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Bass Players with ADD / ADHD

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by tZer, Mar 31, 2006.

  1. I am a bass player who plays primarily in a cover band and does side projects.

    I was recently diagnosed with ADHD. I am 38 and now that I know about this situation it has brought some interesting thoughts and realizations to my attention.

    Before I knew of my condition, I just accepted that I miss notes and changes because I must not be as good at learning songs as I thought. I quietly accepted this and just treated it as "how I am".

    Distraction does not just effect your memorized songs - you can be reading from charts or manuscript and still have random, miscellaneous thoughts pop up that cause you to lose your place and make mistakes. This is how ADD works - random, miscellaneous thoughts are spontaneously generated while you are in the middle of doing stuff. So even though I transcribed my songs and had my notes available on stage, I would still make silly mistakes.

    Now I know, and with medication my focus is a lot more intact and I don't seem to get 'distracted by my own thoughts' mid-song any more.

    This little bit of knowledge has helped me improve as a player and as a member of my bands and projects. I am now more inspired then ever to learn new things and to get back into lessons.

    Just a thought for the group. If you find that you are prone to distraction and are dropping changes and missing notes that you should not be, you may want to consider that there is a reason and that it can be fixed.
  2. Skeletomania


    Oct 25, 2005
    hong kong
    I have the same problem, but I don't think mine is as serious. It's very counter productive when I'm paying for lessons and thinking somthing else. The only up side is that I can do a "Homer Simpson," and think of the dumbest stuff that can give me a giggle.
  3. britrit


    Jan 22, 2006
    Random stuff always pops into my head when playing, and sometimes it makes me mess up. hmmm.
  4. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Sounds like that drug is very good for meditation.
  5. fenderx55


    Jan 15, 2005
    It's interesting that you were diagnosed at 38. My ex-gf's mom is a speech therapist and is familiar with learning disabilities, she heard me mention that I have intense problems with multi-tasking (like more than one thing at once), and she already knew about my complete innability to stay on task in either hw or normal conversations. I just drift away in my head. She suggested I may have a learning disability and i should get checked, but I figured that I'm 19, halfway through college what's the point?
    You kind of opened my eyes. Thank you.
  6. As a younger man (teenager) I just thought it was normal to always have other thoughts or ideas constantly inserting themselves into things like reading, homework, whatever. I would be reading a book and discovering as I completed a page that I could not remember a thing I just read because as I was reading, my mind was thinking of other things.

    I think it is worth having it checked out. It is not "normal" to be making up your own story while reading and you should not be constantly distracted by thoughts that are 'not part of the task'. Now having random thoughts and stuff in general is not too unusual, but when it is constant and disruptive to necessary tasks, like learning or play songs, then there may be an issue.

    There is more info about Adult ADD here.


    Bottom line, I am a rather intelligent and capible person who has developed many great coping skills over the years - but proper meds can help.

  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Glad you're getting help for your problem.

    I'd like to get the thoughts of some people who are afflicted with this, concerning someone else. I hope I don't offend anyone because I have a great deal of anger towards someone who I think may have this problem, but isn't being treated. A ex-good friend, and still guitarist in one of my bands.

    He forgets things constantly. Within the past 6 months he:

    left a bag of mics and cables (about $300 worth, at a gig). We never recovered it.
    forgot to bring his mic to an acoustic gig we had.
    forgot to bring the drummers snare to a gig - it was in his hallway so he couldn't miss it or forget it.
    left his pedal board at a gig (about $1000) and didn't even realize it until the next gig - meaning he didn't even realize that he didn't take it into his house at the end of the night.
    he left his amp in the street once - was carrying it over to the van, stopped to talk to someone and just forgot to put it in. lost the amp.
    left all his cds on a plane.
    he forgot to pick up the cds the night of our cd party...

    I could go on and on and on. every single week he does something brainless that is completely unfathomable to me - last week - lost a womans phone number that we worked with for 2 years and had to ask me for it. he also dated this woman for over a year. he accidentally deletes messages I leave him. he sends emails that never get to their recipients. and yes - he takes care of a lot of business for the band.

    I don't mean to hijack this thread - but my resentment towards this guy is ENORMOUS. someone suggested that he needs medication. does any of the above sound familiar? I need to find a way to make peace with our relationship. thoughts?
  8. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Want to make peace with your relationship? Stop expecting him to be what you want him to be and accept him for what he is. If he's not a person that shoulder responsibilites don't rest them on his shoulder. People are always trying to fix other people so that they can act in the image of the person attempting the fixing. Just let it go and it will make things a lot easier guaranteed.

    As for your friend, he may need meds or he may need to stop self medicating, I don't know him so can't really say much about it.

    As for ADD and drugs...

