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What Raptitude Has Always Been About

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NOTE: This post is a very personal one, even for this blog. It describes a major revelation I recently experienced (a positive one) and what it means for Raptitude readers. It’s the longest post I’ve written in years. There is also a small chance it will lead to a similar bombshell discovery in your own life.

***

In the Truman Show, Jim Carrey’s character is a reality TV star but doesn’t know it. Every person he interacts with is an actor. His hometown is a set.

Truman nearly reaches middle age without finding out, despite many indications that something is going on. A stage light falls from the sky onto the street beside him. His wife excitedly recommends certain household products, even when there’s no one around to hear her. His plans to leave town are always thwarted by sudden storms or road construction.

His life has been characterized by such missed hints. To Truman, however, they’re just unexplained quirks of normal life, which other people presumably experience too.

Ideally, you wouldn’t know any of this before you watch The Truman Show, so that you could experience some part of Truman’s paradigm shift along with him as he finally realizes what’s been going on.

Although I didn’t make the connection at the time I saw the movie, I’ve frequently had a similar sense that I’m experiencing life differently than almost everyone I know.

Life in the Twilight Zone

As long as I can remember, it seemed like other people were having a much easier time doing most of what everyday life entails.

My sense was that I had missed some important announcement at some point, or that everyone else had received some kind of secret Normal Person Adult Life Training, which allows them to manage such feats as following a recipe correctly, studying, maintaining a household, and achieving goals with a timeframe longer than an afternoon.

This missed training also apparently covered many social abilities, such as saying things without mentally rehearsing them first, returning faulty items to the store, or answering a question you didn’t expect someone to ask you.

Especially as I entered adulthood, everyone else seemed to view all this everyday life stuff without much trepidation, while for me it all felt tricky and dangerous, requiring a kind of stressful mental juggling I wasn’t very good at. Many tasks felt so hard to navigate that I seldom finished them. I tried to organize my life around not having to do them.

Actual photo of me mingling at a party, c. 1998

Obviously I was embarrassed by this sense of general incompetence. So I focused on looking as capable as everyone else, and avoiding situations where it might become obvious that I wasn’t. I knew I was a pretty smart person, so I would try to demonstrate that whenever possible, and be invisible the rest of the time.

This way of operating created severe procrastination and a lot of social problems. In order to keep up appearances, I couldn’t allow myself to behave naturally in front of people I didn’t know. Every word or movement had to be consciously monitored and controlled. I also couldn’t usually complete important tasks now, but reasoned I could always do them later, after I’d had more time to prepare or think about it first.

This approach didn’t solve anything, but it was all I knew to do. It wasn’t a strategy any more than running from a bear is a strategy.

Driving cross-country with no tires

As you can imagine, life was really fucking hard. Like driving cross-country with no tires hard. In my twenties, when adult-level demands descended on me, I did what anyone in my position would do: consume piles of self-help, pop psychology, Buddhism, and Stephen Covey type stuff.

Most of it was unhelpful, but the odd idea really worked. There were ways to reframe things. You could explore painful feelings willingly. You could have procedures for bad moods and bad days. You could find glimpses of peace in ordinary moments.

This period led to a lasting fascination with inner human experience. I started writing in online forums about what helped me. People said those ideas helped them too, and that pondering-and-writing hobby became the site you are reading.

Throughout my thirties, I got wiser and more experienced, but life never stopped being inexplicably difficult. Then, in 2018, I turned 38, and the midlife crisis thing hit me like a truck.

Actual photo of Fate looking down on me, c. 2018

I guess I had always kept my sanity and optimism intact by reminding myself that I’m young and I have time to get the hang of things. That tactic stopped working overnight, and I spent the next eighteen months in a state of near-perpetual anxiety. Around the time when COVID began, the anxiety turned in to a sort of resigned depression. Apparently, whatever was wrong was not going away.  

Life Begins at 40

Some of you may have already guessed what was wrong, because I’ve picked out the relevant details. I had no idea though.

This January, a long-awaited appointment with a psychologist confirmed what I’d just recently begun to suspect: undiagnosed ADHD.

For people who know me, that might explain a lot. For me, it was like realizing that the earth revolves around the sun — my whole model of how life worked turned itself inside out, making all my random-seeming observations suddenly add up. It was like leaving Plato’s Cave. Finding out God exists. Brushing ancient dust from the Rosetta Stone. There are no adequate analogies. I can only say that life makes sense, for the first time, at age 40.

I posted my account of the moment it became undeniable. An excerpt:

I found it. It. The it behind my lifelong sense that I’m operating under different rules than everyone else. The reason why reading has always been so slow and weird even though I’m perfectly literate, why I am constantly trying to simulate the appearance of having understood what was just said, why everyone I know has a seemingly masterful ability to comprehend movie plots, why I can barely read through the items on my to-do list, let alone do the things on it, why my car’s transmission finally self-destructed, seven years after assuring the Jiffy Lube guy I would change the fluid next time, why I’m still scrolling through Reddit seventy minutes after noticing I have to pee really bad, and why I have never known the feeling of being on top of anything, ever.

[Full entry]

For someone whose primary fascination is the workings of inner life, this was like discovering DNA. In the last few months I’ve written more than fifty thousand words about the cascade of revelations that followed the initial one.

(I published some of this writing on its own page, because it’s handy to have a document to point people to when they ask what ADHD is like.)

There is so, so much to unpack. Now I can see the real reasons I’ve struggled. I don’t have an anxiety disorder, I get anxiety because I can’t get things done. I’m not an introvert who has to “recharge with alone time,” I’m an extrovert who’s always suppressed his speech in order to avoid embarrassment. Other people aren’t working five times as hard, they’re able to do things in one-fifth the time.

One of the bigger bombshells was realizing that this mystery issue is the whole reason this blog exists. Raptitude has been my response to living with ADHD and not knowing it. I focused my life and career on the obscure topic of navigating inner human experience, because I had to.  

It sure explains Raptitude’s fixation on certain topics:

This blog’s other major topic is mindfulness practice, which has been the only thing that seemed to improve the mystery-issue directly, helping me manage emotions, appreciate the present, improve my resilience to distraction, act intentionally instead of reactively, develop intuition I can trust, think somewhat clearly, and find equanimity when life is chaotic.

Actual photo of mindfulness practice

As helpful as it is, meditation isn’t particularly easy for the ADHD mind. Right from my first sitting, however, its potential was obvious, and I’ve been practicing for 20 years.

Come to think of it, meditation and writing this blog have been the only pursuits I’ve ever stuck to long-term. Nothing else worked.

How did I not know?

How is it possible not to have discovered this sooner, given how debilitating it’s been?

The short answer is I didn’t fit the ADHD stereotype, and the stereotype was all I knew.

In many ways I was the opposite. I was never hyperactive, I don’t fidget, and I don’t blurt things out without thinking. I’m almost never late and I rarely lose things. I was a good student (until high school). I sit still. I meditate. I get annoyed at hyper people.

The psychologist helped me understand that we often compensate – sometimes overly – for behaviors we know we’re prone to.

And that explains a lot. I’ve spent my whole life suppressing and monitoring my body and my voice. I’m never late because I obsess about not being late, to the point of annoying anyone I’m with. Whenever I stand up or leave a room, I check my pockets: wallet, keys, phone, wallet, keys, phone. I sat still in class because I was afraid of looking like a troublemaker. In fact, I’m still learning to let my body move naturally –- I used to have to psych myself up to even shift my posture in situations when people might notice, like at a movie.

I’ve always marveled at how freely most people act around others, almost as if they don’t live in constant terror of being late, forgetting vital things, or doing something that causes one of those record-scratch moments where everybody stares at you. For me, every outward expression had to be suppressed, rehearsed, or controlled in some way, so as not to garner negative attention.

So I guess I didn’t suspect ADHD because I was too busy doing everything possible not to look like a kid who has ADHD.

Isn’t this just normal life?

The other reason I overlooked ADHD is a more common one: its most obvious repercussions sound like the same stuff everyone deals with.

Consider this list of “symptoms”:

  • I struggle to get things done
  • I find it hard to focus on things that aren’t interesting or stimulating, like homework or income taxes
  • I can’t seem to get organized
  • I have a hard time being patient or waiting for things
  • I overindulge in entertainment, food, and other stimulating activities
  • I procrastinate

Even my own reaction to this list is to roll my eyes. Welcome to being human! Everyone deals with these challenges, and the answer is to grow up and take responsibility for your life.

That’s the message you receive repeatedly, explicitly and implicitly, from yourself as much as others. You just need to make yourself do those difficult things, like everyone else does.

As on board as I was with that message, I always thought this idea of “making yourself do things” was more complex than we like to admit. Which part of you is making the other part do things? How does it achieve that? What if it can’t? What’s going on in the brain when that happens? There’s a lot there for philosophers and neuroscientists to talk about.

However, general society’s view of self-motivation is a simplistic one: you can perform to the standard expected of you by trying harder. Period. Anybody who doesn’t is immature, lazy, or selfish.

The unfortunate similarity between signs of ADHD and normal misbehavior is frustrating for everyone involved. ADHD’s effects operate on the foggy boundaries between voluntary and involuntary, possible and impossible, victim and perpetrator. It’s not clear where unwillingness stops and inability starts.

This lack of clarity is also partly to blame for certain memes I can only call “canards”: ADHD doesn’t exist; ADHD isn’t debilitating, it’s a superpower; we’re just medicalizing normal misbehavior; this is all a Big Pharma conspiracy to sell meth to our kids. I don’t get too frustrated with this stuff because I have believed most of it myself at some point.   

(Before a debate starts in the comment section, ADHD is both overdiagnosed and underdiagnosed, like all psychiatric conditions.)

So yes, the most obvious problems ADHD causes are normal and familiar problems, but the reason why they happen, and the degree to which they do, are not normal. And it causes many more issues than the obvious ones.

None of that is clear from the outside however, or even the inside.

A Glimpse of Paradise

When I did finally try medication, it felt like being released from prison. I could just do things, in the direct and uncomplicated way other people seem to.

It felt like the room was full of air instead of molasses. I could hear what people were saying at exactly the speed they were saying it. I could stay aware of a task’s overall purpose at the same time as I worked on its details. I could let go of the constant mental white-knuckling I had been doing in almost every conversation. I still felt impulses to put things off, check Twitter, daydream, or interrupt myself to go make toast, but for once these impulses just felt like options, and turning them down felt good.

Actual photograph of ADHD symptoms

There’s no way to be certain, but my impression that life was about five times harder than it should have been seems close to correct, judging by my experience on medication so far. I estimate my undiagnosed/untreated ADHD has reduced my daily productivity by 80-90% (to say nothing of the pain and frustration and opportunity cost).

Now I can start to recover some of the difference. That involves reforming decades of inefficient habits, a process which is enabled by medication. I’m still in the process of finding a medication regimen that will work for me long term. But I’ve had a glimpse of the relative paradise of normal-ish functionality, and increasingly I get to spend time there.

What does this mean for Raptitude?

I wish it didn’t take forty years to figure this out, but there is an immense silver lining.

Living that many years on Mega Hard Mode forced me to develop certain cognitive skills and forms of wisdom that radically improve my quality of life. I would not have discovered these tools without living in constant crisis — I had to really dig for them, and they’re priceless. I’ve shared some of the more transferrable ones on this site, in words and sometimes stick figures.

Now I’m about to enter a new phase of life, armed with all of those priceless tools, but this time with a clear view of the terrain. 

What’s most exciting to me is that, after a decade of blindfolded molasses-walking, I can finally begin to realize my original vision for Raptitude. Because I have simply not been able to.

A blog was only meant to be a foundation for the larger project that is Raptitude. I’ve wanted to create a library of mini-resources around the ideas here. I want to write books, make videos, do podcasts, and collaborate with my peers. I want to hold events, group experiments, and regular online meditation sits. I want to create all the stuff you’ve been asking for over the years.

A fleeting moment of order, c. 2014

For reasons that are no longer mysterious, nearly every post has been a titanic struggle to write. Getting my thoughts into a concise, readable text is like herding cats, inside a maze, on a giant plane doing barrel rolls. When you factor in my obsessive self-monitoring habit –- the intense fear of saying the wrong thing or being misunderstood – even a simple post takes several eight-hour days of writing. And that’s when I can successfully get myself into the topic, which happens only on about one-third of such attempts. And that’s only counting days I actually make it to the task of writing.

You might have noticed the resulting quirks in my style. My articles are long, unstructured, unpolished, and infrequent. They’re filled with non-sequiturs and stark paragraph transitions.

I publish each post the moment it reaches “passable draft” state. They deserve a proper rewriting stage, but by that time my neurons are resolutely on strike, and readers have been waiting for weeks.

And that’s just the writing component of the overall project. The larger and more complex pieces –- just as vital for an entrepreneur –- such as growing the audience, creating courses and resources, improving the website, connecting with other creators, and developing a social media presence, have been simply backburnered for years now, because I’ve never been on top of the project’s fundamental task, which is writing Raptitude posts.  

I have so much to say to this world, and I’ve been trying to push it out through a keyhole. I was starting to think I would die without ever being able to open the freaking door.

But I’m about to gain a lot more bandwidth. With treatment, and an awareness of the real problem, it would not be unreasonable to double or triple my output over the next year or two. I’m already seeing major improvements, even without having settled my treatment regimen yet. There’s a lot to relearn, but there’s nothing else I’d rather do.

Thanks for staying with me through this incredibly long post. It means more to me than you know.

-David

***

If you think you might have ADHD: It’s worth taking a self-assessment test to get a better idea. Just be aware that these tests aren’t perfect, and they neither confirm or rule out ADHD. The next step is to tell your therapist or your doctor that you would like to be properly assessed. Always get a second opinion if you have doubts.

Sticky-note photo by Amanda Jones. Riverbank photo by Willow Dekker. All other photos by David Cain.

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{ 292 Comments }

Alene Joiner March 8, 2021 at 10:37 pm

“There’s a lot to relearn, but there’s nothing else I’d rather do.” That is my favorite line. I love this post.

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Diana Harris March 8, 2021 at 10:48 pm

Thank you SO MUCH. My 13 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with ADHD and so much of what you have said resonates with her and enlightens me. (Your experience may be the one thing that convinces her to seriously try mindfulness and meditation.) I am ecstatic for you that you have finally been diagnosed and that the medication is helping. I can’t wait to see what you do now that you are empowered with this knowledge.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 9:41 am

Thanks Diana. Meditation is a tough sell for anyone, and it has a sharp learning curve at the start, especially so for people with ADHD. One of the things I want to do is find ways to reduce the angle of that curve, to make it more accessible. Because it sure has helped me.

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Shivam March 8, 2021 at 11:11 pm

Loved this post, Raptitude means a lot to me

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Robert Platter March 9, 2021 at 2:51 pm

I have had similar issues with not quite getting things.
Like feeling I was might some crucial bit of information that everyone else seemed to know.
I to was eventual diagnosed with ADD.
During this process I was informed that there are multiple types of ADD, and that ADHD was just one.
However, none of the medication either for me.

What I have done to realize it’s that I have built my life around pursuing the time they interested me. That way I was able to maintain focus.

I also learned not to compare my insides to other people’s outside.
I have no idea what they are feeling. I can just do the best I can with what I have.

I don’t think there is a “right” way of being. Just a right for me way of being
I have work learned that when I open up to this around me, frequently I find many others feeling the same way, and that talking openly with people opens me up to new tools for dealing with life.
That’s one of the reasons I kind this news letter.

There are many people out there, and many different ways of doing things. That diversity can be a strength if I let it, or can make me feel like an outsider if all I do is compare myself.

Bouncing from interest to interest meet make you less of a specialist, but I bet you are better able to see connections between disparate items that most, and your are probably some to apply for learned in one area to taskes situated with another to find up with novel solutions.

Keep up the good work

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Lei Lani March 9, 2021 at 1:21 am

Thank you for sharing this look into your psyche! I cannot fathom what you have put yourself through these past decades, but reading this was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time. Welcome back to who you have always been.

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Leslie March 9, 2021 at 1:25 am

I’m really happy for you! I can read what a huge deal, relief, and joy this is to you. Go forth and live easier! And do all the things you want to do! I really enjoyed this post and I wish you well.

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Amanda March 9, 2021 at 1:27 am

Minus writing a blog, I have experienced much of the same. I’ve dedicated so much of my life to hacking my life in order to function. I’ve also spent a lot of time alone just in case today’s the day I happen to have the focus to do any particular task. I can easily hyper focus on a task and go down 16 rabbit trails, making it take 5x as long but still coming back to the original task (usually). To the outside world, I’m a perhaps introverted achiever. To myself, I’m a tormented squirrel. But it’s weird. Since I’ve had to adapt in so many ways, I find that it’s led me to outgrow some of my peers. Now I’m just sitting here, thinking about this person who once told me I’m lazy and who at another point also told me “you know, some people actually have to to try to get good grades in school”. The paradox of atypical ADHD.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 9:55 am

I know what you mean. The pressure to adapt is extremely strong, and so the adaptation can end up being very powerful. As hard as it’s been, I have skills that are really hard to get and that most people will never have.

