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Correlation Between Giftedness And Narcolepsy


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#1 Westsiders

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 06:33 PM

I did a cursory search but didn't see this discussed.

Has anyone noticed, found, read about, etc, a correlation between giftedness and narcolepsy? I fall into both categories, but a recent discussion on a moms board I belong to got me thinking. Many gifted children have a lot of the same quirks as PWN. The forgetfulness, inability to focus on something for long or over focusing to obsession, lack of organization, etc. It makes me wonder if there is a link like some say can be found with ADD/ADHD. I know in both gifted children and PWN, there seems to be a lot of double-diag in regards to attention.

Just 'thinking' out loud.


BTW - this is my first post. I was just re-diagnosed with N w/o Cataplexy, first dx was 6 years ago. I am a wife, mother of two wonderful children and a student trying to finish my bachelor degree. And, let me tell you, the 15 credit hours I took this semester almost killed me!

#2 ZombiePrincess

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 10:43 PM

I've often wondered the same thing although I'm not sure what prompted me to first consider this connection. I was diagnosed w/ADD when I was younger but I was also part of the generation of kids where everyone had ADD so who knows if I really had it? I know I hated taking Ritalin and used to find new and creative ways to fake taking it... my poor mom!

BTW-- You're my hero! I'm also a wife, no kids but I do work a full time job, and the 3 hrs I took to finish my bachelors almost killed me! I'm scared to death to start a family--- how the heck do you balance it all and take 15 hrs? Wow!



#3 Westsiders

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Posted 18 December 2010 - 01:00 AM

I've often wondered the same thing although I'm not sure what prompted me to first consider this connection. I was diagnosed w/ADD when I was younger but I was also part of the generation of kids where everyone had ADD so who knows if I really had it? I know I hated taking Ritalin and used to find new and creative ways to fake taking it... my poor mom!

BTW-- You're my hero! I'm also a wife, no kids but I do work a full time job, and the 3 hrs I took to finish my bachelors almost killed me! I'm scared to death to start a family--- how the heck do you balance it all and take 15 hrs? Wow!



Well, I am a SAHM, so I do have a little flexibility there, but with my lack of focus from ADD and N, it sure isn't easy to get constantly interrupted when trying to do homework! Honestly, I don't know how I balance it, I'm in the weekend degree program which is accelerated so although I took 5 classes this term, I was only in 3 for the first 8 weeks and 2 for the second 8 weeks. As for having children, again - I just do it. My husband isn't real supportive, he just doesn't 'get' it. He is constantly saying he is tired to, which I don't doubt, but I have trouble getting him to understand that even if I slept for 20 hours, I would STILL be tired. He isn't mean about it, just doesn't understand. My family is the same way.

Until this second diagnosis, I hadn't even looked into the disease, but am relieved to know it isn't in my head, I really have a reason to feel the way I do - unorganized, unfocused, etc, and I'm NOT just lazy. I have the best of intentions, but can never seem to get it all done. I guess you can say ignorance is bliss. I never used N as a crutch to hide behind, because I didn't know the full scope of how the disease works, so I just kept plodding along trying to do the best I could.

#4 ZombiePrincess

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Posted 19 December 2010 - 09:39 PM

I'm sorry to hear about your husband not helping more or not really getting it--- I can unfortunately relate about the Family not getting it. Actually, I think I have a unique perspective because I was once on the side of people who don't really get it. I grew up with a mom who had N and tried really hard to just tough it out so she didn't really ever explain much to me. On top of that, whenever I would visit my dad (they divorced when I was young), he would try to undermine mom by telling me she was just sick because she took too many meds, etc. Of course now that I've developed N, I can relate to the issues she faced and now consider her a superhero for putting up with everything but now I'm fighting my family/dad about N being real. I think the best way to describe how I feel on an everyday basis is sleep deprived. I once read about a study done to test the psychological/physiological effects of sleep deprivation and it was amazing how similar the effects were to what I face every day, no matter how much I sleep! Even on a "good day" I feel like a normal person would if they haven't slept for 48 hrs or a week. Hey, I wonder if I could talk my dad into not sleeping for a couple days so he could relate to the sleep deprived feeling? Lol. That might humble him a bit! But, in all seriousness, I think that just plodding along is the only way to really make it through this thing. I will admit that if I spent too much time on sites like this, it can be kinda overwhelming and even though I get so much out of everything/everyone here, it can also cost a lot which leaves me w/less energy to keep trucking thru life. Well, I wish you all the best but it seems like you have a pretty good grip on this things already! Posted Image




