The Value of Persistence

as related to Patti Schwab

Three years ago, I was laid off from my position of 20 years as an office administrator. I was very depressed. It was a real loss; I hadn’t realized how much that role had defined me until it ended.

One of my children, who also has ADHD, was in crisis. Severe depression, anxiety, and OCD symptoms had put him in the hospital a few times. Meanwhile, my husband (another ADHDer) was also unemployed and searching for work.

I struggled to find a new position, working a few short and horrible jobs over the course of the next year. It was so bad I could barely get through the day.

I found a therapist with a Ph.D. in psychology willing to work with me for a reduced rate. I hadn’t had much luck with therapists before, but desperation drove me to try again. He has been so helpful, and has taught me to let go of many of my self-destructive thought patterns. It turns out that not everything is my fault, and I’m not stupid!

I found effective medications for my ADHD and depression. Then I decided to go back to school. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get through the program. After all, I found being there overwhelming. But, I decided it was my best option for creating change. I would graduate or die trying.

For the first time in my life, with the help of my therapist, I asked for testing accommodations. It was hard to ask for help. I’ve always been a do-it-yourself kind of gal. Looking back I can see how feelings of shame around ADHD symptoms made me unwilling to admit I needed it.

Receiving extra time on tests made a huge difference. I was also lucky enough to have a sympathetic academic adviser who believed in and encouraged me. A year later, I completed a certificate program with a 4.0 GPA (my first).

It took a few months, but after graduation I landed a job in a new field I am excited about. My husband finally found part-time work. We helped our son find a qualified psychiatrist he likes, and he seems to be making real progress.

I am so much stronger. Life is lighter than before. I’ve learned a lot from all this:

  1. It’s okay to ask for and accept help;
  2. It’s essential to be persistent, even when there are setbacks;
  3. Take small steps forward every day.

I’ve also learned I have the power to make things better for myself.


If you’re going through your own struggles and could use some support during your journey, consider an ADDA Virtual Support Group.

    • Teek
    • June 8, 2018

    Hello everyone,
    Thank you all for sharing. Reading everyone’s posts was very enlighting to me because I can relate. I remember, as a child, being distracted by the simplest things. For example, growing up, my dad would ask me to make him a cup of coffee before work, and on my way to the kitchen, I would get sidetracked and begin to focus on something or someone else. If he had not reminded me of the task, he still wouldn’t have coffee made to this day. Another example, is that I often forget people’s names that I have known for many, many years, during an introduction. I sometimes have to stop in mid-sentence to ask them what it is. Forgetfulness can be very embarrassing and I cannot think of any reason why it happens to me so often.
    In addition, at work, my organization skills, memory skills, and focus have become very poor. A job as simple as copying pages can at times be difficult. If I am not very careful I can mix the pages up, and get so confused, especially if the pages are not numbered. I know that I have the ability to accomplish simple and complicated tasks, but I am easily distracted, even with my own thoughts, so it takes me longer to complete. I can have an object in my hand one minute and forget that I sat it down and where I sat it. Like one of the other posts, I too completed college, but I missed most deadlines and only received partial credit for the hard work, due to an inability to focus. Also, taking a test, or being under the slightest amount of pressure, causes me to forget what I already know and builds my anxiety levels.
    This is really frustrating for me and I often wonder about diseases like Alzheimer’s or Dementia, then I REMEMBER that the FORGETFULLNESS and lack of FOCUS have been happening since I was a kid (no pun intended) lol.
    Lastly, because of the above posts, I am super excited to get help to see if ADHD may be the cause of some of my symptoms. What are your thoughts?

    • Kim
    • March 28, 2018

    I loved your post. It seems like my own biography. Your points are excellent I just wanted to add one to some of the other posts above. Aside from asking for accommodations at school, persistence and small steps every day. You should also focus as much as you can on your strengths. I’ve had trouble in two classes and I would keep a regular conversation going with my online professor and they really helped me. Had I never reached out and communicated what was really going on with me I would’ve failed both classes but because I was open and honest and did the work I ended up with A’s.
    If you ask, in most cases people really do want to help or work with you as long as you are putting for real effort.

