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Belle Burch
Rising Star
Rising Star
Jul 28, 2021
In Introduce Yourself
I'm happy to have found this hub and I joined because I want to learn everything I can about ADHD. My hope is that if I can learn more about how my brain works, I can be better equipped to figure out systems, processes and ways of doing things that work for me, even if that ends up looking very different from what works for most neurotypicals. I strive to be a proactive and creative problem solver. I want to see myself making regular, consistent progress toward my goals (I'm a small business owner trying to get my business off the ground, which requires a higher level of organization and executive function than I have so far been able to acheive). I have ambitious dreams and goals even beyond just starting my business, and I'm not willing to let my ADHD stop me. When I first got diagnosed, it felt like a relief to know that - I'm not broken, it's not a personal failure, I'm not lazy or defective. - I'm not alone. My struggles are not unique. There are lots of other people out there who have had the same exact experiences as me. - There is a ton of amazing support and information available to me now that I have a clearer idea of what's going on. I have a worldwide community that sees, supports and understands me. Now that I've got a diagnosis I have a starting point and the tools to better understand myself. There's hope. Here's my story (this got kinda long because I hyperfocused on it haha 🙃). As is often the case with women, I wasn't diagnosed with ADHD until depression and anxiety became so bad in adulthood that that was what initially propelled me to seek therapy. At this point after a few years of therapy (and finding the right medications) I can definitely say that suffering from undiagnosed/unsupported ADHD my whole life while being held to neurotypical standards was a HUGE contributing factor to my depression. Now that I'm finally getting the support I need for my ADHD, my depression has lessened considerably. I feel like I've recently come out of a stuck, dark hole of hopelessness and frustration. I stubbornly resisted pharmaceuticals for many years for several reasons: - I was afraid of the possible side effects and long term potentially negative health impacts - I have always favored more natural/herbal/dietary/lifestyle/holistic approaches over pharmaceuticals whenever possible. I don't even take pain medications like aspirin or ibuprofen unless it's an absolute emergency or the pain is so high that it is completely unbearable. - I didn't want to become another statistic. I knew that pharmaceuticals are often overproscribed, and I wanted to try every other possible solution before going that route. - I saw becoming reliant on drugs in order to be functional as some kind of personal failure or weakness. I wanted so badly to figure out how to manage my life on my own, and to use drugs meant I wasn't strong enough or capable enough to do that. I saw turning to meds for help as some kind of personal failure for a very long time. I'm glad my perspective has shifted. I only wish it had happened sooner. A person with a sprained ankle isn't weak if they use crutches. A drowning man who isn't a very strong swimmer isn't a failure if he grabs a floating piece of wood and kicks rather than trying to swim 50 miles to shore. A woman whose baseline neurochemistry inhibits her ability to effectively achieve her goals in life isn't weak or a failure if she chooses to swallow a pill every morning that makes it more possible for her to do what she needs (and wants) to do. We all need different kinds of help. Needing neurochemical help is no different than needing mental, emotional or physical help. The ADHD brain is just built different. I finally started taking Wellbutrin for my depression about a year ago. It was something I hadn't tried yet and I was running out of non-pharmaceutical approaches to explore (plus, to be honest, I lacked the executive function/motivation/consistency to really utilize any alternative approaches to thier fullest potential). Though I had dabbled somewhat with nootropics, this was where my fascination with neurochemistry really began. I learned that Wellbutrin, aka Buproprion, is first and foremost an antidepressant drug and not an ADHD-specific medication, but it does have a neat little side effect of helping a bit with improving focus and motivation because of its effects on dopamine and norepinephrine. It certainly helped me feel less depressed and more willing to engage with reality. It helped some with focus and motivation, but not nearly enough. I was still chronically overwhelmed and always felt behind. I had trouble finishing projects and was constantly anxious about all the important things I had let slide, feeling them loom over me, while simultaneously feeling unable to deal with them. I made so many to-do lists, but looking at them only worsened my overwhelm and made me feel demotivated. I had issues with prioritization and wasn't very good at managing my own time and energy. In hindsight, I can see that my undiagnosed ADHD brain was simply prioritizing the tasks and activities that gave it the most stimulation and dopamine, and I was constantly at war with it because I knew that most of the time I wasn't engaging with what I "should" have been doing. Constant guilt. Constant anxiety. Constant overwhelm. Constant internal struggle. Motivation was this ephemeral thing that was exceedingly difficult to generate, find, or hold onto. I would beat myself up a lot. It was exhausting. I lived with sharp feelings of disappointment, frustration and exasperation toward myself. I felt like a huge failure. I had big internalized feelings about how my best efforts would likely never be good enough for myself or others, so why try. Nothing seemed worth the effort. It seemed like I had to try really really hard to accomplish what everyone else around me considered "easy" or "basic." I was easily discouraged, lacked persistence, gave up easily at the first sign of challenge, and often wondered what was wrong with me. I felt pathetic and useless. My inner critic was harsh. After ditching Facebook entirely for mental and emotional health reasons, I developed a TikTok addiction. It gave me truckloads of easy-access dopamine by providing an everflowing stream of novelty and discovery tailored to my specific interests (it's almost like it was created specifically for the ADHD person). I liked the anonymity of TikTok as opposed to feeling socially naked on Facebook. I recognized it was kind of like subbing one addiction for another, but I justified it to myself as an improvement because it felt like a healthier addiction than Facebook had been (even after deleting TikTok, I still feel that way. For myself it was definitely the lesser of two evils). It was educational and entertaining, there were overlapping bubbles of interest-based communities I felt happy to be part of... and more importantly it was giving my brain what it so badly craved. It became a welcome, stimulating reset, a reward I would give myself after accomplishing something, and was often the way I would both start and end my day. So many inspiring and creative people on there! You can probably guess where this is going.... I wandered into ADHD TikTok and found that a lot of what educators and advocates were saying applied eerily directly and specifically to me. I self-diagnosed and then sought a real diagnosis. I just started taking Ritalin (methylphenidate) in addition to Wellbutrin. It's made a world of difference. It's like I've been muddling about in the dark my whole life wondering why everything felt so hard, and someone just switched on the lights. What a relief to finally be able to do what I want to do. "You can do whatever you set your mind to" now feels like something that actually applies to me. Now that my brain has more of what it needs to feel motivated, stimulated and focused, and now that my internal reward system works more like it should, I find the compulsive activities I used to engage in to self medicate to be less interesting, and I'm less compelled to engage in them. This frees up a great deal of my time and energy to focus on actually moving toward my goals and aspirations. I've been making spreadsheets, organizing my living space and getting my ducks in a row. When I don't know how to do something, I google it and learn. My entire relationship with learning anything new has shifted dramatically. My self care routines are locked and loaded, whereas before they were inconsistent. I'm more persistent and executively functional now, with very few side effects. Getting out of bed and starting the day is WAY easier. My sense of self worth has improved. My relationship with myself has improved. I'm way less depressed. I feel like I now have a higher chance of reaching my full potential and making a positive impact on the world. 100% worth it. I've recently been experimenting with the nootropics citicoline and L-Tryosine. Other nootropics I've found to be helpful along the way include lion's mane, alpha GPC, Bacopa and Theanine. I'm continuing to learn more as I go about neurochemistry and which nootropics work best for me in concert with my ADHD medication. I'm happy to have found others like me who are on the same journey of self discovery who are motivated to figure out what works for us as individuals. Thanks for reading this far. ;)
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Belle Burch

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