It took a global pandemic for me to realize how dependent I am on a carefully crafted routine. After several weeks of struggling with self-isolation, I learned — at age 34 — that I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
When COVID-19 hit Saskatchewan and the province shut down, I was no longer getting ready for work every day. I didn’t have to get the kids out the door for school or drive them from rink to rink on weekends. My calendar was empty, and I have never been great at not being busy. I felt lost.
I tried a few of the activities I had seen others enjoying on social media. I sat down to do a puzzle and couldn’t believe anybody would ever do that for fun. I tried to bake a loaf of bread only to put it in the oven, answer a phone call and forget about it.
I was, to put it mildly, terrible at self-isolation. I was irritable and frustrated. I was constantly forgetting simple tasks. I realized I had no idea how to relax.
The traits I consider to be my biggest flaws were spiralling to a point that I felt they were no longer manageable. As I was going through the motions thinking something must be “wrong” with me, a friend posted an article on adult ADHD and every word jumped out at me.
I set up an appointment with my doctor, who referred me to a psychologist. He began the appointment by asking me a series of questions:
Q: How many speeding tickets or parking tickets have you received this year?
A: At least seven or eight.
Q: Do you lose important things like debit or credit cards?
A: I’m on my seventeenth debit card.
Q: How are you with numbers and finances?
A: I married an accountant for a reason.
Q: How many water bottles would I find in your vehicle if I went out and looked?
A: No fewer than six.
To me, these answers were completely normal. But as the questions went on, it was becoming apparent there may be a good reason why I am the way I am. The little things that made my days increasingly difficult weren’t actually challenges everyone had. After two sessions, I was officially diagnosed with ADHD.
I had spent most of my life joking that I was “a bit of a loose cannon” or “very type B.” Growing up, I was the fast-talking, down for anything, life of the party. I was impulsive (often to a fault) and time management was something I had decided I was just not born with. I was decent in school and excelled at things I enjoyed. In the classes that I was disinterested in, I would talk so much that my desk was rarely in the same spot two days in a row.
Looking back, the signs were there, but as far as I knew, ADHD was a condition that causes young children to bounce off the walls and not anything a teenage girl needed to worry about.
Having ADHD is not all restlessness and disorganization. I feel some of my best qualities stem from it. I pride myself on my outgoing personality, my sense of humour, my compassion and creativity. I am a terrific problem solver and have always been an outside-the-box thinker. I have an outstanding ability to multitask and I’m high energy. While I may have a hard time diving into projects I consider to be unimportant, I am able to hyper focus and produce excellent results with matters I feel strongly about.
My psychologist recommended a prescription for me or offered to provide me with some alternate solutions to help manage my ADHD symptoms. In my case, I felt medication was the best option.
Starting an effective treatment for ADHD has been nothing short of life-changing. I no longer struggle to complete mundane tasks and I’m able to focus like I never have before. The background noises that bothered me every day have been “turned off.” I find it much easier to sit and relax. I’m a better, more patient mother and kinder to myself. I have a much better understanding of who I am.
I’m writing this because I think there are so many women out there experiencing the same thing. We often have a huge workload and just chalk our disorganization up to being busy and overwhelmed.
I have learned to embrace a life with ADHD. I am not ashamed of it and speak openly and honestly about having it. I hope my story can help others to understand themselves better and feel good about who they are.
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