I’m still trying to process the unfair reactions I’ve had from people, and when I really think about it I cant blame them. It’s made me think a lot about my moral views of other people’s behavior, and what hidden factors I might not be aware of.

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CRL March 10, 2021 at 10:29 am

All that is quite a ‘breakthrough’…to say the least.

People tend to see, understand and react to things / situations / people through their own ‘lenses’.. Considering ‘another reality’ is a big deal, not easily attained. It’s the difference between “WTF are you doing?”…and…’I get it…How can I help/what can I do…I love you.’

All the rest is understandable and sometimes fancy window dressing.

When reading your stuff in the past, I’ve often wondered ‘What’s going on with this guy?’ Now I know. Thanks…and keep on keepin’ on.

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J.H. March 9, 2021 at 1:34 am

Congrats on actually seeking help! So many people suffer their whole lives and never take that step.

I’m glad you did, and I’m so happy the skies are clearing for you.

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Greta March 9, 2021 at 1:42 am

Hi David,
I am so happy for you! I can imagine, at least a little bit, how much you‘ve struggled and fought over the past 40 years. I have shared the odd struggle with you. I guess that was what drew me to your blog. What a relief to have found the missing key. Thank you for sharing this experience with us and I can‘t wait to see what you‘ll build in the next few years. I‘ll be following. :)

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Kristian March 9, 2021 at 1:44 am

I’m delighted to hear you find such clarity, peace of mind and renewed purpose David. Be careful about dreams of conquering the world however. Concerns about growing the audience and developing a social media presence may lead Raptitude away from what makes it special. I wish you ongoing contentment and happiness.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 10:02 am

Thanks. I’m not interested in conquering the world, doing what I think is important. Part of that is growing my audience, which entails a greater online presence.

I understand that many readers might prefer if I just continue to send out articles every two weeks and don’t make a peep otherwise. But that doesn’t work for me, and it has to work for me or there’s no Raptitude.

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Shannon March 9, 2021 at 1:54 am

I think you’ve unwittingly created one of the most valuable resources in existence for others struggling with ADHD here at Raptitude. I was diagnosed as a teenager but gave up on medication because I couldn’t handle the side effects (I also have Tourette Syndrome and stimulants exacerbate the symptoms). As a result, I struggled in much the same ways you did. As an adult, your blog helped me get some sort of grasp on life when nothing else had helped, because all your advice was coming from a place I could actually relate to. Other self help felt too alien to apply to my life in any way. Life is still a huge struggle (again, in much the same ways as you describe) but I owe much of the fact that it’s functional at all to you and your writing.

(For the record, I always suspected you had ADHD and even thought to ask here a few times if you’d ever been tested or diagnosed, but I tend not to comment much due to overcompensating for my natural tendency to spew out whatever’s in my brain.)

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 10:06 am

Yes! That occurred to me too, that I’ve already done a ton of work to help people with ADHD, even though I didn’t know I was doing that. Now that I’m more aware of the context, I hope I can be even more helpful.

It’s funny, when I found out I had ADHD, I looked back in the comments to see if anyone had mentioned the possibility, in response to my procrastination posts. There were actually a few suggesting that, and I just glossed over them because it wasn’t on my radar.

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Curtis Smale March 9, 2021 at 2:05 am

I am happy for you, David!

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Kate Reynolds March 9, 2021 at 2:31 am

Really happy that you have found this out and can start treatment. A lot of this resonates with me, I had a lot of the same issues and coping strategies but coming from undiagnosed depression till about my mid twenties which at the age of 37 has been rediagnosed as bipolar 2. It takes awhile to relearn habits and develop healthier ones, and to actually feel like you are inhabiting your own life, but medication really helps unlock your own ability to do this. Glad you can see the silver lining of all the content you have given us to cope with our own lives. Onwards and upwards from here

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 10:12 am

Thanks Kate. That’s how I feel. The process is long and piece-by-piece, but medication makes it possible. Just having a framework for understanding what’s going on is hugely liberating.

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Marian Lund March 9, 2021 at 2:36 am

Soo pleased for you David. Best of luck, not that you’ll need it, in your future. x

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Hazel Long March 9, 2021 at 2:38 am

I’m moved by your account. I’m so pleased to hear how much it changes things for you, and I look forward to hearing more.

Your blog posts are always real, relevant and interesting. I especially love the experiments, as I occasionally get around to trying out and documenting new things, but it’s rare that someone sticks with something so diligently, and assesses the results.

Thank you. And congratulations.

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Irina Kakhoun March 9, 2021 at 2:38 am

When I read the opening paragraphs I felt deep in my bones that it was about neurodiversity.

A few months ago I had the same massive shift as I began to suspect that I’m autistic (a condition with many of the same challenges as ADHD, though often for different underlying reasons).

You write about these challenges in a way that doesn’t condemn an individual for experiencing them. I know the feeling of struggling to meet what I was raised to think of as a low standard, and for years Raptitude has been a secret ally.
Like you, I have come out stronger, unearthing skills and resources to cope with my brain quirks. Realizing the exact nature of said quirks… it was like my CPU usage went down. Suddenly there was a lot more fullness in that mindfulness I’d been painstakingly cultivating.

Thank you for sharing this, from the bottom of my heart. I hope it reaches everyone who needs it.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 10:18 am

Thanks for this Irina. I hope your discovery brings some long-awaited clarity.

The CPU usage analogy is an excellent one. That’s what I felt the first few times I had conversations with people. I suddenly felt like I could drop all sorts of “background processing” that I didn’t realize I was doing. The relief is tremendous, and it frees up those resources for everything else.

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Anne March 9, 2021 at 2:49 am

Thankyou for sharing this, David. Your struggles have brought help and wisdom to many people. I particularly relate to your description of intense self-monitoring. I do this, and it can bring a lot of mental anguish and exhaustion. Like you, I’m exploring mindfulness (and flow) as a way of bringing some relief – but of course the self-consciousness makes both of those so much harder to access!
I’m 67 and have been wondering for a while if I have mild, undiagnosed ADHD. It’s probably one reason why I’ve found your blog so helpful over the years. I too have developed strategies to enable me to function reasonably well,and I don’t think anyone would realise just how much I struggle, but I’ve never been good at adulting, and having to do “grown-up” tasks still causes massive stress and anxiety. I don’t think I’ll seek a professional diagnosis at this point, as I’m not a severe case, but just understanding this about myself is so helpful because it encourages me to be gentle and affirming rather than cross and frustrated with myself.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 10:28 am

Thanks Anne. One point I would make is that it the severity of the issue (if it is ADHD) is hard to self-assess. In other words, the full extent of the difficulty may not be apparent until you have been assessed, because of how we adapt, rationalize, and interpret our experience as typical (when it may be far from it). What might feel like a mild difference may actually be light years from normal functionality. So it may be well worth exploring even if it doesn’t seem very severe.

Anyway, something to consider. Thanks again.

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Linda March 9, 2021 at 2:53 am

Hi David,
wow… this is incredible, congrats on figuring out what’s behind all your struggles over the years. Will definitely read more about your ADHD and how it presents, and I hope this article will help more people to consider getting help and treatment. Good luck with your more productive brain!!

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Fen March 9, 2021 at 2:55 am

I’m so happy for you David, I have followed this blog for years and found it so crucially valuable. I suspected you were neurodiverse and I respect the way you fought to succeed despite your challenges. I’m excited for the new part of your life and this project. I expect a lot of us here are neurodiverse (I am, I’m autistic, although the overlap is enormous).

TL:DR So happy to see this revelation and excited for the new era!

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 10:42 am

Thanks Fen. There’s so much that’s new to me and one of them is meeting other people with ND conditions. I still don’t know much about autism but knowing that there’s an overlap gives me a sense of being a little more understood/understandable, which feels great.

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Tai An Zhou March 9, 2021 at 2:55 am

Hi I have been reading your blog on and off for a while, only decided to comment now. Love your content! My own revelation was when I discovered I had many mental illnesses. That was many years ago and I have put them all behind me now, but it’s never too late to start over!

All the best for you and your journey. Never stop being the best person you can be.

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Fen March 9, 2021 at 2:58 am

Also I just want to add that even without medication, getting a diagnosis helps, but I’m glad medication is helping you too and that you now have that option. Apparently it takes about a year or 2 to fully realise your new diagnosis, at least that’s what I heard.

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Benedict March 9, 2021 at 3:02 am

Hey David, everything you wrote about here seems to be exactly true for me too. So now I’m thinking I should get checked too! Had never considered ADHD cos I don’t fit the stereotype either. But I’ve been a religious reader of Raptitude since the early days and everything you write about always resonates with me, like you’re the only one I’ve found online that really ‘gets it’. So maybe that’s a sign! I’ll try not to self-diagnose myself in the meantime though… Also, I think you’re being too hard on yourself when it comes to your published articles. I’ve never noticed the issues like non-sequiturs or stark contrasts (could be the ADHD talking ) but even so, maybe that’s just part of your style. Your work obviously connects with a lot of people. Anyway I’m looking forward to see what you do next, excited for you man!

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 10:55 am

Thanks Benedict. If my story kind of sounds like yours, it’s worth getting assessed. For 97% of my life ADHD didn’t at all seem like a possibility, because it isn’t represented very accurately in culture.

I go into a lot more detail about what it’s like in this page:

https://www.raptitude.com/what-adhd-is-like-for-me/

Anyway, I’m glad to hear my writing quirks aren’t as bad as I worry they are. That’s been a huge part of this struggle — not knowing if I’m doing okay at something, or messing it up wildly without knowing.

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Simon March 9, 2021 at 3:11 am

I have quietly enjoyed your posts via email for years. I even have a gmail folder for them! :)

So firstly, thanks for that. I sometimes nod along to them and sometimes don’t, and I have to confess to starting this one with a little scepticism, seeing ‘very personal’ and ‘major revelation’ in the first paragraph usually throws up a few red flags for me. But I kept reading because invariably I enjoy your writing and there’s often a little something I can relate to in what you say, and now I’m really glad and slightly scared I stuck with it. I am really happy for you that you have found something that unlocks that prison door. And I hope that you find the right combination of meds quickly.

For myself, I have been diagnosed with various, at times conflicting, things relating to my mental health earlier in my adult life and now I just “cope”, because I have learnt to, and so I can relate to your struggles. They sound a lot like my own in an uncomfortable number of ways.

So thank you for your post, and your honesty, it is greatly appreciated and I look forward to what is to come from Raptitude…

As a now laughable aside, my mum took me to the docs when I was about 7 or 8 and his diagnosis was that I think too much and to give me hot milk in the evenings before I go to bed, haha…

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:03 am

Thanks Simon. I guess ultimately coping is what we all end up doing, but coping is easier when there’s a knowledge base and recognized treatments around your particular set of challenges. There’s a huge conversation to be had about mental health diagnostics in general. We’re just starting to understand this stuff, and some professionals are way behind. I’m really glad wasn’t born a generation earlier. I hope you’ve been able to find ways to cope that work for you in any case.

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Anna March 9, 2021 at 3:17 am

Congratulations on your diagnosis! And welcome to the neurodiverse squad!

I must say, it explains a lot. Being a late-diagnosed autistic means I share a lot of your experiences, but you never really pinged on my autism radar. I’m so glad we have another neurodiverse over-analyzer to balance the prevailing view on what a “normal” mind does or should be like.

I’m so glad we’re cousins.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:07 am

Thanks Anna. So far I don’t think I fit the autism template, but of course I thought that about ADHD, and the templates are inadequate. In any case I do feel a new kinship with other members of the “neurodiverse squad” and I’m glad to be a part of it :)

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Rehanna March 9, 2021 at 3:21 am

Your posts are always way better than ‘passable drafts’. Thanks for sharing.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:08 am

Aw thanks

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DawnDSquirrel March 10, 2021 at 2:20 pm

Congrats on your diagnosis, David. It doesn’t surprise me in the least. I myself had an even later diagnosis for AD(H)D, at age 49 or so. (Here I am choosing to put the H in parens because I am more of an inattentive type, with relatively little hyperactivity, at least as an adult.) I recognize so much of what you have shared through my own journeys and struggles. Medication has helped me somewhat, though I struggle with balancing meds and sleep, and also meds vs creativity. I’m still working on the meditation piece, for sure. Recently I’ve discovered Zentangle, and that meditative art form has been taking me into deep states that I haven’t usually found other than through music, especially certain group singing. I hope your diagnosis brings you new doorways and new pathways toward what you seek. :)

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Joe S March 13, 2021 at 8:03 am

Just want to echo this.

Your posts flow in such a natural, pleasurable rhythm; like a mountain stream flowing over the rocks. Every paragraph a clear and complete thought, perfectly linked to the next thought.

I wonder if this is what ADHD-optimized writing looks like.

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Girt April 11, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Oh yes! I love your writing. You communicate so clearly and I feel like you’re speaking directly to me.

Actually though, your passable draft comment resonated with me also. That slight self-deprecation is very endearing and relatable. One of the many reasons I think of you as a friend …. albeit one I don’t have any social anxiety around :)

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Nicki March 9, 2021 at 3:32 am

Thank you for this post. It resonates SO much.
Lightbulbs are coming on all over the place. I’m 50 and you may just have told my life story and given me the diagnosis I’ve been looking for.

I’m so glad you’ve made this breakthrough and look forward to future posts on your new post-diagnosis world.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:12 am

As I was writing this it occurred to me that a number of people with undiagnosed ADHD will probably realize they have it. Typically about 10-15000 people read each post, and some of them definitely fit that description. I don’t know if you do, but it’s worth getting assessed.

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DiscoveredJoys March 9, 2021 at 3:52 am

Thankyou for laying yourself open for the rescue of others.

I’m reminded of a book I read recently… the young witch had been cursed by a subtle yet powerful spell. No one could ‘detect’ it except under extreme conditions, and even once it was discovered it dissuaded and deflected our heroine and her helpers from concentrating long enough to do anything about it, or even remembering it existed.

The story is fiction, There Is No Magic. Yet it struck me how compelling the story was. In pre-scientific times it would make a handy ‘explanation’ about why things happened, about how people living in the world were nudged aside from living their lives without interference.

So well done; in pre-scientific times people would say that you had broken a curse.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:13 am

It is a very mind-bending situation. We are all operating on models of how the world works, but we don’t realize they’re models until something collides with it that destroys with it. And it feels like a new world, because the world was always mostly a model.

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Calen March 9, 2021 at 3:56 am

David,

Thanks for this post. Your writing has always been a great help for me – often to the point where it is almost prophetic in addressing the struggles I am going through in a given moment.

I recognized early on that the reason is that there are a lot of parallels in how our minds work. I recognize a lot of my own way of thinking in what you’ve described. I’ve suspected that I have ADHD for a long time and have left it un-diagnosed, although a few years ago I went through treatment for depression using an antidepressant (Wellbutrin) that doubles as an ADHD medication. My life started to improve in many of the ways you described and more (since my depression lifted).

At any rate, thank you – I think in your unwitting struggle against ADHD you have been truly, profoundly helpful to giving voice to what many people feel. Your work resonates with many people who have ADHD, I think, but probably also with many who do not.

For what it’s worth I truly do think that it IS the mental equivalent of a superpower – but a shackled one. Every new thing I have learned in a fit of hyper-focus has enriched my life in some meaningful way. The skills and experience a person with ADHD accumulates over a lifetime is amazing and, above all, it grants the gift of insight and creativity because the mind is so adept at perceiving things from many angles. Of course, getting the full amount of benefit out of them requires the mental focus to use the skills, which is why I call it a shackled superpower.

Hopefully you get to make more of that incredible insight now as you start to get the focus you need. I think you’re among a community of people who will be happy to talk with you about their experiences as well, as you learn to further navigate your own.

Btw – your post on cleaning the tiles and not the floor is very similar to something that I think we discussed briefly years ago in the comments thread of one of your posts. I rely on a similar mental framework to move forward in almost everything. It’s second to none – I suspect heavily it would remain just as useful even if I had full use of my executive control.

Best wishes,

C

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:27 am

Thanks for this comment Calen. I should clarify that the part of that “canard” I object to is the “ADHD isn’t debilitating part.” I don’t doubt that ADHD can have advantages, although I’m not convinced that it does in my case. Initially I had assumed that my ability to make interesting metaphors and analogies was a happy side-effect of ADHD, but when I took medication, it reduced my symptoms but only improved my ability to do write and make metaphors.

There’s also the question of where ADHD stops and one’s intrinsic personality starts, if those things can even be separated. There’s so much philosophical terrain to explore here, and I’m glad I find it so interesting :)

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Lesley Spencer March 9, 2021 at 3:57 am

Wow! I think the Universe is trying to tell me something. This is the second article I’ve read this morning about un diagnosed ADHD (the other was by Shannon Ashley on Medium). Both have resonated really strongly, both are by people whose writing I regularly feel in tune with. So, well done on getting the diagnosis, well done on accepting it, well done on being open to medication. Can’t wait to see what comes next. Now I’m just off to see how I get a diagnosis myself.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:35 am

Hi Lesley. I’ll read Shannon Ashley’s post, thank you. One issue I’ve become aware of is the underdiagnosis among women and girls, because they are also unlikely to fit the stereotype. I hope you get more clarity from your assessment, whatever the result.

