I HAVE ADHD PODCAST - Episode #236

November 7, 2023

FOCUSED Member Chat: How Does Generational Trauma Impact Us?

When it comes to the way we function as adults, our family history plays a much larger role than many of us think. In this podcast episode, I’m talking with FOCUSED member CJ about generational trauma and its impact on adult ADHDers.

Growing up, CJ’s parents emotionally neglected her as they were dealing with their own emotional immaturity and symptoms of ADHD. Meanwhile, CJ was struggling with undiagnosed ADHD which caused her to act out without anyone to turn to.

When she received an official ADHD diagnosis at 51 years old, CJ started to research the symptoms and realized her family was heavily affected by ADHD. This realization helped her start to make sense of some of the generational trauma she experienced as a child and teen.

It also helped to explain her impulsive, risk-taking behavior growing up. CJ was always unaware of her actions, lacked self-awareness, and never understood why people reacted to her the way they did.

As an adult, she carried some of this emotional dysregulation with her. Fortunately, through therapy and life coaching, she was able to work through some of her own trauma to prevent handing it down to her daughter.

If you’ve experienced generational trauma that you know has impacted your life, I highly recommend you seek out a trauma-informed therapist or coach to help you. You might want to check out my group coaching program, FOCUSED, which is a safe space where you can join others like you who are recognizing the effects of their history and beginning to thrive as an adult with ADHD.

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Kristen Carder 0:05
Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B.

Hey, what’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast. I am medicated. I am caffeinated. I am regulated and I am ready to roll.

I am so happy to be here with you today. How are you? How are you? Welcome. Thank you for pressing play on this podcast. I just found out that there are now 5 million podcasts in the world which I am shocked by. And so the fact that you press play on this little podcast right here makes my heart so happy. So glad you are here with me today. We’ve got a great show for you today. One of my clients from my focused ADHD coaching program. CJ is here to talk about her ADHD journey as someone who was undiagnosed for 50 years, and we’re gonna have a long conversation about generational trauma, ADHD going diagnosed in generations from from one generation to the next and how that impacts us. You’re gonna love this episode, if you are someone with ADHD, especially if you’ve gone undiagnosed. I hope you feel seen. I hope you feel validated. And I hope you are so encouraged. So please join me in welcoming my clients, CJ. Hi, CJ, thanks for being here.

CJ 1:55
Hi, Kristin. Thanks for inviting me, I’m very excited.

Kristen Carder 2:00
Same. I’m so grateful to you focus members VIPs who have agreed to have conversations with me because sharing ADHD stories is just so important. Being able to hear someone talking about ADHD and see yourself in their journey is so encouraging and so validating. So why don’t you share with us just a little bit about your ADHD story? How did you come to a diagnosis? What was that like for you?

