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Holistic methods of keeping ADD under control?

SyzygySyzygy Registered User regular
I've had ADD (Or ADHD, I keep reading psychology journals that flip flop on whether they're one and the same or not) my entire life and it has always been a major detriment to everything I've tried to do. The only time I was ever a straight A student was my last two years of high school because I finally was able to get on adderall and it worked, albeit it took my appetite away which caused my doctor at the time to take me off of it.

I was told it would get better as I became an adult but it hasn't. If anything, it's gotten worse. Even things I enjoy have become a struggle to maintain attention on. Most days I remain so unfocused and switch from one topic to another or one point of interest to another so rapidly I feel as if I'm in some sort of permanent fugue state. For the last three years it's even started to affect my ability to hold down a job and to complete my engineering courses. I did so poorly last quarter that I've essentially dropped out at this point because I simply cannot control this on my own. I already lost two jobs because I keep making stupid amateur hour mistakes that I know better than to make but my attention keeps lapsing constantly.

I really, really want to get back to using what works, but I don't have medical insurance at the moment (Thanks USA healthcare, or lack thereof) and thanks to a series of financial emergencies my fiancees family caused her and my dog getting herself injured, I don't really have enough to go get diagnosed again AND pay for medication out of pocket.

Until such a time, I've been looking for more holistic methods of controlling or lessening the symptoms of ADD/ADHD but nothing I've found online has really worked. Caffeine works some of the time but usually within a week of regular drinking it loses all effectiveness and I need to drink more and more to get anything out of it, which is unacceptable since it also messes with my sleep schedule. Meditation is just straight up impossible for me. I've been trying for ten years and my mind is impossible to quiet long enough to make it habit.

I just don't really know what to do at this point. If this continues, I'll probably lose my current job before I even qualify for it's medical benefits, and then I'll get stuck in a cycle of "I require medication to do the job I can't do because I don't have the medication to allow me to focus enough to do my job".
Would anyone here know of anything that be cheap or DIY that would work for an extreme case like myself?

Posts

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    There is an amazing youtube channel called How To ADHD, and it's helped me a ton. I have been exactly where you are, and I really do need medication to function on any kind of useful level. She has a ton of suggestions, and I think more than that I find her incredibly easy to follow. She talks about medication, alternatives, ways to think about and handle things that come up.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
    ArbitraryDescriptorFrySleepspool32ShadowfireSyzygyCalicaEncRomantic UndeadMrVyngaard
  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    I forget to refill my prescription often, and then tend to go months without. This is how I deal:

    There is no quieting my mind, only drowning it out.

    Headphones seem to help keep the parts that want to bark like an idiot at passing cars busy, checklists help keep the parts that like to pontificate and invent reined in.

    Stress is an exacerbating factor. Falling behind is stressful, so catching up helps as well. (Or at least I don't feel as bad about reduced productivity)

    As for anectdotal chemical solutions: I normally drink 2-3 energy drinks worth of caffeine in an 8 hour period; but I find I am at my best with a 5 hour energy type thing, a *-ade drink. This is actually less caffeine, and probably entirely psychosomatic because I only get that cocktail in times of great stress, which usually means I'm leaning harder on the music/lists.

    A suggestion on the lists: Don't use Trello. Don't use some piece of tech. Don't use something that requires any thought or invites creativity, as it may just encourage thought about it instead of what's on it*. Pen and paper. Scribble tasks on paper, throw out the paper when done.

    *(I actually use erasable magnets on a white board because you can stack them up in order and- do you see my point?)

    Side note:
    it worked, albeit it took my appetite away

    Taking my Adderall right after a full meal really knocks down the appetite suppression; and if nothing else it ensure you eat at least one solid meal.

    ceresSyzygyBrody
  • SyzygySyzygy Registered User regular
    Thanks, pal. Just knowing that someone else out there understands the struggle, and found a way to cope, that alone goes a long way towards assuaging all those fears and self-doubt that crops up. I'll give your methods a shot, see if hopefully I'm not a complete lost cause.

