Adult-diagnosed ADHD-(Anyone question your diagnosis)? *Esp. educators*
December 28, 2016 10:25 PM   Subscribe

I've been on medical leave from both work and grad school, recently saw a new psychiatrist to make my parents happy and she diagnosed me with adult ADHD? I trust her, and I'm trained to recognize signs of ADHD in children but not adults. I've expressed concerns...I know the disorder is very real but I have strange imposter/guilt feelings for reasons detailed. It would be amazing to hear from educators with ADHD, but if anyone with adult-diagnosed ADHD (so many As and Ds) could chime in regarding similar feelings?

Last 7 years I've been through A LOT of psychiatric meds and psychological treatments; to the point I've been on every commonly prescribed anti-depressant, some more archaic ones, and even more experimental things like ketamine infusions (highly effective, completely unaffordable). Started with intense restlessness / physical anxiety / lack of self-esteem at 20 and has slid toward self-destructive nihilistic depression as of now. Currently on valium (4 years 30mg daily), lyrica (600mg daily 3 years) and clonidine as needed before bed.

Every traditional med (yeah, I did wait at least 3 months) either had no positive effect or felt like a permanent psychedelic come-up. Would rather have crippling anxiety than a perma-flat emotional affect. My only hope was waiting till 2019 or 2020 when some potentially promising NMDA-antagonists hit the market. Life doesn't wait though, and my sadness was more apparent to my coworkers than I thought. I wanted to hide under a rock, but the department and admin rallied around me....students keep asking when I'll be back so I feel guilty...I offered to resign but they insisted I take medical leave beforehand.

At the end of the appointment she showed me her notes and told me that I ranked high in all categories of Part A of the ADHD diagnostic (I didn't know she was doing any specific diagnostic). She said that my medical history showed a paradoxical reaction to many drugs and that a stimulant might help not only my motivation and depression but also restlessness. I just kind of shrugged and she wrote a trial script of d-amp IR and a follow-up in 3 weeks.

I was skeptical but the low dose I take kills my restlessness WAY MORE than my full dose of valium and pregabalin combined. Even 10mg of dex feels more sedating than stimulating, and for the first time I'm taking less of both downers because I feel like I don't usually need them during the day (yes, I know not to stop). That hit me hard: a weird mix of optimism but also indignancy that I might have avoided twin downer habits if I had been more academically impaired as a kid? Only side effects are mild jaw-clenching, increased dehydration, and no compulsion to eat when not hungry or to throw money at shiny things I don't need. I just wake up without laying in bed for an hour dreading waking up, pay bills and do minor errands painlessly by the time I would normally still be busy feeling bad about them.

So maybe I do have ADHD? The doctor is more intelligent, educated, and experienced than I...I'm just struggling with squaring my profession as a teacher with having TRD, general anxiety, and/or ADHD? I was valedictorian by a long shot in H.S., graduated early with an honors biochem degree and scored perfectly on my chemistry & biology licensure exams. This experience has and will likely allow me to help students navigate similar issues....but realistically no parent would opt for a young teacher dealing with anxiety/depression and ADHD on top. True it's none of their business, but it doesn't feel transparent either. Anyone with a similar ordeal? I work really well with kids of all ages, but maybe I should start looking at another position? Idk.
posted by WhitenoisE to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm a community college professor, but I know teachers and professors at pretty much all levels of the educational system who have depression, BPD, anxiety, PTSD, CPTSD, AD(H)D, etc., some who are autistic, have various other executive function disorders, etc. I can't speak to K-12 parents' attitudes (I'm so happy I don't have to deal with parents!), but you don't need to disclose to them ANYTHINGGGGG about your health/mental health/etc. Transparency? Nah. You're already surrounded by co-workers and colleagues with these issues, and you just don't know it.

I was diagnosed with adult ADD (no H) relatively recently, and have not found a medication that works quite as well as yours sounds like it's working. And I have some regrets about that prestigious grad school that I got into, did all the classes for, but didn't graduate from. If a certain health problem had been diagnosed earlier, and if the ADD had been caught then or earlier, maybe I'd have that shiny degree instead of the ordinary one I got instead.

But I'm not worried about either keeping or doing my job. I feel like I'm going to be more on top of grading and paperwork, if anything.

