Author Archives: Heather Brannon

What It’s Like to Have ADHD

file0002062790027What It’s Like to Have AD/HD

We’ve all either heard the comments or even said them.

  • Aren’t these really just lazy, undisciplined people?”
  • Seriously, how hard is it to pick up your underwear off the floor?”
  • Why can’t you just wipe off the kitchen counter?”
  • You get distracted? So do I but I can still get things done.”

People don’t realize how much someone with AD/HD struggles all the time. Most adults with AD/HD are perfectionists and much harder on themselves than other people are. It takes a lot of effort to try to hide their struggles but what do those struggles really look like?

One of my patients, Heather Robertson, posted the following updates on her Facebook page. Because of Facebook peculiarities and necessary security measures, I couldn’t just share her updates. She graciously gave me permission to share them in whatever way I thought would help the most people. If you don’t have AD/HD and want to know what it’s like, here you go. If you do have AD/HD I’m sure you’ll identify. For those of you with AD/HD please don’t stop reading because there’s a big block of text below. I know your eyes are glazing over and you’re silently cursing the lack of bullets but you’ll see, once you start reading it will be worth it. And make sure you read the second update.

Thank you, Heather, for your courage and great description.


Heather Robertson feeling crazy.

September 24 at 8:58am 

A morning in an ADHD mind (this was actually probably about 45 minutes to an hour)

Wake up 7:15, grab phone, start reading FB, Instagram, Twitter, email, realize I need to actually get stuff done so I take my ADHD meds, lay there for a few minutes and then decide to head to the kitchen to get coffee. Walk in the living room and realized how much of a mess it is. Dogs toys everywhere, pillows all over the place, oh I need to vacuum, better go make a list of what needs to be done. Make it to the kitchen and say oh lord, the counter is a mess and there are things that need to be thrown away. But first let me turn on some music because music motivates me. Start putting things away and a great song comes on so I must dance and sing and scare my dogs. Oh that’s right, there is the lid that goes on top of the canned dog food laying on the counter so I open the fridge to put it on the can, notice all the half empty bottles of water and green tea and that drives me crazy, so I decide to take them out and combine them, oh and while I’m at it let me clean out the entire refrigerator from top to bottom, while throwing away stuff I realized that my trash can is full. Go to pantry to get out a new trash bag and realize how unorganized things are and start moving things around and throwing away empty boxes, Notice we have no more dry dog food, leave pantry door open and go back to fridge to write on the dry erase board but while I’m at it, decide to write a few other things I remember like what I need to do today like vacuum, change the sheets, empty trash, clean kitchen….oh speaking of kitchen let me get back to that, back to putting more things away, realize I need to water my plants, grab water jug and start to fill it, before its full I notice I need to spray the counters, get the bottle proceed to spraying everything then look for a clean kitchen towel, can’t find one but realize the towel holder has never been properly attached to the door under the sink, decide that now is the time to fix that and pull out the hammer and nails, realize I needed to screw it in and need to use my drill! WOOHOO, I love my drill! It’s so empowering, but now where is it? Go check the hall closet? Nope not in there but oooooh I forgot I had this jacket in there decide to take the jacket to my room, go to my room to take the jacket, oh while I’m in here let me make my bed (I realize now that I was supposed change the sheets not make the bed but I didn’t remember that) then standing there looking around wondering why I came in my room to begin with, oh yeah the drill, it’s in the laundry room in my awesome tool bag, go to the laundry room and grab the bag, pull out the drill and turn it on, the sound gets me all excited, then I start thinking of all the other things I can use it for today and now THAT has become my mission, come back into the kitchen, realize the counters are still wet and I can’t set the tool bag down, oh yeah I need to wipe them down. Realize I still haven’t found a clean kitchen towel to wipe the counters. Standing in the kitchen it hits me that I must write all this down while I can remember it so I can share with all of you what it’s like to be ADHD. Reading this helps remind me that I need to get my coffee, fix the towel holder, get the towel and wipe the counters down, go back and unmake my bed and change the sheets (and I am writing it down on my to do list) LOL SIGH, the struggle is real folks and I sincerely mean that. This is what it is like me every single day.

Heather Robertson feeling motivated.

