Last week I taught a class about defining your Ultimate Life Vision, and about how to find balance in your life. The class was geared toward adults with ADHD, and I was not expecting anyone without ADHD to be interested enough to show up. But they did. Something interesting happened.
I have gotten used to my idiosyncrasies, and the people close to me know all about them and my ADHD. Suddenly, I found myself in front of strangers, peers that did not know me before this class. I found that I felt …. Embarrassed? Ashamed? Weird? How about “all of the above?” Apparently, I still have work to do toward owning my difficulties and being unapologetically me.
I found that I was trying to explain myself, and by extension ADHD, to these women in front of me. They had told me that ADHD was not a part of their lives, but they thought the information would be valuable anyway. So why did I feel like I was being judged? Was it because they were silently judging me? Probably not. I, after all, was the teacher. THEY were the students. The emotional legacy sticks around, even after a couple of years of introspection and work on my mental health.
Here’s the thing. I’ve had a couple of years of therapy. I know more about ADHD than some medical service providers. I have a life coaching certification. If I’m still suffering from the emotional ramifications, what about the women who are not as lucky as I?
I’m reading a book right now that I highly recommend. Women with Attention Deficit Disorder: Embrace Your Differences and Transform Your Life, by Sari Solden. Ms. Solden has also written Journeys Through ADDulthood: Discover a New Sense of Identity and Meaning with Attention Deficit Disorder, which I own, but have not read yet. This summer her latest book, co-authored with a brilliant young woman named Dr. Michelle Frank will be released. That one is titled A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldy, and Break Through Barriers. I am not ashamed to admit that I have already pre-ordered it.
I had the privilege to meet Ms. Solden and Dr. Frank at the International ADHD Conference in St. Louis in November. They are women who have learned to love themselves, for themselves, and in spite of (or maybe even because of) their difficulties. It is a goal I will continue to chase. I will get there. I edge closer every day.
I’ve taken the long way around, but the entire point of this post was to share an essay that appears at the beginning of Women with ADD. As I was standing in the front of that room, I wondered if I could ever really convey what it was like growing up with this brain that held information really well, but shorted out a lot. If I were going to write a story trying to describe what it was like to have ADHD, it would look like this. Since Ms. Solden has written it so well, I see no reason to try to improve upon it. It’s pretty perfect!
The Buried Treasure
-with thanks to Sari Solden MS, LMFT
“Millions of people have this neurological condition. When undiagnosed, it can be devastating and debilitating, silently robbing them of their dreams, their hopes, their self-esteem. These people spend their lives trying to solve a riddle – the mystery of their lives must lay out there somewhere, just beyond the next turn in the road. They remember that they have glimpsed it, that special something once felt or envisioned, before things became so overwhelming and they became trapped and lost – wandering aimlessly in a forest, looking for clues as if from an old treasure map. They know the treasure is there somewhere, but perhaps deeply buried or locked behind a fortress. They have incredible perseverance and determination to keep going, often pulling an enormous weight. The remembrance of that special feeling, the knowledge, deep inside, that they have something important of value to do, to create, to contribute, keeps them searching. They continue on, though the memory,that belief, grows more faint each year as despair begins to displace hope. Hope that they will ever find the treasure, that they will even find their way out of the forest and back onto the road.
Still they trudge on, clutching that old, crumpled, faded, map, holding on to the hope they will find that buried treasure and reclaim their abandoned hopes and dreams.”
THAT is what it feels like to be an adult before an ADHD diagnosis.
THAT is why I coach. I may not have found the buried treasure yet, but damn if I’m not out of the forest and back on the road. My passion is help other people read their own maps. Once you have learned to read it, all you have to do is follow the trail to the great big X.
Click here to schedule your free discovery call. It’s a free mini coaching session!
Until next time, take care of yourself. Really.
FYI: The book links take you to Amazon. I’m not an affiliate so I don’t make any money if you click it. In other words, no spon-con. You can learn more about Sari Solden and Michelle Frank at their website.