You can memail me if you want to talk more. (And not to be a Metafilter cliche, but a therapist is REALLY great for getting through this stuff--highly recommended.)
posted by wintersweet at 10:51 PM on December 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


realistically no parent would opt for a young teacher dealing with anxiety/depression and ADHD on top. True it's none of their business, but it doesn't feel transparent either. Anyone with a similar ordeal? I work really well with kids of all ages, but maybe I should start looking at another position? Idk.

The only reason I can imagine that being an issue for parents is if you were not addressing it and it was affecting your teaching. Even then, why would be none of their business. If all of the teachers at your school were somehow forced to reveal their personal / private situations to the parents of their students, each one would have *something* that could potentially give a parent pause. You probably have colleagues who have survived abuse, who are being treated for anxiety, cancer, substance abuse, heart disease, etc, and who've made some questionable decisions at some point or another.

Maybe consider that this experience has the potential to make you a better teacher. Both because medication is helping you get through your daily tasks and because you can see how difficult this condition can be and that can inform your compassion and patience towards students with similar issues.

Another vote for therapy - it can be a good place to talk through stuff like this. Good luck.
posted by bunderful at 4:39 AM on December 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


realistically no parent would opt for a young teacher dealing with anxiety/depression and ADHD on top. True it's none of their business, but it doesn't feel transparent either. Anyone with a similar ordeal? I work really well with kids of all ages, but maybe I should start looking at another position? Idk.

Parents and kids would only care if it made you a bad teacher. My friend, I'm a high school teacher.

So many of my colleagues are on the spectrum, have ADD, depression, PTSD, OCD, and countless other forms of anxiety.

So many of my colleagues were really bad kids when we were in school, like constantly cutting classes to being pretty drunk through most of college to having juvenile records. I personally stole a car when I was 16.

So many of my colleagues have gone to rehab. And relapsed and returned to rehab. And again.

So many of my colleagues have deeply complex family situations and struggle when returning home and having to face that part of their lives.

None of this makes you a bad teacher. If anything, the teachers I know have faced terrible demons and had traumatic childhoods and it all informs us to better serve our kids. We know what ADD feels like. We know exactly how the depression monster lies to brains and doesn't let us work. We know how on some days, just making it to school is the victory to celebrate.

If you love teaching, stay in the game because WE NEED YOU.

(And as a footnote, you'll find it interesting when you have parent meetings because generally, teachers make parents really, really nervous. They act like they're 5 and we called them into the principal's office. Talk about anxiety -- most parents get very anxious that it's all we can do not to reach over to hug them.)
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 5:12 AM on December 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


I am a college professor and 20 years ago I was a (private) high school teacher. And also I have a lot of experience as a parent relating to teachers of my own kids' as they have gone through all grades of school now. So I will agree with the comments above: you would not believe how many people in our teaching profession have ADHD, anxiety, depression and other mental and emotional struggles. And one of the best and most affirming things for kids with these issues is when their teacher does not think they are bad, or not trying, or just a PITA but says: "Hey, I get it, I have struggled with this too, and I know you are smart and interested and are still struggling, and see, I have dealt with it, so keep trying -- you'll get there too." No one who hasn't been there can reach this kind of kid's capacity for hope and self-esteem in quite the same way.
posted by flourpot at 7:02 AM on December 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


realistically no parent would opt for a young teacher dealing with anxiety/depression and ADHD on top

One of my kids has had two teachers with what I'd guess is untreated ADHD, and that wasn't good. Teachers need to be able to give information in a structured way, to have assignments written clearly, etc, and these teachers weren't doing it, and my kid's grades were lower because of unclear expectations. But it's not like being scattered is a trait unique to those of us with ADHD.

This experience has and will likely allow me to help students navigate similar issues....


Absolutely.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:34 AM on December 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


One of my kids has had two teachers with what I'd guess is untreated ADHD, and that wasn't good.

Yeah, make sure you have a handle on this. I co-taught high school English once with a highly distractible person who would literally change topics every few minutes, jumping all over the place ("Squirrel!") and without me there to refocus it would have been pretty hard for the kids.

In teaching, we can sometimes let the kids get us off topic because they're smart and have great insight, but note if you're getting pulled too far and too often from your original plans.

If you have the opportunity to co-teach and can do it with someone you trust, do it and get feedback.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:00 AM on December 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


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