September 24 at 10:36am · 

UPDATE to my earlier post! I am happy to report my ADHD medication finally kicked in and I have managed to empty the trash, vacuum the whole house, pick up dogs toys, install the towel holder, wipe the counters, put the drill, hammer and nails back where they belong. I’m in the process of changing the sheets and I still need to water my plants but I’m here to tell you if it weren’t for my meds, I would never get anything done. I could get lots of things started but never finish. Before my being diagnosed and getting medication, I experienced extreme anxiety because I couldn’t do things I needed to. I always forgot things and lost my phone and keys daily. People expected me to be “normal” and disciplined and be able to do stuff that normal people do. I beat myself up because I couldn’t figure out why no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it. That lead to depression. So I tell you all this because I want you to understand that ADHD untreated leads to Anxiety and Depression. I’m not lazy, crazy or stupid. I am ADHD and my brain doesn’t work like people who don’t have it. But on the medication, I can do anything and I can finish things. I am back in college for the 3rd time and I have a 4.0 GPA.



Shouldn’t an Adult Take as Low a Dose of a Stimulant as Possible?

Shouldn’t an Adult Take as Low a Dose of a Stimulant as Possible?

The short answer is no and this is why.  anshul1

Someone with AD/HD doesn’t make enough dopamine and what they do make their brain chews up quicker than “normal” brains.  Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and its function is to make someone interested in things.  That’s why AD/HD could also be known as interest-deficit disorder.  If someone is interested in something they can pay attention and they may have a hard time stopping what they’re doing.  A perfect example of this is video games that are actually designed to release dopamine.  But on the other side of the interest coin, if someone isn’t interested in the underwear in the floor, they’re going to walk past it a hundred times until maybe company is coming over.  Now the person is going to be embarrassed if company sees their underwear so now they’re interested and they pick up the underwear.

We treat AD/HD with stimulants because they increase dopamine in the brain.  I like to think of stimulants as dopamine replacement therapy.  The goal is to get someone’s dopamine level as normal as possible for as long as possible during the day.  It would be great if we could get that level as normal as possible all the time but we have the constraints of side effects of medication – people often have trouble sleeping if their stimulant is still working when it’s time to go to sleep.

When a person’s stimulant dose is optimized that means their dopamine level is much closer to normal.  This is an over-simplified explanation but let’s say a person’s dopamine level is at 20%.  If they take a very low dose of a stimulant it might increase their dopamine level to 25% but the person doesn’t even notice that small of an increase.  So maybe they take a little higher dose and get their dopamine level up to 50% so they notice a little bit of a difference.  Maybe their head feels a little clearer but they still have trouble finishing mundane chores and they still can’t remember what they read in a book.

If the person stops at that dose and says I felt something here and I want to take as low a dose of a stimulant as possible, they still have to deal with having a low dopamine level and they still have significant impairments.  What’t the point of taking a medication if all they get from it is maybe half of their brain fog cleared?  They still have brain fog and they still feel overwhelmed.

In my opinion this is why a lot of kids and adults stop taking stimulant medication for their AD/HD and then say stimulants don’t work for them.  Most of the people I see as new patients who are taking a stimulant now or have taken one in the past have been underdosed.

When someone’s stimulant dose is optimized they really shouldn’t feel like they’re taking a medicine.  They just feel like themselves, only now they are accomplishing the things they always knew they were capable of accomplishing.


It Feels Like My ADHD Medicine Doesn’t Work Sometimes

file000884219889Has this ever happened to you? You’re doing your usual morning routine which is always hectic. You make it to work without seriously maiming your kids, spouse, other drivers on the road, and co-workers. You start your busy day and at some point during the day you wonder if you took your AD/HD medicine this morning. As the day progresses you notice you’re not getting things done, you feel scattered, and by the afternoon you have trouble finding the right words and you can’t make decisions.

This reminds you of how you were before you started taking medication.

If this ever happens to you, take a look at your sleep. In my experience 95% of the time when someone feels like their medicine works sometimes and not others or even loses its effectiveness completely, sleep deprivation is the cause.

Studies show that sleeping less than your optimal time in bed can cause:

  • lapses of attention
  • difficulty holding thoughts in your head and finding words
  • difficulty making decisions
  • depressed mood
  • ruminating thoughts.

That sounds a lot like many AD/HD symptoms.

The other way you can tell sleep deprivation is affecting your productivity is if you notice that you’re more productive on Monday than on Friday (assuming you have weekends off and catch up on your sleep over the weekend).

Remember, getting enough sleep is one way of taking care of yourself and in times when you’re more stressed than usual, sleep is even more important.

Article by: Dr. Heather Brannon

Greenville ADHD Specialists