A Self-Discovery ADD/ADHD Journey of Challenges and Success

A Self-Discovery ADD/ADHD Journey of Challenges and Success

Are you on the ADD/ADHD Journey too? Scroll down to learn more on how to to discover symptoms and be proactive for healing journey.

My ADD/ADHD journey begins like this. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look in my husband’s eyes when he tried to help me get up the stairs in front of one of those beautiful Victorian houses. It was a perfect summer morning during the track season.

Saratoga Springs comes to life during that time of year. The big hats come out and the live bands play in the streets. Everyone seems vibrant, and chatty, sipping their drinks from my favorite coffee place in town. 

I looked up into my husband’s drained eyes. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be like one of these vibrant people passing us? What have I done? That look in his eyes, it’s my fault, all my fault. I hate myself. I’m worthless. But I already knew that. What’s new…Another wave of guilt came over me. 

A Self-Discovery ADD / ADHD Journey of Challenges, Growth, and Success

Thoughts are powerful, an ADD/ADHD brain is challenging, and both can take us to dark places, quickly and mercilessly.

I would know. 

Since our move from Switzerland to the U.S., I had bad days occasionally. I never quite felt like I fit in. Every now and then I would feel overwhelmed and believe the voice in my head that was telling me I wasn’t good enough – nothing that wouldn’t go away after a good night’s sleep. Then, this ‘bad day’ turned into an entire weekend and before I knew it, negative thoughts were following me pretty much everywhere. 

I felt like I was not up to par with the other moms who were living in my town. I had painted a picture inside my mind that all these amazing women were so much smarter than me, had Ivy League educations, and most likely left behind their impressive jobs at Manhattan law firms to raise a family. It’s interesting what kind of stories we tell ourselves, isn’t it? Of course, none of this was helping my crippling sense of self-worth. 

Back in Switzerland, I went to the gym almost every day; it was basically my second home. But here? 

Anxiety overcame me the second I walked through those doors.

Feeling totally out of shape and convinced I was wearing the wrong outfit, (is it even possible to wear the wrong outfit to a gym?) I made a big detour around the treadmills remembering that I can’t run.

Why? I felt like I was too slow; I wouldn’t even dare to run around my own neighborhood. What would my neighbors think if they looked out their windows to see me struggling to maintain an acceptable pace? With a gym full of people watching me, how was running on a treadmill any different? 

Back “home” in Switzerland, I was also a decent cook, adventurous even. My mother would always tell me, “If you don’t put something in the food that tastes bad, the meal won’t taste bad.” And so, I was never afraid to try new combinations.

Despite my best efforts to convert cooking temperatures from Celsius to Fahrenheit and grams to ounces, things didn’t go so well here in the US. (Keep in mind that this was before the time of “There is an app for everything”) I decided that I sucked at cooking. Period. 

Slowly but surely my negative thoughts eroded my self-esteem. 

I got really good at it too. I believed every negative word I said to myself, although I was surrounded by my husband, my family, and friends who were kind, loving, and encouraging. None of them knew the real battle I was facing in my mind every single day. 

The ADD/ADHD Journey is bumpy

That summer in Saratoga Springs marked that “rock bottom moment” people often talk about. I had always struggled, but this summer was different; it was an extra shade of dark and I didn’t have the energy to dust myself off and regain trust in myself.

I was afraid to make a promise that it wouldn’t happen anymore because deep inside I knew I would fail again. Disappoint again. I was done. I was tired of fighting the inevitable cycles of ups and downs. Afraid of the tailspins taking me down that dark place faster than I could react to it. I wanted to sleep – forever. 

After these episodes, I often felt like I was hit by a truck. It’s almost fascinating how our mind can exhaust us physically, wouldn’t you agree? If you have been there – you know what I’m talking about. 

After days of only barely moving, my husband tried to take me for a walk. I was too weak and collapsed, bringing me to that pivotal moment in front of that beautiful Victorian house where I was faced with a choice: Do I give up or find a reason to get back up? Looking into the helpless face of the man I love, I was crushed. What have I done? 

