top of page

ADHD and Me: After

In the final part of the ADHD and Me series, we hear about the impact a diagnosis made on Claire's life, and why she wanted to work with other Neurodivergents.


Since discovering I had an ADHD brain, I have returned to third level education, twice, and I have attended various different trainings. My experience in these learning environments was completely different. I had a positive time throughout, and the end result was on the opposite end of the scale, scoring 98% in some of my assignments. I went from being sat at the back of the lecture hall, when I managed to make it to class, with my hood up, hoping no one would notice me; to sitting up the front, taking everything in, raising my hand and sharing my opinion publicly and confidently.


The ongoing struggles I had with my mental health meant that words like Bipolar, Manic Depressive and Recurrent Depressive Disorder were thrown in my direction.


"Post ADHD diagnosis, the anxiety and depression that I battled with for over 9 years disappeared."


When I was first diagnosed, I didn't really tell anyone. People weren't having conversations like we are today. My journey as a coaching client gave me the permission to be proud of who I was and then I slowly began to tell people about my diagnosis. Some of them were shocked, because I did not fit what their understanding of 'someone who had ADHD' looked like. Others told me they also had ADHD. While doing the work in coaching, I processed my grief and anger for the little girl who couldn't understand why her hard work wasn't paying off on the exam papers or on the basketball court. In 2016, I even returned to play the game I had been obsessed with my whole life. From a young age, coaches were telling me that I would go far, unfortunately, I just couldn’t get myself there. It was a gift to get the opportunity to play as an ADHDer and I noticed huge difference in my performance.


Not for bragging purposes, but again I would like to point out that even though I struggled

pre-diagnosis, I excelled in many areas of my life and achieved many things. If you look hard enough you will discover this to be true for you too. The problem is that there is so much focus on things that aren't going well, and not enough emphasis on what is going well. Because education is such a big part of our lives, often achievements outside of this realm do not carry enough weight. There are many other great things I have achieved since then too. I did a complete overhaul on my career, my wardrobe, my lifestyle, my hobbies and my friendship groups. I began to travel on my own, set strong boundaries and learned how to say no and the most rewarding part of all, I started doing the things that I always wanted to do. Since 2015, I have been volunteering, skiing, took a hot air balloon ride, slept in the desert, jumping into waterfalls, hiking, kayaking, yoga training, spending more time in the sea and exploring places all over the world. Now, I feel like I am finally living.


Take a look at the table below which highlights the impact of getting diagnosed. It might be useful to you, if you are wondering about the assessment process being worth it for yourself.

Pre Diagnosis

Post Diagnosis

Negative educational experience.

Returned to college, twice.

Poor academic performance.

Top results in the class.

Battled with anxiety/depression.

7 years free from challenges/medication.

Low self-esteem/confidence.

Self confident and sure of myself.

Difficulty sleeping/insomnia.

Healthy and regular sleep routine.

Emotional overwhelm.

​Unfazed and in control of my emotions.

Toxic relationships, friendships.

New circle of friends.

Falling short, things going wrong.

Reaching my full potential, successful.

​Unsure of who I was.

​Being my true authentic self.

Please don't get me wrong, I am still ADHD and I still experience challenges. The maths issue never left me, and I am ridiculously bad at managing my money. Tasks like cleaning and cooking I find incredibly difficult to motivate myself to do. If I fall out of sync with my sleep routine, it impacts me dramatically. I still procrastinate and interrupt people. And the one that bothers me the most, is memory recall. I can find it hard to access information and facts I have learned, when I need them. My strong emotions and empathy are still with me, but we understand each other better and my strong sense of justice still gets me into trouble from time to time.


I also changed my career, twice. I had always wanted to work with people and I finally ventured into the realm of social care. I worked with children and adults individually, supporting families and ran groups across a wide range of areas of need. And, I saw ADHD everywhere. I knew this was because I could relate and identify challenges, but also because it is very closely associated with trauma. But the best realisation I had at this point, was that this could not mean that everyone was ill, incapable or less than.


