One thought to the next thought and the next. In the middle of a project and forgetting what’s supposed to happen next because another thought came into place. Misplacing something and swearing it was right by you. Forgetting things on a regular basis. Getting distracted in the middle of a conversation. Trying to remember names and dates. Staying focused while trying to write this post.
Everything that was just listed is what it’s like on a daily basis inside my head. These type of symptoms finally started to make sense when I was recently diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder).
What Prompted The Testing
Our oldest was diagnosed with ADHD three years ago. To be honest, it was a relief. Relief knowing something wasn’t right and not knowing what was going on and spinning my wheels to figure it out. After her diagnosis is when I really dove into researching ADHD and how to best treat it. Like many first time diagnosed parents, we wanted to try the natural route without medication. We changed out our diet, went as clean as we could, tried different parent techniques. Nothing was working and after thinking through this long and hard, we finally decided that it was time for medication.
After medication, things completely changed for her and for the better. We as parents saw the difference, her teachers saw the difference and we finally felt like we had turned the page.
I didn’t anticipate how well she would respond to the medication. One thing I learned from researching ADHD is that if a child has ADHD, a parent or family member likely has it too. I had been diagnosed with a Learning Disability when I was in third-grade but never tested for ADHD. After seeing how well she responded it, I wondered if I too would benefit from it and that’s when I decided to get tested.
I was taken out of the classroom for testing in the third grade. I don’t remember struggling in elementary school, just the testing and seeing a specialist for help. Faith was my learning specialist and she was absolutely wonderful. It was myself and another student that would see her daily and we’d do activities.
I didn’t know exactly what was going on but I knew things were different for me.
When middle school came, that was a different ballgame than elementary school. It was harder and there were more tests. I remember having a special ed teacher and classroom to help with homework. Those accommodations worked well and helped me academically.
I did any extra credit that was available to improve my grades.
Things continued on a good path throughout high school, I made the honor roll a few times and was named “Student of The Quarter” my Senior year of High school. The only difference was math, I was in a lower class than the rest of my peers. I frequently used the office hours teachers had for help because I knew I needed it.
Overall, my school years from elementary, middle school, and high school were great. I struggled academically but got the help that I needed. Athletics played a huge part of those years and thankfully I excelled at those because they gave me the confidence I needed.
I did feel stupid from time-to-time because I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t get the higher grade like my peers and studied just as hard as them if not more. Thankfully I had exceptionally supportive friends that never made me feel stupid or dumb, it was an internal struggle.
The ACT came and I scored low, very low. I took it twice and got the same score. I never took the SAT because the schools that I was looking at didn’t require it. The other thing that I planned on doing in college was playing soccer. As much as I wanted to go far away, I ended up staying in the Midwest so my parents could see me play.
College came and hit me like a brick wall. The struggles with school really came out here. I cried a lot, it was so hard. My freshman year was such a blur because 9/11 just happened and I was trying to figure out what was going on with school. The fear of being on academic probation was real, so real that I went to my coach looking for help. I got as many tutors as I could.
Eventually I found out there was assistance for students with Learning Disabilities. Even though things went well in high school, college was another level, this was the big leagues and the symptoms came out. I was able to get assistance taking tests, I received additional time and took them in a different room which helped.
Junior year of college, I studied abroad in Spain. I wish there was more I could remember academically and how I did. It was still a struggle, I relied on help from my friends. Looking back on Spain and what I know now about ADHD, it’s truly remarkable that I was able to get through those classes.
Graduation day came, hallelujah! I graduated with a major in Marketing and a minor in Spanish. Now it was time to become an adult!
After college, I started with a Sales & Marketing program with an Appliance manufacturer. I had heard about this program from a college professor that got me in touch with a student that got into the program. I was nervous because my grades weren’t the best and I left my GPA off my resume for that reason. Thankfully I had great parents that instilled a work ethic in me and my sisters. I was going to work as hard as I could to get those interviews and show them I’m not afraid of work.
After multiple interviews and a presentation, I was in! It was my ticket out of the Midwest because they place you in a location where you’re not from. I started in Greenville, SC went to Jersey City, NJ and then eventually Richmond, VA.
Corporate work was similar to school in the sense that I still had to work very hard to meet the goals set before me. I did find success and competed at the National level and won.
There was always this sense of something not feeling right about myself regardless of school or corporate life, truth be told I never felt like I “fit in”. As much as we are told to stand out we all want to be accepted and fit in.
Our daughter went on medication in January of 2021 and in February I made the appointment to see a specialist. The first available appointment was September. I met with a Psychologist for almost two hours during the first visit. She asked me questions about my childhood and academic experience through college. Then I took an online test which was extremely challenging. My brain hurts even thinking about it. Once that appointment was over, she sent me three other questionnaires that I had to take on my own which in took me about 2-3 hours to take in total.
It was a long process, my brain was tired. It brought back many memories of my childhood having to take those exams. After all the testing was complete, she would follow-up with me in a few weeks to go over the results.
The morning of the appointment I was excited and nervous, just wanting to know the results. She explained to me the challenges of diagnosing someone with ADHD and how hard it can be because you’re not able to see inside the brain.
When she said that she was diagnosing me with ADHD, I was relieved. It was that moment where you know it’s coming but need someone to confirm it. She said I was “an easy case” meaning that it was easy to diagnose me because the testing was consistent across the board. The other thing she diagnosed me with was an anxiety disorder which really surprised me, I didn’t see that one coming at all.
We discussed the results and the next steps.
Going into this process I assumed I was going to be diagnosed. I thought about what medication would do as I’ve made it this far in life why start now? Seeing how well it helped our daughter, I wanted to know how it could help me.