    • Paul Gautreaux
    • October 27, 2017

    Has anyone found that once they started taking medication for ADHD it really helped them to focus and do things they couldn’t do before. I am 58 and I’m sure I am ADHD since childhood because I’ve been told how wound up I was, talkative, daydreaming, easily distracted, interrupting etc, but never been diagnosed or taking any meds for it. I am going to a psychiatrist next week to ask for an evaluation and make sure the prescription my general physician gave me (Vyvanse 30mg) is the right drug and amount. I’ve been taking it for 4 days now, and I can’t say things have changed, although I seem to be more energetic /hyper, which is the last thing we ADHDers need. lol

    Anyway, I recently lost my job and it was due to lack of focus, forgetting little things, not being able to get organized. What’s so amazing is that I never had that much trouble in the past that caused me not to be able to function at any jobs. One thing I found, and I’m not sure if it is related to ADHD, but I definitely could not do well in math once Algebra was introduced. Never did then, barely made it through college with a C in it, and I still can’t do it even with a tutor. Is that ADHD, or just one of those people who don’t get it. I wondered if I would of had meds back in high school and college if I would have excelled like some people say they did after taking the meds.

    So, now I’m looking for work at 58 and wondering if I will be plagued with this condition in my next job. And, that is why I asked for meds from my GP and made an appointment with a Psychiatrist, and joined the ADDA. Any comments are welcomed, as are words/stories of encouragement. Fortunately, my ADHD is not nearly as bad as others that I’ve read their stories on different sites. I’m usually very organized, pay attention to detail, can complete one task, or many at the same time, and use to be very early to appointments and events. I can’t function in an environment at work that doesn’t have structure. My last job was in sales, which I really only took because I needed income due to a layoff in the oilfield, and that didn’t do well at all. It was a disaster. I’ve accepted my condition easily and knew I had symptoms, never was in denial, just wanted to be NorRmaL. LOL

    • Desiree Bernal
    • June 28, 2017

    I can so relate to this! Congrats to you! I was so bored with a good job that I began looking for something more exciting and ended up job hopping because I couldn’t find what I had before. It was a huge mistake. So I decided to go to college after being a high school drop out who got a GED. I ended up with a Masters in Special Education and Emotional Disturbances with a 4.0 and now I help kids just like me. It is refreshing to know that there are others out there like me who struggle too. Sometimes our ADHD world feels so lonely and solitary that it is hard to think past ourselves, relate or get out in the world to do better and ask for help.

    • Betty
    • June 3, 2017

    Thank you for sharing. Your story is encouraging to others whose identity is in their function rather than in who they are. It’s a journey I traveled too. Good for you getting to this next phase of your life.

  1. Reply

    Wow…..I so can relate to the “I’m not stupid” comment! I’m 50 now, but was diagnosed with ADD/HD in my 30s. It was so helpful to find out that how I ticked wasn’t dumb or necessarily wrong, it was just different. It is more that I see and process information differently.

    Thank you for sharing and great job going back to school, graduating with a 4.0 and the new career!

    • May 25, 2017

    My son has ADHD and was diagnosed as a child. He will be 33 next week. He still gets interested in one thing and moves on to another without finishing what he started. He has an associate’s degree in auto-body. Right now he is starting a little business with decals and printing with t-shirts, caps and etc. I hope and pray that he will be able to do well with this and make the money he needs to support his small family. He just had a new addition to his family a baby girl. He wants one day to have a shop of his own in auto body, so he doesn’t have to work for anyone but himself. He is very smart and getting the funds to get started is overwhelming sometimes. I enjoy reading these success stories when I do have the time. Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nicole D.
    • May 24, 2017

    Thank you for sharing your story! It’s almost similar to mine (minus the sympathetic academic adviser) haha. Finding the right professionals to help your through your journey is so important! Congratulations on taking that leap of faith and requesting accommodations. I always looked at my ADHD/ extra help as an excuse, but this site taught me that it’s an explanation! Good luck on your continued success 🙂

    • regi allen
    • May 24, 2017

    you rock. you guys are my theropy. living in shame is horrible. that’s how i feel sometime. all i might contriubute to your amazing list…is …

    every moment you have a choice. ask yourself is this what i want to do/feel/experience…or is there another experience that would serve this moment better. i have found that it helps.

    again, i am really happy …and proud you guys are out there. thanks.

    • Kelly
    • May 24, 2017

    Thank you for sharing your story. It was very encouraging and exactly what I needed to hear right now, I am so glad you found the light at the end of the tunnel! Continued good luck and best wishes to you! 🙂

  2. Reply

    Congratulations on your journey forward!!!! It’s NEVER to late to learn and we were designed to make choices! It’s not the falling down that counts – it’s how you pick yourself up and move forward…YOU are doing that!! Congratulations

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