#5 SleepingPhoenix

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 09:59 AM

I know the feeling. I used to work and study and take 15 credits at night. I remember falling asleep in class, snore and being able to answer correctly to my professor when asked even while asleep. ( My professor told me). When younger I had an IQ of 126 and was told I was hyperactive, but my mother being a teacher never wanted to accept I had ADD. I had a very close group of classmates that woke me up between classes while I slept in the car, or kept notes in those classes I could not take note. Most of the time I took notes like a robot and I thought that was "talent". When I did not slept well for a couple of days, I ended up sleepping for the whole weekend.
I'm not a mom, but I suffer a lot when I can't be with my nephews and nieces, due to the sleep episodes. I can't bear the idea of not being there for them. You girls make me proud, and give me strength and hope cause I still want to have a family of my own.

#6 petitelinguiste

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Posted 14 January 2011 - 03:02 AM

I've thought a lot about this, too.

I was classified as gifted when I took the WISC at age six. Then I was misdiagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type) earlier this year, prior to my Narcolepsy diagnosis this August. But during the ADHD testing I took the WAIS, and my scores weren't all that different... except now that I'm narcolepsy-tastic I had crazy disparities. For example, my verbal intelligence index was 141 (greater than 99.7% of the population) while my processing speed index of 86 (only surpassing 18% of the population). So basically my whole evaluation stated that the WAIS wasn't a fair assessment of my intelligence, because there had to be something hindering my overall capacities....

But I think most of us are. Especially those who deal with it at a younger age, I mean, we go through life dealing with so much more than everyone else without even realizing it prior to our diagnosis. And despite our screwed up sleep patterns, many of us still lead productive lives.

#7 doinmdarndest

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Posted 23 January 2011 - 01:12 PM

yeah, i scored 135 on the intelligence scale. in 7th grade i used the heels of my hands unnder my chin to prop my head up while sleeping-a most exacting technique was refined-so that

unless the teacher looked directly at my upright head, she may not notice i was sleeping. only from closed eyes behind glasses was this then apparent. i slept in class a lot this way.

i do not find it unfortunate that my n. was yet not diagnosed then.

rather, im grateful that it is now. from here only my treatment is of importance in the matter.

my higher intelligences usually are as a retiree's tools of trade gathering dust in the attic.

i like being a simple, hard working man in construction. pride myself in this alone (do have prowess w/shovel), and in commitment to family.

only in pursuit of my treatment need i use highest faculties. hope i can hack it.

advise and prayers i can only be grateful for, should any pwn have for me same.

ive no idea how this comes across. did i remember to include well wishes to other PWN in their life pursuits?

i do so with this if not, wish all Godspeed to all here as well, to each fellow narcoleptic now struggling for wellness.

Hope my many postings have not been a nuiscance...apologies if so.

-doinmdarndest

#8 mgl

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Posted 27 February 2011 - 04:34 PM

It's weird to meet people that had the same sleeping-through-class issues I did. It feels great though. I've always felt like a freak.

I remember when I started sleeping through most of my classes*, when I was 14 or so, and I thought it was just from playing sports in the morning (freshman basketball practice was early in the morning). It continued even after my freshman year, but I didn't question it. It was just me. I made straight As in school -- I only had one B the entire four years of high school -- so teachers didn't seem to mind. I could also frequently recall the last thing said while I was sleeping, and I always did my homework, so if a teacher called on me I would appear to wake up, answer the question correctly, and go back to sleep. Teachers mostly acted like it was cute or funny. My peers seemed to think it was a neat trick.

