Is there something wrong with me? Or am I just lazy?
November 20, 2008 1:39 AM   Subscribe

I exhibit many, if not all, of the symptoms of ADHD-I AKA "ADHD predominantly inattentive". After further research I also exhibit many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism. Should I see an endocrinologist, a general practitioner, a psychiatrist? Or all of the above? Long explanation follows.

I have always been a skeptic when it comes to ADHD as well as most medications for mental or mood disorders. The epiphany came the other day when it was pointed out to me by a close friend that over the past few years I have begun and only half finished dozens of projects. I had straight A grades and very high test scores throughout elementary and middle school, in high school though I failed most every class, occasionally ditched school entirely, but still managed a 1540 on the SAT and managed to graduate (just barely). I ran a small IT business and a few money making web projects while in high school and I still run the IT business. Looking back now I have had related ADHD tendencies for years... I went to CC straight out of high school and I would go to class, excited for a new beginning. The conversations were great, and the classes interesting. Eventually though, in every course, I would manage to get behind on homework and eventually just give up on trying to catch up. I watched my girlfriend of the time (who I met at CC) manage the same average party lifestyle while succeeding in class, and I would fall behind because I would get so anxious about catching up. I wouldn't show up to class in order to make up work which I would procrastinate on and it just piled up. I took a year off and worked, partied, and had another girlfriend. When I came back I remained motivated for a longer period of time due to discovering Ayn Rand's writings but eventually I fell into the same cycle again. I took another semester off, came back, and after a few weeks I realized it was going to be the same cycle again in a matter of days and dropped all of my classes before I could damage my record further.

I have moved around quite a bit in an attempt to get myself motivated, to no avail. I have begun a ton of other ideas I've had but I always lose my motivation half way through. The most frustrating part is that I remember a time when I was so passionate and excited to take all of my plans through to completion, and now it's like all that drives me is that memory of having passion for the ideas I have.

I am now 21, have sold all of my worldly possessions, moved to Vegas with a friend, and saved up a good amount of cash while my businesses continue to run on autopilot (IMO the 4 hour workweek was made for ADHD people). This is very recent, so I don't have a doctor, and I haven't even seen one in probably 4 years, except a dermatologist for hair loss who prescribed me propecia.

I have early onset male pattern baldness.
I have a small amount of grey hair on the side of my head.
When I workout it takes me eons of consistency to see results.
I gain weight quickly, and even though I've been eating 1000x healthier for more than a year I haven't lost much fat.
I took two rounds of high dosage accutane in my teens, which I believe is when my hair loss began.
I tend to lose focus on people when they talk, I "feel bored" with conversations very quickly, though I don't find myself to be anti-social, I can sometimes feel anxious in social situations, which is the complete OPPOSITE of how I was in high school, in high school I talked to anyone and everyone.

Due to my business and the things I have managed to keep moving my life has not been affected much. If I were in a more "average" situation of a 21 year old I would be completely screwed with the way I've treated my education and career path. Regardless, I KNOW that I have lost a ton of energy, drive, and focus. I have found myself considering myself depressed recently but I can't really call it depression as much as lethargy, I have fun on my own it just requires more stimuli than it used to. My sex drive also has fallen considerably, though it still definitely exists.

I would like to gain my energy, drive, and focus back. I would like to stop or reverse my hair loss (no one in my family has as much area hair loss as I do, all grandparents included). I want to follow through with the things I begin. I want to stop the occasional feelings of being "flustered" and "foggy". I plan on seeing a doctor regardless, just because I should get a checkup one way or the other, but mefi, do you think I am a candidate for anything? Or am I just being a Wikipedia hypochondriac with an asshole friend?

Keep in mind that while I've managed to keep my businesses alive through good business sense, I have done very little to continue to grow them. Around the same time I remember losing my motivation and drive I also stopped growing them. I'd say I was around 17 at the time.