There are some things prior to the diagnosis that I have put in place to help me stay focused and will continue to do that because they’ve helped.
1. Using the Daily Passion Planner
This planner has been transformational. As someone who has tried dozens of planners including one that I made years ago because I couldn’t find one that worked well, this one has been the best one to help me stay focused.
Weekly planners are distracting, there’s too much in front of me. The daily pages allow me to focus on that day and that day only. There is an area at the top of the page that says “Today’s Focus” this section alone is worth buying the planner. There have been days on end where I’m all over the place and looking at this area gets me back on track.
2. Social media limitations
It’s a love/hate relationship with social media. It’s so beyond easy to spend hours on end on any of the platforms and end up on a rabbit hole because there are SO many distractions there. From ads to groups to what’s trending, they’re really good at keeping you on their platform.
Social media does have its perks and one of them is being able to share a message to the world to help others. To make the best use of it, I have turned off almost all notifications on the app and check it usually once a day. I have a hard rule of not going on it the first hour of waking up or the last hour before going to bed.
3. Eliminating Caffeine
Coffee is a way of life for many, it’s what gets us going and helps us get through that afternoon slump. After we got married is when I had my first cup of coffee. We had received a Keurig as a wedding gift. My husband introduced me to coffee creamer and the rest is history.
During the pregnancies of our three children, I switched to decaf and quickly switched back to caffeinated coffee shortly after they were born for obvious reasons. Prior to my diagnosis, I had suspected I had ADHD and read a lot about it because of our daughter. One of the things suggested for people with ADHD is to eliminate caffeine.
Caffeine had been giving me anxiety for quite some time and decided to go back to decaf. It’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
4. Working Out
Sports played a big part of my life through college. There were some gruesome training sessions that I was happy that ended. However, I still liked to workout, just not that at that level.
I’ve always been one that’s more inclined to an intense workout versus yoga, I need that good sweat. Up until recently I didn’t know those intense workouts were working in my favor with someone who has ADHD. Working out gets the executive function of the brain flowing and helps the working memory.
Never in my life would I have told you I meditate and that it does work. It truly does help all of the thoughts, distractions and what I need to be doing next. Meditation is hard, really hard. It’s something that I’m still working on improving. I’m currently at 5 minutes of meditation a day and working towards moving to 10 minutes a day, which seems like an eternity right now but I know I’ll get there.
My mission when I first started this blog was to share everything I could about organization, it’s my true passion and I wanted to help others with it. The thing I struggled with the most as a kid and still to this day is forgetfulness. I forget things a lot and have a tendency to lose things.
Disorganization is extremely common with ADHD. I only remember being an organized kid and up until recently I always thought that I had been until recently. My mom informed me that I had major organization struggles as a kid! She said she would put my folded clothes on my bed to only later find them on the floor to which then I mixed them in with the dirty clothes and never knew what was clean. She said my room was a disaster on a regular basis. To say I was speechless when she told me that is an understatement.
There are a handful of ways to organize things. The thing I’ve learned is what works for some doesn’t work for others. I’ve learned to identify the techniques that work best for me and here they are.
- Labeling – Using labels has been a game changer in keeping things organized. Forgetting and losing things is an everyday battle and labels have alleviated that issue. I’ve also learned and try to keep the label to one word because for me more than one word causes clutter and confusion.
- Clear bins – Using clear bins has made it easier to see what’s in the bin. I’ve learned that even with a solid bin and label, if I can’t see what’s in there, I won’t remember it.
- Topless bins – Using topless bins allows for items to be tossed into the bin without having to open a lid. The process makes it easier and keeps the system in place.
- Bins within bins – Using bins is great but when it requires searching with in it, it defeats the purpose. Using bins within bins keeps things neat and orderly.
- Turntables – Turntables make it easy to access anything.
- Whiteboard Calendar – Out of sight, out of mind holds true especially for people with ADHD which is why I love using a whiteboard calendar. I can see the month planned out in front of me and remember what’s happening vs. using my phone.
It’s extremely common for adults to become diagnosed with ADHD after their child is since it’s a genetic disorder. After our daughter’s diagnosis, I dived into researching everything about ADHD. One of the best resources out there has been the ATTitudemag website. This website truly has everything from tests to symptoms to treatment options. It’s a great resource.
- Healing ADD– This book is written by Dr. Daniel Amen. It discusses the seven types of ADD/ADHD and how to best treat them. Gaining insight to these different types really helped me understand the complexity of ADHD.
- ADHD: What Every Parent Needs To Know. This book is by Mark Wolraich. It discusses how to parent to a child with ADHD and the challenges that are faced.
- The Conscious Parent’s Guide To ADHD- This book is written by Dr. Rebecca Branstetter. It discusses mindful ways to parent. It’s common to feel overwhelmed when parenting a child with ADHD and this book provides useful techniques.
- School of Greatness – This podcast is amazing. Lewis Howes is the host, he’s a former professional football player that grew up with a Learning Disability. It’s extremely inspiring. He interviews people from all different industries and discusses how they worked their way to the top. Every successful person has struggled at some point in their life, this podcast will show you that and how they overcame those challenges to become great.
- The Daily Meditation Podcast – Mary Meckley is the host of this podcast and she’s wonderful. She has such a soothing voice that makes it easy to listen to especially when you are first starting. The episodes are 10 minutes in length, the first five minutes are a review and the last five minutes is the actual meditation.
- I Have ADHD – Kristen Carder is the host. She has ADHD herself and discusses how to manage and live with ADHD.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading this 🙂 I’ve learned ADHD isn’t something to be ashamed about, that it’s something that should be appreciated and celebrated. We all have unique gifts and it’s our duty to share to the world. As the saying goes “the best is yet to come”.