Sharon’s Story

Whew! I’ve been reading everyone’s story and my heart rate has pumped up and my hands are shaking! I am seeing too much of myself in all of this! Like looking into a mirror.

I am 53 years old and was diagnosed with ADD a few years ago, but have never been medicated for it. However I have been depressed all my life, and for the past few years with help from my doctor we finally found antidepressants that WORK for ME.

While my symptoms of depression has eased tremendously my ADD has only gotten worse with age. I live in a constant jumble of thoughts and lack of organization. My life is a literal MESS!

I have noticed a kind of theme through a lot of the stories here. Many of you wrote about how hard it was to “hear” teachers in school. That really hit’s me on a personal level. I can clearly recall sitting in classes and trying so hard to focus on what my teacher was saying and feeling like I couldn’t hear him/her. Feeling like a fog had settled over my brain. I recall thinking I had this ‘big block’ in the way of my being able to hear what was being taught. Like if I could just push it out of the way then I could learn something! Believe me, I was a miserable failure in school! I couldn’t retain or comprehend ANYTHING! It was like I have a teflon brain, nothing sticks to it!

Many of you mention the embarrassment and shame you experienced in school. Boy, I’m with you. I muddled through elementary in a huge day dream. In junior high and high school I felt like the class ‘dummy’. I made it through to graduation barely, but at least I got my diploma. In my junior year of high school I came really close to quitting.

After high school I worked as a nurses aid in our tiny county hospital. A local well to do lady who happened to be on the hospital board offered to scholarship me to go to nursing school. My parents were so proud. Off to school I went determined I would succeed. Well try cramming two years worth of practical nursing information into a one year course…and then toss in ADD to boot. I struggled through nine months of nursing school in which time I had several one on ones with my nursing instructors asking me why I wouldn’t “apply” myself. One told me she knew I had the “potential” but she just couldn’t see the “effort”.

Then the day came when the students were doing hospital care and were assigned to a pediatrics ward. I was assigned a small infant in quarantine where it was necessary to gown-up and wear a mask and gloves every time I entered the room (which was often). I was also assigned a three year old in the next room who was terribly abused by her druggie parents. This little girl shared a room with a little girl in the process of dieing from cancer. I was assigned to care for these children and finish all the morning routine.

I remember feeling emotionally moved by the condition of all these little kids. Looking back I really believe I WAS doing my best to care for these little people but I am sure I must have been stressing bad. As I was standing at the nurses station my instructor berated me in front of everyone. She asked me what was wrong with me that I couldn’t take care of two small children. That was my last day at nursing school. I left and never went back. (Later that same instructor told me she was sorry because I showed so much potential.)

What was and is wrong with me is ADD! I feel like an intelligent person TRAPPED and held hostage by a defective brain. I know I am not stupid. I just have my ‘wires crossed’ somehow and the ability to learn is greatly impaired.

I do not enter in to a lot of life because of the humiliation I feel because of what I fear other people will believe about me, that I am slow and stupid and lazy. I am not ‘teachable’ and that is a truth I have lived with for 53 years.

That is so damn sad that so many of us ADDers have felt so misunderstood and so ‘separate’ from the ‘normal’ world! What we have missed out on in life is heart breaking. I have never stopped thinking about wanting to be a nurse. I have never stopped wishing I could go to college and take creative writing classes because I have a secret dream of writing a book.

Those words echo in my memory and fill me with shame that has haunted me for more than 30 years, “What is WRONG with you that you CAN’T even…”, well, you fill in the blanks.