When I was little my dad said I could be anything. I truly believed him. But, as I got older my performance ceased to reflect my true capabilities.
In middle school, I could find any tool I wanted in the natural disaster that was my dad’s workshop but, I couldn’t keep up with my personal belongings. I could make classmates laugh by acting up in class but, had trouble keeping friends.
In college, I could solve complex mathematical equations but, be reduced to tears balancing my checkbook. I was a science major on the Dean’s List and I failed my second semester of Physics. When I retook the course, I made an A with no trouble at all.
Each day I struggled. I didn’t dare dream of being successful. To be honest, there were times I was happy getting through a day without a major catastrophe. The paradoxes of my life seemed to be catapulting me down a road of self-doubt and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
The systems I developed as a single person were no match for the complexity of a career and life as a wife and mother. My failures began to impact more than just me. I was missing deadlines at work, forgetting conversations with my husband, unable to get my kids to baseball practice, and flying into a rage when my kids didn’t act like little adults. I began to believe in my weaknesses more than I believed in my strengths.
My husband had witnessed my downward spiral and tried to convince me to seek help. I was prideful, too fearful and refused. At 35, he found me with a half-packed suitcase ready to leave my family behind. I didn’t think I was of use to anyone. I needed help.
I was diagnosed with a depression/anxiety disorder. After a few months of medication and talk therapy, I was feeling better but, something still wasn’t quite right. My therapist suspected the root of my depression was undiagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, ADHD. I didn’t think adults could have ADHD. The more we talked about it, the more it seemed to make sense. My inconsistencies and many of the things I had struggled with lined up perfectly with the symptoms of ADHD.
I was relieved with this diagnosis but, foolishly thought just putting a name to it was enough for me to get better. Again, I was prideful and refused to get help until… I forgot to pick up my son from his first day of kindergarten! It was a classic ADHD failure.
I worked from home and the daycare was to pick him up at 11 o’clock and keep him for the rest of the day. He told me was nervous about riding the bus, so I promised him, “I will be there to watch you get on the bus and make sure you are ok”.
At 1 o’clock, my husband called me and asked, “How did it go?” “How did what go?” I said. “With Quinton getting on the bus?” I sat there heartbroken and barely able to breathe. What kind of mother forgets her child on such a big day? Right then and there I realized, I had to do something to manage my ADHD – not for me but for my whole family.
For me that something was a combination of therapy, life skills coaching and medication. It sounds simple but at 35 years of age I had to learn things like:
- How to make lists to get things done.
- How to organize so I don’t keep losing my things.
- How to put important events on a calendar.
- Children are not adults and it is wrong for me to expect them to act like adults.
- I am adult, and I am not allowed to act like a child anymore.
- I must wait my turn.
- I can’t interrupt others when they are talking.
- I can’t yell because I am frustrated.
- And above all, I can never hit someone
Today, at a little past 55 years old, I have learned to manage my ADHD. I know I have weaknesses, but I discovered that I have strengths, too! Everyone is different, and I have learned to be comfortable and embrace my differences. In short, I found happiness and contentment and yes, even success!