My brain has always felt like a bit of a circus. I suffered for many years at the hands of my neurodiversity, having not received the support I so desperately needed. I went 28 years of my life never meeting another girl or woman with ADHD, which was incredibly isolating. But there was always music and writing. My hyper-focus, I truly believe, has saved my life.
In my first few years on this planet, I was displaying behaviour of a relatively neuro-typical child. There was no real cause for concern – academically I was working as expected and was able to confidently socialise with other children. While nursery and school reports showed that I had no “stickability” and quickly moved from one activity and friendship group to another, I was happy and making progress.
As the years passed, things slowly began to change. I became increasingly aware that my brain worked differently to the people around me. I had zero control over my emotions, I was acting on impulse, making stupid decisions with no real regard for the consequences, and my memory and organisational skills were failing me on a daily basis. I found it impossible to sit through lessons without walking around, chatting to other people and being incredibly loud. My only escape was my hyper focus for music and writing. Teachers told me I couldn’t concentrate, but when given a guitar and a notepad and pen, I was able to focus for hours on end. I wanted to learn, desperately, but I wasn’t stimulated.
Behaviour systems were put in place for me at school and I was continuously punished for poor timekeeping, missing homework deadlines, being too loud or forgetting the things I needed for lessons. No matter how hard I tried, nothing changed. School became more difficult. Life was becoming difficult. Little did I know that things were only going to get harder.
As I approached adulthood I began to resent the people in my life.
“Why do I have to constantly try so hard?”
“Why do I always get EVERYTHING wrong?”
I asked myself these questions every day and my behaviour was beginning to effect the people closest to me. From jumping off balconies, binge drinking, outbursts of extreme emotion, breaking things in the family home, self-harm, one night stands and moving from one toxic relationship to another, I was a liability. By the time I was 20 I had dropped out of two university courses and had worked over 12 jobs, never keeping one for longer than a few weeks at a time. I was angry at the world, I felt completely isolated and I hated myself.
On numerous occasions I had been to my GP, who was quick to tell me it could be hormonal. Over the years I had been misdiagnosed with anxiety, depression and borderline personality disorder, to name but a few. I had sat through numerous group therapy sessions, one-on-one counselling, tried every anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drug there was, but none of it worked.
Because I wasn’t depressed, or hormonal.
I was a woman with ADHD and I knew it.
After waiting lists, more tests, group therapy sessions and private consultations in London I was finally diagnosed with ADHD (Combined type).
When you live with ADHD, or any other neurodiversity, it can feel impossible to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Years of being called careless, reckless, unstable and lazy while the world told me I was doing things ‘wrong’ had left me with crippling low self-esteem in my adult life and it was easy to see why. Nobody had told me that having ADHD could be a gift!
There was a time when I wholeheartedly believed I would never live a life of stability. Having my own family, a group of close friends and doing a job I loved seemed completely out of the question. It’s been a long painful journey but I am so grateful it brought me here, and I am slowly learning to fall in love with my ADHD brain. Some days are more challenging than others and I still need to work hard to manage my emotions and have to put things in place to help me remember very simple tasks, but my extreme hyper focus for writing and music has given me a platform to be able to share my experiences through Spoken Word and song.
I now perform and speak publicly about my ADHD in a bid to help others on their journey. I have had the pleasure of being listed in the Top 50 Influentual Neurodivergent Women 2019, been featured on the BBC and now my material gets shared in ADHD and Mental Health support groups up and down the country.
If you are struggling with your ADHD right now, hold on. You have been gifted with an extra ability, a super power! Surround yourself with people who make you feel amazing - you are amazing. We need to open up the conversation around ADHD, connect and share experiences and being even a small part of that movement feels electric. I have found my purpose, and it’s only a matter of time before you find yours.