The World Was Waiting for Me: Life After My ADHD Diagnosis

A midlife woman's incredible quest to unlock and enjoy the ADHD music inside.

Linda Roggli: Late Adulthood Diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder

The journey starts with your life today: Does it fit you? Can you adjust it? Should you change it?

Linda Roggli, diagnosed with ADHD at age 45
   
 

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It was 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night, and, as usual, I was working late. The caffeine jolt from my super-sized iced tea had worn off; I was exhausted and resentful that, once again, I had waited until the last minute to finish important projects.

As I forced myself back to spreadsheets and payroll taxes, I caught a glimpse of the mahogany plaque on the wall: “Linda Roggli—Small-Business Person of the Year.”

Successful But Scattered

If they only knew the truth: I was drowning in paperwork, uneasy about managing employees, and barely keeping my head above water financially. I lived a double life: confident businesswoman in public, but a frazzled, sure-to-fail woman inside.

When I’d launched my advertising agency, I thought it would be the venture that fulfilled me, that I’d finally found my life’s purpose. But nine years later, I was back in the same rut: bored, trapped, and embarrassed at having made yet another poor choice. Surely, there is more to life than this.

The Aha! Moment

I’d spent years searching for answers to life’s big questions: Who am I? Why am I here? I’d read hundreds of self-help books, talked to counselors, consulted with psychics, attended personal-growth retreats. In the end, my big clue arrived via an insightful marriage counselor: a diagnosis of ADHD.

I fought it like a tiger. "Me?" I wasn't a little boy who couldn't sit still! I was a 45-year-old woman! I’d graduated from college! I had my own business! I could not have attention deficit disorder.

Making Sense of Symptoms

But the more I learned about ADHD, the more my life made sense. All that caffeine-laced iced tea? A pseudo-stimulant to wake up my ADHD brain. The deadline-driven career? My brain’s unrecognized need to get things done. My double life? A valiant attempt to hide my symptoms.

I began to unmask my ADHD. I read more books (OK, I only read half of each, but I swear I’ll finish them all some day!), started an adult ADHD support group, and attended a national conference for ADHD adults.

I was stunned to find other women and men who, like me, procrastinated, and showed up late for appointments. I was stunned to find that those same women welcomed me—without judgment—as a friend.

On my return home, it became clear that, while I loved the fast tempo of my ad agency, the management of it was a terrible fit for my whirlwind brain. I gave myself permission to do what was best for me. I closed my office, and went home to regroup.

I wanted to create a life that would embrace my spontaneity, curiosity, passion, and creativity. I was impatient to get started; I was almost 50—time was running out. I didn’t want to die with my music locked inside me.

Answering the ADHD

Several months later, I participated in a goal-setting seminar. I was bored with the details, of course, and was eager to slip out of the lecture. But I sat and asked myself again: “What am I supposed to do with my life?” Then, an epiphany. Four words echoed in my mind: “women’s spiritual garden retreat.” This was my music!

My self-help books taught me that the best way to achieve a dream was to envision it. So I daydreamed about a retreat: the land, secret gardens, fountains, even the bed linens.

My ADHD got me rushing around, investigating possibilities, making impulsive decisions, but the dream would not be hurried. I had prep work to do. I signed up for a course in retreat facilitation; the next year, I trained to be an ADHD coach. And, in 2006, my husband and I made an offer on the property that would become GardenSpirit Guesthouse.

If I Can Do It...

Today, GardenSpirit embodies my dreams and my invitation to other ADHD women to release their sweet music into the world. If I can do it — at age 50, with a raging case of ADHD — you can, too.

The journey starts with your life today: Does it fit you? Can you adjust it? Should you change it? Breathe, quiet your mind (!), and listen for the answers—your answers. As they come, hear them with ADHD ears, crafting a dream that fits your brain.

Go for it. The world awaits you.


This article comes from the Summer 2009 issue of ADDitude.

To read this issue of ADDitude in full, buy the back issue.


 

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