The author of this life story chose to be anonymous and we respect this decision. Her story is such a relevant one… it emphasizes the importance of ‘simple conversations’. These conversations not only enhance communication in a family but also contribute to breaking the stigma around ADHD, adult ADHD and other challenges. We commend her bravery in sharing her journey thus far and her enthusiasm to support other families facing similar challenges.
There are probably a million different stories of a family – each with individual challenges – Adult ADHD/ Autism/ Anxiety/ OCD and PTSD. Had we openly spoken earlier in our marriage about our challenges of Post Traumatic Stress and ADHD – we probably would of not experienced having lived in such a dysfunctional state with our emotions, frustrations and insecurities.
We have been married for 32 years and much of our first 27 years of marriage – we spent exhausting ourselves (with simply just not understanding our own sensitivities and challenges) – as we never got to the root cause of our discussions.
Approximately 5 years ago I came to a crossroads and needed to sort out our problems (as I was experiencing burnout and anxiety). We attended marriage counselling sessions together, and separately also went to our own therapists for intervention. We have only started this year to open up and talk about our family being on the adult ADHD spectrum and also being supportive of my PTSD. I believe the subject was never tackled because of the stigma attached to having ADHD. Now that our family has realized that there are so many other families – faced with the same challenges – the stigma has diminished. During these years of struggle – we walked and tapped into our faith – which strengthen us – and gave us hope in this difficult season and it also helped us not to give up on our marriage.
The most challenging area for me all the years has been – the ignorance and lack of understanding from society. The length of time it took me to find the right approach and therapies – had its toll on me which resulted in burnout – and now I do not want to have any excess stress placed on me. Having experienced the lack of support with my own journey – I decided to start an ADHASA ADHD support group – with the goal that persons should not walk this journey alone. Through this support group and years of perseverance – a lot of our own struggles have been overcome. I am now a passionate advocate to help my own family and other families cope better with their ADHD struggles – and to get the support as soon as possible. My main aim is to educate the broader community and support the individuals on the spectrum. I am also passionate in educating on ‘Preventative Mental Health Care for Stress Overload and Burnout’.
When we start to talk about our life stories, everything starts to shift and change – as everything now is in the open – which frees us from carrying this burden alone. I hope by sharing my own life story – it will enable others and show them how ‘simple conversations’ – can change the direction of an entire life – and that the walls of judgement and prejudice around these issues begin to fall. TALKING is key.
In retrospect, I see my mess-ups for what they were. Not intrinsic, horrible failings. It took me a lifetime to help myself and my family – and now I am so determined to help break the stigma and help other families on a similar journey to ours. I have a new found respect for individuals who are too scared to open up and talk freely about their challenges.