So This is What 'Normal' Feels Like

After half a lifetime of struggling at home and at work and dreading each new day, I feel as though a new me has been born with my adult ADD diagnosis.

The ADD Experience, Part 2

I can do this!

I actually enjoy being a mother for the first time in 11 years of motherhood. Don't get me wrong: I love my girls and am totally committed to them. But I used to wonder why my daily interactions with them left me so frustrated. By the time they went to bed, I was often near tears.

Life was hard that way for 44 years. When I look at old photos of myself, I'm shocked: I look drained and pinched, even when I was smiling for the camera. I never used to have fun, even on vacations. The simple act of packing for trips used to depress me.

But since I've been treated for ADD", I'm surprised over and over by how easy life can be. It's no big deal to a non-ADDer to help a second-grader read for 15 minutes every night, or to sit through an entire movie without getting up five times to "check on something. But for me, it's a different world, and I love it!

The only thing that bothers me about adult ADD is that so many people — even doctors — still think it's a myth. Years ago, I actually suggested to a doctor that I might have it, but I was told that if I had done well in elementary school, there was no way that I could. I was never hyper or aggressive or disruptive at school, but I cried in my bedroom nearly every night because each tiny decision felt like a giant hurdle. Deciding how to put my hair up could leave me in tears.

Since I've been diagnosed, I have the same responsibilities as before. I'm still a single mom working full-time to support three daughters. I still live paycheck to paycheck, drive my same old station wagon, and, sometimes, I still get frustrated when things don't go my way. The difference is that nothing seems overwhelming anymore. If the car breaks down, I can handle it. Without hysteria. If the money's short, I figure out how to get by. Without breaking down. Things don't have to be black or white any more. I've learned to see and live with gray.

Come to my house for a cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea; I'll know where the cups, spoons, tea bags, and cocoa are. You can sit in a chair that does not have piles of laundry on it, waiting to be put away. You can talk to me and I will listen, instead of chattering non-stop about myself. And while you're talking, I won't jump up to take care of something I forgot to do earlier. Mostly, I'll have fun being with you, which means you'll have fun too.

My life works for me now, instead of me having to work for my life. And that's worth the world to me.


This article comes from the February/March 2005 issue of ADDitude.

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