TW: Self harm, suicide attempts, drug use
Today I live an interesting and wholesome life. I’m probably not as “far along the path” as I should be, due to the “fall out” from a life of ADHD. But my mood is generally good, I can focus for long periods of time, and I have found ways to persist with the “boring stuff.” Part of my recovery was in finding a career path that I am passionate about and which brings me a deep sense of purpose.
I work today as what I call “The Hypnosis for ADHD Specialist,” helping other people recover and even master their ADHD. But it wasn’t always that way. Permit me to take you on a tour to the hellish underworld of my own Dante’s inferno.
“First, before I tell of the good,
I must tell of the other things I saw.”
I was always an “oddball” growing up. I didn’t seem to fit in with the other kids. On the playground I would prefer my own company, or the company of adults to fellow children. And from the age of 7, it was clear that something was wrong. I would only do one thing at school: draw killer whales on the blackboard. If I was asked to do anything else, I would throw a tantrum and destroy the classroom but forget what happened.
It was only in later years that I came to understand that when you go into a blind rage, your “fight or flight” (reptilian) brain takes over, and your memory for details becomes a bit foggy! On the other hand, I was very bright, but school reports typically said, “Jamie has a lot of potential, but is distracting and distractible.”
I also struggled throughout my school career with bullying, and was moved schools. But as they say “better the devil you know than the one you don’t.” Because the bullying at the new school was worse.
I had a psychological assessment at 12, which reported that I appeared depressed, and that I needed to be moved into higher classes due to good intelligence and a need for more mental stimulation. There were some positive outcomes to this, e.g. I had worked hard to get out from the bottom maths class and they moved me up, and for the first time I was in a quiet classroom where I could focus easily.
But that didn’t last long. I was moved schools due to the bullying, not just by older students but also teachers, including the one who I confided in who told me “Bullying doesn’t happen in this school.” When I moved schools again, for some reason they put me back in a low class and I gave up all hope. Maths became my worst nightmare.
It wasn’t long after, suffering from childhood depression and undiagnosed ADHD, that I attempted to take my own life, by hanging myself. Not once, but twice. The first time I did it as a “cry for help” in front of a friend who got me down; the other time on my own, and miraculously I was able to swing my legs back and grab hold of the trunk behind me to hold on to and then release the rope. Children with ADHD are much more likely to attempt suicide, and males are much more likely to physically act on it. Luckily, I survived.
ADHD In-Between (Purgatory)
In 2004, at the age of 24, I realised that my life was falling apart. I wasn’t able to hold down a job and be on time. After coming across the book, “Driven to Distraction,” my life changed forever as I sought a diagnosis.
The psychiatrist diagnosed me with ADHD, and despite not wanting to take medication, that was all that appeared available for treatment options. So I took the 5mg of Ritalin in the morning, thinking to myself, “beggars can’t be choosers.” Despite such a small dose, I had a lot of side effects, including dehydration, dark eyes, Tourette’s syndrome, and I also fainted at one point.
My psychiatrist recommended a second daily dose to counter the “rebound effect” (which is the negative state of mind that ensues after the medication wears off) but I decided enough was enough and stopped my medication.
During this time I had also become homeless and was incredibly depressed again, making yet another suicide attempt at the Salvation Army where I was staying. This time I threw myself at a fourth story window, but luckily the staff had broken in to my room fast enough to stop me falling through. I got away with just cuts and bruises. They say it’s better to know you have ADHD than not know. I’d agree. But it was still painful.
ADHD Heaven – Well, almost!
So I had stopped my medication but in all honesty didn’t have a better plan. As luck would have it, my diagnosis of ADHD and depression meant that I was offered a flat by the council shortly after that last incident. I lived alone for a few years, out of work, on disability benefits. I became addicted to socialising with the wrong people, and addicted to drugs which seemed to numb the pain of an “overactive” mind.
But then, in 2006, I went to a Mind, Body, Spirit event and met someone very special, Sara Bailey. She was one of those people that you feel instantly at ease with, like you’d known them forever. She became my best friend, and to be honest I’d never had one of those before. She was also a trained Master of Hypnotherapy and NLP. Due to my own interest in this area, I asked to learn. She taught me how to hypnotise and coached me to become more positive.
By 2008 I decided to volunteer with autistic/ADHD children, with the view to start a new career, moving from my old work in sales to care work. I volunteered for two years, and then went back to work. All this was possible with Sara’s help. When the going got tough, I’d remember the words she quoted from Tony Robbins: “Change happens when the fear of staying the same outweighs the fear of change.”
Despite my fears of changing, the fear of being stuck where I was eventually became unbearable. Sara got me to focus on what I wanted and what truly switched me on. What gave me purpose and passion? It started with helping those autistic and ADHD kiddos. Then in 2011, I had my big breakthrough. After two and a half months of daily meditation and taking up weight training for the first time in my life, I overcame my depression and my ADHD symptoms began to improve.
Not only did I go back to work, but I was also taken off disability benefits and was considered in remission and fit for work. I retrained in the same year as a Solution Focused Clinical Hypnotherapist, and began to help other people. I began to live the dream that Sara had re-awoken in me that I had given up on: to help other people find their purpose and passion in life.
It still isn’t easy, but I have progressed from then to work for a decade as a support worker for children with learning disabilities, and also specialise as an ADHD hypnotherapist and coach. Whilst the lifestyle changes like diet, exercise, meditation, as well as learning about my uniquely wired brain and how it works, made a big difference, it was finding my niche as a specialist in ADHD Hypnotherapy that became my “ADHD dynamite.”
Today, I still have ADHD, but I don’t let it hold me back anymore. I’ve found my dynamite, and I’m capitalising on it. I hope you, too, with the right support and information, will find your way through the jungle of ADHD.
ADHD Voices is a series dedicated to sharing the stories of folks like you and me who have ADHD. Posts in the series are written by guest authors, sharing windows into their lives and struggles, written by them, for you and me. If you’d like to share your story, please contact me on social media or through my email, ADHDsurprise @ gmail.com