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There's a documentary floating around called "Hell's Angels Forever". It said the founders of the Hell's Angels were fighter pilots from WWII who came home and were having trouble assimilating themselves back into civilian society. One of the lines that stuck with me was that the pilots missed the adrenaline-pumping sensation of being in a speeding plane, which is why they donned their erstwhile bomber jackets and hopped on the motorcycles. It's pretty obvious today that these guys were dealing with a form of PTSD.

In this diary I look at the parallels and differences between ADD and PTSD - based on my own experiences with both. I observe that while the solutions will differ for every individual with PTSD, they do exist if we make sufficient effort to understand the syndromes. I also provide the solution I've chosen for dealing with mine.

We don't have to be Hell's Angels Forever - and we can put Hell out of business in the process.

I've been reading the diaries of testvet1668 and brokenskull on the subject of PTSD with the interest of a person who also experiences it, although to a lesser degree. When I first saw the World Trade Centers collapse, it was not on television, and it was in full sensurround.

After I managed to let my family and friends know I was alive and got back to my home on Long Island, I was in shock for three days. I only wanted to sleep, I only got out of bed when nature called, and I did not eat anything for those three days while I processed the day's events. I didn't need a television then, either, although I'm told that much of the content matched what was going on in my head. What made it worse was that part of what I was having to process was the knowledge - based on my running HQ USAFE's TS-level MAXI intelligence message handling system for 3 years of my tour of duty - that the US government certainly had to have seen it coming, as well as the further knowledge that a certain very shitty supervisor at my then employer, Sun Microsystems, deliberately tried to emphasize my assignment as the site rep for Cantor Fitzgerald as one of his first acts upon receiving the job. What did that tell me? I didn't want to even wrap my head around the possibility at the time, but the truth is starting to go mainstream now.

So yeah, that rocked my little Brooklyn socks in a not good way, tough cookie as I like to think that I am. You'd have to be inhuman not to be affected by something like seeing, hearing, and feeling those buildings come down and knowing in retrospect that you were experiencing the deaths of thousands of innocent people before your eyes.

I still trigger from it - mostly on the day itself. The self-serving, insincere hype and the 24-hour expiration date that is placed on a society-wide "license to practice compassion" still makes my skin crawl. The desire to put my thumbs into the adam's apples of the phony politicians and glassy-eyed kneejerk patriots who continue to exploit the bejesus fuck out of what happened that day reaches supremely redline levels, so it is rare I will even leave the house that day. I know there are people who genuinely grieve and care. That's not what infuriates me - it's the knowledge that there are those who can't be bothered to still remember what's important on 9/12 - and even worse, those who laughed all the way to the bank when it happened. Cantor Fitzgerald is one of the 23 brokerages allowed to handle transactions for the Federal Reserve, and there are transactions that took place at close of business on 9/10 that no living soul or existing equipment will ever have any record of. Do THAT math one time.

However, I have a little bit of a different perspective on PTSD than the average customer, because I've already spent a large portion of my life learning how to control my temper and other impulsive behavior that is generally frowned upon by society. I was born with ADD. I am not a warrior made, I am a warrior born.

At least, that's what Thom Hartmann thinks, and I am not disagreeing with him. Of anyone on this planet he's one of the people I find truly understands the syndrome from just about every direction he's analyzed it. Granted, he tends to use the more politically correct term "hunter" because these days telling parents, children and adult ADD folks that they are warriors is something that could infer an agenda to some people, and if you know of all the other stuff Thom does then you know why he's not pushing that agenda (and rightly so).

The point is, Thom says ADD is a natural mutation that is only called a "disorder" because it's designed to take advantage of frontiers and dangerous situations that we - well the Western or so-called "Free" world, anyway - no longer experience on a casual basis.

Looking at PTSD, it seems that there's a heck of a lot of overlap with the ADD syndrome. I mean - I have both, I know them well, and what it takes to control and/or direct one is exactly what it takes to control and/or direct the other - I speak from a lifetime of experience. So I'm going to take a chance and say that PTSD is about as much of a disorder as ADD is. It's a survival mechanism that is imposed by circumstance as opposed to genetics. Every reaction in PTSD is designed to maximize the survivability of the individual. The problem is that a person with no history of ADD AND/OR no history of having to deal with life-threatening experiences is going to have any idea how to handle what's being thrown at them by their own body.

However, the sorts of injuries or events that bring on the PTSD experience are traumatic simply because they are situations in which that individual had no chance to mentally record a positive resolution. There is no end game, no "win". There is simply a feeling of extreme dissatisfaction and an agonizing level of frustration. My immediate reaction when I was standing in Foley Square watching the buildings fall was to want to run down south and kick somebody's ass - and had there been a normal combat situation I would have done exactly that, although by then I had been out of the USAF for ten years. All my military conditioning and combat training, in combination with my natural ADD tendencies had every nerve in my body screaming at me to find whoever had done this and kick their ass into the next dimension. I only managed to control it thanks to a lifetime of practice - and I was totally incapacitated for the following three days.

