“My daughter can’t have ADHD, she’s so smart! And a girl!” said a mom friend.

Seriously?! I couldn’t believe I was hearing this. What year is it? 

“Um, I have ADHD, and I consider myself a pretty smart cookie.” 

“No, you don’t understand, she’s so smart!” she insisted. 

“Right, I have two master’s degrees.” 

What my impulsive ADHD brain saw me do was lunge and shake her vigorously. Well, maybe a little more than that, but I don’t want to implicate my thought process too much. Not in writing anyway.

OK, yes, I lose my keys. And yes, I tend to get excited during conversations with adults (I’m a stay-at-home mom) and maybe sort of interrupt sometimes. Or a lot. I can’t pay attention in church (sorry, God and Father Joe). And maybe I’ve forgotten the books I’m returning to the library and don’t realize it until I’m at said library. And even though I just discussed getting off at the next exit on the freeway, I passed it. So sue me. I do have ADHD, after all.

I’m an adult. I’m intelligent. I’m a mom, and I actually get my kids to school on time. They have homemade lunches every day — in their book bags with handwritten notes. I’m a wife, and a fairly good one. I’m a lot of things, including someone with ADHD.

I don’t have a big red sign on my forehead that says it. I can sit in a waiting room and not bounce off the walls  — well, literally, but metaphorically speaking it’s torture and I want to scream from the rooftops. But I don’t.

I don’t have limitations of success because of it.

I don’t sit around and feel sorry for myself because of it.

I have a ton of coping mechanisms I taught myself because girls who got straight As and sat still in class didn’t get diagnosed 35 to 40 years ago. Except doing the dishes. There’s no coping mechanism for that and no dishwasher in sight, so there are some in my sink as I write this.

I’m not on medication, mostly because I’m allergic to it. Although, it would probably help eliminate those dishes mentioned above. And the imaginary dust bunnies. And the folded laundry in a few different baskets that have sat there for a week.

But hey, I’m a glass-is-half-full kind of girl, so that laundry is folded!

What do I want to say? And what did I continue to say to that mom friend?

I said her daughter is super smart. She is beautiful and kind. She is not her diagnosis. She will have a job and career. She will have everything. She is successful and will be even more so with a diagnosis (which she received).

All in all, I kept telling her I’m extremely intelligent and have ADHD. I kept telling her it was going to be OK. I kept telling her it’s not a death sentence, but an enlightenment.  And I say that to all of you.

I refuse to put myself in a corner because of it, and I intend to share my story with as many people as possible to end the shame that often accompanies it.

There’s no shame in ADHD. Maybe a dust bunny or two, but not my diagnosis.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our “Share Your Story” page for more about our submission guidelines.


On Monday, July 20, a Reddit user posted the following question to the site’s “Ask Women” subreddit: “What was your breaking point when you decided to seek help from a mental health professional?” Reddit users began sharing the moments and realizations that helped prompt them to look into therapy. For some, finding someone to talk to marked a turning part in their beginning to feel better.

The Mighty decided to compile some of the responses in case any of them resonate with you, too —whether you’re on the fence about seeing a therapist or not. Take a look:

1. “Three years ago, I spent six hours crying uncontrollably. Six. Hours. I’ve always been good at managing my issues, physical or mental, but I could tell my mental health was deteriorating to a point where I could no longer handle it or even hide it.”

2. “When my friends and family were tired of hearing my same, sad stories. So, I decided to pay someone to listen. Therapy is amazing. I think everyone should go to therapy… we all have sh*t we need to work through.”

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3. “When I realized it’s not normal to ruminate about things (could be as big as a life change to a dog barking) to the extent that I shake, can’t sleep, don’t eat or end up being irritable to the extent of hurting myself or others. I got so tired of worrying about everything. Also, my world was getting smaller — I gradually had less and less energy to do things I used to love or they’d make me anxious, so I stopped.”

4. “When everyone — from friends to strangers — asked me, ‘What happened to your arm?!’ I was too ashamed to tell them that it was scarred and infected from me compulsively picking at it.”

