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"If you died tomorrow, I would quit my job."

Like most married couples, my husband and I have deliberated over employment decisions. This conversation had been on-going for almost a year when I looked at him and said, “If you died tomorrow, I would quit my job." In that moment, I knew that in the worst circumstances I could imagine - losing my partner and suddenly becoming solely responsible for our home and children - I would sacrifice financial security and health insurance, in an effort to survive.

What? That makes no sense...

I loved my job. I was passionate about it and I excelled at it - but I desperately wanted to quit. Actually, I had to quit. I could no longer do my job and maintain my own health, much less the health of my family. I had tried finding solutions myself, working with my employer to identify options, and applying for other positions, both within and outside of the organization. Nothing had worked out yet and I was well beyond my breaking point.

It made no sense to my husband. How hard could my job possibly be? How could it be so bad that I wanted to resign without having another job? How could I love my job and want to quit? Didn’t I care about our finances? What about our retirement?

What I realized in that moment - that my supportive husband, family, friends, and colleagues could not see - is that despite my best efforts, I could not do my job, maintain my health, and the health of my family. The demands of my job consistently exceeded the energy levels I could maintain because of my ADHD & dyslexia.

When you think of a person with ADHD, what do you picture? A young boy who can’t sit still at his desk? How about a 44 year-old woman who has been a successful leader in education for 20 years?

I have ADHD - combined type. It’s not that I didn’t learn to or can’t manage my hyper-activity, in-attention, and impulsivity. A person with ADHD can learn the skills necessary to manage their attention and behavior and to complete tasks, but it never becomes an effortless unconscious skill. Tasks that a typical person completes without even realizing it - often so unconsciously that they struggle to describe the individual steps they take - require intentional, manual, thought, effort, and action for a person with ADHD. EVERY SINGLE DAY - no matter how many times they have done it before - for their entire life. Because of this, an ADHD brain burns more calories than a typical brain while completing similar, simple, everyday tasks.

When you think of a person with dyslexia, what do you picture? A young child struggling to sound out a long word? How about a 44 year old woman with a Master’s Degree?