My ADHD Story

So, here's my story...

I was diagnosed with ADHD as a child.

It was said that I was a bright child and very smart. That was correct.

I was also disorganised and left tasks to the very last minute which was stressful as a child. I never felt normal inside with my mind always racing.

I don’t recall it ever being properly explained to me, what ADHD is, but then maybe it was, and I just forgot... I wasn't ever popular and had low self-esteem growing up and I stuck to my select few friends, who loved me just as crazy as I was, hanging out and growing up. 

School issues

I left my first school in the 3rd term of Yr 8 and didn’t go back. I completely skipped Yr 9 due to other issues going on, but perhaps I’ll get into that part another time.

I was 15 and moved to a small country town with a District High School catering from Kindy - Yr10 classes, with a total of 10 students in the Yr10 cohort.

My grandmother met with the Principal and was able to get them to enroll me in Yr 10 despite skipping a whole year. I worked so hard. It was the hardest I can remember ever working, playing catch up like there was no tomorrow!

I was always working so hard to focus and stay on track and to do well. I did, for the most part. I was close with my cousin who went to the same school and lucky for me she was in the same year too. I had her there with me, which was perfect because trying to make new friends at a new school is daunting and I’d had to do that many, many times in primary school.

No more meds

So fast forward to my Yr10 camp. I didn’t want to take my meds with me and risk people seeing and asking what I was taking and why. Mum agreed and off to camp I went. I went from being the quiet kid who kept to myself and selected few, to being this bouncing ball of energy always laughing and telling jokes and being silly.

I was my true organic self, craziness and all. Yes, my focus and concentration all went out the door, but I didn’t care because for the first time in my life I felt accepted and like I belonged. My classmates all thought I was amazing and wondered where this version of Angie had been all year long.

We all became quite close, and I told them that I had ADHD and had stopped taking medication. Camp finished and I went home and never took my ADHD meds again.

That was the end of it, I was this new and fun Angie that everybody loved and adored, and it was fabulous!

I thought I knew best. I thought I didn't need meds to help me, I could do this on my own, I was fine.

Another new school but familiar issues

I moved out of my parental home and back to the city life, living with other family members where I attended a large High school.

Normal high schools with hundreds and hundreds of kids.

It was a huge shock to me, and I struggled a lot. It wasn’t long before I dropped out. I had also started smoking pot at that stage too, along with drinking and partying. I got a full-time job at a fast-food restaurant and partied when I could. 

That was my life for a while, until I packed up and moved to Bunbury. I remember staying with my older brother and his housemates for a while before moving in with other family members who then helped me to get a little flat of my own. I was 16 and living on my own, studying to become a Chef at Tafe and working a part time job at another fast-food restaurant.

The struggle is real

The Prac work in my course was awesome, and I rocked it, but the Theory got me stuck.

I struggled a lot with focus in class, I left the assignments all to the last minute and then stressed out trying to finish them and handing them in late.

I eventually dropped out of that too. 

Mum life chose me

I stopped my partying and pot smoking, and I went on to have 2 children in my late teens/early twenties and Mum life became my everything. I doted on my babies and was the best I could be for them and plodded along.

My relationship with my children’s father failed incredibly and that hit me hard and for a very long time.

 

Those familiar issues never go away

Life had always been a struggle for me, low self-esteem, relationship struggles and not being able to stay in one.

When eventually moved on and found someone else, I turned to drugs to help ‘deal with’ my issues.

I didn’t know what ADHD really was and so I just assumed I was broken from my childhood trauma. I remember hearing children ‘grow out of’ ADHD and so it never occurred to me that what I was experiencing was still ADHD.

The drugs helped to numb a lot of things, well that’s what I thought at the time.

My relationship was toxic and when it ended, I was crushed, broken, defeated. I went down a very dark path. I lost my kids to their father, and I attempted suicide.

That was a turning point for me.

Down but not out

I realised I had to get myself together and rebuild my life. It took me a long time, but I did it.

I moved to be closer to my kids and was working a full-time office job, which I loved. I always worked so hard and was so proud of my work but was always so behind on my work and the focus thing never went away.

I would watch my colleagues kicking butt at their jobs, meanwhile there I was still chasing my tail, like always.

I left that job just before having my 3rd child and the Single full time Stay home Mum life was my new jam.

My eldest kids came back to live with me and life was good, on the outside.

 

Adulting is hard work

Adult life for me has been hard. Always chasing my tail. Always so many things I want to do and ideas I want to bring to life, goals I want to reach, courses I tried to complete. But it all just gets too much in my head and I end up exhausted and wanting to hide away.

