My Story: Hannah Bowen

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

As a child I was very hyper — I wouldn't even sit at the dinner table. When I was in high school, I discussed my issues with my doctor, who asked for statements from every teacher I had from kindergarten through to the 10th grade, as well as my parents. We also had a hearing with my current teachers and then my doctor diagnosed from there. All of them said the same thing: she can't sit still, has outbursts, takes too long to do in-class assignments etc., etc. What brought me to seek help was when I was taking my ACT, I got up and left the test unfinished because another student was whistling.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I do not eat food with additives or food coloring. I create a place for everything and it must go there every time or I will lose it. After years of medication I remain on a 5mg dose daily of focalin. Most importantly, I still play! I snowboard, hike, and from time to time will take a break to dance it out or do jumping jacks. Oh, and I took at least one art class through college, which I found really helpful.

Who has been there for you? How?

While my mother has been so supportive and understanding, no one really understands the agony. But my mom for sure—we've laughed and cried about it. Additionally, my doctor! She has been there for me and listens when I tell her what I need. We still keep in touch!


It can be the most painful thing emotionally, socially and even physically but it isn't all bad.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

Though I don't think it is my biggest accomplishment, earning my B.A in philosophy is something I am proud of. My guidance counselor told me not to even bother going to college, and many teachers told me I wouldn't make it. I was not a strong reader in school because it took me longer. So earning a B.A in a field that’s so reading-intensive gave me the confidence that I have today. Since then, I have done paralegal work, become one of the youngest managers at a job corps campus and am now running a business. None of which I thought I would be capable of.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

Though I don't think it is my biggest accomplishment, earning my B.A in philosophy is something I am proud of. My guidance counselor told me not to even bother going to college, and many teachers told me I wouldn't make it. I was not a strong reader in school because it took me longer. So earning a B.A in a field that’s so reading-intensive gave me the confidence that I have today. Since then, I have done paralegal work, become one of the youngest managers at a job corps campus and am now running a business. None of which I thought I would be capable of.

What's your advice to someone else living with ADHD?

A) I know it hurts sometimes. It sounds stupid but it can be the most painful thing emotionally, socially and even physically but it isn't all bad. B) You know you better than anyone else, so use the positive aspects to your advantage—you can think about several things at once, you learn more because your process takes longer and so much more, and C) Meditate or at least give yourself wind up and down time or you'll explode.

Earning my B.A in Philosophy is something I am proud of.

Is there anything else we should know?

I am adopted. My siblings and I were in the New York State social services and my awesome adoptive parents took all three of us. I changed my name and identity in the second grade when the adoption was final. I also run a frozen yogurt shop where I am in charge of all finances, marketing, HR and best of all a bunch of high school kids.
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