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Undiagnosed ADHD Caused My Alcoholism

I have always felt like I wasn’t quite operating at the same speed as everyone else. Things that seem easy for others require gargantuan effort for me, and then I often fail anyway. I can make my bedroom look beautiful in 5 hours, but I won’t spend 10 minutes putting my clothes away.

My whole life, I have defined myself with the negatives:

  • I am messy.
  • I am disorganized.
  • I am crap at time management.
  • I am easily distracted.
  • I have a low tolerance for frustration and irritation.
  • I can be fascinated by something one week, then completely forget about it the next.

These traits are accompanied by many other positive ones, but, being human, the negative ones have dominated my view of myself for my entire life.

As an adult, defining myself by the things I didn’t get right has taken a toll on my self-esteem and mental health. I could never understand why I couldn’t seem to function in what was even a basic level of normal for most people. Drugs and alcohol were easy answers to this and other emotional turbulence.

Last week, I got confirmation from my doctor that I am not, in fact, crap at everything, but that I do have ADHD.

I can tick off every single symptom on this list! After years of feeling like I don’t fit anywhere, I find I am actually a textbook case of ADHD!

This discovery has transformed my view of myself. I will look for solutions instead of beating myself up about the state of my house, my poor organizational skills and my erratic moods. Instead of getting angry with myself, I will look at what I need to do to emphasize the gifts ADHD bring.

I can already access the best tools: yoga, meditation, healthy eating, good sleep. My biggest challenge is routine: my life is unstructured due to factors beyond my control. I am going to look into what I can do to mitigate this, and where I can put routine and structure in. I am not going to take medication (so if you are going to tell me ADHD was invented to sell drugs, please don’t, my doctor has already ruled out drug therapy for me).

If you or your child have any of these symptoms, please speak to your doctor.

ADHD can make life very difficult, but if you and your child know it is there, you can work with it. Undiagnosed ADHD can lead people down a very dark and unhappy path (addiction being just one of them). If you know you or your child have it, you can find ways to manage it.

I recommend the YouTube videos produced by How to ADHD. It was one of her videos that alerted me to the fact that I might have ADHD. Also, Faster Than Normal by Peter Shankman is wonderful. Between laughter and tears, I realized how much of my self-esteem has been lost over the years to something that explains me so well.

A version of this post originally appeared on Facebook. It has been reprinted with permission.

Esther is from Wales in the UK. She beat 20 years of alcoholism and drug abuse at the age of 40 when she trained to be a yoga teacher. She has been sober since Oct 12, 2014, and has written a book about her adventures (Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga). She is now on a mission to help one million women across the world improve their own lives – and the lives of those around them. Esther believes that through the transformational power of breath, we can create space, peace, energy and joy in our lives.

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