Author: Joshua Stoner
From the instant I completed the online assessment, I knew I had ADHD.
No doctor or professional had to confirm for me what my mind and body already knew in their essence. I was 29 years old, married with 3 kids, and was being asked to resign from my position at work. The previous 2 years had already been intense and challenging, with my twin boys being born (prematurely at that).
I was an intern teacher working with at-risk youth in community day schools and I was also enrolled in school myself. At this point, the state of my mental and emotional health had been deteriorating for some time. I had already left 4 other jobs before now leaving this one-and my marriage was being jeopardized from years of financial instability and an emotional roller-coaster.
I was desperate for something to change. I don’t know how it came to be that I stumbled upon the online ADHD literature but I will never forget finding it. I had such an emotional reaction to reading the traits, qualities, and characteristics of people with ADHD that I could hardly focus on anything else. After taking the first virtual test, I found every article, story, and study that I could on ADHD.
I watched countless hours on YouTube from world-renowned psychologists and doctors on the subject. I journaled and tracked my habits. Then, I called a psychiatrist. I made an appointment and within the first 10 minutes of speaking to her, she confirmed it-ADHD, with Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I breathed a sigh of relief and was astonished that I had never known this before. The next year would come with its adversity, but for now, I knew something I’d never forget.
I decided to try prescription medication, after having gone my adult life as a very substance-averse person. Many in my family suffered from drug abuse for decades of their lives and I didn’t want the same for myself or my kids. So I decided to stay away from mostly everything, besides social drinking.
Over one year, I tried 10 different Rx medications in different combinations. From various stimulants to antidepressants and anti-anxieties, I placed my hope in fixing myself through these daily regimens. I progressed a great deal in my daily focus, attention, mood, and productivity, however, when the medications wore off I crashed into the worst states of depression, panic, and anger than I ever have in my life. I began to feel that the side effects outweighed the benefits-so I slowly tapered off the meds with my doctor.
These past two years since then have once again brought their trials. My kids are ages 4, 4, and 7. I have a new teaching position working with special education students in a different local school district, and I am so grateful to say that I am still married to the love of my life. However, only recently have I found the courage, self-confidence, and capability to reach outside of myself to share my story with others.
For too long, I believed my thoughts were facts. If I thought and felt bad about myself, I was bad. This record player was on repeat all day and all night in my consciousness. I had developed some deep resentments toward myself and I let them speak for me by masking, avoiding, and privately coping with my suffering. I am thankful that I am taking a step outside of my comfort zone to share with the world that I have ADHD. I have always had it, and despite others surely suspecting that I did, I never knew until recently. Thank God I know now.
For a while, I made a daily practice of envisioning my brain difference as a superpower. I attempted to refocus my attention on the strengths of my condition and how they give me an advantage in life. While that may be true in certain matters, I certainly would not have chosen this for myself.
It is a daily, momentary factor in my life and though I have come to accept it, I am hindered by it much of the time. I refuse to dwell on it as some kind of a curse because I have unfortunately spent much of my life previous to this dwelling on the “curse” that I believed I was to others.
Now, instead, I share my experience with others, to educate, bring awareness, and validity to my existence and that of so many others. I aspire to spare others from the needless misery that comes with living with undiagnosed ADHD-the kind of life where you blame and shame yourself for the things that make your cognition, emotions, and way of living different from others.
As Jessica McCabe, ADHD influencer is fond of saying, “ADHD is not our fault, but it is our responsibility.”
We can be responsible for our mental health and still live peacefully and happily with ourselves and those who love us.
Hope this was meaningful to you in some way. Thank you for reading.