It was a beautiful sunny day in May and I was going to die.

I was curled up in the fetal position on the bed and it was absolutely horrible. I lay there, scream-crying that I’d had enough and wanted off the pills. My husband stood looking at me in resigned silence. When he finally spoke, he said, “I know. Just stop taking them, okay?”

I nodded yes.

“Are you going to be okay? I’m leaving now,” he said.

I nodded yes.

He walked out of the room and left the house. There was nothing he could do for me. Not because he didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t do anything for me.

Two weeks earlier I’d been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. And on that day lying on the bed, I was 11 days into my first trial of antidepressant medication. It wasn't going well. Actually, it was awful. I was in the middle of my sixth episode of major depression and anxiety in eleven years, and this one was the worst I’d ever experienced. I’d been sick for well over a year and by May 2011 I had stopped going to work. It was a good day if I got out of bed at all.

I heard the door shut as my husband left for work. He wouldn’t be back until 10:30 that night. It was 1:15 pm and I would be alone for the next 9 hours.

I couldn’t bear it.

There was enough medication in my bathroom to do it. All I had to do was get up and take two big mouthfuls of water and pills and then I could go back to sleep and be done with all of it. I stood up and walked toward the bathroom. Looking for my pills, I found myself instead in the living room.

“What the hell? How did I get here?” I thought. Then I heard a voice say, “You’re going to the doctor now.”

There was no one in the house but me.

I turned to go back to the bathroom, and The Voice spoke again with deep authority, compassion and love. “You’re going to the doctor now.” I obeyed. I walked to the front door.

“Put your shoes on, get your keys and purse and get in the car,” The Voice said. I stood there, unable to move. I was so tired from all of it. The Voice repeated the command with unconditional love and gentleness. I put my shoes on, grabbed my keys and purse and got in the car.

“Put the key in the ignition. You can do it,” was the next command.

“No, I can’t,” I told the voice.

“Yes you can.” More love. I put the key in the ignition.

“I’m so tired,” I said. I wished the Voice would go away. “I CAN’T do this!” I wailed, as I slumped over the steering wheel, defeated.

“Yes you can, and you will,” said the Voice. “Turn the key now.”

Pushing down the clutch felt like pushing a cinderblock with my foot, and turning the key felt like trying to open a jar that had been sealed shut with crazy glue. The car started.

“Now drive.”

More cinderblock, and this time I had to move the gear shift. It was like stirring hardening cement. The car lurched forward. I arrived at the doctor’s office exhausted, helpless and hopeless with no memory of how I got there.

Looking back, I can clearly see how I ended up in the doctor’s office on that day.

I was a 34 year old woman living with undiagnosed ADHD and I had given up on myself. I believed that happiness was for other people and that I didn’t deserve to have dreams. I believed that life was supposed to be hard, because it had always been hard, and that a life of success, freedom, fulfillment and joy would never happen for me. 

Luckily, I was wrong. On that awful day in 2011, my Voice refused to be silent any longer. The depression I was experiencing as a result of my undiagnosed ADHD was my soul screaming at me to wake up and it was either going to get my attention or kill me trying.

As a child in elementary school I was constantly losing things, had a messy room, hated school and couldn't ever remember my homework. There were daily fights with my parents to get me up, dressed, fed and out the door. I was once severely disciplined for always forgetting to put my shoes on the desk at the end of the day. Mine was the messiest desk in class. Crammed full of paper, pencils, odds and ends, I could never find anything I was looking for. Math was my most hated subject and I still now recall suffering through those hours in class. I was talkative and social in class and teachers were always telling me to stop distracting the other students. Parent-teacher nights were faced with utter dread as I knew that all of the lies and excuses I had told to both my parents and teachers about why my school work wasn't done were all going to be found out and I was going to be punished.

I didn't know I had ADHD. No one knew I had ADHD. 

