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My Life with ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type

Updated on October 12, 2012

For my entire life I have suffered with a condition that is now called Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Predominantly Inattentive Type. This means that I am a person who has difficulty with attention but few symptoms of hyperactivity; a diagnosis that used to be called Attention-Deficit Disorder. I am recounting my experience in the hope that I will help others understand this disorder, recognize if they or a loved one meets the criteria and, if so, brings understanding to their own behaviors and lives.

What is ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type?

The American Psychiatric Association produces a handbook used for making diagnosis in the United States. Called the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM), version IV-TR, it lists three types of ADHD. There is ADHD, Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type; ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type; and ADHD, Combined Type, for a person who is hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive.

Most people are familiar with the Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type or the Combined Type. The former consists of hyperactive behaviors such as moving constantly, fidgeting, and excessive talking; and the impulsivity marked by difficulty taking turns, intruding on others conversations, and statements made without thinking. The indicators of the Predominantly Inattentive Type include difficulty with: paying attention, attending to details, disorganization, and completing tasks.

As I relate what I have been through, it is important to remember that each individual will experience this in a different manner. When you read this article, look for a general relationship to your life. If what I am saying seems relevant, this diagnosis, like all others, should only be made by a professional.

My Symptoms of Inattention

I have experienced many of the symptoms of inattention. I need to concentrate very hard to attend to details. Unless I am highly focused, it is easy for me to make careless mistakes, especially when it is a repetitive task. When reading I must constantly reread paragraphs as my mind easily wonders; though this is not so true when reading novels. I can also make careless mistakes in math. In high school, I still remember flunking a math test even though I knew how to solve all of the problems. I went through the test so quickly that I left out steps. Tasks that take concentration are at times impossible if there is music or too much noise in the background.

Sometimes I do not hear what is happening around me; I may even respond to a question and not remember giving a response or hearing the question. As you might have guessed, my teenage foster sons sometimes take advantage of this.

I am a disorganized person. People who know me well are aware of this; but casual acquaintances are surprised to hear this because of the techniques I have adopted to maintain an impression of order. I can easily misplace things by putting them down and then, soon afterward, not remembering where I left them. This happens when I am thinking about the next task and simply don't notice where I put something. I can easily forget what tasks I have or the days and times of appointments. My mind wanders easily, especially during meetings (though I find I usually didn't miss anything, such is the nature of most meetings). I avoid, procrastinate would be a better descriptor, tasks that require a long, concentrated effort.

When faced with an anxiety provoking situation that requires an immediate decision, I would easily come up with two to four solutions and then not be able to decide between the pros and cons of each. My wife, Candace, describes me as moving quickly but with one foot nailed to the floor in an awkward, circular ballet.

My symptoms of mild hyperactivity

I do not have the more obvious signs of hyperactivity. I was always able to sit still in the classroom and did not move or talk constantly. However, I do things quickly. I walk, complete tasks and write at a fast pace. In fact, I need to make a conscious effort to slow down when I am walking with someone; and sometimes writing slowly feels physically painful. Standing in lines and waiting drives me nuts and I always need something to do because I am bored easily. My employers benefit from my needing to keep busy as I will create tasks for my-self when all assigned duties are completed. I haven't noticed this but Candace, thinks my driving shows signs of hyperactivity. I am quick on the gas pedal and on the breaks.

Finally, I have a great deal of energy. I can have a grueling schedule and never slow down; because I don't usually tire physically. I have come to know I am exhausted when I can't remember names or information, and making decisions becomes difficult.

Because of my difficulties in school, I slowly began to assume that I was unintelligent. I did not know that this was far from true and so it confused me when friends and teachers remarked that I was smart.

How did I decide I had ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type?

From my current perspective, it seems obvious that I've had ADHD all of my life. Why did it take years to pass between the time I suspected the diagnosis and when I finally scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist? There were behaviors that contraindicated ADHA.

I could focus for long periods of time on reading textbooks, writing reports and completing assignments. As a counselor, I could sit for hours and attentively listen to clients. I was able to design relational databases and successfully plan projects and events; there were times when distractions were not distracting. I did not have many typical ADHD behaviors, in school I had no trouble sitting still, nor did I blurt out answers or talk excessively. I graduated from college with two degrees and went on to earn a Ph.D. How could I have ADHD? I decided to meet with a psychiatrist to get a professional assessment. I was diagnosed as having ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type; and prescribed medication.

My Current Life

My life has improved a great deal since going on medications for ADHD. It is much easier for me to read professional material. My ability to focus and concentrate improved, even with distractions. When I have a problem to solve, it is easy to choose between many solutions. The psychiatrist helped me by prescribing the medication but he also pointed out that I had unknowingly developed many strategies for living life effectively. See my Hubpage My Life with ADHD, Strategies for Survival to see these techniques. The medications are not a magic bullet. I am still easily bored, loose focus at times, get distracted, walk fast and use the strategies I developed. However, the prescriptions are a great improvement. I know that there is a controversy about using medication for ADHD, especially with children and adolescent. For me, the decision was right. If you wish to see a psychiatrist, see my Hubpage Medication for ADHD? Choosing a Psychiatrist for remarks on how to find one.

I hope that this article about ADHD, Predominantly Inattentive Type, as been useful; and that my experience was helpful by assisting others to understand this disorder, and the difficulties it poses.


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      Ruby 4 years ago

      Thank you for writing this. I am 27 years old and have recently begun to seriously wonder if I have ADD. I relate with almost everything in your post. It is affecting my job and my home and my EVERYTHING!

      I am meeting with a counselor and psychiatrist soon to go through the testing, and I'm terrified that I won't be able to convey to them my true struggles, because it's nothing I've ever really tried to talk about before. I'm afraid they won't believe me, because so many adults are seeking stimulants to abuse them. Do you have any advice on how I can approach this?