Embarking on this blog feels like stepping into uncharted territory. Although I am an open book for the most part, this is a deeply personal and vulnerable topic. But I believe that sharing our experiences can be a powerful way to break stigma and raise awareness, so here goes nothing...
For years I have battled with a lack of focus, impulsive decision making, and over stimulation. No matter how I tried to change these behaviours, they continued to live with me on a daily basis. After years of longing for an answer, I have been fortunate enough to find the cause. I have been living with ADHD (Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder).
In grade five my parents and teachers noticed that I was struggling both in school and in my daily activities. I was sent for a mental health assessment to learn I have a few learning disabilities. ADHD was not one of my diagnoses. I continued to flounder in educational settings throughout grade school. It also took me a few attempts to graduate from a post secondary program.
These struggles compounded over time to form other mental health issues and disorders. With my inner critic in control, my mind was always flooded with negative self-talk and criticisms. I had immediate family members who suffered from similar symptoms and they were making it through life okay? How could I be suffering from something when there was so much stability in my own life? I have a loving husband of 10 years and a career that some with much higher education struggle to achieve. From the outside looking in, I was living a fulfilling life.
It wasn’t until I started working 100% remotely that I realized something still wasn’t right. My mental health deteriorated to an all time low causing me to take a month leave of absence from work. I started taking antidepressants only to realize six months later that they were not helping. I decided to explore my options, leading me to seek another mental health assessment.
When walking through the results of my assessment with the psychologist I felt a wave of relief. For once in my life it all started to make sense. My ADHD was the core of my struggles with mental health, making everyday life challenging. I have been beating myself up for drifting off in conversations, forgetting things, making impulsive decisions, and not thinking before I speak. This pattern created a revolving door of mental health episodes.
Medication has been a game changer for me. Multiple thoughts that would consistently flow all at once narrowed to just one. My focus is sharper and my attention span is longer. I can now maintain a conversation with a friend or colleague without having a “squirrel” moment. I have become less forgetful and I am not as hasty when making decisions. Medication has been a major advancement in treating my disorder but it is not the be-all end-all.
I try to meditate on a regular basis to improve my focus. I work at eating a balanced diet and make sure I do some form of physical exercise daily. I continue to see my therapist to uncover traumas and break down barriers that I still combat with. These activities are imperative to maintaining a healthy mental state and coping with my symptoms.
Fast forward to today, I am still learning about myself and my disorder. My health is improving, but there are days where my inner critic and my neurodivergence take hold. One foot in front of the other, the future looks optimistic as I uncover more about myself with each day that passes. Formal education looks less daunting and functioning at work has become much easier.
I am grateful to work for an employer that offers a generous benefits package. It has given me the ability to afford a mental health assessment, medication, and ongoing therapy. And while my experience with medication has been a positive one, I am not a healthcare professional. If you are experiencing symptoms of ADHD or any other disorder, please reach out to a physician or mental health professional for guidance.