CJ 2:32
Sure. So as you mentioned, I was diagnosed pretty late at age 51, several years ago, and I am a double doser I have two parents who have ADHD, my dad was actually officially diagnosed in the 1990s, you know, part of the first wave of adults, mostly men back then, to get diagnosed and my mom never did. But once I started learning about it, I could see, she had all the classic symptoms of inattentive type. And my dad was more classic ADHD hyperactive little boy, you know, type. So anyway, I had no idea that I had it, it just wasn’t something that ever crossed my mind. And so I kind of got diagnosed by accident. And what’s interesting is that for people like me who went undiagnosed for a long time, we are good case studies for how symptoms change. And, you know, ebb and flow, and that sort of thing. So when I was young, as a kid teenager, into probably up to my 30s, I was really impulsive, a lot of risk taking behavior, you know, a lot of unsafe behavior, not really aware of, especially as a kid not really aware of my actions, real lack of self awareness, not understanding why, you know, like, people reacted to me the way that they did, you know, not seeing my actions, or, you know, really understanding. I had no control over things and I didn’t understand, I didn’t understand why, and I didn’t see it, I was very self aware. So as I got older, a lot of that resolved, or, you know, at least got somewhat better. I mean, it took a long time, you know, I was still like the kid that will eat the cookie immediately. And wait to have two cookies when I was in my 30s love it be that long. You know, to kind of figure out that there were patterns going on and you know, I was repeating the same things and learn from them and you know, and try and take time to You know, make decisions rather than jumping into things, all of that. But I noticed how other symptoms, like, for example, my emotional dysregulation, which like plagued me, my whole life, I noticed would worsen with hormonal changes, right? So I’m thinking that it was really like out of control was, and that was one of the reasons why I ended up getting a diagnosis. But you know, perimenopause probably had something to do with that. So even whilst other symptoms got better, some got worse. So that was getting worse. And then I was also really struggling with work. Because I couldn’t focus on I would be writing a story, you know, I’m a journalist, I’d be writing a story, I was covering environmental issues, and some of it was quite complicated. And I was trying to structure, you know, these complicated stories, and it was getting really difficult, like, I couldn’t figure out the structure took me a long time. And so I just felt like there was something wrong with my head wrong. Let’s put that in air quotes. There’s something not working for me, you know, in my head. And so I went to see a neuropsychologist. And this was actually the second time I’ve gone to see a neuro psychologist, I gone like, maybe 10 years earlier, for similar reasons, just like forgetting things, and other executive functioning type problems, and memory. And so I go to this guy, and he gives me this very basic test that they give for dementia and those sorts of things. And so I’m, I aced that, right? Because I’m like, 40. And so there’s nothing wrong with me. Yeah, go on your way with what’s wrong with you. You’re overreacting. You know, second time I went when I was 51. I got a good one. And I explained what was going on. And he just immediately was like, sounds like you have ADHD. And I still, even after knowing that my dad had it and everything. I still was like, what, really me? You know, I still really associated it with hyperactivity, which is like the very obvious observable hyperactivity, common and little boys, is just about the only symptom I never had, right? Just about I do have the restlessness and fidgety stuff. But that’s just about the only thing that I didn’t have an ISO associated with that, that it just never occurred to me that that’s what problem was, I just didn’t understand how it worked. So anyway, that guy says you should see a specialist get a diagnosis. So he did got an official diagnosis, and immediately started taking medication, no qualms about that. I know a lot of people don’t want to take it. And I totally understand and respect that decision. But I was like, You’re gonna give me a pill, and it’s gonna fix me. Sign me up.

Kristen Carder 8:18
For you, did you feel like the medication was helpful? Like, what was that? Like?

CJ 8:24
It was and is I’m still I actually take two. Because, you know, it’s a pretty a pretty severe case going on. And it has been very helpful, but it didn’t fix me. You know, I was kind of disappointed. After a while, I’m like, Okay, I think there’s more work to do. And what’s interesting is that I had been in therapy, you know, before, like, long before my diagnosis, because I always knew I had emotional stuff to deal with. And I’m a big fan of therapy. My parents actually met in group therapy in the 1960s.

Kristen Carder 9:11
Wow, they were really ahead of their time.

CJ 9:14
And they were pretty progressive and interesting people. So yeah, thanks, therapy for my existence. So I’ve done a lot of work on emotional stuff. But I could still see that there was things I needed to deal with. And there’s the regret, you know, like, Oh, my God, what could I have done? If I had got if I figured this out earlier? If I’d gotten help earlier, you know, how much better my life could have been? So I did go back to therapy again after my diagnosis, and I’m not in therapy now. But I think I’m probably going to go back at some point soon. Because the book I’m writing gets into some pretty heavy stuff. So I think I’m probably When

Kristen Carder 10:02
did I know you were writing a book?

CJ 10:04
I am.

Kristen Carder 10:07
Amazing. Is that a memoir? Is it about?

CJ 10:11
It’s a reported memoir. And it’s based on the life of my maternal grandmother, who was mentally ill. And so yeah, yeah, I’ll tell you more about that.

Kristen Carder 10:24
Yeah, this is really beautiful foreshadowing for some of the conversations that we’re going to have. Because one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on was your interest in generational trauma, and your own families, generational trauma, and how that may have impacted you. And your symptoms. And, you know, the big question is always, is it complex PTSD? Is it ADHD? Of course, we don’t know. But like, those questions to wrestle with are just so fascinating. So I cannot wait to chat about that. Let’s go back, though, to processing your diagnosis and feeling regret about what could have been, because I think for people who are diagnosed as adults, whether you’re diagnosed it 30 or 40, or 50, or 60, or 70, there’s still that like, Man, I wish I was diagnosed when I was seven. Yeah, you know, I could have been treated this whole time, I could have had understand it, I could have had support. What was that like for you to process that regret?

