Samantha’s Cliffs (for those recently diagnosed)

Samantha had not been on this journey very long and, so far, the only obstacles she had encountered were not anything she couldn’t crawl over or under; but just ahead, she could see that the familiar world now beneath her would soon disappear. 

Was this as far as she could go, her limit?  Had she reached the end of her world?

The void ahead, like a vacuum, was siphoning her onward. Insatiable curiosity prevailed over the intimidating uncertainty that would tether her back to the comfort of predictability. She had to know what lay ahead.   Inch by inch she crawled to the edge of the precipice, an attempt to appease a longing to see where her world had gone.

It was odd. 

Instead of disappearing completely, the ground dropped straight down, then levelled out for a ways before sinking straight down again. It repeated this pattern about a dozen times like a series of perfectly formed cliffs. At the bottom, Samantha could see that the world continued on into some vast new region below.

These cliffs were more ominous than any obstacle she had ever encountered. If she could imagine a safe way down the cliffs, she could not imagine a way back up. 

Her mind and emotions argued within her in a swirling confusion, seemingly unclear which one she favoured, the world ahead or the tether behind. The zenith of confusion came as each option posed the same resounding question: “What if…?"

She had to go forward. Had to. But how? 

It was exactly at the pinnacle of her curious trepidation that her fate was manifest in a breathtaking culmination of serendipity. With one swift yet fluid motion, her father picked Samantha up in his strong arms and carried her, cradled snuggly against his chest, down the staircase and into the waiting world below.

This was baby Sam’s first foray into the basement.

Perspective is everything. 

When facing new circumstances in life, the journey ahead can seem just like standing on the edge of a series of cliffs, having never faced anything but relatively flat land.

This is exactly how it can feel for a person receiving a diagnosis of ADHD. 

Initially, looking back provides some objectivity. The constant challenges in your journey - thorny underbrush, switchbacks, and forks in the trail - finally make sense. Oddly, such objectivity makes it feel as though you are reviewing your life through someone else’s eyes. "Who am I really?" "Who would I have become without my ADHD?"

Looking forward brings an even less familiar dimension to your questions. "Who will I become with my ADHD?"

This is the place of the crossroads. I’ve been there. I was diagnosed with ADHD in my late 30s.

Learning to understand yourself, apart from the ADHD symptoms which have defined much of your identity, may sound liberating at the outset, but walking the path itself can cause more than a little insecurity. Besides those feelings, actually distinguishing your symptoms from your identity is a downright difficult task to accomplish when you have never before imagined there is a difference. 

It is tempting to simply continue living your life as you always have. Stay on the flat, familiar, albeit thorny passage; navigate life the way you always have, the way you know how. "Why bother scaling the cliffs?"

Unfortunately, nobody can sweep you up and carry you down the cliffs like Samantha’s father did, but an ADHD Coach can certainly walk with you and help you find your legs more quickly and more confidently. If you would like a travelling companion who has been there, done that, I’d be happy to help. (read my journey)

Knowing about one's ADHD should be empowering, even though it is a bit confusing at first. Perched insecurely at the top of those cliffs, I want to tell you, “That new world ahead, it is your world. You are adequate. You are able. You do belong. You most certainly CAN get there. Give yourself time to learn and room to grow.”

To put a spin on the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: "There is nothing to fear, not even fear itself.”

ps- I recently saw a Facebook post that reminded me instantly of the journey that begins when adults are diagnosed with ADHD. Having been privileged enough to walk alongside many such people as they journey into their new world, I see many similarities between their “awakening” and the ones revealed in the following clip. (Note the different responses of each individual in the clip, and the unique personalities which were, until this point, shrouded by uniformity)


      © Dan Duncan 2013                                       part of the