I was never diagnosed with ADHD as a child. I loved school and enthusiastically threw myself into achieving as much as I could whilst having the most fun possible.
As a young girl, I was called bossy, had a short fuse and sharp tongue, and was very stubborn – which made for tricky friendship dynamics. But I went on to become Deputy Head Girl, get Honours for Academics and had all the badges and scrolls on my blazer. I left school believing I could conquer the world.
But then, the wheels came off. Going off to university, I soon became a mess. I would bunk lectures, forget about tests and the back seat of my car was a pile of papers and notes. When I looked into the mirror, I started to question if I really had what it takes to be successful, and starting retreating into some mental cages. I was winging it in every aspect of life. I couldn’t stick to any plans or promises. I was all over the place, and barely passed my Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and Management.
Then came my twenties. Lots of travelling in between full time work helped me become more productive and purposeful again. I got married, travelled the world and then settled down to make a life with my husband in my home town of Durban, South Africa.
We started a family, and I focussed on being a mom – and the slow fade into that cage sped up.
I was chronically disorganised in a way that stressed out my whole family. I couldn’t cope with all the moving parts of early motherhood, and what looked so normal for everyone else was taking extraordinary effort from me.
Somehow, I went on to get my Master of Arts in Vocational Studies. I jumped from interesting work opportunity to the next – preaching at churches and speaking at conferences, facilitating workshops in corporates and running courses at schools – yet I found myself burnt out, with postnatal depression and on antidepressants for years.
My marriage was struggling and the idea I had about who I was just crumbled like my self esteem. The cage around my brain was now well established and I didn’t even realise it. The only I could explain what was wrong with me, was to believe that I would just never be good enough.
At best I believed I’m just not a high capacity person.
At worse I believed I was hurting more than helping and my husband and kids would be better off without me.
But then in 2019, when my son was diagnosed with ADHD, and I took a deep dive into understanding what his world was like.
For years it was like the puzzle pieces of my life were out on the table and they didn’t make sense.
Then it was like someone showed me the cover of the puzzle.
I had been living with undiagnosed ADHD, and suddenly the lid was lifted on my beautiful, unique and brilliant brain.
This diagnosis was such a relief.
It was so liberating.
And so my journey towards building a flourishing, well-nourished, gorgeous brain began.
You can change the story you’ve told yourself about yourself
You do not have to live in the shame, berating yourself for messing up.
It may not be ADHD, but you were meant for flying free from shame and lies.
You can dare to dream again, try again, grow again into that cageless, soaring person you were always meant to be.