"What's the matter with me?" by Brenda

24/08/2023
CADDAC Team

"What’s the matter with me?"

I always felt different. I thought I was weird. I believed I thought differently than other people, and the things others seemed to do easily (like keep their house clean) were things I struggled with. However, there were some things that seemed to come easier to me than to other people.

When I was a little kid, I did not think about these differences so much. However, by the time I was in my 20’s, understanding why I struggled started to be more and more on my mind. I tried my best to fit in, to use strategies for looking after my home, not being late and to get organized, but I was unable to stick to them. What is wrong with me that I cannot follow a simple chore plan?

In university, I learned a lot of different theories to explain behaviour. I always struggled with reading and spelling. “Did I have a learning disability?” I wondered. I grew up in a family where there was alcoholism. Are my struggles the result of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? I wasn’t about to ask my mother about her drinking during pregnancy, but I was pretty sure she likely did. Are the things I struggle with a result of a childhood with family disorganization and chaos, due to childhood trauma? Were these patterns because of an emotionally abusive relationship? So many theories and any of them – or all of them – were true to a certain point. Any of these could explain some of the struggles I had, however none of them felt like the right match.

As I got older, I experienced more anxiety and depression at different times. Was this the underlying cause of the emotional roller coaster that I am often riding? I really believed that anxiety and depression were more situational and at my core I was still a very happy-go-lucky person. I struggled with feeling like I did not fit in, afraid of rejection, feeling like a fraud…I had all sorts of ideas, plans and dreams, but could never seem to put them into action. “What’s the matter with me?” I would often ask myself. Why can’t I just get it together?

Then in February 2022, I attended a presentation at the family health team where I was working. The presentation was by a psychiatrist and was about diagnosing ADHD in primary care. Like many people, when I thought about ADHD, I pictured that 10-year-old boy that can’t sit still and is always getting into trouble. I had many clients/patients who had ADHD and I knew that influenced their lives, however I did not understand exactly how much, or in what ways. I did not address the ADHD or talk about it in any real way with clients/patients.  I attended the presentation with an open mind looking for information that would help me to help my clients/patients. Instead, what I heard in the presentation was the psychiatrist describing me! What! She talked about how ADHD presents in girls and women, about inattentive ADHD and the role of hormones. I cannot describe the feeling I had by the end of the presentation, but I wanted desperately to learn more about ADHD.

I spent a lot of time over the next month or so reading about ADHD online and the more I read, the more excited I felt. I always thought that I had “some” ADHD, “some” traits or behaviors, but I was not ‘hyper’! It was shocking, revealing and affirming at the same time as I read about things that others with ADHD do, that I thought I was the only one who did them. The more I learned, the more I saw myself, it felt like it fit. I felt like I had found “my people”! I talked to my family doctor, and she was supportive and then, in Aug 2022, I was formally diagnosed with ADHD inattentive type. In the blink of an eye my whole life made sense!

Today, I understand myself and accept myself more than I ever have in my entire life. Today, I know that I am not weird, stupid, or lazy, that my brain is simply different and that is ok with me. Today, I have a passion to learn everything I can about ADHD and to share it wherever I can.

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