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Fairn March 9, 2021 at 4:19 am

Heartfelt, David, thank you. As you say, these are traits that we all feel, perhaps to a less intrusive extent, but we don’t realise others are so similar as they conceal it (and so do we, to the extent we are able). Our major problem is that we evolved to live in a very different way, as small tribes with family and others whose abilities and faults were well known to all. You’re good at knapping flints to make sharp tools, I’m good at organising people to catch the wild animals that need your tools to prepare for the pot. We’re not trying to prove much to ourselves and each other, and we know our efforts are of some use. In a modern society, particularly at work, how often do we feel that way?

Problem is, most of us can go through a whole year of labour without getting those good feelings from the Stone Age; knowing our efforts are useful and appreciated, understanding without analysis what needs to be done next.

First modern rule: throw away your “to-do” list. If it’s the most important item you won’t forget it. If it’s not it will re-surface when it is. If it’s something to remind yourself of in a few days time put it in your diary with a time and date, then forget it. If you have several things to do do not prioritise based on some idea of urgency plus importance, just use the rule I am teaching my grandchildren (and wish someone had taught me).

Grandpa’s Rule: WORST FIRST. Of all the things you know you need to be getting on with there is always one you most want to put off – hardest, most embarrassing, boring, awkward. Start doing it NOW. No questions, no arguments, no analysis. The deal is, once you have done all the preparation then you stick at it for one tenth of the time you think it should take, then you are allowed to quit if you want to. You almost never do, you feel empowered, and you are not about to waste that preparation effort.

When you’ve finished how do you feel? The worst item on your unwritten list is done, and every item you do now will feel easier as the worst is not hanging over you. And all the enjoyable ones are still to come!

Now do the same again.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:48 am

Hi Fairn. You’ve hit on an interesting line of discussion here.

Worst first is a good rule and I try to follow it. Like much productivity advice, though, it assumes that you *can* do that task on that particular day however, and in my case that isn’t always true. In fact I imagine it’s true for everyone, but the conditions that enable certain accomplishments don’t vary as wildly and as frequently as they might for me.

I used to always interpret inability as unwillingness, which creates self-blame and even worse conditions for next time. The line is hard to discern, but I’m glad to know now that there is a line with two sides.

Operating without a to-do list, which I have done a lot of, doesn’t work as well for me as having lists. I have poor working memory, so it is not true that I will remember anything so long as it’s important enough. I do imagine there are benefits if you can pull it off, however.

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Rob March 10, 2021 at 10:38 am

Hi Fairn, thanks for your insightful post. Along the same vein of Grandpa’s Rule, I believe it was Randy Pausch who once said: “If you have to eat a frog, don’t spend a lot of time looking at it first, and if you have to eat three of them, don’t start with the small one”.

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Paola March 9, 2021 at 4:23 am

Wow David, I’m really happy for you!
Thanks so much for sharing, it’s really important for everyone having mental issues to know it’s safe to ask for help and it’s the best thing one could do for oneself.
I can’t wait to see the improved Raptitude experience :)
Best wishes!

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Karan Sharma March 9, 2021 at 4:33 am

Thanks for this amazing post David, I’m glad you’ve finally opened the door, can’t wait to see what comes out! I discovered Raptitude back in 2014, and it has been a source of strength and inspiration, especially as it got me into meditation, which I’ve been doing constantly since then. You’ve gotten me through rough times and I once again thank you and congratulate you for your honesty and truth!

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Pilar March 9, 2021 at 4:37 am

David, this was a wonderful post–and serendipitous, because I have an appointment scheduled later this month to be evaluated for ADHD. It would explain so much of my life experience, the struggles and the wasted opportunities. I’m 62. It’s taken me this long to get it together to get an official diagnosis. Congratulations to you for starting sooner!

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:50 am

I wish you the best Pilar. Whatever the result it will make things more clear.

And I know what you mean about taking so long to even initiate the assessment process. That’s a sign that it’s worth doing.

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Mike Dean March 9, 2021 at 4:54 am

Finally it all makes sense.
Thanks David

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JC March 9, 2021 at 4:56 am

How wonderful for you! I have never had to deal with these specific kinds of issues myself, but your unique writing has still resonated with me for years as a reader of your blog. Always beautifully written and thought out, there is always a ‘takeaway’ and something new to learn, even for those of us who don’t have to struggle everyday in the way you’ve had to.

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Philip March 9, 2021 at 4:57 am

David, most of your posts inspire me and are eye openers. This one as well. Thank you for that.
Having created this blog where you describe, strikingly and sometimes painfully accurate what we all feel and by doing so having inspired so many, is simply immense. To use an image: you did a full distance triathlon in heavy rain and using a small bike. I wish you good weather, and a good bike. Keep on going.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:53 am

Thanks Philip. I like that image, and it kind of feels like it. No matter how the next leg of the race goes, the first leg made me into a pretty tough competitor.

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JB March 9, 2021 at 5:00 am

I’m so glad this piece of your life’s puzzle has clicked into place for you.
I was diagnosed last year at 42 and it was such a massive weight of grief and self loathing and frustration off my shoulders. I had always felt that I I should do better as I know better but… I just couldn’t. The molasses reference is very appropriate.
Anyway I have always enjoyed your blog and will continue to do so. Great things are ahead.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:54 am

There are so many of us! Thanks JB. Best of luck in your next chapter too.

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Robert Carter March 9, 2021 at 5:09 am

Well, considering your diagnosis, you always made sense to me ,I have read most of your articles, so either the ADHD gave you an inner sight into things or you pushed thru it and came up with a lot of good words , so hopefully you can realize a much fuller potential with the medication helping you break free? I hope you don’t lose any of the insight you had living with ADHD? I look forward to reading your subsequent works!

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:55 am

Hi Robert. So far, to the extent medication has worked, it has helped me to think more clearly and express myself better. There are always tradeoffs with medication, and I still don’t know what role it will ultimately have, but I don’t think it will make me less effective at writing, of all things.

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Jane March 9, 2021 at 5:12 am

Your writing touches the places other writing can only dream of reaching. Thank you

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Sally March 9, 2021 at 5:31 am

Wow, so happy you have discovered this. So much opportunity:)

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Kay March 9, 2021 at 5:55 am

A post I simply could not stop reading. Beautifully written. I hope this reaches beyond Raptitude-readers. There are several amazing points made in the article that resonates with me, even if I don’t have ADHD. For someone relatively new to this site, I can’t wait to watch and follow your next step in your own evolution as a human being. Thank you for sharing!

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 11:57 am

Hey, welcome to Raptitude Kay. This post was 3000 words, which might be my longest ever, so I’m glad to hear it resonated all the way through!

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Barbara March 9, 2021 at 5:58 am

Thank you for sharing the wisdom you’ve gained. Most of your posts have deeply resonated with me. This one more than others. I appreciate your transparency. You take us along on the journey, exposing yourself to guide anyone who will listen. Again, thank you.

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Emily March 9, 2021 at 6:01 am

Congratulations on your diagnosis & successful treatment. I have always enjoyed your thoughtful writing, and look forward to reading more of your work more often. Best of luck to you in the “new normal” of your life!

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Kenneth March 9, 2021 at 6:04 am

Welcome to gigabyte bandwidth! The world is now your oyster, open it up.

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Melissa March 9, 2021 at 6:06 am

Congratulations! Discovery is wonderful! Treatment of what ails us is also wonderful! I have been reading your blog for a while, although I don’t meditate, simply because I greatly appreciate your understanding of human frailties. I share your blog with my daughters, one of whom always loves it. (The other, not so much). I also sometimes wonder if I am undiagnosed ADD, although my doctors say not because I am able to concentrate for hours on activities I find engaging. I seem to straddle both ends of spectrums. I’m an extrovert, I love people and parties, and I also love to retreat and read by myself for hours. In any case, I hope things are easier for you now.

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Fen March 9, 2021 at 6:44 am

Hi Melisa, you mention long periods of intense focus as a reason to doubt ADHD – you should ve aware that “hyperfocus” can also be present with ADHD, so please look into this as it may explain more about yourself. All the best.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 12:02 pm

Thanks Melissa. I want to second what Fen said. Being able to concentrate on activities you find engaging (but struggle with focusing on uninteresting activities) is a hallmark of ADHD.

I’ve written about exactly this phenomenon on this page:

https://www.raptitude.com/what-adhd-is-like-for-me/

(Specifically, check out the first section, entitled “What does ADHD actually feel like?”)

Also, be aware that even doctors often have outdated heuristics for dismissing ADHD. Many people are told they couldn’t possibly have it because they did well in school, for example.

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Shannon D. March 9, 2021 at 6:08 am

I am so happy for you! I am looking forward to what you can accomplish with this self knowledge.

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Larry Tyler March 9, 2021 at 6:16 am

I gotta say, this post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. I’ve been following your writing, off and on, since 2012. I had the feeling that we were of the same mind and now I know why. I’ve had very similar struggles my whole life. I just turned 50 myself and the same crisis hit me about 7 years ago. Out of survival, I ended up doing a lot of introspection and, as a result, learned a lot about my behavior patterns. It also allowed me to, at least, get control over my emotions. The irony of the whole thing is, I’ve been in sales for 12 years. I have anxiety all the time but, get me in front of a potential customer, and I launch into sales mode. I’ve always felt a pull to reach out, but couldn’t ever get myself to do it. This post is the first thing I came across in my morning routine, and had to make sure I said something before I talked myself out of it. I just ended my marriage of almost 27 years. I realized, after I left, that I was never in love with her. I married her because, in my mind, I couldn’t think of reason not to. Which meant I didn’t want to look weak saying no. Damn! And had a kid on top of that. So, I’m with you. I have no idea what I’m going to do next. Good luck in your endeavors.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 12:09 pm

Wow, there are many similar stories out there. I know that feeling of being anxious about interactions, but then feeling “on” once you’re in the situation where you can use your skills. Your description of your relationship sounds familiar too. I’m glad I posted this, and that you read it, and I hope it helps you determine your next steps. Drop me an email any time if you want!

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Melinda Rusaw March 9, 2021 at 6:24 am

Thank you. So much of this hits home to me, wish I could say how….

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Patricia Schonberger March 9, 2021 at 6:30 am

I am so happy for you! Your posts “prediagnosis” have always been so helpful to me. I was a little sad to learn how hard they were for you to produce. I can only imagine what wonders you will produce now “post diagnosis”. Now that the “door is open”. Please be gentle with yourself as you move forward. And never doubt your helpfulness to others.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Thanks Patricia, and I appreciate the point about being gentle with myself. I feel pretty buff from the ultramarathon I’ve been running, but it’s a long road and I have to pace myself.

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LouAnn Steadham Mix March 9, 2021 at 6:38 am

I’ve benefitted so much from your past efforts, and often shared your writing with my friends. I’m excited to see what you’ll do now!

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Michael March 9, 2021 at 6:39 am

Thank you for being here, David. Just thank you.

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Esther Nagle March 9, 2021 at 6:41 am

It’s funny, I knew what the revelation of this post was going to be when I saw the reference to The Truman Show. That show disturbed me so much because I had related to it so painfully well, the idea that I wasn’t living in quite the same reality as the people around me permeated my whole life.

My diagnosis of ADHD, at 46, explained this feeling so well… I DID live in a different reality, and that is ok. When you realise what ADHD is and how it has impacted on your life it can be painful, and really hard to work out how to move forward, but it is so powerful to be able to finally begin to understand who you truly are isn’t it?

Thank you for your customary honesty and vulnerability in this post, I have no doubt it will become a valuable resource for so many out there who are grappling with this question of who they are and why life feels like such a challenge for them

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 12:17 pm

Thanks so much Esther. I’m just so glad we got to find out! Figuring out how to move forward is a hell of a puzzle, but it’s way better than the previous one :)

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Terri T. March 9, 2021 at 6:41 am

Thank you for sharing. I wasn’t diagnosed until my son was old enough that I started to recognize the same behaviors. I was about the same age as you. I do have the impulsivity but am Type-A hyper organized to mask the other symptoms. My doctor told me the biggest change I would notice on the meds was that it would be less exhausting just to be me. And it was. The Meds made an instant difference for four amazing days. Until the side effects made them impossible. I tried all the classes of meds. No dice. That was hard. Having a solution that was just out of reach. But at the end of the day I’ve accepted my limitations and at least now I understand and can better set myself up for success. My son can use the meds but his ADHD is so much more severe and debilitating, it makes it easier to be grateful that mine is not. I’m so glad that you have this new understanding and real solutions. Good luck in all your new endeavors.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 12:22 pm

Thanks Terri. Apparently that happens a lot — parents get diagnosed because their kids do.

And with meds, I have no idea how that will settle out. It seems different for everybody. Regardless, just knowing allows me to strategize and I have no doubt I’ll be doing much better whatever happens.

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Simi Pothen March 9, 2021 at 6:46 am

I have always loved reading your posts because you were sharing your thoughts as a Struggling Student as opposed to a Master. That resonated so much with me because it felt like you were speaking from a place of mindful empathy because we all struggle in some way. The tricky part is the more we say we are a mindfulness practitioner or a yogi (or whatever label might be), there’s this invisible pressure most feel to act or talk a certain way but you always seem to not fall into that trap and remained real, transparent. I truly appreciate what you have already given to the world whether you do more or not because you have given so much to many of us already through your posts. Thank you and sending love!

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 12:43 pm

I know exactly what you mean. People come to me to learn how to meditate, and become more calm and functional. I can teach them what I know about that, but there is sometimes an expectation (maybe it’s mine) that I should have already addressed my own challenges in dealing with emotion and dysfunction. Roles and expectations make for some really weird dynamics, especially when it comes to any kind of contemplative instruction. At least meditation itself tends to make a person (a little) more humble over time :)

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Pam Cameron March 9, 2021 at 6:55 am

This post was such a joy to read! Congratulations on your diagnosis! Here’s a celebration song for you: https://youtu.be/uic_3vlI5BE

As a side note: I’m extremely critical of writing and I think your writing is very good. You have NOTHING to worry about with these posts.

I’m a podcast producer, so if you decide to do a podcast and need any help in the future, please reach out. therealpamcameron@gmail.com

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Haha! Thanks for that video, and the offer of help. I may take you up on the podcast help when I get to that step.

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Heather B. March 9, 2021 at 6:57 am

“You might have noticed the resulting quirks in my style. My articles are long, unstructured, unpolished, and infrequent. They’re filled with non-sequiturs and stark paragraph transitions.” — I have always loved your writing, it’s felt real and relatable and a style that I’ve understood. Congratulations on your revelations and on finding treatment. Thank you for being you.

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Andrea March 9, 2021 at 6:57 am

Thank you, dear David, and bless you for sharing your heart.

P.S Is it possible that ADHD is a hormonal imbalance? It sounds very much like what I experienced during many years of monthly PMS cycles and your response to medication is like mental-pause (aka menopause).

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 1:02 pm

I don’t know much about the role of hormones in ADHD. I gather there is some sort of relationship from what women in ADHD forums say about the effects of their cycles on their symptoms and how their medication works, but I haven’t looked into it.

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Shannon March 9, 2021 at 7:17 am

Such a wonderful read, and hits so close to home. Undiagnosed ADHD until adulthood led me down all sorts of dark and difficult paths. My life was one long, endless pursuit of dopamine until I started to see what was going on. At my lowest points, it led me into addiction, and even after getting sober it still took more time to be diagnosed. All the same, I do feel like I have certain special ways of being that, whether or not they developed as coping mechanisms, make me who I am and are enjoyable qualities that I like about myself.

Kudos to you for your resilience over the years and for your positive attitude that life only gets better from here on out. It’s completely true and I’m excited for you. And I know it will be so beneficial to many people that you have shared your story with this much openness and detail. Thank you for doing that.

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Kay Rash March 9, 2021 at 7:19 am

Ahhhhhhh, good for you! Looking forward to your future posts and unleashed potential! But I still love your previous ones, thank you for all your hard work.

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Anne Duguay March 9, 2021 at 7:25 am

David – so happy for you that you have made this discovery and many thanks for sharing your experiences so openly. As a teacher I frequently see the impacts of untreated ADHD and am very aware of how it affects students abilities to function. Articles like this are so very helpful in reducing the stereotypes and stigma associated with ADHD diagnoses. So appreciate your work!

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Rocky March 9, 2021 at 7:28 am

You know, there’s a philosopher who says, “As you live your life, it appears to be anarchy and chaos, and random events, non-related events, smashing into each other and causing this situation or that situation, and then, this happens, and it’s overwhelming, and it just looks like what in the world is going on ? And later, when you look back at it, it looks like a finely crafted novel. But at the time, it don’t.
Joe Walsh

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 2:00 pm

This resonates

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Rocky March 9, 2021 at 4:00 pm

The way I view it, whatever your situation, and whatever the outcome, over the passage of time it all makes sense.

