Back in the summer of 2018 I found myself sitting at Receiver Coffee starting a Facebook page called ‘ADHD PEI’. It was little more than an idea, a dream, a potential thing that I believed in and fervently wanted to bring into existence.
By the summer of 2019 I had seen people helped by my idea, but as I sat week after week alone in the boardroom of CMHA I wondered if this dream would ever truly become more than just a ‘potential’ thing.
Throughout the summer of 2020 I met with the fledgling ADHD PEI executive committee as we struggled to make my idea, now a shared dream, into a reality. But whenever we made progress it seemed that our own ADHD and the crazy events of the world around us matched every step forward with a step back.
Now as we enter 2021 I can finally announce to you, with great pride, that we are an official, registered, incorporated Canadian not-for-profit organization!
I realize that on one level this federal registration is simply an administrative box that has now been ticked, and that does not change the real work and good that ADHD PEI has been doing for the community over the past two years. However, on the other hand it is a MONUMENTAL step for us in that it represents the ability of a handful of people with ADHD to pool our expertise, skills and resources to create something tangible. The legitimacy of being a registered not-for-profit will allow us to grow and improve the services and support that we offer to the ADHD community on PEI.
The heart of ADHD PEI has always been peer support. We know that for those of us with ADHD the most successful interventions happen at the location and time of the problem, and that even when we know WHAT to do, we may still have great difficulty with successfully implementing that knowledge. What helps us most is to have accepting and understanding people around us who can help us with accountability.
We know, also, that kind of support happens at the local level. The grassroots members of our community; individuals, families, parents, students, and educators, all supporting each other in the messy trenches of day to day life. So at ADHD PEI we have been working hard to create spaces where members of our community can come together and support one another - whether that be in person at our weekly meetings, online via Zoom, on Facebook or through our website. We strive to provide resources and address the needs of our community, and meet people wherever they are in their ADHD journey.
Together we can thrive, not just survive!
President ADHD PEI
If you are interested in becoming a member of our community peer support network please reach out to us on Facebook or at our website www.ADHDPEI.ca.
As we enter 2021 our newsletter is undergoing a couple of changes.
First; As of this current newsletter we are changing to a quarterly format. This will allow us to present our activities and plans coming up over the next span of time, and also frees up some time and resources for our executive to focus on increasing our peer support services.
Second; The newsletter content is going to focus more on providing some insight into what ADHD PEI is doing and how we are helping people. Our more fun (Squirrel Sidebar) and informative (ADDing to your toolbox) content will be moved to our online locations such as Facebook and our website.
We hope that you will continue to find this newsletter useful and we welcome any feedback you have about this new format.
Check out our new website EVENT CALENDAR!
We are working on some exciting new events and peer support strategies that will take place in 2021. With the newsletter moving to quarterly and the logistics of some of the newer events still being worked out, a calendar has been placed on our website where we can better share details of upcoming events as the pieces fall into place.
ADULT ADHD PEER SUPPORT GROUP MEETINGS:
We are happy to announce that in-person Adult ADHD support group meetings are starting up again! Because of COVID restrictions we can only currently accommodate a limited number of attendees for each week's meeting. In order to avoid confusion we request that you sign up if you plan to attend the in-person meeting. To sign up for an in-person meeting just go to our Event Calendar and click on the date you wish to attend!
ONLINE (ZOOM) ADULT ADHD PEER SUPPORT MEETINGS:
If you cannot or don't wish to attend an in-person meeting do not fear! Our regular Wednesday online peer support group meetings will continue as they have been: Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/9720415025
Meeting ID: 972 041 5025
If you haven't used Zoom before you can check it out here. The first time you join a meeting you may be prompted to download some software, after that Zoom will be able to launch from your computer when you click a meeting link.
How ADHD has touched me
In the winter of 2018 I found myself sitting at Receiver Coffee staring at a flyer for something called "ADHD PEI". I was 45 and had recently been diagnosed with ADHD, but with no family doctor (having moved back to PEI less than a year earlier) I had no idea how to get treatment.
The move to PEI had coincided with a change of career. I was leaving veterinary medicine, where I’d been a specialist for over a decade. I'd made it that far by unwittingly using caffeine and a perpetual state of anxious hypervigilance to self-medicate, a system that was inherently unsustainable and eventually led to utter career burnout. But that was over and now I had a fresh start, a new career as a freelance artist, something I’d dreamed of for years!
