MY ADHD JOURNEY

I am married, I am a mum with 5 children one of whom has been diagnosed with ADHD together with  ASD.  I used to blame my husband’s side of the family for his genes since there is ASD and ADHD in his side of the family.

Around 5 years ago I trained to become an ADHD coach with ADDCA, the world’s gold standard in ADHD coach training.

During the training, we learned about what are the real symptoms are, the ones that are little known.

I remember the place where I was standing and listening to the lecturer explain what ADHD really is. I felt as if I was struck by a flash of lightning understanding. So, it’s me.  I have the ADHD gene.  That was a life-changing moment. I see my life as before that moment and afterward.

Over the next few years my understanding of ADHD deepened, especially the understanding of ADHD in women.

I started to think of myself as having an ADHD personality. After all, I am organised, focused and great with my time management. I don’t have proper ADHD right? Wrong!

As my ADHD understanding deepened I realised that I have high functioning ADHD, and the symptoms in women differ to those of men.

Here are my top 3 strengths, (typical ADHD)

  1. High energy, and motivation in my areas of passion

  2. Vision

  3. Foresight

I love organising, I do not hoard. It can’t be that I have ADHD… (I have realised that my ADHD brain craves the dopamine hit that I get when I work with my clients to part with an item of clutter, and help them get their homes organised…) Find out more here. 

Here are my  3 top weaknesses (typical ADHD)

  1. Poor (or non-existent) working memory

  2. Emotional self-regulation challenges

  3. Anxiety.

I attributed my very high anxiety levels as a teen and young adult to my difficult childhood.

I had super social phobia up till my 30s…

Now it all makes sense…

GETTING THE ADHD DIAGNOSIS

I only received a formal ADHD diagnosis in November 2019, only as a result of talking to an ADHD professional. He advised me that I should go and get an ADHD assessment as I so clearly showed the classical signs of ADHD in women. I still didn’t really believe him, but I wanted to understand experientially what my clients are going through. Going through the ADHD assessment process would help me to understand my clients in a most powerful way. I booked an appointment, (private as that is the only way that you can be seen quickly here in the UK.)

When I filled out the forms I didn’t know what was going on! Every single one of those questions applied to me! It was not surprising that during the first session I got diagnosed with ADHD. When the diagnostician asked me if I wanted ADHD meds I agreed right away.

I wanted to go on medication to understand how my clients feel when they are on the meds. I was still convinced that I did not really have ADHD, and the meds wouldn’t work right?

I was prescribed Concerta. I received got the meds 2 days later. Whether I had ADHD or not I wanted to experience what my clients feel. I know there’s a lot of stigma attached to the ADHD meds, and it is mostly from ignorance.  ADHD is one of the most commonly studied mental health conditions. Over 100,000 studies have been conducted on ADHD.

The first day I took only 1 tablet, (18mg) with the aim of raising the dose to 2 tablets 7 days later and 3 tablets 14 days later.

You know what they say, if the ADHD meds works then you have ADHD. If they don’t work, then you probably don’t have ADHD. The first week the meds had no effect whatsoever the only difference was after on the first day around 4pm when the meds wore off I felt decidedly odd for a couple of minutes.  I knew I had to be patient. So the second week I was very eager to see if there was a difference when taking 2 tables (36mg)

I was disappointed that there was no difference. Maybe I didn’t have ADHD after all…

YES I HAVE ADHD!!

During week 2 I took 2 tablets for 3 days then I forgot to take the dose for two days.  On the 5th day I left the house early for an appointment, I was aware of a distinctly nervous feeling and I was aware that I was driving too fast. I realised I hadn’t felt like this in a while. I realised that the meds must be working after all… I must have ADHD…

I got back at 10am and took 2 tablets. Since I hadn’t taken them for 2 days, I felt a bit “off.”  I pushed through. Around 2pm I noticed that I felt calmer.

This was on Friday. I am Jewish and we observe the Sabbath.  Sabbath comes in at sundown. In the winter this is really early around 3.30pm.

After I had lit the candles and welcomed the Sabbath. I sat down with my 7 year old son to play with him. This is our weekly ritual. Every week I tell him that this is the best time of the week for me! I tell him that I just love to play with him and can’t wait for this time. I don’t tell him that it is the hardest time of the week…This week I sat down and played a game with my 7 year old son for 45 minutes without getting up once.

I listened to the detailed account from my teenage daughter for 20 minutes…with patience and focus, and it was actually interesting…

Suddenly everything is coming into focus. I feel like my glasses prescription had been fixed! I didn’t even know it was faulty… I am not looking out at the world in a fog anymore.

THE ADHD MEDS HELPS  MANAGE IMPULSIVITY AND SELF-CONTROL

The most amazing change is, that food is not longer “talking to me” and “pulling me”

I served a 3 course meal on Friday night, and was full after the second course. I did not touch the third course, my favourite, Chinese chicken, even when I was busy serving and clearing up…

Hey this was amazing!!!

My thoughts were focused! No jumble, no tangle. Just one thought at a time.

For the last 3 years every week I’ve had a diet coach attend my home. I am a  5 foot 5 inches, and a regular size 14. Since forever and especially the last 5 years I just felt that something was “off” It was so very hard to eat a balanced diet and have self-control.

Since the meds started working, my level of feeling in control regarding food has turned around 360 degrees.

To be fair I had worked mightily hard to instil goo eating habits. Now all the meds does is take away that edge if impulsivity/self control challenge. I baked two types of cupcakes last night.  A batch of chocolate cup cakes and honey biscuits for my family the week.  Yes, with my full time job and being a mum, I still do home baking. (I put into practise the tools I teach my clients.)  I didn’t touch one! When the meds wore off I only ate one, and it didn’t really pull me to eat it…Before meds, I would have had 3 easily.

