I lived with undiagnosed ADHD for 34 years. The way my brain works is almost 180 degrees different from people who do not have ADHD. I can drink coffee and sleep. I can take Adderall and be focused and work, while still napping in the afternoon. Friends and family have made little comments like “If I had Adderall, I would be successful too.”
The sentiment was hurtful and I helped myself to isolation from their belief. On the opposite side of that coin, friends and family loved that I had to struggle without medication, as though their opinion was being justified. My Primary’s front desk forget to hand me my prescription for the next 3 months, and I returned to the office 3 times asking if perhaps they were misplaced. I was assured that mistakes like that do not happen, that I was trying to get more drugs for my diagnosis. 2 months passed, and I received a phone call from their office; they had found my prescriptions in a drawer and asked I come pick them up. The pharmacy refused to fill the prescription until she spoke with my Doctor, just in case my ‘new’ prescription was bunk. I have been taking Adderall for two years now, and my friends had noticed my struggle and encouraged me to learn my behavior in lieu of medication. Isolation became endearing.
The motivation of the re-organization of my life came in the form of necessity when our rental was condemned. A new place to live, that wouldn’t come until 8 months had passed, a new job, and a new grandbaby all contributed towards the need to create my personal dream of becoming a writer and editor for a publication. How did I achieve this? I created, backwards, just like I learned to do with ADHD. I deconstructed. I started with asking myself “what do you need to be happy”. I wanted to write.
I wrote my first book and published it and nothing happened. I created a web site and realized it lacked daily traffic. I came into ‘The Book of Edith’ opportunity, and began focusing on Edith’s dream of being a published author. Now I needed a name for a publication company because I was not the author and needed a place to publish and market her dream. I continued to write, but my new job out of home was taking a mental toll. The environment of my job was busy and loud, and I felt helpless and small and overstimulated. I started staying home in shame, and eventually I came to the decision that no matter the love for my clients and co-workers, this environment of overstimulation was not healthy for me. I quit my job and started writing every day. The blog traffic, if updated 3 times per week, would bring in more of a daily market while creating a community. I had quit my community, and I had also realized through my un-medicated months that I cannot talk without passion. The passion drives the focus.
“How are you?” is not conversation, it is a conversation starter, and for a women with ADHD, we look for patterns and connections that lead to a higher awareness. We are problem solvers, aided in our overactive bodies that create friction. The friction can create a spark, and start the fire of productivity. Adderall does not create the spark, the chemical reaction in my brain only allows a calm blanket of focus, in which I do not have to get up and half clean my house while doing a puzzle, cooking dinner, and doing jumping jacks. The drug allows me to take each section of things to do, break them down into a plan, and then act. I do not have excessive energy, but the energy I do have is channeled with medication towards focus. The rest I learned behaviorally.
The months of the lost prescriptions were hard. I struggled to build the website, but I managed to wrangle 5 other writers to share their personal essays, and created prompts for the writers to choose from. Many of the writers had some great prompt ideas, and they were shared with our small group. This was the interior community I had been longing for. I could meet with any of them during a given week, but the author in all of us just wanted to write, email, share, and support each other. I would see their comments on social media, all encouragement, and I was proud. The exterior community of writers and readers was also building, and I still work on being internet social by reading EVERYTHING, adding followers and following their blog pages back. I do not know how to comment, this feels like “How are you” still, and is a goal I practice in focus. When I got my prescription back, I was able to put action to the plan. I edited and scheduled the posts for every other day, doing a week’s work in one 12 hour day. I created 5 personal blog sites for the new writers. When I finished their work, I realized I needed my own page to write from and advertise myself as a writer on my own platform. I created the publication company for others, and needed a place of my own.
I began reading material on marketing, Beta programs for book publishing, how-to articles for resizing photos and creating covers for the books. I read up on community, how to be social with etiquette, and found a pattern. A formula emerged on how to write, and what to write, as though an even deeper focus of the craft was presenting itself. The purpose was to aid others, through personal essays, in solving their own very personal problem. My mantra was to ‘Do good and good will come to you’. This fulfillment was exactly what I had been craving since I was a young animated child. I read material on cold pitches, and realized there was a whole allotment of other publications to write for that looked for new freelance authors. The world, in my brain, became a giant thought bubble of ideas crowding each other in and out of the membrane. This is the beauty of ADHD capabilities; the compartmentalizing of stuff to be sorted into a pattern by an overactive neural synopsis in the brain. I needed to write, but what do I WANT to write? The realization was beautiful in options, but there were so many options that I felt overwhelmed. I chose 5 publications I would want to write for based on their previously written articles. Now I write and submit based on my own formula every week.
Managing ADHD with or without medication is a personal derivative of a life decision. I would have arrived eventually where I am now, but there is a chance I would have done nothing out of sheer frustration from the lack of focus. Where one lies there focus, ones dreams come true, and I am now living my dream.