Amy Rees Anderson

Speaking Of A.D.D.

I have so many things to tell all of you about and yet each time I’ve tried to sit down to write a blog about them I get interrupted – From my husband being hospitalized unexpectedly last week, to me needing to fly to Washington DC this week for some really important meetings and to give a keynote speech at a special event –  my life has been non-stop go go go the last two weeks!  So much so that here it is 4:00am and I am just now getting to sit down to write tonight’s blog post…yikes!!!  Actually double yikes if you take into account that I’m so sleepy I can barely keep my eyes open and the fact that my A.D.D. meds wore off hours ago!  The chances of me being able to write a coherent blog post tonight are slightly less than…wait, what am I trying to calculate again?? Does anyone else think a bowl of fruit sounds really good right now??

About my A.D.D – when I was speaking at the event this week here in D.C. one of the people in the audience came up to talk to me after my talk to thank me for my being open about having A.D.D. because this person said they were struggling with A.D.D. themselves. They said they had noticed that I had called having A.D.D. one of my God given gifts and they wanted to understand what I meant by that.  I let them know that I believe God had us born with weaknesses because God knew as we worked to overcome those weaknesses they are the thing that will make us stronger – that is the gift – the opportunity to become stronger.

I was in my late 20’s when a trusted friend first suggested that I might have A.D.D. and that I might want to talk to a psychiatrist to see if meds would benefit me. My first reaction was to feel offended that my friend thought something was wrong with me. But as I thought about that friend’s comments over the next week I realized that I genuinely did have trouble keeping focused and that my mind was always racing a million miles a minute and it was frustrating to not be able to stay engaged in a conversation with someone without my mind being somewhere else. I could see that my lack of engaged attention was causing the people in my life to think I didn’t care about them – which wasn’t at all the case in how I felt – I just literally couldn’t stay focused on the conversation, even when I was trying with all my might to do so. It ended up making me feel negatively about myself and it caused me to beat myself up thinking I was messed up because I couldn’t pay attention. I would feel depressed and discouraged that I couldn’t fix it.

When I thought about all that and my friends advice to me I decided that I was going to push away all my fears of being seen as “broken” or “messed up” and I was going to go see a therapist to see if there was something that could be done. I was scared to go and I was scared of what other people would think of me, but I decided to do it anyway – I wanted to improve and get better and I clearly couldn’t do it on my own. So I went. And sure enough I was diagnosed with A.D.D and given meds to take. Those meds changed my life. They allowed my mind to focus and stay engaged. It allowed me to listen to people with full focus which let others know that I cared about them and was interested in what they had to say. The difference for me was night and day and it changed my life completely for the better. I have never once regretted the decision I made to get help that day. Not once.

And now I try and share it with other people whenever I can see that they are struggling with their own mental issues to overcome but who are hesitating to seek out help for fear of what others will think or for fear of being seen as weak or broken. I want them to know that they don’t need to be embarrassed or worried because getting help makes them STRONG, not weak! It makes them AWESOME for being smart enough to get whatever help they need to change their own life for the better. It makes them COURAGEOUS for facing their weaknesses head on. My hope in sharing all this is that even one person reading it who is struggling with their own issue will find the courage to do something about it and seek out the help they need to improve their life. It will be worth it…take it from me!

~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )

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