I don’t have that physical pain in my brain that had been accompanying me since forever, whenever I had to play with the kids, or listen to long detailed conversations… or do boring tasks whatever they were.

There was a minor extended family crisis on Friday afternoon.  I handled it calmly. On Friday night when I was discussing this incident with my daughter and my husband, I couldn’t believe that I was listening to myself being able to keep my voice at a calm level, and calmly explain myself… This had NEVER happened before… No hysterical histrionics, no drama queen… Just clear, calm and solution oriented.

Post-meds, I realise that my intense paralysing fear of driving to new places, and motorways was largely caused by my unmanaged ADHD. Due to my difficulties in focusing, my brain sensed my lack of focus, and kicked in to protect me. I remember the first time I was driving post-meds, and I sensed a certain change in my ability to focus. A thought crossed my mind, “I feel so focused, I think I can handle motorways now…”  Another thought crossed my mind, “Faigy, did you just think that?”

THE ADHD STIGMA

ADHD in adults is real. In the UK this is a very new field of understanding. Hopefully each year knowledge will be improved.

There is still such a big stigma surrounding the ADHD meds. The first ADHD meds had many side effects. The current range of ADHD meds have been well studied and researched and are safe. More about this in my book, have a look here. 

The bottom line is this:

Many people are wary about getting an ADHD diagnosis or label. It doesn’t matter what label you have. The label doesn’t define who you are. It defines your symptoms.  If the ADHD meds works, then who cares what label you have. The most important thing is that you can have a better quality of life. You only have one life, why should your life be harder just because you have ADHD?

There  is so much ignorance surrounding ADHD even among the medical world.  Two psychiatrists, one NHS and one private recently told me that the ADHD meds helps for ALL of  the ADHD symptoms. The meds does not help for all of ADHD.  When working well, it helps for up to 70%. The rest is alternative therapies such as ADHD coaching, which gives you the skills that your brain is lacking.

The meds is not magic, but it when working properly is as close to magic as you can get. It doesn’t help me with my working memory deficit, which is crippling. But it helps with enough of my ADHD symptoms to be worth taking long-term. I have been caught “young”  I am only 41.  The ADHD symptoms change with age. They often worsen as women get older. So many ADHD women in the peri-menopause and menopause stage are suffering so badly.

ADHD TREATMENT – PILLS AND SKILLS

The meds, when working properly accounts for up to 70% of ADHD management. The other 30% is ADHD focused tools from an ADHD coach, like myself. This is not based on an actual study, but based on my conversation with many good private psychiatrists and my experience with my clients and my own personal experience.. There are over 100,000 studies carried out on various aspects of ADHD. The ADHD meds works.

I have achieved the impossible with my ADHD, instilling routines, and ADHD friendly changes in my life and the life of my family. Now the meds just helps me to continue on the path with more ease. I no longer feel that I am fighting against myself. Life is hard enough, why should my life be harder than it already is?

My children are successful in school. I know that they all have some form of ADHD, I see the traits so clearly. We are a very creative bunch…

Now that I am experiencing the power of the ADHD meds. I am open to get the help that they need to fully access their potential via an ADHD diagnosis and the ADHD meds.

Why should the meds only be prescribed for those who are not doing well with their ADHD?

I feel so empowered. So many challenges that I have gone through in my life now make sense. My dad died when I was a young child. I am an only child, which is very unusual in my circles.  I don’t have siblings to compare myself to, but I have many cousins to compare to. My mum always said that my dad could never keep down a job. He smoked his whole life. He loved to have fun…(All point to possible undiagnosed ADHD).

 There are two types are people in this world, the leaders and the followers. These comments are usually made by those who have not yet accepted their role in life. I am a leader. I lead, not so much by direction, I lead by personal example. My story has helped countless people find their direction in their lives. In my small way, I have made this world a better place.

ADHD MEDS HELPS MANAGE ANXIETY

My unexplained  high anxiety when I was young, now fits in. Now that the meds are working, I am much calmer. My anxiety was mainly caused/made worse by my unmanaged ADHD. By those chemicals in the brain that were unbalanced. My intense nature, my  high and low moods, well this is a common characteristic associated with ADHD. Now my moods are more evenly balanced.

Now that I am on the meds, when problems come up, I handle them CALMLY! And don’t turn into a drama queen…

I own my impulsivity, that inner feeling that pushes me to push bravely on and do things that other people just wouldn’t do to forward my ADHD career so that I can help more women with ADHD access their potential, my pioneering spirit, my foresight and vision. You see these are the strengths of my ADHD. I own them.

WHAT COMES FIRST, GET AN ADHD DIAGNOSIS OR LEARN ADHD SKILLS FROM AN ADHD COACH?

There are many paths that lead to the top of the mountain. It doesn’t matter which path you choose, as long as you stay on that path. In an ideal world getting your ADHD diagnosis and meds would be ideal. Then you can learn the ADHD tools that you need to live your successful ADHD life.  However life doesn’t always work out the way you want.  The main thing is to be on that mountain.  I have seen with my clients that ADHD treatment works very well to just start with an ADHD coach. I wish my clients would ask me before they sign up for a private ADHD assessment. Many private ADHD psychiatrists do not give proper ADHD assessments and even less aftercare, which is what you need.

CONTACT ME TO FIND OUT MORE

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Find out more about the Organise Pro Inner Circle professional organiser training program. Learn hands on focused ADHD tools that are tailored for the ADHD and executive function deficits of  your clients.