During times of stress, the brain releases endorphins. Some of these act like amphetamines and some like barbituates. The Hell's Angels feeling the fighter pilot "need for speed" (later referred to in Top Gun) were very likely not too far from the truth. Likewise, the PTSD person processes event over and over because they are seeking a positive resolution to the event - literally at the molecular level. Modern American society likes to cater to the adrenaline junkie in us anyway - violence on TV, in movies tends to aggravate it because there's no way to react to what's being seen; but videogames can yield a partial outlet since there's interaction. The problem is, this is about as close the average American will ever get to knowing what it's like inside the head of a person who's been through something as traumatic as real combat or a real disaster - or what it's like to have ADD. PTSD isn't a "disorder", per se - it's something most of us have forgotten how to deal with because most of us simply haven't had to on that level for centuries.

I've been controlling my ADD for quite a while now by writing. Nobody bleeds when I vent at a keyboard or write in a notebook, and for years I used a diary as a means to analyze my reactions to things and re-evaluate them after the emotion had passed. I think that the Warrior Writer Workshop project is brilliant in that it allows the PTSD sufferer to explore a path to personal positive resolution. Very importantly, it also allows them to do this without the need for medication. In these days of "Medication Nation" where big pharma wants everyone taking at least one pill to be the norm, it's well known that the assorted drug cocktails used to twiddle brain chemistry can be about as fun and effective as juggling chainsaws.

Alcohol is a natural way that PTSD people try to self medicate the amphetamine-like endorphins and adrenaline back to a manageable level. There are links between alcohol use and ADD as well. Alcohol is a cheap and legal depressant. At least temporarily, alcohol provides a relief from the immediate emotional and mental anguish of not being able to do anything about a situation. As a depressant, it damps down the amphetamine-like endorphins and the adrenaline to a dull roar, but those chemicals are going to come right back in the morning because until there's a positive resolution to what put them there, your head is still on full auto. With ADD it's a permanent biochemical inbalance, but there too it is possible to learn to live with it. It's already been covered a lot elsewhere that alcohol doesn't help, but it's important to understand why.

Your brain got you into this mess and your brain can get you out of it. All you need to do is find a positive resolution for the situation that bothers you. Yeah, I DO know how easy that's not. Please bear with me.

As Thom Hartmann mentions, ADD people come into the world for a reason and that reason was once to serve as hunters, inventors, explorers and warriors in a dangerous world of many frontiers. In a not-so-dangerous world with no frontiers, there's no apparent need for the ADD person. The smart ones will find careers where they can excel - everything from athlete to musician for the more physical people; while mental types will seek interrupt-driven or goal-oriented careers as everything from artists to scientists. There are a lot of ADD geeks, and caffeine is not so much a fad among them as a lifestyle. The not-so-smart ones - or the ones unfortunate to grow up at the hands of not-so-smart or abusive parents - well, a lot of them end up in jail.

ADD still very much has it's uses, such as facing down a potential mugger or being the "crazier than me" medal-collector type in a combat zone. My theory is that PTSD is a temporary form of ADD. A lot of the symptoms and effects match. A lot of the same treatments might as well - I wonder if anyone has explored biofeedback as an option. The only difference between PTSD and ADD is that with PTSD, there's no lifetime of experience to teach you how to find that badly needed happy - or at least acceptable - ending.

I've learned how to control my ADD, more or less. Sometimes I screw up and lose my temper at someone who really doesn't deserve it. Sometimes I screw up and over-regulate myself, and DON'T lose my temper at someone who DOES deserve it. In general I prefer to err on the side of caution - I try to make sure that when my ADD is in play, there's GOING to be a happy ending or that beserker-doggie never comes off the leash, even if it is to my detriment. (Haven't had to go to jail yet for it, and I'd like things to stay that way.) I've learned thousands of ways of dealing with the fallout from that - writing, painting, playing instruments. But the best way to deal with it, as I found out that day with the mugger, is when you're in that stressful situation and you WIN. Nothing is more satisfying, and satisfaction brings everything back to normal. Not right away at first, but eventually that snarling doggie lays right back down on the porch and sleeps the sleep of one who has done well. I've learned that you can usually sublimate the lack of a positive resolution in one situation with a sufficiently happy ending (or some number thereof) in another. So basically you have to define and then reach the one that works for you.

The event which caused my PTSD has no happy ending. It won't until Bush and Cheney and all the soulless war criminals who have used that event to facilitate the destruction of the nation I swore to protect and defend with my life are swinging by their necks in the Hague. I work on that every day. It has become my life. It is my waking thought and the last thought I have before I go to bed at night. Like many of you, all of my time and energy is devoted to bringing this administration down by every peaceful and legal means possible. That's how I have chosen to treat my PTSD. I send the rage right back home where it belongs. My survival mechanism has been consciously directed into the higher goal of seeing to the survival of the nation and the world.

Those of you who have been given your own gifts of PTSD by our loving government, glad you could be here to do the same. We really ARE still at war, and we will find our positive resolution on the day we truly put paid to the Bush administration and their cruel and greedy corporate masters who would like to think that they are also ours. We NEED that hypervigilance, we NEED that anger - directed where it can do the most good, which is right back where it came from! These stinking war criminals were the cause, and it is only just and proper that they should also be the outlet - until the blessed, deeply satisfying day that it is no longer needed because they will be GONE. I know how good it feels, and that winning future is waiting for all of us. Let's use everything we have - ESPECIALLY the PTSD - to get it done.

