Written By: Amanda S. Johnson
✨ This post is the 2nd in a two-part story. If you are just joining us, you can also read part one here. ✨
At first, I was in shock. I had repeated the mantra “It will all be okay if I can just get accommodations,” to myself so much I fully believed it. But now I was being told to take two months of (potentially) paid leave. The topic of accommodations had disappeared and the conversation now focused solely on the leave. The doctor had recommended the leave so that I could “adjust to life with ADHD” and get occupational therapy for my left hand–both of which I still desperately needed to do but had been struggling to push on through without. When it takes just about everything you have to maintain always being a little behind, you don’t have time or energy for much else.
So I took the leave. I devoured material on ADHD, went to occupational therapy for my left hand, and attempted to recover from my burnout. A couple of days after I got back from leave, the insurance company denied it. When I challenged the decision, they denied it again. (That’s its own story too, but the moral is, NEVER trust that disability insurance will approve your leave post leave.)
A few productive weeks after my return, my issues and burnout came back in full force.
I was so disheartened and exhausted that I finally admitted to myself that if I didn’t want to end up in in-patient treatment (for the third time in my life) I was going to have to quit the job I had seen as my saving grace for the past six years. It was time (and possibly my last chance) to return to doing what I loved, writing, and on my terms.
While the thought of leaving the coworkers I adored and the company I was proud to be a part of made me ugly cry and ramped my anxiety up to an 11, it was the only way I could choose myself. So I gave my three-month notice to my manager and supervisor; I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t leave my team in a lurch.
I spent my final day of work vacillating between sadness and relief.
While I had planned to immediately jump into my new venture, my body, mind, and soul decided I needed a good, solid break instead. I focused on taking copywriting courses (because learning energized me instead of wearing me down) and enjoying life again. My psychiatrist and I started decreasing my head meds since I felt so much better. I’d periodically take small steps in building my business, but I was dedicated to listening to myself and my needs, so if I thought about doing something and my overwhelm began to creep in, I backed off. I had a lot of burnout to recover from, and forcing myself to soldier on would not only stop my recovery but likely reverse it.
Almost four months later, I was ready to devote myself to making my writing business work. I had all the tools; I just needed to start (and consistently continue) using them.
And then something happened in my personal life that turned my world topsy-turvy. My plans for the future vanished along with the most stabilizing influence in my life. All the excitement and energy and motivation I’d built up to lavish on my business were sucked right out of me. Life once again became about surviving instead of living.
For the first time, I doubted my choice to leave my nice, stable, structured, consistent job.
However my emotional chaos exacerbated my ADHD to an upsetting degree, and all I had the energy and focus to do was take care of my kiddo, my pets, and myself. Had I still been at my job, I’m not sure I would have been able to avoid a mental breakdown. And trust me, those things are not cheap. Leaving had been the right choice.
Starting my own writing business had been the right choice too, at that time. But now that I felt completely drained and unmoored, the demands of being a solopreneur were no longer ones I could (or even wanted to) meet. I needed structure and stability back in my life. I needed someone to hand me writing assignments instead of having to go hunt them down myself. I needed to have 100% reliable (and budgetable) income. I needed affordable medical insurance and other benefits. I needed to be able to take care of myself and mine.
I needed a job.
I wish I could give this story the equivalent of a real-world fairytale ending, but I can’t. I’m still looking for a job. I happily pick up or pitch for freelance writing opportunities whenever I find them, but the job hunt struggle is REAL. To stay true to myself, I’m sticking to applying for writing, writing-heavy, or writing-adjacent jobs. I also have enough privilege to enable myself to BE true to myself, which likely makes this appear to be a fairytale ending to some.
But at least I finally know myself. I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t; I’ve developed a supportive ADHD community and set of effective resources and strategies–and I’m discovering and testing new ones all the time. I’ve made peace with my past and the lies it told me about myself. Above all, I’ve learned to appreciate many aspects of my ADHD that enable me to successfully navigate life’s hairpin turns and detours.
Meet the Author
Amanda S. Johnson
Amanda Johnson has a writer’s soul, an ADHD brain, and a sense of humor from her dad’s side of the family. She's a mom to a brilliant and hilarious boy, a labrador, two corgis, and a fluffy black cat. Amanda is insatiably curious, plans to never stop learning, and adores listening to and telling people’s stories.