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  • Adult ADHD

    Article published Jan 20, 2006
    Searching for focus
    Medication helps woman cope with ADHD

    One little pill has changed Laura Umbrell's life.

    Before the medication, she describes daily life as chaotic, one big blur. She says she was scatterbrained and lived life on impulse.

    Now, Umbrell is focused and can stay on track, thanks to her daily dose of Adderall.

    Umbrell, 48, of Chambersburg, Pensylvania, was diagnosed a year ago with adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

    A disorder most commonly associated with children, James Druckenbrod with Keystone Behavioral Health Center says ADHD affects nearly 5 percent of the adult population. Many of those cases go undiagnosed, however.

    "This makes it a fairly common disorder in adults, although perhaps frequently unrecognized," said Druckenbrod, a psychiatrist who has been practicing medicine for 30 years.

    Druckenbrod said the disorder oftentimes is diagnosed during childhood, but persists into adulthood in nearly 50 percent of patients.

    Umbrell was never diagnosed as a child, but looking back she said she had all the signs. "I knew from the symptoms just what I had," she said, "but I wanted an official diagnosis. It changed my life."

    Umbrell was first introduced to ADHD when her mother in 1984 showed her a magazine article about the disorder. "She said to me, 'You know, I think this was you as a child.'"

    Her son, Nicholas, was diagnosed a few years later, and that's when Umbrell began to study the disorder.

    "I just always thought I was stupid," she said. "That's how I referred to myself for years because people who are smart remember things, people who are academic remember things. I didn't, therefore I must have been stupid."

    Childhood was tough, Umbrell said. She couldn't focus, and had to study twice as hard as her classmates. Her friends tended to be years younger because she related better with them than she did children her own age.

    She began to act out as a way of hiding her insecurities and inabilities, and eventually was known by classmates as the class clown.

    "My grades were abominable in elementary school," she said.

    But she developed her own coping techniques.

    "I found I got better grades if I took notes in class, then went home and recopied them. I retained the information that way," she said. "That was before computers, so I had to keep two notebooks ? my original and my one with the recopies."

    Her survival techniques continued through high school and into nursing school, where she graduated second in her class. "But my family never saw me that year," she said. "I studied three hours a night, copying and recopying."

    And then came sticky notes. "I live and die by them," she joked. She said she puts notes all over her counters at home, and on her desk at works sits multiple calendars logging the same information. "If I presented the information to myself several times I'd remember it," she said.

    Umbrell, administrative supervisor for the Pennsylvania Tourette Syndrome Association, sought formal diagnosis about a year ago. She says it was one of the best decisions she ever made.

    But she cautions that the medicines have their own side effects. "There's no magic pill," she said. "The medicine helps you to stay on track. It helps immensely, but it's not perfect. That's where having good coping mechanisms and survival skills really can carry you through."

    Umbrell's daughter, Gretchen, 24, Chambersburg, said she too can see a change in her mom since starting the medication. "We're not in mission mode anymore. She's able to focus, and has much better word recall. She's organized, relaxed and has much more confidence."
    TouretteLinks Forum

  • #2
    Adult ADHD

    I can relate to this story. Having TS as an adult, the symptoms that have impacted me the most had been the ADHD. I agree the meds help but you really need to increase your self-awareness and re-train yourself to stay focused. I regularly ask people around me for feedback so that I can stay totally aware of my behaviors and can stay in control of them. It's a change in lifestyle that I will have to maintain forever, especially throughout my career years.

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    • #3
      Adult ADHD

      I certainly can relate. Before knowing what it is you are torn thinking that you are either lazy, stupid and tired. This is my worst part of TS. My tics are not that bad, but the lack of attention and lack of motivation trademark of ADD is what gets me. I can sit still staring at the wall for a long time, even while a voice inside me tells me that I need to get this and that done. I just can't find the motivation to do it. And sometimes when I finally do it, I can go full pin and not stop. I have no middle ground.



      • #4
        Adult ADHD

        Hi Marc

        I can be just like that and then other days I will start all these things and never finish any. Start changing the beds, get distracted and start a load of laundry get distracted and then discover I have filled the dishwasher but left the door open so it never started and then as I go to change the laundry I discover the washer just went through the entire wash-rinse cycle with no clothes in it!?! Yikes then I'm exhausted... frustrated and got nothing finished :shock: :roll:

        Life with ADHD ... gotta love it :P :P

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