Patty’s Story

I often wonder what school would have been like for me had I known what I know now about how my brain works. I definitely had my ups and downs in school and saw on nearly all of my report cards that I “needed to attend more during class,” that I talked too much and one teacher even said that I “cackled like a hen” in his class. Nice.

I knew that I was a “slow reader,” and that I was an “average” student. I hated being in the middle because I had to work really hard in order to learn. I was a day dreamer though, and if I had a seat by the window my mind was always miles away from what ever was happening in class, especially if it was a lecture or work page. But I was always very concerned about what was happening socially in the class; especially if someone was being mean to someone else.

I loved being outside in nature, and I loved to move, I loved to talk and was very concerned for the feelings of others. But my mind never seemed to stay very long on one thought and it took me a lot longer to read or study for tests. Spelling was the worse.

These traits followed me for most of my educational career. Even though I had a cheery personality and loved to laugh, there were times when I felt so blue that I would cry, or get mad, and I constantly felt like I had a knot in my stomach. But I made it through high school and college, and did pretty well in classes that I loved, but I wasn’t happy on the inside.

Depression was a big part of the puzzle. The harder I worked and the busier my life was, the deeper this depression would go. When I read my journals from college you can definitely tell when I dropped into the valley of the blues. I beat myself up a lot thinking I was loser because I made mistakes when the going got tough. For instance, I would lose my financial aid check, or wouldn’t remember to turn my time sheet in so I could get paid which made buying books for classes pretty tough.

About three years ago I finally was screened for ADD/ADHD when my son began treatment for ADD. Sure enough, it was found that I had brain tendencies that made paying attention and getting things done more difficult. It was simply the way my brain was made. We also found that my journey with depression was tied to ADD issues. I had to work so hard to manage my life that the chemicals in my brain would be affected and I would get depressed.
But finding out what was going on in my brain allowed me to come to terms with the blessings and battles of my life. With coaching and medication I now have a better “inner-life,” and feel more in control of the daily tasks of life. Being physically active really helps too.

I don’t know if this story helps you but I write this to give voice to those of us who must tend to our differences every day of our lives. Acknowledging that I have to do things differently and that some things are always going to be hard has enabled me to celebrate the gift of ADD instead of hating myself for making mistakes. I am an idea person, I get excited by change, I enjoy moving and being active and have a warm personality. But don’t ask me to balance your check book or keep records for long periods of time!

I thank God often for the moments in my life when choices were made that accentuated my gifts…Thank goodness I chose to be a PE teacher where movement is necessary, and that I am a mother to boys. It’s awesome that my schedule changes every day and that I don’t have a lot of “drop in” visitors to my messy house. I married a man with great financial restraint and who makes decisions thoughtfully, which off-sets my impulsivity and keeps our family well managed. And with medication and help in the form of therapy I am a more centered and confident person. I am finally grateful for this journey.