  • JaysonFourJaysonFour Classy Monster Kitteh Registered User regular
    I second the caffiene trick- 5-hour energies are good (you can buy them by the ten-pack), but if you have to, get a Monster, get a coffee- just figure out how many things during the day you're going to need to concentrate on, and other parts of the day that you can just let your mind wander and drain away the caffeine that's in your system so it keeps giving you the best effectiveness. I tend to just keep a box of 5-hours by my computer and I'll stash some Monsters or coffee pods in the kitchen (I don't use Red Bull because there's not that much caffeine in them, and the taste leaves a lot to be desired).

    Just be careful and learn your personal tolerance as you figure what you need- it takes about 10g of total caffeine to kill you (10,000 mg), but pay attention to what your body's trying to tell you, too.

    steam_sig.png
    Syzygy
  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Western coastal temptressRegistered User, Moderator mod
    The problem with caffeine is that you really do have to be careful of tolerance. It does help most of the things people thinks it does, but it also stops being particularly effective after ~1 week of exposure, when performance returns to baseline and instead you suffer a huge deficit if you don't have it.

    So use it, but maybe also titrate to tasks at hand.

    ceresdispatch.oDonnictonSyzygyCauldMrVyngaard
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    IANAD

    If you have to write a paper - caffeine yay!

    If you have to get out of bed and have a headache - caffeine has taken hold and owns you now.

    I'm not a big fan of relying on caffeine to focus because the benefits are short lived and you're self medicating at that point. Which is still medicating. Better off getting a prescription for something that works and probably costs less per month than drinking Red Bulls and 5 hour energy's.

    Generic Adderall is about 100$/month and you may be eligible for assistance with that. I've seen manufacturer coupons get that as low as 30$.

    I definitely wouldn't go hard on energy drinks for more than a day. Even without the sugar things like Taurine and Guarana aren't great for you in big quantities, beta-alanine in pre workout will make you itch and the vitamin b and stuff in a 5 hour energy isn't even a stimulant, it's marketing.

    Syzygy
  • SyzygySyzygy Registered User regular
    edited May 2019
    Yeah, I've tried teas, coffees, straight up caffeine pills. I need this managed daily, and like Shivahn said, after a week my body builds a tolerance and now I'm just ingesting caffeine to get rid of the headache caffeine gave me.

    Yeah, I've tried teas, coffees, straight up caffeine pills. I need this managed daily, and like Shivahn said, after a week my body builds a tolerance and now I'm just ingesting caffeine to get rid of the headache caffeine gave me.
    ceres wrote: »
    There is an amazing youtube channel called How To ADHD, and it's helped me a ton. I have been exactly where you are, and I really do need medication to function on any kind of useful level. She has a ton of suggestions, and I think more than that I find her incredibly easy to follow. She talks about medication, alternatives, ways to think about and handle things that come up.


    You are the hero I needed

    Syzygy on
    MrVyngaard
  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    I wasn't diagnosed until my early 20's, and refused to seek actual treatment until about a year ago because I was SUPER in denial. (Long story. This is about you, so I won't get into it.)

    So I got through almost all of school without medication. (That's not bragging- it was very very hard. Needlessly hard, too. Especially in college.) I had dyslexia tutoring, which in retrospect kinda doubled as ADHD tutoring. And that really helped. I also got really good at inventing my own coping mechanisms. So I've written a list of what's worked for me. Hopefully some of it helps.

