Hello, Happy Dreamers.
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Been a while since I’ve felt like being transparent enough to do so. For a while, I knew I had something to say, I just didn’t know if anyone was listening.
Today, I decided that I couldn’t hold back any longer.
My Journey to a Diagnosis was long
Throughout my life I knew that I was different. I was struggling with something. I had the best ideas, but I never followed through with many of them. Even when I did, it seemed like I couldn’t see some of my most important projects through. I was great with deadlines, so journalism suited me. Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t find a high enough paying job so I always had to juggle several side gigs while writing. I always had this nagging feeling that if only I could focus, I could be as successful as I knew I wanted to be.
My diagnosis was devastating, but it gave me clarity
On August 12th, I became aware of some devastating news. While getting up from the table after a goodbye lunch with my therapist of the past 2 years (I was supposed to be moving to New York to take an Assistant Managing Editor position with an indie newspaper I used to write for back in the day), she dropped a bomb on me – “By the way, you have all the traits of ADHD,” she said.
ADHD Y’all….Issa lot!
I began to take stock of my life after this shocking revelation. I realized through self-examination I had a really unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Throughout my time in New York City, from ages 17 to 28 (some of those golden years are when I first started this blog back in 2012), I had fits and bouts of rage, moments where I felt like I couldn’t control my anger, my words, my sexual inclinations. It wasn’t surprising to me to find out that some of the challenges of having ADHD are to have substance abuse issues, anger, impulsivity issues, and hypersexuality.
Being a Black Woman with ADHD in America is even more difficult because we don’t share our stories so there’s less support
Now, there are several issues to unpack being a Black woman in America with ADHD. You could be a Black woman and have what they call a neurotypical brain and still have issues navigating jobs, the economy, your living situation, relationships, sexuality, and all other areas of life. That just comes with living in a society where white supremacy exists (but we are destroying it day by day by promoting wellness over wokeness – I’m so proud of us). But adding ADHD or any other mental challenge to being in an intersectional group is definitely more difficult. I wanna share what those stories are for me.
My journey to learning I have ADHD in a timeline
In the video, I talk about my timeline leading up to my diagnosis of ADHD. But to be clear:
2002 – Moved to NYC, began classes at Marymount Manhattan College
2003 – Came home, family ran out of money!
2003 – Moved back to NYC and moved in with a roommate who was a former classmate. He tried to hit me, so I moved out that night after only staying for 6 months.
2003 – Moved into the Harlem projects on 145th and 8th. I was working at The Body Shop.
2004 – Moved out to rent a room in Brooklyn and since then lived in subsequent Brooklyn rooms and apartments. I was working at a real estate company, and then a hair salon.
2005 – My sister moved to town and was working on her book.
2006 – We got an apartment together on Broadway in Bushwick. I was still working at the salon 10 hours a day, 4 days a week. It was one of the best work experiences I had that worked well with my ADHD (that I didn’t know I had yet.) It was fast-paced at times, detailed, had lots of interaction with people and a reasonable schedule. (9-7pm)
2007 – I left that job and worked at a French salon. It was a valuable experience. I had a boss who allowed me to do a lot different things, not just reception. I washed hair, promoted etc. It was also the first year me and my sister put on our first party, so that was first event.
2008 – I worked at a couple of restaurants and then I became a flight attendant. That changed my realm of vision for what was possible for me. After that I knew I wanted to travel eventually.
2010 – Left North American Airlines and moved into nonprofit at Public Allies. I LOVED my time with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation – Youth Arts Academy. It was a community organization ran by 5 black women and I felt so seen, heard, and covered and accepted. I loved working with the children and the parents. This job worked well my brain. There was a lot of action, movement, freedom, creativity, and more. I didn’t enjoy every task but I grew a lot. I moved from full time to part-time and began classes at Swedish Institute of Massage and picked up another part-time job at a salon
2013 – I had to leave that job to move to South Carolina. At that point, my fibroid was too big and my periods were painful and heavy. As I stated in the video, I had to quit school and everything. It was devastating. I didn’t even realize that moving home was an option. But my Dad told me, “come home.”
In December of that year, I enrolled at SUNY Empire State College.
2014 – I was in school and tried to start a company remotely with my current ambiguous relationship bae. ADHD definitely played a role. There were several times he got frustrated with me because he felt I wasn’t being productive enough. I had a job at Trader Joe’s and school, and although I know that was a challenge in itself, there were things that I wanted to do and focus on, but couldn’t seem too. It was frustrating and my inter critic was at an all-time high during that time. It didn’t help that I was dating a Capricorn (dating is a loose term).
2015 – We moved in together! I know it seems like a jump. But we had similar goals. We lived in Charlotte. I began working at a sex toy boutique downtown. I thrived there, but it paid less than $10/hour. I wanted to move up and get paid more. A job at a call center opened up and I only lasted 4 months. It was extremely challenging and now, reflecting on this situation knowing that I was dealing with fibroids and ADHD, man. No wonder it was a whirlwind, along with his problems he was dealing with. If only we’d had the education, understanding and resources, we probably could have made it together as a couple.
2016 – We lasted 2 years but we moved out. I moved back to South Carolina and had my surgery in October.
2017 – After taking at least 6 months to recover and working on my degree, researching a bunch of new career options, mainly in social work and education, I began a job at a homeless teen shelter. I speak about how overwhelming it became on the video.
2018 – I quit and began subbing in the schools, deciding that I wanted to be in education to work more closely with the kids. In January, I began subbing in my city. In February I graduated and then applied for New York City Teaching Fellows. No offense to the program – I learned a lot about the special needs of students in Title 1 schools, but it didn’t prepare me for the teaching job I would later acquire. I was in the program from May and taught from September to November of 2018. During this time, I began working on my coaching/counseling skills by reading Tarot. By the end of the year, I’d had a very eye-opening experience that caused me to end that practice. I still know I wanted to
2019 – Shit. Here I am. In August of this year, I learned I have ADHD. My life is starting to make a hell of lot more sense now.
The video says so many things that became clear to me right before and after being diagnosed with ADHD – it changed my identity – and I think it’s for the better.
Stay True, Happy Dreamers. I love you.