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Elisa Winter March 9, 2021 at 7:34 am

A brain chemical mishap. Maybe a few chemicals. Too much of this. Not enough of that. Extraordinary when the chemicals are “just right.” I’m about to be 60 years old. I have struggled with incessant unrelenting craving and hunger my entire life and have never been a normal weight. Then, out of the blue, I came across an explanation of the chemicals involved involved in constant hunger and then I stopped producing them. I characterize insulin being created in my body as “crack.” And I don’t want crack in my body. Zero crack. So now I know how to keep this chemical as low as possible, and guess what happened since early December 2020? A gosh darn miracle. I’m not craving and hungry 98% of the time. And I’ve lost 50 pounds. Without stress, without too much planning, without tears and frustration. On the sofa is a huge pile of clothes that I’m donating this weekend and there will be more shortly. Feeling more normal-sized is great. Fitting into smaller clothes is great. But best of all, because I learned exactly how to reduce this chemical, this crazy crack called insulin, in my body, I have gained the peace of not thinking every moment of the day of what is the next thing I’m going to eat, and who’s going to notice me eating again, and how much shame I’m going to feel when I’m hungry again, after just having eaten. So much shame. A lifetime of shame. So, HUZZAH!, to you David, for getting your bio-chemical tune up. It’s freaking brilliant. And you didn’t have to wait until you were 60! Now get out there and get your podcast going, and your youtube videos, and your classes, and writings, and meanderings… we’re waiting for all of it, dear.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 2:09 pm

That is fantastic! Congratulations on that discovery. It seems like we’re finally starting to recognize that behavior and well-being are the result complex systems that involve some pretty delicate chemistry. There’s been too much emphasis on the “inner moral center” explanation for our struggles. The deficiency is always assumed to be moral rather than chemical. Meanwhile, any positive behaviors are ultimately enabled by the neurochemistry of a functioning system, and we’re never responsible for that. We have a lot of re-philosophizing to do if we’re going to find effective solutions for the tidal wave of mental health issues we’re going to experience this coming century.

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Susan Ward March 9, 2021 at 7:37 am

Thank you and well done, David,
At 73, I could relate to much of what you wrote of your life’s bumpy, molasses like trajectory. You’ve put in a lot of really hard work, despite your difficulties and for that all of us out here have benefited greatly. (Just be careful of the ‘Pink Cloud’ effect.
Susan

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Matt March 9, 2021 at 7:39 am

I’ve always loved your blog and it always resonated with me. For about a year, year and a half I have been suspecting that maybe I do have ADHD (a therapist suggested I might but that we should start CPAP treatment first).

I’m not waiting another day, I’m calling to get an appointment today. Thank you David, I think you have done a brave and helpful thing for a lot of us.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 2:09 pm

Best of luck Matt, and good on you for taking the initiative. A single day of being better is worth so much.

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Forrest March 9, 2021 at 7:40 am

This, as with all of your posts was a joy to read as it is really well written (as opposed to how you may feel about it sometimes). Long-time reader, and recently started doing Camp Calm.

I’ve wondered about myself having ADHD on and off … but identify with so much you’ve written here. Is a phychiatrist my best first stop, or..?

I think I kind of decided at one point that caffiene is very chemically similar to Ridilin, so I would just self-medicate with a cup of coffee every day. Maybe not working so well at least in these stressful times.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 2:14 pm

The first step is probably to take a self-assessment test, which is available online. (Just a warning that they rely on “typical” ADHD behaviors, so they aren’t perfect.) Then I would talk to a therapist if you have one, or your GP, or even call up a local psychologist or psychiatrist who deals with ADHD, and tell them you think you might have ADHD and would like to be assessed.

Many people self-medicate with caffeine for years before discovering why. It is a stimulant, like Ritalin/methylphenidate, but doesn’t necessarily act the same way. I can’t sleep if I take caffeine so I’ve quit, but I don’t think it ever helped my symptoms much.

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Bill Rhodes March 9, 2021 at 7:41 am

I am glad for you to discover this at 40. Took me 18 more years to find it. Even later in life, I have few regrets about those years–I did not know better, and just thought other people just hid shit in their lives more efficiently. Now after several years ignore clarity, I finally feel that I am the normal one and those who have not or will not explored the mind are oddities.

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 2:15 pm

I also have few regrets. I didn’t know, couldn’t have known, and I don’t want to waste any more time, least of all on regret.

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Vanessa March 9, 2021 at 7:42 am

Thank you for your vulnerability David. I’m excited to see where this new chapter of “escaping the molasses” leads you.

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Agnes March 9, 2021 at 7:45 am

Thank you for sharing. I’m very happy for you!

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Sarah March 9, 2021 at 7:51 am

Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your truth. I can relate to so much of what you’re saying and as someone who is newer to the 40s as well, I now know growth is life long. As I’ve opened up about my struggles to others I’ve realized this is beyond common. I’ve been shocked how many people in my life have all of these feelings, and still have a pretty incredible life. I’ve definitely noticed a connection between all of these symptoms and creatives. Our brains are more active in the creative parts of the brain which causes more ruminating and more intense emotions. Throw in the fast paced world with the internet and a pandemic and we struggle even more. Any time I get frustrated with my moodiness, anxiety, rumination or outrageous catastrphizing, I remind myself it’s because I’m very creative and have a strong imagination. We have a strong and developed ability to think about our thoughts. All humans have this to a certain degree but certain personalities find it comes very easily. Sometimes too easily. It’s hard to turn it off when it would serve us best. But sometimes that’s where the best ideas stem. We over analyze and overthink everything and our imagination is rich and endless. It’s these parts of the brain that can change the world and truly help others. While so many things are hard for us, some things come easily such as love, compassion, empathy and articulating our feelings to others we trust which builds relationships faster than anything else. You’re trustworthy and comforting and have rich relationships. These are all critical traits our world needs. We are the ones who stopped the tribes from being eaten by tigers ;). And we need the personalities who don’t ruminate or overthink. They’re the ones who find the food for their tribe and take greater risks. Humanity NEEDS all of these personality types to make the world go round. I find this true in the political scene too. Each side has their faults but it’s the constant tug of war that keeps us somewhat balanced. Your struggles are not in vain. I’m so happy for you that you’ve found something to help harness your creative mind as this world gets more stimulating and you have goals to do so much more. I also want to make sure you give yourself more credit. You have written a successful blog in a very saturated market. Only 5% or less of blogs do as well as yours and that’s because of your incredible writing skills and ability to relate to others even if it’s felt hard to you. It feels impossible to many more people. You are a functional, contributing member of society seeking to better yourself. This is huge. You are so talented and you will continue doing great things. And once we embrace that growth is life long there’s a sense of peace that comes along with that. Thanks again for being open, honest, and cheers to the 40s!!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 10:19 am

There’s definitely some kind of interesting relationship between unusual minds and creativity, or even suffering and creativity. We have to adapt, make up unique and roundabout solutions for problems that bring us into new territory. It’s impossible to know who we would be without our differences, but there is an obvious connection of some kind between being different and being creative.

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Trudy Bodwell March 9, 2021 at 7:54 am

David,
I can’t remember how I came across your Blog. It is the only one I’ve continued to read over the years.
My brother was diagnosed with ADD when he was 36. He was truly elated to find that he wasn’t “crazy”. He calls living with ADD before being diagnosed, “Living the Lie”. One of the things I love about him is that he shows me how to look at life from a completely different perspective. Maybe that is why your Blog resonates with me?
Thank you for what you do here. You do it so well.

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S Payne March 9, 2021 at 7:57 am

Your post moved me to tears. I am profoundly both sad and happy. I’ve read all of your posts and often pass them along to others. Please know your writing is wonderful (I never noticed anything wrong with it) and has always been so insightful and helpful to me and others. I look forward to more of what you have to say.

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Sheila Albers March 9, 2021 at 8:02 am

David, your post is amazing – as I have found your blog in general over the years. I am thrilled you have found an apparent solution to the life you experienced as a problem. I can’t wait to see what continues to come forward through you. You are a blessing!!!!

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JB March 9, 2021 at 8:03 am

Well I’m 60. It sucked as a kid back then. As an adult you learn to cope and find effective work arounds.

There’s a very good book out there that was just recently updated. It’s called “ADHD – A Hunter in a Farmers World” by Thom Hartmann. check it out.

I don’t think there is a straight pure “type”. Some folks find that Rialtin works for them and others says is saps there life energy and creativity – I’ve never tried it.

As for adult life, I find it is very effective to have a number of hobbies and interests to keep the mind occupied. A sport of some kind/working out. A musical type hobby (guitar for me although I will always suck at it!), gardening or cooking, building stuff, just have 3 or 4 things like that interest you that you can immerse in.

Meditation works but for me I have to have a track with a beat (Native American drums) underneath so my mind can latch onto that. Yoga Nidra is good because even though you are just lying on the ground the recorded voice guiding you is instructing you to take you mind to your
fingers, toes, heels, ankles, etc all over the body. Feel free to email for specific recording if you wish.

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Kelley March 9, 2021 at 8:04 am

What a break through! How exciting for you. I have valued your posts over the years, even though you see them as imperfect. I’m really looking forward to reading what you have to say in the future now that it is easier for you to accomplish! Our daughter has made the same discovery in recent months and is going through many of your discoveries as well as some grief over the lost years. My hope is that you stay inspired and it continues to be a journey of happy discovery.

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Dean Wilson March 9, 2021 at 8:04 am

Dear David
What you have been experiencing publicly is a dream many of us have wished we were as capable as you to accomplish.
I came to my personal revelation Christmas Eve of 2008, in a hotel room someone else was paying for, alone, feeling sorry and bitter. Spending the last 6 months living out of my car was a far cry from the guy(much like yourself) who, at one time, everyone looked to him as the guy who had answers.
I was 56 at the time. Had learned to keep the 10,000 voices contained with excessive work and alcohol. The Epiphany came that night, I remember it as if it was a moment ago, “I can’t live like this anymore”.
I now am my own person. Make mistakes/own them. Some people like me, others don’t. That’s ok, my life has been the grand adventure I could only hope to read in one of those great novels I’ve cherished. The fear has gone (for the most part) replaced by a healthy respect for what is.
Wonderful that you have found another level to continue with on your journey, don’t regret the past (like I did/do), we wouldn’t be who we are if we did!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 10:29 am

My revelation does shed some light on my past relationship with alcohol. I never got in *too* much trouble with it, but it was the only thing that allowed me to interact freely with people. I had never had that experience, and it took a long time to let go of the sense that it was in some way vital for me.

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Max C March 9, 2021 at 8:05 am

Congratulations from a long-term reader of this blog! I’m really happy for you, and I’m eager to see what you do next. :)

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Simon March 9, 2021 at 8:09 am

I’m really pleased for you David. I’m not sure if I am am “normal” or not but I know your writings on the challenges we all face has been a real source of inspiration and learning for me. I wish you the best of luck in this new unshackled phase of your life, and I look forward to benefiting from it.

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Patti March 9, 2021 at 8:18 am

What a wonderful feeling this must be for you! Thank you so much for sharing, and I am sure this post will be very valuable for others that are also suffering from ADHD. How much easier and light-filled your second chapter will be! Wishing you only the best as you continue on this journey that we call life.

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Tim March 9, 2021 at 8:21 am

YES! Finally it all makes sense! It seems very weird to write this but congratulations on the diagnosis. I’m also very proud for putting this out there. It can be hard to discuss very personal things but it is wonderful when people try and let others know…hey, you are not alone.

Take care and good luck on finding the medication the works for you. I can’t wait to see where life takes you from here.

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Fiona March 9, 2021 at 8:21 am

I’ve been a reader since 2009. I’ve enjoyed every post. Ironically, I’ve often looked at Raptitude and thought, ” Why can’t I have the focus to do that?” I’m a professional quitter, professional mover, hard to keep up with. Yet, most see me as successful, creative. Which I am, also. Perspective. Thank you for the shared journey and for teaching the rest of us how to share.

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Neal March 9, 2021 at 8:25 am

David, this account parallels my own experience to a tee. I have also spent all of my life struggling with procrastination and feeling like I never get done all of the things I would like to. Perpetually feeling like I will never live up to my potential. This has led me to seek a litany of self-help resources and techniques. All of which I would stick with briefly then fall back into my default patterns. I even purchased a spot in the first or second round of Camp Calm thinking if I paid for something that the cost would motivate me to actually complete it. Alas, I got behind on the lessons after the second week and instead of playing catch up, I saved all of the lesson emails and other material telling myself I’d complete it “another day” that never came.

The start of COVID was also my breaking point. With the help of my girlfriend, I finally made an appointment with a physiatrist that I had been putting off for years. Diagnosed with ADHD at 29, I’ve started medication which is helping but have now been putting off finding a therapist to treat the engrained habits and fears that I still cannot seem to shake. In addition to sharing your experience of feeling like I’m constantly calculating each action and expression to not embarrass myself, I also have an incredibly difficult time asking for help, in fear that doing so would reveal my incompetence. This has made talking about my struggles and seeking treatment incredibly difficult, choosing instead to be alone and isolated from friends and family the majority of the time, only being social when feeling able to put on the facade of competence, control, and success.

Your openness and honesty about your diagnosis and treatment is incredibly inspiring and brave. I never comment on blogs, again, out of fear of embarrassment and looking incompetent, but this post made me feel like I’m not alone and I reminded me that I can ask for the help I need.

Thank you

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 10:35 am

This all sounds really familiar. COVID also helped me figure it out. Things got worse, understandably, because of the increased isolation and screen time, and the lack of exercise and variety, and that made it obvious that something really was going on with me that isn’t just laziness or disorganization. I wonder if it is happening a lot, not just with ADHD but other issues that are exacerbated under lockdown conditions.

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Denise March 9, 2021 at 8:29 am

This is THE ONLY blog I have ever followed, and I recommend it to my thoughtful friends. Your postings have been a well that I return to again and again, especially when I really need some inner peace and perspective. Good luck on this new leg of the journey, my friend.

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Owen March 9, 2021 at 8:33 am

David, reading your post was like a delicious exhale followed by an inhale. I appreciate your vulnerability and truth.

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James Wagner March 9, 2021 at 8:38 am

Good Day David,

I have always admired your writing! I truly enjoy every word that you write. This article reminds me of an older person, Paul Harvey, that had a daily radio show, and at the end, he would say, “Now, you know the rest of the story!” What an amazing feat you have accomplished. What a magnificent journey, although extremely difficult. I am so sorry that you suffered all of these years but I have learned so much from your writings. You are truly an amazing person!
I look forward to learning more about your journey!
Take care
James

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KD March 9, 2021 at 8:45 am

Wow! I love this post, this honesty, and it could not have come at a better time. Earlier this year, at the age of 32, I was diagnosed with a fairly serious mood disorder. It’s destabilizing and exhausting to readjust, to reexamine life events with a new lens, even learning to recognize I can’t always trust “good” feelings (e.g. mania). Wishing you lots of calm and healing on this newish journey!

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Mag March 9, 2021 at 8:46 am

Thank you for sharing so much with us, David! Trying to help others throughout so much efforts make your posts even more valuable.

I’m also proud of you, as so many others have stated.

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Katie March 9, 2021 at 8:49 am

Congratulations! Your posts have always struck me as unusually insightful, and they resonate with me long after I close the tab. You’ve seen and shown me the world differently for years. I’m sorry that it’s been such a struggle to write, but it has been a blessing to see your end results.

Enjoy this new phase of discovery! I look forward to seeing what you’ll create with this newfound knowledge.

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Rachel March 9, 2021 at 8:49 am

I’m thrilled for you, and your post is motivating me to investigate whether I too may have ADHD. Thank you so much.

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Heather C. March 9, 2021 at 9:04 am

Wonderful news, David. I need to push back on only one thing: Your posts have always been elegantly written. They don’t need additional editing. So with the “found time” that you now have, don’t spent it reediting. Use it for all those other things you long to do.
Best wishes for the path ahead!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 10:37 am

I appreciate that bit of pushback Heather. Thanks. I thing a lot of the problem is that I know I can do better, and take less time. Just knowing what’s going on will allow me to design a better process though, so I’m beginning to move closer to my potential.

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kim zombik March 9, 2021 at 9:09 am

Hello David, thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the great leap in being vulnerable and sharing your revelation. The openness is transformative for me too.

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Rose LaLuz March 9, 2021 at 9:19 am

David,
You are loved, you are safe.
Thank you

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Rachel Massey March 9, 2021 at 9:19 am

I really hope this diagnosis, & its treatment, improves your life hugely.
But don’t forget, even when you thought you were weird, we loved you.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 10:38 am

I really feel that and always have. Thank you <3

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Stacey Love March 9, 2021 at 9:21 am

Yes, yes, yes!! I was diagnosed last year at 37 and it was such a revelation. I have grappled with these things all my life while operating under the assumption that I was defective and lacking in the character needed to just Do The Thing. All the things.

Your site has always inspired me. I can’t wait to see what more you will accomplish as your brain and body begin to cooperate with you!!! Thank you for sharing this with us.

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Donna March 9, 2021 at 9:25 am

I’m so glad that you’ve had a breakthrough and that you’re in a better place. I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts and never noticed any problems (you mentioned above) with your writing. I look forward to seeing (reading) what happens next.

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Candice March 9, 2021 at 9:31 am

David, I have always enjoyed your posts and you are an excellent writer. I had no idea the struggle you had to publish each of them.

I am your age, and I’m also on the spectrum (Asperger’s with sensory processing issues.) My husband has ADD-I and my son got the best of both of our genetics and falls just short of an Autism diagnosis and also has sensory issues and both types of ADHD. He’s doing well, because he got the help he needed.