    Oh, and because it's actually super relevant- I probably started as mixed hyperactive/inattentive as a kid. The hyperactive stuff was mostly trained out of me, so I'm almost entirely inattentive now, and that affects my coping mechanisms. So don't feel bad if this isn't helpful.
    • I am hyper organized about the things that matter. Keeping my overall bedroom neat isn't a big deal. There can be a few papers lying around. Maybe I haven't folded any clean laundry for a month. But my work stuff is in the same place every. single. day. And I get everything ready the night before work, so I can get out the door in under 20 minutes if I sleep through an alarm or zone out in bed or something. Because that's what important. So that's what I need to spend my mental energy focusing on.
    • I use multiple organizational systems that feed off each other. I use an Ink and Volt planner, a cork board, and a to-do list with point values attached to everything. I can't fill any one thing out without looking at a different planner system. That insures I'm REALLY thinking about my schedule every day, which is important because I have a really hard time with it.
    • I assign a point value to everything on my to-do list. And I categorize it so high-value tasks are separate from low value tasks and therefore more visible. I also have a bonus section. This helps me prioritize tasks, so I won't do something stupid like put off sleep in favor of doing the dishes. (Doing the dishes is one point. Going to bed before 3 am is 10 points.) It also helps me track my productivity and predict how much I can do in a day, since I log all my scores in a spreadsheet and graph them. (This is how I know that when something bad happens to me, I'm very functional for about 2 days and then I completely fall apart. Which is a very useful thing to know about myself.)
    • When I need to work on something hard for an extended period of time, I set myself up to induce hyper focus. I make myself a cup of tea, get myself a small snack, and do something I like until I can feel hyper focus coming on. Then I shift to the task I actually need to do. 2.5 hours later, when my brain feels like it's melting out of my ears, I take a short break, then set myself up for hyper focus again. (If you're looking for a hyperfocus trigger, think back to what you used to do right before starting homework as a kid.)
    • If I need to block out distractions, I play instrumental music (or music in a foreign language) over a youtube video of rain falling on wet leaves. This creates a wall of sound that can effectively block out human speech (especially if you go with foreign pop music) and prevent you from getting distracted.
    • I try to play to my strengths whenever possible. Like, I have a shit visual memory, but I'm VERY verbal. So when I need to give a speech or something, I write the speech by talking to myself. I look insane, pacing circles around the kitchen table talking to myself. But it works for me. (If you're not sure of your strengths, ask your parents if they have a copy of whatever testing you were given to get your ADD/ADHD diagnosis. That should have some useful info on it.)
    • I build routines slowly instead of trying to do it all at once, because that's less overwhelming. So instead of trying to start a daily habit of making the bed, brushing my dog, checking my email, and taking my thyroid medication, all at once, I'd focus on taking my thyroid meds at the same time every day first. If I can do that 5 days in a row, it's a habit (for me.) Then I start on the next thing, probably checking my email regularly.
    • I keep small things to fidget with to keep myself from being too fidgety. (Playing with a hair band is less distracting and more socially acceptable than drumming my fingers loudly on my desk.)
    • I set multiple alarms for important stuff. Using more than one app. This is especially important for waking up and leaving for work, because I often need to be jarred out of a daydream or a conversation to stay on task and actually get out the door when I need to.
    • I keep my workspace as BORING as possible. I know that's counter to what a lot of ADHD people advocate. But if my workspace is more entertaining than my work, I can't focus.
    • Similarly, I keep my organizational system boring/clean. My planner is monochromatic (black/grey.) I ONLY write in black ink, and I avoid ballpoint because they don't consistently produce solid black lines. I use mildliners instead of highlighters, because muted colors are less distracting. I keep my color coding system VERY limited. (Green for work, blue for good stuff because that's my favorite color, purple for something I'm anxious about, red for something bad/stressful/important, grey for a regularly occurring task I still need to pay attention to.)
    • I made rules for myself to target very specific bad habits of mine, and reward myself for good behavior. (One of my rules is that basic necessities of life like sleep and food can't be classified as rewards. Because I'm stupid and tend to resist going to bed until I've done "enough" in a day. "Enough" being I'm so tired that literally all I can do is crawl into bed and pass out for 12 hours.)
    • I also made rules to keep myself from gaming my own systems. So like, if I set a reward for myself and meet the threshold for that reward, I HAVE to reward myself within 24 hours, or I loose it. Because otherwise, I will save up rewards, spend a week doing nothing but goofing off, and then abandon my organizational systems.
    • I have a rule that when my life is shitty, rewards get reclassified as self care and I NEED to reward myself. (This is because I function better when I'm happier. So if I'm having a hard time, I'll actually get more done if I take a little time to reward myself first.)

