Managing ADHD: A Therapist's Personal Story
Having been diagnosed with ADHD, along with a reading disability at the age of eight, presented many obstacles throughout my life. Back in the 1990s, medications and diagnosis of ADHD skyrocketed. This was due to doctors who were able to diagnose ADHD more efficiently, more parents were aware of ADHD and were reporting their children’s symptoms, and more children were actually developing ADHD.
Being an eight-year-old and not really understanding why school was particularly hard for me, I was encouraged to “just work harder”. I was then placed in an ESE (exceptional student education) classroom, where I was able to have more time and flexibility in completing my school work. It was humiliating to be pulled from my class multiple times a day. I remember creating excuses or stories to tell my friends due to feeling awkward and unsure of myself. It wasn’t until I attended a performing arts summer camp, where I discovered areas in which I could excel in. It was through engaging in arts I learned my ability to be motivated to learn.
During that summer I found that when I was passionately interested in something, I was able to focus on it. The 9-year-old girl with ADHD and a reading disability was able to memorize a whole script, playing the main role of Ms. Hannigan in the show Annie. It was then when my mother reinforced my capabilities in other areas.
Coping with ADHD Through Life
Throughout middle school and high school, I would be embarrassingly pulled from my classes to take state exams in order to receive the extra time I needed. When I was in school, having issues like these weren’t normalized and were accompanied by so much shame and embarrassment. I had to experience many failures without a choice of giving up. I think it was this dynamic that has helped form who I am today.
College and grad school presented with its own individual frustrations. I have failed classes, received low grades, and failed exams. At this time in my life, I learned about ADHD medications and how it could help me. Although, I was always encouraged to challenge my issues behaviorally and through mental health support. I learned how to create boundaries and implement self-discipline that supported my day to day challenges. This did not come easily, and I required support from so many around me.
Failure is never easy. I have shed many tears, and at times felt extremely defeated. But through that, I have learned to persevere. I have been conditioned through my struggles to never give up. I now look back at each experience and am grateful for its lesson. Would life have been easier without ADHD? Sure, but I know it contributes to who I am today.
Now, these challenges are more normalized, especially within the Generation Z population. With technology, young adults now have more access and information regarding these issues. ADHD is now more commonly diagnosed, and medications are being prescribed more than ever. Although medication may be the answer for many, it can be maladaptive for some. It is important to take these medications with the support of medical and mental health professionals. Medication can also at times present as the “easy solution”, but it is quite the opposite. Medical treatment is most effective in conjunction with a therapeutic component. Working to overcome symptoms associated with ADHD requires education, willingness, and support.
Through all of my education, field experience, workshops, and treating clients with ADHD I have learned medications, behavioral therapies, and/or a combination of both, can be transformative. It is through my own experiences where I have found how to better serve those who struggle with ADHD. Do you struggle with ADHD and find a connection to my story? If so, please reach out and schedule an appointment with me through BeKindToTheMind.net.
Keep connecting with care,
Dara Kobrin, LMHC
Follow me on Instagram @connectingwithcare