascist edicts I live by as the bargain for accepting the wild whirl of constant stimulation:

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

I've got a fair amount of Ikea in my house, largely because there's an Ikea fifteen minutes away, I'm not flush, and you can make smart decisions and get very good stuff at Ikea.

I've got a bunch of IVAR, because it's inexpensive, sturdy, and versatile. I've got four ÖDMJUK teapots, because they are perfect for my teapot needs, unlike that fucking dribbly VÄRME teapot that looks groovy and sucks at actual teapot work. The quilt covers are nice and the GRUNDTAL kitchen racks are perfect for my closet-sized kitchen. I've got a bizarre mixture of inherited antiques and Ikea in the two-room apartment where I've lived for the past twenty-five years, and the neutrality of the Ikea doesn't fight the dark curlicue splendor of the overbearing Victorian parlor organ that I keep because I can't find it a home elsewhere and because it makes for a good pickup line—"Would you like to come in and have a look at my enormous organ?"

When I decided that fifteen years of sleeping on a couch were probably bad for my back, I bought a fifty dollar FJELLSE solid wood frame, put in a few hours of carpentry work into reinforcing it and altering the headboard to a height more suited to my headboard needs, and it's a rock solid piece that can support seven hundred pounds or so of multiple bears and dogs without comic disasters.

All these things were agonized, mulled-over decisions and that's okay. Going into Ikea without the fascist filtration system engaged seems foolish for someone without a trust fund or a lucrative career, but some people manage it.

They are good for shiny, though, and there's a kind of shiny that I allow myself here and there, especially in winter. I've been pining for their crossfading LED lights, which are like visual Eno pieces, but the price is too high for shiny. What I did find, and allowed myself (on my return visit, of course), were a pair of these little rotating perforated domes that cast blurry dots on the ceiling, turning slowly like stars in a time-lapse shot of the night sky. They were marked down from twenty bucks to ten, and I bought three, one of which I gave to my nephew. I'd just sponsored a little girl in Nepal and felt like I could afford a little shiny for myself without too much guilt.

Set 'em up in my room, and when I went to bed, I switched both on, climbed into my multiple bear bed, put on Flux & Mutability on the hi-fi, arranged myself and the dogs into a fatter and more bearded version of the cover to Hounds of Love, and watched big blurry stars churning overhead. The dogs seemed unusually alert, and Lou's little beagle head seemed to be slowly oscillating.

"Joe," he asked, in that hayseed South Carolina accent he has when he's being a talking dog, "Are we outside?"

"Why do you ask?"

"The sky. It's turnin'."

"It's pretty, isn't it?"

"Is it supposed to move like that? I don't remember the sky moving like that."

"We're inside, silly."

"I forget you monkeys can make light inside. Why's it moving? It's right hypnotic."

"It is, isn't it?"

Daisy was watching, too, but she is never a talking dog, preferring decisive action to verbiage, though her head, too, moved in a gentle echo of the lights overhead. Three pairs of eyes, watching the light cast by two rotating perforated plastic domes, tracked the constellations of blurry stars that meshed and separated there in the dark. I was worn out after a long work week, but it was right hypnotic.

"Joe?"

"Yep?"

"Can I get under the blanket? Them damn stars are too interestin' and I cain't sleep."

"Yeah, okay." The two dogs got up, dug themselves in under the big fluffy green quilt, and settled down for the night. I rolled on my side and started my surrender.

"Joe?" asked a small, imaginary voice from the vicinity of my armpit.

"Yes?"

"Are they still out there, those lights?"

"I think so. My eyes are closed. It's sort of an existential thing."

"Will they always be there?"

"I suspect so."

I drift away from the cloud of thoughts, ideas, and worries, thinking as it all started to fade that I do have an awful lot in common with my dogs. The leash may not be my favorite thing, but it keeps us from harm.

Will they always be there?

Yes, they will.
posted by sonascope at 7:43 PM on January 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have a theory that this is a deliberate and integral part of Ikea's business plan. Because after the breakup one half of that couple will need to go back and buy all the furniture again.

