health

'I was diagnosed with ADHD at 37. It gave me a complete identity crisis.'

Overwhelmed. Scattered. Heavy. On edge.

Feeling like your chest is going to explode or maybe it’s your head, or both? Have you ever felt that way?

Have you ever felt like you are on the verge of losing control of your body and your mind? Like you’re about to lose consciousness because you just can’t take it anymore?  

Meet Mamamia's membership option, MPlus. Extra, Closer. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

But then someone speaking makes you snap back into your body. You need to continue having that normal conversation you were just having with a school mum.

You pull your sh*t back together and remember that you can’t lose consciousness, because you’ve got to put on your happy face for when your children walk out of that classroom door, so excited to see you and tell you all about their day.  

You’ve got to try to stay focused so you can drive home, make dinner...

A million thoughts and questions are running through your mind.

I wonder how Steph went today? I should message her...

I need to remind the kids to do their homework. 

What time does that new TV show start again?

Oh crap! It’s the bake sale tomorrow, I need to bake!

Don't forget to wash the dishes!

Is that shelf properly secured? What if it falls on the kids?

I don't have time to take one of the kids to the hospital tonight. I need to bake!

It’s exhausting, but you push through, because that’s what you do. It’s the only way you know how to live your life. Even though you regularly ponder, "Is it really meant to be this excruciatingly difficult?"

If you feel like this almost every second of every day, then it is very possible that you have ADHD. And that you have had it for your entire life. That you’ve just learnt coping mechanisms to get through. That you thought this was how everyone lived their life. That life really was just THIS BLOODY HARD.  

ADVERTISEMENT

I was online, searching for reasons why my seven-year-old was struggling at school, when I came to the realisation that I, along with my son, had ADHD. 

Life for me was really difficult. I was struggling to get through each day. Who am I kidding? I was struggling by 8am each day!

I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t in control. I was a shell of myself. I was drowning.

Having three kids under seven is never going to be a walk in the park, but feeling so overwhelmed that you want to scream by 8am isn’t normal.  

Forgetting everything from where I put my car keys to the name of those red, round thing that grows on trees, isn't normal.   

Feeling like you have no control over your thoughts, feelings, your actions or your words, isn't normal.

These were all the things that were happening to me, and I was getting seriously worried that I had some horrible disease that was eating away at my brain and body.

Listen to The Quicky, Mamamia's daily news podcast. Post continues below. 


I didn’t know much about ADHD, so I did some research. I found a list of questions, specifically directed at women with the condition.

Is time, paper or 'stuff' dominating your life? Tick.

Are you spending most of your time catching up, looking for things, or covering up? Tick.

Do you either feel like you’re a couch potato or a tornado? Tick.

Do you often feel your life is out of control and it’s impossible to meet demands? Tick.

Do you ever despair of never meeting your full potential or fulfilling your goals? Tick.

And the list went on. I didn’t know what to do with myself.  

I then discovered an article about ADHD and it was as if the author had written about my life. 

I cried and couldn't stop. She was describing me. She was telling me about MY life. It was like all the puzzle pieces were falling into place. 

But I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Why was I crying uncontrollably? Was it relief? Was it shock? Was it clarity? Was it resentment? 

It was like realising everything I knew, or thought I knew, was a Iie.

ADVERTISEMENT

Who was I? Was I still me? Were my quirks a part of me or were they my ADHD? Was I broken? Could I be fixed? And if I was fixed and put back together, would I still be me?  

I honestly lost all sense of self. 

I started to feel depressed. Because I really wasn’t sure who I was anymore.  

I started to think back to my past, my childhood and started connecting some of the dots.  

I thought back to points in my life when I was disappointed with the outcome of something that I had put so much work into, and had been unable to work out why I'd failed. 

Was it because of the ADHD?

I started to feel resentful that this had not been picked up sooner.

I felt grief for what my life could have been. I felt ripped off. I felt anger. I felt pain. And then I really didn’t know what I felt anymore. It was too hard. I was so tired.

Fast forward a year, and I’ve reclaimed who I am.  

I’ve processed, I’ve talked, I’ve made changes, I’ve been diagnosed and I’ve started medication.

And while I’m only two months into being medicated, it really has been the right decision for me.

It’s made me so much calmer. The chatter in my head is quiet. I no longer want to scream by 8am every morning. 

I feel like I am getting some long overdue clarity on what my life should be like.  

While medication doesn’t 'cure' ADHD, it helps to manage the symptoms along with diet, exercise, self-care and recognising when you need to ask for help with the areas of your life that you struggle with.

Thinking back to how I felt before I learned of my ADHD, I feel this unbelievable despair at how lost and alone that version of myself felt, and I just want to hold her and tell her that everything will be okay.

Because everything is okay. I’ve fallen back in love with who I am, and am no longer scared to show her to the world.  

And for the first time, maybe in my whole life, I feel like I’ve opened the door to endless hope and possibilities.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Supplied.