    I don't know where it's written as to what a mind should be doing but apparently science or this science in this society has figured it all out and has a nifty little drug that you can take. If it works for you good, but as with any drug there's always a little something extra you get with it, could be harmful side effects or other effects that go along with it's ability to fix one thing giving rise to some other things because the system(your body) operates as a whole and adapts slowly to anything but acute changes. Personally I would think twice about screwing with my brain chemistry.
  9. Mark Moss

    Mark Moss

    Feb 28, 2005
    Redmond, WA

    Glad you posted this subject - I have the same problem. Do you have any side affects from your meds?
  10. patrickj


    Aug 13, 2001
    Ellicott City, MD
    Endorsing: Spector Bass Guitars
    Another ADHD fellow here (I won't say a sufferer as I've learned to use it to my advantage). I was diagnosed with it as a child (never medicated - parents refused - I'm glad), rediagnosed back in college, then rediagnosed a 3rd time upon leaving school - finally tried some medication for about a year. Didn't like the effects (made me less intense - and in my mind I was much less driven, much less productive).

    My nickname through college was randommofo. It was quite a suprise to me to find out that (like everyone else is stating above) that it's not normal to have random thoughts take over, random interjections in our attention, etc.

    Suprising to see so many others with it as well. I wonder if it's a music/creative thought process thing.

    It's funny - I think it's actually the reason (ADD) behind a thread I posted a few months ago concerning my inability to properly learn songs (http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=226961)
  11. patrickj


    Aug 13, 2001
    Ellicott City, MD
    Endorsing: Spector Bass Guitars
    re: the forgetful guy thread

    Yeah, it's annoying, it pisses you off, but if it's that big of a problem get rid of him. BUT---advise him first that maybe he needs some help and maybe give him a suggestion to look into treatment. Ultimately (I'm a believer in tough love) if he's coddled in some form or another he won't realize he needs help - he'll just keep putting up with it because everyone else does.

    I hate sounding like a bastard, but ADHD/ADD is one of those things where eventually the person suffering needs to 1) know there's a better way of going through life, and 2) fall and realize that they want to try to persue something better.

    Most people take the easy way out, and getting fixed for an ADHD problem is definitely not an easy task.
  12. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Uhh... try rereading my post, putting yourself in my shoes, and then responding again. I know all about unreasonable expectations and accepting people for who they are. I've done my best to accept. Some business relationships are harder to sever than others, and there's a lot of stuff between us. Might be time to move on though. Also, he doesn't self medicate.
  13. There are side effects and I must admit that I feel like there is a trade-off at first. I need to accept a certain amount of feeling 'not quite like myself' until the routine settles in.

    The first medication I tried was a non-stimulant called Strattera. It did improve my ability to focus and stay on task. The side effects for me were a little like a stimulant. I would feel like I just drank a strong cup of coffee - not so bad, I like coffee, so this level of stimulation was not unusual. I did stop drinking coffee, however. Adding the caffeine to the equasion was too much.

    Another side effect was loss of appetite and food did not taste as good. Everything I ate tasted really bland. I did not like that at all.

    There was also an annoying sexual side effect. Very little 'bang' for the buck, so to speak. Like food, things got sort of bland.

    I stuck with Strattera for about 6 months and found the benefits did not outway the drawbacks and stopped. All with my doctor's knowledge. It is very important to have your doctor tightly in the loop.

    That was fine (going without) for a while. I have developed a lot of highly tuned coping skills and surrounded myself with people who 'understand me' in that I am always sort of scatter-brained. But the demands of my job made me consider trying meds again only this time with Adderall, a stimulant-based med.

    So far that is better for me then the Strattera. Right away I feel the focus and stay on task thing, but it is really too early to know if that is just me paying more attention or if the meds are really contributing. It does have a bit of an appetite supressing quality, but it does not preclude me from eating or enjoying food. I am still new to this one and I don't expect to see the real benefits for a few weeks. But my doctor has said that he has seen a great deal of success with the stimulant based meds in adult ADD cases.

    Just like anything, for it to work properly, you need to stick with it. I have also been keeping a daily journal rating my mood, focus and energy on a 1 - 5 scale. 1 being really down, depleted and no focus and 5 being euphoric, hyper and lazer-like. My goal is be rate 3's as consistently as possilble. I don't want to be too amped up and I don't want to be depressed.

    We'll see how this one goes.
  14. Mark Moss

    Mark Moss

    Feb 28, 2005
    Redmond, WA
    Thanks for you candid and useful answer tZer. M
  15. I feel it is very important to say that staying in close communication with your Doctor is VERY IMPORTANT! There are things he/she will need to know as you go though the process of trying different meds.

    Keeping a journal rating your Mood, Focus and Energy will help you help your doctor see how things are going.

    And by the way - I have never really fealt 'hamstrung' or held back by ADD - I did well in school and have successful relationships with friends and family. I am, however, curious if I can 'gain any advantage' by managing my ADD. If I can become 'better' at things in my life through meds, then it may be worth it. If it is just 'different' then I will probably choose the non-med way.

