About a year ago, in the interests of giving everything a try that purports to help ADHD, I plunked down my money (a lot of money actually – $1500) and set about trying CogMed, a computer-based memory training program. (http://cogmed NULL.com)
At the time, I was absolutely overwhelmed – more than usual overwhelm – and knew I wasn't going to be able to give the program the time and, um, attention, it needed. But I plunged in valiantly. The result was not so good. The exercises are difficult and get more difficult as the program progresses. That's by design – there is a computer somewhere in Europe that constantly monitors my efforts and scores. If I am doing well, it increases the difficulty. If I am floundering, it eases up a bit to let me get back in the groove.
But there's the rub – there IS no groove. Every time I start feeling confident, the doggone program ups the ante. It's maddening. And frustrating.
Embarrassingly, of all the people Dr. Tracy Ware has coached through CogMed, I was the ONLY person who didn't finish. A sad distinction, especially since I had a year to finish the program. I even stopped taking my Adderall, in part, because I'd heard that people did better on CogMed without meds.
To be fair to myself, CogMed is a PC program. I am a Mac person. I had a really old PC laptop that died this year. So it was a major headache to load the program and DO it. Tried to install Windows on my Mac and never did get it figured out (I am sure it's possible, I was just too overwhelmed with other stuff to make it work). Then there was the question of time. My sessions lasted 90 minutes – sometimes longer. It took me a long time to buckle down my brain and force it to work in the way that CogMed demands. My head hurts remembering it.
So why in the world would I try it again? Because apparently it really makes a difference for ADDivas like me. Some of my best friends have had remarkable success with CogMed. They say the old patterns still had to be changed but thanks to the results of CogMed, new patterns were POSSIBLE.
I've always said that most of the advice given to ADHD folks is just the same old advice given to linear people. The only problem is that linear people can IMPLEMENT that advice. I recently was disheartened to hear a noted psychologist tell someone to "just DO it" – like we haven't tried that already! But if CogMed can help my brain actually conform to those linear standards a little better, then it might be worth another shot.
A few weeks ago, I plunked down more money (not quite as much, thankfully) and decided to give CogMed another try, especially in light of the buzz at CHADD this year that working memory is the key to ADHD problems and perhaps treatment.
I still had the disk from last year so I could start any time. Tracy sent me the new login but I let it languish for two weeks. I was at CHADD, the ADDA board retreat and I knew I wouldn't be able to start or sustain training in the midst of travel. So….this weekend, I blew the dust off the CD cover and popped it into my new PC laptop (I actually bought a laptop for CogMed … and my Quickbooks files which suck on a Mac).
I was guardedly optimistic – I had some experience with this, after all, so perhaps it would be easier. Nope. The program still kicks my butt. I have no idea what my baseline working memory showed when I started yesterday but it couldn't have been good. I still stumbled, mostly on the spatial tasks that require chasing a series of lighted dots and reproducing the same pattern with my mouse. Ha. Good luck with that one.
This time, I have scheduled CogMed into my life five days a week. I am going to finish it, I swear. The research is too compelling NOT to jump into this again. And I will keep you posted right here. Deal? OK then. I'm going to talk about Day Two in a separate post.