I hate it sometimes because it is SO HARD to do the “response rehearsal” – I don’t think people realize. When I have an interaction, I have to figure out not just how to respond verbally, but I’m thinking about which face I should make (because I usually don’t make one automatically) and which gestures to perform, and how to stand, or lean, or whatever, to mimic a neurotypical interaction. It’s exhausting. I am getting better at it. And my friends know and love me when I don’t do this, so it’s easier with friends.

Anyway, it sounds like you are finding ways around it now that have been super effective! I’m delighted for you, and excited to read more of your posts. I’ve been following you for a while, and I’ve enjoyed all of them so far. I think a few months back…did you write a post on mindfulness to break bad habits? I have been looking for it ever since.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 10:43 am

The response rehearsal thing is exhausting, for sure. I’m not sure if the mechanism is the same between Asperger’s and ADHD, but I’ve increasingly been experimenting with just letting it drop — seeing what happens when I don’t monitor my facial expression or rehearse anything. Sometimes I end up drawing a blank, but usually it’s okay. I have no idea what my face is expressing, but I don’t have any sense that it is causing any problems.

I wonder if the post you are looking for is this one?

https://www.raptitude.com/2020/04/how-to-take-a-break-from-your-mind/

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Debra March 9, 2021 at 9:32 am

I can’t even guess how many years I’ve been reading your posts and they have all been very well written.
I’m so happy for you!

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Steve Brady March 9, 2021 at 9:38 am

Hey David
I’ve been a reader since the beginning, but rarely if ever comment. Today I just needed to pop on to say congrats. Hoping for good things in your future man.

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Alice March 9, 2021 at 9:39 am

Yes, this is why I am entering my sixth year of doing “Konmari,” a tidying process that is supposed to take, at the outside, six months. I want so much to have an organized environment. The process keeps going off the rails in ways I would find difficult to describe to others, but I suspect you would get it.

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B March 9, 2021 at 9:40 am

Not sure how long I have followed you, David, but it’s been a long time. I am so happy that you sought help! In my years of reading your posts, I never thought that something would be wrong, but of course we didn’t know the back story that you revealed today. I really look forward to continuing to read your posts and am really excited for the potential for more of your amazing thoughts!

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Sharon March 9, 2021 at 9:41 am

David – oh my God. Some of what you wrote (especially the photographs) made me laugh out loud. I have a son who has been addicted to opiates and feel that he has undiagnosed ADHD. He struggles so much. Perhaps his mother has it too. Have learned to suppress but not without the help of quite a lot of wine. What incredible timing. You write magnificently – as others have said. First heard you maybe 5 or 6 years ago on CBC where you were talking about loving doing the dishes by hand – that was what hooked me. Never had a dishwasher. Wow, wow, wow. Did I EVER relate to what you said about ‘other people’ seeming to have a much easier time with life!! Jesus. I even was secretly glad when something bad happened to them…..like their mother died, or whatever. Oof. Now – trying to convince an uber-stubborn 37 year old that he needs to see someone.

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Kahla March 9, 2021 at 9:42 am

It’s fantastic to hear the new freedom you’re finding, David. Your blog has been invaluable to me and I am so excited for more content!

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David Cain March 9, 2021 at 9:43 am

Wow, I usually wake up to about 10-12 comments, but this morning there were almost a hundred. I’m reading and appreciating every single one, and I wish I could respond to them all. Thanks everyone.

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Mike Donghia March 9, 2021 at 9:45 am

Wonderful news, David. And a great reminder to treat each other with patience and kindness because we never know where each person is at in their own journey. And what inner struggle they might be battling.

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Danielle March 9, 2021 at 9:49 am

I’m so glad you had this experience! I can only imagine the life-changing effects that coming to that understanding will have for you. I hope it relieves some of the anxiety and stress that you’ve felt most of your life. As far as this blog goes, it is perfect. Your writing style is uniquely and wonderfully you. I love reading each article, whenever they come out. Thank you for continuing to post, even though it’s hard. We all appreciate it. I can’t wait to follow along with the next part of your journey!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 10:48 am

Thanks Danielle. Comments like this are making me realize that I have a MAJOR self-image issue when it comes to this blog. I always feel like the audience is always on the verge of leaving, or that my writing is barely good enough to read. I focus far too much on the (very rare) criticism, and on the 20-some people that unsubscribe after each post rather than the 40,000 that don’t. I interpret everything extremely negatively and it is definitely tied to my social coping mechanisms. Those are starting to break down and I can already feel it helping me to write more freely with less self-doubt.

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Elizabeth Bryan March 9, 2021 at 9:50 am

It was wonderful reading this and congratulations for being so open about something so personal. Your revelation resonated so much with me.
I have been reading your post for many years and most have given me great insight. It is great you have discovered this now – although you think you are ‘old’ at 40! I am a decade or so older – and strangely, I also came to the same revelation myself, probably about a year ago.
I would never have considered myself having ADHD – especially seeing I had a son (similar age to you) who was autistic and suffered from “real” ADHD! Therefore I knew exactly what hyperactivity entailed. He unfortunately died suddenly a few years ago and since then, I have had the time to grieve him and to think and confront my own issues.
I certainly also knew I was different from a young age – mainly through having a very strong connection to nature and nature spirits that no one else I knew had. But, like you, I was not excessively active or fidgety either. Now I’ve come to realise that I have a problem focusing and getting myself to concentrate on anything for any length of time, which is a great drawback. And I realise it goes back to when I was very young. The minute I have to concentrate, I want to get up and do something physically mindless – like washing up or cleaning. I also rehearse talking to people. I was also a good student but I battled to concentrate on studying. I had to do everything via logic as I couldn’t remember facts easily for their own sake. I used to get bored with superficial, mindless people and certainly one of my biggest faults is procrastination and making decisions where there is no clear one to choose from.
I thought I was just being silly but now I realise I am not alone in this particular aspect of ADHD. So thank you for posting this. Huge sympathy for trying so hard all your life to compensate so you appeared ‘normal’. Know that people are so much more accepting than they used to be and so if you are different, most people won’t really note it too much. And so what if they do? Be yourself now, you seem to be a wonderful, caring, worthwhile human being, trying to help others and contribute to the good of the planet.
If I had my son back with me, there are so many things I would do differently, one of which is allowing him to be his beautiful, happy self and stop heading nasty people who picked him out for some of his annoying hyperactive or compulsive habits.
I’m so pleased to hear your medication is making a difference. I am very wary of trying any of the psychotic drugs around. Numerous ones were forced on my son whether I agreed or not and ALL of them had lousy side-affects and addiction problems that I am very reluctant to deal with.
Best of luck and a lot of us will be going on this journey with you as you go forward in your life with this awareness.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:00 am

Medication is a complex and controversial subject, for sure. I don’t know where I am with it yet or whether it is a long-term solution for me.

I will say this though — unless you have a history of addiction or certain health problems, it is unlikely that there is much danger in testing it out (as directed by a doctor of course) and it could potentially be life-changing. You get to decide whether it is right for you, and if it isn’t you can always discontinue it. If you are worried you would not be able then that’s a different story.

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Pam March 9, 2021 at 9:51 am

Hi David, I’m so glad that things are finally coming together for you. I’ve enjoyed your blog for so long (and even went back and re read all the linked articles here!). Wishing you all the best. Pam

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Donna March 9, 2021 at 10:09 am

Life after 40 and with the door fully open. I think all of us are excited at the opportunities you have ahead of you. Thank you for all of this.

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ramona March 9, 2021 at 10:34 am

David, I am very long reader/fan of you!! and you are awesome.

But i just had to say, that this line, is not true!

” My articles are long, unstructured, unpolished, and infrequent. They’re filled with non-sequiturs and stark paragraph transitions.”

I love the way you write, it reaches the heart <3

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Bonnie Truax March 9, 2021 at 10:41 am

What a beautiful post. It is so hard sometimes to be human, even harder when our bodies are working against us at times. I appreciate this article so much, the honesty and the hope. Thank you for sharing your inner life. I believe that sharing our souls makes the world a better place. Thank you

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LANCHI T PHAM March 9, 2021 at 10:44 am

Dear David,

Thank you so much for writing this post. I’ve always related to your extreme social anxiety and also to the intense self-monitoring that you do. However, after reading halfway through your post, I realized that I might have ADHD as well. If I ever get health insurance again, I will have a doctor check it out. You might have just saved my life. Thank you.

~LanChi

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:09 am

Hi LanChi. In the mean time there is still a lot you can do. There are self-assessment tests you can take online. If it indicates ADHD is possible/probable, you can make that a working hypothesis and begin learning how to live/cope with it better. The more you learn about it the more obvious it will be whether you have it or not, and there’s a lot you can do outside the healthcare system to improve your quality of life.

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CK March 9, 2021 at 10:58 am

I am truly so thrilled for you!! This is such wonderful news, and I’m so glad to hear that you’ve gotten answers and that things are looking up so dramatically; so happy for you. :) It’s amazing that you’ve touched and impacted so many people’s lives (mine included) while operating at 10-20% efficiency – what an accomplishment. I’m also amazed to hear that you consider most of your blog posts to be at the ‘passable draft’ stage, as I’ve always considered them to be very compellingly written.

So excited for you to be entering this next chapter!

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Leila March 9, 2021 at 11:00 am

I’m a flood of tears right now. This is me. You are describing yourself, and you are describing me. I have been going to a great therapist for the past few years and she has suggested several times that I may have ADHD, encouraging me to pursue a formal diagnosis, and I have been afraid to do so. I don’t really know why. But this post is “the sign” for me and I’m going to do it.

It seems silly, but I feel like I’ve been on the journey with you in a way. I’m 38 so we’re about the same age. I’ve been reading your blog for years and so much of what you write, your motivations and habits, your methodology for solving the mystery of motivation and inertia, have resonated powerfully with me. I am so thankful to you for all of it. Thank you so much for sharing this, David.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:12 am

That’s great. I hope today is the beginning of the new chapter. It can be hard to move the process forward (especially for people with ADHD!) so be aware that there may be a tendency to delay on it still. Bringing it up in therapy might be a good first step. I wish you the best.

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Trisha Scott March 9, 2021 at 11:09 am

With all the building blocks you have amassed in your journey toward surviving and understanding your life, you have a great foundation to work from as you begin to build your new life. Use your powers for good :). I’m really happy for you and look forward to following you for another decade or two.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:12 am

Thanks Trish! Good to see your name/face here as always.

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Jane Loney March 9, 2021 at 11:17 am

I am surprised that your posts took so much time to write because they seem so fresh and fun to read. I believe that is the amazing skill of a good writer.Your thoughts are so supremely expressed.
Thank you for your honest words and truth around your real struggle to find your freedom.
Gratitude to you for all you do and give.

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Alan March 9, 2021 at 11:25 am

That is a truly amazing post there, David. So happy for you! Looking forward to the bright future!

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Jenny March 9, 2021 at 11:44 am

Your blog has been a long-time support through college and work life. I’ve learned so many lessons from you, David. I am very happy for you and thank you for sharing your truth.

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Johanna Baynard March 9, 2021 at 11:48 am

Dear David;
I am truly happy for you. It is remarkable that you have done so much good writing working through a fog of molasses.
I am sorry that your ADHD created so much distrust of yourself. I hope that the distrust and fears vanish along with the lack of attention.
You are an insightful and caring human being who deserves the best.

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Rocco March 9, 2021 at 11:49 am

“When I did finally try medication, it felt like being released from prison.”

I had this exact epiphany in my late 20s after experiencing everything you write about. Low dose stimulants saved my life. My life was completely transformed for a decade.

Unfortunately I developed a tolerance to the stimulants. I couldn’t find anything else that worked. And I tried nearly everything.

So it was a remarkable decade. But now I’m back in the dark.

Looking forward to reading about your journey. Congratulations. I hope to follow you someday in removing the shackles.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:15 am

Tolerance is a weird thing that is not well-understood, and I am already worried about that.. Most of the literature insists tolerance isn’t a thing with properly-dosed stimulant medications, but many many many people who experience it. Even if medication stops being helpful, just knowing what’s going on makes a huge difference.

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Rémi March 9, 2021 at 11:50 am

I really appreciate and enjoy reading your post, however, even if I understand the good it may brings you, I cannot bring myself to support the use of medication on a permanent base. I rellate to your mental state, but I strongly believe that we need to find our path with the naturel capacity we we’re born with. Even if that mean not living like “the average”. That said, I have to confess my use of cannabis every night to be able to go to sleep…At least its natural, organic and it grows in my backyard!! Thanks for your sharing and good luck with your futur. (ps excuse my second language)

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:22 am

There’s a lot of stigma around medication, for sure. Most of it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me.

One form of it is the naturalistic fallacy you are expressing here. Toxic mushrooms are completely natural, but I wouldn’t recommend them.

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Nina March 9, 2021 at 11:59 am

“I have so much to say to this world, and I’ve been trying to push it out through a keyhole. I was starting to think I would die without ever being able to open the freaking door.”

This is such a powerful image. Thank you.

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Barbara Williams March 9, 2021 at 12:07 pm

You described my experience of ADHD perfectly! Imagine making this discovery at 70! I am so happy for you, having many years to build on your insights. I hope i have many as well.

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Diane Young March 9, 2021 at 12:23 pm

Thank you. As always you opened a window into my own mind and experiences.

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Maryellen March 9, 2021 at 12:25 pm

David, I am very happy for you that you have a diagnosis and have started on medication, and I’m deeply grateful for all the gifts of insight you have pulled out of you own struggles and given to your readers and meditation learners. As a guide at Camp Calm, you have been kind, supportive, perceptive, and empathic. As a writer myself, I can tell you that your articles are a lot more structured and polished than you think. I look forward to what you will write when it is a smoother process for you.

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eema March 9, 2021 at 12:33 pm

david,
i have always loved your writings.
congrats on getting a handle on your angst.
know that you are loved.

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Sheena March 9, 2021 at 12:33 pm

I spent my teenage years searching, like you, in self-help and psychology books to find out how to survive life. People in my class said there was something wrong with me, although I did very well at school.

Turns out it was probably autism, as five of my grandchildren have been diagnosed with that, but it was not heard of when I was young.

I am 72 now, and would like to thank you for all the help you have given me through your emails. I am so glad you have found a solution to your issues, and wish you every success and happiness for your future.

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McKell March 9, 2021 at 12:33 pm

I’m so happy for you to have a diagnosis. I was diagnosed later in life and my spouse was diagnosed at 41. Life is so much better. Check out this youtube page “How to ADHD”. It’s incredible.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-nPM1_kSZf91ZGkcgy_95Q

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:24 am

I have definitely watched a lot of that channel!

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Guy Comeau March 9, 2021 at 12:41 pm

Hi David,

Thanks so much for sharing this post!
We seem to have so much in common. For me, life became very hard at university. I seemed to struggle with everything. I needed help with every subject. It took me years (decades) to realize that my concentration wasn’t very good. I read SO MANY self-help books but they didn’t really change anything. For a while I thought I had leaky gut syndrome then trauma issues, then gluten and dairy issues.
I just wanted to be at ease with other people and productive like other people. I just thought most people were just way smarter than me. Then two years ago my doctor suggested I may have ADHD but without the hyper-activity. So I tried medication and what a positive difference it made! I now had energy to actually do stuff without thinking about it for days or weeks! I was so happy; my brain fog wasn’t cured but I figured that would eventually come. After several months, the medication started to be less effective so my doctor upped the dosage. This was slightly better but after several more months, my energy went down again. I didn’t like the direction this was going: a life of adjusting and changing medication. I decided to fork over 1200$ for a ADHD psych test. The psychologist said I definitely didn’t have ADHD, she said I had social anxiety disorder. This made sense too. After a while a I realized this diagnosis didn’t really tell me the CAUSE of my anxiety. So anyway, I ditched the ADHD medication for an anxiety medication (an anti-depressant). I tried the anti-depressant for three months and it didn’t change anything. I stopped taking it.
Now, at 54, my hope comes from reading ‘Breath’ by James Nestor. This book has opened my eyes on a lot of things. Since reading the book I’m sleeping better, my blood pressure has come down and my energy level has improved. I’ve since read some of the books referenced in Breath as well.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey!

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José March 9, 2021 at 12:51 pm

Hi David, you must read this book, “Too intelligent to be happy” (Trop intelligent pour être heureux”) by Jeanne Siaud-Facchin

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michael smit March 9, 2021 at 12:53 pm

David,

I’ve always loved your writing. I’m a 48 yr old human, with diagnosed ADHD for last two years. Taking my first medication felt like a weight lifting off my shoulders, an increase in hope; I could finally look at and confirm my attraction to all the distractions, and then set them aside and work on what I chose to.

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Michelle March 9, 2021 at 12:56 pm

Raptitude has always ‘clicked’ with me in ways other blogs haven’t, and a year ago I went down the path of finding out I had ADHD as an adult, and so this post, while not expected, was also not a surprise. I feel the “I wish it didn’t take me forty years to figure this out” quite a lot, although for me it was thirty.