5. “When I had a complete breakdown on the phone with my mom, and I just couldn’t go back to my job. And I started having panic attacks in the middle of the night last year. I’ve had a really hard time over my first two years of college, and this was just the breaking point. My first visit is tomorrow!”

6. “I failed one of my classes, and I realized that it was more about depression than anything else. I got a full-on F when I had gotten As and Bs in harder classes freshman year. Once I thought about this, I also realized that I don’t want to be miserable my entire life.

7. “When, even though I was achieving great things, I still felt like a failure. I still felt like I was doing something wrong.”

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8. “When I had my second child. I want to be a good mom and know there’s stuff I need to work on.”

9. “I had started hurting myself in order to end my panic attacks, and I realized I needed to learn a better way to cope with my emotions.

10. “On the first day of college. I didn’t think my social anxiety was that bad until, as an introductory exercise, my tutor told our class to stand up, walk over to someone and introduce ourselves. I was paralyzed to the spot in fear and had a panic attack while everyone else started moving and chatting around me.”

11. “It wasn’t a breaking point, it was a realization. My heart had been racing for weeks, I’d been too nauseous to eat and I had various constant aches, pains and tension headaches from literally just holding all of my anxiety inside of me. And then I thought, ‘Wait, what if it isn’t normal to be tense all the time?‘”

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12. “When I realized I wasn’t even able to make myself do things I enjoyed doing anymore, and the thought of perfectly reasonable work deadlines could send me into an anxiety attack.”

13. “When everyday tasks like cooking and cleaning stirred up feelings of anxiety, hopelessness and anger. Around the same time it was getting harder to leave my house because of my anxiety, and I knew if I didn’t nip it in the bud, it would keep getting worse.”

14. “If you really feel bad, then why not alleviate the pain? If you get sick, you’d go see a doctor or get some medicine. If you got hurt, you would take a pain killer. Why not get help when you feel [badly] enough to inflict harm upon yourself. I got counseling after a bad breakup, and it was the best idea I’ve ever had.”

15. “I realized my anxiety had ruined two relationships for me. I’ve been going [to therapy] for about four years, and it has helped so much. Just having someone to talk to who doesn’t judge you is such a nice feeling.”

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*Some of the responses have been shortened and/or edited.

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately. I’ve come to a point in this journey where I feel a little lost. It’s a common issue. My son, Sam, is almost done with treatment. Where does this leave me? Where does this leave a woman, a mother who worked full-time prior to her son getting sick?

I started thinking about the different emotions I’ve felt since the beginning. How lost I was at the beginning, how I felt I’d found a side of myself I never knew existed and how I’m now feeling lost again. Lost, found, lost.

It’s amplified when I meet the newer moms on this journey. A common phrase I hear when I meet the new moms is, “I don’t know how I am going to do this.” Usually I only have a few minutes to talk to the new moms, so my answer is usually, “You get through it because you have to get through it, and you will.” I’ve been told that numerous times when I was sure I couldn’t “get through it,” and I’m sure I’ll continue to hear those words. As we get closer to Sam’s last chemo visit, Sam’s last chemo pills, Sam’s last steroid pulse, I think about what I would say if I had the time to sit down and talk for a few hours with the newer moms.

Dear New Cancer Mom,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry you’re part of this group. I’m sorry you now have the title of cancer mom. Your life has changed. In one split second your world just fell apart.

Allow yourself to cry; it will make you feel better. Allow yourself to kick and scream and have a tantrum; let it take all your energy, because there are some days that crying is all you can do for the day.

The fog will lift, I promise. The feeling you get when you walk into a store or a restaurant, that feeling that everything is surreal, that you want to turn around and walk out because everyone in that place is happy and laughing — it will go away. In place of that, you will look at people who are constantly unhappy with their lives and remind them of how precious life is.

Stay positive because things do get better, but be a realist, too. Don’t allow people to make you think your anxiety and worry aren’t justified. They are. Your child was diagnosed with cancer. It’s a very scary world to be placed in. Watching your child go through this and watching other children, it’s not something you wish upon anyone. But when you witness your own child and all the other children continually fighting, it will change your life.

