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My Story

When I was given a diagnosis of ADHD during nursing school in my 30s, that was about all I got. It didn't come with a whole lot else. I didn't receive any supporting information, let alone a clear explanation of what the diagnosis did and did not mean. All this label confirmed for me at the time was that yes, I had trouble concentrating and focusing, and yes, this was especially true when there was any distraction, and thus it would be really helpful if teachers could give me a little extra time to take tests.

I didn't know about all the different ways ADHD can show up and look like and I certainly didn't understand the complexity of this disorder nor the extent to which it touches every aspect of someone's life and can show up differently for different individuals.

The reason I'm here today is because a few years ago, after receiving a confirming diagnosis of ADHD (this time done with a lot more rigor than the initial "testing"), I finally found the missing piece of the puzzle. I finally "got" IT—what it means to have moved through the majority of my life with this invisible and mostly unknown and undiagnosed developmental disorder (now called ADHD as opposed to ADD), which has affected and still affects practically every aspect of my life from how I work and parent to how I manage my time and show up in my relationships. I now can say without exaggeration that "getting IT" marked a huge turning point in my life and has changed the trajectory of my life for the better!

I didn't get here on my own. Not only did I need the right information, I needed other coaches and experts to show me the way as they modeled for me self-acceptance despite their noticeable outward ADHD impairments. I needed them to provide the right support to help me understand AND finally believe that:

  • I am not defective

  • I am not alone

  • It's not my fault.

I've come to learn that not only is having this support illuminating and helpful, ​NOT having this support is detrimental. Because when you believe you are defective, alone, and it's your fault, eventually these thoughts stop working as motivational tools and start becoming the sole reason you can’t move forward.

 

I've also learned that our foundation work is to fully understand and accept what ADHD actually is. No amount of talk therapy or medication can undo the detrimental beliefs we have about ourselves alone, especially when we don't understand the actual neurobiological reasons why we are the way we are! 

 

Without first understanding the neurobiological basis for my ADHD symptoms, I had wrongly categorized these traits as character defects and used them as hard evidence for my growing case of why I wasn't good enough. And since my whole case was built on faulty evidence, I could now allow it to be put to rest.

It helped too that teachings from Dr. Ned Hallowell and others, explained that for every un-welcomed trait attributed to ADHD, there is a corresponding trait that is useful. Dare I say that with new acceptance, I also may have even started to appreciate the nuance and complexity of my brain, value my unique way of thinking, and thereby further accept myself and my impaired brain exactly as we are.

 

Now I'm on a mission to help as many adults who struggle with ADHD symptoms as I can learn. We shouldn't have to be kept in the dark any longer. We are much more equipped with information and tools, and with the right support, there is nothing we can't accomplish!

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