Saturday, March 5, 2011

Living with AD... hey, look, a bee!... HD.

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with ADHD-PI (inattentive type). I always thought ADHD meant hyperactivity, which is why my parents and I hadn't thought to get tested sooner. I can look back on my middle and high school years and clearly see the symptoms of ADHD-PI in full swing. But, I guess better late than never! So, I was diagnosed at 22, and started taking a prescription for treatment. The drug worked well, but it was a non-stimulant, which means I had to take it on a daily basis. Anyone who knows me knows I already have issues with taking medicine, and I want to avoid - at all costs - taking any daily prescription drugs. After just a few months of medication, I stopped the medicine and relied on coping methods.

Since I suffered with ADHD for years before being diagnosed, I unknowingly learned a whole lot of ways to successfully cope with it (though I didn't know at the time that's what I was doing!). Being naturally disorganized, I learned over time to be over-organized. I learned ways to combat forgetfulness and how to handle nervous energy. Most of the time, these coping methods work and are sufficient for dealing with ADHD in everyday life. Some of the methods I use:

- Have a place for everything: Frequently losing/misplacing items is a symptom of ADHD that can be really annoying. But, if I have a place for everything, I rarely lose things!
- Schedule life around routines: I am a creature of habit because it helps with forgetfulness. The more routine I have, the less likely I am to forget something. The things I need to remember become a habit, but breaking routine can be very stressful. Everything has a routine - packing for trips, getting ready in the morning, driving, etc.
- Write down EVERYthing: Because I have a hard time listening to people (even when being spoken to directly) and following directions, I need to write down as much as I can. I also make LOTS of to-do lists, and put up reminders around my house.
- SLEEP! I don't know if it's true with everyone, but I struggle with fatigue and also notice that my ADHD symptoms are more noticeable if I haven't had enough sleep.
- Work on projects/assignments over time: Since I have a hard time paying attention to, well, everything, I have to carefully plan out projects and assignments. I study for tests one to two weeks in advance, studying 20-30 minutes a day. I work on large projects in chunks - breaking the project down to smaller, manageable tasks.
- Use background noise: If I need to study, read, focus, I need to overstimulate my brain a little. Sounds counterproductive, but background noise helps drown out the little tickertape of thoughts scrolling through my brain. At night, I often need music or an old TV show to help lull me to sleep. Otherwise, I could lay in bed forever thinking about.... everything.
- Have a quiet place/time: I prefer a quiet, calm environment. I teach kids. Those two things contradict each other! Since I can't always control the environment I am in, I have to have a quiet place and/or time to unwind after being in a chaotic environment. I do best in a balanced environment - not too boring, not too overstimulating.
- Drink plenty of water: There's no argument against water being good for your brain. Water helps hydrate your brain (helping it work more efficiently) and hydrates everything else in your body! I still drink coffee, but usually only in the morning and I drink water or milk for the rest of the day (and maybe a Diet Coke for a treat).

Those are just a few tricks I've learned to cope with ADHD. Lately, I have also started taking krill oil to help with the symptoms. My symptoms grow stronger as I become more stressed (and this semester is very stressful!), so I decided to give krill oil a try. Krill oil is just like fish oil, except for a few minute differences. Well, the one major difference is that krill oil comes from krill. :) The Omega-3's in krill oil are attached to phospholipids rather than triglycerides, but I have no clue what that means! The best part about krill oil is that the pill is MUCH smaller and there's no fishy aftertaste or burping! I've only taken it for a few weeks, but I can tell a real difference.

I have also read studies that say ADHD is linked also to a Magnesium deficiency. Vitamins are usually large and can be hard to absorb, so I am just going to try to eat more Magnesium-rich foods (broccoli, whole grains, almonds, cashews, pecans, etc.) to see if that helps!

I am not really sure why I am writing about this, but, I guess it's just been on my mind (as well as lots of other things!!). I guess I am just really excited to say that I can live (and live well) with ADHD without taking prescription medication. There's nothing wrong with medicine, but I am just convinced that there are often perfectly suitable and effective natural remedies to even some of our most classic illnesses. :)

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