The decision I made that day completely altered the course of my life. I got back up.

When my husband and I returned to our condo, I was overcome by the sound of my kids’ laughter. I wondered how many memories this “disease” robbed me of. Enough! My family deserves better.

I decided to get help and after visiting a medical professional I was handed the diagnosis: Depression.

According to them, the next logical step would be medication.

Anti-Depressants most likely. The accepted theory was that depression is a chemical imbalance of the brain and there is a pill to help with that. Something about this explanation didn’t feel right, but what did I know… The doctor went on to say, “If you had diabetes wouldn’t you take medication? It’s the same thing.” Hmmm, okay then

I’m not here to judge, but from where I stand today, I would argue that there is always more that can be done than just medication. I gave the medication a try, but I can honestly say it didn’t help all that much. It most definitely didn’t change my thought patterns. Looking back, all it really did was treat my symptoms, not the cause. 

Accepting a medical professional’s opinion and opting for medication is totally okay, but I want to challenge your thinking. 

What if we took this knowledge into consideration while also educating ourselves? Wouldn’t you feel empowered once you understood your own healing journey holistically and got to the root cause of the problem? 

Once I took charge of my own issues, my wellness journey started.

I even went back to school for it. I knew that diet and exercise play an instrumental role in well-being, so I improved those areas of my life first. You know what? I started to feel better. My mindset? Not so much. 

I have always been drawn to personal growth and spiritual messages. On a car ride to our annual camping trip, I landed on an interesting podcast. The main message was about the power of what follows “I am…”. I didn’t immediately buy into this concept; however, when I read through my journaling notes later that week, I began to understand. 

Oh my goodness – I had become everything that followed my I am’s”.

  1. I am worthless.
  2. I am weak.
  3. I am not good enough, etc.

I quickly realized that I had constantly been proving this theory. 

What if I could change these statements and improve my confidence? 

I stood in front of the old, dirty mirror in the bathroom on the campground. I was all by myself. Looking at my distorted reflection, I gently whispered, “I am confident.” I stood there for a few minutes, waiting to feel empowered. Nothing. I clearly needed practice, but I knew I was on to something. 

Having repeated hundreds of I am statements since that day, I firmly believe that mindset is our superpower. My affirmation cards tell me things like: I am confident, I am disciplined, I am fun, I am good enough, I am organized, I am patient, I am successful. While actively practicing my affirmations made a significant impact on my mindset, I also realized that there was more work to be done and I couldn’t do it alone. 

It was decision time.

Have you ever noticed how many people are actually part of a sports team? Players on the field need support from their coaches, fellow teammates, and spectators to reach their fullest potential.

In the same way, I came to understand that I need a strong support system of diverse people in my own journey. It took me a while to figure out that taking help wasn’t a sign of weakness, it is actually a pretty smart move. When I did, I decided to put together my own A-team. One of my favorite “players” is my spiritual guide. 

“I am trying to get my workouts in!” I complained to her during one of our sessions. 

“Trying is not a word!” she fired back at me. I was instantly aware that she had a point, although I didn’t want to admit it. Apparently, you decide to work out. So, I decided to work out, eat clean, and not get as easily offended. 

Growth: I kept making progress. 

I felt lighter, confident even. Others started to give compliments: You are so vibrant. I love spending time with you. I always walk away energized after we hang out. 

What? Me?!

Life was better. I was better. But I still had trouble staying on track at times. This needed to be explored further. 

What if the root cause wasn’t actually depression? I wondered.

For my birthday in 2021, I gifted myself a brain health evaluation. You read that right. I allowed a doctor to thoroughly evaluate each part of my brain and my mind. It was scary.

I walked away diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, OCD, and more.

Yikes! “Anything else?” I asked sarcastically during our two-hour meeting. 

