Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.
We want your feedback! Complete our survey and enter to win one of four $25 gift cards.

Could I have ADHD or ADD?

I know that this isn’t the best place to ask this question, but I’ve had an inkling that I may have ADD or something for a couple of years...

I’m currently a freshman in HS.

I cannot focus on anything most of the time. Even though I am extremely motivated, I often find myself spending obsessive amounts of time trying to keep things organized, but I still can’t rememeber to do things.

I still have straight a’s and have had them my entire life. Schoolwork has never required significant effort from me. Once the assignment is due in ten minutes, I can get things done very well very quickly. I work really well under pressure.

I also have times where I work on a random project for 8 hours and feel like no time has passed.

I get distracted by everything and end up working on an essay about some random subject I’m interested in instead of doing the thing that’s due I three hours.

In fact, yesterday, I had a 7 page paper due in less than two hours and I decided to instead work on painting an old bookshelf I found in the basement.

I also drink excessive amounts of caffeine, which I just found out can be an add thing. Without caffeine, my focusing is even worse...and by excessive amounts I mean upwards of five cups a day on a standard day.

This is somewhat irrelevant, but the past few years, when I’ve had physicals, and you have to fill out the sheet that asks you to rate how often you do certain behaviors, I would put “frequently” or “often” for some things like fidgety, can’t focus, and that kind of thing because it’s very true for me, but my mum would go over the list to check it and change what I said. She would say that “no you have fine focus” and that sort of thing, which worries me because either she’s blind or I’m crazy.

I had to be evaluated for something or other a few years back to get into a school (WISC I think?) and my parents said that unofficially the dude who did it thought that I was very normal mentally.

I’m not sure if I’m crazy or if I’m just lazy or something but maybe that would explain something?

I don’t know. Does anyone have any ideas?

Replies to: Could I have ADHD or ADD?

  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers Registered User Posts: 2,384 Senior Member
    It sounds like you're a normal adolescent, with lots of imagination, lots of smarts, plenty of practical skills, and when you want to focus on something, you find the ability to do so. Schoolwork is often the most boring thing on the agenda. Often it's really great, but you know you're studying subjects that others tell you that you HAVE to study. In college, you get to choose subjects more often. Is it weird that you get bored and go do something with your hands instead? Not at all. Most people who use their minds for work, will take breaks and, say, fix a motorcycle or cook a great meal or go for a jog. Their minds are still working on the intellectual problem.

    You're just fine.

    If you feel anxious, mabye think about cutting out the caffein and going for a run or a long swim. Those sorts of activities naturally produce chemicals in your brain that make you feel that all is right with the world. Or they make you feel that you can tackle the problems that lay before you. Plus it will give you a buff bod. So there's that.

    Here's a talk by an educator that may interest you -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U
  • zannahzannah Registered User Posts: 730 Member
    Whether or not you have add or ADHD is a diagnostic question that medical doctors or psychologists might answer. A further consideration after diagnosis is the need for and and n type of treatment. Do not go to a diagnostic center in the mall if they still exist. Let someone who knows you well remarkno on the possibility. Fretting is not a useful behavior when you have a full life.

    Instead, figure out what behaviors helps you and what hinders you then learn to maximize the good and where it is best applied and decide what and where some behaviors cause difficulty and learn to control them.
  • fightingdragonzfightingdragonz Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
    That’s the thing— I can’t find the ability to focus when I need to, which is why I’m stressed about it. I can’t even focus on things I enjoy doing.

    I’ve tried running, I’ve tried stopping insane caffiene intake (that was a disaster) and I’ve tried basically everything I can think of to try to get myself to focus.

    I can’t finish tasks, I don’t remember to do things even with excessive excersises to do so.

    I’m really worried that I’m just lazy and I don’t understand how I can get so little work done with the effort that I’m doing.
  • momof3swimmersmomof3swimmers Registered User Posts: 279 Junior Member
    It could be ADHD or an executive function deficit. It could also be a "normal" teen brain. My thoughts on all questions of ADHD and learning disabilities is it can't hurt to be tested.
  • DustyfeathersDustyfeathers Registered User Posts: 2,384 Senior Member
    Well, it CAN hurt to be tested. What are the biases of the tests? Are they even valid? What are the false positive rates?

    Even going to a psychologist/ psychiatrist, all a person has to do nowadays is say "I have problems focusing" and they write a prescription for hard-core medications--basically drugs that Nancy Reagan was telling kids to "just say no" to. Now the pharma industry and anxious schools and parents often treat normal kid behavior as a "disease" and put kids on drugs to keep them on the narrow train tracks of life.

