ADHD support/self-help group in Berlin

37 posts in this topic

Does anyone know of an English-speaking support group for ADD/ADHD adults in Berlin? I've found quite a few German ones but nothing English yet. If not, is there anybody out there with ADHD interested in starting something?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I might be up for a meet. Inattentive type here. So I'm more like -

 

"was there a kitty just here a few minutes ago, or am I imagining things?"

 

"errr...there was a kitty here, but that was yesterday".

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lol. I'd also be interested. Question is, with everyone looking in different directions for the kitty, will anyone actually suggest a time/place?

2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK guys, I'm in Prenzlberg and completely booked until October-ish. So I suggest somewhere in Pberg in late October or November, which gives us time to hash out more details.

 

Thoughts?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey there. I was actually the person for whom this group was initiated(well, attempted anyway). My wife thought it would be a good idea to see if there was any support out there as I was having problems at the time. Turns out that what I really needed was a decent therapist specializing in ADHD issues and time to manage those issues.

 

I'd like to share my experiences if I may.

 

Disclaimer: I'm not going to debate the existence of ADHD or rehash the arguments about over-medication. I'm talking here about controlled usage and then only under extreme circumstances after all other possibilities are tried. Medication should be the last thing you try, not the first. Also, this is personal bias and experience talking and not definitive fact so do your own damned research or better yet, let someone qualified do it. :)

 

1) Don't pick a therapist who doesn't want to try to make sure that your nutrition,exercise, and stress causing circumstances are managed before looking into using medication.

2) Self diagnosis is the beginning of the process. Next, get an informed opinion from someone with experience and training in ADHD.

3) Don't tell people you have ADHD; particularly if you take medication. It makes for a good catharsis but will get you into arguments ranging from the evils of medication to the efficacy of alternative methods and will be a waste of your time. While some arguments might be valid they are usually general or based on the personal experience of the person you are arguing with who may or may not have ADHD but will most certainly have a differently biology than you do. People are too complex to be treated the same way and anyone with this sort of homogenized attitude toward psychological/physiological issues is not someone from whom advice should be taken wholesale.

4) Ritalin does not equal cocaine and is used in much smaller doses for ADHD treatment then cocaine is for pleasure and if it makes you hyperactive you are taking too much and need reduce the dosage and consult your doctor. If you crave that hyperactivity and use other drugs to regulate your emotional state then you may have a predisposition towards addiction and should also let your doctor know this.

5) The medication is there to prevent your body from taking in too much dopamine, it doesn't create it, your body is already creating and taking in too much, hence the jitter and concentration problems.

6) Medication will not fix your bad habits, it just makes it possible for you to make progress in fixing them.

7) What you will gain if the dose is correct is a way to make day to day progress towards cultivating better habits that will be with you after the medication is gone.

8) Exercise and Diet are the number one way to ween yourself off the need for medication as you change not only the functioning of all your systems but it's even been demonstrated recently that exercise or lack thereof can change you on a genetic level.

9) Don't listen to people who say that you don't need medication or people that say that you do need it. Let the therapist help you decide and if you're uncomfortable with the diagnosis, get more opinions from qualified people.

10) ADHD is something you manage, not cure.

 

This is my doctor. He was instrumental in helping to diagnose my issues. And no, I don't get paid for this.

http://www.gerdteschke.de/ Incidentally, he speaks perfect English. He is in Potsdam but believe me when I say that he was absolutely worth going down there for. I probably had 8 therapists before finding him and he was by far the most thorough, patient and direct.

 

Anyway, that is my opinion and personal experience for what it is worth. The improvement my life has seen in the last few years is incalculable and even if you're dead set against medication as I was you should know that it only affects you for a matter of hours and will not zone you out or make you feel like a different person. I am, if anything more effectively creative and clear headed then I have ever been and a much less hyperactive. The best way to describe it is that I have shifted from being reactive to being responsive and that the channels in my mind are now flipping when I chose them to as opposed to involuntarily.

 

Your mileage may vary. Good luck and cheers.

6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Fractalorangejuice's post is a well thought out and good description of how to approach ADHD and therapy. Makes me want to take back my stupid kitty crack. ;)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Pberg in late October or November

 

Thoughts?

 

Works for me, I'll be arriving mid September so by Oct/Nov I should have some head space for this.

 

 

Hey there.

 

<snip>

 

Good luck and cheers.

 

Great post, there's a few things I'd like to add...

 

1. Therapy is key, but most psychiatrists nowadays don't provide it, they write prescriptions. My current doctor is like this, so I've had to educate myself and take responsibility for my own therapy. This approach works for me, right now, but it's difficult and definitely not for everyone.