CJ 11:34
It was hard, and I’m not sure I completely processed it. I mean, you know, I’m getting there and accepting things better than I used to, I’m not beating myself up anymore. It is really difficult, because I had a lot of potential that I didn’t live up to, right. Like, there were things that I could have done, that I didn’t do, for whatever reason, you know, often because I gave up, because it got hard, was too hard. You know, and so and, you know, watching people younger than me, you know, do things that I want to do. That’s always been tough. It’s a process. And I mean, I’m really, at this point, just trying to focus on now, you know, and what is still possible? Is there a lot of things that aren’t still possible, that’s just the reality, like, I’m not going to skydive, right? I missed that window. I’m just scared. Now, I’m too in touch with my mortality. Not to do that, I might have done it when I was 20. But I’m not going to do it. Now. I mean, there are things that aren’t going to happen, I’m not gonna go back to college and change careers, you know, it just, it doesn’t make sense to put the time in to do something like that. But I can still do things that I want to do. And I’m motivated, and, you know, and medicated and regulated. So I’ve nailed evaded,

Kristen Carder 13:28
medicated regulated, I love that

CJ 13:32
I can, and I have a good motivation to so if my book, for example, I really want to tell my grandmother’s story, I feel obligated, not in a bad way, but in a good way. Like, I’m the only person who can do this. I’m the only person who can tell her story and, you know, allow people to see her and others like her, you know, and that motivation is better than, Oh, I just really need to make something of myself because if I don’t succeed, I’m not a worthwhile person who’s often motivated by desperation, desperation to feel like, I was a worthwhile person, you know, and we have such a culture of success and productivity and all of those things and, and work and we just, I think, in the States, and I know, you know, every culture is different, but I’m sure you know, people in other countries can relate to this as well. Who are we if we’re not good at our work, like Who are we if we’re not successful at our jobs, you know, like, that’s the first thing that we say. And when I first went over to Europe, I was like, amazed when you ask people, you know, so you know, what’s your name and Tell me about yourself. And they’ll say I’m Italian. Or they’ll say, I’m English, right? Like, that’s the first thing they say. And Americans will say, I’m a doctor. Like we define ourselves by our careers. Right.

Kristen Carder 15:20
So what I hear you saying is that there’s still pain as you think about what could have been. And there’s acceptance and motivation, at the same time. So it’s like, you’re feeling more than one thing, which I think is important to highlight. Because we often think that we have to choose one way to feel about something, or if we’re feeling pain, then there’s nothing good to come out of it. But to be able to say, I feel regret and pain still, when I look at people doing things. And I’m like, Man, I wish I would have done that. And also, I’m feeling accepting of where I am and motivated to do the things that I feel called to do.

CJ 16:09
Right. Yeah, I think it’s always complicated. And it’s never going to be, you know, one thing or another. And it’s always kind of a process. I think, yeah, progress is a process. So like, you’re not, and you’re not even going to feel the same every day. Like, some days, I feel pretty good. You know, I mean, I’ve got a pretty good life. Right? I’ve got a great family, I’ve got a wonderful husband and an amazing daughter, you know, and I’ve, you know, had a lot of fun in my life. I’ve done a lot of things, you know, so it’s not like I have a horrible life. Right? Some days. You know, that’s enough. And I recognize that and then other days, you know, it’ll creep back in like, oh, and what have you done with your life?

Kristen Carder 17:06
And that voice? Yeah. Yeah, really not a nice little voice. When you said earlier that you’re like, you went right on medication, you notice a big difference? You were so grateful for it, but it didn’t fix you. What did you mean by that? What does that mean? When you say like, okay, like medications? Great. But there’s still work to be done. What did that what, what does that mean to you?

CJ 17:37
So beyond the emotional stuff, the medication really helps with the focusing and the regulation and all of that. But I still had a lot of like, things to unlearn. And I’m still honestly struggling with that. So for example, I really strived super time blind, like, ridiculously time blind, and it drives my husband crazy, because I’ll be sitting at the computer writing and I’ll say, give me five minutes. And he’ll come back. And he’ll be like, it’s been an hour? And I’ll say, No, it hasn’t. It’s been, it’s only been a few minutes, right? So trying to kind of make my brain do what I want it to do. Oh, I guess it’s kind of poetic, but my brain does not like authority. Even mine, right. So it won’t do what I want some time. So I struggle a lot with organizing schedules, and time management and that sort of thing that I’m trying all these different things. So like, I get nice set alarms, and, you know, I color code, my calendar with pretty little boxes, and all of that. And that stuff helps keep me on track if I’m accountable to someone. So if it’s a meeting, you know, or an appointment or something, then it helps. But if it’s just me saying, Okay, time to stop doing that activity, because we need to do this other thing over here. You know, my brain will just be like, ah, that’s cute, and just do whatever the hell it wants, you know? And I’m like, No, it’s like, that’s blue color time. Yeah. It’s the blue square. Right? We have to be doing this and my brains like, no, I’d rather do this.