    Whatever happened to allowing them to explore? Acknowledge the fact that life is filled with times when you can't concentrate--it's not a disease. It's just a time when you can't concentrate. In fact, it's really good to know that if you're bored or down, that's a signal you should pay attention to, not drug it away. We have these signals inside of us for a reason. Drugging them away just makes sure that we stay numb and on some track that someone (who knows who?) has said we're "supposed" to be on--the four Cs: Crib, College, Cubicle, Cemetery. Blah blah blah. Acknowledge the fact that sometimes we fail and it's okay. Allow them to fall down and get back up, even if that means starting at community college and not at an Ivy League school. Teach them they are in all probability just fine and will be just fine, and maybe better for listening to their body signals and maybe, as a result, trying something that their peers and parents haven't yet thought of doing.
  • momof3swimmersmomof3swimmers Registered User Posts: 279 Junior Member
    Testing is not the same as medicating. Not everyone treats ADHD with meds. In fact, I have a child with ADHD and we don’t medicate. But knowing what the issue is helps us plan a course of action. It also allows for accomadaations and the protection of a 504 plan. Meds are a last resort for us.
    Sounds to make like you don’t even believe ADHD is real. In ADHD the guy at the signals station is asleep and the brain can’t listen to the signals. Believe me, I wish it didn’t exist, but it does.
  • thebetterhawkeyethebetterhawkeye Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    @Dustyfeathers that's, uh... not how getting on medication works. I had to fill out a symptom self-report, a family history report, a substance use report, a comorbid conditions report, do two rounds of interviews with psychiatrists, and send a form to a friend to fill out of my observed behavior to make sure I wasn't making all my symptoms up. I have to meet with a psychologist on a regular basis to make sure I'm choosing to alter my behavior and not just popping a Ritalin and hoping it fixes everything, and I have to get a handwritten prescription once a month -- no automatic refills. It's stereotypes like the ones you seem to believe that make me jump through hoops to sit through a one-hour lecture and absorb something.

    @fightingdragonz You remind me of me a lot. In my head I have the motivation to do everything but something doesn't translate from my brain to my body and I'll end up sitting on my phone for hours, not enjoying a second of it because I keep trying to tell myself to get up and do the thing I need to. The 8 hours bit you were describing sounds like hyperfocus, which is a common symptom that tricks people with ADHD into thinking they're making it up. I would recommend reducing the caffeine intake and going in for testing. Better to find out now than when you're a freshman in college like me who got away without knowing about it because she was smart enough not to need to pay attention. Even if the tests say you don't have ADHD, or you have it at a "sub-clinical" level (i.e. not intense enough for medication), I would recommend looking up study tips meant for people with ADHD, as they could probably transfer to your situation.
  • fightingdragonzfightingdragonz Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
    Thank you.
  • thebetterhawkeyethebetterhawkeye Registered User Posts: 83 Junior Member
    Because I'm still mad about Dustyfeathers' comment and because I feel like other people might go to this thread and see it:

    No, it cannot hurt to be tested. Getting tested does not mean getting put on medication. When I was tested, I was given a choice: I could start medication the next day, I could wait until the start of the next semester, or I could not take it at all and just work on the behavioral aspect. Furthermore, if the tests indicate that you have ADHD, nobody has to know. Again, I was given a CHOICE to tell the school to see if I could get certain accomodations. I declined, as the accomodations weren't things that had been a problem for me -- namely they wanted to give me time and a half on exams when my main issue was paying attention for a 50-minute lecture.

    ADHD medication is not hardcore. Currently I take 18mg of slow-release Ritalin with breakfast. It takes about an hour to kick in, which is usually by the time I get to my first class. 6 hour later my attention starts to sag, and by 8-9 hours it's completely out of my system. Half the time I don't even notice it's working; its main function is to prevent dopamine reuptake so that mundane tasks feel more rewarding and I'm more willing to do them. I need to put effort into starting tasks still, but once I start it's easier to finish.

    It's true that life is filled with times you can't concentrate. The PROBLEM is when it spills over from "times" to "98% of the time, save for the 2% where I'm fixated on one thing and forget everything else exists." There's a difference between an attention deficit and ADHD, just like there's a difference between feeling anxious and having an anxiety DISORDER.

    There's nothing about the medication that I'm on that makes me feel numb. If anything, it's made me more creative: before I would get stuck in ruts of "hurgh I want to create something but nothing is popping out so I'm going to play on the computer and be frustrated that I'm getting nothing done." Now I can pay attention to my writing and my research and staying far away from a cubicle.

    Reductive thinking that "this is just something I can get over with enough willpower" is what made me miserable this past semester. I did everything that I was supposed to do: I took notes by hand instead of with a computer, my phone was off and away, I had GOOD professors I wanted to listen to, but I would still zone out within five minutes on some thought tangent of my own creation and have no idea what I was just listening to. Thinking that I wouldn't have this problem if I just tried a little harder shut me into a spiral of negative thoughts.

    Finally, having an LD or ADHD doesn't resign you to community college. I'm currently at an Ivy League school and doing much better now that I know that there's a chemical imbalance in my brain and how to treat it.
  • fightingdragonzfightingdragonz Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
    Thanks. I feel a lot better now and feel less like I’m just useless because I have trouble focusing.
  • Sydney159Sydney159 Registered User Posts: 13 New Member
    If it becomes a strong concern, then see a psychiatrist so they can evaluate the situation. I recently got diagnosed a week ago because my attention span has always been terrible and I have a tick that's lasted since my childhood. I never suspected it because my grades have always been okay, but it's different for everyone I guess.
  • FunintheSun1211FunintheSun1211 Registered User Posts: 94 Junior Member
    Don't give too much stock to what you hear online from strangers. Seek medical diagnosis instead.
Sign In or Register to comment.