When my son and I were diagnosed with ADHD a few years back, I really struggled to cope. I found myself overwhelmed with personal grief, as well as fearful for Jack’s future.
Once I started to show myself compassion and understanding, I was able to pick up the pieces and day by day things started to get better.
I wrote this as a guest post a few years ago. I’m sharing it again for others who are going through a similar experience. I hope it helps.
I have been struggling with overwhelming grief since finding out my son and I have ADHD. So much so, I have found it difficult to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. I have withdrawn from friends and avoided too much social contact. I have not been motivated to put any effort into my life coaching business, which is now affecting my livelihood. I have even felt the black cloud encroaching above me.
The awareness of how this disorder has negatively affected my life has been devastating. Knowing your brain does not work as it should and your executive functions and working memory are poor really hurts. The realization that ADHD is the reason you have struggled to fit in and communicate well (when this is something you highly value) is distressing. Discovering that people with ADHD often put themselves at risk, are often victims of trauma, have difficulty keeping their life in order, and don’t achieve their full potential is deeply upsetting.
This is complicated by the painful loss that comes from understanding that things could have been different if you had just received the right care and support. (Thank goodness, my son now has everything he needs to navigate this journey successfully in place and is responding positively to the interventions).
Yes, gaining insight that things can be different and that you can slowly develop the skills required to support your challenges is very positive and offers hope for the future (we all need that). However, knowing the journey will be like a person with a tremor trying to learn to be a neuro-surgeon makes it feel all too hard and a bit hopeless.
But I am a fighter. Even the ADHD psychologist I have started seeing has picked up on this. I do not want to stay stuck in this grief no matter how hard the journey is, nor will I let the black cloud take residence. I value myself and my family too much to let that happen.
So today I have decided it is time to move forward and to pick up the pieces no matter how hard. I have decided not to regret that I did not know I had ADHD or that I did not receive the care and support I required. Nor will I regret my past lack of insight, the social mistakes I made, or the behaviors I resorted to in order to deal with the adversity this disorder has contributed to in my life (including my past binge eating, excessive drinking or chain-smoking). And I’m not going to regret any of the ways I self-destructed, put myself at risk, abused my body or caused myself pain.
Instead, I have decided to show myself enormous compassion – for my lost younger “Self” was just doing the best she could with the knowledge, understanding, and awareness she had and didn’t know a better way. Despite being diagnosed as hyperactive as a child, she did not know she had adult ADHD, nor did she receive the care and support offered to young people diagnosed with the disorder these days.
Not only do I forgive her for not knowing, but I also applaud her for recognizing that things could be different when her life was in tatters all those years ago. For being willing and determined to pick up the pieces and turn her life around.
There were so many lessons embedded in those painful experiences and in this current one as well. They are ALL part of the rich tapestry that is my life, which continues to unfold before me as I learn and grow each day. For with each life experience I become stronger, more resilient and more empowered than before.
It’s time to start setting small goals and to put in place strategies to learn to manage and live effectively with ADHD, including the skills that I did not develop naturally as a child. To access all the resources offered to me since this diagnosis, and to ask for help when I need it. To start taking better care of my mind, body, and soul again one step at a time.
If you have come unstuck somewhere on your health and happiness journey I hope you will join me in deciding it is time to move forward and to take care of ourselves again. Even if you can set just one goal this week that you can achieve, it is a start. You are not alone. Slowly but surely, we will get there.
Reposted with permission from the author, Lou Brown, an ADHD coach from Perth in Western Australia. Original source. She “believes we can all thrive, live a positive and fulfilling life, and achieve our dreams. By understanding ADHD and how it shows up in our lives, we can truly accept ourselves and our diagnosis, become our own best friend, embrace our strengths and learn to manage our challenges.”