But I’ve also come to think of it as a blessing. In learning and connecting with the greater neurodiverse community, I’ve found that neurodiverse people tend to have thought a *lot* about how they think and work and who they are… probably because they had to, because of this feeling like everyone else received a manual for life they’ve never had. And the process of taking a long look at your life and figuring out all the little ways you work and things that make you happy is perhaps *the* thing that makes life worth living. And that’s felt like the core of Raptitude all along, and why I’ve found it so incredibly helpful and moving.

I’m incredibly thrilled and excited for you :)

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:27 am

“I’ve found that neurodiverse people tend to have thought a *lot* about how they think and work and who they are… probably because they had to, because of this feeling like everyone else received a manual for life they’ve never had. ”

That is a really interesting point… maybe Raptitude is my version of a Normal Person Adult Life Training manual. We have all had to spend WAY more time thinking about how to live than average, which naturally would yield a lot of awesome ideas.

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Sharon March 9, 2021 at 1:00 pm

You didn’t listen to your interview on CBC? That is amazing. It made a difference to me. I wonder if you can go back and listen now??

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:28 am

That particular aversion (of hearing/seeing myself recorded) is a really deep and tough one. I do want to address it directly, but it’s going to be a lot of work.

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Snuffy March 9, 2021 at 1:03 pm

Your writing is none of the things you describe – disjointed, random, wordy, etc. I always have been impressed with how easy it is to follow along and understand all that you right. Honestly, your very easy to read, to the point of being envious of your writing style and how fluid and clear you are in all your posts.

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Patrick March 9, 2021 at 1:12 pm

David, thank you for this personal post. Your writing and mindfulness classes have helped so many people, so I’m one of your many readers who is very happy you’ve had this breakthrough in understanding yourself better.

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Jessica March 9, 2021 at 1:18 pm

Ya know, this was an uncomfortable read for me as I relate very much but have never been diagnosed with ADHD. In fact, I have avoided any association with it because it feels like I’ll be caught out as who I am and everyone will see my lack of ability to function normally. Not that it’s all that hidden tho!

I’m not sure what I think would happen to me if I admitted that I have ADHD but maybe that I’d be forced into taking medication (unlikely! Who could force me?).

I am 35 and only held down my first full time job at age 33 and I have only been able to make it work because my kids depend on me making it work. My problems with executive functioning make life difficult. I can’t seem to respond to text messages or emails normally and I take to apologizing all the time about this.

My problems getting started writing are some of the most pressing problems of my life as writing is a true love of mine. I have to move a massive mental boulder every time I do it and that effort often needs to be spent elsewhere (kids, income generation, marriage, a clean house).

I think I have treasured your posts so much over the years because my brain works similarly to yours and your insights are actionable!

So much food for thought here, David! Thank you!

Jessica

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:36 am

I know what you mean by being unsure what it will mean to acknowledge ADHD and identify with it. There are so many implications, even if you are the only one who is aware of it. You won’t be forced to take medication, though, that’s for sure! But it may become an option.

What you say about writing hits close to home for me. I love it so much and I know that massive boulder you speak of. The only reason I have done it regularly-ish is because I accidentally created outside accountability with this blog. If I stop writing, I lose it all, including my livelihood. But it is often absolutely terrifying to write. The boulder grows each day I don’t.

I will say that I’ve never met a person who regretted getting diagnosed, but many who regretted not getting diagnosed earlier.

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claudia March 9, 2021 at 1:31 pm

David, thank you so much for sharing your struggles with mental health, your decision to seek help, get medications and TAKE IT. I’ve been struggling with depression since I was a teenager and I always felt so ashamed of it. I saw medication as a cope out. I will say to myself “I only need to exercise more, or see a therapist again or work harder”. Yet even when I did all of that, I continued to struggle. I had taken a break from medication as I’ve been practicing an ayurvedic approach yet as this pandemic hit and lingers, I had reluctantly decided to go back to meds this week.

As the feelings of shame came back; reading your post reminded me of the reason is ok to accept yourself as you are and that includes accepting that you need help and that may include medication (if it helps). This is not a cope out but a brave decision to create a better life for yourself using the resources available to you.

Hope everyone continues to share their story and we continue to be honest about mental health and our struggles.

Thanks again David for your honesty!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:44 am

I didn’t realize the pervasiveness of the medication-shame phenomenon until this last couple of months. I see medication indifferently, but we are all affected by the “cop out” view. People are shamed for seeking treatment for life-destroying conditions, and effective therapies are sometimes inaccessible because of shame-driven drug policy. It’s crazy. I hope you are able to overcome the sense of stigma and use whatever form of treatment is actually best for your well-being.

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Annie March 9, 2021 at 1:35 pm

Hey David,
Thank you so much for sharing this post. P.S, you just wrote about my life :-)
I love reading your posts, and they certainly read much better than ‘passable draft’. Looking forward to sharing the next stage of your journey. Big hugs x
Annie

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Brenda A. March 9, 2021 at 1:41 pm

This is the 2nd time in the past week I’ve read about someone with undiagnosed ADHD finally getting diagnosed. It was enough the first time to get me to take a short quiz to see if that might be my problem. I for sure ticked many of the boxes but still was feeling iffy about it. Now reading your account has me reeling and tearing up. It was NEVER obvious for me because I have never been hyperactive in the least. But when I really think hard I can see that I’ve been a fiddler my whole life. My mom used to ask me what was “bothering me” because I displayed very fidgety activity like habitually shaking my leg vigorously, along with many other such movements. Socially I’m a wreck pretty much. Anyone outside of my small inner circle is almost torture for me. I love to read but can’t seem to focus anymore. As a kid I would get lost in reading, while ignoring everything else. It seems I’ve shifted somewhat in which activities I can focus on and which overwhelm me. But in general normal things are just very hard for me. And here I am 57 yrs old and having raised three kids! It was all so hard and I know I let my kids down in many ways even though I was good at loving them and making sure they had the basics. I was an enthusiastic cheerleader for them but I sucked at being organized and no way could I be “that mom”. It almost makes me feel dizzy seeing what most people are able to accomplish. This is rambling now but I just need you to know you sharing this is exactly what I need to get me to get a professional opinion. Thank you!!!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:46 am

ADHD has a dumb name, unfortunately. It has the word “Hyperactive” in it, even though it has subtypes that explicitly do not include hyperactivity. There is a movement to rename it “Executive Dysfunction Disorder” or something like it. I wonder how many people miss out on a better life just because of that.

I’m glad you’re seeking proper assessment and I wish you the best.

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Eduardo March 9, 2021 at 1:52 pm

Hi David,
I’ve been a big fan of you and Raptitude for many years now and is absolutely incredible how much good stuff you have already produced and shared. Some of your ideas (and meditation training) has helped me on the most difficult time of my life.
Future is bright, can’t wait to see the great things you are going to accomplish next.
Wish you all the best,
Cheers,

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Lorri McDole March 9, 2021 at 1:59 pm

Wow, David. All of your posts are amazing, but this post really hit me. My grandson was recently diagnosed with ADHD. People have a LOT of opinions about whether to medicate a young person (he’s 6) but he is focusing so much better with school-related things and we haven’t seen much negative yet (except for lack of appetite at lunch time). Thank you SO much for being transparent!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 11:52 am

They sure do have a lot of opinions! One thing that should always be a part of the conversation is the grim health outcomes for untreated ADHD. People live much shorter lives (10+ years shorter), are several times more likely to spend time in the prison system, more likely to experience addiction, depression, suicide, etc. Medication isn’t right for everyone but you can safely ignore the people who say it’s always wrong.

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Erin March 9, 2021 at 2:38 pm

Thank you for this, David. I’ve been following your work since the start and can relate so deeply to your experience of hyper-vigilantly controlling all aspects of life… perhaps that’s why I have always felt so drawn to your voice. My partner was recently diagnosed with ADHD at age 38 and in the appointment, I felt the the diagnosis perfectly described my own experience, as well. Though I have not been formally diagnosed myself, it provides a framework for my approach to life and past experience. I’ve been blogging on-and-off for 12 years, always seeking answers, understanding, and hacks. Despite the “wasted” time, I do believe that the uncertainty and endless seeking has, in some strange ways, enhanced my life. P.S. If you’re open to supplements, evening primrose has made a significant difference for both of us in terms of focus, so that’s something you may consult your physician about. Cheers! I trust that the next leg of your journey will be the best yet, combining the lessons learned with your new-found focus. I am so happy for you!

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Kathy A Johnson March 9, 2021 at 2:47 pm

Thrilled for you! I’ve enjoyed and shared many of your posts, and wish you only the best as you navigate your new normal.

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Federico Vicente March 9, 2021 at 3:05 pm

I’m very happy for you David! And reading your post, I realized that my brother, whose been struggling with life since he was a kid, may have ADHD… I wish you the very best, and thank you for this post, for Raptitude, for everything!

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edhellos March 9, 2021 at 3:01 pm

I never ever thought this: “My articles are long, unstructured, unpolished, and infrequent. They’re filled with non-sequiturs and stark paragraph transitions.” I followed Raptitude for years now, looking forward to each post and loved each article: they were just perfect for me.
It really makes me sad, that you look upon them so critically. I’m much older and still in the twilight zone, experiencing much the same, but being a HSP.

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Mona Goodwin March 9, 2021 at 3:39 pm

David, Thank you! Yours is the only blog I have ever read consistently. I keep it pinned and check it routinely so that I can absorb all of your posts.

I connect with so much of what you say, and just reading your posts I sometimes feel like I’ve just had a genuine conversation that I can never have out loud.

I cried when I read this post, it resonates with me, completely, every word.

Thank you for all of your work, all of your words, you touch so many lives. I am truly happy for the moment you reached clarity, truly, truly happy for you.

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Josephine March 9, 2021 at 3:45 pm

That’s crazy, David! I’ve been following your blog since many years, I could relate to lots of your stories and I’ve struggled with very similar problems. I’m 29 and I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD – primarily inattentive – last year, and my life suddenly made so much more sense. I then unfollowed a bunch of productivity and self help blogs because I realised most of those are targeted at non ADHD folks (no wonder I always failed following their advice). I decided that your blog was still relevant to me and guess what?? Because it is!

I wish you lots of success with your journey mastering the new perspective :) I am still doing CBT and testing medication. Word of advice from one late diagnosé to another: be patient with yourself. It might feel like life just changed from one day to the next but give yourself plenty of time to figure out what this diagnosis means and how to cope with it!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:00 pm

Oh man it felt good to let go of all that productivity-genre stuff! I really believed for most of my adult life that my problem was that I hadn’t yet mastered David Allan’s Getting Things Done system. I’m not joking at all — I thought things would turn around when I finally had a clean Next Actions list and Tickler Folder set up.

I appreciate the word on patience. There’s so much to unpack and it is going to take years to even know where I’m at.

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Ben March 9, 2021 at 3:56 pm

Dear David,

I’ve been reading your blog for over a decade and it has provided so much insight and beautifully crafted relatable content over those years. I can also relate to a lot of what you describe here (maybe you unwittingly created an ADHD magnet in Raptitude?!)

I’m very happy for your breakthrough and the sense of clarity and freedom it seems to have offered you. I wish you all the best with it but just want to echo what so many others here are saying in that:
– Creating Raptitude is a remarkable thing. However much of a struggle it has been that should never be overlooked or downplayed
– Your writing is excellent and does not need to change/be polished/edited etc (please!!) There’s a quote along the lines of ‘A writer is someone for whom writing is unusually difficult’. I’m sure this applies
A strange quirk of human nature is that we are very bad at knowing ourselves and are often particularly poor judges of our own strengths and weaknesses (as others would see them at least).. It’s also true that our weaknesses are invariably the shadows/flip sides of our strengths. I suppose where I’m going with this is to say that I think you have achieved what you have because of your difficulties rather than just in spite of them.
Anyway thank you for everything you’ve done over the years, good luck with the next stage and I look forward to what’s to come

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Thanks Ben. The responses here are helping me to understand how skewed my view of my own writing is. I’m looking forward to gaining more perspective on that.

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Kerry McBrayer March 9, 2021 at 4:10 pm

You closed with, Thanks for staying with me through this incredibly long post. It means more to me than you know.
And I say,
Thank you!
It resonates.
It means more to ME than you know.

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Becki Morrison March 9, 2021 at 5:24 pm

Like everyone who has commented, I too thank you. I’m very happy for you and hope this discovery makes your life better. Your writing is great, don’t change it. Clearly it resonates with a lot of us, so who knows, maybe we’re all just a little ADHD.

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Vignir March 9, 2021 at 5:45 pm

Thanks for an awesome post… kind of like an earthquake… two big ones (4,0) felt here in Reykjavik at around 11:00 pm while reading your post… I think I will have to get an ADHD test…
Thanks again for Raptitude and stay safe…
All the best from Iceland

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:05 pm

Glad you are ok! Thanks for the well wishes :)

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Shawn McCall March 9, 2021 at 5:50 pm

David, thank you so much for sharing this. I have never been diagnosed with ADHD, but so many lessons you have learned and shared here have been so meaningful and have helped so much. I look forward to reading more. The pandemic has been like a vortex for me…all the creativity is happening inside my mind, nowhere else. I can’t seem to put words on a page or really make anything more complex than bread. However, I have learned through this site and others, to give myself a break and to also just enjoy “moments” more. It’s not always about producing. Sometimes we need a whole year, in a pandemic or otherwise, to just THINK. And maybe discover something about ourselves. Hooray for your discovery, and it means so much that you share in this space.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:07 pm

I get the sense this vortex happening to a lot of people right now, me included. I’m experiencing a kind of mind fog that has not been here the whole time. It is affecting my creative work, speaking, writing, and even meditation. I think it has something to do with living on lockdown and the related lifestyle imbalances (too much screen time, not enough face time, etc.)

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Ton Bil March 9, 2021 at 6:05 pm

Doing all you have done, publishing all that you published, given the struggle… man, you must have a lot of talent. Now that the brakes are off, I wish you a very prosperous journey!

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Divyesh Shah March 9, 2021 at 6:57 pm

Thank you David. I really felt connection with your post. I love your posts and writing, and they give me solace in my own internal demons constantly playing out every minute, sabotaging what might be struggling to get out of me..my own Calling, or rather, Paid Calling, and creativity.
I am floored by obsessive compulsive worrying and overthinking, sabotaging every waking moment: I appear functional, but behind every interaction or moment to myself, I revert to OCD kind of thinking and worry and ruminating over same insecurity, scarcity thinking and fear of uncertainty issues. Anyway, if you have any insights please do let me know. You are a gem, David. Divyesh

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:15 pm

Hi Divyesh. I’m glad this post shed a bit of light on what might be going on with you. My suggestion would be to read a bit about ADHD, OCD, and autism spectrum, and see if any of it sounds more like you. There are self-assessment tests you can take. Luckily we live at a time where there is a LOT of information on common psychiatric conditions. Once you know more about what’s going on it makes a world of difference. Often there are effective treatments, and just connecting with others who have similar experiences is worth so, so much.

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Carol March 9, 2021 at 7:19 pm

David, your writing has been such a gift and inspiration and your new post moved me to tears. I understand much more now and what a struggle that must be. Thank you for your wisdom and your words and they are ever more valuable now given the struggle to overcome, cope, solve, and articulate. It seems crazy to use the word love but that is the emotion I feel for you and this community and the huge gift you continue to give us in your writing and in the camp calm experience. I get teary quite frequently in these weird days of covid isolation, and you have so helped us through this. Peace to you my friend.

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TMcCoy March 9, 2021 at 7:35 pm

Around two years ago, I finally got up the courage to see a doctor for what I suspected could be ADHD. I had previously taken medication for depression and anxiety, and while they helped, they mostly just made me not care about the things I wasn’t getting done. Additionally, I have been outwardly very successful. I have competed at an elite international level in rugby, I hold a purple belt in BJJ, I got nearly perfect grades in high school and college (as an English major), and have since taught myself graphic design, programming, and a plethora of other skills to get ahead in my career. I’ve devoured self-help books and am amazing at designing systems to be more productive and successful. However, what all this was masking were the days I could not get off the couch. The near paralytic dread I feel at having an unprepared conversation or looking stupid during a business transaction at a bank or some other similar location. How difficult I find it to make friends as an adult if I’m not using sports as a conduit. The crazy looks my partner gives me when I tell him I’m pumping myself up to call in an order of food if they don’t accept online orders. All the days I spent in high school setting my alarm for 3am so I could dunk my face in ice water and then study in the bathtub so I wouldn’t get distracted. Additionally, I feel like I have been tired for most of my life. In college, I so often had to collapse in the middle of the day for hours just to maybe get 30 minutes of sleep and be able to focus again, that I wondered how I would ever keep a job. Out of fear of failure, I made sure that I learned skills that could allow me to work from home so I could work at my own pace and my own schedule. Essentially, my entire life has been designed to keep myself from being discovered as “a fraud” by those who know me as organized, intelligent, and motivated. Over the years, I had taken ADHD medication given to me by others on a couple of occasions and knew the potential it had to allow me to get through a particularly difficult assignment or work day, but I still thought I was basically just depressed. There is so much stigma about ADHD and medication that I didn’t put much stock in it. I thought everyone “had ADHD”. Finally, though, at the age of 34 and at my breaking point, I sought testing. Yes, I certainly was depressed and anxious, but I also absolutely had ADHD. I’ve been on prescribed medication for almost two years now, and though it isn’t perfect, I can finally reliably get things done. Like you, I’ve built up so many superpowers of organization over the years that I’m sure I must drive some people insane now with my desire to overproduce. In some ways I feel like I’m making up for lost time. This year has been particularly difficult, however, having lost almost all of my favorite activities outside of work, and some of the old demons pop up when I’m not taking medication or when my brain has just not had a rest. This has caused me to look more into my diagnosis beyond just being able to complete tasks. Honestly your account along with another from a recent podcast (https://pca.st/episode/2aab8864-4a1b-47b0-a88d-5272a113bb43), were revelatory. I had no idea others were feeling the same things as me or struggling in the same ways and that it all had a through-line. As I began to read this article, my jaw dropped and I was nearly in tears. Everything you said has been the same for me. Being stuck in molasses. Being scared of doing normal tasks. Preparing every remark ahead of time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing this, and also for inspiring me to share this article and also my experience with others so that maybe somewhere out there someone else will discover their own Truman Show before their 30’s or 40’s. Good luck on your new journey. I will be following closely.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:24 pm

Wow, thanks for sharing this. The similarity in details is uncanny, and it’s a shame it’s so rare to read accounts of inner life this specific. I always knew about ADHD but it was never described well enough for it to ring a bell like this does. If I had read this comment twenty years ago I would have known instantly. I’m thrilled to be able to connect with people on this level of inner experience. I wish you the best with everything.

