Reunion Grief and ADHD from Flanagan Leadership Group at

Reunion Grief and ADHD

For most of my life, I had “Forrest Gumped” it, chasing whatever sparkly, low-hanging fruit crossed my path without any strong intention or plan. Inevitably, I would get bored with whatever I had been doing and move onto something new. This worked OK for me for a time. It worked up until I discovered my passion for life coaching. I now had a purpose and a joy that I wanted to pursue with all of my energy and heart.

You know, energy? If you are a sparkly-brained ADHDer, it is that elusive thing that you cannot trust to show up in any consistent fashion. Our energy likes to start projects but it doesn’t like to finish them.

So here I was, finally faced with a passion that I could not deny. But I was trapped in this mercurial existence, these hills and valleys of focus. I became frustrated with my ambiguous energy and sketchy follow-through. I was tired of living this way and decided to look into this whole Ritalin/ADHD thing. I was extremely curious as to how Ritalin would affect me, and I was pretty certain it would be no trouble convincing a mental health practitioner that I was ADHD. <Smirk>

Long story short (you can thank me later for that), I got on meds and discovered what I was capable of. It was really amazing. I could trust myself to follow through on the plans I had created, even after the bloom had left the flower of an idea. I always had enough energy and the “right mood” to make calls to grow my business. I no longer sat on the couch for days depressed, waiting for the next focus spell.

I was on a rampage of productivity, doing things, completing things! I was moving and shaking. And then it hit me. The sad. Things were going so great, so why was I so sad? (And angry, too!)

Related: What is Neurodiversity?

Here is my theory on why the sad. There is this phenomenon called reunion grief. It occurs when a toddler has been with a sitter, and his mom comes to pick him up. Even though he may have been happily playing the moment before, the sight of his mom brings up for him how much he had been missing her while she was absent. So he cries when he sees her.

So it is when an ADHD diagnosis and treatment create in us a better experience of ourselves and our potentials. After living with this white noise of self-loathing my whole adult life and much of my childhood, I was reunited, as it were, with my OK feelings of self. I was bowled over by the awareness of the years–and years–and years that I had suffered through the fog, the years of unnecessary self-loathing, and the years of disappointing myself and others with mediocre productivity and failed agreements.

Indeed, there is a grieving process that comes with the recognition of our ADHD. We get to face all those years of thinking there was something fundamentally or spiritually foul with us. We also remember enduring the reactions that our limitations brought from others: parents, teachers, siblings, love associates. We get to sit in the feeling that we have really been missing ourselves for so long and didn’t really even realize it!

Related: How Do I Become a Successful Business Owner with ADHD?

Reunion Grief and ADHD from Flanagan Leadership Group at

So what? Why is this important? I think this is an important phenomenon to recognize. By understanding that this reunion grief is a part of us, we can be more at choice about how we want to ‘be’ about it. Feelings that we can see and label have much less power over us than experiences that we don’t understand or expect. Sometimes the world can seem like a pretty horrible place with mean people until I realize that I am just PMS. In the same way, we can feel pretty discouraged about all the years of not understanding we have a sparkly brain and let it derail our efforts. We could make the sad and anger a reason to spin out into a deeper depression. But if we simply understand that this grief is part of the process, we can surround it with allowing, patience, love, and/or awareness (depending on what words resonate for you). As this cloud of grieving lessens, we awaken into our new world and new sense of potential and start the adventure from this more expansive perspective. There is a lot to discover! There’s gold in them hills!

Related: 4 Ways to Embrace Neurodiversity in the Workplace

If you’re ready to thrive as a neurodiverse individual, click here to schedule a free consultation with an expert at Flanagan Leadership Group. 


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