Consider it group therapy.

Originally posted to Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 12:39 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  thanks for a new perspective (5+ / 0-)

      This is something I had never thought of before, and I was intrigued by the possibilities you mention.

      •  If it helps someone (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cowalker, raster44

        then it's all worth it. I tend to really like to use my ADD against itself - I notice things about it that others might not, and I'm actually pretty surprised that no one has drawn the obvious parallel between the two disorders beforehand. Then again, what they've managed to figure out about ADD in the past 30 years (with the exception of Mr. Hartmann and a few others) frankly isn't much at all, but that could simply be because big pharma likes to sell Ritalin.

        "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

        by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 06:38:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  A fine diary - recommended! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cowalker, Randgrithr

      It makes you realize what sort of long-term time bomb Bush & Co. have left for America in the OTSD cases that we are likely to find in our troops as they return from Iraq.  I'm afraid it will be a problem that will plaque our country for decades after George Bush begins his eternal sojourn in the depths of Hell!

  •  PTSD is anything but "temporary" it is a (11+ / 0-)

    permanent addition to your life, it is now your constant companion just on some days he shows up more and is more aggressive than on other days, there are good days  and bad days and in the case of chronic PTSD there are far more bad days than good days yes  there are treatments  counseling, meds, some work and some don't  all meds affect us each differently  so what works for you might not work for me

    I can't remember a day in the past 30 plus years that it hasn't affected my life or my families life

    many WW2 vets dealt with it working factory jobs  having a few beers every night a few cases on the week end and beat the shit out of the wife and kids  and it was considered "normal" almost every block had one or two WW2 vets in the 50s and 60s but hell  war was hell  and  everyone tended to overlook the problems back then  you bought the wife some flowers  and told the kids it was for some mistake they had committed when dad wasn't looking and if you did it again it would be wrose the enxt time  and you trusted him on that one

    PTSD is a mother flucker and not just combat vets have it, New Yorkers do as you describe from 911  New Orleans and other Gulf Coast residents got it from Katrina, car accident victims can get it, victims of muggings, attempted murders, rapes  there are many causes of PTSD veterans are lucky in the fact that the VA can and might compensate them if it screws their libes up to bad, what do the rest of the nations citizens get?  SSD maybe if they are lucky or rather unlucky enough to be that seriously affected by PTSD

    PTSD is nothing but trouble...

    Great diary and thank you for the hat tip   Mike

    •  Hi Mike, what I meant by "temporary" (7+ / 0-)

      is that you didn't grow up with it, it hasn't always been a part of your entire life. It was badly phrased, but I do explain what I mean elsewhere in the diary.

      I also think it can be treatable and that you might never get rid of it completely, but you'll be able to stop it from wrecking your life.

      Your diary and brokenskull's were extremely helpful and inspirational. My thanks for everything you've done.

      "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

      by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 01:08:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you for your care and support I am in (9+ / 0-)

        admiration of Brians story (brokenskull) I am glad he and other Iraq and Afghanistan vets are seeking help now rather than wait 2-3 decades before admitting they have issues  like I say I have a lifetime subscription now  rofl  the aerlier you seek help the better chances you have of getting it under control...at least thats what the experts say

        •  Exactly (7+ / 0-)

          I don't see my PTSD as something hard to handle, but ironically that is because I have the dubious "advantage" (?!) of also having had ADD all my life, and it's so similar.

          Whereas you ended up with the syndrome by circumstance. Also you both were subjected to combat stress for far longer and saw a lot worse stuff than I did (Foley Square is about a mile away from Ground Zero).

          I figured I would try to put into words how I direct all that energy these days because it might help someone else. I realize my solution isn't going to work or be sufficient or appropriate for everyone, just as I don't represent the mainstream person with ADD and my solution for controlling that is not going to work for everyone.

          The more there is communication from people directly affected by the problem the more likely it will be that these syndromes will be fully understood and ultimately treatable in a standardized manner.

          "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

          by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 02:27:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  ADD/PTSD (6+ / 0-)

      I have a 12 year old son with ADD, who is also a Katrina Kid.  We walk on egg shells most of the time and seem to have finally found the right school.  

      •  Glad to hear it! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cowalker, marina, KenBee, CSI Bentonville

        Adolescence is a super tough time for anyone with ADD because as a child's biochemistry adapts to adulthood, the ADD is also in flux. This is usually the time they will try to wean a person off medication. It can get really chaotic.

        All the hypersentitivities and delicate emotional stuff that makes normal adolescence a living hell for anyone - well, if you have ADD, double it. :-/ Having a school of enlightened teachers and well educated children can make all the difference in the world.

        "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

        by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 09:42:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  This is an interesting thesis (7+ / 0-)

    and I would love to read more on the subjects of PTSD and ADD/ADHD and their correlative flight-or-fight connections. Maybe some Kossack psychology types will chime in. Compound F would be a good resource, I'd venture, on the physiological esimilarities.

    I'm very sorry for the pain you have experienced and carry with you, and for testvet too. I know it is not easy getting through life with those traumatic experiences affecting you every moment in some way.