    I have heard that when children are diagnosed early and meds become a part of their routine, they work very well. In adults who have lived with it all their lives and only were recently diagnosed, the results are sporadic.

  16. UPDATE

    Last week was a little awkward with the new meds (Adderall 30mgs 1x per day in the morning) - felt a little amped up and out of sorts. I was really getting the feeling that they were not going to work out if that was the way I fealt all the time. And I am not one who plays well with I feel 'altered'. Hey, a little beer with a gig is no biggie, but if I am all coffee'd up or jumpy from meds like this, it does bad things to my performance. I don't feel 'in the moment' and have a hard time relaxing.

    Today I feel completely 'normal' no aggitation, no claminess, not even the funky taste in my mouth. I would venture to say I even feel 'good' but not falsely euphoric or anything like that. And because I feel good, my day is going well work-wise, focus-wise, energy-wise and mood-wise.

    I cannot conclusively say that I am more able to concentrate yet. I still think it is too early in the process to see anything that dramatic.

    So far, so good. More to come...
  17. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Cool thread! I consider ADD to be a gift. Annoying at times to be sure!
  18. Rooney


    Jan 5, 2006
    Kenton, Oh
    When I was in elementary school, I always had terrible grades. Just didn't pay attention as whatever they were talking about wouldn't "catch my interest". So my parents agreed to let the school give me an iq test. I scored really high. So the person that administered the test told my parents I was a day dreamer.

    Well, fast forward 25 years. I have trouble staying on task at work, carrying on a complete conversation with anybody, or even watching tv.:rollno:

    But, as far as music goes, I have always been in original bands....until now. And like you said, happened last night at rehearsal, I can be just nailing a song.......and then all the sudden, I'm lost. It's frustrating to say the least.

    Thanks for the post.:) :)

    Question though.....What if all the sudden you had no health insurance?? I mean like you said (and I understand the statement completely), you had come up with ways to cope with it as I have. What if all the sudden you couldn't get/afford the medicine? Just a lot of things that scare me about taking that step.......I have an anxiety disorder too.....both that and my ADD were self diagnosed...along with help from psych professors in college...which I did manage to graduate from....so the extent of my coping shows itself there.

    Again thanks for the post!:bassist:
  19. You are welcome and I am glad to share.

    As for no meds... well, one of my discovered coping mechanisms was coffee. Now I am NOT ADVOCATING self-medicating - I just want that disclaimer out there for the masses... But what I have learned in my research and by talking with my Doctor is that common medications for the treadment of ADD and AD/HD are stimulants.

    I explained that I drink a few cups of really good, strong coffee a day. Not a pot, not 8 to 10 cups, but a couple of strategically placed cups in the morning hours. I found that if I drank coffee after noon I would have trouble sleeping. I also do not drink caffeinated soft drinks - so my only caffiene source was my couple of cups in the morning.

    As many with ADD and without ADD who are coffee drinker will tell you, after a good cup o joe your ability to concentrate and focus increases. My Doctor and I agreed that I probably was inadvertantly self-medicating with coffee.

    Now to today - I am taking Adderall - a stimulant - 1, 10mg. capsule in the morning (I mistakenly quoted a 30mg dose earlier - then read the bottle and realized I was mistaken... sorry!). This is my second month and I have found it to be helpful. I only drink on cup of coffee on the way in to work in the morning and I have seen improvement on my focus and ability to stay on task.

    So, without insurance, I would have a chat with your doctor and see what he recommends. I do not want to advocate coffee as a substitute for doctor guided care. What I discussed here was my personal discovery and conversation with my doctor specific to my situation. So my advice to you is talk to your doctor and see what he has to say.

    ANOTHER THOUGHT - I began keeping a daily journal of my mood, energy and focus when I started the meds. I did not want to trade one unfavorable situation for another, so if the meds helped my focus but ruined my mood or appetite it would not be a viable course of treatment for me. So I can recommend, since you are aware of your situation and can put a concsious effort into analyzing and effecting your circumstances, I would suggest keeping a daily journal of some sort. Also start making lists of things you want to accomplish instead of just letting your hurried mind keep that list for you in your personal RAM. If you start writing down things you want to do and referring to that list on a regular basis, you will find that you feel less 'disorganized' and you will start seeing results. This takes some of the stress of "man, I have so many things I want to do, but I don't seem to be getting any of them done!" - which is common amongst us ADD'ers.

    Also learn to say, "NO" to some projects and requests. Another common issue with ADD'ers is an ability to overcommit then become overwhelmed when you realize you have way too many irons in the fire and not enough time to get them done.
  20. Rooney


    Jan 5, 2006
    Kenton, Oh

    Overcommitting is definately a bad habit of mine.
    I drine WAAAY too much coffee, but at lest I don't go past noon, can't sleep at night otherwise. I have so many irons in the fire that I can hardly remember what my projects are.
    thanks for the reply tZer.


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