My Daughter, Me, and ADHD


                                On Thursday I was diagnosed with ADHD.

SAUSALITO, CA (ASRN.ORG) – I am 39 years old.

It never occurred that there was anything out of the ordinary about me, until someone suggested my seventeen year old daughter may have ADHD. My beautiful, creative, smart daughter. The one who has struggled with grades for years, but has the most brilliant mind of anyone I've ever met, who has already given up on college and her desire to become a psychologist because she knows she can't even handle high school.

As I started doing research, and then witnessed the diagnosis of my daughter by our amazing doctor, I realized why her forgetfulness, lack of focus, anxiety, raging PMS and short temper never seemed out of sorts to me. Because to me it was all completely normal. That's me. That's how I've lived for years. 

I thought I was just quirky.  

After returning to the doctor for my own appointment, my suspicions were confirmed. She told me that, like many adults who have gone undiagnosed since childhood, I have done a remarkable job at coping. I learned early on as a mother to not volunteer for large projects at my children's school because I may forget I volunteered. I learned to set up automatic bill pay and direct deposit (once I got banking privileges back--I couldn't have a checking account for several years because my tendency toward overdrafts got me put on a "list"). I learned to sign on to my bank's online web site daily to remind myself of my financial situation.

Since I have no patience for extensive house cleaning, I rarely have guests. My husband decorates our house -- I've never had patience or drive to do that on my own. And I really don't notice decor anyway. My purse, my closets, my drawers, my desk at work: all a mess, sure, but a mess I knew how to work with. My anxiety, depression and PMDD are fairly well controlled with daily doses of Zoloft. My frustrations with my husband when he tried to remind me of things, help me organize, suggest I may be a little quick to fly off the handle? Well, those were his fault.

I have managed to create a successful career for myself as a copywriter at a marketing agency. That's because I learned that I can get writing done best in the morning, after coffee. I never write anything important in the afternoon, because I just can't. That's when I do little things, like fix all the errors that proofreading always finds in my work. Mind you, all this is done between several trips to the bathroom, water cooler and coffee pot.

And I knew this was all a struggle. But it's been that way my whole life. And isn't life a struggle for everybody? 

Not this kind of struggle, apparently.

My daughter and I both decided to try taking Adderall. I think that once we found out what the deal is, we were both ready for some instant relief. And we got it.  Thursday, my daughter's first day with the medicine, she aced a math quiz and excitedly call me to say how engaged she was in chemistry class. "I even raised my hand and asked a bunch of questions, Mom!" Her counselor was thrilled to let us know that she now qualifies for "stipulations", which means she can have extra time for homework and tests, and do her work in quiet places outside the classroom. And this morning I got a text from her from her "Saturday School" session she has been attending (to get tutoring from teachers at school): she found a college with a psychology curriculum that she can do all online, so she doesn't have to sit through hours of lecture. And she meets the admission requirements. She had even already done an online chat session with an admissions counselor, explained her ADHD, and was assured that they are experienced in accommodating students like her. As she texted, both she and her counselor were jumping for joy. I cried a little, looked up the school and realized that she really had found something perfect for her. She texted, "AHHHHH! Never been this exited about college before! I have to pee I'm so exited!" (Yes, she always leaves the "c" out of excited. She's got ADHD. Cut her some slack).

My first day at work on Adderall consisted of me making the most comprehensive to-do list ever, then systematically tackling the giant pile of work I've been putting off all week. I even easily wrote something around 3:00 in the afternoon -- something that has had me stymied for weeks.

So we're focusing on the joy of it all. Now that we can stay focused.

Copyright 2011- American Society of Registered Nurses (ASRN.ORG)-All Rights Reserved  


Articles in this issue:


  • Masthead

    Editor-in Chief:
    Kirsten Nicole

    Editorial Staff:
    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Robyn Bowman
    Kimberly McNabb
    Lisa Gordon
    Stephanie Robinson

    Kirsten Nicole
    Stan Kenyon
    Liz Di Bernardo
    Cris Lobato
    Elisa Howard
    Susan Cramer

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