    •  Thanks (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cowalker, marina, Neon Vincent

      I'd really like to see any professional psych types weigh in here, too. I took some courses in college before I switched majors to computer science, and I've done a certain amount of reading on the subject so I can speak intelligently about it, but my ADD "expertise", such as it is, is limited to having been born with it.

      "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

      by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 06:32:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  ADHD and other mental health problems. (7+ / 0-)

    I haven't yet figured out how to fully channel my ADHD into anything.  But then, I've got a host of other mental issues (depression, social anxiety disorder (or whatever it's called), OCD traits, (the above 4 I've been officially diagnosed with seven years ago) and probably agoraphobia seeing as I've rarely left the house for the past six years) so I haven't exactly been living in a way that would let me discover how to channel my ADHD.

    All I know, is having mental health issues is rough.  It's been hard for me, and it's been hard for the people who love me.

    Thanks for this diary.  We can only figure out how to deal with these things if we talk about them.  We "crazy" people have to stick together.  :)

    •  Read Thom Hartmann (5+ / 0-)

      because as I said, it's only a problem if you allow it to be one. As I've said all along, ADD is not a "mental health issue" so much as a disability one is born with - and even then it is not a disability if one has the proper environment and the proper mindset for dealing with it. As Thom Hartmann explains, Thomas Edison was ADD, and we all know how much that "disabled" him.

      All the other comorbid stuff - depression, etc, is quite possibly from having grown up hearing people say there's "something wrong with you" for so long that you've actually started believing it.

      I mean, look around you. If its "normal" to think the US is the only country on the planet, it's "normal" not to care that nearly 3/4 of a million of Iraqis have died for no reason; if it's "normal" to walk around thinking we have some God-given right to shove our way of life down the collective throats of the people who live in one of the oldest cradles of civilization in the world when it doesn't even work for us; then anyone "normal" who believes that shit and then tells me there's something wrong with ME runs the risk of having me laugh right in their face, at best.

      I'm not lazy, stupid or crazy.

      "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

      by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 05:03:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Natural Reaction (8+ / 0-)

        All the other comorbid stuff - depression, etc, is quite possibly from having grown up hearing people say there's "something wrong with you" for so long that you've actually started believing it.

        Oh yeah, how others have treated me is a huge element in my depression and anxiety issues.

        I'm a sensitive gay man who has an abusive, alcoholic father.  For all the years I spent growing up, I lived in fear of my father hurting my family at night, and I lived in fear of my peers at school hurting me at school during the day.  It's really no surprise that I've grown up to hide away from people out of feeling unable to trust that they won't try to attack me.

        All the psychological malformations are things that I'm going to have with me for the rest of my life.

        •  And having ADD on top of that (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cowalker, vacantlook, marina, KenBee

          is a nightmare because it makes you extra sensitive to the criticism. :(

          Abusive and alcoholic parentage does tend to show up in a lot of ADD situations. One of the supposed causes is fetal alcohol syndrome, and alcoholism also tends to run in families. I am pretty sure my mother, who was also an abusive alcoholic, drank while she was pregnant with me because when I was born I was only 5 lbs and although I was full term they had to put me in the preemie ward.

          It takes a great deal of strength to make it past an abusive childhood, but it can be done if you insist on setting your boundaries as an adult and ensuring that you can live on your own terms and develop your own healthy and positive value system. I hope you succeed.

          "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

          by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 06:30:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  People with ADD tend to make phenominal pilots. (5+ / 0-)

    It's true.  

    When you're flying an aircraft, there are always at least a half dozen things that need your undivided attention, so a pilot with ADD tends to thrive.

    The problem is, ADD has a noted comorbidity rate with bipolar disorder, and flight surgeons tend to frown on the latter.

    Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions.

    by Ice Blue on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 04:54:39 PM PDT

    •  It's good for combat situations of any type (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cowalker, marina, Ice Blue, Neon Vincent

      people with ADD make stellar martial artists, athletes, and fighters of any type for much the same reasons. We're all about fast reactions, endurance under fire and perseverance. There was a time when the world was a lot larger when people were valued for these things.

      On the other hand, while 20 years ago it wasn't a problem, today's US military doesn't like ADD because for some reason they've noticed that people who have it are extra resistant to a lot of the conditioning stuff (cough brainwashing cough) that they like to do to their personnel these days. ;-7

      "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

      by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 05:21:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Martial Arts (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cowalker, Randgrithr

        I've actually always wanted to learn martial arts.  I still would love to do so, but I'd have to get myself to a mental state where I was comfortable leaving the house and being around people first.  :-\

        •  It's actually really helpful (5+ / 0-)

          with a lot of the issues ADD people face. It builds confidence and self esteem, it builds self discipline, and it helps with focusing your energy.

          And of course, it has this tendency to give you an effective way to handle any future bullies that come along. That's partly what I was talking about when I mentioned that the ability to achieve a positive resolution can remove a HUGE amount of stress the way nothing else can. Just KNOWING you have the ability to kick someone's ass if it needs kicking lets you approach situations calmly that otherwise would cause a sickening amount of emotional pain and stress.

