Saskatchewan·Point of View

The pandemic helped me realize I have ADHD — at 34

The traits I consider to be my biggest flaws were spiralling in self-isolation to a point that I felt they were no longer manageable. As I was going through the motions thinking something must be “wrong” with me, a friend posted an article on adult ADHD and every word jumped out at me.

I have a much better understanding of who I am

Krista Broda, who lives in Regina, was diagnosed with ADHD at age 34, during the COVID-19 pandemic. A tip-off for her was how poorly she was dealing with self-isolation and loss of routine. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

It took a global pandemic for me to realize how dependent I am on a carefully crafted routine. After several weeks of struggling with self-isolation, I learned — at age 34 — that I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

When COVID-19 hit Saskatchewan and the province shut down, I was no longer getting ready for work every day. I didn't have to get the kids out the door for school or drive them from rink to rink on weekends. My calendar was empty, and I have never been great at not being busy. I felt lost. 

I tried a few of the activities I had seen others enjoying on social media. I sat down to do a puzzle and couldn't believe anybody would ever do that for fun. I tried to bake a loaf of bread only to put it in the oven, answer a phone call and forget about it. 

I was, to put it mildly, terrible at self-isolation. I was irritable and frustrated. I was constantly forgetting simple tasks. I realized I had no idea how to relax. 

The traits I consider to be my biggest flaws were spiralling to a point that I felt they were no longer manageable. As I was going through the motions thinking something must be "wrong" with me, a friend posted an article on adult ADHD and every word jumped out at me. 

Broda’s psychologist asked her a series of questions that could be indications of ADHD. Among them was how often she gets parking and speeding tickets. It’s frequent. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

I set up an appointment with my doctor, who referred me to a psychologist. He began the appointment by asking me a series of questions:

Q: How many speeding tickets or parking tickets have you received this year?
A: At least seven or eight.

Q: Do you lose important things like debit or credit cards?
A: I'm on my seventeenth debit card.

Q: How are you with numbers and finances?
A: I married an accountant for a reason.

Q: How many water bottles would I find in your vehicle if I went out and looked?
A: No fewer than six.

To me, these answers were completely normal. But as the questions went on, it was becoming apparent there may be a good reason why I am the way I am. The little things that made my days increasingly difficult weren't actually challenges everyone had. After two sessions, I was officially diagnosed with ADHD.

I had spent most of my life joking that I was "a bit of a loose cannon" or "very type B." Growing up, I was the fast-talking, down for anything, life of the party. I was impulsive (often to a fault) and time management was something I had decided I was just not born with. I was decent in school and excelled at things I enjoyed. In the classes that I was disinterested in, I would talk so much that my desk was rarely in the same spot two days in a row. 

Looking back, the signs were there, but as far as I knew, ADHD was a condition that causes young children to bounce off the walls and not anything a teenage girl needed to worry about.

Broda wanted to share the story of her diagnosis so that others feel less alone and perhaps better understand what they’re going through. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

Having ADHD is not all restlessness and disorganization. I feel some of my best qualities stem from it. I pride myself on my outgoing personality, my sense of humour, my compassion and creativity. I am a terrific problem solver and have always been an outside-the-box thinker. I have an outstanding ability to multitask and I'm high energy. While I may have a hard time diving into projects I consider to be unimportant, I am able to hyper focus and produce excellent results with matters I feel strongly about. 

My psychologist recommended a prescription for me or offered to provide me with some alternate solutions to help manage my ADHD symptoms. In my case, I felt medication was the best option.

Starting an effective treatment for ADHD has been nothing short of life-changing. I no longer struggle to complete mundane tasks and I'm able to focus like I never have before. The background noises that bothered me every day have been "turned off." I find it much easier to sit and relax. I'm a better, more patient mother and kinder to myself. I have a much better understanding of who I am.

I'm writing this because I think there are so many women out there experiencing the same thing. We often have a huge workload and just chalk our disorganization up to being busy and overwhelmed. 

I have learned to embrace a life with ADHD. I am not ashamed of it and speak openly and honestly about having it. I hope my story can help others to understand themselves better and feel good about who they are.

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

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Krista Broda is a sassy, relatable mother of two busy boys originally from Vancouver Island, but now residing in Regina. She loves coffee, sarcasm, chicken wings and all things Saskatchewan.