So you're saying it's cheaply priced Scandinavian turtles all the way down?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:58 PM on January 17, 2013


IKEA Kitchenware has been good value for money, I still have a wok from them that's pretty much indestructible.
posted by The Whelk at 8:01 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


This article and the comments in this thread are really making me re-think whether I should go get a neuro-psych evaluation.

The thing is, well I guess the idea of being diagnosed with something is pretty terrifying. When I was about 9 years old I remember going to a psychiatrist for some kind of interview. Nothing came of it, though recently (I'm 30 now) my mother confirmed that the doctor diagnosed me as borderline ADHD of some kind but that my parents decided against any kind of treatment at all.

To the extent that I've thought about ADHD over the course of my life, I've been like many and sort of dismissed it as a laziness excuse...meanwhile my own life now seems like a litany of symptoms:

1. Failed high-school math three times, chemistry 2 times
2. Generally ALL my grades were terrible but everyone just assumed I was a lazy smartass (including my teachers) because I was ace at tests and essays
3. Almost didn't get to participate in graduation ceremonies because I waited until the last possible moment to get the required signatures from all my teachers.
4. Even as a kid I remember getting totally locked into a loop of exponentially tangential thoughts crashing in on each other and then I would just spaaaaace ouuuuuuuuut
5. Pretty much every job performance review I've ever had: "consistently fails to complete regular tasks with any degree of regular quality but is Captain Fucking Fantastico whenever there's a crisis"
6. I'm currently reading 12 different books, 34 tabs open across three different browsers, 15 half-filled notebooks (don't worry I've already ordered more and have yet more in my amazon store cart) and more index cards and post-it notes and torn strips of paper than I don't even know what
7. Every time I try to help my wife weed the garden. EVERY. DAMN. TIME. Ends in me screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs and punching the dirt until my knuckles bleed
8. When faced with the most common tasks at work, the one that is basically my job description, more often than not I just look at the whole thing, lean back in my chair and fall asleep because my revulsion at engaging in this tedious task is so palpable my body literally shuts down UNLESS I have recently consumed a herculean dose of caffeine and then I'm like super-productive
9. Inability to sleep unless I've completely exhausted myself
10. Constant fidgeting to the point where I have been yelled at by strangers in theaters
11. Always wondering why people say I'm smart but I just feel so dumb and forgetful and feel like I can't even get the simplest tasks right and I lie awake at night wondering why why why can't I just improve?

And even now, I've been writing t his comment for the better part of two hours, obsessing over it, walking away and looking at something else, wondering if it's all silly. Maybe I don't have anything, maybe I really am just a lazy distracted jerk. And then realizing that this is isn't really a comment at all, it's a cry for help. Or at least I think it is.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:03 PM on January 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


My husband and I both take medication for ADHD, and we both happened to run out this week and forget to make appointments to renew our Rx's, because we have ADHD. Anyway, I ran out of gas twice today.
posted by pajamazon at 10:09 PM on January 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Modern consumer capitalism sure is good at making people mentally ill.
posted by crayz at 10:13 PM on January 17, 2013


So, I'm mildly curious, does this include being at your job, having a list of 15 things to do (with sub-lists written under at least 4 or 5 of them), and suddenly stopping in the middle of the hallway because you were suddenly caught up in the uncertainty as to what task you should do first?
And walking around quickly with your list so as to avoid that situation of "you call my name for help and I pause with my glazed-over-expression while I try not to forget what I was just thinking about"?

I mean, when people stop me occasionally on the weekend or in the grocery store to talk about something at work, I actually tell them, "Um, could you call or tell me about this on Monday? I don't have one of my notebooks on me and I promise you that I'll forget about your seemingly mild request before I reach the end of this produce section."
posted by DisreputableDog at 10:21 PM on January 17, 2013


> Normal human feelings are not normal at constantly debilitating levels of amplification.

I'm not sure that's true, either that or there are far more people in need of drug therapy in this highly disfunctional world we've got here!


I mean that a normal human feeling like sadness or happiness or confusion or frustration is something situational and transitory, but when the dial is stuck on 11 beyond any reason, that's a different thing. To make another analogy, it's the difference between uncomfortable clothes and a straitjacket.

