The following post is as told to HOPE Therapy and Wellness. Name has been changed for privacy.
My name is Amanda, and I am 43 years old. I run a bakery in my small town with my daughter, Elisha, who’s turning 17 this year. I get to bake cupcakes all day, so I’d say I’m a pretty happy person.
Do I keep a deep, dark secret? (laughs) Sure do! I have ADHD. I guess it’s not really that dark – I know a lot of people have ADHD – but I’m still kind of coming to terms with it and what it means for me. Or what it means about me.
My ex-husband used to say that he was sure I had ADHD, and I was so offended he would say that. It seemed like a disability to me, for one thing, and it was like I was broken, somehow. I just thought I was the kind of person who needed to do 15 things at the same time and that I got bored easily. I said it was a personality trait, not a disease.
I got in really big credit card debt when I was about 33, which was honestly the start of the end of my marriage. Every time I was upset, I would shop. I would rack up the credit cards, and we were joint holders, my husband and I. I started off with monthly bills of about $3,000, buying groceries with no consideration of price or sales or coupons, things like that. In retrospect, my ex-husband had never made an enormous amount of money, even running his busy car repair shop, but I was a stay-at-home wife, and to me he did. I lived like a woman of luxury, I guess.
After groceries and things for the house, I started adding stuff for myself. A pair of shoes here, a sweater there. When he didn’t say anything, I kept going. I kept shopping. I would log onto our account, pay the minimum, and he was so busy he never noticed the balance going up and up. To be honest, I never paid too much attention either… I thought, well, I’m paying something, so it can’t be that bad.
About a year went by and something possessed him to check our balance on one of the cards, and it was over $9,000. He lost it. He took all the cards from me and started giving me an allowance once a week and told me to go get a job so I could pay off what I owed. We also started going to counseling because we fought so much, and at the time, I guess we both felt like it would still work.
Counseling didn’t save our marriage, but it did open up some things for me. I got used to talking. And don’t get me wrong – I talk a lot. I talk to everyone. But I’d never talked about my feelings before… I have a thing about boundaries and openness. But that’s another story. I ended up seeing a psychologist on my own after my ex and I separated. I was diagnosed with anxiety and ADHD.
Things like having trouble concentrating or being forgetful, or being easily distracted… I always felt like everyone has that. Everyone forgets things, everyone gets distracted by things. But then I realized just how inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive of a person I really was. Still actually really am, to be honest. It used to drive my ex nuts how I would interrupt or talk over him all the time, like if I didn’t get out what I needed to say, I would lose it or something.
I fidget a lot. I think my hair is shorter on one side because I play with it so often. I do not do well waiting in line. So there’s a lot about me that’s textbook ADHD, I guess.
I am still dealing with it. I know now how I’ve been impacted by the symptoms, the biggest being that my inability to acknowledge or accept it probably had a big part in why my relationship failed. My therapist says I can’t blame myself for the dissolution of that partnership, but I’m working on that still. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself and think, “If I’d listened, if I wasn’t broken, we’d still be married.”
But I look at my life now and think maybe I’m successful at this baking business because I’ve had above normal levels of energy and creativity. I’m a single mom, I have a couple of great friends, and I meet all kinds of incredible people every day. I’m generally a very happy person.
I know I have a bit to go in terms of self-acceptance, but for the most part, recognizing where I’ve been and where I have yet to go is really important.