In college it was much more difficult to maintain grades while sleeping through class, and I blamed the issue on myself (generally sucking at life) or bad habits picked up in high school. If ONLY the teachers hadn't LET me sleep through class I would have not developed this problem, right? In the end I did graduate, with a decent-but-not-spectacular GPA, but I wonder now what I could have done if I could have stayed awake in class more than 10% of the time? I've always been considered "gifted," so I've had a lot of disappointment in myself about the sleep issue and the way it's affected my school and career choices. (I was highly, highly competetive until I was about 19, when I was just SO TIRED and couldn't juggle all the balls I had in the air, and I gave up on ever having a decent career.) I'm just starting the process of getting diagnosed, and I so wish it had occured to me back then.



*Oh, the one exception I have to sleeping in class is when it's a small discussion group setting. I have two modes: talking or sleeping, and if I can get the talking going I'm highly unlikely to go to sleep.



#9 ImSleepin

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 11:44 PM

This is really interesting. I was classified as gifted when I was 12 or 13 in school. I always loved music and started with piano around 4 or 5. I never had issues with focus/attention or hyperactivity -- though I've read a lot of arguments about ADD/ADHD kids having the same "qualities" as those who are labeled as gifted. My focus has only been an issue later in life when I'm feeling exhausted, otherwise I'm very much on task. I think most people who are tired can't focus well anyway.

I remember sometimes having vivid dreams when I was just falling asleep that would relate to music. I used to loooove falling asleep to the music in my head haha. It's always been easier for me to listen to music and understand what is being played, or to identify different elements of music. When I was actively playing guitar I would listen to teach myself new songs, but I haven't played in ages :(

I'm also very fond of math and numbers. I don't know if those are other people's talents too, but I enjoy music and numbers very much.

#10 mgl

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 09:21 AM

I'm also very fond of math and numbers. I don't know if those are other people's talents too, but I enjoy music and numbers very much


I'm with you on the former. I've always loved math. My bachelor's degree is in math, in fact.

(In our family, however, we attribute the math skills to being "a little bit autistic." My sons are both great at math and on the autistic spectrum, and my husband also has his degree in math and, while undiagnosed, has a lot of characteristics of high functioning autism. Maybe we could generalize it and say: our brains work a little differently, and one of the ways that manifests is in an affinity for patterns.)



#11 Enginerd

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Posted 16 April 2011 - 11:21 PM

Wow, I can relate to most of these posts! I was considered "gifted" at a very young age, scoring high on the WISC. I don't recall my exact IQ, but I believe it was north of 140...and I aced almost every standardized test I took (those were such a drag because they were too easy for me). I've always been fascinated with math, science, and engineering, so that's what I ended up focusing on as a career. I'm also a fairly talented artist and decent musician (I prefer to write music, play by ear, and sing), so these are hobbies. Math is definitely something I'm very fond of, like mgl and ImSleepin. I began teaching myself Calculus when I was 15 simply because I was interested in it and I knew it was really important as a language of science. When I discovered things like the chain rule and product rule on my own, I thought I had invented some novel short-cuts for taking derivatives and I was so excited...until I learned they were actually well-known rules. I was disappointed, but pleased I had figured them out on my own. I am a huge nerd. :blush:

I really feel my cognitive function has taken a hit in recent years due to this overwhelming fatigue, though. While I don't believe I ever fell asleep during class in high school, I found it impossible to wake up for early morning classes in college, and I definitely nodded off a lot in classes in college and graduate school. It's a shame, but I wish I had realized what was wrong sooner. Actually, even though I did have two sleep studies--one in college and another one in graduate school--neither showed narcolepsy until I had a third one done! I was just doomed. *sigh*

We sound like a pretty smart bunch, at least when we're awake. I suppose great intelligence doesn't come without some kinks.....

#12 sleepyinHR

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Posted 31 May 2011 - 10:12 AM

Ok, all you gifted folks. I would be interested in what careers you all do that allow you to use your talents and allow for your Narcolepsy issues.

