Pursuing happiness in your mid 30's while having ADHD
ADHD, Life, Mental Health, Personal Liberation

The Pursuit of Happyness


Pursuing happiness in your mid 30's while having ADHD

Pursuing happiness in your mid 30’s while having ADHD. Photo by Filipe de Rodrigues, modified by me

(Yeah, I know, there’s no “Y” in Happiness.)

But there is a “Why.”

Like, “Why am I here?” Sometimes I feel so sure, and clear, about my life’s purpose, and other times, I just feel…lost.

Wrote a song about it, one that no one’s heard.

That seems to be a recurrent theme: Writing, creating, blogging, vlogging, all these amazing ideas that no one’s seen or heard.

I’m trying though, I promise, I really am. I’ve studied every marketing course, it seems. I mean the idea of applying it all, even trying to keep up with the constant stream of ideas I have, is overwhelming. It’s a common trait of ADHD. I’ve got about 49 folders to keep track of it all. I’m constantly taking notes. It just…doesn’t seem to be adding up to anything right now.

I’m usually the most positive person I know.

I mean as a Capricorn, I have enjoyed long periods of time of being mean, cynical, sarcastic, and just a straight-up bitch. (Being a Capricorn means it was fun for me).

But I’ve been working on myself in recent years. (I want to be happy). I’ve really applied the principals of The Law of Attraction, adding value, and just overall thinking positively.

But…I’ve let fear defeat me several times. Even today. Still crying about it. Here’s why…

I’ve been needing some steady streams of income for a while. To be fully transparent, I’m 35, have been living with my parents for a total of about 3-4 years, (with stints in Charlotte and New York in between) and my period is currently 15 days late.

Probably due to stress.

I learned from my previous therapist to go ahead and plan for the year. So I made getting full-time employment that I love, with good pay, my first-quarter goal. Today is March 31st. I haven’t had much luck with the job search – ok, I applied to a few jobs and my resume didn’t feel like it was working, and I’ve had a few interviews for one role with a nonprofit. I didn’t want to feel like a fool come April. Plus, I’d rewritten my own resume so many times…

So, I hired someone. I hired a career coach with the money that I made from a client, and she wrote me two SEO friendly resumes that really spoke to my skills, and a new LinkedIn profile.  I’m currently keeping a spreadsheet of the 60 or so jobs she recommends applying for each week. (I’m hitting like 2 or 3 applications a day, the goal is 10). But I overthink the details of the cover letter (it’s what makes me a good copywriter) and sometimes get distracted by other things, so it can take me an hour, even two to get through one application.

And for these applications to simply disappear into the abyss, with no response, just feels…disconcerting at best, defeating to say the least. I had escaped that for a while by starting my business. But it wasn’t as successful as I initially envisioned.

The professionally-written resume should help with that feeling, but for now, it’s 11:36PM, and I’m writing a blog post about how bad I feel.

Now, my personal belief system tells me not to dwell on what makes me feel bad. And as I write this I feel better. But from around 11:00PM, I just needed to dwell…

…On all the work it took for me to work job after job after job where I was unappreciated, underutilized as a creative mind, just simply, discarded…

And let’s not forget underpaid…

Since I was 15 years old.

15!

So I don’t feel bad about not taking a job I hate now. I paid my dues. (A term I despise and would never make anyone else do just because I thought I had to.) But…

…35.

You know I still have people asking me “What do you want to do with your life?”

I DON’T KNOW! MAYBE ALL THE THINGS I TRIED TO DO BUT FAILED AT! Maybe all the things I’m naturally good at, but there just doesn’t seem to be a place, for me at least, to get paid a living wage? There’s no blueprint for being a creative. There’s no blueprint for this shit.

And even when I did have jobs, I found myself wanting to be free from them. I’ve always had a really interesting relationship with work. I think I’ve always undersold my abilities and the impact I can make on people.

I know my priorities haven’t always been in the right place.

I have virtually no income, no savings, no 401k. No emergency plan, and no back stash of toilet paper. I know many Millenials can relate. I have probably wasted money on stupid things, but I have nothing to show for it (except pictures). I just know that many people have relied on me when they’re feeling just as down as I’m feeling right now. And right now, this blog is my soundboard. I hope you feel me.

I’m usually hopeful for the future. I still am. I just needed this. I needed this good cry. I needed this moment to ask “Why?” Why does my pursuit of happiness, and the self-actualization that lies therein, seem to be so elusive for me right now? How long will this struggle last?

I’m signing out. I wanna get this out before midnight, so I can say that I did something productive today.

If you’ve ever felt lost, disenfranchised, or wondered how long it will take before you start being appreciated for what you bring to the world..and getting PAID for it…(or if you simply just want a place of your own…) This is for you. Things’ll look up.

Love,

Star

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ADHD, and Relationships, Dating, Friendship, Life, Mental Health

ADHD and Emotional Dysregulation – What Doctors Say and How It Really Feels [w/VIDEO]

Whether you know it or not, ADHD affects our emotions in major ways.

 

 

I did a YouTube video about how I was still in shock from the diagnosis of ADHD. When I first got diagnosed, I subsequently did research and started learning so much more about ADHD than I ever had before. I want to break down a bit more about how ADHD affects our emotions.

