Photo Credit: Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash.com

Written by Cathy Rashidian
November 20, 2019

I remember sitting in my physician’s office, arguing with her about me having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or not. My frequent visits to her office and discussions around my mental wellness seemed to have given her the evidence that I might have undiagnosed ADHD. The combination of being a new mom at 40 and also working in a highly stressful, fast-paced work environment had pushed me to my tipping point; I was beyond burnt out. 

I finally gave in to my doctor’s request and decided to take the ADHD assessment. As I was answering the questions, I was filled with so many emotions. Every item on the assessment was a description of my personality, my character traits, and (of course) with flying colors, the results indicated that I’m an adult with ADHD.

A sense of relief, sadness, fear, confusion, regret, and even anger washed over me. I thought ADHD was only for kids! But there it was in front of my face; I was that child that grew up undiagnosed with ADHD. I lived with it all my life and didn’t even know it.

In times of uncertainty and change, I naturally tend to research to understand my situation better so I can make rational decisions. To process through my emotions and thoughts of this new diagnosis, I needed to understand a few things:

  1. What is the science of ADHD Brain and what will it mean for me as an adult? 
  2. How will this impact my relationship with family/friends, the future of my career, and my overall mental wellness?
  3. Were there others like me? How are they living with ADHD?
  4. How can I fix my brain? Was this a condition that could be healed? After all, I survived Cancer, so maybe I could improve my brain also?!

I had so many more questions as I embarked on the research journey–I was on a mission! I watched so many YouTube videos on ADHD (I cried as I watched them); I was inspired by the bravery of those who were publicly speaking about their ADHD, and I learned that what I have isn’t a disability or a disorder despite the condition’s  name “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” My brain’s just a little more complex and runs at supersonic speed.  

I found that others who have an ADHD brain have been able to live fulfilled lives and have gone on to do many great things. They realized what their strengths were and focused and enhanced their strengths. It was all in their positive approach and mindset towards ADHD. 

I found myself at a crossroads in my life. I guess this was my so-called “midlife crisis.” I had the choice to mourn my past and all the things I could have done, or see this as a new beginning—a rebirth to the next 40+ years of my one life. With this new knowledge, I planted a new seed: not only will I be an advocate for myself, but I’ll also be an advocate for those who need a voice. I’ll be a cheerleader for those who need encouragement and validation that they’re just as normal as anyone else but have a unique way of doing and being.

I chose rebirth! Not only for myself but also for helping others see the greatness that’s within them despite the obstacles of their brain. With an ADHD brain you can either focus on all the hardship that comes with it or focus on the superpowers that are within it. A late in life diagnosis is truly a rebirth, but this time you’re in full control of how you want to grow and build yourself toward a new you–full of self-compassion and curiosity for what’s ahead. 

Let’s be real here, it hasn’t been a smooth transition for me. I’ve had my fair share of sad days, stormy days, frustrating days, and inspired days. As each emotion took over, I didn’t resist. I chose not to judge myself anymore. Instead, I’ve learned to be compassionate by taking things much slower; after all, I now know what the root of my mental wellness issues are and am so much more equipped with tackling them. I recognize when my brain wants to run at supersonic speed and I give myself lots of time to rest to recharge and refocus.

I’ve grown to become friends with my ADHD brain!

I now know how and why she is the way she is. She’s me, and I’m her. She’s my messy roommate, but she’s also my best cheerleader when I want to take on new risks. She kept me focused and strong to survive cancer. She’s loud as hell in my head, but she’s also a creative genius. I wouldn’t trade my brain for any other.

I share this with you in hopes that you’re inspired by at least one point in my story. 

What I gained through this process was a deeper understanding that when you approach life transitions with curiosity and lean into the how and the why of a new situation, the possibilities become endless. Be open to seeing all sides of possibilities; you’ll be amazed by what’s on the other side waiting for you. 

I also learned that I didn’t have to do it alone. I found a new tribe: my ADHD tribe! Being part of this community has given me so much hope, inspiration, and, most of all, a sense of belonging. Finding a supportive group who will hold a space for you no matter what is truly a blessing and a gift.  

My final lesson: when a life transition is significant enough to change the course of your life, self-compassion has been a magic tool. Letting go of expectations of myself, trying to be perfect, moving at a slower pace, and being okay with not having all the answers all at once has made this transition easier for me. 

No matter what happens in your career, life, or during times of transition, there’s no point in looking back and focusing on do-overs or what-ifs. Instead, embrace the new, exciting journey ahead of you.

You have a clean slate to start over, so make it a grand masterpiece.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash.com