I have ADHD and am an ADHD coach so I meet lots of people with ADHD and think a lot about the subject. I spend a lot of time researching and I am always learning from my clients, other coaches and teachers. What I am realizing is the pain we feel about our experiences growing up with ADHD whether diagnosed or not often gets in our way of moving forward and having aspirations. The feelings are valid. Life is not easy growing up with ADHD. But what I want to put forth is an idea I came to while dealing with chronic pain.

Initially, professionally and before that, all through my life I danced. At the age of thirty I was member of a modern dance company and co-owned a dance studio. But there was a problem, I was in incredible physical pain that was getting in my way. It was getting difficult to dance much less get out of bed in the mornings.

After many doctors, I found a specialist in New York City who could perform a new type of back fusion that would allow me to dance afterwards. I had the operation. Woke in even more pain, but now not only was the pain still in my back but also down my right leg and to top it off, I couldn’t walk.

After about a year of hard work I finished my last day of physical therapy, though still in some pain, my dance career basically over, I was driving home from the clinic and was rear ended by a car. This of course put me back about another year.

Things are getting better, I am working out, strengthening my body and unbeknownst to me the medicine for nerve pain I have been taking has weakened my bones and I break my back. Another year of recuperation.

Why am I telling this. Well It took basically 7 years for me to get back on my feet literally and figuratively. I had to find a new career and I am still in some pain. But, amazingly enough I am not bitter and this is where the ADHD comes in.

I found out about the ADHD after the initial operation. (Oh, I forgot to mention the two follow up operations I had that year.) It was like a mystery had been solved and the medication was a revelation that it was possible with help that I could be on time and get things done more often. I wasn’t a bad person. There were chemical reasons to why I failed at so much.

But back to my story, what I learned and continue to learn from my pain experience is I can manage just about anything. I am strong. Maybe not physically but mentally. And I am because of my experiences.

ADHD makes us strong, if we keep getting back up, after we have been knocked down, dust ourselves off and keep moving forward. Our experiences build our internal fortitude if we let them. So instead of, I have ADHD and it makes me weak. I have ADHD and I am stronger for it. I fight battles everyday. I may not win all of them. But my strength is in I keep showing up.

That is how I think about my chronic pain and my ADHD. It could pull me down but instead I let it pull me up. I am a fighter and conquerer. Each day I get up and attend to my responsibilities, whether I succeed at all of them or not, is still a victory because I keep showing up.