So, I have ADHD. There are all kinds of blogs out there that talk about symptoms and how to spot it or treat it, but I wanted to talk about how it impacts self-esteem, since that’s what we are about on this blog.
Last week was a particularly tough week for me, which got me thinking that this may be a post someone else in the world needs right now. First, let me start by saying that when life gets busy or stressful, it can aggravate already existing conditions. This is true for everything from blood pressure to ADHD. Many times we can go on pretending that nothing is wrong until we have one of those weeks. So let me tell you about my week.
The thing that really got me down on myself was that I forgot to pay the power bill. I know, maybe it’s not that big of a deal… but I forgot to pay it for 2 months in a row and last Thursday they cut it off. My 10 year old dogs were stuck in a 90+ degree house all day. Thankfully, they were fine. But no one got home until after the utility office had closed, so then there was a hotel room fiasco, and a lot of tension in the air. On top of that, I forgot one of my doctor’s appointments (even though it was on my google calendar), which cost me a $100 no show fee. AND I forgot to pay the office rent… which for some crazy reason I decided to take off of automatic payments at some point & have no recollection of doing so.
So, obviously I was feeling like a failure all around; feeling like I can’t even manage the simple things in life and that I ruin everything. I know none of that is true but that’s how self-esteem issues start when you have ADHD. When I was a kid, I got feedback from adults, teachers, and peers that told me I was loud, forgetful, annoying, unlikable, disorganized, messy, lazy and more. It wasn’t all negative. I got positive feedback like I was smart and creative and energetic. But who remembers that stuff? We tend to focus on the negative. So throughout my life, I have struggled with this cycle of “getting my life together,” a project that happens every 4-5 months, following some big event like what happened this week.
I think the biggest belief I have had to overcome, something that has not fully been achieved, is that there’s something wrong with me and I’m just not as good as everyone else. So, I’ve worked hard to prove them wrong. And most of the time, I’m performing pretty well…even though there is a tornado whirling inside my head. And then the times when this happens, I go right back to the sad little girl who just screws up.
The hardest part was that until the past 5 years, I didn’t even know it was ADHD! I just thought that I could never try hard enough. Then when I found out how ADHD manifests in girls and women (which is different than what most think of when they think of ADHD), I realized it’s not my fault. Yes, there are things I can do to manage my symptoms, but genuinely there are things I just can’t help. I will forget. I will interrupt you sometimes. I will be emotional and overwhelmed at times. I will lose very important things frequently. So, I have learned that there are systems that need to be in place for me to function, like medication, paper calendars, frequent reminders, accountability partners, and so on.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if you have felt like this and you haven’t been diagnosed with ADHD, you might ask your doctor about it. Whoever you are, if you’ve felt like this, you aren’t alone. And you are enough and you are not a failure. And to those loved ones out there living with an ADHD-er, we’re sorry. We know it can be frustrating for you. It’s frustrating for us. But we appreciate your grace and your understanding when we have bad weeks. I recently heard this comparison: ADHD is like being nearsighted; sometimes you just need glasses to help you focus better. We wouldn’t blame a nearsighted person for not being able to see, so blaming someone with ADHD for their faults doesn’t help the problem, it only damages self-esteem. Communicate and come up with ways to make the system better. And for goodness sake, if you’ve got ADHD, stop being so hard on yourself! ❥