In junior high I was a social outcast and a weirdo. The developmental delay I experienced due to my ADHD meant I was a 12 year old girl with the social skills of an 8 year old. I had few friends my age because I couldn't relate to any of my schoolmates so I mostly hung around with high school kids, which my parents and teachers thought was odd. Academically my grades got better and I began to make the honour roll, but I still struggled through math class, forgot or lost my homework, forgot permission slips, and assignments. So I kept making excuses and telling lies to cover up how much I was struggling. Except, I didn't know how much I was struggling compared to my schoolmates.  I began to hate going to school more than anything. My room was constantly messy, I still lost things and I forgot to do my house chores no matter how many times my parents reminded me.

I didn't know I had ADHD. No one knew I had ADHD. 

Things were much the same in high school. Still unpopular and a target of bullies, I scraped through high school physics, chemistry and math by the skin of my teeth, except for my grade 11 year when I was lucky enough to have a teacher who taught math in a way that I found interesting and easy to understand. The next year in grade 12, I struggled so much in math class that I decided to cheat on a mid-term exam. I was caught and almost didn't graduate. I couldn't understand why I had done so well the year before and now was flunking all of a sudden. I managed to survive and graduate with honours, yet I just couldn't get my act together. I was a chronically disorganized serial procrastinator who was late for everything, losing all my things and just not quite getting life. It felt like I was in a race where everyone else was driving sports cars and I was stuck on a pedal bike.

I didn't know I had ADHD. No one knew I had ADHD.

University almost killed me. The total lack of structure meant that I was accountable for getting to my classes on time, taking proper notes, remembering assignments, doing assignments and passing them in on time. Lecture classes were the worst: I couldn't keep up with the professor and my notes were terrible. I always wrote my essays the night before they were due, even if they had been assigned months ago at the beginning of the semester. Once, my english literature professor assigned an essay that I procrastinated on for so long, that I procrastinated doing it until after the due date had passed. When I was going to university, assignments were still submitted in hard copy, not by email so I made up a story that I was visiting my aunt in another city that weekend and had left my completed essay at her home. The professor told me that if my aunt could courier the essay within 3 days, and I brought the unopened envelope to her, she would grade it. So I went home, pulled an all nighter to write the essay, sent it by same-day courier to my aunt and asked her to same day courier it back to me.  I just couldn't get started on any of my assignments. I failed half my courses in my 3rd year and had to do an extra part-time year to make them up. Part-time school seemed to agree with me, yet I continued to attend full-time in my 5th year and my grades slipped. I somehow managed to graduate with my degree in business administration, but this time there were no honours.

I didn't know I had ADHD. No one knew I had ADHD.

I spent all of my 20’s and my early 30’s moving across the country with my boyfriend (who would later become my husband) while he built his dream career. I hated every job I worked in and rebelled against my bosses and supervisors. Jobs lost their shine quickly and I'd always find some reason to quit. It felt like I was living only to make other people happy and settling for whatever work I could find that would help pay the bills. I worked a string of customer service jobs in retail and in call centers with a few administrative office jobs scattered around here and there. As the years passed, and we moved further north, I gained enough experience to eventually land a 6-figure management job in the public service with health and pension benefits. I told myself I’d hit the jackpot and had finally found my dream career. 

I was wrong. 

I felt like I was constantly behind the 8-ball. The deadlines were always too soon and I struggled to meet them. I knew I was smart enough to do the job, and I had great ideas about how to improve processes and make things better but I could never seem to clearly express them, whether it was in writing or in meetings. I was always late for work by at least 30 minutes. I worked an inhuman amount of overtime to complete tasks that everyone else could get done during the day. Meetings were absolute torture. I couldn't sit still or concentrate if I wasn't the person doing the talking. I took comfort in that at least my office had a door and I could control the light and temperature independently from other offices, so I could focus without much effort, though I'd have to nap over lunch because the stimulation of the morning had depleted me. After a restructuring, I was moved out of my office and into a cubicle with half-walls, no door, and no light or temperature control. I was constantly distracted by the sounds of my co-workers, my freezing hands and the irritating fluorescent light. It was too bright, too noisy and too cold. I was overwhelmed with demands from my co-workers and supervisors. I dreaded email notifications. My inbox was always at max capacity with everything flagged as priority, except nothing was getting done. I was constantly anxious, losing sleep and miserable. I gained and lost over 100 lbs in 5 years. I believed that life was just too hard and I was never going to be happy. I decided I was a failure and wasn't worth anything to anyone. 

