Friday, August 3, 2007

Welcome to My World - Living With ADHD Part 1; Introduction

This has turned out to be a lot harder discussion to get started, than I though it would be. I have never been one to hold anything close to my chest. As a songwriter, I have often written very personal, very harsh self assessments into my songs. I have never been afraid to discuss my feelings, good or bad, never been afraid to talk about the very worse aspects of who I am. I have hurt people, used people and even, though not purposefully or with malicious intent, abused people. I have been 'heroic" in my abuse of various substances, mostly hallucinogens. I spent the early years of my adult life, having sex, doing drugs and playing music, the epitome of irresponsibility. In short, I am not afraid of talking about myself, good or bad. But talking about my life with ADHD, has not been coming out so easy. Which is funny, because ADHD has been such a large part of my life. Not just ADHD, but insomnia and, so I'm told, bipolar disorder as well. I suspect that the symptoms of bipolar are actually the result of a lifetime of sleep deprivation. So my life with ADHD, is more than simply ADHD, but a couple of neurological disorders, as they are commonly called.

So I think the first thing that I must do, is clarify my take on neurological disorders. The word disorder can be a bit misleading, as it has rather negative connotations. To be very clear, I do not regret who I am, or in any way wish that I was neurotypical. Yes, there are problems, yes, it is very, very hard sometimes, as the following post will make clear. But everything hard about it, every silly mistake, is balanced by the rich tapestry that is my mind, who I am. Every minute, of every day, I am constantly inundated by five to eight lines of thought at the same time. All right there in my conscious mind. It's hard sometimes, trying to focus on any one thing, even something as simple as day by day interactions with others. At the same time, it means that my mind is always at work, mulling through this and that - going off on tangents brought about by combining separate lines of thought. Some of the best writing I have produced, the best ideas that I have had, are a direct result of becoming distracted. It is not nearly so simple, as black and white, good and bad. Even as they are a curse, ADHD, bipolar and insomnia are, excepting my family, my life's greatest blessing. It is my greatest hope that for my son, it will never be a curse.

I have decided to split this up into sections, as it is getting quite lengthy. The next post will be my educational experience. I am also changing the date on it, so it remains at the top for a while. I will try to ensure that this series stays in order, from beginning to end. When it is all up, or other posts on neurological disorders go up, I will let other posts get ahead of it. So ignore the date it claims to be posted.

Posted 8/3/07


Beth said...

Is insomnia common in people with ADHD?

DuWayne Brayton said...

As I understand it, sleep problems are common to people with neurological disorders. Not necessarily consistently. Most people I know, who are ADHD have sleep related problems, but while most of them are insomnia type problems, some have the opposite problem. I will be working on getting a post (hopefully, by someone educated in neurology, psychology or sleep related disorders) up on this topic, but it is lower on the priority list.

Beth said...

I would guess that having the Internet, which you can access day or night, has been a blessing for you, and that it can only be of help in you reaching out as you are in sharing your story here, which could end up being a big help to someone, or in someone helping you in some way.

Peter said...

You continually say in your posts that your bipolar and ADHD symptoms are caused by your congenital insomnia. However, you never explain why you think this is the case. After doing a little research, it seems the opposite is most likely true: that your bipolar and ADHD disorders are causing your insomnia. There are multitudes of studies and personal experiences showing the causal relationship working in the way just mentioned, not in the way you describe.

I am curious as to why you think that your situation is different, and why you are convinced that the causal relationship works the other way around.

Also, why do you think there IS a causal relationship between all of your different disorders? Could it not be that they have all manifested themselves independent of each other? And that their simultaneous existence is simply a coincidence?

DuWayne Brayton said...

Actually, I don't think that the insomnia caused my ADHD, if there is a causal relationship, it is indeed the reverse of that. There are actually two reasons that I think the bipolar symptoms may be the result of the insomnia. First, the bipolar didn't develop until I was a pre-teen, into my teenage years. The other reason, is that both my family doctor (who is also a psychologist) and the psychiatrist who actually diagnosed my bipolar, felt that it was quite likely that the insomnia either caused the symptoms or triggered a genetic propensity that was already there.

I also don't assume there is a causal relationship between all of my disorders. Like I said, if the ADHD is involved in any causality, it is responsible for something else. I doubt very much that this is the case though, because the insomnia was present, literally from birth. I don't doubt that the ADHD was too, but the way that ADHD usually effects sleep patterns, is because the mind is working overtime. While I accept it's possible for a newborn infant to be affected in this fashion, I find it quite doubtful.

I am also not saying that I absolutely believe the insomnia is the cause of the bipolar symptoms. I just think that it's quite possible, even likely, due to when and how the symptoms developed.

It wasn't a very quick process, indeed it took three or four years for them to manifest to the extent they have. I also have a very mild expression of symptoms. I have never used pharmaceuticals stronger than Paxil, to manage it and after an adverse reaction to that, have only used dimenhydramine or marijuana to manage it. While my excessive use of LSD did have some adverse affects, the amount that I did, would likely have a fairly profound affect on neurotypicals as well.

All that said, the biggest reason that I believe it possible that the bipolar symptoms might well just be the result of the insomnia, is that the doctors involved in the diagnosis thought as much. If they had not pointed me in that direction, I probably would never have considered the notion.

DuWayne Brayton said...

To clarify the relationship with the doctors involved in diagnosing my bipolar. My family doctor tried to avoid intersecting his medical patients with his psychotherapy patients. After I had some difficulties with several therapists, he agreed to see in that capacity. After we had a few sessions, he concluded that it was likely I had bipolar disorder. Having been my doctor since I was six, he was also intimately familiar with my history of sleep issues and fairly familiar with the development of my behavioral issues.

He was the one who referred me to some of the therapists that I saw over the years, my school referring me to some of the others. He ultimately referred me to the psychiatrist that officially diagnosed me with bipolar. He in turn diagnosed me with bipolar, noting in my record that the symptoms might be the result of my insomnia.b

Anonymous said...

'Comorbidity' (more than one condition existing simultaneously) of ADHD and bipolar disorder is very common.

Also, there are current studies that focus on circadian rhythms in bipolar patients that strongly suggest insomnia can trigger manic episodes. This doesn't mean that sleep deprivation actually causes bipolar disorder; an individual must be first biologically/genetically predisposed. After that, environmental factors come into play--and sleep problems is one of them, often caused by stress. There is definitely a link, but it's a complex one.