Document your journey, whether it be a journal, a blog, pictures or videos. People may ask, “Why would you want to document this part of your life?” It’s a reminder, my friends, a reminder of what you’ve been through. Write your child a letter at different times of their treatment so they see the battle in your eyes as a mom.

There are people who will support you the entire time, and others who just can’t keep up, who are tired of altering their life to accommodate you. Those are the ones who don’t understand. There’s no need for you to explain, so don’t. You have a sick child; there’s no explanation needed. Move forward and don’t hate them for it.

If you have a spouse, spend alone time with him or her as much as possible. Go out on dates when you’re able to, and take a nap when the opportunity is there. Don’t complain too much about the little things; it’s not worth it. Pay it forward, for there are many people who will help you — sometimes people you don’t even know.

Swallow your pride and ask for help when needed. Surround yourself with people who understand and know what you’re going through. No matter how much others claim to know what you’re going through, they don’t. Perhaps they sympathize with us, but they can never empathize.

If the opportunity arises, take sometime for yourself. Even if it’s a ride in the car by yourself, do it. Don’t feel guilty. You are giving 110 percent of yourself to help save your child. The worrying, anxiety and lack of sleep is overwhelmingly exhausting. If there is anything that has caught me off guard this entire three years, it’s the exhaustion that comes with the sleepless nights, the hospitalizations, the worrying, the crying and just the fight.

Regardless of the type of cancer, the experience is long and difficult. Regardless of what others say, this will be a part of your life forever. Once a cancer mom, always a cancer mom. Hang in there. Keep moving forward. Head up, chin up.


A cancer mom

Follow this journey on Chemo and Donuts.

I was in a shopping center months after my son, Sam, was diagnosed with leukemia and in the distance, I saw an elderly friend-of-a-friend approach me, shaking her head. As she came closer, she took my hands, said she’d heard the news of Sam’s illness and lamented our “rough couple of years.”

Weeks later, I happened to be standing in a gathering area at school and was introduced to another mother. After some discussion, she looked at me in bewilderment and said, “You mean you have a child with leukemia? And a child with Down syndrome?”

I totally get where these statements and sentiments come from. In the space of just over two years, our family has received two separate, challenging diagnoses that have completely changed our lives. There have been many similarities in the process of receiving those diagnoses, too – the signs, the suspicion, the waiting, the confirmation, the grief, the sharing of news. Yes, there have been some extremely rough moments in the past few years. Yes, we have a lot going on in one little family.

But, despite the similarities in the process of diagnosis, is it fair to compare Down syndrome with leukemia? Is it fair to compare the potential complications of having three copies of a 21st chromosome with cancer? I think it’s like comparing apples with oranges, chalk and cheese.

When Sam was first diagnosed with leukemia, my husband, Ben, and I mused that “two weeks ago, the biggest thing in our world was having a son with Down syndrome.” And it was a big thing to us back then. But leukemia has helped us put Down syndrome into perspective, and quickly it paled in comparison.

Receiving the news 18 weeks into the pregnancy that our baby had Trisomy 21 was devastating. But in hindsight, we know Nicholas’s diagnosis was our training ground for what was to come. Ben and I learned a lot about ourselves and our relationship as we came to terms with the diagnosis, and it prepared us in many ways for facing the next curveball. We learned that, in spite of the fact we deal with challenges differently, we needed to lean in and love each other even more, even when our natural inclination can be to shut down and fly solo. Through the gift of the Trisomy 21 diagnosis, “Team Love” became stronger and more resilient for when we had to face leukemia.

If we had chosen to terminate the pregnancy and not keep our third baby, I’m pretty sure after Sam was diagnosed with Leukemia, we would have said something like, “Isn’t it lucky we don’t also have that high-needs child to think about at a time like this?” We might have been thinking we’d saved ourselves some heartache not having two children to worry about. But the truth of the matter is that, in the challenging time after being told Sam had leukemia, Nicholas was the light in our darkest of days. His big smile, his cheeky giggle, his melting hugs – they saved us, and we needed his presence like oxygen. Nicholas is pure love.

