I loudly made my entrance into the world. Nine months later I uttered my first word. A year after that, I launched my plan for world domination by busily memorizing the words to all my favorite books so that I could read them to any and everyone who would let me climb into their lap and charm their pants off. Needless to say, I’ve had an interesting relationship with attention from the very beginning.
If anyone had suggested I might have ADHD growing up, they’d have been laughed at. I was an educator’s dream: I paid attention in class, turned my homework in on time, asked intelligent questions, brought energy and creativity to class, and, in general, served as a good role model to my peers. I was constantly reading and writing, I communicated easily, and I tested well. Sure, there were subtle signs that my brain-wiring might be a little different – problems with punctuality, an odd sense of humor, the COMPLETE DISARRAY of my bedroom, desk, and locker – but these were written off without much thought. I was a smart girl. I’d be just fine.
College is where things started to break down a little. I managed to co-lead a young-adult youth group, keep my precious 4.0 GPA, and garner a few gratifying accolades from my writing professors, but I struggled to stay organized and to manage my growing stress levels. I also drained four years worth of savings in half that amount of time (forcing me to get a job, which further lowered my ability to balance everything) and became obsessed with my appearance, eventually acquiring an eating disorder that slowly began to erode my health. I told myself that once my fiance and I got married and I was free to focus on my writing, things would improve.
Marriage did not help my emerging ADHD. Marriage made it MUCH, MUCH WORSE. Don’t get me wrong – my husband is an amazing human being for whom I thank God on a daily basis. But he had certain expectations for me. Expectations like…doing my share of household chores. Containing my clutter to ONE room of the house. Saving money instead of immediately spending it on worthless crap. And – oh, yes – finishing that novel I had once been so eager to write. But I didn’t do that. I didn’t do ANY of that. I worked nights at a fine dining restaurant (a job that I found highly entertaining) and spent my days avoiding the tasks I didn’t want to do – tasks that suddenly seemed gargantuan and never-ending. Often, when my husband asked why I had so much trouble pulling my weight, I blew up at him, unleashing a firestorm of hurt, bewilderment, and fear disguised as fury. He responded with anger of his own. Eventually, I started avoiding him altogether, taking on a late-night, partying lifestyle that would have appalled my innocent, high-school self. Our partnership fractured and threatened to break.
Over the course of several years, and thanks to the efforts of a few trusted mentors and a WONDERFUL marriage counselor (we love you, Doug!), my husband and I figured out how to work with and take joy in each other. I eased out of the night-life I had been living, instead putting most of my energy into becoming a Certified Sommelier (in short, a wine and beverage expert who knows WAY more than you probably care to about your glass of Merlot.) I thought I had found a career in which I could excel, and that, from here on out, everything was going to go well.
I don’t know when it happened. I assume I slid into despair gradually – so gradually that I didn’t see what was happening. But it felt like I woke up one day with shackles around my wrists. My eating disorder was back in full force; I practically lived on steamed broccoli and caffeine. Because of this, I was constantly exhausted, irritable, and sad. My job, instead of continuing to provide amusement and challenge, had become saturated with boredom for me – a boredom so intense that walking through the doors of a place I used to love now triggered bitter, hastily hidden tears. I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t think of any other means of gaining income that would feel any better than my current situation. My attempts to produce some kind of marketable fiction on the side failed miserably – I simply couldn’t finish what I started. Worst of all, I realized I hadn’t cracked my Bible in a YEAR, and I avoided church because I didn’t feel connected to anyone there. My mind whirled with constant guilt, shame, and intense disappointment in myself – what had happened to the happy, energetic, God-focused girl I used to be? The girl with all that promise – all that potential? It seemed that she had disintegrated entirely.
I finally broke down and sought help from a intuitive, pretty psychotherapist who specialized in eating disorders. She asked wonderful questions and offered suggestions that I thought would probably help me, if only I could remember to implement them. Upon hearing that I struggled with remembering to JUST FREAKING DO what we agreed I would do, she turned to me and asked if I’d ever considered that I might have ADHD. I waved away her comment, informing her of all the things I have just relayed to you – that I did fantastically well in school and there was SIMPLY NO WAY I could have an attention problem. But when I returned home that night, curiosity got the better of me, and I typed ADHD into my Google search bar.
You can surmise what happened next. From the moment I took my first Do You Have ADHD? quiz, all doubt was eliminated. That list of symptoms was like a blueprint to my idiosyncrasies – a neat picture of behavior that I had assumed was unique to ME. Seeking further validation, I quickly searched for further information that would back up my discovery. There I was again, reflected in the articles, stories, and comments left by people JUST LIKE ME. People who were working hard and getting nowhere. People who, despite what they had been told for so long, were NOT lazy, stupid, unreliable, insensitive, selfish, childish ASSHOLES. People who, with a little help, could THRIVE. Overwhelmed with hope and relief, I cried tears of joy for the first time ages.
My discovery and self-diagnosis of ADHD launched a frenzy of research. I checked out armfuls of books from my local library, scoured the web, and spent hours every day listening to podcasts. The idea of utilizing an ADHD Coach as a way to bolster progress was new to me, but intriguing. I looked into it. What I found was more than a strategy – it was a purpose. Unbeknownst to me, I’d been slowly accumulating the skills necessary to be a coach since the day I was born. Drive to connect with others? Check. Love of learning and investigative study? Double check. Fond of asking thought-provoking questions? Yep. Good writing skils? Obviously (haha). Personal understanding of what it’s like to have ADHD? Ohhhh, yeah. The list went on – there were several great reasons to pursue becoming a coach. But the biggest one was the knowledge that there are still so many people out there who are drowning in misery and bewilderment, unable to force themselves into society’s mold, and my heart BREAKS for them. For these people – for the chance that I could shine a little hope into their lives – I will do everything within my power, with the help of the God who, I believe, guided me to this exact place in the world.