Life with Differences


Life with ADD/ADHD 

I’d always wondered what it was like to live with dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, OCD, or a similar struggle. School as a young person and life in adulthood was and is hard enough, I couldn’t imagine adding something else to the mix of the struggle. Then, I found out I’d been given a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD in college.

“You got tested and never opened the mail. It was addressed to you instead of me because you were over 18. I found it about six months ago in an old box of yours and I didn’t tell you because you are doing so well.”

My mom, last week

OK! So, now I know what it’s like. Life was so hard as a young student. The teacher wouldn’t get through a sentence before my thoughts drifted me to a far away land. A student would cough or a chair would move and I’d be brought back to reality but no more than a minute later I’d be back in some other world. 

The thing is, I’d be so excited to go to school and learn new things. I couldn’t wait! The minute my butt hit the seat though, I was gone. My freshman year in high school, I couldn’t wait for English class. I had always felt this hunger to be a writer, so the idea of a high school English class made me giddy. However, I remember not being able to focus. Ms. Hines would start in on sentence structure and I’d float away. This is the way all of school was for me. I could barely remember what to do for homework and exams because it was like I wasn’t even in class. The only time that I could focus was when I was moving, so one thing was great – PE! 

My self-esteem was low because I didn’t have any success in the only thing that I really did in life – school. My town didn’t really have much going on for youth. Then, there came running. Running on my high school and track teams brought me confidence. I was focused, determined, and excelled at it. I wasn’t elite-status, but close. Close enough to build confidence. I was on the ground level but the house did get built over time. 

What to do and How to be?

Find what works and what doesn’t work. I survived K-12, college, and graduate school, but not with flying colors. There was a lot of doubt, do-overs, and frustration involved. After grad school I completed a lot of self-study and online courses and was finally successful in retaining information and applying the new knowledge. If I had done that coursework in a classroom setting I don’t think I would have been as successful. Having the freedom to learn in my own way allowed me to learn.

We all have a gift even though sometimes it may feel like a burden. Whatever it is that sets you apart from someone else, may be your key to success and fulfillment. My 10 year-old, terribly shy self would never have thought that I would lead fitness classes. My day dreamer self would never have thought that I’d grow up to continuously take a bunch of courses, personal train people to wellness, and become a writer. It would be cool if we could all get a peek into our future so we know that everything will turn out just fine. Since we can’t, believe in you now and make life happen for you.

Keely Grand