diagnosed with ADHD inattentive presentation. I’ve suspected this for years, but at this stage in my life it was becoming unmanageable. As an artist and mother of young kids I naturally had to shift gears constantly just to keep things running in our household. There were endless ways I could stave off boredom and feed my brain’s insatiable hunger for disruption, distraction and change.
I could hide my challenges quite easily because the whole universe was operating in a constantly distracted way. The endless buzz in the world rewarded my brain with “quick fixes” and made me believe I was managing just fine.
Then four things collided at roughly the same time.
1. My children became more independent and my day to day responsibilities shifted.
2. My husband, children and friends were telling me that I was leaving out crucial information in my communication AND I was getting defensive about it.
3. I studied positive psychology and the necessity on both a personal and societal level to quit spinning, slow down, reflect and get more focused on how I want to spend my energy and talents.
4. I turned fifty.
I know people joke about the endless diagnoses out there. I’m a little OCD or that’s my ADHD talking or I can’t get that done because of poor executive function etc. I was resistant for years because I didn’t want to be off the hook for the behaviors that were affecting my life and those around me. I did however, need some answers and solutions for help to narrow my focus and allow me to better utilize my skills in both my private and public life.
Now being able to look back at the ways ADHD manifested in my life has provided a certain amount of ease and less shame about my deficits than before. As a child I was highly adaptive, creative and curious about so many different things. However, I also was a day dreamer, a poor tester, I rarely followed directions and was often told that I wasn’t working to my potential. I was always armed with loads of ideas and didn’t follow through on them. I created a narrative around my deficits that I was less than.
I fell asleep during the science portion of my ACT test in high school. I got the minimum score required to go to private schools in South Dakota. I also dozed off during the ADHD test I recently took with a psychologist. I think my brain was bored and the competition of it all wasn’t enough motivation for me. I wasn’t getting any juice so my brain just shut it down.
I recently remembered as a high school kid reading one page of the dictionary before I went to sleep to boost my vocabulary. When I think of this now I believe I was trying to find ways to boost how my intelligence presented to others because it was less quantifiable than my siblings and my peers. The really smart kids wanted to be friends with me, but my grades were very average unless I loved the subject. Then I could focus. Thank you English and creative writing.
My husband remembered that my Dad told him when we got married that he would have to help me with certain things—paying bills, insurance and so on. My Dad knew on some level that I had some challenges with organization. I recently found insurance paperwork he had requested in the 1980s for me to sign and send back. I never did. I guess he asked me again.
I did all of the stuff I was told to do to quiet my brain and help my focus—manage stress, exercise, meditate, rest and eat well…and yet it just wasn’t quite enough. I’m taking a low dose of a psychostimulant on the days more focus is required of me. Now, with greater knowledge about my brain’s chemistry, I have renewed hope and focus about my life.
So, I’m unsure why I need to share this now on such a public forum. I guess I feel that storytelling is what we need now more than ever in this uncertain world. I believe that a willingness to be vulnerable and share our stories and fears is very important in 2017.
I don’t want to hide behind this diagnoses. I really am the only one that needs to understand my brain. However, if my story helps you share your story than this was well worth my time. We are all in this together.
Go forth and be bold and share something personal or painful from your story. That small act of courage could change someone’s life.
Both my kids have ADHA and the drugs made a dramatic difference. Both are very suggesful.
Thank you for reading. This was a challenging choice for me. I feared the medication would flatten my creativity. It didn’t. I’m glad you found a solution for your children. ADHD behavior can be so misunderstood and frustrating.
Thanks for sharing…
Sharing this is a big deal! In some ways I can relate, and know that the accountability of coming clean is something that helps put things in perspective. In a public way, like a blog. It helps.
Focus is hard. Harder when we are being trained to NOT focus with all of the buzz around us, hitting at so many different frequencies that seem to disrupt any amount of focus or calm we have.
I’m reluctant to share advice as you didn’t really ask for it. However, mindfulness and meditation have helped me in so many ways.
Thank you Zeb. I agree that the way to resist the buzz of the world is to slow down and not try to match the warp speed of everything around us.
Hello, friend…what a lovely perspective on your self-discovery. As the wife of a dear man with attention deficit issues, I have been on a journey with Paul relative to his diagnosis. Aside from all Paul has learned about managing his attention deficits, he/we have also learned that there is creativity and freedom in finding space to be who he is…who God made him to be. There’s a delicate balance here, to be sure, but such goodness in both the creativity and the focus.
I really appreciate this, Jan. I see this as a creative gift too and not a flaw in my chemistry. It just took time, experience and self knowledge. Thank you for sharing.