National AD/HD Awareness Essays
I lived with my add symptoms for my entire life, thinking that I was probably mentally ill as there seemed to be no other explanation. When I was diagnosed, at the age of 43, I was already aware of ADD because my son was diagnosed with it at age 5. The diagnosis saved my life. I now knew that I wasn’t mentally ill, that there was a reason for the things I did and felt, and that there was something I could do about it. I started a support group for parents of ADD children and began to educate myself on all aspects of the disorder. As I learned more, my self-esteem grew and I felt empowered to move forward in helping others by starting a second group for adults with ADD, editing the first newsletter on adult ADD issues, and participating on the founding board of ADDA. I can’t even begin to tell you the rewards I have reaped in this process and have been successful at doing things I never thought were possible.
Mary Jane Johnson
I am in my 50’s. I spent my first 30 years wondering what was wrong with me. I quietly faked my "fade-out” times in school, thankfully being bright enough to cover fairly easily. But, I always felt on the brink of disaster. I felt dishonest and somehow damaged. When I was in my 30’s, my child was diagnosed with ADD, and the world changed for all of us!
Back in those days, education about ADD was minimal, but at least this struggle had a name, and a set of symptoms, all of which we BOTH had. I was relieved to know that my "damage” wasn’t unique to me…that others were quietly experiencing the same shame and need for "cover-up.” I was elated that work was being done to learn more about how to handle and manage ADD so that both my child and I could reach our maximum capacities in life.
Today, there is so much information, and with that…comes power. We now have the power to overcome barriers and use our talents as best we can. Nobody needs to feel shamed, or fake, or damaged again. What a gift that is! Thank you to those who continue to unlock doors!
Eleven years ago, my life changed dramatically. I found the reason for my procrastination, disorganization, lack of follow through and hypersensitivities. It was the day I was evaluated by a psychologist who explained to me that I had AD/HD. From that day on, it became my mission to learn as much about AD/HD as possible. Not just for me, but to also help my daughter, who also has AD/HD.
I began reading, starting with Lynn Weiss' book on adult ADD, then on to Sari Solden's "Women with Attention Deficit Disorder", then plowing through just about everything else written on the topic.
It wasn't until I attended my first ADDA conference, not long after my diagnosis, that my life truly changed. For the first time in my life, I was among hundreds and hundreds of others who were just like me. There was no embarrassment about forgetting names (and faces!), bumping into furniture, losing room keys, etc. I was finally home.
My journey into learning about my AD/HD has had such a huge impact on me, that I have chosen to use what I've learned to help others. By getting the right treatment over the years, I've been able to channel my strengths and gifts by helping others learn about *their* AD/HD.
My shadow side, the part of myself hated, denied and hidden away from others is on every page. Tears flow as I know their stories and live their lives. These men, women and children belong to a distant galaxy; a planet I call home.
According to William Butler Yeats, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” For me, education is an eternal flame, illuminating my way with a clear vision of the road to empowerment.
As I choose to take this road, I walk forward with courage and determination. For the first time ever, I am independent and feel competent to own my choices. My husband has carried me for sixteen years, supporting me now and always. Now, I tell him, "Thank you for carrying me,” and I stand on my own two feet. As I take his hand we travel down this road together. I’m not entirely sure where this road is leading. What I do know, is that I feel whole and secure: I feel loved.