Hearing the great news that Linda Roggli’s new book had won a Next Generation Indie Award reminded me to ask her about sharing an excerpt here. She graciously agreed, and you can read below a snippet from Confessions of an ADDiva: Midlife in the Non-Linear Lane. This book (now also available on audio) will inspire mid-life women who have ADHD (diagnosed or not) with highly relate-able wit and wisdom.
Linda Roggli is the founder of the ADDiva Network, which “supports women 40-and-better with ADD-ish tendencies.” After she was diagnosed, Linda recalls, “I was desperate to talk to other ADD women who understood how I felt. There weren’t many opportunities for adult women to connect, especially midlife women.
I met Linda at a CHADD conference years ago. I was presenting a poster on my ADHD Partner Survey. A few feet away, Linda was exhibiting her ADDiva network. For the long hours I spent standing there waiting for conference-goers to come ask about my research, I could shoot over to Linda’s table during the dull moments. Her approach made an impression for its “freshness”, her spirit, and her message: “Celebrating ADD-ish Women.”
Now for the excerpt – enjoy!
[Please note: At the time Linda’s book was published, ADD was the more common term used to describe what we now call ADHD. The same is true for my first book, Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? which came out in 2008.]
My midlife crisis arrived, not in the form of a shiny red Corvette, but with the sudden evaporation of my memory.
I was at the checkout counter at Macy’s buying a dress when the sales clerk asked for my ZIP code to verify my credit card. I opened my mouth to speak, but unexpectedly I went brain dead−or “dain bread,” as a friend of mine calls it. I stared at the clerk in confusion.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled. “I can’t remember anything lately.”
“Oh honey, I’ve been there,” said the woman, who was probably in her late sixties. She patted my hand. “It’ll get better eventually. But it’s terrible to lose your mind.”
Somehow I managed to make it out of the store and to my car where I put my head on the steering wheel and cried. This couldn’t be happening to me! I had depended on my intelligence and quick wit to get by my entire life−and now they were gone! Almost overnight (coinciding with full-fledged menopause), I had morphed from the quickest brain in the room to a space cadet who couldn’t think her way out of a paper bag.
Sorting Out “Age” From ADD
But was it A.G.E. or A.D.D. that was the culprit? They looked darned similar: memory problems, foggy brain, distractibility, sleep disruption. My A.D.D. didn’t cause my hot flashes, of course. And my A.G.E. wasn’t responsible for my tardiness. But a lot of my friends told me they thought they had developed a late-life case of A.D.D.: they were “dain bread,” too. It seemed that into every menopause, a little A.D.D. must fall. But for my friends, the symptoms were temporary. For me, they were not.
The dividing line between A.G.E. and A.D.D. is the longevity of symptoms. My friends had been able to focus, finish projects and balance their checkbooks before the change of life. They had also been successful in their careers, raised fine families and managed their lives in a way I envied.
I often compare my over-age-forty A.D.D. diagnosis to changing one piece of data in a computer program. Even though it’s a small change, it forces a reset of all the data, backward and forward. When I looked back on my life with the new line of A.D.D. code, I was overcome with sadness, regret and a touch of anger.
If only I had known this when I was younger! I could have gotten treatment and been able to finish my projects. I could have raised my fine family. I could have made outlines that I actually followed. I could have been on time to work every morning. I could have used the thousands of minutes I’d wasted on ADD during my “one wild and precious life” to create a better life, not only for me but for everyone around me.
Is There Still Time To Live My Dreams?
So the question was: Is there still time to live the life I’d dreamed of, that I had tried again and again to achieve? I was fifty. How many more chances would I get? I need to make some decision and do something.
Yet, I hung back, caught in the grip of indecision. Should I go back to school? Was my brain even capable of studying? How would I compensate for my ADD now that I wasn’t as quick on the uptake as in my younger days? Then there were the bigger questions: Who am I? Why I am taking up space on the planet? What is my purpose?
Gradually, I realized that it was time to embrace my A.D.D. instead of fighting it. I sat quietly (but only for a few minutes at a time!) and listened to my heart. Over the course of several years, I retrained as a retreat facilitator, then as a speaking circles moderator and finally as a life coach with a specialization in (of all things!) A.D.D..
My memory is much improved from those menopausal madness days, thanks to the settling of my hormones. And my life is happier now that I’ve linked arms with my A.D.D.. We’ll walk down the yellow brick road together. At last.