          I would suggest finding a way to get involved with a Tai Chi class. Even just get a DVD or tape and practice by yourself in the house. Tai Chi is low impact (at first) and builds your personal energy - it helps with a variety of ills.

          "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

          by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 07:16:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tai Chi (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cowalker, KenBee

            I've actually wondered about tai chi because of the fact that I'm not exactly in the best physical shape and would need to build up to anything particularly strenuous or energetic, which of course would be great but I'm just not capable of that yet.

            Thanks for the tips.

            •  Then it's perfect (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cowalker, vacantlook, marina, KenBee

              The additional energy it gives you will help you to get where you want to be, and it does begin at a nice slow and gentle pace. It's sometimes taught as a form of meditation. I was actually shocked to learn that it was a martial art because I'd only ever seen it done slowly. Then my husband (he's the big martial artist in the family) demonstrated the moves for me at real speed - it turns out when sped up that a lot of the moves are very vicious bonebreakers.

              This is one of the reasons China has outlawed the Falun Gong organization. They practice and teach Tai Chi as a supposedly harmless semi-mystical practice, but are seen as an organization potentially subversive to the government because they are teaching a very real martial art to the "Joe Schmoes" of China, rather than to approved people who go to the country's carefully watched and regulated martial arts schools.

              "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

              by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 09:29:18 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  ADD also helps guards, bouncers, and truckers.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marina, Ice Blue, Randgrithr

        And other people who have to scan an ever-shifting situation, looking for something that will suddenly need their focus and attention.

        My husband deplores his ADD when it means he can't remember to take out the garbage if the tv's on, but it's kept him out of innumerable wrecks as a truck driver, and allowed him to abort a potential problem situation as both a guard and a bouncer before it got big and violent.

      •  Maybe it's the ODD (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Randgrithr

        Oppositional Defiant Disorder that often accompanies ADD and ADHD.
        :-)

        •  Indeed a blessing in disguise (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marina

          ODD is one of the reasons the US military doesn't like ADD. For better or for worse, we have a natural resistance to following orders that we don't like.

          It's certainly possible to brainwash one of us, but not by ordinary methods, and it won't hold for very long if the brainwashing goes against the value systems we were raised with as children.

          In some ways, the sheer amount of people being born with ADD today might be what saves the nation. We don't buy into hype without a damned good reason - not just on a mental or emotional level, but on a PHYSICAL one.

          "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

          by Randgrithr on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 10:39:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you so much for this diary (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cowalker, vacantlook, marina, Randgrithr

    My 13 year old son has ADD, clinical depression, and possibly PTSD.  PTSD has never been diagnosed, but I suspect it.  (I have PTSD from a traumatic incident that occurred during my divorce from his father, ten years ago.  My son was the victim of the incident but doesn't really remember it.)

    My son has recently been getting into a lot of trouble at school, fighting, etc.  He's been feeling stupid, out of control and very depressed.  I've been taking him to a psychiatrist and a counsellor, but other than that, and the medication, I didn't know how else to help him.  

    I'm going to get him to read your diary, and the references you give first thing tomorrow morning, and order the book.  I think the info you've provided will help to feel a lot better about himself and give me more insight into how to help him.

    I think you've made a huge difference in the life of at least one child tonight!  Thank you so much!!

    "A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." Mark Twain

    by Shaniriver on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 09:22:32 PM PDT

    •  Very honored and happy to help (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cowalker, Shaniriver, KenBee

      As I was saying upthread, adolescence can be a hellish time for someone with ADD because we are twice as sensitive to criticism, and as our body chemistry changes it brings an element of chaos to our lives. Medication that worked one day might not work the next because the biochemical changes are that drastic.

      I will suggest martial arts for your son if he's interested. My husband, who also has ADD and grew up in a very rough NYC neighborhood, was constantly getting into fights and was carrying a knife at age six, I kid you not. Eventually he took up fencing at age 11, and currently knows many eastern and western martial arts styles. A good martial arts school helps develop needed self discipline and respect for society, as well as self esteem and self respect. My husband entered the Marines at age 17 while the Vietnam war was still going on (not a career move I'd recommend today). Eventually he graduated with a 4.0 average from Baruch, and currently works as an accounting manager reporting directly to the Dean of Engineering for Columbia University.

      As for myself, while I never finished college (I served in the military instead), I have consistently tested in the 98th percentile for my peer group on intelligence tests. I am a National Merit Finalist. I have companies like Time Warner, Sun Microsystems, American Institute of Physics and Barnard on my resume.

      Having ADD is only the end of the world if you say it is. He and I kinda forgot to say it was. ;-7

      I would advise your son to understand that putting effort into excelling in school will allow him to take great pleasure in proving anyone who calls him stupid wrong - making damn sure to start with that guy in the mirror. :)

      I'm not saying he should run around thinking he's perfect or beyond reproach, mind you. Just don't take the putdowns too seriously, because at that age they are often given lightly, early, often, and inappropriately - everybody knows high school kids are vicious and cruel. That's just the way of the world, but it doesn't have to be his way. Let him find a way to revel in and celebrate what makes him different. A person with ADD who finds a way to use what they have to make a solid contribution to society can go through brick walls!