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Bhawna March 9, 2021 at 9:20 pm

Hi David
I am connected to you since 2014 but this is my second comment.
I am happy for u. And I know you will go places. I just sense it.
Here is something that might open a new world to you. Where I come from, artists are seen as being different, umm you would understand how cultural difference can be a barrer here… But still I cannot stop myself from sharing: Artist: writers, musicians, actors, painters etc. Are a different category of soula called “Gandharva” . (Researching internet may not be that useful)

Each of us is a wave function (as per quantum physics)

So a Gandharva wave function is a different category. These people provide comfort and entertainment to others but suffer on their own. Michael Jackson is a classic example.

Their saviour is when a Higher wave function comes into their life.

This is the wave function of the Guru element.

I am not an expert on this … Yet I pray that through your psychologist you are able to invite the Guru wave function in your life because I see that clearly in your writing that yes you are different and special.

Yes you are relatable and as for me also, I invite the Guru wave function in my life.

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Laura March 9, 2021 at 10:59 pm

Dear David, there have been so many times I might have commented on your posts. From the first of yours that I read (talking of how you travelled, had a budget, then got a job and started spending – which made you really analyze the change in behavior) I have appreciated your approach to life – the one of trying to be a better human being. I love how that is your goal and how you have gone through so many trials and errors to hone in on your best self and best life. I am taking a moment now because I am doing huge amounts of research into ADD – as my 15 year old was just tested and that is what appears to be her struggle (one that she has kept well hidden). The executive functions, time management, and slow reading are her main areas. When I began to read this post, I like many others had a sense of your reveal because I have come to understand it’s presentation more. I have followed you all these years, found so much value and goodness in your work, asked my kids and partner to read it, told others too. I think your style is great – unpretentious, someone on a mission to discover, curious, humble, straight-up. Since ADD is found to be genetic, I must relate so well with you (have always felt I couldn’t grasp properly the game rules of life – feeling different from most everyone) because it is highly likely I too have it (haven’t been tested but would bet a lot the answer is yes). We have been struggling with the medication use approach not knowing if it could adversely affect her developing brain but also realizing she is only with us for a few more years and it would be good to be there to help her get it right. She is struggling with some depression and we found her a therapist who suggested Nerofeedback as a treatment for ADD. There are so many things to consider to help her on her path – but I just recently told her the silver lining is that you have to learn the work around which in the long run can put you ahead in this world. I am wanting to read all the comments here to sleuth out truths from others. You have put to words so many of my feelings and have taken actions in so many ways I myself aspire to. I always took the time to read your posts whenever possible. I now have even more reason to read them. Thank you for sharing yourself and for your work.

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Vamsi March 9, 2021 at 11:19 pm

My biggest fear right now is as I’m reading this – do I have ADHD too? I need to do a lot of introspection now to check. I always found Raptitude a couple of years ahead of my thought process, so now – do I take 2 more years to come to the conclusion or is it time to read the writing on the wall? :)

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:33 pm

It’s worth taking a self-assessment. I’ve heard many many stories of people who “all but knew already” that they had ADHD but just didn’t take the next step to explore diagnosis, and they always wish they had.

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Christopher Brandow March 9, 2021 at 11:56 pm

I likewise discovered my “obvious” ADHD at around age 40. It was an incredible, freeing discovery thanks to modern pharmacology.

There are so many things to say, but one of the most emotional things was that I didn’t fell like I was constantly letting down my loved ones.

I’m so happy foe you. Feel free to contact me if you have random questions from someone that’s about 8 years ahead of you on this journey.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:34 pm

That is such a big part of it — this feeling you’re letting people down. I might contact you with some questions! Thank you for the offer.

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Georges Brisset March 10, 2021 at 3:37 am

Hey Dave
Thanks for sharing your epiphany. Takes some to go that intimate with your audience. Congrats on your newly found wisdom and revelations.

As much as I can tell, be ready for more. I cycled through a few of those, each revealing either a revision of the now-old new paradigm or the discovery of more uncharted territory inside my head. As much “IT” makes sense today, “IT” will leave room for a more refined “IT” eventually. The work never stops.

You are on the right path to greatness, which makes your contribution even more valuable to the world.
Thank you for Raptitude
Georges

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Thanks Georges. This feels true. It’s not just a one-time paradigm shift, it’s a constant refinement of perspective now. I literally learn something new about myself every day, after so many years of being stuck.

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Eleanor March 10, 2021 at 4:09 am

Just have to say that this was an amazing post to read. I didn’t know much about ADHD before, and reading your account my instinct is “yeah, I don’t have that”. Nevertheless I have always found your writing super relatable and helpful (and beautifully written!)… and this post has changed the way I think about how other people think! I think it will help me be more understanding and compassionate towards others. So thank you! And best wishes!

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Marian Collins March 10, 2021 at 4:45 am

David,
Your writing gives me insights, hope and pleasure, and the world is a richer place with you in it.
May you find ease and joy in living, I wish you well.
Kindest regards, Marian

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Amanda March 10, 2021 at 5:04 am

Congratulations on this transformative revelation. You sound elated. And I love this line: “I have so much to say to this world, and I’ve been trying to push it out through a keyhole. I was starting to think I would die without ever being able to open the freaking door.” I love this blog and I suspect I’m about to start adoring it. Onward champion to ever greater heights!! Following close behind …

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Marius March 10, 2021 at 5:30 am

This post has brought tears to my eyes and filled me with compassion for you David. Please consider this to be a virtual hug.

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kenzo March 10, 2021 at 8:45 am

I would die without ever being able to open the freaking door.” I love this blog and I suspect I’m about to start adoring it.

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Geeman March 10, 2021 at 8:56 am

Congratulations David, I have always read Raptitude and this is an amazingly relatable piece. Although I haven’t been diagnosed, I have always had suspicions but it would seem a long path to be diagnosed as an adult in the UK on the NHS.
Does the medication have any affect on your perception of self/non self in relation to your mindfulness practice? Is “having no head” a sharper or duller experience under the ADHD medication.
Gratitude.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:44 pm

Good question. It’s still early so I am not yet having a consistent experience with medication. When it is working effectively for my ADHD symptoms, it makes meditation a lot easier in terms of ability to concentrate. It doesn’t have any immediate effects on the perception of self/non-self, but improved concentration makes nondual practices much more accessible to me, since I already know the techniques. So it is very promising for meditation in all respects.

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Kristin Amico March 10, 2021 at 9:12 am

I’m so happy that you found some clarity. I experienced the same thing and was only diagnosed with ADHD at 29. And same, I did not have any of the outward symptoms. I was overly quiet, pensive, etc.. But after going on medication and working through a lot of built-up life weight, I now describe it as “before” and “after.” After the diagnosis and going on medication (which I’ve gone on and off of since then) it felt like I was able to understand life better and see things more clearly, without the veil of trepidation, uncertainty, and constant over-analyzing. It was truly like I got a new glasses prescription and the world looked different. So congrats on the new phase. It’s not all easy, but it is certainly easier!!!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:47 pm

Hey Kristin! I’m so early into the “after” phase, but it clearly is a different chapter now. Regardless of whether medication ends up being viable, I will never go back to the “before” phase again, because the cat’s out of the bag.

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Lora March 10, 2021 at 9:46 am

Is it weird that I fist-pumped at the end of this blog post? So happy for you and very excited for the future of Raptitude!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:48 pm

Not weird! I fist-pumped when I finished writing it too.

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Elizabeth Morris March 10, 2021 at 9:54 am

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have a close family member recently diagnosed with ADHD after years of struggle. They have started medication which they say is quite helpful. After seeing their experience and reading about yours, there are many things that resonate with me, and I wonder if I too, may be experiencing this.
I am so glad that you have made this discovery for yourself, I wish you the best and thank you so much for sharing your experience!

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Chris March 10, 2021 at 10:59 am

I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, and every new post for several years–you have helped me a lot with my perspective. So another silver lining, your struggles have helped lessen other people’s struggles. So happy for you David, big virtual hugs.

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George Puharich March 10, 2021 at 11:02 am

Hahaha! I loved how you let it all out…I’m sure it made a lot of breathe a sigh of relief (for you, as well as for ourselves). Life begins at whatever age we choose to finally accept it. I’m just 70 and it’s only in the last few years that I’ve become aware of my own ADD (I must have lost the “H” somewhere along the way). It helped to explain my own tortured and twisted path through life. Don’t get me wrong…it’s been an interesting ride, but I’m sure it could have been a little easier, or smoother or less dramatic. I’ve been enjoying your posts for several years now, so please do keep it up.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 12:51 pm

Thanks George. That’s something I can also say for sure — it has created an interesting ride, and yielded this blog among other things, but yes it could have been a lot smoother to say the least.

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Mel March 10, 2021 at 2:06 pm

I am really good in spotting ADHD symptoms in other people and untill your blog post I flat out refused to attribute it to myself. If so, I am a highly sensitive person (HSP) at most, I always told myself and others (even though I know that in research both concepts are closely linked). ADHD was impossible to me because I am extremely organised, especially in comparison to all those obvious ADHD persons I know. Overcompensating gives it all a whole new perspective and your descriptions of your struggles are so familiar… Being super organised might just be a result of ADHD because I get totally lost in thinking about any scenario that might happen in the future, so I am usually prepared for every detail that is actually happening in the end…
Lots to think about, thank you. :-)

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 3:53 pm

I hope psychologists begin to incorporate the phenomenon of compensation in their assessments and self-assessment questionnaires, because it was vital to understanding how it worked in myself. There must be so many people who think they don’t have ADHD precisely because of their private compensation strategies. But they would be easy to recognize in yourself if they were on the questionnaires.

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Rosie March 10, 2021 at 2:21 pm

Life’s an imperfect journey. We’re with you, and with each other! Ignore the unsubscribers. You are awesome and appreciated! I’m going to share this widely. All the best to you.

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Pipsterate March 10, 2021 at 3:02 pm

I’ve been reading Raptitude for probably about a decade now. I’d found a lot of posts helpful, but over the last few years it started to feel like something was missing. Good tips that made it easier to check out at the grocery store, clean my bathroom, or wait in traffic, and generally to make it through life, but it was like the foundation of something incomplete, a perfect launching pad with no rocket on it. Meeting goals, but which goals? Productivity, but producing what? Invisible accomplishments, but what about the visible ones?

I started to worry that this blog, and my own life, might spend another decade in this state of untapped potential. This might sound like a negative comment, almost like something from an internet troll, but the more positive way of saying it is that I’m very very excited for this post and what it could mean for Raptitude, and for me. Not just more posts, but the insights you’ll be able to gain, the new frontiers you’ll be able to see and tell us about, are going to be fascinating. It’s also going to help myself and others get an idea of what medications might or might not work for us, meaning that you could change many lives for the better.

By the way, what you said about your writing being unpolished and whatnot is just not true. It’s brilliant, insightful, and has already helped huge numbers of people. I want to see more posts, with a bigger scope. If it were bad, I’d want less rather than more, and so many people like me wouldn’t still be excited by your blog after ten years!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 4:03 pm

I know what you mean and I felt that too. I always felt like I was moving towards something, and then in 2018 it suddenly felt like I wasn’t. I felt very lost and I’m sure it showed through the writing. Now I feel like I’ve arrived at a new chapter and I’m looking forward to what’s next.

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Bob Bramwell March 10, 2021 at 3:13 pm

Awesome! Now you’ve got me wondering if *I* should get tested, or whatever the psychs to do figure this out. Looking forward to the next phase of your journey to Buddhahood :-) And you’re still welcome to come and crash at our place any time you feel like a trip to the Maritimes.

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 4:05 pm

That’s really kind Bob! I might take you up on that once the world opens up again.

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Ashley Kung March 10, 2021 at 3:38 pm

I am so happy for you! It sounds like this will open so many doors for you. Thank you for being willing to share this personal news, and I, like many others, can’t wait to follow your journey and see where it leads you and Raptitude.

I do have to admit, when I started reading the post, I was thinking… yep, sounds like me, mmhmm, yep, check, check… and then… ohhhhh! ADHD. Okay, yeah, I better get myself an assessment, too…

Anyway. Thank you again!

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David Cain March 10, 2021 at 4:07 pm

Thanks Ashley. A lot of people are apparently seeing themselves in this post, which could be ADHD or could be the same problems caused by other things. But it’s worth investigating the possibility. I realized yesterday that my audience is not exactly a random sample of the population — it selects for people who resonate with what I write, who are are probably more likely to be ADHD than the general population :)

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Steve King March 10, 2021 at 4:43 pm

Thank you David for so eloquent a description.

I was 50 when I was diagnosed, I’m 63 now. They used to think people outgrew ADHD. But now they realize we just come up with “better” skills to cope with it. I’m still learning how much of my life has been affected.

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Jane March 10, 2021 at 6:54 pm

What a revelation! It must be amazing to have a new perspective like this when things sound like they’ve been mushy for a while. I can’t wait to see what this brings to Raptitude and you’re writing :)

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Deanne March 10, 2021 at 10:52 pm

I’m so happy you have found something that works for you and opens up new possibilities! I have always loved your writing just the way it is. I hope you are not too hard on yourself about the ‘quirks’ of your writing style. That’s why we like this blog! All the best with the next leg of the journey.

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Julia March 11, 2021 at 2:41 am

I am so happy for you! Finding a diagnosis after years of not knowing what is wrong is such a freeing experience. About a year and a half ago I was finally diagnosed with BPD and have started specific therapy for it. Everything clicked and it felt so amazing to know there is a way out. I wish you well on your journey and hope the process of finding medication that works for you isn’t too difficult.

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Marjol Dilln, NL March 11, 2021 at 2:50 am

David. Happily wishing you good fortune on your journey, now that you have found maps and manuals. Until now, please be aware that you have a blog that has helped me, and a lot of other people, very much. Enlightning a lot of stuf I could not place, phrase, or placate. Raptitude has made a difference in my life (I supposedly normal) and in my son’s life (he has ASS). You may have saved him from at least one suiciadal episode. That is no mean feat. Please accept that your being in this world has been valued very much already.

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David Cain March 11, 2021 at 10:26 am

Wow, it is overwhelming to hear all these stories. It means a lot to me to know that this site has been directly helpful in other people’s lives, as I often worry that my writing is so inward-looking that it’s not widely applicable. I feel a lot of my confidence coming back. Thank you.

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Pavel March 11, 2021 at 6:28 am

Thank you for this post, David!

I’m amazed by the synchronicity, as I read this post in the morning right before going to my 2nd appointment with psychiatrist where I brought my filled up questionnaire. I scored the highest in attention problems, and midrange in impulsivity and hyperactivity. I got officially diagnosed.

I was a fan of your blog for many years, pretty much everything you’ve been writing about is so so relatable. I kinda imagined you as this friend that really gets me :) Now it turns out that we have the same faulty brain chemistry, that’s why it all was so relatable.

I will start with Ritalin next week and I’m curious and scared about how things might change.

I’m afraid that everything that I thought of as my creative personality with various interests and obsessions was just a glitch in my brain, and I don’t really know who I am anymore, what is my character and identity. It’s scary.

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David Cain March 11, 2021 at 10:34 am

Hey Pavel. Congrats on getting some clarity about what’s been going on.

Medication is new to me too, but just remember that you can discontinue any medication that doesn’t feel right to you. And you will always be you. It isn’t a “glitch” that makes you interested and interesting. When I began meds, it felt like I was freer to be myself and express myself fully.

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Gardens March 11, 2021 at 8:09 am

Well I recently turned … less than 38, but with how impossible life has become I’ve been feeling my mid-life crisis too.

The enlightenment of yet another of my personal saints “discovering” ADHD paired with the frustration of nobody believing me.

