I remember the day my daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with ADHD like it was yesterday. Even though this was three years ago, I still remember all the feelings and emotions running up to that day. I got up extra early that morning and made a special effort with my clothes. Instead of my usual throw-anything-on look, I put on smart clothes, some makeup, accessories and found a big smile. "If I looked well dressed and presented, maybe the psychologist would think that I was a good mother". Maybe then, I could allow myself to believe I was a good mother. But, nothing could have been further from the truth.
My heart was broken and my confidence was shattered. I had no idea how to parent our six-year-old daughter and would be called into school most weeks. I would listen intently to Sarah's teacher as she explained how 'different' my child was. She would tell me that Sarah couldn't keep still, was impulsive, wasn't making any friends and she was also behind in both reading and writing. Despite this, the teacher was kind and supportive, and genuinely wanted to help Sarah, but I was out of my depth; and it was showing.
Sarah had been visiting the psychologist for the last ten weeks, and today the psychologist would be giving us the verdict. When we arrived, our two youngest children, who were two-years-old and seven months were peacefully asleep in the double buggy. I smiled and tried to look like I had it together, but inside I was a mess. I hated myself and loathed who I'd become. I virtually had no relationship with my six-year-old daughter, and this broke my heart. The daughter who I'd yearned for, for most of my twenties. The little newborn that I held in my arms and promised I would never let down. I wondered how on earth I'd I arrived at this point?
I will never forget the sinking words of the psychologist: ‘Your daughter has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and she is at the extreme end. She also has anxiety. My advice is that you medicate her with Ritalin.’
I felt lost, isolated and a failure. I cried, and when I looked over at my husband, he had tears in his eyes too; it was crushing. Over the next 18 months, we saw many different experts. We tried everything; such as various medications and natural alternatives. Sarah had tests upon tests and assessments and instead of happily raising my three small children, I spent my days trying as best as I could to get through the day. I became obsessed with ADHD and finding out everything I could about this disorder. I spent hours at the school, hours on the phone to my best friends and family (who now lived 9000 miles away) and somehow I smiled for the camera! I quick upload to social media hashtagging about family and love and happiness. What a lie, I was drowning and a knew it. I was so lost, that even lost looked found. I was so miserable that even miserable looked happy. Then it hit me. It hit me between the eyes like a steam train, and I've never looked back.
Excerpt from my book, Saving Sarah: learning to live, love & laugh with ADHD
Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Michael Phelps, Richard Branson, Michael Jordan, Jim Carrey, Justin Timberlake and Justin Beiber (one for the kids) all have one thing in common – they all have ADHD. All over the world it is seen as an illness, a disease, a disorder.
But can it be so terrible if some of the most talented and influential people on the planet have it? And how have they managed to survive and become the ‘elite’, if they all had this curse?
Do we want our future generations growing up feeling that they are flawed and that their brains don’t work correctly?
What message is this giving?
And where would we all be now if Einstein was medicated as a child?
Would the world look differently now?
And if Richard Branson had been labelled and told that he was different, that his brain didn’t work correctly, that he needed ‘fixing’, would the Virgin global brand even exist?
Instead of thinking outside of the box, we need to get rid of the box! We need to throw the box away, in fact, we need to burn the goddamn box!
We need to come together as one, get rid of the stigma and start a positive ADHD movement. We need to support each other as parents and hold no judgments. We need to stand tall and realise that our children are not broken and they are not sick.
We could be holding the key to future creators, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and world leaders (it is documented that Winston Churchill had ADHD).
We need to make our children brilliant again because, with love, respect and understanding, they could be the most amazing, awesome human beings!
I believe that it’s our unique, high-energy, creative, risk-taking, fearless ADHD kids who can change the world.
Let’s be the ones who help them do it!
It took me 18 months to get to that point and a further 18 months to be brave enough to start the #positiveADHDmovement. The truth is, I could never have had the courage to do this, if it wasn't for the support of the amazing people that I've met over the last nine months. The mums, dads, grandparents, friends, friends of friends, teachers, teenagers and young people all with a common cause. They all have ADHD in their life in someway shape or form, and they all want to feel part of something - we all do.
I know what it's like to have an ADHD diagnosis family; the shame, the fear, the embarrassment, the bewilderment. There are so many mums, kids, dad's grandparents, teenagers and ADHD adults joining the #positiveADHD Movement and it's so humbling to be a part of it, but somehow I feel this is just the beginning. I want to inspire as many people around the world to start believing that ADHD is a positive thing. It doesn't need hiding, we are not failing as parents, and our children are not 'naughty children'. I believe that we have been given this type of child for a reason, challenging I know, even more, challenging when there is often little support or understanding.
If you have ADHD in your life, we would love you to join us on the #positiveADHD movement; together we can achieve so much more. Please send your pictures and videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.If you want to send me a video - here is the link for more information.
I can't wait for you to join us!