Kristen Carder 19:36
Yeah, I relate to that. So hardcore. I think that for many ADHD years, and actually, there’s research to back this up, we often have Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or like a, at least a little bit of that oppositional behavior. And I so resonate with, like, I’m oppositional to me, to myself, like I don’t want to listen to me. I don’t want to listen to the rules. that I said, I, I resent the rules or you know, the calendar that I created for me. Yeah, it’s wild. Yeah. That’s wild. Yeah. Amazing. So, what do you feel like has been? You mentioned medication? You mentioned therapy. I know you’re unfocused. Are there other ways that you’re implementing support for yourself with your ADHD? Or what are you finding to be like, really helpful.

CJ 20:29
I just, I’ve been working on trying to just accept my limitations. And, you know, except what I need, be honest about what I need, communicate that with my family, and, and that kind of thing helps a lot. I mean, they they’ve been pretty supportive. It’s gotten, you know, better. Over the years, now, we’re to the point where they can like, joke with me about it, you know, don’t talk to mom before coffee, you know, kind of thing. But, I mean, that’s one of the things like I don’t even try and do mornings anymore. Like, I don’t even try, I need time to wake up to chill, and all of that my husband brings me coffee every morning. is super sweet. That’s awesome. Most of the time.

Kristen Carder 21:27
I mean, I get it, yeah.

CJ 21:31
And I really can’t have a lot of interruptions, once I sit down to write, to work, I can’t have people, you know, interrupting constantly, because it takes me so long to get back into it. And they’re pretty good about that. I mean, they still interrupt sometimes. But you know, pretty good about that. So I think that’s been a part of the process, and just understanding what I need to get through the day. And accepting and communicating that. That helps a lot.

Kristen Carder 22:09
So what you’re talking about is something that I think, ADHD or struggle with, across the board. And I couldn’t be wrong, I’m making a very generalized statement right now. But first of all, identifying what you need. You mentioned at the beginning, that self awareness was something that you’ve struggled with so much throughout your life. And, obviously, that is one of our executive functions, the ability to self reflect. And the fact that we can’t even identify needs that we have really can hold us back. Because there, there may be people in our lives who want to offer support, and we don’t even know what we need, we don’t even know what to ask for. And then additionally, many of us most of us, I daresay, have been conditioned to not express our needs, because we’ve been maybe shamed for what we need, or, you know, been made to feel like we’re the problem or been compared to other people who don’t need as much as we do. So I think what you are identifying as some of the things that are the most supportive to you are things that like we can all really strive for is like, first, understand your needs. Second, be willing to express them. Third, be willing to actually receive the support that is offered. Because that can be hard to like if I say to Greg, hey, can you like help me to transition here? Well, I don’t. And the reason why I need help is because I don’t want to transition. I’m on the couch, I don’t want to transition out and so to ask somebody for help, and then receive the support, and not resent the support, I think is really, really important too.

CJ 23:59
That just reminded me of something when I very first found the podcast, so I found the podcast first. And it was pretty early on. When did you start the podcast

Kristen Carder 24:10
at the very end of 2018. So like, early, early 2019 is when it really got rolling.

CJ 24:16
Okay, so I think it was 2020 and I discovered it and I like immediately was binging the episodes and you had one with Greg and I made my husband listened to. I was like, listen to this. Because sometimes you just need someone else to say it to you know, and I’m still in not the greatest place. I was still like, you know, trying to get him to understand things and sometimes our our neuroses would collide, you know, like he gets anxious about getting things done immediately and I I procrastinate. And yet I want to control things. So he would get frustrated and just put the dishes in the dishwasher. Because he needs the dishes in the dishwasher washer now. And I would come along when I felt like it and rearrange them because he didn’t do it the way I wanted. Which would drive him crazy. So I could go on for days about her conflicting neuroses. Sometimes it works for us, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I really appreciated that validation, you know, the, the podcasts first and then focus was giving me because it’s just so amazing. To have people get you, you know, to hear someone else say is what you need to hear. When you feel like no one understands and no one gets it. So not only did I, you know, make him listen to it, but it just gave me so much validation, like the thing that stands out most is just hearing is hard. Yeah, I guess. I think human beings in general, we just have trouble. Understanding that something is hard when it’s easy for someone else when it’s easy for us. You know, and I’ve been guilty of this as well. And I really try and watch it now. Because, you know, it’s so easy to say. Really? Why? That’s so easy. Just, you know, just do it. Yeah, why don’t you Why don’t you just do it?

