Vanessa’s Story

I just turned 36 years old. I was diagnosed with ADD 6 months ago, after having impulsively quit yet another job. I was initially prescribed Ritalin, but was having side effects and didn’t like the stimulant aspect to it, so my doctor switched me to Wellbutrin, which has been working okay (not as well as the Ritalin did).

Getting diagnosed was an “aha” moment for me; it explained a lot, going back to childhood: in elementary school I was involved in everything under the sun – choir, orchestra, stamp club, girl scouts, soccer, sewing, student council – you name it – I was involved in it all, but my interest would wane before I moved on to the next thing. My dad said I had the “hobby of the month”, as I’d want to change from one thing to another. My parents forced me to stick with the violin as I had started in the 3rd grade, even though I would never practice. About the time I entered high school, they gave up on me, and I quit. Although I was an A student in elementary school, once I hit junior high, I became painstakingly average, and have been ever since.

I went to state university only to change my major three times, and eventually dropped out altogether after starting most classes with great fervor and interest, then disengaging when it came time to study. I’d find myself reading the same text over and over, but not really synthesizing it, having a hard time grasping concepts. I just couldn’t focus. Needless to say, I never finished college.

I would come off as intelligent, smart, articulate and personable, and I think that has served me well in establishing a good-paying career without a college degree. I was in Human Resources management, but in a highly specialized analytical role, which just never suited me. I always struggled with the long projects, working independently, meeting deadlines, the extensive analysis, number crunching, and being holed up in a cubicle all day. I have job-hopped among some great companies, but never could stay in any one place for more than 1-2 years before quitting – usually impulsively when I told myself I’m going to do something different (with no plan), or when I hit a self esteem slump and felt like people were catching on to me being such an impostor when I thought I wasn’t really good at what I was doing. I have always felt like an outsider; always envious of those who had a college degree, managed to stick with a job with ambition and motivation, be responsible, get married and have a family. That was never me.

Since being diagnosed, I have hired an ADD Coach to help me overcome the life issues I’ve faced for the last15+ years: finding a career that suits my strengths and interests, taking care of day to day things like finances and keeping appointments, and focusing on work so I get paid (I now do HR consulting until I transition into a new career ), and staying organized. I have tried doing it on my own and know after over 15 years, I need help in training myself with the executive function.

My relationships have suffered due to my impulsivity – emotional sensitivity that would come and go, keeping my relationships from progressing into anything long term such as marriage, so I am working on that as well. It definitely helps having a partner who is understanding, patient and accepting of me (my boyfriend was a special ed teacher who worked with a lot of ADHD students). The ADD Coaching (in addition to meds ) has been helpful – I think I’ve made great strides in a short amount of time. I’ve been told by my coach that I am highly self-aware, which helps me to make changes more successfully. It still isn’t easy; some days I am all over the planet, and other days I am more focused, and feel on top of things. It is daily work to manage it, but I do believe once harnessed, we can achieve greatness and lead normal, productive lives.