My parents excelled in assimilating the English language after immigrating from Switzerland in 1948—that is, with the possible exception of their use of idioms. Unfortunately, that seems to be an idiosyncrasy I’ve managed to perpetuate.
I recall one time responding to a situation by saying, “I may be stupid, but I am not dumb.” The ensuing laughter suggested I had once again spoken incorrectly. Good friends took the time to explain that the reversal of two words totally changed the intent of the idiom I had used—and at my expense.
I don’t recall ever thinking I was stupid, but there’s no doubt I’ve always thought myself not to be particularly smart. I worked hard in high school and managed acceptable grades, but it was extremely difficult. I labored in my studies and agonized over every exam; it was painful to say the least. When it came time for me to consider chasing my dream of a nursing education in college, I cowered. Despite regular coaxing, even pleading, from my husband and children, I resisted. Nothing, in my mind, was worth the anguish of studying a topic diligently, only to feel humiliated when tested.
ADHD Diagnosis Changes Everything
It took diagnosis of ADHD in my life to teach me I was neither dumb, nor stupid. Unfortunately, that discovery took place much later in my life—at age 63. Along with the shock of my diagnosis, the shame of being labeled ADHD added to my feelings of inadequacy. It felt as if something was, yet again, wrong with me.
Throughout my life I had been on my guard, working obsessively to do things absolutely correctly–perfectionism had been my goal. In spite of having five rowdy sons, my house was spotless, and I did my best to keep my boys clean and tidy. I fought hard to maintain images; no one would be able to find something for which I might be criticized. My methodology may have kept criticism at bay, but it closed me off from trying new things and kept me from being me.
Later, my family became more important to me than having a rigidly perfect home. I somehow learned to relax, and we began to actually live in our home. For the most part I was kind and caring; I could live with the imperfections and miscues of others, but I was not that good to myself. Looking back, I was my own worst enemy.
Perfection had been my goal
My first response to being diagnosed as ADHD was completely defensive. “Wait a minute!” I thought. “I am not hyper; I am shy–very reserved to outsiders, and I never interrupt when others are speaking." Obedience may well have been my middle name—it was my way to remain off everyone else’s radar. Simply put, I did not fit the profile I had considered to be ADHD.
As I listened to those more knowledgeable than myself, the shock of my diagnosis wore off and began to be replaced by curiosity. It helped tremendously to understand why I did things the way I did. It explained why learning had seemed so difficult for me. I began to research articles on ADHD and somewhere along the way I gained understanding. I even surprised myself by discovering many positive personal traits, characteristics that define my unique personality. The more I researched, the more I began to believe the positive effects of my ADHD makeup might actually outweigh the negative.
My thirst for knowledge led me to a I topic I had never heard of prior, ADHD Coaching. My interest was instantly peaked; I increased my research, I made phone calls–something I passionately dislike–and I asked questions. Was it possible my experience might help others avoid similar misunderstandings about themselves?
I have now finished my ADHD Coaching education, and have thoroughly enjoyed this learning experience. I have also finished the final objectives of my coursework and am certified as an ADHD Coach. My desire is to dispel the stigma, the shame and the negative view of ADHD to those affected by it in any way.
ADHD does not make me dumb, nor am I a problem to be fixed. I (we) are not broken, our brains are simply wired differently. We are intuitive, loving, forgiving, understanding, creative, funny etc., just like everyone else.
To use another idiom, I have been laboring under the assumption I lacked intelligence. My desire as an ADHD coach is to help others who might labor under similar misconceptions about themselves If my clients are at all like me...
They will be empowered by their newfound ADHD self-awareness and knowledge!