Kristen Carder 26:48
Yeah, just because it’s easy for me doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. Right?

CJ 26:55
Right. So just hearing it’s hard. Yeah, that that’s normal for someone with ADHD was so helpful and meeting and just being part of the community that I can go to slack with the question or a problem, and people get it. You know, and I don’t hear why don’t you just right.

Kristen Carder 27:26
Your imagine if someone in the focus lack said that they would be it would not go well, for them. No one would ever think to say that, though.

CJ 27:37
No, because they get it. It’s an amazing thing when to be seen and understood. You know, everyone wants it right? All human beings just want to be seen and understood and and so when you have that, it makes a huge difference.

Kristen Carder 27:59
And now, a word from our sponsor. Hey, Kristen here, I’m the host of this podcast, an ADHD expert and a certified life coach who’s helped hundreds of adults with ADHD understand their unique brains and make real changes in their lives. If you’re not sure what a life coach is, let me tell you, a life coach is someone who helps you achieve your goals like a personal trainer for your life. A life coach is a guide who holds your hand along the way as you take baby step after baby step to accomplish the things that you want to accomplish. A good life coach is a trained expert, who knows how to look at situations or situations with non judgmental neutrality, and offer you solutions that you’ve probably never even considered before. If you’re being treated for your ADHD, and maybe even you’ve done some work in therapy, and you want to add to your scaffolding of support, you’ve got to join my group coaching program focused. Focused is where functional adults with ADHD surround each other with encouragement and support. And I lead the way with innovative and creative solutions to help you fully accept yourself, understand your ADHD and create the life that you’ve always wanted to create, even with ADHD. Go to I have adhd.com/focused to join. And I hope to see you in our community today. Let’s talk a little bit about your family experience. Can you share with us as much as you’re comfortable? I’m curious about where you see generational trauma in your family history. And then after you’ve kind of talked about that a little bit I’d like to just chat about like how you see that playing out in your symptoms or whether or not you do so. Tell us about your your family I know You have two parents who one diagnosed with ADHD one you suspect. Do you also know that about your grandparents?

CJ 30:07
Actually, I suspect that my family is riddled with it, to be honest, but I also suspect that my paternal grandmother, my dad’s mother, and he is well said that he thought that she had it. My mom’s side of the family is a little more complicated, because my grandmother, on that side was mentally ill. And so when she was 27, and she had three kids, she just had her third child, about six months old. She started well, right after she had her third child, she had postpartum depression. And then later on, like a year or so and they were living down in South America, my grandfather and my great grandfather both worked in mining, they lived down in the Atacama Desert in Chile. And so then she started to have other symptoms. And they eventually brought her back, they all came back to the My, my grandmother, grandfather and the kids, the three kids came back to the US. And she ended up and committed to a number of different mental institutions. But she was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which I’m not sure was, it may have been a postpartum psychosis, she may have been postpartum bipolar, because that does happen. And mania can produce psychosis and all of that, but she didn’t get the help she needed, and ended up basically committed for the rest of her adult life. Yeah, wow. Yeah, it’s a sad, it’s a sad,

Kristen Carder 31:59
so sad, I’m so sorry.

