Annette Tabor interviews Darleen Beals Darleen Beals, ADDA+ member, was a nurse for 32 years. Now retired, she looks back on those years and remembers how many hurdles she had to clear to get there.

School Struggles

Even in elementary school, Darleen liked school but felt she was an average student at best. Her favorite subjects were reading and language arts. She did well and got good grades in the subjects she liked. But she did not like math, science or history and her grades reflected her lack of enthusiasm. Darleen and her parents always dreamed she would become a pediatrician. She took college prep courses when she entered high school. She also volunteered as a candy striper in the local hospital and loved it. Unfortunately, shortly before graduation, she became pregnant and had to drop out. She married the father and had a second child.


Needing to support a young family, she worked many part time jobs over the next few years. She worked in several factories, in a department store and even as a nurse’s aide. After four years the marriage ended. Later, at age 24, she met and married her current husband. They had three more children, so life continued to be challenging. Darleen wanted to help with the family’s finances. She worked several jobs including as a “nanny.” This, she explains, was a fancy name for what was domestic work. But through it all, she longed to go back to school. She hoped she could at least finish high school. In 1988, she began a local college program where she could also work on her Graduate Equivalency Degree (GED). She struggled at school, juggling the demands of a husband and five children with her studies. She worked hard, joining study groups, and getting a tutor.

Never Give Up

She missed graduating from nursing school in 1991. She failed her final exam by 0.6 points. Her advisor suggested a reading comprehension course and an extra statistics course. Finally, in 1992, she completed nursing school. She had her associate’s  degree. Later in her career she worked for a hospital system that was working to achieve magnet status. They announced that all their nurses had to have a bachelor’s degree. They set a deadline for everyone who was working there to achieve this goal. Darleen realized that she had to go back to college, this time to earn a bachelor’s degree. She had been seeing a psychologist for anxiety and depression. She told him about the hospital’s announcement.  and that that she had going back to school to get her bachelor’s degree to keep her job at the hospital.

It’s Better to Know

She told him how hard it was for her to focus, to study, to decide what to do first and to juggle life at home and at school. After he heard her story, he suggested she might have ADHD. Darleen shared a history of ADHD and other learning disabilities in her family. They explored this possibility further. After a few sessions, he informed Darleen he was convinced she did have ADHD. He provided Darleen with a reading list including some books and articles about ADHD. He explained they would discuss them together once she had read them. He also recommended she take medication to help her with her ADHD. He said this would help her focus, which would help her set goals and in general help her with her ADHD. The doctor’s recommendations helped Darleen get more organized. Students in the class met in study groups and she joined in. For the first time, she found she was able to contribute and learn with the other students.

Winning a Long Race

In 2018, Darleen Beals earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing with GPA of 3.9. I asked Darlene if her diagnosis with ADHD helped her achieve her career goals. Her reply? She said: “The proof is in the pudding!” She was able to keep her job and continued working as a nurse for 32 years before she retired. Married for 42 years, Darleen has five children, 16 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren. Now retired, she attends ADDA’s Retiree Check in Support Group. She enjoys hearing and learning from other members’ experiences. She also has many ideas and stories to share with the other members.
The Proof is In the Pudding - ADDA - Attention Deficit Disorder Association
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