The other day, I was chatting with a friend of mine, who was sharing with me her feelings about her oldest child and how he will be leaving for college in the fall. He is emotionally ready and mature enough to leave home, but she is desperate to hold on just a bit longer. She spoke about how hard it is to let go; to see our children grow up and become independent, which triggered my memory of sending my own daughter off to her first day of college and literally weeping on the drive home.

My friend spoke of the many ways individuals have to experience “letting go.” We let go of loved ones through death, separations, chronic illnesses (Alzheimer’s, for example), adoption, moving to new cities, even seeing our children marry and move on.

It made me wonder about ADHD and letting go and it brought me back to the early days of my post-diagnosis and thinking back of what life could have been, had I been diagnosed earlier and gotten the appropriate treatment. Could I have learned more in school? Could I have been a better mother?

In talking to hundreds of adults with ADHD, I hear over and over again the sadness, the loss of what “could have been.”

Part of the therapeutic process in working with adults with ADHD is helping people accept the losses felt in a life lived pre-diagnosis, when so much seemed to go wrong. Ravaging ADHD symptoms prevented many from living up to their academic potential. Many struggled with relationships that simply didn’t work out, because the ADHD wasn’t properly treated, causing havoc between them and their partners. Self esteem dropped when the complications of daily living became too much, with houses deeply cluttered, events missed due to time management problems, bills not paid in time, homes lost to foreclosure, and even deterioration of health because distractions and over commitments got in the way of picking up the phone to make a doctor’s appointment.

At work, many struggled because they had no idea that perhaps the job or career path they chose was not a good match for them and their ADHD. Nor did they know that they could ask for accommodations so they could be more productive and less stressed.

Many mothers felt incapable of meeting their children’s needs because they couldn’t take care of their own. The chaos of a young household might have taken  its toll and they shut down, spiraling into anxiety and depression and low self worth.

There are dozens of areas in one’s life that is affected by ADHD. One could suggest that “all” areas are.

We can choose to wallow in that sense of loss- the lost years, as some call it- or…we can choose to move forward. Armed with knowledge about your ADHD, and getting the treatment you know you need to live more successfully, can you make the decision now to start “letting go” of the past? Can you let go of the sadness, the defeats, the relationships that didn’t work out? Can you put the old “you”- the undiagnosed, untreated ADHD person in a box and put it up on a mental shelf, not to be forgotten, but to guide you forward as you blossom into the new you?

This new “you” is now armed with tools and life lessons. Hopefully, you have gotten some counseling to put to rest the hurt you’ve lived with all those years. Now, you have skills, medication and support to help you move forward, navigating new and better relationships, new ways to propel yourself into a better job. Perhaps you’re confident now to even return to school. Or to leave an unhealthy relationship.

Are you ready to let go? Because by letting go, you will have access to all that wonderful energy you now need to nurture all those incredible talents and gifts that were pushed aside all these years, buried under the symptoms that held you back. You can tap into that energy that in the past was spent obsessing about the losses and hurts due to your ADHD. Now, you can free that up and use it to make positive changes in your life. And think how wonderful that will feel.

What has changed since *your* diagnosis? Please share in the Comment section below.