3rd grade. That’s when I first remember struggling in school. Forget paying attention and getting good grades, I barely skimmed by. Always fidgeting, chewing or tapping my pencils, I couldn’t sit still long enough to get through a lesson, let alone the assignments. I tried to just do everything at one time – much later in life I would just say I was “multitasking.” My mother became concerned and had me checked out by our pediatrician, who eventually diagnosed me with ADHD. We tried a round of Ritalin even thought my mother wasn’t fully on board with medication. I didn’t do well with it, so she stopped giving me the pills and I just went on with my life, diagnosed and unmedicated.
Middle school and high school weren’t any better. Not only was my focus on “oh look, something SHINY” level, I was also told I was “shy.” Yup, told. I didn’t feel shy. I didn’t feel like I couldn’t talk to people. I just felt quiet, unhurried to throw myself in the limelight that most middle schoolers and high schoolers feel they need to test out. Later I would discover, I really was just quiet, not shy. Keeping silent was how I dealt with some childhood traumas, but be told you are something long enough and eventually, you become it.
I felt ashamed for how I felt, embarrassed I didn’t want to be in the cliques. It became incredibly difficult for me to make friends, to build relationships. This learned shyness became extreme social anxiety. I thought maybe eventually I’d outgrow it. I actually tried to force it out of me with drama club and public speaking classes, which ended horribly and was one of the most dreadful experiences I ever experienced during my high school years.
Years continued to pass, I skimmed through more schooling, never really realizing my fullest potential. I was too shy to answer questions I knew the answers to. I was too anxious to ever ask for help. I waited for the last minute for all my assignments because I was busy cleaning or starting a new project, multitasking at it’s worst. Honestly, I thought I was lazy and that maybe, if I just tried harder, it would one day get better. I figured the anxiety was something that everyone else dealt with and I just needed to woman up.
And so this was my “normal” – working and coaching, feeling just like this. I believed this actual chaos was normal for me while I was helping others to realize it wasn’t for them. I couldn’t see that I deserved more, too.
Enter in 2020. This past year has been real. It’s been hard on everyone. For me, it went beyond stress, sadness, and uncertainty, it heightened some of my ADHD symptoms. And of course, I initially played them off as “normal.” I told myself that maybe it was the implants that I had removed and my body just hadn’t adjusted yet. I told myself, “Robin, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Who isn’t crazy right now?”
This enormous pressure kept building in my soul, and I kept shoving it down until I stumbled upon a blog article that completely shattered the illusion of normal I had built for so long. I started to think, maybe, how I am feeling, how I had been feeling for so many years, isn’t really typical.
I took no time to reconsider and scheduled the appointment. Two weeks later, I was told (again) I have ADHD. My physician recommended we try some medication. I was hesitant, but after talking it out and listening to all my options, we decided to start on a low dose and see what happens. It really took some deep thoughts and self-reflection, but I eventually caved. I wanted to prove my doctor wrong that medication won’t work for me.
Well, I was proved wrong. It worked… for now. Immediately after feeling relief, I started questioning. Is this going to be my life, forever in the hands of a tiny blue pill? Honestly, I really don’t know, but what I do know is from the moment I made that appointment and an action plan, everything has become so very clear. I had to surrender and since then, so many things have begun to open up for me.
*** Let me be very, very clear – every single person is different. We have different life stories, different experiences, different reactions. ***
This is what drove me to get tested:
1. My social anxiety had become next level extreme. Places and people that I normally looked forward to seeing brought on anxiety for me. I blamed it on my personality type. Did I mention I’m also and INFJ and Enneagram 2? While we typically need connection, we also really need time for ourselves to reboot. My reboot time had suddenly become tripled. I was isolating…in a major way.
2. PMS had nothing on my mood swings. The constant up and downs were affecting my relationship with my children and my husband. My daughter continually point out when mom just was in “crazy mode.” I didn’t know who I actually was in those moments. This was the hardest for me.
3. I was time blind. Running a business and setting goals with timelines was a real problem for me. Thinking I could do and create all the things at once brought on more anxiety. I never hit those timelines and then I proceeded to shame myself for it – eventually, I would just give up.
4. My thoughts didn’t have an “off” switch. Insomnia became a regular nightly occurance. I couldn’t listen to conversations with friends because internally I was thinking about what I had to do next or that unrealistic goal that I was aiming for and the steps that would be involved. No amount of breathwork, yoga, or meditation could slow me down.
5. My normally highly organized, clean home suddenly had organized places for my… clutter. This is known as “object permanence.” My own organized piles were perfectly fine, but if my kids had anything out of place I lost my mind over it.
If you or anyone you know struggles with any of these symptoms (there’s a whole lot more), it’s okay and you are not alone. You are NEVER alone. Eventually I’ve learned that. Get tested if you’re curious. Feel something is off in your gut….follow that feeling. Do the work and get your answers. It’s worth it. I promise.
To learn more head to www.add.org
If you’re local to the Tampa area, I highly suggest www.holisticmedicalcare.net