My neighbour at that time (who is now like a Mum to me) always knew that when the house was closed up and blinds closed that was me having my silent meltdowns which I now know to be disassociating.

She would give me space while checking in that I was ok. 

Those who know me personally know me as the bright and bubbly Angie. That is me, but there's always that anxiety lurking up in my brain wondering if they really like me?
Did I say the wrong thing?
Have I upset them?

Never feeling normal. 

Parenting has been a struggle too if I’m completely honest.

- Not being able to focus enough to help my kids with their homework.
- Reading a sentence repeatedly because I could not understand what the question was asking them to do.
- Getting frustrated with myself and beating myself up because I should be able to do this.
- Maintaining consistency with discipline because I was always distracted with everything else in life and would forget I had grounded them from no TV or whatever the situation. I’ve done this more times than I care to admit.

It runs in the family

I knew my son had inherited my awesome Superpower when he was younger. His Father and I had agreed to not medicate him and that we could help him ourselves.

He struggled through most of Primary school, and it was then that we started the assessment process, and he was diagnosed.

Obviously at the time we thought we were making the best decision for him. But after meeting with his Paediatrician we realised we made the wrong call. 

It was when my son was first diagnosed with ADHD that I actually found out what it was and what happens in adult life when untreated.

The “Ah Ha” moment!

After all these years of struggle and silent battles, I realised I am actually normal, it’s just my brain is wired differently.

Understanding this helped me to connect with my son. Seeing the change in him when medicated made things clearer for me and helped me deal with our conflict.

It’s still a work in progress because teenagers, am I right?!

My youngest child I knew from early on that she had also inherited my cool Superpower. I knew from previous choices that I needed to act quickly with her to give her the best chance at a better education from early on.

She was diagnosed with ADHD and Anxiety with suspected Developmental Coordination Delay and ASD and started medication. This has helped her quite a lot in many ways, but she still struggles.

We have just started the formal ASD assessment process. 

Unveiling the ADHD mask

Then I have my eldest daughter. I never thought for a second as she was growing up that she would also have inherited my Superpower, but I now know that’s because she was good at masking.

When she was halfway through high school, I started seeing some symptoms, mainly that she would procrastinate and leave her homework to the last minute and panic about it.

When I look back now, I remember moments and think well yeah durr Angie of course but at the time I don’t know, I guess I just assumed she had mild ADHD (silly though I know) and would be ok. She’s almost 19 now and is on her diagnosis journey too. 

Going through it together 

It’s been through my 3 children's diagnosis process that has helped me to understand who I am, who they are, and how to best help my babies navigate their way, our way, through it all.

I started medication which has helped me in so many ways. I finally accept myself and love myself for who I am. I embrace ADHD and all that entails.

I am still a work in progress, we all are, but that’s life right?! Always room for improvement and we all support each other with as much love as possible.

Of course there are some not so nice times but like I said teenagers, right?! I am impulsive, we all are and that can be a lot of fun at times. I am now working a part time job that I love with a team that accepts me for me.

I no longer hide from or feel ashamed of ADHD.

Moving forward

I impulsively launched Coastal Glow Candles. Of course without any real knowledge of running a business because hey, I’ll learn as I go.

 

It’s a slow process and a lot of hard work but I am determined to succeed. Sure, I’ll fixate or hyper focus on something so much that all other tasks get pushed to the back-burner for later.

Much like this blog piece I’m writing. I’ve currently got a load in the washing machine that was ready for the dryer hours ago, my wax Melter that’s been on and ready for me to pour candles for the past I don’t know how many hours now, I’m still in my PJs (at 3pm) and my youngest has been snacking on fruit all day because I simply have to finish this.

But that’s ok.

It’s school holidays so I’ve cut myself some slack.

I’ve never written anything like this before and it’s important for me to get this perfect, to share my story, with the aim to spread awareness.  

ADHD Awareness Month

With October being ADHD Awareness month, I really wanted to do something good, something impactful and something to hopefully help others who may or may not be struggling with ADHD. 

I have designed and created a beautiful candle in the hopes to connect with others and spread awareness, with 10% of sales donated to the ADHD Australia and will be available to purchase from my website www.coastalglowcandles.com.au through the entire month of October at $20 each. 

The 170gm Candle has been designed with calmness and tranquillity in mind when selecting the 4 fragrances - French Lavender, Sandalwood, Peppermint Eucalyptus and Frankincense & Myrrh - bringing serenity and balance when burning. 

The colour Orange represents the colour ribbon of ADHD Awareness Month and is also bright and vibrant, two words I use to describe myself and my 3 children. 

For us ADHD is not a disability, it’s our Superpower! 

Angie - Owner/Founder of Coastal Glow Candles

Just Glow with It!