How I call myself a “hivemind” able to respond and participate in 4 conversations at once while listening to none of them. How every simple thing turns into a hundred pasts that could have caused it, and a hundred futures it could cause.

Connections in everything so hilarious and interesting to my friends that it’s easy to forget how *exhausting* they make life be, so I build upon my mountain of friend-tertainment because they might as well get something from it… if not me.

A wall of fuzz and static making me absolutely unperceptive to positive stimulus, unable to follow-up, a networked unperson everywhere and nowhere.

One thing more than all I relate to: being on fire all the time forcing me to find the best ways to fight fire in all of humanity. My inability to do things efficiently forcing me to become a charismatic, energy-less hacker.

And all of the above turning me into someone that everyone “doesn’t really think has ADHD”.

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David Cain March 11, 2021 at 10:37 am

This is definitely ringing some bells for me. Do you mean your friends/peers don’t believe you or doctors/therapists don’t believe you? Because one of those matters more than the other, in terms of improving things for yourself.

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Sharon March 12, 2021 at 9:50 am

This is amazing. I actually cut and pasted it to send to a friend who probably thinks I am EXACTLY as you describe yourself. Hope you don’t mind. Gardens? Perhaps you are in fact a Garden.

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Karen March 11, 2021 at 10:06 am

I cannot thank you enough for your willingness to share David. A lot has been said and I echo most of it. Simply put, thank you. I am putting out all the Love vibes for you in your journey. This post made me so happy :)

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Svenja March 11, 2021 at 10:11 am

I’m so happy for you, David! I can’t even begin to imagine the relief and new world expanding for you. I salute you for all your accomplishments and post. I already admired you for your insights and your persistence before. Now knowing how much harder it was for you than it probably is for most of us, I can’t begin to describe my admiration and utmost respect.
I wish you all the best in your newfound life and hope you will continue sharing your journey with us!

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Andra Boudreau March 11, 2021 at 11:33 am

Oh Wow. I’m not even sure what to say. My husband & I have been following your blog for many years and last night he asked if I had seen this one. “No, why?” I replied, “Is it a good one?” “It’s basically you”, he said. I’ve just read everything, including the full post on your experiences, and I’m blown away by the things you have articulated. I’ve always understood hyperactivity to be about having loads of uncontrollable energy, which is definitely not me. But everything you’ve described, particularly the parts about attentional phasing in and out which affects overall comprehension, I relate to 100%. Thank you for writing this! I will speak with my doctor. And congratulations on your discovery!

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David Cain March 11, 2021 at 12:59 pm

Oh wow. I hope this is the beginning of an easier life for you!

I think the presence of the word hyperactivity in the name of the condition does more harm than good. It causes a lot of “false negatives,” because we rule out whatever doesn’t sound like us.

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Thea March 11, 2021 at 12:20 pm

As a looong time reader, I feel quite moved by this post, even if I don’t know you. I am so happy that things are going in your direction!

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Kim Manley Ort March 11, 2021 at 1:54 pm

Thank you for writing about this David, and I’m happy that you have a way forward that will help you. I shared this with my son who was diagnosed in high school and was on medication that helped him to get through those years. As he’s about to turn 30, he believes that ADD is still affecting his life detrimentally. So hopefully he’ll look at some new ways to move forward as well.

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Savanah March 11, 2021 at 4:16 pm

Dude. This couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. I’ve lately been questioning whether I have undiagnosed ADHD (as I’m sure you know, it’s harder to peg in women/girls), but then there are things that I’m like, “Nah, I don’t do “that,” so it must not be it.” And then as I was reading this post, I had NO IDEA what you were getting at, but was nodding along like, “Yep, that’s me to a tee. Can’t wait to hear what his revelation is!” and then you dropped the bombshell. No sh*t. I think I need to find someone to help me, because I’m definitely not functioning at peak performance. So thank you.

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David Cain March 12, 2021 at 9:05 am

This “ruling out” effect is probably common. We don’t have much to go by aside from our preconceptions, and if we don’t exhibit one of the hallmarks (or we exhibit its opposite) it really feels like it can’t be that. I suspect girls and women are especially prone to that effect because the hallmarks are probably more typical in boys. Best of luck with the rest of your self-inquiry process.

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Julie March 11, 2021 at 5:47 pm

David – thank you thank you thank you. I’ve had this exact sense about life since I can remember. As an almost 29 year old woman, I hate that I’ve spent so much time feeling lost and confused about most themes of life, but I’m grateful that I can take action now and change course while I’m still “young”. I’ve had suspicions that my fogginess could be ADHD for a while now, but your words rung so true to how I feel that it’s the extra push I needed to prioritize a potential diagnosis.

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Steve March 11, 2021 at 6:56 pm

David, thank you so much for this post, sincerely! As I read the “Life in the Twilight Zone” section, I felt as though I could have written it about myself (though likely not as well as you did). Then the experiences you noted to which I could also relate just continued as I kept reading. I have literally just started therapy a week ago and in my session tomorrow, I am now going to investigate the possibility of being professionally evaluated. So thank you again.

On a related note, I have been enjoying Raptitude for quite some time now but as you might suspect, I have quite a backlog of unread posts due to my procrastination. I am so happy that you have made this discovery, that you see so much increased potential in yourself as a result, and I am so looking forward to seeing what comes next. All the best to you!

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Sara Williams March 11, 2021 at 9:59 pm

Kia ora David:-)
A few sentences in I could see what you were going to say, and I was already beaming with delight for you. I work in the area of Neurodiversity, and adult discovered ADHD is a blessing, alongside requiring grace to accept the years of struggle. Luckily for you, as you noted you have that grace in spades, hard earned though it was.
I’m very excited to see what comes next.
Kia kaha e hoa, kia kaha,
Sara

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Sara Williams March 11, 2021 at 10:00 pm

David,
Argh, apologies for the name error on my last post. That is my word issue at play!
Sara

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David Cain March 12, 2021 at 9:07 am

I deleted the one with the typo. Thanks Sara!

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Suzanne Sergis March 11, 2021 at 10:09 pm

Wow, David! I am so freakin’ thrilled for you and would love to keep being given a window into your world as you continue on this path of discovery and development of the “new you”. Your willingness to share this part of you publicly is admirable and your bravery is commendable. Wishing you enjoyment and peace of mind as you continue to reap the benefits from this awareness raising and medical support you’re receiving. <3

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Kaz March 11, 2021 at 10:13 pm

David, thank you so much for this post. I cannot tell you how much this resonated with me. In fact, many of your posts do, but this one was like you narrating what was happening inside my head. I’ve been saying (mostly as a joke/ throwaway) over the last couple of years that I might have ADHD, but people told me “no, that’s anxiety” – now I am considering the possibility that the anxiety was brought on by the ADHD as you mention in your post. I think I’d better get tested. Also, sorry to make this about me lol, I also want to congratulate you on figuring out what’s going on with you and finally having that clarity. You must be so relieved! :)

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David Cain March 12, 2021 at 9:12 am

Thanks Kaz. Anxiety is a confounder in mental health diagnostics because it is a natural reaction to all sorts of problems. A simple heuristic for whether to investigate further is to ask yourself if you have experienced major problems at times in your life when you were clearly not experiencing anxiety.

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Kaz March 14, 2021 at 6:20 pm

Thank you David for responding :) honestly it’s hard to say, because I feel like I can’t separate the anxiety from everything else… but I’ll have a think about it.

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Victoria March 12, 2021 at 6:19 am

“judging by my experience on medication so far. I estimate my undiagnosed/untreated ADHD has reduced my daily productivity by 80-90%”

I just want to note that amphetamine medication has that effect on non-ADHD people as well (hence its abuse as a study drug and in the workforce).

I’m always mildly sceptical of late in life ADHD diagnoses, partly due to my own experience – two psychologists have suggested I might have ADHD, when I don’t. I have a degree in psychology myself (though I’m not a clinical psychologist), and immediately knew the suggestion was incorrect. I share many of your symptoms, but they’re due to anxiety (obsessive compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder) and other factors. I’m impulsive and hyper focus, but as a child and at university I could easily concentrate for long periods on uninteresting topics, and I’ve never been forgetful or disorganised. I know I don’t have ADHD – having cousins that do have it, rather severely – yet the diagnosis was still floated.

Thus given how the ADHD diagnosis was levelled at me, when I don’t have it, I wonder how many people are in the same position – and might run with it, due to unfamiliarity with the disorder? (I should note that I’d happily pretend to have ADHD to access the meds, but that would be unethical – it’s not a misplaced sense of shame that turns me off the diagnosis; rather, it’s that the diagnosis doesn’t resonate, although it would be convenient if it did.) People newly diagnosed with ADHD rave about the medication – but everyone gets a massive hit of productivity, euphoria (at first) and confidence from it, ADHD or not.

I’ve been reading ADHD and adderall subreddits for some time – a recurring issue with medication is wanting to up the dose with time. It’s very easy to get addicted to it, and start to view basic tedious tasks you could previously do with some effort as intolerable without the medication. I also find it suppresses my creative, daydreaming, humorous side.

I guess this is all a convoluted, rambling way to say that I wouldn’t view enhanced productivity and feeling at ease from taking medication as confirmation of ADHD (not that you were), because everyone feels that way on it. I’m a little disappointed because so many of your previous posts have resonated with me, and now this one almost seems to be saying “all of that was because of my untreated ADHD, for which I’m now taking medication!” — this somewhat undermines the advice given in those posts, and as someone who’s struggled with addiction to (illicitly sourced) ADHD meds, it’s almost like encouragement to keep abusing them, when I’m decently functional without them.

Also – I don’t think the topics of Raptitude are necessarily indicative of ADHD – a lot of people have fixations on those topics (hence the blog’s popularity). If anything, I’ve always been impressed by your dedication to experiments – as someone without ADHD, I can’t follow a schedule for more than a week without thinking “Hmm, this is boring now – I’m going to quit” – but your experiments generally follow the full 30 days, even if you have to restart.

“Getting my thoughts into a concise, readable text is like herding cats, inside a maze, on a giant plane doing barrel rolls. When you factor in my obsessive self-monitoring habit –- the intense fear of saying the wrong thing or being misunderstood – even a simple post takes several eight-hour days of writing.”

I have that symptom too, but stemming from anxiety, not ADHD. A lot of the ADHD symptoms listed seemed as if they could arise from anxiety or depression. I could be wrong though.

In any case, I hope it all works out (really – I love your blog, so the promise of more content seems awesome), and if you don’t have a destructive impulsive side like I do, you’ll probably be fine on the meds. I apologise if I seem patronising or overly sceptical.

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David Cain March 12, 2021 at 11:24 am

Hi Victoria. The “80-90%” paragraph you are reacting to probably requires some clarification, because it does make it sound like I’m attributing the difference to medication.

I don’t mean that on medication I get 5x more done. I mean that medication has made it much clearer precisely how ADHD and my coping mechanisms have impacted daily productivity, and the degree of of difference they’ve made.

I’ve been doing so many tasks in highly circuitous ways, and avoiding other tasks completely because I didn’t know where the difficulty actually was. The medication provided some pretty dramatic clarity on exactly how my habits deviate from a straightforward, step-by-step mode of doing tasks – as I’ve witnessed normal, not-on-drugs people do all my life – and what my specific bottlenecks are and how I might address them.

The 5-10x estimate comes from an accumulation of general insights over the last eight months, but the medication experience provided a vital part of that. I am aware of the “medication honeymoon effect,” and it is long over. I know that how I felt on the first day of methylphenidate is not how life is for everyone else, but that first day was nonetheless an important experience to share.

I don’t know what role medication will have for me, but I don’t expect to fuel my productivity with it like it’s super-coffee or something. I could write ten thousand words alone on my thoughts about medication and its complex interaction with productivity, but that’s not appropriate for a blog post.

Instead I’ve posted 3000 imperfect words in an attempt to condense forty years of personal experience into something readable. I have had to exclude explanatory details like the ones in this comment. There are another 8000 words in the linked page going into much more detail, but all of that is still only a few examples from decades of observations.

Anyway — the most important difference between your experience and mine is that I do fit the description of ADHD, which is why the diagnosis makes sense to me. Still, a diagnosis is only ever a working hypothesis, and as you know, all of these “conditions” are just ever-changing lists of traits that often appear together and therefore need a name.

I understand your skepticism about ADHD diagnoses and psychology in general, and I share most of it. But come on — summarizing my post as “Wow, stimulants made me more productive, therefore ADHD” is pretty cynical for a regular reader of this blog. I think I deserve more credit than that.

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Ryan March 12, 2021 at 11:17 am

Recently suspecting I have ADHD:
“Oh cool a new post from Raptitude.”
“Man, David sounds just like me, where’s he going with this?”
“Oh.”

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Tony March 12, 2021 at 2:39 pm

David, I’m so happy you discovered you have ADHD and shared your experience. I’ve sent your article to all my friends with ADHD (several of whom were first diagnosed in their 30s).

I was unofficially diagnosed in high school — but I didn’t take action and spent years ping-ponging around.

Like you, I self-monitor and worry about writing too much.

And as I’m writing this during the workday, I’ll just make two brief comments:
* Your writing *is* well-structured and polished. If I had to guess, you catch occasional glimpses of near-perfection and wish everything could reach that impossible level. (Of course, another round of sanding would make writing smoother… a classic ADHD trap.)
* People with ADHD tend to have a lot of negative self-talk and task-incompletion anxiety. The best resource I’ve found for that is “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore. Major breakthrough for me.

Great job with this, and keep it up.

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Edith March 12, 2021 at 3:28 pm

Your work is already amazing. I can’t wait to see what you are going to do next. I have a little neighbor who is six years old and has ADHD and is medicated already. He is so cute and smart and caring, it breaks my heart to see how his impulsivity gets him in trouble. I would like to read about how to make life easier for people with this condition. Thank you!

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Marie Mika March 12, 2021 at 9:26 pm

Hi David – I just wanted to thank you for writing this post – for the first time I think I might really understand what ADHD feels like – and to congratulate on your breakthrough. I can’t wait to see where your new life takes you!

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Mike March 13, 2021 at 2:10 am

David, I am really glad that you now have the diagnosis that can help you unlock that part of you that you may be feeling is untapped, and help with some of the difficulties you have experienced. I really enjoy your writing for the years I have followed, you really have been doing a great job.

More generally, reading the comments has been really interesting. Naturally, and pointed out previously, we are a self selecting group and might explain why there is a large prevalence of people now thinking ‘oh, that could actually be me’. This I guess supports your comments about how you never thought about it being ADHD before because it hadn’t been described well before. It seems like many have found that realising they share similar experiences through chiming with your writings over the years, could be a more effective way of people identifying the symptoms in themselves than running through a list of standard symptoms which to them may or may not be present, and in varying degrees of severity!

I agree on the adaption that people may be making subconsciously to get by, and how this then might seem to them like they don’t think they could have ADHD. For the parts of your life people are in control of, they may have subconsciously designed some of the challenges out of your life, and therefore the symptom is not exhibited as there isn’t the opportunity for it to be. But the problem still exists for the parts outside of your control. In ones own time, someone might be able to do complex and interesting tasks because you can do them in short bursts, in an environment conducive to focus. But because your focus only lasts an hour each time then this just happens over a really long period, with the stalling of progress, procrastination, returning to task etc, but eventually x may get done. But put in a job in an office environment, where they need to do something less challenging/interesting but for solid 7 hours a day, manage their time and conflicting deadlines set outside of their control, and with the noise and distractions then it can be a struggle. This then may be incorrectly interpreted as ‘well I can’t possibly have ADHD/these symptoms don’t describe me because I can do x well and I am maybe just not very good at my job’.

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David Cain March 13, 2021 at 9:57 am

Thanks Mike. Agreed. To put it even more broadly, I think the issue is that the way each of us interacts with the world is unique. Each of us has to figure out, on our own, how to contend with every single thing that comes down the pipe in life. We never get to see inside another person’s experience, and adjust our interpretation based on that. We can only infer what life is like in someone else’s experience.

That is a problem for the pattern-recognition model we use to diagnose psychiatric conditions (or whatever we want to call them). Self-report doesn’t solve this problem, because (a) it’s very difficult to articulate your own inner experience at all, and (b) even if you can do it well, for someone to understand your report still requires a common frame of reference, which we can never have because each person, including the clinician, is seeing life through their own inner experience. So it’s really tricky to assess what’s going on with a person, or even with yourself.

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Nicole March 13, 2021 at 7:05 pm

I have ADHD (diagnosed at 21) and I have been reading your blog for a long time and I’m surprised I didn’t put two and two together! Your writing resonated with me so much and this is probably a big part of why that was the case.

Good luck with the next steps of this process!

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Monique Domian March 13, 2021 at 8:46 pm

David, I’ve been reading your blog regularly since 2017 and have attended Camp Calm three times (I think!) and have done the CC Relax version as well. Without a doubt I’m a fan of your giant intellect and writing ability and general communication skills, not to mention your kindness and the equilibrium I presumed you had. Today’s post truly shocked me that you’ve had to experience such profound struggles doing this and are open, in spite of these, to share your experiences. I admire you so much for this post. I will continue to follow you faithfully as I’m certain you still have so much to teach and I so much to learn. Bless yer pea pickin’ heart…

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