Dear Dr. Archer,
I just bought your book on my iPad and find it very interesting. I was born into a completely nutty family, and my parents hated each other. My crib was in dad's room, and I stayed there until I was 12! That's when they closed in the garage and converted it into my bedroom.
I have an older learning disabled brother, and a 10 year old sister, with whom I do not have a relationship. My mom was diagnosed manic depressive in the 60's and my dad is most likely an alcoholic. My brother became an alcoholic but was able to stop drinking on his own.
I always hung out with the social crowd and drank plenty to escape, I guess. There was not one day of normalcy in my childhood. We sat down to dinner once a year, where mom would throw the turkey at dad.
Neighbors wondered how they didn't kill each other. They never communicated or talked, but preferred to scream, beat and neglect each other. It was a total toxic environment. I went to school almost every morning crying.
In my 20's I discovered therapy and AA. I was looking for guidance, and in my first therapy session I cried for an hour straight when the therapist asked about my family. I had never expressed the dysfunction to anyone.
I quit drinking for a year and everything got better. Once I stopped for eight years, and life was more manageable, I was in better shape and although I still had issues, I was better. Then, however, I went back to social, impulsive Lisa. I had many toxic, co-dependent relationships.
Most of my issues stem from the adventurous personality you describe in your book. I have been an international flight attendant for 24 years and so am always on the go.
The problems arise from my impulsivity, lack of organization and spending. I have managed to stay above the water, so to speak, because my family's money is always saving me from financial ruin just in time.
I'm probably hyper-sexual, as well, but nothing freaky. Now in my late 40's, I'm attracted to younger men and it's always non-committal. I have kept myself attractive and look much younger than 49. My traits do help me in that I'm very outgoing, thoughtful, a multitasker, curious about life and have plenty of energy.
I'm probably the opposite of traditional. I don't crave a house with a two car garage and my kids at the best schools. I feel my life is by design, not by accident.
I've never been married and have no children. I bought a condo, yet I long to have an RV and travel across the USA and different countries. My condo is a disaster zone since I can't stay organized.
I've never been in trouble with the law or anything, but I'm afraid of my behavior sometimes. I tend to sever relationships fast for any reason. I have trust issues, too.
I've been out of AA for four years; anything over three drinks and I get a hangover, ruining the next day. I like to stay fit so this rarely works for me. I tend to have a love/hate relationship with AA; there's a lack of energy and the people are stuck and I have a difficult time with a higher power, as evolution was drilled into me.
My question to you is, am I ADHD? Am I an alcoholic? I tried Adderall one day and hated it. Years ago a doctor put me on everything and anything. He diagnosed me with anything I told him I was, but I was having side effects.
I did like Wellbutrin; it may have made me a little more manic but I loved it -- but it made my hair fall out. I take Ambien for sleep because of my job.
I'm so confused. I don't know if I need meds or if I need to go back to AA, back to basics or just slow down. I know there's mental illness throughout my family, on both sides. I'm confused..... and thanks for writing the book!
First, I want you to know that AA is not only focused on those who believe in God. AA is about changing the actions related to addiction and teaching a new way of living -- a much better, productive way of life, without dependence on alcohol.
Countless atheists have gone through AA and found sobriety. So please don't let that be the obstacle. AA talks about a higher power rather than God for a reason and your higher power can be anything that is bigger than you are. It doesn’t have to be religious.
Next, yep, you may be ADHD. You have the perfect job for having an adventurous spirit and a lot of your behavior could be explained by that. However, I certainly cannot diagnose you based on a letter and even more importantly, just because you have the trait doesn’t mean you need to be treated for it.
My advice is to first, go back to AA. Why not, you said it helped you and it can be a wonderful source of support. Stop drinking again for 6 months and see how your ADD symptoms do. Often ADD is made worse by alcohol or drugs, so that may help tremendously.
At that point you can decide whether it’s time to seek a psychiatrist for an eval. Honestly, just because you are occasionally impulsive and disorganized doesn’t mean you need to be treated. Over all it sounds like you have built a life around your traits and are doing pretty good.
In the meantime, try to slow down while still enjoying your sense of adventure. If after all the above you do decide to see a psychiatrist, that’s fine. If medication is deemed beneficial for you, then give it a try.
The good news is that you’ve had a good life without it, so there is no rush to make an immediate decision. All the best.