Thanks MeFiers!
posted by thegmann to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
See a general practitioner first. Self-diagnosis is likely to send you off on a wrong tangent. And when you see the GP, try to describe the symptoms as they are, not just the ones that confirm your speculation. Part of a GP's job is to point you in the direction of the right specialist; going to a psychiatrist with an endocrine problem is a waste of time.

It's entirely possible that what you're experiencing is the classic 'Over-Achiever's Syndrome'.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:52 AM on November 20, 2008

Yeah, rule #1: Don't self-diagnose. WebMD is the bane of physicians' existence, because patients come in saying "I think I've got x." I'm gonna go with "Wikipedia hypochondriac." If you really think you may have a diagnosable medical problem, go see your family doctor.

In all likelihood, there's nothing medically wrong with you, i.e. you don't have a disease, mental or physical. It is not unusual for men to start losing their hair as early as 20. Unfortunate perhaps, but not unhealthy. And there isn't necessarily much to be done about it, snake oil salesmen notwithstanding. Your best bet is to get used to the idea.

As far as regaining your motivation and not feeling "foggy," go to the gym. Seriously. I gather you aren't working out on a regular basis, and for most people, especially once they start entering their 20s, lack of regular, if not daily, physical exertion can lead to those sorts of feelings. You'll be much more focused, rested, and energetic if you run two or three miles a day. That's only 20-30 minutes at a halfway-decent pace. You've probably got a definition of "results" that's way too demanding. No one can go from flabby to buff in a few weeks. That takes months if not years, depending on just how out of shape you start as. But if you keep with it, and pay attention, you should notice a difference in your energy levels within a week.

You may also just be finding that hey, life isn't all pleasant. Sometimes you just gotta make yourself do things; even jobs that on the whole you really enjoy will have aspects to them that you'd rather avoid. You just have to deal with it.

Long story short: stop worrying, go to the gym, and suck it up. Doesn't sound to me like there's anything wrong with you that regular exercise and a little spine couldn't fix.
posted by valkyryn at 4:00 AM on November 20, 2008

I've found what helps motivate me to finish things is the good feeling I get when I can mentally check something off my "list"--thus when I want to encourage myself, I pick a few simple tasks that I know I can't fuck up, that need to be done but I've been putting off, and that shouldn't take more than an hour per. Things like ironing, or going to the dentist or calling your parents.

The other thing that helps--at least, it helps me--is to remind myself that things that I've started but not finished each represent a net loss. That is, until a project is complete, it can't come off my "list," which means any and all efforts put towards that thing (whatever it might be) have been a complete waste of time up until this point. This usually gets me inspired because, for the most part, I'm a very lazy person. If I do anything related to chores, it's only to avoid bigger, larger, or more expensive chores down the line. I don't want to have to exert effort if it doesn't produce any results.

To give you an example of what I mean: in my closet I have a new pair of gloves I bought, but they're still in the store bag with the receipt in them because they're two right-handed gloves. To fix this problem, I have to remember to take the gloves with me to work (because the store is closed when I get off, and I don't feel like going to the store on a weekend this time of year). But since I keep forgetting to do this, the gloves remain in the closet, unused.

Now, that represents several giant wastes of time. The time I spent working to get the money to buy the gloves in the first place. The time I spent walking to the store to get the gloves. Not to mention having to deal with cold hands for the past couple of days. That's a huge net loss until I make the very simple decision to just finish the task.

I have paintings I need to hang up. If I don't hang up the paintings, that means I wasted my time going to the hardware store to get the hangers, I wasted my time ordering the paintings, wasted still more time working to afford the paintings. The one thing separating time wasted and time spent is hanging up the paintings. One simple step, and all my efforts turn net positive.

I could walk around the house and probably find a dozen more examples. The point is, for people like you (and me) who enjoy starting tasks but tend to get easily distracted before finishing them, it sometimes helps to have a mental carrot hanging from a stick.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:16 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]

ignore the last two posters and go see a doctor. voice your concerns. you won't regret it, whatever the outcome.
posted by tumult at 5:33 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Does the lethargy and mental cloudiness correspond with "eating 1000x healthier"? Part of this could be not eating the right things, or not consuming enough calories (the weight gain and hair loss could be your body reacting to you starving yourself).

