In the spirit of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share a little life update. Truth is, I've been struggling with some symptoms that I've come to learn is most likely, undiagnosed ADHD.
I have so much I want to share about what I've learned to date, but I'm still processing how much this has impacted every area of my life until now, including destructive behaviors and limiting beliefs about myself. Truthfully, I am in awe of how far I've come despite living with this disorder.
I will share more about my diagnosis process and how I'm focusing on self-care to manage my ADHD, but for now, I want to share a reflection that just occurred to me today.
Listen to my ADHD Diagnosis Story on the Podcast
ADHD + My Early Life
Growing up, I assumed I just wasn't smart. I didn't think I would amount to much, and quite frankly, my family didn't think so either. I made so many poor choices in my young life that held me back and sent me down paths of self destruction.
I couldn't focus on anything and I did really poorly in high school. It got so bad that in grade 11, at the age of 17, I dropped out for good. I just didn't see a path for myself in traditional education.
For years after that, I bounced from job to job, struggling financially and emotionally. My confidence was so low, and as a result, I continued to make poor decisions (assuming I didn't deserve a better life).
My Fitness Transformed More Than My Body
Then, when I was around 22, something changed. It wasn't immediate and it would be YEARS before I stopped making bad decisions, but my life started to take a positive turn at the point where I found fitness.
I always assumed that fitness was just a confidence builder. It helped me lose 80 lbs after all! But it was more than that. What I just learned today, is that next to medication, fitness is the most efficient treatment for ADHD symptoms because it helps increase blood flow to the brain, improves concentration and engages executive function. Ironically, these are all things that ADHD folks need to function and even thrive.
I Unknowingly Made Fitness My ADHD Therapy
What I know now is that my workouts were actually a form of self-medication and without knowing it, I saved myself from a life of destructive compulsive behaviors. I was a high school drop out, a pack-a-day smoker, binge drinker, with a ton of debt, so I'm not exaggerating when I say I didn't start out in a good place.
In hindsight, I now know it was my fit habit that helped me achieve career success, a graduate degree, a successful marriage, a solid retirement savings and many longtime beautiful friendships. None of these things would have been possible if I had not laced up my cheap running shoes back in 1992. I’m sure of it.
So if you're looking for a push to get back into working out - I hope my story helps you. Yes, fitness will help you look better, but even more, it can change your life in ways you may never have imagined.
Be well XO
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and ADHD Coach. As the founder of The Fit Habit, she shares ADHD-friendly self-care, food & fitness inspiration, along with practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.