CJ 32:01
So I never really knew her. I met her once. I was around 11 years old, my mom, and she was at a state hospital. And in a nursing home, my mom took me to visit her. But my mom was only nine years old when this happened. And of course, this is at a time when, like, people didn’t talk to kids, people didn’t share things with kids. So no one really explained what was going on. So she was obviously very traumatized. And, you know, mom just disappears. And she didn’t understand why, you know, and then there were other things as well, like, she lost her, her younger sister in a car accident when the younger sister was only 1818 years old. Car accident. So lots of trauma, and obviously, a lot of anxiety around losing people and, and all of those types of feelings. So it really impacted the way that she parented me, she was very anxious, and very, over protective, and trying to control things, because she had so little control when she was a kid. So, like I mentioned before, my parents were pretty progressive, and all of that. So they both knew that they had, you know, emotional issues to deal with, and they had gone to therapy, and, you know, they talked about, you know, expressing feelings, you know, and allowed me to, like express feelings. However, I don’t think they went to enough therapy. Because I don’t think that they really healed and in turn alized you know, healing. So they still even though they talked about things, they didn’t really perceive what I needed. And I’m not sure if it was because it was painful to think about your kid being in pain or because they just had their own stuff going on. But I was to an extent emotionally neglected. Yeah. Not not in a terrible way not in an intentional way. Not in a you know, uncaring way but just in a in they were emotionally immature. My dad didn’t have such a, you know, definable thing happened in his life, but he did grow up with a father who was you know, not very nice to him. Didn’t feel loved by his father, my grandfather, my grandpa was nice to me. You know, by the time the grandkids come around, they get nice, right? But he was, you know, verbally abusive, I don’t think he was ever physically abusive as far as I know, but verbally abusive, and to my grandmother as well, you know, like, color stupid and stuff like that, you know, that generation was not very in tune with their emotions and the impact that they had on other people. So my dad, you know, has ADHD, so he grows up thinking he’s dumb, pretty much he had trouble learning to read, and needed my mom’s help to get through college, all of those things. And he was also a closeted bisexual at a time when they thought that any form of homosexuality are anything that was not, you know, straight, whatever, what to mental illness. And so, you know, he didn’t feel accepted by the overall society, or, you know, or his own father. And so yeah, he was depressed and moody and very impatient and easy to anger. So I, I always felt like, as a little kid, I felt scared to bother him. You know, he was a painter, right? So he was an artist, he was an art teacher for a living, and he would go into his art room in the to this studio space, and close the door. And I remember like, wanting to ask him something and being afraid to knock on the door, like I was, you know, a bother, right? And then I also kind of, you know, I was a kid, and I would be a kid and I was a little girl and little girls of screechy, we make screeching noises when we laugh and scream at stuff, and like, that always annoyed him. I felt like I annoyed him, and that he wasn’t that interested in me and spending time with me? I think so. Yeah. And my parents would fight a lot. I mean, they had a loving relationship. And they stayed together until they, you know, they passed away a long time. But, you know, like I said, my dad’s really impatient and restless and unregulated emotions, you know, very angry, easily. Oh, and very defensive. He was hugely defensive, which made him safe, right. So like, you couldn’t, you’re always having to worry about, like, hurting his feelings or setting him off. Or he was a very, very rejection sensitive and criticism sensitive, and my mom would just like tiptoe around like, oh, it’s gonna hurt your dad’s feelings. Yeah, so he would always be, you know, impatient in a hurry. And she’s just like, an organized and de dreamy and running late and flustered and overwhelmed all the time. And so he’d be yelling at her, we got to get out the door. And she’d be, you know, flustered and, like, get into these crazy fights. And I even used to say, as a little kid, I’d be like, You guys fight about stupid stuff. Always fighting about little things. Yeah. Because they were really emotionally immature, even though despite the fact that they had been to therapy and were progressive and, and all of those things.

Kristen Carder 39:04
So that just goes to support your assumption that like, they worked in therapy, but they weren’t truly healing. There was some sort of like barrier for them to really do the healing work. Maybe there was self awareness, a little bit of awareness, maybe there’s awareness about, you know, their hurts and their traumas, but not the actual excruciating work of like healing and, and I do think that those are two different things. You can go to therapy and you can get some awareness. And then you can really do the work of healing.

CJ 39:39
Yeah. Yeah, my mom would try and, you know, talk about things, you know, but it always felt very, like contrived in a way. Like let’s sit down and talk about our feelings and p&l. And by the time I was a teenager, I didn’t know I was just angry with them. I really really felt like, I think now I realized that I felt like they just, you know, didn’t give me what I needed. They didn’t, I would like, act out, you know, I’m like crying out for help. And you know, the responses, instead of saying, Oh my God, our daughter is like 14 years old and getting drunk at parties, and she’s having sex with them and protected sex, and she’s doing all these things and getting into car accidents, she’s doing all these things that are clearly like, someone, please pay attention to me. And instead of really getting me help, I mean, there was a little bit you know, I remember I went to therapy for a very short time with my dad. But it was very short time, their response was to, let’s deal with what she’s doing, make sure she doesn’t do it anymore. So that we don’t have to feel this way. Because it was making my mom anxious. And she was worried. She didn’t want to feel worried. So let’s stop the behavior, but not really get to, you know, what’s going on with, you know, what’s causing it. And my dad even once was, like, I act it out. And his response was, how, how could you do this to me?