OCD Symptoms

Learning about the ADD/ADHD journey, Anxiety, Depression, and OCD was a lot to take in 

Yet at the same time, it helped me gain clarity on why I am the way I am. I want things neat (OCD), yet I can’t stay organized (ADHD). Talk about opposing forces, no wonder I felt like I was in a tug-a-war with myself! At least now I know why I do what I do, I thought. I am not worthless, and I’m probably not that different from most other people. 

“Do you see this area here on the scan?” The doctor continued, pointing to a bright area of my brain. “It shows that you are highly intelligent.” Really? Me? Smart? For a split second that “negative Nelly” wanted to have a say; instead, I allowed this comment to raise my confidence. I am smart! 

Looking back, it’s interesting how many people told me I didn’t have ADD/ADHD prior to my brain health evaluation. “You aren’t restless, kicking your feet or fiddling with your fingers. Therefore, you don’t have ADD/ADHD.” “How are you OCD? There are piles everywhere.” Isn’t it funny how freely people share their opinion on personal topics without asking permission?

Ever since I decided not to be easily offended anymore, situations like this have become a lot easier. I also believe that people’s reactions say everything about them and nothing about me. Period. 

Ways to prioritize self-care while Living the ADD/ADHD Journey

It has now been eighteen months since my ADD/ADHD diagnosis, and my journey still continues.

Through meditation, I have been able to create a vision of my highest self: She’s fun, smart, confident, and loving. In business, she is resourceful, curious, and fearless. She enjoys family time and knows when to let stuff go. She lives in a condo (maybe even a penthouse!) with a big terrace where she enjoys the view of the lake. 

Her home is clean, free of clutter, and enjoys early morning workouts, a balance of yoga, cardio, and strength exercises.

Her highest self eats clean and shows up fully for clients and her community. She travels with her husband often, to visit family and friends. She always has the answer when I struggle and she’s simply the best. 

Follow the ADD/ADHD Journey

I will be sharing more parts of my personal journey and the tools and strategies that work for me and my clients in future articles. It’s my goal to help you move from nightly thoughts of failure, a place of frustration and endless empty personal promises of change to taking charge, gaining confidence, and making positive lasting changes to help you thrive.

1. It starts with acknowledging the issue.

2. It starts with believing that there is another way.

3. It starts with a decision to change.

4. It starts with understanding your own mind. 

For more insights and inspiration…


What is the difference between ADHD and ADD?

By definition, ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood. It is usually first diagnosed in childhood and often lasts into adulthood. Children with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, controlling impulsive behaviors (may act without thinking about what the result will be), or be overly active.

ADD by definition is the term commonly used to describe symptoms of inattention, distractibility, and poor working memory. ADHD is the term used to describe additional symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Both are included in the medical diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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Photo by Kinga Howard on Unsplash, Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash, Photo by Samuel Girven on Unsplash, Photo by CDC on Unsplash, and Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

About the author

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Claudia Haller, NBC-HWC

As an expert in ADD Coaching for people struggling with attention, focus, emotional regulation, impulsive behaviors, and low self-esteem; as well as having the diagnosis myself, I’m passionate about supporting people to get the help they need to take charge of their own health and advocate for their well-being. I understand that not everyone identifies with the label of ADD but may have similar challenges.

I have eight years of experience understanding how diet, exercise, relationship skills, mindset and gratitude, time management, and sleep can shift someone from despair to living with confidence and agency.

I’m an NBC-HWC Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach and owner of Vibrant Health by Claudia LLC and Virtual Health Coaches LLC. I studied health and wellness coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I also completed courses in Gut Health, Hormone Health, and Advanced Coaching. I’m a certified 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach, as well as a co-author of the Amazon Bestseller “The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Soul Aligned Business”

I’m big believer in the fact that food is medicine, and also that our thoughts and the way we speak to ourselves are powerful tools that can help or hurt us. Let’s go, it’s time to thrive!

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