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  • In This Family, It's The Parents Who Have ADHD, Not Their Child

    A mom diagnosed with ADHD as an adult shares how good support has got her through.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
In This Family, It's The Parents Who Have ADHD, Not Their Child
PHOTO BY Shutterstock
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    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD is often associated with children, but adults can be diagnosed in adulthood. Such is the story of Julienne “Julz” Meria, who was diagnosed at 28 years old.

    Her doctor did not mince words during her diagnosis, telling her she passed the assessment for Inattentive-Type ADHD (also known as ADD) “with flying colors.”

    “It took some time to process this until I realized this was God’s way of comforting me and giving me peace,” she says.

    “I didn’t feel grief nor was I discouraged unlike my husband John, who was apparently devastated when he was diagnosed at 23,” shares Julz. Yes, her husband, John, has ADHD, too.

    “I felt relief knowing that there was a name to what I experienced all my life. It was an important moment of growth and self-awareness.”

    Undiagnosed as a child

    With the ADHD diagnosis, Julz realized that all her experiences as a child — forgetfulness, being disorganized, boredom in class, among others —  suddenly added up.

    “My dad would always be driving back to school to hand in missing materials or homework that I would forget at home. I frequently complained about headaches and was always at the clinic, but more often than not, it’s because it was tough to pay attention in class.”

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    While academics were a struggle, Julz recalls she looked forward to recess, playtime with neighbors, and extra-curricular activities. She also showed potential in swimming and became part of the grade school and high school varsity teams.

    Looking back now, she says all these activities made perfect sense. It gave her the much-needed focus she lacked in academics, and they acted as “intervention” for her ADHD at that time. She nearly gave up her occupational therapy (OT) course in college because she found it hard to focus.

    “I remember thinking to myself 'Bakit ako lang? Pag siya parang isa or dalawang basa lang kuha agad, pero ako ilang beses na wala pa rin,'” she shares how she would compare her attention span with that of her siblings and classmates.

    However, she excelled in organizational work and extra-curricular activities. She became a class officer, directed a college pageant, and eventually became the vice president of the OT Society at her alma mater, the University of Sto. Tomas.

    From occupational therapist to stay-at-home mom

    Julz continued to excel as a professional occupational therapist, so much that she was handed more responsibilities. “I excelled [because] I was actually handling pediatric patients with special needs [which is something that I can focus on over] studying and reading a lot of books,” she says.

    She adds that she wanted to do many things at work but “was all over the place” and missed her deadlines more often than not. The last straw was when she was promoted and yet again given more administrative work.

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    “I really enjoyed therapy work with my clients, but the paperwork and the reports were almost undoable for me,” she says.

    After 10 years working as an OT, Julz decided to become a stay-at-home mom when she learned she was pregnant with Jordyn.

    “It was a leap of faith to leave work, but John, given that he’s the combined type of ADHD, was willing to make it work as a single-income household,” shares Julz. John works as a life and study coach and works closely with children and teens with ADHD and autism.

    She is thankful that at 3, Jordyn has been an easy child to take care of despite her genetic predisposition to ADHD.

    “As parents who have ADHD... we’re surprised that she has not been showing any signs of the condition. In contrast, she’s been doing very well, developmentally speaking,” says Julz.

    Now at 34, Julz is pregnant with their second child and is due soon. She credits her husband for sharing the parenting role with her.

    “Both my husband and I really had to sit down to highlight our strengths and minimize our weaknesses. Thankfully, we were able to compensate for each other in many ways,” she says.

    Advice if you are an adult with ADHD

    Having good support from childhood throughout adulthood has helped Julz manage her ADHD well. Here, she shares what has worked for her as she lives with ADHD.

    Watch what you eat

    To keep behavior in check, eating healthy is vital. “As an OT, I knew most of our neurotransmitters come from our gut [thus the importance of watching what we eat],” says Julz.

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    Her doctors advised her to avoid eating at fast-food chains and consuming foods with a lot of sugar and preservatives.

    Manage stress

    Take only responsibilities that you can only handle and keep a good work-life balance.

    During the early days of the pandemic, the whole family decided to move to La Union instead of being stuck in a 50-sq ft condominium in the city, limiting everyone’s movements.

    “When John’s coaching work inevitably became 100% online, we decided to make the ADHD move of relocating to San Juan, La Union. This improved not only Jordyn’s development because we had a beach just two-minute walk away, but also our mental health as a couple,” says Julz.

    Know your strengths and weaknesses

    Julz and John had to identify where one is good at being the best parents to Jordyn. “We were able to compensate for each other in many ways,” says Julz.

    Organizing the household is left to Julz since John is the “messy type.” On the other hand, schedules and appointments are John’s responsibilities because Julz is not good at remembering dates. They also make sure that they spend ‘me’ time occasionally.

    Always be present for your child with ADHD

    Julz credits her parents’ support, constant presence, and availability to live through her ADHD as a child.

    “In gradeschool, my mom became my tutor making mock tests and reviewers for me and my siblings. My dad, on the other hand, handled bringing us to school and managing our extra-curricular activities.”

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    Move

    Just as swimming has helped her a lot in her high school years, movement in its different forms continues to be an essential part of John and Julz’s life.

    “Movement and exercise helps,” assures Julz, who adds that they are on the lookout for our next adventure once the pandemic is over.

    Every third week of October is celebrated as ADHD Awareness Week in the Philippines.

    The ADHD Society of the Philippines (ADHDSP) is celebrating it with a series of webinars that will be streamed on the Facebook page of ADHD Society of the Philippines (@ADHDSOCPHILS)

    October 20, 7:30 p.m.
    Talk to My Child/ Managing Skills and Behavior at Home

    October 22, 7:30 p.m.
    Caring for Persons with ADHD and their families during the time of the pandemic

    October 23, 10 a.m.
    Braving Adult ADHD with Dr. Carlo Banaag

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