Kristen Carder 41:33
That’s a really self centered. Yeah, approach. Right? It’s like, you’re acting out is about me, how could you do this to me? And you’re like, I’m asking for help. What do you think is the effect of growing up and not getting what you need? You keep coming back to this phrase. And I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but you’re kind of talking very matter of factly about everything. And then just saying the phrase, I just didn’t get what I needed, which I think is so poignant. Like, they weren’t terrible people, like they had trauma, they were acting out some of their traumas, it’s fine. But I didn’t get what I needed. What’s the effects on a person when they don’t get what they need from a family system?

CJ 42:25
Think that I just never developed a good self image. And I didn’t, I don’t think I felt like I deserved to, you know, to get what I needed, I was a big people pleaser. I would not take emotional risks, because I was so afraid of rejection. You know, I was really hard on myself. I didn’t like myself. I didn’t like myself very much. You know, I kind of and this was well into adulthood, I think I finally in my late 20s, early 30s started to get better. And I, you know, like I said, I went to therapy and everything and worked through some of this. But for a long time, you know, I just didn’t think I had very much to offer. And I didn’t feel like I could ask for things. You know, like people who is say, What do you where do you want to eat? And I would always say, I don’t care. You know, like, like I never ever wanted, or I never learned to express what I wanted, because I was like, who’s listening? And plus, I was always so afraid that if I did that, I would lose people. You know, I if I say, I don’t really want to go to that movie, I’d rather go to the museum. You know, like, my friend would just be like, Oh, fine, I’m not gonna be friends anymore. Just for something so small as that, you know, I just was I was pretty much a mess. I mean, I can’t blame it all on, you know, my parents. I don’t and I did a lot of work to like, forgive them and, and all of that. But it does, you know, it does have an impact. I mean, they didn’t get what they needed either.

Kristen Carder 44:40
Exactly. Right. So and that’s what we’re talking about is that generational pattern that we will automatically passed down to our own kids or if we don’t have kids than to our partners or friends or what any human that we’re interacting with. We’re going to pass that pattern on If we don’t take time to interrupt it.

CJ 45:04
Yeah. And it’s also I think, I mean, it depends on on your situation, and and you know, how much damage and what kind of damage your family has done to you. In my case, you know, I knew that my parents were good people, and then damage that they did was an intentional, and it was important for me to understand them as people and see them as children. Yeah. And forgive them because they did the best I could. Right. Yeah. I mean, that was part that was part of the process. And I, I let go of a lot of anger. And I think that’s, I mean, for me, that was important. Yeah, you have reasons to stay angry, stay angry. But they’re, they were open to hearing me as an adult, you know, I told them, I feel like, you know, I needed some things from you that I didn’t get, you know. And they were open to that. I mean, they were, yeah, they weren’t not resistant, like some families are. That’s,

Kristen Carder 46:31
I mean, that’s so beautiful. And ADHD diagnosis is valid and real. And I fully accept my own ADHD diagnosis, even though my childhood was riddled with trauma. And I fully validate your ADHD diagnosis, even though your childhood was riddled with trauma. But do you ever wonder since the symptoms of complex PTSD, complex trauma, what happens in our brain when we’ve experienced chronic trauma? Since the symptoms of that is so closely related to the symptoms of ADHD? Do you ever wonder, is it ADHD? Or is it complex PTSD? Is that a question that you ask yourself? Or do you just kind of move on with your life and you’re just healing and so it doesn’t really matter? Either way.

CJ 47:17
I hadn’t really before, you know, talking to you about this, I hadn’t really thought about PTSD. I have thought a lot about, you know, how much of my being late was just like a learned bad habit. And because it was always late. And, and how much of it, you know, was learned how or how much of it was totally chemical. I think that I mean, just with, with ADHD, or anything else brain related, because our brains are so complex, and everything’s all tangled up. And I don’t know, if it’s ever possible to untangle it all, you know, I think there’s probably a combination, in most cases going on, whether it’s ADHD, or whether it’s, you know, depression, or whether it’s getting in there some combination, I think we can be genetically or biologically predispositioned. And that things that happen in our lives, you know, whether it’s it’s trauma, or it could even be like a change in in hormones or something. I mean, look at postpartum, like, there are women who don’t have any significant episodes of depression or mania before they have a kid, and then suddenly, they’re like, having psychotic episodes. I mean, it does happen, you know, things. And I think that environmental influences and can definitely contribute and exacerbate, you know, I mean, the way that you grew up is certainly going to have an impact on, you know, on how bad your symptoms are, how well you’re able to deal with them and all of that. So,