 

3. I agree about keeping it to yourself for the most part. It's a difficult thing to understand even for people who are sympathetic. Add the controversies, myths and misunderstandings, and it becomes pointless to discuss it with anyone who hasn't explored the topic in depth. Kitty comments and such like annoyed the hell out of me at one time, but once I got over my "need" to be understood, I could see the funny side again. In fact now the joke I see is more about people's lack of understanding than it is about people with ADHD.

 

4. I think there's a strong argument to support the over-diagnosis and over-medication *in children*. This is a natural consequence of a child's limited understanding of their own behaviour and ADHD meds being a quick and easy fix for a lot of different things. But these arguments disappear when you consider an educated, self aware adult actively engaged in their own health. The benefits and drawbacks of medication or the lack of it are clear and easy to quantify, and the adult decides themselves if they're getting something out of it. It's frustrating that many people assume I passively allow doctors to tinker with my biochemistry like some kind of lab rat, but like above, I got over it.

 

6. & 10. This is the most important thing of all. ADHD only becomes a diagnosis when someone is having problems. Without the problems, it's just a personality / behavior type. Many people never have problems because they structure their habits and life to compensate. I was like this - my work hours, social network, house layout etc were all set up in a way that worked for me. I knew i was "different" but it didn't matter. I only got diagnosed when I moved overseas, had to change all those things, and couldn't adapt well at all.

 

The benefits of a self help group I think, are with 3, 6 & 10. - Having people to talk and laugh with, who can relate, lessens the need to be understood elsewhere. And hearing how other people structure and manage their lives provides great insight into ways you can make your own life easier.

 

Congratulations on your progress and success. You might not think you can benefit from a self help group, but it sounds like you could have a lot to contribute. :)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh yeah, it was hard enough deciding to "out" myself on the boards here. My coworkers have seen a bunch of my coping mechanisms but they just look like lists, schedules, alarms & notes - my boss knows if he doesn't see me write something down, it's as good as forgotten. And that's as deep as it goes.

 

Re therapy, I'm looking for a therapist at the moment who knows ADD and what it does to relationships, and can help my husband and me with some of our textbook-ADD-relationship pitfalls. Especially because I'm thinking about going off meds in the next little while, which I haven't done for 2 decades! There'll be a whole slew of new stuff for me to get used to, not to mention hubby! Like, me getting used to putting a LOT more effort into doing stuff that meds support me with at the moment, and hubby getting used to me not absorbing 80% of the things he says the first or second time he says them... (or third, or fifth.) And I do plan to get back into exercising more often to support that. Diet's harder - I'm not willing to give up beer or cheese even though I've heard good things about gluten- and lactose-free diets.

 

Fractal OJ, I'm glad you found someone so great but I'm not ready to schlep out to Potsdam yet - does anyone know someone closer? I've found a few possibilities but most aren't taking new patients. But if this guy sees people on the weekends... hmm.

 

Another point that goes along with #3 is the people who write you off by saying, "Well, everyone has a hard time focusing sometimes" or by blaming it on electronics/society/the media or bad parenting. ARRRGGGGGHHHH.

 

I went to a support group in German once and would have gone back except... I didn't make it. You guys understand. I love hearing other people's creative coping strategies and bragging about my own! I do hope we can make something of this.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

is there still someone interested in organizing self support groups?

or are we all loosing focus here? ( lame joke, IK )

but hey, I'm interested too...

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about Wednesday nights?

 

POLL:

 



  1. Can you make it on a Wednesday, in general?
  2. Pick a 2-hour period: 6-8 PM, 7-9 PM, 8-10 PM.
  3. Is Prenzlauer Berg/Mitte OK for everyone?

 

If I hear at least 2 others who can do it, I'll scope out places we could meet, starting as early as this week.

 

#takingcharge

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wednesday, Prenzlauer Berg is good with me, any time.

 

However I continue to be held up getting to Berlin, It looks like Wed 4th December will be my first available date.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey everyone, I'm glad to see this thread and this discussion in general. Unfortunately I can't make it to P'Berg on Wednesdays because I typically work till about 10pm. But in case that changes at least by posting I can get myself on the radar.

 

I do want to say, in response to fractalorangejuice, I appreciate your desire to inform and dispel some of the stigma with ADHD and the medications used to treat it (and there's a shocking amount of stigma in Germany!), but there's also a lot of misinformation in your post, or at least statements that top experts in the field would disagree with.

 

- First off, medication should NOT be the last thing you try. Once you are positively diagnosed, it is the first and primary treatment. Stimulant meds such as methylphenidate and amphetamines are among the most effective treatments for ANY psychiatric disorder (offhand I remember something like 85-90% of those diagnosed and treated with these meds improve significantly).