I'm not saying this is particularly likely, but make sure you run your diet by your doctor during your appointment, just to cover all your bases.
posted by giraffe at 5:56 AM on November 20, 2008

I say go to a GP or endocrinologist first -- they can give you blood tests to rule out any problem with your thyroid. If that comes up normal, then you can go to a psychiatrist to get tested for ADHD or any other problems like anxiety. Other advice you're getting -- going to the gym, etc, is good, but there's nothing wrong with getting everything checked out. If nothing else, you'll have baseline blood results if you need to get them compared to something later on.
posted by sugarfish at 6:01 AM on November 20, 2008

Just go to your run of the mill, lowest level practitioner and request a thyroid function test. I simply mentioned that I have a history of thyroid dysfunction in my family (of course, female relatives and I'm a female-males have a far lower occurrence) and they tested me right away. Got my results within a few days. I get tested every year for it.

I also have been officially diagnosed with ADD-I. By doctors and psychiatrists. I thought (and self diagnosed) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Man was I off. I was depressed and had enough hypothyroid symptoms at the time that I went and got my thyroid function tested (it was fine). Slowly, my counselor and I figured out that my untreated ADD was leading to the depression, which wrapped up all my diagnoses into one compact little bundle. I got treated for the ADD, excelled at school, and still haven't lost that excess weight despite being on high doses of amphetamine. Can't win them all, I suppose.
posted by nursegracer at 6:10 AM on November 20, 2008

An endocrinologist probably wont even see you without a referral from a GP. A GP can also do a lot of the same bloodtests. Your GP can also objectively look at your symptoms and see what the next step is. You cant self-diagnose, especially if its a mental problem.

FWIW, everyone wants to have a hyper or hypo thyroid diagnosis. Suddenly your weight gain, fatigue, and failures in life are the disease's fault, not yours. Its a very attractive idea for hypochondriacs. Doctors know this.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:49 AM on November 20, 2008

A thyroid test is a very simple thing. Low thyroid is easily and cheaply treated with a daily dose of Synthroid. Quite miraculous.
I use Adderall (20mg) once or twice a week. My doctor knows and approves. I call it my 'get crappy stuff done drug'. I don't know anyone else who uses it as a PRN, but to me, it is a godsend.
The effects even linger on into the next day. I get so much done in a day or two and feel so happy about it that the other days I just feel equally good because I have nothing hovering over me. There is never the need or desire to take more, because taking more actually lessens the effect. The only thing about taking Adderall is that one should never, never get on the computer. Hours and hours and hours just go by and you end up with nothing done and a horrible neck ache.
posted by Pennyblack at 11:40 AM on November 20, 2008

I'm not much indication of hypothyroidism from any of the complaints you gave in that list?

But, firstly, go to a gp for the hypothyroid suspicions - very simple, cheap bloodtest to confirm it, and if you go in complaining of lethargy etc, they often include it in the standard checks of iron, b12 etc. Possibly just mention your symptoms though (what about lowered body temperature - do you have a lowered body temperature? If not, you probably don't got it).

Secondly, if you did have hypothyroid disorder, that can mimic many of the symptoms of inattentive ADD, and vice-versa. It might be co-morbid, but might be just one.

Other than that, sure - consult professionals, not Mefi.
GP first, get them to rule out basic medical causes of foggyness, anxiety (you know anxiety can mimic ADD too?), etc.

Once they've done that, if they seem fairly onto it, ask them whether they think you should consult a psych for the ADD thing, and/or a specialist of some sort about the hair loss, and take that consideration.
Further decision tree info - With the ADD, have you had symptoms since before you were 8? Yes - continue. No? Doesn't fit (arbitrary) guidelines for what defines ADHD.
posted by Elysum at 9:01 PM on November 26, 2008

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