Mental Health Month: Living with ADHD, 53 Years Deep

On daily living…

My life literally consists of me making notes to myself on a regular, daily basis. Checking things off my list as I complete them and then highlighting things on the list to remind myself and re-remind myself that I still have lots to do. As a result, I spend a great deal of my time at the end of the day tearing up all the little notes I write to myself and/or the random thoughts that I had put on paper throughout the day because I might come back to that thought. At the end of the day or at the start of my day, I go over the notes and then end up balling them up and throwing them into the trash can. These are some of the techniques that I use to trick myself into remembering things and staying on track. I have developed these tricks over the years to keep track of tasks and appointments or to just tell myself what I need to do. Unfortunately, I was never diagnosed and identified with ADHD as a child (in school) and didn’t have these tools while I was in school, so that was pretty much a chaotic disaster.    

On the art of listening when my mind doesn’t want to…

I really try hard to listen to everything that people are saying to me. It is without question, the most difficult thing that anyone can ask of a person living with ADHD. For the most part, in my mind, during any given conversation, I’ve already moved on in my head to other things…and it’s literally not you, it’s me.  

In my mind, there is constant uncontrollable at times, movement even while you are still talking. It has always been this way so please do not be offended when you are speaking to me or others like me, we truly cannot help this. 

It takes a great deal of effort to stay on topic and literally hurts my brain and still many times I am unable to do it. I have to concentrate to be in the conversation. It’s totally rude, at least it appears to be and I’m not trying to be rude as you talk to me, I am saying to myself, “pay attention.” I’ve learned to give the disclaimer to newbies who do not yet know me that I have ADHD so if I interrupt you or stop paying attention, that’s why. Most people understand, though I never understand it.

Understanding ADHD…

As a child, I had no idea why my mind was always filled with thought after thought, even when I tried to sleep. I didn’t understand why I always had to be moving even at night by shaking my leg until I fell asleep — something that by the way, I thought was normal and everyone else did too. I knew though that there was something different about me. I just never knew, as a child, what it was. My parents knew I had lots of energy and also didn’t know what it was or how to handle it. I attended private school, so I was never identified for special services, I just sucked it up in regular classrooms where I was a joy of a student to my wonderful unassuming teachers. That was me being facetious. I had a truly awful educational experience.  

Today with ADHD…

Living with ADHD has been a blessing and a curse. Obviously, I have described some of the challenges. And truly living with ADHD is exactly like the open browser tabs analogy.  That is what it feels like, but it has also been a blessing. I can literally do anything and everything all at once. I attribute being able to keep my MS in check with my ADHD; I keep forgetting I am supposed to have a debilitating illness. I also think it’s the reason I read so fast. Having ADHD got me through college quickly! I always want to do everything fast! That is not true for all with ADHD, some do the complete opposite and want to go real slow. That is definitely not me. While writing this piece, I paid my bills online, advanced to level 2763 in Sugar Smash, did two loads of laundry and cared for a nine year old, all while planning my next road trip to the Pacific Northwest.  At 53, I embrace it and I love it! I am unapologetically me! 

My hope is that if you know of a child with ADHD, remember that they truly cannot help some of the things they do. Be patient.

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Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia is a Mother, Grandmother, former Middle School Teacher, former Member of a School Board of Education and an Education Advocate for hundreds of parents and students in the Inland Empire. Having become a mother at 15, Leticia knows what it’s like to be a single mother trying to navigate the education system. Leticia received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Public Administration from California Baptist University and a Masters’ Degree in Education Technology from Cal State Fullerton in her 30’s. Leticia has used her knowledge and experience to help hundreds of families as an Education Advocate in the Inland Empire and currently works as an Education Specialist.

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