“Those Cheerful ADHDers Achievers…” Ugh, Right?

If you feel having ADHD has hold you back in life and it keeps doing it, I might be able to help you feeling you can actually succeed today.

By Laly Steel

October 19, 2020

Happy as clam! That’s how I was when I wrote that “having ADHD saved me from a lifetime of Trauma,” after having received my diagnosed. But I was in a bubble… I had never follow the hashtag ADHD; I had never seen how much so many neurodivergents (especially recently diagnosed) were struggling and feeling, “All that time lost…”

One day I came across a tweet which read: 

“GPs / Psychiatrists…PLEASE stop telling patients that it would have been impossible for them to have gotten a degree if they had undiagnosed ADHD. It could not be any further from the truth.”

@NDaoshea, June 10, 2020

And I thought, “Yes!” But as I was scrolling down throughout the thread, I read:

“Fair enough, but please can we remember that it is very difficult for people whose ADHD did prevent them from completing a degree to read this. The rhetoric of success can really diminish what they went through.”

@AlisonHoneyBone, June 10, 2020

And I thought, “Oops.”

So I got to thinking, do you feel this way? Because I might be able to help you feel better…

If you read my resume, you’ll probably think, “Oh; she is super motivated because she did a lot;” but the truth is that paid a high price for it, almost with my life. AND if you’re thinking, “But Laly, still! You got all those degrees!” I’ll ask you to please give me the chance to explain…

When the time to choose a University arrived, I knew I wanted to become an author (slash artist); during primary school, my literature teacher wrote a note on a short story I’ve written, telling me, “This is how writers begin;” I have it framed; my mother sees the dust in the frame… I went to Law School because my parents gave me no other choice.

Actually, here is funny story: when I had to choose a career (at 17) I signed up at two community colleges: Law School and Med School; that’s how confused I was.
So in the morning of the first day of class, I sat down in my bed for half an hour or so and considered: “Which one should I go to? I’d like to be a pathologist (to discover mysteries and the human body doing autopsies)… but my godmother is a Lawyer so she’ll make it easier for me.
Law School it is!”

I shit you not.

I attended one year and I couldn’t take it anymore, so my parents gave me one year of grace and I signed up for Drama School; the dean one day whispered to me, sitting on a small stool in a dark room during an improv class: “Don’t ever quit; you’re a natural.”

So I rushed to tell my parents the great news! … and they went like, “We’ll pay for you to go to a private Law School; do it and then you can do what you want. You are young.”

After that, my life started to crumble down… and I’d say I lost twenty years before getting the chance to do what I wanted. Not pursuing my dream, not being happy – while carrying a backpack filled with traumas – lead me to doing drugs, becoming an alcoholic and to a ten-year abusive relationship (plus forty pounds of fat).

But I choose to not say it… I am grateful for the knowledge I gained, and proud for for those degrees; however, do you know what I’m most grateful for and proud of? “Having made it this far alive, with the chance and the will to start over.”

I did try to kill myself once… almost twice… (without counting an “Oops, I didn’t mean it” near death experience)

Growing up with an undiagnosed or untreated ADHD, or without the proper guidance to help us thrive, is a torture; it’s painfully frustrating; it eats our soul. Thus, my biggest achievement is that I am still here. Isn’t it yours too?

Success… It’s such a tricky little word… For some is money, a college degree; for others is raising happy children. If success is one of these things to you, go get them; holding a grouch is going to do for you only one thing: hold you back. Do you want that, after all the time you feel you’ve lost?

Tough love? Yes. Doing what I love (this blog) is no walk in the park; make no mistake; I’m not cheerful all day because “I’m finally doing it!” Hell to the no. This puts everything my brain doesn’t like over my desktop, and says, “just do it, dopamine or not.”

I’m planning and scheduling, when I’m time-blind; surrendering to perfectionism, sometimes gives me blurred vision for hours after having published a post; I have the strict routine of cloister nun from 4AM to 8PM. This is far from being easy.

And in case you missed it, it is my brain that’s saying, “just do it, dopamine or not;” because a clear goal in our pre frontal cortex is like getting help when we’re a single parent of seven and the CEO of Google. Having a purpose is everything; I’ll say it until either you get tired of me or join the Hummingbirds Academy.

Time, especially for us with ADHD, goes in the blink of an eye. There is no more time to loose and so much time to win…

Isn’t that inspiring enough? Ok… My godmother was a kindergarten teacher with two children; things got difficult in her life, so she quit… Decades later she said “enough,” and she pursued her Law Degree at sixty-two years old and she had quite a good run. She didn’t have ADHD, but her life was a nightmare…

… So I’ll tell you another one: my doctor told me about a patient, recently diagnosed, who had quit Med School ten years ago with only one class left; he started his treatment, and now there’s a new doctor in the city.

It’s never too late; it truly isn’t. And I’ll say this one more time so you can print it in your neurons:

“…holding a grouch is going to do for you only one thing: hold you back. Do you want that, after all the time you feel you’ve lost?”

Success is something you can define in your own terms. “Today”, success could be doing the laundry, organising one folder in your computer… Our brain needs small tasks so we can feel a quick reward; and that, in our neurodivergent lives, is a path to success.

If you feel you haven’t achieved anything, you are mistaken. Because you, you made it this far. You are exhausted but you keep seeking for motivation in blogs and in anything that could give you a boost of dopamine. You are resilient. You are not a quitter.

Thus, congrats! I take my hat off for you! You are a survivor, and you’ve got a bunch of great ideas waiting to come alive and you know you can make it.

So …What are you going to do now?

Become a cheerful ADHDer achiever? 😏

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