I have somehow always known I had ADHD. Maybe it was because I took after my brother and my dad (both who have ADD), or because my mom worked with many ADHD kids in her lifetime and just knew it while she was raising me.
Either way, I never had to “come to terms” with the fact that I might have ADHD. I am thankful I grew up in a home where there was never a stigma placed on such things. In fact, I think I had more shame with my behavior and not completing projects BEFORE I had a diagnosis.
While I had always known I had ADHD, it took me a long time to get tested. You see, many people are tested as kids. While in school they exhibit behavior that actually hurts their grades or they get into trouble for being disruptive. Thankfully, school was a breeze for me growing up and I LOVED it. The thing with ADHD is that while there is difficulty in keeping attention, there is NO problem with hyper-focusing on things we enjoy. For me, school was fun. It was social. It was interesting, and therefore I skated through Kindergarten to college without a single teach suggesting to my parents I get tested.
As a kid my “job” was school. After school it was any of my extra-curricular activities, homework, and any chores I might have. The chores were the toughest part for me. They were a bore, so it took my mom a good amount of reminders to get me moving (my bedroom in high school was a strong source of tension–I get it now, Mom! 😜).
My ADHD never really reared its ugly head until I got older and gained more responsibility–aka children. That woman in the picture above had no idea what was coming. I no longer had to only be accountable to myself, but now I had to keep kids organized. There were appointments, chores, homework, sports, etc. I barely kept myself organized, and now I had to be responsible for others. Now, throw in there that I am about 90% sure my oldest has ADHD and we are working with a whole other ball game! If anyone has a great book with some form of title like “Parenting a Child with ADHD while Managing Your Own ADHD” please send it my way!
With each child I had, I noticed my anxiety heightened. This was confusing for me to figure out, but once I did it was life-changing. I don’t know what it looks like for everyone, but I found that if my ADHD wasn’t managed it presented as anxiety. Basically, my brain would become so overwhelmed with trying to prioritize what to do that it would cause anxiety.
Honestly, I have no idea how long I “lived” with my anxiety this way before I finally said “THAT’S IT! I NEED HELP!” I do know that I spent a lot of time feeling edgy. I would be home with kids all day, overwhelmed by the messes, feeling I couldn’t get ahead, and hyper-focusing into any project I had that stimulated my brain. By the time my husband came home I was crabby. This was for many reasons:
- I was annoyed at my kids that they didn’t listen or wouldn’t pick up their messes. The truth is that I didn’t like picking up messes either, and I wouldn’t teach them how. I would snap at them for not doing things I didn’t even want to do as an adult! I realize now that I needed to come alongside them to help and to teach.
- I was frustrated at myself for not staying on top of the laundry or having the house more “put together.” I wouldn’t know where to start, so often I wouldn’t EVER start. I would let things go and let things go and let things go…..
- Last minute I would try to pull together a dinner that wasn’t planned with ingredients I didn’t have (ha-which STILL happens). At this point in the day I was tired, frustrated with my kids, and disappointed in myself.
By the time Paul walked through the door he wasn’t going to win. He had a wife who was edgy and annoyed at everyone. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a complete jerk all the time (right, Paul???). I just found that the days like I described above happened a good number of times, and they are what I regret and feel guilt about the most “pre-ADHD testing.”
So, back to the question: “When did ADHD get in my way?” I would say it has always gotten in my way, but I found ways to cope and manage when I was a kid and even married without kids. I knew it was time to get more help when I was hurting the ones I cared for the most. My ADHD made it hard to complete basic households tasks, which hurt my family, but mostly it was the anxiety from mismanaged ADHD that hurt them the most. I was so overwhelmed with the list of tasks I had to complete that I felt everyone was doing things “to me.” The kids weren’t picking up their toys and I took it personal. My husband had a late work meeting and I took it personal.
It is easy to convince ourselves that we can manage things. It is easy to justify why we feel certain things and why we respond certain ways. It is easy to blame others.
I finally got sick of living this way. I was tired of never getting ahead and taking it out on my family. I knew things could be better and I was the only one that could take control of my mental health.
My best advice is that it doesn’t ever hurt to get help. Getting tested and learning about how my brain works was one of the most empowering decisions I have ever made.
Are things perfect now? Nope.
Are the better? Absolutely.
Am I sometimes still a cranky mom and wife? Not at all 😝 Okay, yes, but not NEAR as often!
Everyone’s story is different. This is mine. Watch to learn more: