So long stress!
For decades, Toya Haynes, 43, was bogged down by fatigue, fog and anxiety—but then a surprising diagnosis brought her out of the darkness and helped her reclaim her life
Remedy for the 50% of women feeling tense and cranky
You’ve got to be kidding! I triplechecked that email before I sent it,” Toya Haynes grumbled to herself after learning the message she sent to the entire company contained a bad typo. “No matter how hard I tried in my job as an event planner, I always missed something. I couldn’t win.
Wired and tired
“Since childhood, I’d had trouble focusing. People complained I was spacey and always daydreaming. I even dropped out of college, finding it difficult to muster the energy to complete projects. My short-term memory seemed shot—I couldn’t recall simple things like driving directions or dinner reservations. Deep down, I worried I was lazy or just not smart.
“Focusing on spreadsheets at my job felt like hell on earth. I was constantly afraid of being ridiculed for missing important details. I actually took a thumbtack to staff meetings and continuously pricked my finger under the table to stay alert so my mind wouldn’t wander. It helped, but I knew, This isn’t normal.
“At home, even the thought of cleaning left me feeling completely worn out. If I had dishes to wash, I would also notice that the floor needed sweeping, the fridge needed cleaning and the windows needed washing—then I’d be too overwhelmed to even start on anything. Being me was physically and mentally exhausting.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t rest at night with a carousel of thoughts spinning in my head. Being tired yet wired all night left me dragging the next day. From the outside, I appeared to be functioning, but on the inside, I felt like a total mess. Other people’s lives moved forward, but I kept bumping up against some sort of invisible wall. Stuck.
“Things got worse as I approached my 40th birthday. I became fearful of success, figuring failure and embarrassment were around every corner. My self-esteem tanked, my mood grew dark and I started having panic attacks. My doctor couldn’t explain why my brain was backfiring and my body was so tired.
“There were big things I wanted to do in life, but I was unable to accomplish anything. Feeling defeated, I made the tough decision to move back in with my parents, joking that their home was ‘The Haynes Halfway
House.’ The one thing I knew: Something is really wrong with me.
“One day, a friend mentioned that her significant other was diagnosed with ADHD—attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I thought, Isn’t that what rambunctious kids have? I was stunned when she listed the adult symptoms: fatigue, brain fog and trouble focusing.
“I rushed home to do some research and was in tears as I saw myself in all the online descriptions. This explains my entire life! I started keeping a diary, detailing my daily energy and attention level. Then, armed with those notes, I visited my doctor.
“‘Looks like you have textbook ADHD,’ she said, and referred me to a psychiatrist, who confirmed our suspicions. That was actually the happiest day of my life: I finally had the answer to why I’d felt broken all those years.
“To help me regain my footing, my doctor prescribed an antidepressant. Days later, while driving, I noticed how calm my head was. No racing thoughts. Oh my gosh, this must be what it feels like to have a normal mind.
“I also adopted a high-protein, lowsugar diet. And I started sleeping with white noise, like the whirring of a fan. As my insomnia eased, I no longer crashed each afternoon.
“Understanding how my brain works has been life-transforming. I bought a wristwatch, a big wall calendar and colorful notepads to help me stay organized and on task. I also use an app called the Pomodoro Timer that helps me focus on doing projects in 25-minute bursts. The sense of accomplishment I get from cleaning my house or finishing work tasks is a great mood booster.
“I also started to connect with other women who have adult ADHD through a support group as well as the community on KaleidoscopeSociety.com. Seeing their success gives me confidence.
“All of my family and friends have seen a big change in me. I even started my own business— something that seemed impossible before. To think: Now I love those spreadsheets I used to hate!
“It’s natural after an adult
ADHD diagnosis to go through a grieving period, wondering how life could have been. But there’s joy in knowing it’s not too late to live my best life. My best days are ahead of me!” —as told to Lisa Maxbauer
Toya Haynes, 43, Somerdale, NJ