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My ADHD Journey

My journey to an official diagnosis is a bit unconventional. I do however feel that pieces of it are incredibly relatable, especially the shame and imposter syndrome that prevented my acceptance of my symptoms.

When I was a kid I bounced.... seriously I bounced all over, but as the voices of "knock that off" "calm down" and "you're so annoying" got louder my bounces shrunk. The bouncing moved to inside my head. Thoughts jumbling up and down constantly. Often they would bounce off my tongue into big clusters of scrambled speech. My big body movements became an award for 'most talkative'. I was no longer told to "stop bouncing" instead the "you're annoying" rang out in louder more heartbreaking chimes in my mind. Those words bounced up there a lot. They made friends with "shut up" and "you're too much". Those clusters of pain echoed in my mind and made me a smaller and smaller version of myself until I wasn't so annoying anymore. Until I was no longer too much, but also no longer my true self.

Pure authentic joy from that bouncy little girl.

As I got older I would joke about having ADD. My doctor mentioned him thinking I had it to my parents once and that moment stuck with me. It lingered in the back of my head as an answer for the bouncing, but not one I ever fought to officially know. So I would joke, joke about the question mark. As life shifted it was no longer a joke. Life became too hard to make that joke anymore. It wasn't a cute excuse for my bouncing, instead it was a source of more shame, just another possible label to add to the list.

I put on a smile for every picture even if I was hurting and hiding myself.

I never officially sought out an answer for myself. I just kept trying my hardest. I finished college and moved forward into adulthood. Always hopping from dream to dream. When I finished school I decided I was going to be a realtor, got my license and everything! Then I was in the management track at my Target store. Finally I landed a long term sub position as an associate teacher. I was helping kids in learning support and loved it! I loved the opportunity to be there from the beginning of their school journeys. Finally it became a full time position. With that came inservices about ADHD and executive dysfunction. All of which I resonated with, but had some reason why it couldn't be me. Whether it was the social stigma around ADHD or my own imposter syndrome, there was always a reason that it couldn't be ADHD making me struggle. Let's face it, I wasn't a bouncy little boy. ADHD didn't "fit". At least the version of ADHD that society puts out there. I also had this horrible narrative about myself stuck on replay. Much of it being from the voices in my past, some being the voices of my present at that time. My reality became that I just wasn't a good adult. I sucked. I was a failure. "Why is it so hard to clean my apartment? Everyone else can do this, you're the worst" became a frequent affirmation in my head. It didn't help that my then partner reaffirmed those words. Constantly shaming my inability to keep house. It was even one of the reasons he gave for leaving. I was inconsistent and didn't do what he wanted me to do consistently enough for him.

DUH! There was a reason for that! I kept trying to 'do the thing' like a neurotypical housewife. I had grand plans every day for what I would do, but then sat in a shame spiral glued to my couch, and watching The Office for the 20th time. This was my pattern until the urgency built up enough to do the stuff, usually after he screamed at me and reminded me of my epic failings. Then I'd have a week of keeping things in order before the consistency crumbled and things went back to the way they'd always been. That toxic situation is a whole other discussion, but a definite piece of why I couldn't see what was really going on. I let his narrative for my actions overrule the symptoms I saw in ADHD that felt like mine. Funny enough when we split I began doing things my way, without his voice in my head, and was finally able to keep my space clean, because it was MY WAY. But I digress.

See to the right how the smile faded from that life I had been living.

Right before my marriage ended I suffered my 6th pregnancy loss and reached out to a new therapist. She helped me to see all the trauma I was facing and to start working through the PTSD I suffered from all the abuse. Once my life stabilized she realized the ADHD was still there causing harm. I still struggle[d] with triggers from my PTSD, but I was at a good place in my healing that overwhelm shouldn't have been affecting me the way it was. The overwhelm was coming from the undiagnosed ADHD, which sidenote, includes ADD.

When I was free it started to come back.

One day we were in session and she stopped my nervous rambles to say "Amanda, I think we need to medicate you for ADD." That was it, the answer that made so much sense! We talked more about it and the next two sessions we did a thorough evaluation of my symptoms. I lit up the charts! SERIOUSLY my twice exceptional inner child would have been so proud of my high score lol. I finally had the missing piece. I finally had an explanation for why I struggled to act like my neurotypical peers. That answer came with some grief, but mostly was a source of relief.

I had already had a decent knowledge of ADHD from my family, work, and new partner (who's also ADHD), but I went down a massive rabbit hole for more answers. The hole became this vast knowledge that I am so very proud of. I got all the books, watched all the videos, learned all the things! From there I started sharing my experiences and what I had learned. I did this on TikTok, and one day one of those random videos blew up and became 40,000 followers almost overnight! I realized how great it felt to share, advocate, and educate on there and decided to see how to make that into a career. I started looking into ADHD coaching and finally started the courses before Christmas of 2020. I sucked in more and more knowledge so I can best serve the people I work with and have found something I am truly passionate about.

As I said my journey to a diagnosis was unconventional. I am forever grateful to my therapist for seeing that piece of me others and myself were blind to for so long, 28 years to be exact. The year and a half since my diagnosis have been my favorite part of my journey with ADHD. Mostly because it brought me here.

I am now the happiest I have ever been. No more faking it!

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