Updated: Dec 27, 2021
I'm going to take you on a journey back to 1984, where my Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) story begins. I was a rambunctious girl with a vivid imagination and wanted to share my thoughts with anyone that would listen. If I weren't talking, you would often see me staring off into space, maladaptive daydreaming. I was always dreaming...
My eagerness to share my stories and electric energy often landed me next to the teacher's desk or in a timeout. I was no stranger to getting notes sent home to my parents. In fact, getting notes was expected. But, along with these behavioral issues, there were also signs that something wasn't quite right with my learning. My teachers and parents noticed that I wasn't at the grade level that I should've been compared to the other kids and started noticing my struggles with basic listening skills and following written and verbal instructions. I had problems with reading comprehension, inattentiveness, hyperactivity, and understanding basic instructions/directions.
I was constantly getting notes sent home stating that I was "inattentive," "disruptive," "daydreams too much," "talks too much," "She's failing," and my favorite is "She needs a lot of extra help." I'm happy that my mom kept these notes and old reports cards because now I can reflect on where it started and how far I've come (some notes are provided below).
Phrases that I've heard so often will forever swirl in my head - "just try harder," "stop being lazy," "you're not applying yourself," "why can't you just buckle down and do better?" The list goes on, but I won't bore you with those details.
Once you hear these phrases enough, it isn't easy to forget. However, looking back, I realize this is what fueled my determination and motivation not to give up.
Because I was falling behind in school, mixed with my disruptive behavior, my teachers and parents decided that I would need to be placed into Special Education (SPED) classes specifically for reading and math. My teachers also recommended that I get tutored after school. I was in SPED classes from second grade through high school, but this didn't stop me from living a "normal" life. I could go to a regular public school; I just had to go to a different building for my classes. I was active in the school band from 5th grade to graduation, was a cheerleader, and participated in school clubs. One important note is that I couldn't participate in cheerleading in the 7th grade because of my grades. You had to maintain a "C average" to participate in sports and cheerleading. Thankfully, no one treated me differently because of my "special" classes, and I'm forever grateful for that. However, their kindness didn't stop me from "feeling" like I was different. I wanted to learn like everyone else, but it just wasn't in the cards for me.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school - At the beginning of my senior year, I wasn't even thinking about college. If I struggled this much in school, I thought there was no way I'd get into college or even make it through the classes. But something clicked the closer I got to graduation. I looked myself in the mirror and said, "you are going to college and are going to do great things." I was scared because I had never taken algebra and read an entire book. How in the world would I make it through college?? I applied to college and GOT ACCEPTED! I spoke to my advisor, who was aware of my disorder, and she gladly helped me navigate the application process.
I knew going in that I would be way behind and need to take elementary classes and get tutored. That didn't stop me! The college accommodated me with taking tests in a quiet room and gave me extra time. I started taking ADHD medication, which I've been on for 20+ years now. Through determination, medication, tutoring, and accommodations - I graduated with my Bachelor of Science Degree!
I thought, "Why stop now?"
I kept telling myself, "show them who you are." so I decided to obtain a Master of Public Health degree, which I graduated at the top of my class with a 4.0 GPA.
I took a break after completing my Master's and thought, "I want to be a doctor." So, that's what I did!! I got accepted into a Doctoral program and completed the program with honors, graduating with a Doctor of Health Sciences degree. Accomplishing my educational goals was not easy and took a long time. I made a promise to myself not to let this disorder defeat my dreams - and it didn't! Special Education classes saved me. Honestly, if it weren't for those classes, I wouldn't be who I am today.
This disorder affects more than just learning. It has impacted every area of my life. I will use this blog to tell my story and provide education and resources that have helped me along the way.
Everyone's journey is different, and bringing awareness to something with a negative stigma is important. I hope my story helps others (even if it's just one person).
What's coming up next?
Now that you are getting to know me a little better, in the upcoming discussions, I will start to dive into the challenges with living with ADHD as an adult and share helpful resources and tips that have helped to manage my ADHD symptoms.
I hope you continue on this journey with me and learn something new along the way!
Feel free to leave a comment, and THANK YOU for joining my journey!