#13 Enginerd

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Posted 06 June 2011 - 09:00 PM

Ok, all you gifted folks. I would be interested in what careers you all do that allow you to use your talents and allow for your Narcolepsy issues.


I'm a Biomedical Engineer/Chemist finishing up grad school, part I (I may return). I've found that as long as I'm working in the lab and medicated with Provigil or Nuvigil and caffeine, I'm usually okay. I'll feel fatigued, but I love science and being a nerd, so it's bearable. I feel like things are worsening, though, so I'm a little worried about getting a full-time job since I have the luxury of being able to sleep now more than I would be able to with a real job. I've done internships and pulled more than 50 hours of work per week plus 10 hours of commuting and survived for 3 - 4 months, and college was nothing short of a miracle (by senior year I was sleeping about 2 hours every night, if that thanks to all of my extracurricular commitments), but I can't function like I used to, so things are obviously changing for me. I need to be challenged and in a dynamic environment to stay awake, that's for sure.

Two other girls I know who have recently been diagnosed with narcolepsy are in Computer Science and Industrial & Management Engineering. The former hasn't graduated from college yet, and the latter works a desk job, I think, but is very tired all the time. I don't know how they'll deal with this disease as they get age and continue to work. -_-

#14 VEL

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Posted 20 July 2011 - 01:21 AM

I was also curious about creativity and a possible connectiion with N. There isn't one that I can find in the research literature and this is an area that when I was a practicing neuropsychologist was very interesting to me and I was curious about it after recently being diatgnosed with N.



However, while it has nothing to do with creativity and N per se, after I left neuro I bacame what I had always wanted to be since age 8 - a pro photographer. Like many of us, I have very vivid dreams and the occassional hypnopompic or hypnogogic hallucinations. When I am really stressed about some shooting assignment because it is technically or creatively a real challenge, all of my dreams and the hallucinations relate to the shoot coming up! Since these 'dream' experiences are so vivid, though never pleasant in content, I can remember them clearly and there is very often the answer to some problem I had been worrying about!

When my long time photo assistant first saw this happen, it unnerved her. She was long used to my nap attacks and I am quite comfortable just telling her 'I need to sleep now' and, as she describes it, she watches me just 'go away', but this was different, I had opened my eyes and wasn't talking to her, but someone else and it was true! I had woken from a dream where I was talking to another photographer about my problerms and that dream had become mixed together with waking reality. I was actually surprised that the photographer I had been talking to wasn't there! I hadn't felt the sleep attack come on at all, which is very, very unsusual. It's only happened a few times when I am a somewhat sleep deprived. She said it was 'Just way to weird.' She's seen it happen several times since and it doesn't bother her anymore, but it still is 'Way too weird.:rolleyes: ':D

I didn't have an answer, but the 'other photographer' got me thinking differently.

#15 sometimes

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Posted 27 July 2011 - 09:30 PM

I did a cursory search but didn't see this discussed.

Has anyone noticed, found, read about, etc, a correlation between giftedness and narcolepsy? I fall into both categories, but a recent discussion on a moms board I belong to got me thinking. Many gifted children have a lot of the same quirks as PWN. The forgetfulness, inability to focus on something for long or over focusing to obsession, lack of organization, etc. It makes me wonder if there is a link like some say can be found with ADD/ADHD. I know in both gifted children and PWN, there seems to be a lot of double-diag in regards to attention.

Just 'thinking' out loud.


BTW - this is my first post. I was just re-diagnosed with N w/o Cataplexy, first dx was 6 years ago. I am a wife, mother of two wonderful children and a student trying to finish my bachelor degree. And, let me tell you, the 15 credit hours I took this semester almost killed me!


Certainly in academics, I've had a rough time. From 7th through 12th grade sleep was not really sufficiently controlled to attend school, although I did anyway and got good grades my last three years of high school. Before that, I was pretty much at the bottom of the bottom. My sleep was still a mess all throughout college, but it didn't matter so long I turned in homework and passed the exams. Now I'm really doing quite well. All in all, I always had the best luck with independent study as I'm always falling asleep and/or loosing focus and that conflicts with traditional education. Am I gifted? Probably, but I don't think it has anything to do with my sleep disorder, at least aside from the fact that I'm sometime forced to be more introverted.