And I was failing. To give you an idea of how things were going, on November 19th 2018 I wrote in my journal:
In the parking lot of Home Depot today I thought ‘I should get the special driveway salt we need!' which was a good thought, but by the time I entered the store I had looked at so many interesting things on display that I couldn't remember the salt. I could remember that there was ~something~ I'd thought of in the car, but exactly what that was could not be retrieved (I did decide that we do NOT need chisels though - so that's a triumph, I guess?). I finally remembered only after I got back home and looked at the spot where we kept the road salt last year.
By itself that's a silly little brain-fart.
But I feel like this is my life CONSTANTLY.
Today... I just feel so tired and broken down by it.
Why am I like this??? ADHD. Sure. There is a neurochemical explanation for 'why am I like this’.
Okay. Fine. But I feel kinda powerless to help myself.
After calling eight psychologists none are taking new patients. I can't get meds, I don't have a family doctor (and won't for some time). Every other week I feel like I'm getting a finger-hold of a grip on things. That it’s going to be okay if I just do this and this and this.
The things seem easy because they ARE easy. Just do the important things first. It's so easy! That's a great idea! So WHY AM I NOT DOING IT?!?!?!?!
Because I suck?
Because I have untreated ADHD.
So yeah, now I'm crying. The ninth psychologist just called back and they are not taking new clients. Zero surprise. It's not worth crying about. There's nothing I can do about it. But hey - based on that reasoning crying is as useful as anything else.
And in the back of my mind I’m wondering if I should even bother with this art career. There’s a little voice in the back of my mind saying "Just don’t do it… you’ll *** it up, you’ll fail, you’ll prove to everyone that you truly can’t be relied up on. And when you fail then all the deadlines, the expectations, the building up of “not done’s” and “meant to do’s”, they will all go away, just like your last career. Why not just quit now and spare 3-5 years of torment and anxiety before you fail anyway?"
I felt hopeless. The diagnosis of ADHD gave me an explanation but even doing everything I could with organizational strategies, exercise, diet, etc I still couldn’t make my life work.
Then I saw the flyer at Receiver Coffee.
It took me weeks to overcome my own various anxieties and actually go to one of these support group meetings. The people were nice and all, but I made an exuberant fool of myself with nervous talking so I decided that I was never going to go back.
But I did go back. Because the people were nice and it felt so good to be seen and accepted, even if I did make a fool of myself and interrupt and talk too much and too loudly.
And I kept going back, because I noticed that other people there sometimes talked too much, and interrupted, and were loud - and it was okay because we all do it and we understand what it means. I saw myself in many different faces. I recognized myself in them. I was allowed to be myself with these people, more than I had through most of my adult life and career.
My new friends helped me find the resources I needed to get started on medication. For me meds were the final puzzle piece, I had been doing everything I could and things still were not clicking into place, but doing all of that stuff PLUS medication seemed to work. Finally I wasn’t constantly surrounded by a miasma of chaos anymore. I was able to officially start my art business. I was able to get things done without having to rely on unhealthy amounts of caffeine and self-induced stress.
Now in 2021 I am a freelance artist and a member of the ADHD PEI executive board. I still am on the waiting list for a family doctor but now I have Dr. Wong on my team to supervise my ADHD medication. I have an amazing support group of peers with whom I can discuss the day to day struggles and triumphs of having ADHD, the effects of my meds and my moods. People who give me a helpful nudge when I need some accountability or to remind me ‘you’re not a failure, you’re actually doing okay’ from time to time.
The chaos still comes and goes, but I don’t get swallowed by it anymore. Executive function things are still hard, but I now know how to better structure my life to work with my ADHD and not against it. I am able to set more reasonable expectations and achievable goals, and most importantly I feel less stressed and more life myself than I have in decades.
From time to time I do wonder what might have happened if I’d been diagnosed and treated twenty years earlier, but I have no regrets about my ADHD journey. It is because of those experiences I am driven to take an active role in ADHD PEI in hopes that I might help other women who have been struggling with ADHD their whole life and not known it. I hope to reduce the stigma of this diagnosis so that professional students who have it will get assessed instead of trying to ‘stick it out’ on their own. And I hope that with less stigma and more understanding of what ADHD is, young people will be guided to make career decisions in which they can excel and their ADHD gifts will be appreciated instead of feeling like a burden.
Like Sandy always says, together we can not just survive, but thrive... and I am so happy that I’m thriving these days!
~ Pam Boutilier
Our regular list of local and online resources can be found on our website HERE.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a stress and disruption for everyone, but for those of us with ADHD there are some particular reasons it may be difficult to cope. We've assembled a collection of external resources that we think may be helpful to you: