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Living with Adult ADHD and Depression

Living with Adult ADHD and Depression

(Ed. Note: This post was written by Douglas Cootey, our guest on the Dec. 15, 2009, HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show on Adult ADHD and Depression. Watch the interview by clicking the on-demand button on the player.)

My name is Douglas Cootey. I’m a 42 year old stay-at-home dad on disability and I have had ADHD all my life. When I was three weeks old, if a parent placed a finger in both of my hands I would brace my legs against them and stand up. My head would flop around, but up I’d be. Performing this trick for my pediatrician introduced my parents to the world of ADHD in the 60s. Back then, it was referred to as hyperkinesis. By third grade, I was taking ritalin daily except weekends to help me in my studies. Before that, I had spent large amounts of time banished to the library room for wiggling in class.

Depression didn’t manifest itself until I was around 15 years old. A day trip to Boston Children’s Hospital to investigate my moodiness, sleep paralysis, and insomnia yielded only an IQ quotient and that I was hyperkinetic, something I already knew. That was 1983. Eight years later, I was married and struggling with college. It was then that I sought out help and was diagnosed with depression. To treat both my ADHD and my depression I took Desoxyn and Zoloft. For three weeks, I was incredibly productive, but the Desoxyn added a new problem into my life. A small percentage of people taking it develop Tourette’s Syndrome. I was one of the lucky few. Because I stopped taking the medicine, I didn’t develop full blown Tourette’s, but the damage had been done. I was neurologically disabled for life with a Chronic Motor Tic Disorder. It was 1992, and I was only 25.

Impact of Adult ADHD and Depression

How this affected me was profound. Besides low self-esteem, a lack of focus, and a third major in as many schools—all due to my ADHD—I now ticked uncontrollably when fatigued or anxious. I withdrew from society and friends. If I thought I had been moody before, this new kink in my life spawned a dark depression full of suicidal ideation and self-loathing that lasted four years. I kept my self-esteem locked away in the basement of my life. (Read-Impact of ADHD on Adults)

Being disabled and having kids meant that my wife worked and I was the care taker. This turned out to be a benefit. My daughters’ unconditional love made me face an uncomfortable fact: I was loved, I mattered, and my daughters and wife needed me. Coupled with therapy and a realization that my depression altered my perception of events around me, I began to train myself to think positively—to enforce optimism where I wouldn’t have before. Opportunities that I had turned a blind eye to before began to present themselves to me. I also began to like myself by using self-deprecating humor. This was the beginning of a ten-year long battle.

Psychotropic medicines didn’t work for me, so I had to train myself to rethink how I processed the world. I reasoned to myself that if my mind steered me into depression, then I could steer myself out of it. First, I learned to recognize when I was depressed (quite a feat to be sure) and then began to find ways to offset it. Soon, months of depression became weeks, and over the years the bouts of depression shorted to days, then hours. What I discovered on my own we now refer to as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, something I am a strong advocate of today.

Nowadays, I blog about my attempts to master my mental health with attitude and cheek, while pursuing my desires to be a novelist, all while running four beautiful girls around Salt Lake County (Blog-A Splintered Mind). My ticking has progressively worsened, but I force myself out more than ever before in the past 17 years. Depression flares up from time to time, but I manage it. ADHD lurks in the background like my own personal Loki, pulling the rug out from under me, but I laugh. Life is tough, then I move on—just like everybody else. I have been to the dark place of my mind and will not return there again. Now, perhaps, my experience will help others avoid that dark place as well.

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(Ed. Note: This post was written by Douglas Cootey, our guest on the Dec. 15, 2009, HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show on Adult ADHD and Depression.)

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Adult ADHD and Depression – Dec. 15

Adult ADHD and Depression – Dec. 15

Like most psychiatric disorders, Adult ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) doesn’t travel alone.  As HealthyPlace Medical Director, Dr. Harry Croft, mentions in this week’s blog post, many adults with ADHD also suffer with depression, substance abuse and other conditions.

