Knowing you have ADHD

posted by Jeff | Saturday, March 19, 2022, 10:32 PM | comments: 0

When I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD last year, my immediate thought was, "Duh, of course." Even then I had some ideas about what it might mean going forward, but in the time since it has caused me to want to reframe my entire life. That context changes everything. I'm not even close to a point where I can reconcile it all. I've generally concentrated on the ASD part, but lately the ADHD part has become even more evident in daily life.

In my last post, I talked about taking medication for depression, and how bupropion XL has an off-label use to treat ADHD. Conceptually, the outcome is similar to the way amphetamines work, as they're often prescribed for ADHD. Those drugs increase dopamine levels in the brain, while bupropion is a reuptake inhibitor of dopamine (and serotonin and norepinephrine), the net result of both being that you've got more dopamine which is believed to allow your brain to better focus. Isn't neurochemistry fun? The big difference in these drugs is that amphetamines tend to work pretty quickly, but reuptake inhibitors can take many weeks to start having a noticeable effect. I'm six weeks in and just upped the dosage to the typical adult level of 300 mg, so while I definitely can feel the urge to ride the couch lifting, I'm super aware of my inconsistent ability to focus.

Tonight is a perfect example of this. I thought of an idea for a web-based word game that I want to develop (because Wordle, natch). For me to do this, there are a few newer technologies that I want to explore because I think they'll make it easier for me. So I go to read documentation, and I get about as far as a paragraph before I'm opening new tabs to doom scroll or see if Mark Rober posted a new video or literally anything other than reading the documentation. This is where the life reframing comes into play. Early in my career as a software developer, I did a lot of things "wrong" or couldn't understand more complex things because I though I was just too impatient to learn them. Now I realize that it was probably ADHD that inhibited my ability to focus.

I've seen people compare using ADHD meds to wearing glasses for the first time. The thing I'm on is more gradual, but I wonder if I'll have a similar experience.


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