      And I must say, he's very lucky to have a loving and compassionate woman like you for a mother. :)

      Definitely read the Thom Hartmann books. Mr. Hartmann is a genius, and a much better writer than I am.

      "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

      by Randgrithr on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 10:05:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for your insight (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Randgrithr

    Your information about Thom Hartmann's views is particularly fascinating to me.

    My son has a friend with ADD who struggled hard to graduate from high school. But I know from personal interaction with him that he is very intelligent.

    Several years ago I thought about writing a children's fantasy book where a brother and sister travel back in time to the Middle Ages in Europe. The boy, who had "suffered" from ADD in the modern world, adapts to the change in environment much better than the sister. She had always been rewarded for her ability to sit still for long periods of time and absorb knowledge conveyed by the spoken and written word. These skills turn out to be less admirable in an earlier culture. Yet they prove to be as necessary as her brother's sensitivity to the environment moment by moment in getting both of them back to their proper time. It is the brother who makes the real sacrifice in going back to a world that denigrates his talents and recognizes only his sister's abilities. But his sister retains her appreciation for his talents after their return.

    Your account and information seem to validate my plot. Thank you.

    Fox News--We distort; you watch, self-satisfied. We misreport; you witness liberticide. We sport with truth; liberals apply vermicide.

    by Cowalker on Sat Oct 20, 2007 at 10:30:58 PM PDT

    •  Wow, that's very insightful (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina

      The Middle Ages, a time of constant warfare and violence, were exactly why ADD was once considered an advantage. Granted, the syndrome has it's negative aspects even in that sort of environment, but if the person is rewarded for the positive aspects rather than abused and made to feel there's something wrong with them, what you would get would indeed be a noble hunter, warrior, explorer or inventor - someone who makes a huge contribution to society because they are allowed to do so by that society.

      I was having a discussion several years ago that the Viking beserkers were classic cases of people with ADD. Everything lines up - the aggression, the greatly feared prowess in battle, the reknowned immunity to pain - and yes, the exposure to alcohol. Beserkers were still considered loose cannons in Viking society, but that was only if they had not learned to work for the community rather than against it. Frequently they would live apart from the community due to their different ways, and be hired as mercenaries or champions.

      "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

      by Randgrithr on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 10:05:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It would seem to work with besekers too (0+ / 0-)

        And I was thinking that even when one was trying to perform a simple task, like caring for sheep, a person with ADD might have some advantages. You would have to remain alert, but not focus on any one phenomena. In fact, you couldn't, because if you became too absorbed in abstract thought, or heaven forbid, brought a book and got wrapped up in it, you wouldn't notice the straying sheep or the approach of a predator.

        Fox News--We distort; you watch, self-satisfied. We misreport; you witness liberticide. We sport with truth; liberals apply vermicide.

        by Cowalker on Mon Oct 22, 2007 at 06:26:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm glad to see this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, Randgrithr

    I've been diagnosed - in the not-so-certain language of "you have symptoms consistent with" - ADD in the past couple of years, and so I'm glad to see a diary on this.

    ADD isn't always found when one is a child.  I've long thought I had some kind of "problem", but didn't know what it was, especially since I didn't fit the stereotypical mold of children with ADD.  I did fine in school up until college, I got along well with others, and I don't recall any serious bouts with depression that didn't have a situational cause until my 20s.

    But college was a real challenge.  The main difficulty for me was that it was so much less structured than high school, so it was easy to get distracted and do different things.  This problem has persisted; I'm in graduate school now and I know that a part of the reason I've been having difficulty finishing my Ph.D. is due to ADD (the comorbidites of anxiety and some OCD don't help).

    Which is not to say that I don't have responsibility for what I do.  It's just frustrating because I know that the right environment, etc. can really help those with ADD, but I don't know what the right environment is, let alone how to make it.

    Thom Hartmann's books look interesting, and I know they will be a challenge for me because I've never viewed my condition as something good.  It's always seemed to be a hindrance to me.

    Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

    by Linnaeus on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 08:18:21 AM PDT

    •  Thom's ADD books (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linnaeus

      are so well written and make so much sense that you might have an easier time than you'd expect - especially if you are at the educational level you're at, which shows great perseverance. You already have the ability to not let your ADD interfere with your formal education, which is really impressive.

      "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

      by Randgrithr on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 11:25:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  interesting stuff (0+ / 0-)

    lots of ADHD in my family; I've been taking methylphenidate for 10-12 years; two of my kids do, too.

    There's a load of actual enjoyment of life to be afforded by ADD, believe it or not - but it isn't easy in most situations.

    I was motivated to seek diagnosis and treatment when my then-3 year-old son would wind up on the receiving end of incredible, sudden rage from me - which was so not ok.

    the kynd herb is my friend, also.

    •  I prefer being able to control it (0+ / 0-)

      without drugs if at all possible, be those legal or illegal.

      I knew someone who used "herbal deelites" to control his ADD temper. I don't think this is a good idea. "Herbal deelites" can be difficult to obtain and dangerous to possess, so if you depend on it and you can't get it, that's a problem. In fact, when the guy ended up having to go off the stuff due to an extended hospital stay, his personality completely changed for the worse.

