From the time I was 8 years old, I knew my brain worked differently. It would be another 20 years before I finally embraced it.
When I was younger, I had a bad habit of interrupting the adults. My brain was always scattered and I could never turn it off. In the simplest of words, my brain always felt…full. My older sister had similar traits, but she also had hyperactivity. I remember one day when my mom came home upset and angry because her teacher had suggested she get tested and medicated for ADHD. I still remember the words my mother said, “I will never medicate my children”, not knowing then that maybe we would have been better off with early intervention. My mom had my sister start up a couple sports, and that seemed to curb her hyperactivity and satisfy her teachers. Me on the otherhand, I never had much hyperactivity. Yet I was a silent prisoner of my own brain.
Growing up with undiagnosed ADHD was hell. My grades were always atrocious. I was constantly moved around in class because I distrupted my peers. I tried so hard to fit in with others but always felt like no one really liked me. I tried so hard at everything I did, only to be barely average at everything. I didn’t know what was “wrong” with me and my brain. As I got older, my symptoms only got worse. Take an already unstable, chaotic brain and add in hormones, it does not mix well. My teenage years were probably the worst of it. I was confused a lot of the time and due to my continued academic failures, I had all but given up on myself. It wasn’t until my son’s formal diagnosis that I actually started to recognize ADHD symptoms in myself and started researching it.
I knew my son had ADHD by the time he was 3. My most distinct memory was taking him to the public library’s story time. After about 10 minutes (and repeated instructions to sit down) we were asked to leave. That was the first of many occurances that led to me pursuing a formal diagnosis for my son. I didn’t want to ignore that he might need additional help to succeed. When he entered kindergarten, my suspicions were confirmed as his teachers also had a hard time keeping him seated, focused, and quiet in class. So when he was 6 years old I took him to the doctor to get assessed and by the end of that first meeting with the psychiatrist, he had a formal diagnosis and action plan in place. I dove headfirst into research for anything I could find to understand the symptoms and treatment of ADHD. During my research, I started to realize a lot of these symptoms sounded very familiar, in myself.
The more I researched, the more I started to understand that this was something that could have (and probably had) been affecting my life from a young age. It wasn’t just about understanding for my son anymore. It was also about understanding myself. I finally knew why I got so sensitive, why I couldn’t complete a task without starting a new one. Why I had absolutely no patience and why I forgot everything. When I self-diagnosed my ADHD it was like a light clicked in my head and I finally understood why I am the way that I am. The next steps were uncertain and difficult. Trying to get a diagnosis as an adult female was way harder than I thought it would be. When I mentioned it to my primary doctor he thought I was just stressed out. I have a history of anxiety and depression, he tried to convince me it was just symptoms from that. I knew better now though. Learning to advocate for myself was hard.
I still don’t have a formal diagnosis. I don’t know if I will ever get one, and I don’t know that I personally need one anymore. I know that I have ADHD, that is enough for me. I have been speaking to my therapist a lot about this, and she assured me that it was wrong of my doctor to dismiss my concerns. She has offered to refer me to a psychiatrist and ADHD coach to get the help I need, but I told her when I am ready for that I will let her know. Just having someone believe in me is enough for me, for now.
Discovering I have ADHD made me a better wife, a better mom, and a better person. Before I entered this world, I had no knowledge of everything that ADHD actually is. Knowing the symptoms and formulating a plan that helps me manage them has changed my life. I’m able to focus better, be more patient with my husband and kids, and learn tips that help me to manage my life with ADHD. If I’ve learned anything from this experience, it’s to never give up on being the best version of yourself that you can be.