My fingers were strumming back and forth across the cushion of the faded blue and teal striped couch. It has that short ribbed texture to it that gives just enough feedback to be interesting. It was my third time sitting on the old couch, though “old” may be unfair. It certainly wasn’t new anymore. A few feet across the room from me sat my therapist. We were just wrapping up the Reader’s Digest version of my life, when seemingly out of the blue, she sat down the paperwork, looked up at me and asked:
Has anyone ever talked to you about ADHD?
Do you remember watching “The Sixth Sense”? At that moment I knew exactly how Bruce Willis was feeling as the plot twist was revealed and all of a sudden he had this series of flashbacks as the truth from the present shed light on his past and he realized that in scene after scene he had, in fact, been dead the whole time.
In that moment the highlight reel of my life played back through my head. Having finally been given the correct lens through which to view it, the greatest struggles of my life came into crystal clarity as I finally grasped what had been going on all this time.
It was (and still is) overwhelming.
I immediately knew that my therapist was correct. I knew it because everything else made sense around it. It was like I had been struggling to piece together a puzzle my entire life and someone just handed me the box with the picture on it. And right there, connecting everything, was Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
I have been a teacher since 2006, during which time I have taught many students with ADHD. My older brother and my daughter both have ADHD. I am even the director for a behavior center where over half of the students have ADHD. But I still couldn’t see it in myself until someone else pointed it out.
How could I not have known?
My brother was diagnosed with ADD (now ADHD-Inattentive type) when he was in high school. I would have been in about 6th grade at the time. Of course now we know that ADHD runs in families. But back then I wasn’t tested. Thirty-some years later it only took my therapist about 2 hours to come to the conclusion that I had ADHD. But people I’d known my whole life (including me) had no idea.
I’m still struggling with this knowledge. In some ways, it’s been a relief. So many of my struggles now have a reason behind them. But untreated ADHD can really mess with you, especially when you don’t know it’s there. I’ve lost jobs. I’ve been told I don’t pay attention to serious matters. I forget a lot of things and break a lot of promises. I blow past deadlines. I labeled myself as lazy and sometimes incompetent. At best co-workers could probably have described me as flaky.
My journey is really still at its beginning, but I have already learned so much about ADHD that has helped me. I have connected with many good people with ADHD who like me, were diagnosed as adults. And also like me, they have faced many years of struggles, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and much more, simply for lack of knowing they had ADHD.
I’ve been back to that old couch several times since that day. I still fidget with the ribbed cushion. But now I know why I seek that sensation so much. And the regular conversations with my therapist are now centered on specific tools and supports designed to help folks like me with ADHD.
My life is all the better for every hour I spend on that couch. Whether or not you believe you have any potential diagnosis, if you are struggling with life I urge you to find a good therapist with a comfy couch. I promise you won’t regret it.
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My goal in starting this blog is to help raise awareness of ADHD and to help share resources and insights that I’ve gained along my short journey of discovering ADHD as an adult, so that hopefully others can find out what I did: that there’s a reason life seems harder than it should be, and also that there is help, treatment, and hope, all readily available.
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