      I tend to be able to self-medicate using caffeine. It's cheap and legal. I did have a prescription for slow-acting ritalin but I don't like the fact that the guy wanted me to ramp up to 60mg after I saw myself being perfectly operational on 15mg. That much of the stuff was giving me palpatations so I stopped taking it and stopped going to that guy, whom I suspect was just a pill pusher for big pharma.

      "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

      by Randgrithr on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 11:03:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  right (0+ / 0-)

        coffee was what I used to use.

        the slow-acting Ritalin, Concerta, is expensive, and, well - slow-acting.

        I weigh 205, and take a 10 mg methylphenidate (original Ritalin,) pill every four hours - usually 3xday. It's really cheap - about $180 a year - and works well, gives me a few seconds to think before I act.

        The "herbal deelites" are mostly to help with Asperger's Syndrome, which I also got.

        and the nice buzz.

        •  Hey if it works, go for it (0+ / 0-)

          and don't get caught. ;-7 I personally think that medical "herbal deelites" should be legalized, but until it happens I am not gonna go there. Anyway, all it does for me is make me go "HEEHEEHEEHEE thud", which is not very productive. Your mileage may vary. :)

          Note my signature. I take it to heart. There are only three things I'm addicted to: caffeine, air, and my husband, not necessarily in that order.

          "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

          by Randgrithr on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 11:13:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Damn pill pushing, and other problems. (0+ / 0-)

        I got a taste of that myself.  Way back when I got diagnosed with my anxiety and depression seven years ago, I was going to a local psychologist for therapy once a week and a psychiatrist once a month to basically write prescriptions.  My psychologist had diagnosed the ADHD and told me he was going to inform the psychiatrist in their next meeting to put me on some medication for it.

        I had been on Buspar for anxiety, but that did nothing but make me dizzy, and I was on Paxil for both anxiety and depression, but it didn't do much to help either.  The Buspar was dropped when I finally got fed up with spending money on something that only made me dizzy.  So, when I met with the psychiatrist the next time, when we started the meeting, I figured he could use a reminder (he didn't seem to be the most 'with it' sort of person), so I said that my psychologist had said he was going to get him to put me on something for ADHD.  I don't know what the truth was in the mind of the psychiatrist behind the lie he told, but he prescribed Welbutrin.  This was before Welbutrin was being advertised on tv back then, so I didn't know that it was an antidepressant and not something to for ADHD, led me to believe it was for ADHD.

        I eventually stopped seeing them initially because I got a phone call the morning of a day I was to have a meeting with the psychologist and was told he had a personal emergency and he would contact me to reschedule.  That was fine and all; I can understand having an emergency, but he never contacted me like they said he would.  And since I wasn't pleased with other things about my treatment, I never bothered trying to contact him myself.

        The psychiatrist pissed me off the most, though.  He was never on time for a meeting.  If my meeting time was at 10:00, he wouldn't get around to seeing me until 11:15.  I really think he didn't believe anything I said because he would do things like at the beginning of one session, as he's shutting the door, he says with a twinge of sarcasm, "So what disorder have we added to the list this month?"

        And dealing with these two guys happened several months after having abandoned trying to get help from a counselor who told me that she was "completely qualified to help deal with anxiety problems".  She did several things that pissed me off.  For example, we met only every other week.  After two sessions or so, she went on a month long vacation.  When she came back and we resumed sessions, she asked me, "So, are you ok with me having been on vacation because sometimes patients get upset when their therapists aren't there?"  I felt like saying, "Uh, I barely know you, why do you think I give a shit about you?"  But I bit my tongue.

        One time she was going to guide me through a visualization exercise or something, and she told me to get comfortable.  I was sitting with one leg under my butt, which is completely comfortable to me, but she looks at me and says, "You can't possibly be comfortable like that," so I conformed to her expectations of how I should sit.  Another time, she didn't even have any written material for us to use and she had me bring in some book I had found in a bargain bin in Barnes & Noble about anxiety disorders that I had bought some time before when I didn't even realize that there were anxiety disorders.  She "assigned" me "homework" reading from the book, as if I hadn't already read the damn thing considering that I was the one who brought the book to her in the first place.  After the "assignment" of reading the chapter on meditation, she asked if I had any questions and I told her that the chapter, while talking about the benefits of meditation, didn't bother to explain how to meditate.  So, she asks me if I would like her to lead me through some meditation, and I'm like sure since I thought practical experience would be even better than a description of what to do.  She as me sitting there with my eyes closed and she starts to talk, and I instantaneously knew what she was saying.  She was reading, word-for-word, from my book.  I completely recognized the words easily, and what's more, she was reading from a chapter that wasn't the chapter on meditation.  Even though my eyes were closed, I rolled my eyes and tuned her out until she was done pretending to know what she was doing.

        And probably one of the things that pissed me off about her the most was when she was doing my initial intake interview thingy, and she had to ask all those form questions, she asked if I had ever been sexually abused.  I haven't, so I said, of course, "No."  Her response was, "I'm concerned with how quickly you answered that."  I was left sitting there thinking, what did she expect me to have to really sit and think to see if I remembered it happening.