I guess you're saying that debilitating condition = not functioning and dysfunctional = not functioning, but it's not accurate to compare a person to a system or a society. Apples and oranges.
posted by desuetude at 11:02 PM on January 17, 2013


"Um, could you call or tell me about this on Monday? I don't have one of my notebooks on me and I promise you that I'll forget about your seemingly mild request before I reach the end of this produce section."

Heh, yeah I've done that before. My current solution for this problem is to simply pretend I don't see people I know at the supermarket.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:22 PM on January 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, I'm mildly curious, does this include being at your job, having a list of 15 things to do (with sub-lists written under at least 4 or 5 of them), and suddenly stopping in the middle of the hallway because you were suddenly caught up in the uncertainty as to what task you should do first?

Hello, other me!
posted by winna at 4:13 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Now I just ingest four cans of diet soda in a day, cut it off at 6:00 pm so I can get to sleep, work at home and generally get stuff done in a sort of ragged order. And every other day, when I'm writing, the hyperfocus comes and its a beautiful thing.

One thing I've found is that diet sodas are good for what I call "bad brain days". See, the phenyalanine in them reacts with one of the B vitamins (B6? B1? i forget and I'm really really trying not to fall in the wikipedia rabbit hole, so I'm not going to look it up) to create some precursor to norepinephrine -> epinephrine/adrenaline. Basically, a diet soda and a multi-vitamin is your short term Ritalin. ( I also find it works better if it's got a protein source behind it, like a nice ham and cheese sandwich, but I don't know what, if anything, that's got to do with the chemistry. )
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 6:36 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm really good at making detailed lists of tasks that I will never look at again. Sometimes I will find one weeks or months later. I'll chuckle grimly as I see that half the items on the list are still not done.

I can work miracles in a crisis, though.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:43 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Modern consumer capitalism sure is good at making people mentally ill.

Yes, you are absolutely correct. Since I was born inside a large store and spent my entire life there, as did the 5 previous generations of my family, this is why I have ADHD. Thank you, doctor, for your valuable input.
posted by elizardbits at 6:50 AM on January 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


Well I was born in a Walmart
And I live in a Target
Prob'ly die in Ikea
Oh, those small - Beds, Baths and Beyond.
posted by griphus at 7:03 AM on January 18, 2013


I just want to say how much it has meant to me to have this topic as a place to hear stories from other ADHD people. So much of it has rung painfully true, from the broad (panic in the face of simple tasks) to the specific (meat going bad because I forgot to put the groceries away!)

It makes me want to start some kind of MeFi ADHD support group. I would start now, but I am an hour late for work and I just downloaded some Venture Bros. and a new e-book. Also, I need to go get a haircut. And maybe a breakfast sandwich.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:40 AM on January 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


I like how this thread has a lot of people who don't have ADHD telling us why ADHD doesn't really exist as a condition. This is a strategy that has worked really well with depression and has led to sufferers everywhere beating the condition by just bucking up and putting a smile on their faces.
posted by mippy at 7:42 AM on January 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Isn't one of the problems in diagnosing ADHD the fact that it shares indicators and symptoms with a lot of other conditions?
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:20 AM on January 18, 2013


I take 20mg of Adderall, and my shrink wants me to take 40 because I really seem to need to, but I got worried about side effects after seeing this scary website full of images of people on meth, and the last thing I want is to turn into some skullfaced old before her time toothless chick.

It's rather unlikely that this will happen for a few reasons. While amphetamine and methamphetamine are quite similar chemically, their effects are somewhat different, with methamphetamine resulting in the release of more dopamine. With either drug, excessive consumption can lead to neurotoxicity and a variety of physical ailments.