While it’s in my nature to see the good in both diagnoses, Down syndrome isn’t like leukemia. Yes, we have been blessed by a child whose Trisomy 21 label hasn’t been accompanied by any health complications so far, but even if it did, I would choose three copies of a 21st chromosome over leukemia in a heartbeat. If I had to choose between watching my child achieve milestones a little later, low muscle tone, almond-shaped eyes and a list of “possible” characteristics, or watch my child endure chemotherapy and face losing him to cancer? There is no question.

Some days I do feel exhausted and overwhelmed by the high needs of two children. But most days, I’m just exhausted and overwhelmed by the juggle of having three children in general. I have learned all children come with their own version of “high needs”; they just manifest in different ways (and, just quietly, Nicholas is probably the lowest maintenance of all my children). We make a conscious choice to take one day at a time.

While they are different diagnoses, both leukemia and Down syndrome have helped us to slow down, appreciate our blessings, and celebrate every milestone achieved and every day we have together.

Follow this journey on Mummalove.

“It’s amazing you can understand him,” people sometimes say to me. Well, yes, I can, often because my son, Max, likes to repeat a lot of the same phrases. He uses the speech app on his iPad to communicate and he knows that’s critical for people at school, friends and others to understand him.

At home, though, he prefers to speak words and say them again and again until we get it. This can be tricky, since the majority of consonants are not yet his thing (yay for the letters “m” and “n”). But he wants to talk so badly, which was one reason I took a hard stand when his speech therapist at school said articulation would no longer be a focus of therapy sessions.

Our daughter, Sabrina, is particularly good at translating Max-ese, and when I am not sure what he’s trying to tell me, she often is. Sometimes we have a good laugh. (See: Want to buy a monkey?)

What’s most amazing of all is that this boy is talking. Those doctors in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) sure can do a number on you, and when we were told he might never talk, that stuck in my head. Once, years ago, someone laughingly said to me that when Max did speak one day, I’d get tired of hearing him. “When he talks, I will never, ever get tired of hearing him,” I informed her, and it’s true.

Every single day, I am grateful for the words. For the rest of my life, I will be grateful for the words.

“Hi, ohmmmy!”

[“Hi, Mommy!”]

“I ahn ooo eee a ire-ahn ehh I owe uh!”

[“I want to be a fireman when I grow up!”]

“Are ooo oh ahh-eee?”

[“Are you so happy?”]

“Oh-eeen eeeesh my ay-or-ih or!”

[“Bowling is my favorite sport!”]

“Ayn oooh!”

[“Thank you!”]

“Oooh ire-ouse!”

[“I’d like to visit a new firehouse. Now, please.”]

“I ahn ooo eee inion ooh-eee!”]

[“I want to see the Minions movie!”]

“Ah oooh oh-ay?”

[“Are you OK?”]

“I ahn oooh-eeee!”]

[“I want sushi!”]

Oh, and the best words of all, the ones I have always seen in his eyes and in his kisses, but he has only started saying in the last year:

“I uh ooooh, Ohmmmy!”

[“I love you, Mommy!”]

Ellen Seidman the mighty.1-001

Follow this journey on Love That Max.

Read more from Ellen Seidman:
Special needs motherhood, pretty much summed up in GIFs
On living with Joy and Sadness
What I did on summer break: special needs parents edition

For the Shook family, Monday, July 21, is a date they won’t soon forget. It’s the day they met Lucy.

Lucy is a 6-year-old girl with Down syndrome who’s been living in an orphanage in China, KHOU-TV reported. The Shook family, from Woodlands, Texas, fell in love with Lucy when they saw her on video. Now, they’re in the process of officially adopting her. On Monday, they were able to finally meet her in person and shared an emotional moment at the airport.

We don’t see it as we are going to help her,” Brent Shook, Lucy’s soon-to-be father, told KHOU-TV. “We see it as she’s going to bless our lives.”

Watch Lucy meet her new family in the video below: 

Go here for more information about fostering children or adopting with Great Wall China Adoption.

Real People. Real Stories.

150 Million

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.