As a child, I went to a local center for the developmentally disabled. I wasn’t disabled, but I knew I was different. Doctors knew I was extremely intelligent. But they didn’t know how to diagnose me, either. In the 1960s, they thought it was a psychosis. (Years later, I obtained a copy of my history from the facility, with the word, “psychosis” included.) I attended their day school in lieu of public school for the first three years, with supportive teachers and physicians surrounding me. I had friends in school who didn’t think I was different. I didn’t know this school was any different, either. Since my family didn’t have a car, I was taken to and from school by a neighbor whose son attended this school.
When my neighbor moved away, I transferred to public school. I cried every day at school. Kids constantly made fun of my family and me. I endured years of people laughing at me. It was a shaming experience. Few understood me, let alone wanted to be my friend.
In Junior High, I discovered a talent for singing and music. Voice lessons began, establishing a sense of self-esteem. I began to receive greater acceptance attending church. Nobody thought of me as different. It was a tremendous relief.
After I moved away from home, I married and began having children. I divorced my husband when my children were small. I put my husband through RN school, and as he studied, it piqued my interest. I thought I might have a talent for nursing. I completed my LPN, obtaining my license in 1989. Mental Health held a great interest for me, but I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to get an opportunity in that field.
I was in denial about ADHD when my oldest son received his ADHD diagnosis and received medication. I had two more children after that. Not long after my youngest daughter arrived, I could tell she was different. I began to see behaviors I’d learned to recognize as ADHD. I was shocked! How could this be? I thought I had done all I could do, yet here she was with ADHD! I know, my son already had an ADHD diagnosis – but he lived with his dad!
Slowly, I put the pieces together. My children had different fathers. I came to the inevitable conclusion: I was the common denominator. I’d already learned ADHD was genetic. Finally, on my 37th birthday, my doctor diagnosed me ADD, now known in the DSM-V as ADHD, Inattentive type. My doctor prescribed medication, and the moment the medication took effect, it was as if the light came on in the room. I felt normal for the first time in my life. Tears come to my eyes even now as I remember that day. It was a powerful revelation and a major relief.
I am now 55. With my doctor, I’m adjusted my medication to fit with my lifestyle. Today, my two children have chosen not to take medication for their ADHD. They are working on strategies to cope with their ADHD symptoms. As for me, I’ve found medication is a vital piece of the puzzle, but I combine that with webinars, teleclasses and support groups to help me learn to better manage my symptoms. Today, I’m having a blast working in mental health! How awesome is that!? And yes, the journey continues.