Kristen Carder 49:18
yeah, that’s a beautiful answer. I really appreciate that. Because what you did was you added, you added in a lot of nuance. And I think that’s exactly what we need. As we wrestle with these questions. Like, is it nature or is it nurture? It’s like as probably both, and that’s okay. Yeah, no, it’s probably both and that is okay. And do we know if it’s more nature or if it’s more nurture, it’s probably different for everybody that the cocktail of like our life, if that makes sense, like our childhood are even like, like if there was poverty, if there was financial instability if there was limited food access, like all of that is going to influence if you had a safe place to go. Or if you didn’t have a safe place to go, it’s all going to impact how you deal with it, just like you said, how you figure out how to navigate it. Some people with ADHD had parents who taught them coping skills other people did not like. So it’s all just kind of tangled. And I think it’s important to have these conversations because we’re all kind of processing. How much of this is just me? How much of this is family influence? How much of this is like, just the way that my brain is wired? Those are important questions to just reflect on and process. But the answer that I always come back to is like, if you have ADHD symptoms, in a diagnosis get treated for take it seriously, because it doesn’t really matter if it’s nature versus nurture, if you if you’re symptomatic, at least deal with the symptoms. Yeah, right. And then if you have capacity to go deeper, sure, go deeper, but like, let’s just do a baseline, a triage, like we call it in focus, it’s just triage and make sure like the symptoms are taken care of.

CJ 51:10
Right? And because it does make a huge difference, I mean, people who get help at an early age, you can thrive, thrive, you know, extra help, but you have to know what’s going on, you have to have a diagnosis for what’s going on. And then tools, whatever the tools are, whatever tools work for you to address it. You know, I mean, I think we really need to distinguish between undiagnosed and diagnosed and treated. ADHD, which I think difference is a really crappy name. And I wish they would change it, because it’s just like, not very representative. No, you know, what we do today about, about ADHD, the name does not really cut it anymore. You know? So,

Kristen Carder 52:04
that’s another last question. Last question. Can someone who is late diagnosed, can they thrive? Can someone diagnosed in their 50s Learn to thrive? Give us some encouragement on that before we sign off?

CJ 52:20
Totally, totally, totally. It’s harder. Cuz you got a lot of you got a lot more years to unravel, you know, get a lot more. Yeah. Things to unlearn the messages, you got to unlearn all those messages. And the longer you hear those messages, like even from yourself, you know, like, I’m such a loser, that voice such a loser like just year after year. I mean, that’s a lot. You got to tell, and, and learn. And, you know, it takes a little bit of time, and it takes work, but it’s totally possible. Like, how could it not be possible, but that’s just that’s just giving up? Right?

Kristen Carder 53:12
It’s never too late.

CJ 53:13
I spent way too much time. Giving up. Giving them used to be my go to, you know, things get hard give up. When not having a good experience one place, move to another place, just keep moving train, you know, every week would be like this week is going to be different than the last week, every single Monday. I’m going to do a different this week than last week. And you know, you can’t you can’t get anywhere that way. You can’t give up and you can’t just like pretend you know. So once you are not pretending anymore, and you know what’s going on? Then you just you do what you need to do. And yeah, I’m not going to give up anymore. Because then with that,

Kristen Carder 54:03
Oh, what a beautiful way to end this conversation. I’m not gonna give up anymore, because I’m just done with that. Love it. Thank you. I was so appreciate you being here. I know it’s a big emotional investment to have this conversation and I just want to honor you and say thank you so much. So grateful.

CJ 54:20
You’re very welcome. Thank you so much. It really enjoyed it.

Kristen Carder 54:23
Hey, ADHD, er, I see you. I know exactly what it’s like to feel lost, confused, frustrated and like no one out there really understand the way that your brain works. That’s why I created focus. Focused is my monthly coaching program where I lead you through a step by step process of understanding yourself feeling better and creating the life that you know you’re meant for. You’ll study be coached, grow and make amazing changes alongside of other educated professional adults with ADHD from all over the world. Does it Ihaveadhd.com/focused to learn more

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