There are two types of depression that can exist with ADHD; primary and secondary depression.  The risk for primary depression seems to be inherited and doesn’t need any specific circumstances, like a job loss or relationship breakup, to make its appearance.  Major depression tends to run in families.

In other cases, depression arising as a direct consequence of the difficulties of living with ADHD is said to be secondary to ADHD.  As you can imagine, many children with ADHD grow up with poor self-esteem and in their later years come to accept the idea they are lazy and stupid.  This especially applies to those who weren’t correctly diagnosed or treated for ADHD in childhood.  It’s no wonder that as adults, they are suffering with depression too.

Living with ADHD and Depression: Our Guest

Douglas Cootey writes an insightful blog on the subject entitled A Splintered Mind.  He’s a 42-year old stay-at-home dad caring for four girls.  Living with ADHD and depression makes it difficult for him to work. His illnesses are complicated by the fact that early on, he was given Desoxyn to help treat his ADHD and depression. A rare side-effect of the stimulant, Desoxyn, is Chronic Motor Tic Disorder, similar to Tourette Syndrome.  He has that too.

The effect of all this on his life has been profound. It took 10-years, but Douglas, who has developed a keen sense of humor, has found some helpful ways of coping.  We’ll be discussing those on Tuesday’s HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show.

About the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show

The HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show airs live every Tuesday night at 5:30 pm PST, 7:30 pm CST, and 8:30 pm EST. Our guest will be taking your personal questions.

If you miss the live show on Adult ADHD and Depression it can be watched here.

Share Your Experiences with ADHD and Depression

We also invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experience with depression and ADHD. What has it been like for you? What brought on the depression and how has it complicated your life with ADHD? Treatment-wise, what has and hasn’t worked for you? (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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My Personal Experience with Scrupulosity

My Personal Experience with Scrupulosity

My name is Kenneth Burchfiel (not to be confused with my dad, who is also Kenneth Burchfiel). I’m 18 years old, and a student at Middlebury College in Vermont.

It’s difficult for me to say when scrupulosity first appeared. On Christmas 2007, I received a book with a modernist take on Christianity and the gospels; that seemed to spark an intense period of doubt, searching and longing for answers.

What It’s Like Living with Scrupulosity

These were certainly religious obsessions, but I don’t know if a psychologist would call that scrupulosity. I do know that by early January 2009, I was experiencing a rather intense case of scrupulosity. I would apologize to God for extended periods, sometimes crying, for apparent sins like an unwanted thought that crossed into my head.

From January to late February, when I found out I had scrupulosity, I was very much in a disordered state, perhaps even delusional. I felt an immense and frequent urge to repent for sins, which was my way of dealing with the anxiety that scrupulosity created. (I would like to mention here that religion itself does not cause scrupulosity; the disease, a variant of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, stems more from neurotransmitter imbalances in the brain. Religion is simply the “theme” it assumes.)

Getting Treatment for Scrupulosity

Eventually, I acquiesced to my parents’ urging that I see a psychiatrist. They knew the state I was in. My dad saw me apologizing to God over a dozen times during dinner, making conversation all but impossible, and lying on the floor crying one day. I did not realize that the disease was a medical and not spiritual problem (though it certainly had spiritual consequences); that was why I had avoided going for help. That fact led to my recovery.

The psychiatrist suggested to me that I had a “mood disorder.” This struck me as odd, for I still felt this disease was spiritual. But once I got home, and started looking into the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (and namely scrupulosity), I was stunned to see how my symptoms of blasphemous thoughts (which appeared in my head without warning) and compulsions matched up so well with those on the site. I was never formally diagnosed with OCD, as that can cause complications in itself, but I certainly have suffered from it, and have worked with two psychiatrists to overcome my symptoms.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder resulted in many compulsions of mine, naturally, and put a number of disturbing thoughts into my head. If you have seen my Suite101 articles on Pure-O OCD, you’ll come to understand some of the experiences I went through. But the hardest symptoms to deal with were the constant feelings of guilt and sadness.