 

- Nutrition, exercise, stress control... well, that's never a bad idea for treating anything. BUT, nutrition has absolutely nothing to do with ADHD. And interventions based on diet have been thoroughly debunked. Exercise and physical activity is indeed helpful to a moderate degree. As far as stress control goes, well... with the meds, life becomes far more manageable and stress more controllable. It's not that stress control makes meds less necessary; it's that meds make stress easier to control.

 

- I am sympathetic to the desire to NOT mention your ADHD to others. At least 3 times since I've been in Berlin when I mentioned it, I got the exact same response (word for word!!). Ready for it?: "Hmmm... (moment of awkward silence)... Have you tried yoga?". At which point my brain lets out a large scream in my head. (one of those people incidentally was a psychotherapist). So I won't try to persuade anyone to do otherwise. But I realized that I can never make any progress on fighting the stigma that way. I don't go out of my way to bring it up but I never shy away from it either. Everyone of the important people in my life right now knows that I have it and knows a lot more about it than they used to. There's one particular example I'll mention here. There's a family that I am quite close with. (I've been teaching them music lessons for 5 years now). Their young 7 year old son very very clearly had (has) ADHD but the mother was in denial for awhile. Over time I would talk to her more and more about it, passing on little tidbits of info, and telling her more and more about myself. She finally decided to try Ritalin and they saw dramatic results. One night, she was telling me about how her son was enjoying doing a reading assignment for school and started crying and she hugged me. All she needed was someone to let her know that ADHD was not something to be afraid of.

 

- Ritalin is not cocaine, this is true. It's more closely chemically similar to meth if we're comparing it to street drugs. (Incidentally meth is also an approved treatment for ADHD in the US and Canada under the name Desoxyn). All of these stimulants generally work on the dopamine system although it's a bit simplistic to say that the symptoms of ADHD are the result of too much dopamine. ADHD is a disorder of "executive function" which is a complex series of brain functions that have only recently become the focus of much study and understanding.

 

I know enough about some of the latest research on what's going on at the neurological level for my own piece of mind (heh), but to be honest, not enough to try and explain it here without spreading some inaccuracies of my own. I'm not an expert, just a musician with enough time on my hands (or at least enough more important stuff I should be doing instead) to browse the available info out there.

 

Here's a 4min video of Russell Barkley that will give some insight into how ADHD works and why behavioral interventions are not very successful. He is one of the leading researchers out there and he has a number of excellent talks on youtube that I strongly recommend. I've watched them all multiple times.

 

- I don't ever expect to "ween" myself off the meds any more than a diabetic should ween themselves off insulin. The meds make my brain work more closely to what most consider "normal", or perhaps a better way to put it is "more functional". When the meds are there, brain function is better. When they are not, brain function is worse. They aren't a temporary fix for me.

 

I thank you for linking to that doctor in Potsdam. I actually am desperately in need of a specialist here (for a few years I was getting my dexedrine from my periodic visits to the US but that has changed. Now I get Ritalin from a general practitioner but it is less than ideal). I fear he probably doesn't take state insurance (apparently very very few ADHD specialists in Germany do) but I wrote him, so we'll see. (If anyone does know of a specialist in Berlin who takes TK please please do let me know!)

 

A whole bunch of excellent videos of Barkley and others talking on every aspect of ADHD.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

Re therapy, I'm looking for a therapist at the moment who knows ADD and what it does to relationships, and can help my husband and me with some of our textbook-ADD-relationship pitfalls.

 

Is it You, Me, or Adult ADD? - I haven't read this but by all accounts it is essential reading for people who have ADHD sufferers in their lives. The author also gives a talk at the link in my last post.

1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Typical for an ADDer, I haven't taken further action before I got confirmations from enough people. But now I will!

 

I've just realized, though, that another day would be better for me. Does Tuesday work just as well for everyone? Could we start tomorrow, or maybe next week?

 

Thanks, moe, for the link... we already have Melissa Orlov's book, but I am much better with personalized help. I just find I am usually unable to translate the "abstract" suggestions in a book to my own life. Even when they're not very abstract at all.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

All of these stimulants generally work on the dopamine system although it's a bit simplistic to say that the symptoms of ADHD are the result of too much dopamine.

 

I know enough , but to be honest, not enough to try and explain it here without spreading some inaccuracies of my own.

 

People with ADHD don't have ENOUGH dopamine. At least that's what I was told. Careful with those inaccuracies. ;)

 

Wellbutrin is a relatively mild Rx which increases dopamine level and is prescribed to ADHD patients and to those suffering with depression.

 

Recent article debunking the dopamine effect:

 

Chemical Imbalance Is Probably Not Behind ADHD

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now