    Also a couple of things about getting medication:

    • You might not need to get re-diagnosed if you can find the paperwork from when your doctor first put you on ADHD meds. You'll probably still need to undergo some kind of testing to make sure everything's up to date, but being able to prove you had an official diagnosis in the past can really speed things up. (I got diagnosed at least 3 years before I started medication. And a different doctor- my psychiatrist (not my learning disability testing person) wrote me the prescription, without doing additional cognitive testing. He just looked at my paperwork, listened to me explain my situation, and ordered me an EKG so I could get cleared for medication.)
    • Check and see if you can get insurance through your school. That could help with costs quite a bit, and a lot of colleges/universities offer a semester of free student counselling, which could help you get started in dealing with this.

    dispatch.oCalicaArbitraryDescriptorFrySyzygyINeedNoSaltJaysonFourAldo
  • SyzygySyzygy Registered User regular
    I keep my workspace as BORING as possible. I know that's counter to what a lot of ADHD people advocate. But if my workspace is more entertaining than my work, I can't focus.

    Oh god this so much. I have to lock up my phone and keep my work computer cut off from the internet or else nothing gets done, and even THEN I can always somehow find something to dick around with instead of staying on task.
    I made rules for myself to target very specific bad habits of mine, and reward myself for good behavior. (One of my rules is that basic necessities of life like sleep and food can't be classified as rewards. Because I'm stupid and tend to resist going to bed until I've done "enough" in a day. "Enough" being I'm so tired that literally all I can do is crawl into bed and pass out for 12 hours.)

    Glad to see you've dealt with this too. For me, part of the reason I got a dog (other than dogs are just plain great and all of them need all the love forever) is that I have a reason to stay active. Every day I take her out twice and throw the ball around or take her on a run and wear us both out.
    You might not need to get re-diagnosed if you can find the paperwork from when your doctor first put you on ADHD meds. You'll probably still need to undergo some kind of testing to make sure everything's up to date, but being able to prove you had an official diagnosis in the past can really speed things up. (I got diagnosed at least 3 years before I started medication. And a different doctor- my psychiatrist (not my learning disability testing person) wrote me the prescription, without doing additional cognitive testing. He just looked at my paperwork, listened to me explain my situation, and ordered me an EKG so I could get cleared for medication.)

    Out of the question for me, unfortunately. The only one who has access to my medical records would be my mother, and I had to cut her out of my life about 6 or so years ago. BPD, rampant narcissism, and definitely some level of sociopath only added to my problems growing up and trying to function as a young adult, and she refuses to seek help or even try to change. I'd rather just go through the trouble of getting re-diagnosed than ever darken my doorway with her presence again.

    Appreciate all your advice and experiences though, best to leave no stone unturned in my books.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited May 2019
    Syzygy wrote: »
    I keep my workspace as BORING as possible. I know that's counter to what a lot of ADHD people advocate. But if my workspace is more entertaining than my work, I can't focus.

    Oh god this so much. I have to lock up my phone and keep my work computer cut off from the internet or else nothing gets done, and even THEN I can always somehow find something to dick around with instead of staying on task.
    I made rules for myself to target very specific bad habits of mine, and reward myself for good behavior. (One of my rules is that basic necessities of life like sleep and food can't be classified as rewards. Because I'm stupid and tend to resist going to bed until I've done "enough" in a day. "Enough" being I'm so tired that literally all I can do is crawl into bed and pass out for 12 hours.)

    Glad to see you've dealt with this too. For me, part of the reason I got a dog (other than dogs are just plain great and all of them need all the love forever) is that I have a reason to stay active. Every day I take her out twice and throw the ball around or take her on a run and wear us both out.
    You might not need to get re-diagnosed if you can find the paperwork from when your doctor first put you on ADHD meds. You'll probably still need to undergo some kind of testing to make sure everything's up to date, but being able to prove you had an official diagnosis in the past can really speed things up. (I got diagnosed at least 3 years before I started medication. And a different doctor- my psychiatrist (not my learning disability testing person) wrote me the prescription, without doing additional cognitive testing. He just looked at my paperwork, listened to me explain my situation, and ordered me an EKG so I could get cleared for medication.)