"Maybe having ADHD was more normal than what we had been believing"


There were no services for these potential ADHD brains I was encountering. My own coach had been encouraging me to join her, and eventually in 2019, I started my training to become an ADHD Coach. I had a 5 year plan for going out on my own setting up my business, which I envisioned wouldn't start for 10 more years. I was waiting ( out of fear ) until I was ready, but the pandemic hit and the universe had other plans for me. I was battling Long COVID and unable to carry out the duties of my social care role, so I began working full time for myself. I have the best job ever. I get to meet with members of the ADHD tribe on a daily basis, a space where I feel like I belong. I have the privilege of watching these gifted, creative, caring individuals discover who they are, implement change and expand to their full potential. I love to see them light up and I am honoured that they choose me as their coach.


If a footballer is weak at defending the goal, you place him where his strengths excel, maybe he becomes the striker. Just because he didn't suit the goal keeper position, does not mean he does not get to play the game at all. You can't improve a sportsperson's weaknesses without observing them and providing them with the space, time and attention to practice new skills and improve on the ones they already have. This is the same for an ADHDer. We put them into structured environments, ask them to be something they are not, and then get angry at them when they don't meet our expectations.


As a coach, I hear from my clients how they are being restricted by society everyday. There is a huge awareness piece that needs to be addressed, but further than that, we need to increase acceptance and inclusion. We need to change the school system and shift from what we think it should look like to how will it better serve the people experiencing it. Growing up, I watched my Dad, a now retired school principal, go the extra mile to offer his students every possible opportunity to succeed, and now I am watching him teach teachers about neurodiversity and prepare them to support a classroom of various abilities and learning styles. So I know it can be done. We have come so far, and more progress is afoot, but we need to be more flexible about change.


"Just because this is the way we always did it, does not mean that is the best way."


I see ADHDers overcoming trauma and adversity, enduring daily struggles, and they never give up. So you see, it's not that ADHDers can't, or that we are not able. It's simply that we need to do it differently, and society needs to give them permission. But what if we could do better than that, and reduce their pain and suffering? Doing better with what we know now, would improve outcomes in their later lives and increase their life expectancy.


"I became a coach, because I wanted neurodivergents to love themselves in the same way that I had learned to."


I want to support them to reach their full potential, experience joy and pleasure. I wanted to give something back, by way of paying it forward, so that all the support people had given to me on my path, that their work would be continued. I want to become a part of the change. I believe that everyone has what they need within them. Each of my clients are resourceful and whole. Coaching is not about me being the expert or giving them the answers, I partner with them on a journey of exploration so that they can uncover what they already know.


I recently graduated from a postgrad in Mental Health Promotion from NUIG. I completed this course and did extremely well results wise, just as the pandemic hit, all whilst my mother was fighting for her life and when I was dealing with Long COVID. Despite the traumatic and stressful circumstances, I had achieved something great in an environment I once believed I didn't belong, in an area that was close to my heart. My past experiences definitely helped me prepare, but the awareness and knowing of who I was and how my brain worked, enabled me to function according to me and made me even more determined to keep going. I intend to do a masters, and I might possibly be returning to psychology that I dropped out of years ago.





"When I stopped trying to be neurotypical, that is when I stopped suffering."


When I stopped trying to be someone I wasn't, that's when I found myself. And when I stopped trying to hide who I was, that is when I found out where I belonged. If there was one thing that you are to take away from my story, I hope that it is the knowing that ADHD does not have to hold you back. You can do more than just survive, you can thrive! Always remember, you were born for a reason and you have a purpose to fulfil. You are needed here. You owe it to yourself, and to the world, to be authentically you. And you deserve to fill the space that you take up in the universe!


If I can do it, so can you!

904 views

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment


Guest
Jul 06, 2023

Wow an amazing story, I wonder if you travel outside Ireland, hoping to work with different nationalities and different cultures......

Hopefully one day I can afford to work with you.

MD

Like
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page