A little about me: I’m an Adult with ADHD. I live in the Poconos of Pennsylvania with my boyfriend, two parrots, two cats, two dogs, three water turtles, a tortoise and an albino rat. Most of our animal babies are either rescues or were inherited from family members. Being surrounded by animals is really good for my mental wellbeing. Caring for them gives me a set routine to build my life around, and they help me a lot with mood regulation and anxiety. Plus they enjoy having a happy home with free food and plenty of friends to play with. You’ll be seeing a lot from them, especially if you follow me or the blog on social media.
This is my Story
I have lived my life as so many things…
The girl who cries too much, The girl who gets too angry, The girl who can’t pay attention or remember ANYTHING ever, The girl who’s always anxious or sad… The list can go on for a while. My whole life I felt like I was off on just about everything. Every year I watched the people around me effortlessly catch on to how life worked, handling every situation with grace and confidence while I was still trying to figure out how to keep up with the mundane everyday tasks of being a young adult without losing my damn mind.
I spent most of my life desperately trying to catch up,
Desperately trying to appear levelheaded like everyone else seemed to be. But no matter how hard I tried I simply couldn’t do life like they did. It was like they had some built-in guidebook that I didn’t have. As much as I tried to deny it, my brain was different than most of the people I knew.
I was diagnosed with ADHD but because of the stigma and assumptions surrounding the disorder, I didn’t understand that it was the reason why mostly everything in my life affected me differently than it affected other people. Things that are normally thought of as easy for most would be extremely difficult for me. That’s how it was for emotions, every day tasks, school work, interacting with others, etc.
Not to mention, an additional diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder was thrown into the mix when I was a teenager. Bipolar and ADHD is quite a combination, and makes “normal life” even harder to pull off.
Needless to say, this took a huge toll on my confidence.
At age 18 I threw myself into a super unhealthy relationship and spent the next five years of my life in a toxic soup of emotional chaos. I gained a ton of weight, and my self confidence took an even deeper nosedive. I ended up experiencing the odd sensation of totally losing myself and beginning to find myself at the same time.
Those five years were the beginning of a long journey for me. From finding the courage to leave my toxic relationship to finding a relationship I felt safe in, to losing my father to cancer and living in poverty as I grieved his death… This journey has been a powerful one.
Through all of this and the seemingly endless feud with my mental health,
A fire was ignited inside of me. I became determined..or maybe I should say OBSESSED with finding balance. Balance within myself, balance in my life… I wanted to feel like I was the one in control of my thoughts and emotions. I wanted to feel like I had meaning, and I wanted something reliable and true to believe in.
This all led to me turning into a self-declared hermit for a while. I spent all of my time pouring over book after book and endless articles on psychology, neuroscience, mindfulness, philosophy… really any material on personal growth I could find, I devoured. Most of my time was spent alone, reflecting and tirelessly picking myself apart bit by bit so I could finally understand just what on earth was wrong with me.
I explored spirituality and expanded on my understanding of the faith I grew up in as well as many others. I tried on several practices and belief systems to see if any of them fit. None of them satisfied the bottomless pit of longing I felt, but I found that each of them had pieces to contribute to an overall puzzle that was coming together piece by piece. So I continued my search, eagerly waiting for the puzzle to form into a coherent picture.
Turns out I was missing the point.
After my time of obsessively pursuing knowledge, I’ve come to feel that obtaining some ultimate level of understanding isn’t the point. At least not for me. Maybe it’s the point for someone else, but for me… I realized knowledge wasn’t actually the thing I was chasing. In truth, all I really wanted was simply to feel okay. I was chasing a feeling of okayness.
I’m sure most people are chasing that feeling at some level, but the intensity of my obsession made it clear that my not-okayness went a little deeper than the average person. My foundation itself, my ADHD/Bipolar brain, was signaling to me that I was not okay at my deepest levels. It was doing that because nearly everything in my world was telling me how to build on a foundation that was fundamentally different than the foundation I was working with.
It was difficult at first to accept that my brain was different. I wanted to believe that I could just discipline myself into being a normal person. That maybe I could be like everyone else if I just tried really, really hard. But no matter what belief system I tried on and no matter what healthy lifestyle change I implemented, my foundation remained the same. So I turned my focus to learning about my brain and how to properly work with it.
And now I find myself here.
All the time I spent learning how to fix myself or somehow level-up hadn’t been for nothing. It taught me many things that I will likely benefit from for the rest of my life. But when I acknowledged and accepted that the brain I was working with was fundamentally different, that’s when things really started to improve for me. I turned my focus to researching mental health, mainly ADHD (later Bipolar as well) and I started separating fact from fiction. All the stigma I’d believed and even preached over the years began to fall away and I finally started to understand myself better.
I learned how to eat properly for my brain, and learned which healthy habits would work best for me. I opened up to the idea of medication. My thinking became a lot clearer. I lost all the weight I had put on after so many years of emotional turbulence. The confidence I gained from that accomplishment allowed me to believe in myself in a way that I don’t think I ever have before. That confidence is what led to me believing that I could start this blog and actually stick to it. And so far I’ve stuck to it longer than anything else I ever started.
I can honestly say I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to be the person I am today.
I never thought it was possible to feel like I had this much control over my mind. I never thought I could look and feel as healthy as I do now. It took a lot of hard work to get here. I got my hands dirty and really put my everything into it. I devoted my entire focus to bettering myself and finding some way to gain whatever control I could over my inner and outer life.
And to be clear, there is absolutely no way I’d say I’ve made it to some magical land of perfect mental health. I’m still in the trenches daily. The only difference now is that I feel more in control and like it doesn’t tear down my entire world when a mood swing hits. Instead of a tsunami, it’s a minor flood. And I can handle a minor flood. It still sucks, but the progress is obvious. It wasn’t that I hadn’t been trying hard enough. I had to accept myself the way I was and learn to work with my brain properly.
I feel like it’s important to share the things I’ve learned with other ADHDers, or really anyone like myself who just wants to feel okay. I know all too well what it’s like to feel like there’s no hope of ever resembling normalcy. I know what it feels like to be drowning in your own existence and feel helpless to change yourself for the better.
When you’re so far down, it can be difficult to know what your first step towards a better life can be. It can be hard to see through all the fog, and especially hard to know what’s true and what isn’t when it comes to things that can help. I’ve made it my mission to help you clear up that fog. I want to share with you what I’ve learned and what I have yet to learn on this journey. I want the progress I’ve made so far to encourage you and show you what’s possible.
If this sounds like a journey you’d like to be on, I’d love to welcome you aboard.
You can sign up for my mailing list below to keep up with new articles and any other helpful tools I think are worth sharing. And I also started a support group on Facebook for Adults with ADHD that I would love for you to join! Here’s an article I wrote about it if you’re interested in learning more. Or if you’d like to jump right in, you can head on over and introduce yourself to the group: ADHD All Growed Up