#16 NetiNeti

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Posted 29 August 2011 - 11:52 PM

It's weird to meet people that had the same sleeping-through-class issues I did. It feels great though. I've always felt like a freak.

I remember when I started sleeping through most of my classes*, when I was 14 or so, and I thought it was just from playing sports in the morning (freshman basketball practice was early in the morning). It continued even after my freshman year, but I didn't question it. It was just me. I made straight As in school -- I only had one B the entire four years of high school -- so teachers didn't seem to mind. I could also frequently recall the last thing said while I was sleeping, and I always did my homework, so if a teacher called on me I would appear to wake up, answer the question correctly, and go back to sleep. Teachers mostly acted like it was cute or funny. My peers seemed to think it was a neat trick.

In college it was much more difficult to maintain grades while sleeping through class, and I blamed the issue on myself (generally sucking at life) or bad habits picked up in high school. If ONLY the teachers hadn't LET me sleep through class I would have not developed this problem, right? In the end I did graduate, with a decent-but-not-spectacular GPA, but I wonder now what I could have done if I could have stayed awake in class more than 10% of the time? I've always been considered "gifted," so I've had a lot of disappointment in myself about the sleep issue and the way it's affected my school and career choices. (I was highly, highly competetive until I was about 19, when I was just SO TIRED and couldn't juggle all the balls I had in the air, and I gave up on ever having a decent career.) I'm just starting the process of getting diagnosed, and I so wish it had occured to me back then.



*Oh, the one exception I have to sleeping in class is when it's a small discussion group setting. I have two modes: talking or sleeping, and if I can get the talking going I'm highly unlikely to go to sleep.


I fell asleep constantly in Undergrad. My GPA suffered from it. I fell asleep a lot in High school as well, but I managed to maintain a high GPA. In graduate school my classes were at night (when my narcolepsy is oddly not that bad) and my schedule was really flexible so I could fall asleep around it most of the time. I also worked all throughout undergrad and grad school... I can barely believe I made it through looking back. I was tired all of the time.

#17 b0rd3rline

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 02:27 PM

I just graduated with my doctorate of physical therapy this last June. I've have also carried with me the label of "gifted, but lazy", and have always bought into the label as well. I don't have any idea how I managed, but I graduated cum laude (with honors) from my doctorate program, despite sleeping through 85% of my classes. I never really studied as much as I should have, due to the fact that I'd either fall asleep in the quiet of the library, or get way too distracted trying to study at a coffee shop. Yet somehow I managed to do better than 75% of my class. I was diagnosed with N w/o C a little over half-way through my 2nd year (out of 3, but the 3rd is strictly clinical), at the same time I was "diagnosed" with mild adult-onset ADD. Once I saw my sleep dr, he told me that ADD symptoms were fairly common with ALL sleep disorders, because the lack of productive sleep plays a huge part in decreased attention span. I'm pretty sure he is right, and I'm extremely glad he is, because the Straterra I was on really made me feel off..

#18 LaurenM

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 09:03 PM

Now that I'm reading this, I really wish there was a study to refer to.

I was in the high honors program. In high school, my first two years I started falling asleep - my teachers told me I was lying when I said I got about 9 hours of sleep a night. In one class, I noticed that I could stay awake more if I sat in the front row next to the window - for some reason being next to sunlight helped? I still had many episodes of microsleeping, all through college - my notetaking would suddenly veer off of the lines on the page and become illegible. I went to every class but sometimes couldn't remember what they talked about even though I thought I had been "awake" the whole time.

I got diagnosed as ADHD in college and began getting notetaking assistance (they gave me the notes after each class, as long as I went to class), and had a peer support network - I was with 5 other students in 4 classes and we would meet and study together. I really don't think the ADHD was impacting me as much as the narcolepsy, but I don't know what I would have done without this resource.