In the case of neurotoxicity, at least, these are dose-dependent effects. Their are guidelines in place for psychiatrists that are intended to avoid this that from my understanding are relatively sane. I believe it is somewhere around 100mg/day for mixed amphetamine salts, ~65mg/day for d-amphetamine, and ~50mg/day for methamphetamine. Even these can be overridden with the consent of the psychiatrist. People who use meth on the street will often be using over 100mg (a "point" or 0.1g) a day and will probably engage in in multi-day binges without proper nutrition. These activities all increase the stress placed on the body and at certain levels appear to trigger cascades of neurotransmitters that can cause damage to the receptors. Someone with a serious methamphetamine dependence can consume up to a gram a day

The other big thing difference is method of administration and purity. You should not be smoking or shooting your medication, which drastically reduces the scope of negative effects on, for instance, the veins and oral cavities. As much as we can all point to instances where the medical establishment has failed, they have looked at safety issues and side effects with these medications and amphetamines have been prescribed for decades at this point. I think it's always important to do independent research on medication, but I don't think your psychiatrist will be prescribing you brain-damaging or harmful levels of medication. That is their job - to find effective doses of medication and make sure any side effects are not causing more problems than they're solving.

(Did anyone else have, in addition to this thread, tabs for Reddit/the Pomodoro technique/Mefi ADHD thread/various members' profiles/the Ikea website, etc.? I think I only had about 6 of them going at once this time.)

I'm pretty well known for having double (and occasionally triple) digit numbers of tabs open simultaneously. In short: yes.

AND that's with me also drinking caffeine all day, too! So, yeah. Guess I need to move my appointment up and go ahead and say okay to the 30 mg.

I just wanted to mention that as you increase your dosage of stimulant medications, you may find the side effects of the caffeine increasing as well (jitters, anxiety, possibly heartburn in the case of coffee). You will also probably find that you don't really need to consume as much caffeine as you did previously. It's pretty common for people with ADHD to self-medicate with caffeine. I used to drink around a pot of coffee a day and I had to cut back. Of course, everyone's different and your mileage may vary.

Not that I'll do anything about it this time, either. I probably never will, at least if I can manage to keep muddling through. I don't see the sense in going to a psychiatrist and getting a prescription for meds I can't afford anyway.

I'm not sure what your financial situation is, but some of the medications are not obscenely expensive. I used to take 25mg dexedrine IR per day, as 5mg tablets. The cost without insurance for this was $60-70, and would be closer to $50 if you were getting 10mg tablets. Unfortunately, due to a number of unacceptably stupid decisions by a number of different organizations, this medication became unavailable for at least 3 months last year and I had to switch to ER (extended release). The same dose of the same medication, but in extended release form is ~$250-300 before insurance. I don't even find it as effective, but it's apparently more important that companies make more money than that I have effective medication that is reliably available to me. I'm not sure what the cost of generic adderall ("mixed amphetamine salts") is.

Since stimulant medications are generally schedule II substances, you will need to see the psychiatrist every month for a prescription and the office visit can be more expensive than the medication. There are some psychiatrists who will do visits for a lower rate if you don't have insurance; I think if you call around they should be willing to share this information with you.
posted by nTeleKy at 10:27 AM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like how this thread has a lot of people who don't have ADHD telling us why ADHD doesn't really exist as a condition.

I’m pretty sure that’s not actually happening.
posted by bongo_x at 10:42 AM on January 18, 2013


I don't even have ADHD, bongo, and even I think that if people aren't outright saying "it doesn't exist," there are a few people who are inadvertently IMPLYING that pretty strongly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:47 AM on January 18, 2013


All of us have gotten distracted and driven past the street we were supposed to turn on. How many of us, like me on a day without my ADHD medication, have gotten distracted and walked up an extra 2 flights of stairs?

I liken it to the difference between a powerboat and a sailboat. To get a powerboat to go where you want it to, you just steer and accelerate. But in a sailboat, it depends a lot more on the wind and the currents, and you often have to jib back and forth or do other work to get there.
posted by neutralmojo at 10:50 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since stimulant medications are generally schedule II substances, you will need to see the psychiatrist every month for a prescription and the office visit can be more expensive than the medication. There are some psychiatrists who will do visits for a lower rate if you don't have insurance; I think if you call around they should be willing to share this information with you.

This might vary by state or insurance- I had to be formally diagnosed by a psychiatrist, but I only have to go in every three months for a check with my GP.
posted by winna at 10:50 AM on January 18, 2013


if people aren't outright saying "it doesn't exist," there are a few people who are inadvertently IMPLYING that pretty strongly.

"A lot of people saying it doesn’t exist" and "a few people inadvertently implying it" are completely different things, and I don’t think either one is happening.