OCD took all the joy and fun out of life.  Instead of being elated that I got into Middlebury Collee, to which I had applied Early Decision, I was quiet and almost indifferent about it. I didn’t really listen to music for a good segment of time. Depression likely arose from my OCD, though a psychiatrist would know better than I.

I did tell a small group of people about my experiences with religious obsessions and compulsions. Everyone was understanding, though my father, who has his reservations about Christianity, felt that religion was the source of my symptoms before learning about OCD. (My psychiatrist happened to be Catholic, and that may have helped convince my dad that neurotransmitter issues, not religion, was the problem.) I know it hurt my parents to see me in that state, although everyone I talked to was compassionate and sympathetic, even if they weren’t able to fully understand my experiences.

I want everyone to know treatment for OCD can help. With guidance from a number of sites and an excellent book, I went through “Exposure-Response Prevention” therapy, a form of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, in which I would expose myself to the blasphemous thoughts I experienced–first by letting them come on their own, then deliberately thinking them, then even writing them and saying them out loud–to create a manageable level of anxiety in my head. I would then either delay my repentance or not repent altogether, which allowed my mind to get accustomed to the anxiety on its own. This is a fairly common and widely accepted treatment method for OCD.  It truly turned my life around.

Eventually, the thoughts no longer had control over me. I still repented for non-sinful things, and I still do, but my symptoms are fairly mild at this point. Also beneficial were a series of medications I took and continue to take. Finally, I cannot overestimate the influence of my friends’ and family’s prayers for me, which God answered in a powerful way.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that religion is not the cause of scrupulosity; rather, genetics and neurotransmitters play an important role.

(Ed. Note: This post was written by Kenneth Burchfiel, our guest on the Dec. 15, 2009, HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show on scrupulosity. Kenneth is a contributing writer for suite101.)

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The Sin of Scrupulosity – Dec. 8

The Sin of Scrupulosity – Dec. 8

At some time or another, we all worry that we’ve done something wrong and there’s going to be a price to pay. For most of us, we deal with it and move on. Those suffering with scrupulosity, however, are obsessed about religious or moral issues and experience intense, painful guilt.

Here’s an example of scrupulosity I came across on the Anxiety Disorders Association of America website. A therapist relates this story:

I pass by a picture of my kids and think, “Satan: they are my gift to you,” my new client John, a wonderful husband, father of three and successful businessman tells me. “Why would I think that? I would never sell my soul to the Devil.” On another day, he says in shame, “We are cutting shapes out of construction paper at the table and I’m thinking the Devil will make me lose control…In church finally, I’m feeling hope and then I think maybe God wants me to harm someone. I would never sell my soul; that is the last thing God would want.”

A form of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), scrupulosity involves an overzealous concern that behavior or thoughts may in some way be displeasing, or disrespecting to God. “Repetitive and excessive prayer continue to plague those persons with this type of OCD. Scrupulosity also can involve the need to adhear to a strict code of values or ridigidly follow the ethics of a law abiding citizen,” says Steven Phillipson, Ph.D., Clinical Director of the Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Psychotherapy.

Hit with Scrupulosity While Searching for God

Kenneth is an 18-year old college student, who just two years ago was searching for some meaning in God. On Christmas Day 2007, he received a book on Christianity and the gospels. By 2009, “I was experiencing a rather intense case of scrupulosity; I would apologize to God for extended periods, sometimes crying, for apparent sins like an unwanted thought that crossed into my head.”

As his mental health deteriorated, his parents urged him to see a psychiatrist.  How did things turn out? Join us Tuesday night on the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show (this show was rescheduled to Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 5:30p CT, 6:30 ET).

About the HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show

The HealthyPlace Mental Health TV Show airs live every Tuesday night at 5:30 pm PST, 7:30 pm CST, and 8:30 pm EST. Our guest and HealthyPlace Medical Director, Dr. Harry Croft, will be taking your personal questions.  If you miss the live show, which can be viewed on our site, you can always click the “on-demand” button on the player and watch the show at your convenience.

Share Your Experiences on Scrupulosity

We also invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experience – whether as a family member or loved one of someone with a mental illness. What has it been like for you and how are you coping? (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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