My last two years of college I was in a pre-clinical psychology undergrad program. My classes had max 15 people in it - I think this contributed to my increase in GPA (which had never corresponded to my IQ level of 135) up to a 3.7

I still have constant struggles at work remembering to take my medication on time. But being gifted AND having narcolepsy - I think I became more adamant and consistent about reviewing notes after every class, going to office hours if I needed questions answered, and finding peers to take classes with. There is not much understanding about narcolepsy and what it looks like. I recall a conversation with my psychology professor where I asked him if he heard of anything that would make someone sleep like I do - and he brushed it off as saying I didn't get enough sleep.

I am very hard on myself when I need to pull off the road and take a break, or when I need to get up and move around because I am experiencing cataplexy - I feel like I know enough about how medication works I should be able to schedule it so I do not experience these symptoms. Alas, I still do.

#19 SleepingPhoenix

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 09:57 PM

I did a cursory search but didn't see this discussed.

Has anyone noticed, found, read about, etc, a correlation between giftedness and narcolepsy? I fall into both categories, but a recent discussion on a moms board I belong to got me thinking. Many gifted children have a lot of the same quirks as PWN. The forgetfulness, inability to focus on something for long or over focusing to obsession, lack of organization, etc. It makes me wonder if there is a link like some say can be found with ADD/ADHD. I know in both gifted children and PWN, there seems to be a lot of double-diag in regards to attention.

Just 'thinking' out loud.


BTW - this is my first post. I was just re-diagnosed with N w/o Cataplexy, first dx was 6 years ago. I am a wife, mother of two wonderful children and a student trying to finish my bachelor degree. And, let me tell you, the 15 credit hours I took this semester almost killed me!


I believe I'm with you. I was diagnosed over 18 months ago and I understand the gifted aspect. I used to study at night and since I live alone, when diagnosed I had to go and talk to my professors. They told me that they used to gather and talk about me, since they though I was a genius or had some sort of autism. They also told me I used to go and take tests like a robot, (automatic behavior) and I remember snoring in class and still answering correct every time.

I believe I had ADD since I was a kid, and also had a head trauma at 8 yrs old. Besides the stiches no further follow up was made on any of the cases since, medical expenses were high and one of my parents thought had all the answers. The only thing I remember is that next day I was sent to school and I could not recognize none of may classmates and friends. they took me out a little more tests and that was it. My mother used to think that my behavior was more laziness with caffeine and sugar boosts thru all my life. Guess not knowing was the biggest health risk. I was dx, N w/ Cataplexy. I have all the symptoms, plus a couple more that dunno yet if they are part of N. My EDS is the meanest since even with pills it does not allow me to drive and get on time to work and my employer is not helping either.

#20 Ifso215

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 12:51 PM

First post...

In response to the topic, I strongly believe there is a correlation, especially when ADD is thrown into the mix. Found this topic in a stab in the dark web search after I had a sleep paralysis incident that really creeped my girlfriend out the other day. I'm not diagnosed with any sleep problems, but have always known I would be if I brought it to a doctor.

My story is staggeringly like the ones several of you told. Found it impossible to stay awake in all but the most fascinating classes starting around age 13, but coasted through on giftedness and creative workarounds until undergrad. An Undifferentiated ADD Dx at age 20 and stimulant medication worked like a magic bullet for a little while, but then what appears to be dysgraphia in conjunction with the rest still plagued me at a time when working a night job was more pressing than seeing a specialist.

I am what I would call a "Knowledge Vampire." Without very stimulating learning or reading materials or medication, I feel weak, lethargic, and exhibit all sorts of N symptoms. When I can sit down to read on a topic that interests me, I lock into hyper focus and consume as much as I can until I have my fill, often through the night into midday, and I can't pull my teeth out of it. I believe it's the neurotransmitter interplay in twice exceptional individuals. I have a rather rare migraine disorder that is part of the spectrum as well. The migraine's happen when I "blow a fuse," a.k.a. a large norepinephrine spike in my opinion.

Anyone else the same way? Like they have to consume something like music, or numbers, or information to "put gas in the tank?"