There have been a few people saying they don’t really understand it, or what makes it different from what everyone else experiences. A very small percentage of the total comments. If we going to get offended by people saying "I don’t understand this" then what exactly was the point of the post or the original article? I thought it was for people who don’t understand it, an opportunity to explain.

It’s a discussion, everyone doesn’t need to fall in line. It’s not an insult when people have a different point of view.
posted by bongo_x at 11:01 AM on January 18, 2013


There have been a few people saying they don’t really understand it, or what makes it different from what everyone else experiences. A very small percentage of the total comments. If we going to get offended by people saying "I don’t understand this" then what exactly was the point of the post or the original article? I thought it was for people who don’t understand it, an opportunity to explain.

That's as may be, but there's a difference between
"can you explain what [foo] feels like or what it is like to try to do [baz], because I'm a little fuzzy what that's like,"
and
"I don't understand why you can't just do [foo] or why you don't just [baz] because that's what i do and i'm fine."
People can only take advantage of "an opportunity to explain" if the listeners truly want to be explained to. Otherwise it just looks like the questioners are out to prove them wrong, and who wants to try to explain something to osmeone who already has their mind made up that you're wrong?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:12 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Isn't one of the problems in diagnosing ADHD the fact that it shares indicators and symptoms with a lot of other conditions?

It's notoriously comorbid with a number of disorders. Depression, substance abuse, anxiety, and a host of others. Depending on the severity, those are often treated first, and sometimes the ADD/ADHD that is the underlying cause is not recognized.

I had a slew of issues that ultimately stemmed from my ADD. Fortunately, I sought diagnosis and treatment when I was relatively stable, and found that once I was taking medication and dealing with it properly the other issues - the anxiety, the guilt, the crippling emotional lability - all but disappeared. It made a tremendous difference; the weight that was lifted is immeasurable.

I like how this thread has a lot of people who don't have ADHD telling us why ADHD doesn't really exist as a condition.

I’m pretty sure that’s not actually happening.


I have to confess it's something that's a little difficult not to get defensive about. ADD/ADHD is often mischaracterized and misunderstood - a lot of people associate it with hyperactive young boys and overmedicated children. It is, in a lot of people's minds, a fiction of the pharmaceutical industry fiendishly designed to pathologize the boundless energy of youthful spirits and creativity and the hustle and bustle barrage of stimulation that is modern society. And isn't everyone distracted sometimes? Aren't we all forgetful?

It's also complicated by the fact that there are many people who may present symptoms of ADD/ADHD, maybe even have a family history of the disorder, but it's mild enough or they cope with it well without treatment or medication, and if they can do it, surely you can, too.

In fact, maybe it's a good thing! You can multitask! You can problem solve! You are so creative! It's like a superpower!

All of these things and more lead to the conclusion that ADD is a fake made up thing, or it isn't really that bad, or maybe it's just an excuse.

And, unfortunately, because of this, there are a lot of people who will not seek treatment. People who are genuinely suffering, whose lives and relationships are significantly impacted. People who look at everyone else, wondering how they get so many things done. Wondering if maybe they really are just lazy or stupid - someone, and I forget who, I'm sorry, described it as "being a smart person trapped in a stupid person's body" and I thought that very apt.

People have been quite respectful here, I think, but it's a little hard when a Fake Thing really hurts you.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:21 AM on January 18, 2013 [14 favorites]


It makes me want to start some kind of MeFi ADHD support group.


We can all go to IKEA together OH WAIT HELL NO.



Confession - I am afraid of IKEA. The IKEA by The Mall of America is this terrifying blue monolith and I feel more inclined to stand in the parking lot and scream at it than I am to actually walk through the doors.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:35 AM on January 18, 2013


So, what are some good resources for how people deal with with milder cases, apart from drugs?
posted by bongo_x at 11:38 AM on January 18, 2013


> All of these things and more lead to the conclusion that ADD is a fake made up thing, or it isn't really that bad, or maybe it's just an excuse.

Exactly. All in all, the people who think ADD is a pharmaceutical conspiracy are less annoying to me, because at least that springs from a consistent worldview (albeit one I disagree with vehemently).

