I’ve been dreaming bigger lately. I’ve been dreaming about opening up a private practice, running a 10k, learning how to design my own website, and becoming an expert in a field.
It’s not that I didn’t dream before. It’s just that it was very difficult for me to hold onto my dreams and my ideas of self. This is because one of the major effects of ADD/ADHD is a core deficit in working memory. I would never have known that until I did my own research into ADD/ADHD.
In fact, I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 25 years old because I don’t have any of the classic symptoms of ADD/ADHD. I was only mildly hyperactive and had little to no problems with organization. I got good grades and have done ok at work. Rather, as Dr. Thomas E. Brown outlines in his model of ADD/ADHD,
“Yet many with ADD/ADHD suffer not from behavior problems so much as from chronic problems with focusing their attention, organizing their work, sustaining their effort, and utilizing short-term memory.”
In his model, Dr. Brown also outlines six executive function impairments that people with ADD/ADHD struggle with. And in these impairements, I see a picture of myself develop. Everything from emotional impulsivity, to extreme difficulty sustaining focus, and following through on tasks. Life, essentially, was a major headache for me. I felt like a failure and stupid because I would essentially “forget” my goals, important dates, and basic information, to the point that I would feel embarrassed in conversations because I couldn’t recall things I knew I should know, like my grandmothers name (ouch). I always felt like I was just coping and I had no extra energy to think about anything more then getting through my day.
Anyways, enough of the history. I finally got myself diagnosed and started taking Adderall.
Adderall has given me my hope back, my confidence, and given me a future.
I joke with G. that I’m like an iphone 3 that’s been updated to an iphone 5s. (He responds that I’m a person, not an apple product!) With Adderall in my system I’m no longer the person that’s constantly overwhelmed, but the person with dreams, who is making things happen and isn’t afraid to step out of my comfort zone. Some days I barely recognize myself. Who is this girl that’s can go into a grocery store without feeling totally overwhelmed? But most days, it’s just me, a me that’s always been peeking below the surface but didn’t have the chance to truly make a splash because I had such difficulties with focus and memory (including holding onto an idea of myself).
It’s a me that wants a future for myself with a drive and passion.
I realize that, in some strange way, I’ve been given a true blessing. I’m being given the opportunity to start from scratch and truly re-build myself and my life. And while I get frustrated more easily then I used too because I feel so far away from where I want to be, I also recognize that this is the first time I’ve really truly dreamed. And dreams are just ideals we hold, images of ourselves, that motivate us to be better then we are currently.
So, I’m dreaming, and I’m dreaming big, and I’m planning, and reading books, and whether I reach my goals or not matters less to me then working towards them. For,
“No one is wise by birth, for wisdom results from one own’s efforts.”-T Krishnamacharya
As a side note: I know a lot of people are too afraid to try medicine for mental health problems. Many of my closest relationships expressed worry over me trying Adderall–it’s easy to get addicted too, I’d have a different personality, I wouldn’t be me etc… etc.. etc… I’ve had friends suggest that trying a drug means that they’ve failed at their ability to live life because they need a drug to help them! I hope my story inspires people to try medication if they actually need it, and not see themselves as failures for doing so.