The ADHD Crossroad: Diagnosed at 56 | ADDA

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By Stephanie Mackeprang

They say ignorance is bliss. Knowing what I know now, my whole life makes so much more sense. I guess it was bliss! I’ve been working hard and striving to succeed in my career. My only other priority was family which left very little time for anything else. It was too stressful. I put all my energy into work. Striving to reach the potential I felt I had, my efforts fell short. I was passed over for promotions.

I’m at a crossroads. During the COVID-19 crisis, it became very clear to me I needed to make changes. The way my bosses treated me when I got sick during this time made it all very clear.

I do digital marketing and PR at a small liberal arts college in Nebraska. I serve as project manager for all digital projects. Web content strategy, digital marketing (adult and traditional), social media support and video. It takes very different skill sets, but I’m pretty good at keeping all those balls in air. Now I know why! I loved it, at first.

Then my health took a drastic turn for the worse. I had two hemiplegic migraines while on the job. One in July 2017 and one in May 2019 (on my birthday!). Hemiplegic migraines mimic the symptoms of a stroke. After the first one, the doctors treated me for a stroke. By the second one, the doctors figured it out and diagnosed me with anxiety. I have struggled with shortness of breath for years and used an asthma inhaler. I later found out this treatment was masking my anxiety.

My doctor encouraged me to seek psychiatric treatment. I was afraid of taking antidepressants so I saw a psychologist instead. I still was not diagnosed with ADHD. Rethinking my career, I sought the service of a professional coach. She got me to start journaling.

Then a world crisis occurred, COVID-19. I’d come in contact with the virus. I was sick for two and a half weeks due to a credible local contact. I got nothing but passive aggressive vibes as they struggled to understand why I wasn’t able to do more work. I was feeling anxious.

I’m the university’s one-woman digital marketing department and out of commission. They must have thought I was using my anxiety to get out of work. But after six years of working there, I was starting to fall out favor, like at my other jobs.

While I was sick with fever during the COVID-19 crisis and trying to journal, I kept writing the words down wrong. I thought to myself. Could I have dyslexia? I started researching and learned about half of the people with dyslexia also have ADHD. As I researched more, I saw myself with the symptoms.

I wasn’t sleeping and my anxiety was through the roof so I called my doctor and decided to take FMLA to treat my anxiety. That’s when I started psychiatric treatment and received the ADHD diagnosis.

Now that I have a true diagnosis, I’m on the fence about even trying to go back to this work environment. I’ve been asking for years to have somebody else take over the public relations end of my position. They claim money wasn’t in the budget. Now I have leverage. I have a diagnosis that can help them understand. I have a diagnosis that can help me understand! So, I sit here at a crossroads. There is still so much to learn about my ADHD condition. ADDA has been a wonderful resource and I am grateful.



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