The people that bother me the most are the ones who have the common-sensical idea that what we call ADD is just youthful exuberance, and the diagnosis is just a way for helicopter parents to get their boundless kids to sit in desks and be part of The System. Louche, the comic you linked is the perfect summation.

The people who clearly have pamphlets and manifestos can go ahead and rant about our new psychiatric overlords. They're harmless. But the subtle eye-rolls and gut-driven "see, Gloria, this is what's wrong with the world today" grousing from self-appointed experts — that's what gets my blood boiling. I can see the logic behind it, but I'll never understand the certitude, because you'd only come to that conclusion if you had no experience with anyone who's ever really had ADD.
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:38 AM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


(But to clarify: bongo_x, speaking only for myself, none of your remarks in this thread have bothered me.)
posted by savetheclocktower at 11:40 AM on January 18, 2013


...described it as "being a smart person trapped in a stupid person's body" and I thought that very apt.

Yeah, there's a social aspect to growing up as reasonably intelligent boy/girl and having ADHD that isn't talked about a lot. Basically, you fuck up in school both constantly and inconsistently. Your parents know you're not dumb because you're not bringing home straight Cs, but As and Bs and Ds and Fs. Or you are bringing home Cs and every report card and parent teacher night says CLEARLY NOT AN IDIOT, NOT LIVING UP TO POTENTIAL. So the assumption is that if you're smart and you're not doing well, then the only reasonable answer is that you are lazy. And the only way to cure laziness is discipline, whether on the school's end or on the parents' end. So there's a lot of ignorance and assumption and needless/pointless discipline, and there aren't any improvements and well, you tell me if that sounds like a situation that is co-morbid with depression and anxiety.
posted by griphus at 11:43 AM on January 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


(Er, that's not to say kids who do bad in school and do not have ADHD are necessarily dumb, of course.)
posted by griphus at 11:46 AM on January 18, 2013


bongo_x, there's nothing wrong with not understanding or having a different point of view, but I think it would be inaccurate to say that there has been no dismissiveness or trivializing of peoples' experiences in this thread. Maybe not intentionally, but nevertheless. There have been several interactions in this thread that have gone something like this:
Person with AD(H)D: I have it and I used to have symptoms X, Y, and Z, and boy did that suck! I'm so glad I'm medicated now / I am totally going to go talk to a doctor about it.

Person without AD(H)D: Eh, that just sounds like part of life / it's normal / I and my friends do the same thing!
I mean, it's entirely possible for someone to exhibit some of the behaviour common to people with AD(H)D, and be able to manage them and have them be no more than a mild nuisance in their lives. It's another thing entirely to extrapolate that experience to others and thus conclude that they are also dealing with no more than a nuisance. If someone is telling (the generic, non-specific) you that they have panic attacks, harm themselves, and become utterly paralyzed about mundane tasks, it's probably not the most sensitive thing to say "oh, but everyone has that". Even if the degree of behaviour exhibited by both people is exactly identical, person A doesn't get to pass judgment about how person B deals with something that disrupts their life, or tell them that this thing that they find awful is something they should just live with because that's life or something.

Note: I am not calling you out or anything, just answering your implied question about interactions in this thread that have made some of us uncomfortable. louche mustachio is totally on about why this triggers a lot of defensiveness. I don't have ADHD*, but I have know loved ones who were hesitant to bring up their issues/symptoms with even psychiatrists for fear of being dismissed as being lazy / undisciplined, and it makes me super sad/angry.

*Though I do have depression and anxiety, which are also often dismissed as a made-up thing by people less progressive than MeFites. Bah.
posted by Phire at 11:50 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


bongo_x: So, what are some good resources for how people deal with with milder cases, apart from drugs?

I was on stimulant medication for 15 years to control my ADD, before I started having a heart arrhythmia that scared me off it. So now I have to find other ways to deal with my ADD.

Daily exercise helps a lot.

Regulating diet helps a lot. In particular, sugar makes my ADD much, much worse; unfortunately, I also have impulse-control problems due to my ADD and I like sugar, so this is a real problem that I constantly struggle with. On days that I can manage to limit my sugar intake and eat enough high-protein food, I notice a significant improvement in my symptoms.

