The patrolman handed me the dreaded paper and stepped back into his car with the flashing blue lights. How in the world can this be happening, again, I thought, my third ticket in eighteen months. What was wrong with a fifty-something-year-old woman, mother to adult sons, and responsible nurse– in this trouble again? My mind raced through what to say to my husband, the message I’d leave when I knew he’d be with a client and unable to answer. There was only one plausible explanation; my ADHD made me do it.
He would understand that since as a psychologist, he’d agreed with me that I met the criteria for the diagnosis: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. When I was young, I’d been one of those daydreaming girls that didn’t get in trouble, invisible compared to the boys with behaviors that sent them to the principal’s office or to military school. Mine made it hard to focus on boring classes, like history, or tedious assignments, like algebra word problems. Just like parents of children with asthma, I thought I’d grow out of it, but unfortunately, ADHD continued with me to adulthood.
Now, it shows up in either being hyper-focused on things I love or poorly focused on things that bore me. When I’m absorbed in my writing, delving deep into that zone while the muse is present, I can totally block out everything. I’ve burned holes in the bottom of pans, missed turns when driving, and been late for appointments—to name a few of the consequences. I can miss payment deadlines on bills because I put off the dreaded task of opening mail.
But like other things, ADHD can be both a curse and a blessing. My imagination is strong and helps me to be spontaneous and adventurous. I’ve seen both sides of this on my solo journeys. While my personality helps me to step out and take the risks of traveling alone, sometimes I overlook details.
I remember that being the case when I took my pilgrimage to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington State. I planned to hike to the highest point in Puget Sound at the summit of Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island. I envisioned trail maps at the entrance, a heavily trafficked path, and frequent blazes like on the Appalachian Trail to mark the way. I’d been too rushed the day I packed to remember my whistle, moleskin, and other hiking necessities.
When I arrived at the trailhead, there were no maps, no ranger, no person in sight. How in the world could a mother of two Eagle Scouts be so unprepared? While I’d hyper-focused on my flight to Sea-Tac, chartered bus to Anacortes, ferry ride to Friday Harbor, I had given out of focus for the details of my trek up Mt. Constitution.
I grew uneasy as I hiked for almost an hour without seeing another soul. I was almost three thousand miles from home and no one knew where I was. The blaze markers were so infrequent that I worried that I’d get lost in the dark evergreen forest. I felt foolish for overlooking key things. I prayed that God would lead me and trusted there would be people in my path to help me.
I made it to the top of the mountain and marveled at the beauty of Puget Sound. The God who created me knew my needs and used both sides of this ADHD- girl- grown- into- a- woman. My vulnerabilities made me more dependent on God.
What about you?
What personality traits do you have that are both blessing and curse?
How do you manage the areas where you are vulnerable?
How could you take advantage of the blessing to step forward in your life?