        So, I've not had any good experiences with mental health professionals.  I don't trust people easily anyway, and I even moreso, especially now, don't trust health professionals.

        So, yeah, I've wondered if medication, which of course is all going to be more expensive that I can afford being that I rarely leave the house, and thus have no job and no income, would help me with my ADHD, but I don't trust health people to actually know what they're doing to not screw me over yet again.

        •  There is a lot of incompetence out there (0+ / 0-)

          which I am also tired of dealing with. It's one of the reasons I changed my undergrad major from psychology to computer science.

          Most people don't have a clue about how medications interact. I got Dr. Kathleen Nadeau's "Understanding Women with AD/HD" because I wanted to get an idea of how ADD is treated when a woman enters menopause. Just like adolescence, there are fundamental biochemical changes going on that are bound to affect behavior. The book is incredibly pithy - it seems to be written more for people in the profession than for laymen and sometimes only my 2 year background in psychology got me through a lot of it, but it was worth it. One thing that was made clear was that Wellbutrin is a bad idea to prescribe for people who smoke. I wonder how many doctors factor that in when they prescribe it? Do they even know to ask?

          The way the author talked about medication in general made it clear that there's still a lot to be learned about the way medications interact. I wasn't born to be someone's guinea pig, so if someone starts saying "let's play juggle the chainsaws" and can't back up what they are suggesting with plenty of facts, I am out of there.

          If I had been you during that counselor's pseudo-meditation exercise I would have stood up, taken the book from her, left the office and not come back. Very insulting.

          "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

          by Randgrithr on Sun Oct 21, 2007 at 12:34:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Recommended (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randgrithr

    and thank you for your kinds words yesterday.

    If you have time, hit me up at my email address.  I want to bounce a couple of ideas off of you.

  •  Nice post it really wrang true to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Randgrithr

    Nice post, as someone who has also been diagnosed with ADHD I found myself totally astounded by how much I agreed with everything you said or mentioned relating to it and I even think I learned some new things which have always been true to me but I had never been cognitively aware of. Especially the thing about winning.

    Unfortunately for me I don't get as much satisfaction from working to bring down this administration. Probably because I'm such a pessimist and don't believe that I could really make much of a difference unless I did something totally drastic (don't get me wrong I still vote and stuff).

    I really enjoyed reading your post and you managed to describe a lot of my feelings perfectly, in ways I would have never been able to articulate. I too want these criminals gone and would relish the day they were tried as the criminals they are and brought to justice but I just truly cannot picture that ever actually happening.

    Please excuse me while I self-medicate...

    •  Hope it helped (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wiretapp

      Understanding a problem is the key to solving it. I hope I helped somewhat.

      One of the most rewarding things for me has been finding Code Pink and Veterans for Peace and participating with them in anti-war actions: banner drops, vigils, marches, protests, Congressional lobbying and attendance at Congressional hearings. Since January I try to get to DC when I can, I act locally when I can't. I'll be participating in the October 27th marches in NYC. Some people say this doesn't accomplish anything but the sheer catharsis of it accomplishes something for ME - it keeps me out of jail. ;-7

      I've had to explain to some very stupid freepers who have accused me of being a "communist hippie liberal who doesn't appreciate the military" (simply because by all appearances I am just a chubby suburban middle-aged housewife in a pink T shirt) that they had best get down on their knees and thank their god that I'm in a peace march screaming my head off in that flourescent pink T shirt; because if the day comes that I decide that doesn't work for me anymore I won't be wearing pink, they'll never see me coming, and a whole lot of them will find out just how "wimpy and cowardly and unappreciative of the military" I'm not...!

      Here's something that also tends to give me a giggle on a daily basis. Best twelve bucks I ever spent. I highly recommend it. Hours of fun for the whole family. ;-7

      "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

      by Randgrithr on Mon Oct 22, 2007 at 03:53:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sshhhhhh.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Randgrithr

        sweetheart you know these paranoid lunatics are monitoring, logging, categorizing, and datamining every unencrypted plaintext byte we blurt aloud here or anywhere else on the net for that matter. We shan't dare acknowledge or even allude to the possibility that any of us sissy peacenik liberals would ever even dream participating in or even so much as celebrating such an event ;)~

        •  :) (0+ / 0-)

          You might want to reread my diary. Pay special attention to the part right near the photo of the ID badges. As a matter of fact, you might take a longer look at the badge on the left.

          I know about being watched. I've taken great pains to ensure that the watchers know just how much I don't care. I've got me one hell of a captive audience and they're gonna hear a whole LOT of things they don't want to listen to if they've bugged my bedroom: interviews with Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now pieces, Keith Olbermann vivisecting their closed minds with his axe-like wit, Stephen Colbert doing the same, an unending parade of creeps turning on the Congressional hearing spit, and occasionally when the mood for merriment strikes me, hours and hours of randomly meowing cats. :)

          Murphy's laws of combat operations apply:

          "When the enemy is in range... SO ARE YOU."

          As I told Elliot Adams during a meeting with two of Hillary Clinton's staffers in January, "I know how to talk to the walls!" He found that extremely amusing.

          "Self possession is 9/10 of the law." -- me

          by Randgrithr on Mon Oct 22, 2007 at 06:57:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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