Getting enough sleep helps a lot.

I couldn't live without my electronic calendars with their reminders that tell me when to take out the trash, when to leave for meetings, etc. I am completely, fundamentally reliant upon my calendars to successfully complete my day. Similarly, setting up auto-pay for my bills is the only way they get paid on time.

With all that, none of it helps nearly as much as Ritalin did. I am a less productive person now, and this is something I'm going to struggle with for the rest of my life I guess.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:03 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I should add: my case is NOT mild. My doctor told me I was the worst case he'd ever seen. But I imagine the things that I do to try and keep my ADD manageable would really help someone with a mild case, since even as a severe case I still manage to show up for work every day by figuring out tricks that work for me and trying like hell to make sure I use them.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:06 PM on January 18, 2013


ADHD = Intention Deficit Disorder
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:48 PM on January 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


-rabbitrabbit

Thanks, that’s very interesting. I saw the link at the bottom of this page about ADHD and food, I will have to do some more research.
posted by bongo_x at 1:53 PM on January 18, 2013


Thanks for the link, Doleful Creature. Not just "Intention Deficit Disorder", but being "nearsighted in time". I am a sucker for an excellent metaphor.
posted by maudlin at 3:07 PM on January 18, 2013


I have also heard it referred to as being "trapped in the present," although that is sometimes confused with a mindful living in the present, which it very much is not.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:31 PM on January 18, 2013


1. I like IKEA. 2. I'm unmedicated, because I didn't figure out I had ADHD until I was in late middle age and had learned how to ROLL with the thing. Man, I'm thinking about three things at once all the time no matter what. 4. with all my coping mechanisms in place I don't lose a whole lot of things, and when I do (where did I put that $300 fountain pen?) I am just sad and keep going because it happens. 3. My mother in her late years once told me, "We figured you were doing it on purpose." 6. I'm a teacher now. Some of my kids on meds show no difference and are probably misdiagnosed. Some, I can tell you flat out, need the stuff to keep from being so massively disrupted and disruptive that they can't think and neither can anyone else around them. Like today, when I made my first call home about this one kid in the whole year and found it was the first day all year when they didn't give him his medicine in the morning. 5. I can figure out how to screw up making coffee twenty different ways, but that first quadruple espresso of the day makes it so cool to be able to look at one thing at a time, I can't tell you.

When I was in grad school reading about all this, I figured the medication thing was just an oppressive tool of the hegemony. I figure it still is, just like everything, but just like everything it sort of works.
posted by Peach at 5:32 PM on January 18, 2013


I just want to say how much it has meant to me to have this topic as a place to hear stories from other ADHD people. So much of it has rung painfully true, from the broad (panic in the face of simple tasks) to the specific (meat going bad because I forgot to put the groceries away!)

It makes me want to start some kind of MeFi ADHD support group. I would start now, but I am an hour late for work and I just downloaded some Venture Bros. and a new e-book. Also, I need to go get a haircut. And maybe a breakfast sandwich.


I so second that. Sans Venture bros. I never got into that. But yeah, the other stuff, I agree with so much.

Also fuck why did I find this thread three days late when it's over.
posted by KTamas at 4:38 AM on January 21, 2013


@Doleful Creature

Wow that was just... awesome on so many levels.
posted by KTamas at 5:19 AM on January 21, 2013


Boy, do I wish I could take amphetamines. The first day I tried them I actually sat down and made a list, and then I went through and did the things on the list, and then I had to sit there for a second because seriously what the fuck just happened. Sadly, in around a week, I got chest pain biking up a hill and had to stop. (And now I am writing this instead of walking to my train! Funny how that works!)
posted by en forme de poire at 3:47 PM on January 23, 2013


Do you have a mental health person that you see regularly? There are non-stimulant solutions that work well for some people. I had the same thing happen to me with Adderall and Strattera has been a reasonably acceptable substitute.
posted by invitapriore at 6:04 PM on January 23, 2013


Huh, maybe I'll look into it again - at the time the psych I was talking to was kind of down on Strattera for some reason but I forget why. Thanks for the heads up though.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:32 PM on January 23, 2013


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