It’s So Hard to Leave the Nest

By: Chris

I left “the nest” late in life when I got married at 36! I set very high standards for prospective mates and in doing so I passed on many now successful men who loved me.  Luckily, and thanks to God, I found my husband and am now the mother of two boys, the younger of which has ADHD.

My husband was desperately trying to understand my crazy schedules, impulsiveness, forgetfulness, disorder, lack of attention to kids and some hoarding. He sought help by researching my behaviors on the internet and gave me an ultimatum to get help with my problems.

I was diagnosed Adult ADD with OCD, depression and anxiety. I always knew there was something off with me, like a devil holding me back and possessing all my will. As a young woman, I suggested to other psychiatrists that I may have ADD but they said, “Oh, no, you always pay attention to me and are a great student.” Even now another doctor I saw says it may be something physical like “mild” brain damage.

However, the name ADHD is misleading because the problem is really about execution. No matter what it’s called it can make people around us frustrated and angry. They can’t understand something they can’t see.  I feel helpless sometimes when I see people with physical disabilities and think that’s me on the inside but nobody can see it. I always have the accelerator pushed to max speed and the hand brake on at the same time.

I recently had the flu and slept for days. I didn’t take my meds and felt better… except I wanted to fight with everybody.  Even little things like McDonald’s opening a few minutes late will set me off and I may cause a scene.

A few days ago, my father told me emotionally and in the last few years financially, I never left the nest. I have ruined many things in the last three years. He said, “Your so-called ADT-DTAwhatever you call it is just an excuse not to take responsibility.” He reminded me he had a horrible life and never used it as an excuse.  Although I often heard him talking about wanting to die or being aggressive to us. My mother always asked us to be understanding as he had a very sad childhood and youth.  He was thrown out of the house several times and his family didn’t even have money for his school books. We had everything, though we were great students and got scholarships as well. I even went through college with an 80% scholarship based on merit and worked to pay the difference.

Maybe I got so tired I just gave up. I felt horrible about forgetting to buy my son’s books and I even forgot to go to a science fair at his school.

Guilt is always a good companion and close friend of shame. It is difficult not to speak out and many people see that as a lack of personal strength and control. So how do I leave the emotional nest when the voice inside me has always been so muffled by inner noise, shame, confusion, imagination and compensating behavior?

They say ADHD is not a reason for lack of accountability but that we need to be more accountable by adding mechanisms to get things done and experience the satisfaction of our successes.

Sometimes I feel I am clueless but I have made myself a set of instructions that helps me as an adult with ADD. Looking back if I had left the nest earlier this list would have been very helpful. Remember I mostly live in theory and don’t follow these to the letter but that is what I can offer and I hope it can help someone.

  1. Have a code of crucial things never to be broken (regardless of how I feel). If it is not in the to-do or to-go list, don’t improvise.
  2. As it is difficult to read people, and ADHD people tend to be naive, avoid sexual encounters at an early age. You need to be more prudent than non-ADD people. I was lucky to live in a conservative environment and have many religious rules. It would have been devastating to lose control of that and feel used. Although this is not an area of life which defines people.
  3. Be very conservative in finance. Save a lot and get a sense of security and order from it.
  4. Write down or speak to yourself (as your inner voice needs a microphone), and avoid sharing to much with too many, as we tend to do so.
  5. Listen to yourself and try to be truthful to your convictions, dreams and illusions. Those are real and strong, even when you feel disconnected from them, and want to find some clues through other people.
  6. Take advice seriously. While you don’t want to be brain-washed, many things people say are pure wisdom and need to be carefully analyzed. As an ADD person, you may lose valuable stuff if you disregard it, or get into trouble if you act on in without taking time to think.
  7. Stay on your meds. If it works stick to it. When you feel moderately OK you tend to forget how meds helped.
  8. People may want to innocently sabotage your treatment. Don’t let them. Especially if you live alone or are in a new situation, you should avoid fluctuations… Don´t “save” on this.
  9. Keep active in sports and something you enjoy.
  10. Share in the ADDA and other websites. You may help others and also clarify your thoughts and feelings.


    • Robin Plank
    • March 2, 2019

    It’s so real, so real, so real! Thank you for making our hidden internal experience more visible to others.

    Solutions are elusive. My doc says he can’t put me on an ADHD drug because they will conflict with the anti-depressants I am on. I am considering going off them so I can take an ADHD med because I think the ADHD may be at the root of all these years of depression & anxiety. If your life is continually hard to manage you will become anxious. And as time passes with no solutions you become depressed. Does this resonate with anybody?

    I am using many cognitive techniques & they are helpful, but using cognitive techniques when your cognition is “less than optimal” is like vacuuming a carpet with a leaky bag that sprays some dirt behind you. You can suck up a lot of knowledge, but the forgetful, distractible brain can only retain & use so much.

    Perseverance, determination, and the tenacity to review that knowledge over & over until it embeds successfully is what is keeping me going. Meanwhile, I am still looking for some duct tape to patch up that bag since I can’t throw away my brain & get a new one!

      • Asher
      • March 4, 2019

      I take meds for ADD, depression and anxiety, and am not sure why your doctor would say they don’t go together. I can’t say the ADD actually CAUSED the depression and anxiety, but it definitely has triggered it and made it worse, and if I had gotten good treatment for ADD early on, who knows. So it could be worth it for you on a trial basis to take the ADD medication even if it means stopping the others. Again, I am not sure why you can’t do both.

    • Eduardo Lorenzo
    • March 1, 2019

    Excellent description of a person with ADHD. Very insightful.

    • Denslow Brown
    • February 27, 2019

    Patricia — I wonder if you think undiagnosed ADHD might explain your dad (history, reactions, behavior).

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