I didn't know I had ADHD. No one knew I had ADHD.

And that's when we came in....

That day in the doctor's office I was prescribed a new antidepressant that worked. I had the footing I needed to recover, and I began to learn about depression and anxiety. I devoured books on those subjects, did the self-help exercises, went to counselling and over 2 years, I pulled myself out of the depression that had crippled me for most of my adult life. I stopped taking anti-depressants and I decided I wanted to help others overcome their depression but didn't want to become a counsellor. 

One evening in 2014 while I was online, I stumbled across an online ad for a life coach. I knew right away I wanted to find out what a life coach did and how I could become one. Something about this kind of work felt right to me. That night I registered with Martha Beck Life Coach Training and 6 weeks later I began the course. I loved everything about it. Coaching changed my life, and I wanted to share that feeling with everyone. I knew I had to be a coach.

I continued to struggle at work not knowing that I had ADHD, though I had a mission and a plan to change my life and help others. The passion I had for wanting to help others ignited my drive and motivation for the first time in a long time. I eventually quit my lucrative, yet soul-crushing job to open my own coaching practice.

And it didn't go well.

My structure lost, I found myself unable to get started on or feel motivated about any work to build my fledgling coaching practice. I had enough clients, and they all told me that coaching was making a huge difference for them, but my business wasn't thriving so I was still working part-time, and I couldn't even motivate myself to do my part-time job! I still forgot deadlines in my job and still struggled. I began to feel anxious about what I had done. I realized had made the wrong decision again and I wasn't going to be able to help anyone. I began to sink into the dark of depression again. 

Then I remembered something out of the blue. Back in 2011 when I was in the throes of my depression, my husband had attended a peer counselling workshop through his employer and the speaker shared about her life with ADHD.  I remembered he came home from the workshop and gave me the literature, telling me he thought I needed to read it. I dismissed it almost at once. ADHD wasn't real and I certainly didn't have it. 

But the self-awareness I had gained in my training as a coach told me that maybe I needed to look at that information again, so I read up on it and decided to pursue a diagnosis of ADHD. 6 months later, I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 37 and my life changed forever.

I immediately decided I had to become an ADHD coach. I decided then and there that no one with ADHD should have to suffer the way I did. No one with ADHD should have to struggle in school like I did, hate their job and life, be depressed for 11 years and end up almost taking their own life. In 2016, I enrolled at the ADD Coach Academy to become an ADHD coach and after graduating, I added ADHD coaching to my practice. I take medication for my ADHD and I use the tools and skills learned in coaching school to help me with my ADHD symptoms. 

I have not had symptoms of depression for 4 years and have not needed anti-depressants since I stopped them in 2013. I am a full-time life and ADHD coach. I have found success and happiness in working with other people who have ADHD. I know I am enough and that I am not a failure. 

Maybe you’ve been where I was 6 years ago. Maybe you’re there right now, feeling lost in the dark without hope of finding the light. I know how hard it is to wake up each day without hope. When I got the help I needed for my ADHD I found my light, hope, passion and reason for being. Regardless of my having ADHD or you having ADHD, we are not broken and we are not doomed to fail. We are whole, human and capable of success, happiness and making a meaningful contribution in this world. I'm inviting you to find the strengths in your ADHD and bring them into the world. 

Thank you for witnessing my story.

~Michelle.