 

Keep in mind, how this looks for me will look different for different people at different times. (I remember that phrase used to give me so much anxiety. I just wanted an answer, some direction, and I wanted it now! Now I understand just how different we all are, even if we share many of the same challenges).

 

 

What doctors say about how ADHD affects our emotions:

 

 

According to ADDitude magazine, a website catering to people who have and interact with people with ADD (now more commonly referred to as ADHD):

Challenges with emotions start in the brain itself. Sometimes the working memory impairments of ADHD allow a momentary emotion to become too strong, flooding the brain with one intense emotion. At other times, the person with ADHD seems insensitive or unaware of the emotions of others.

This statement was reviewed by ADDitude’s ADHD Medical Review Panel.

 

 

The publication names feelings like extreme sensitivity to disapproval, social anxiety and giving in to avoidance and denial (two of my favorite emotional dishes served together!) as results of the phenomenon that happens in the brain that is called emotional dysregulation.

 

(I want to stress that this happens in the brain and isn’t a conscious choice). They also mention how all of these emotional reactions can make it really hard to FOCUS AND GET STARTED ON WORK, or anything productive.

 

As I read and research, in my head I’m like, “I feel all of that doctors”. You can read the article for more details on how they say our emotions are affected by ADHD. But now I want to share how it feels to me.

 

I think it’s important to look at things from a wider point of view and to understand what’s already been written about ADHD, but to also really tune into how YOU experience whatever challenges and issues you’re going through.

 

 

What I say about ADHD affects my emotions:

 

 

Although there have been times where I feel that getting up and moving around can help me with overwhelming emotions,  I find that the emotional aspect of ADHD is a continual challenge for me.

 

In one instance that I can remember physical activity working, I had a boyfriend who yelled at me during an argument, and I just allowed myself to get extremely consumed with how upset he was at me. I worked off that feeling of powerlessness and anger by sweeping up the hair at the salon I worked at. I remember thinking “Work IS a savior.”

 

I felt like I was on the verge of doing something irrational, erratic and self-destructive because I didn’t feel HEARD, so I used physical work to distract me. (And not feeling heard is a theme I see coming up for me a LOT. I guess it’s one of my triggers.)

 

My new digital lifestyle makes it more challenging to do what works to shake off bad feelings faster – being physical.

 

 

Chalk it up to having such a free schedule and less structure. As a writer, and freelancer, most of my days and about 40%  – 60% of my time is spent being stuck (did I say stuck? I mean melded, by choice) to a computer or phone. Juggling multiple loving relationships with friends and semi-romantic partners means a lot of texting and social media.

 

In an attempt to get more done and be less distracted and consumed, I often take social media breaks from a few or all platforms for a while. But that still leaves texting. And when I get into passionate discussions, whether personal or about culture or other issues, I find myself getting really riled up and most recently have been looking at how I jump to conclusions that someone is saying something that they actually aren’t. Instead of asking what they mean, I rapidly respond in raging texts, and it has happened over and over again.

 

 

I get fixated on a phrase or word…mostly by text. And I get so stuck on what I think is being said that I don’t remind myself to first ask myself  “would this person who has proven through time, words and actions that they love me say what I think they’re saying?” I also stay seated and forget to get up, move around, and help calm and distract myself from that negative fixation with movement.

 

 

I had no idea that feeling like little things were “life and death” and that I had to respond to them RIGHT NOW was an aspect of ADHD.

 

 

I used to think of this as a testing behavior associated with what I think is my insecure anxious attachment style. And it might be. Through intense research (and experience, my Lord) I’ve found out that ADHD often travels with its buddies anxiety, bipolar, and more.

 

But now, I realize that even though I have learned to slow way way down and I have gotten so much better at my reactions, my brain still sees rejection and insult in so much of what others say.  I see it in women, colleagues, and associates as well. It gives me a pain in my chest. I just don’t let myself react to it the same way that I do with my partners. And what is most amazing is that I had no idea that this wasn’t what most people were thinking and feeling. When I express this feeling to others, they don’t express that they feel the same – unless they have anxiety!

 

Having emotionally intelligent partners helps me cope when my emotions get out of control.

 

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If I didn’t have emotionally sensitive men in my life – who knew how to tell me that what I was doing was hurting them, and the patience to hear me first make excuses, then later apologize, and then even later start to change the behavior  – they would not have the emotional intelligence to help me process my feelings. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but they have patience.

 

Having a creative outlet is essential to coping with the intense emotions of ADHD too.

 

Writing helps. And blogging, actually publishing my writing, helps me feel that all those emotions that don’t feel so good aren’t being felt for nothing. I put them in my art.

 

 

It was really important for me to learn about how emotional dysregulation or emotional hypersensitivity is tied to ADHD. It really helped me make sense of my overwhelming feelings and helped me stop blaming myself so I can focus on managing my reactions to my emotions.

 

Issa journey!

 

Stay up, Happy Dreamers. Love y’all.

Check out the video I did on ADHD and emotional dysregulation:

 

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My Journey to an ADHD diagnosis
ADHD, Life, Mental Health

My Journey to an ADHD Diagnosis

 

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.

 

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