    Out of the question for me, unfortunately. The only one who has access to my medical records would be my mother, and I had to cut her out of my life about 6 or so years ago. BPD, rampant narcissism, and definitely some level of sociopath only added to my problems growing up and trying to function as a young adult, and she refuses to seek help or even try to change. I'd rather just go through the trouble of getting re-diagnosed than ever darken my doorway with her presence again.

    Appreciate all your advice and experiences though, best to leave no stone unturned in my books.

    You can call the county or provider/physician and find out how to get a hold of your chart. They're required to provide it to you if you ask and go through the proper paperwork and identity verification.

    dispatch.o on
    Creagan
  • CalicaCalica Registered User regular
    @Creagan I wish I could awesome that post more than once.

    Jedoc wrote: »
    The GOP cares about babies until they're born, soldiers until they're in need of care, and families until they interfere with stockholder dividends.
    dispatch.oCreagan
  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    Another note on getting meds w/o insurance.

    The law recently changed here (FL) so that I now have to go see my doctor to get a refill (woo...). I don't know what that visit would add to the costs, but you might look into whether there's any free clinic options?

  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    dispatch.o wrote: »
    Syzygy wrote: »
    I keep my workspace as BORING as possible. I know that's counter to what a lot of ADHD people advocate. But if my workspace is more entertaining than my work, I can't focus.

    Oh god this so much. I have to lock up my phone and keep my work computer cut off from the internet or else nothing gets done, and even THEN I can always somehow find something to dick around with instead of staying on task.
    I made rules for myself to target very specific bad habits of mine, and reward myself for good behavior. (One of my rules is that basic necessities of life like sleep and food can't be classified as rewards. Because I'm stupid and tend to resist going to bed until I've done "enough" in a day. "Enough" being I'm so tired that literally all I can do is crawl into bed and pass out for 12 hours.)

    Glad to see you've dealt with this too. For me, part of the reason I got a dog (other than dogs are just plain great and all of them need all the love forever) is that I have a reason to stay active. Every day I take her out twice and throw the ball around or take her on a run and wear us both out.
    You might not need to get re-diagnosed if you can find the paperwork from when your doctor first put you on ADHD meds. You'll probably still need to undergo some kind of testing to make sure everything's up to date, but being able to prove you had an official diagnosis in the past can really speed things up. (I got diagnosed at least 3 years before I started medication. And a different doctor- my psychiatrist (not my learning disability testing person) wrote me the prescription, without doing additional cognitive testing. He just looked at my paperwork, listened to me explain my situation, and ordered me an EKG so I could get cleared for medication.)

    Out of the question for me, unfortunately. The only one who has access to my medical records would be my mother, and I had to cut her out of my life about 6 or so years ago. BPD, rampant narcissism, and definitely some level of sociopath only added to my problems growing up and trying to function as a young adult, and she refuses to seek help or even try to change. I'd rather just go through the trouble of getting re-diagnosed than ever darken my doorway with her presence again.

    Appreciate all your advice and experiences though, best to leave no stone unturned in my books.

    You can call the county or provider/physician and find out how to get a hold of your chart. They're required to provide it to you if you ask and go through the proper paperwork and identity verification.

    Absolutely do this. If you don't remember the doctor, call your most recent doctor. If you're in school, you had to get your vaccination records from somebody. Which means you should have access to paperwork with your teenage doctor's name on it. Hunt that shit down and get a copy of your diagnosis.

    I know it's a pain, but getting diagnosed (or rediagnosed) is an even BIGGER pain. Likely involving hours of exhausting cognitive testing. You want to avoid taking a sit-down test for 3+ hours, right, and paying for that test, right? (Yes, I'm trying to leverage the avoidance tendencies that go with ADD/ADHD. That's another trick I use. Convince yourself you're actually avoiding/procrastinating on something really big and awful by doing the thing you ACTUALLY need to be doing. Like, how exhausting would it be to explain to a professor/partner why you stopped doing homework? Might as well do homework to put that off.)

    Then, if you're still enrolled in school, call Student Counseling and ask for whatever free session they're offering. Take your paperwork to them, and ask for help. They'll talk you through the best local options for people in your situation.

    Syzygy
  • SyzygySyzygy Registered User regular
    Absolutely do this. If you don't remember the doctor, call your most recent doctor. If you're in school, you had to get your vaccination records from somebody. Which means you should have access to paperwork with your teenage doctor's name on it. Hunt that shit down and get a copy of your diagnosis.

    That's... Wait really? Huh. Neither of the two schools I've enrolled in ever asked for my vaccination records. Is that a new thing made law in response to anti-vaxxer craze?

  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    Syzygy wrote: »
    Absolutely do this. If you don't remember the doctor, call your most recent doctor. If you're in school, you had to get your vaccination records from somebody. Which means you should have access to paperwork with your teenage doctor's name on it. Hunt that shit down and get a copy of your diagnosis.

    That's... Wait really? Huh. Neither of the two schools I've enrolled in ever asked for my vaccination records. Is that a new thing made law in response to anti-vaxxer craze?

    It's not new. My alma mater needed my vaccination records when I was a freshman, and that was (oh my god) nine years ago. And I needed them for my Master's too, a couple years back. (Actually, I forgot to send those in and almost got blocked from signing up for classes second semester of my first year.) I did my undergrad at a private school, Master's at a public state college.

    Now, both times they didn't ask directly for them. (Which is how I forgot about sending them in during my Master's.) But they were required. Some religious places don't ask for them, but I think most of the time vaccination records are mandatory. (Colleges DON'T like meningitis outbreaks.)

    Your parents might have sent them into your first school for you, and just not said anything. (That's what happened when I was an undergrad.) But I don't know how long they keep student records at colleges. I think it'd be worth calling your last school, and maybe even your high school (that one's a long shot, but it's worth trying.)

    Unless you already remember who the doctor was/where they practiced. Then you can just call directly and request your health records.

    If you remember the doctor's name, but not where they practiced, try doing a google search with the doctor's name and the name of the city/area where you lived when you were their patient. If they're still practicing, they should come up.

    If they're not still practicing, do a google search for doctors and hospitals in the area surrounding where you lived at the time of your diagnosis. Then use Google Maps to look at the building. If something looks familiar, call that place and explain you're trying to find your health records, you think you were a patient at their practice around ______, and you'd like to know if they can help you.

    This is a treasure hunt. The prize is avoiding cognitive testing for a new diagnosis, spending less money, and getting treatment faster. So, a pretty big one.

    dispatch.o
  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    The school I teach at won't let you register if your Vax records are not in

    camo_sig.png
    tynic
  • Romantic UndeadRomantic Undead Registered User regular
    ceres wrote: »
    There is an amazing youtube channel called How To ADHD, and it's helped me a ton. I have been exactly where you are, and I really do need medication to function on any kind of useful level. She has a ton of suggestions, and I think more than that I find her incredibly easy to follow. She talks about medication, alternatives, ways to think about and handle things that come up.


    Just want to echo my thanks to you @Ceres for this!

    I was just diagnosed with ADHD LAST YEAR (at 40!).

    It was such a crazy revelation to me and helped explain SO much about my life. That said, I'm still finding myself struggling with a bit of self-loathing and anger at having not sought a diagnosis sooner, and having to force myself to look forward with hope instead of back with regret.

    One of that Youtube Channel's guests said it best "there's nothing to be gained from mourning a life that never was". I have to train myself to be glad to have made this discovery about myself, and apply that new knowledge towards towards bettering myself for the future, instead of dwelling on the missed opportunities of the past.

    3DS FC: 1547-5210-6531
    ceresDisruptedCapitalistMrVyngaard
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    Can't decide whether to awesome or agree.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    So i have repeat that this was a great channel to show my kid that has it. She was able to put into words a lot of what he couldn't so I recomend this as a way to explain things to younger kids

    camo_sig.png
    ceresCalica
  • SyzygySyzygy Registered User regular
    Oh yeah, fantastic resource for sure. My only problem right now is sticking to some of the modified behaviors and routines.

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