My Story: Heidi Howarth

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

It has been a long, long road. I have struggled with depression since I was a child, really. It was more that I struggled to fit into a 'normal' type of behavior, but my family was pretty disrupted. My dad had a violence and alcohol problem and so no one really noticed my struggles, there were more pressing things going on.

I got myself through school, through college and I got my degree at university. I have always managed to stay functional and try to keep my life moving forward. I was pretty much on medication from the age of 18 until I was diagnosed with ADHD about five months ago.

I had been referred by my GP to a trial being run at a local university, it was a study to compare how 'mindfulness and meditation' compared to being medicated. It was a three-year study, and I was randomly selected for the medication arm of the study. It meant I had to attend regular interviews with a psychologist to gage my mood and progress. It was during one of these sessions it was suggested that I had classic indicators of ADHD.

I went to see my GP, and waited for a year to see a specialist. He diagnosed high functioning ADHD and I started on Concerta XL. They gradually increased my dose. The effect has been truly life changing. I have gone from a constant 'firework storm' of ideas and thought to a calmness and a clarity I have never had before. For the first time in my life I can tackle what life throws at my in a different way, I can think and react, not just react and then regret it. My family has noticed my new calmness and ability to focus on things. It has also given me a greater understanding of my dad. ADHD is hereditary and it seems quite likely he was self-medicating with alcohol.

I have to say though, ADHD is not all negative. I am a writer, I am creative and I have never been afraid to jump in and give things a go. The difference now is that I stop and look down before I leap, when I used to just dive straight in!

Who has been there for you? How?

My husband and my children have really been there, also a few close friends. As anyone with ADHD will know, friends can be a real issue. For me it always seemed to be a really intense new friendship, then I would create a problem, and it would all explode – end of friendship. Very few people really 'got me' so I have a small group of great friends who like me warts and all.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I had always struggled with compulsive eating – I guess it was a form of self-medication. Since being on my Concerta I no longer think constantly about food and only eat when I am hungry. I am definitely healthier for it.


I am a writer, I am creative and I have never been afraid to jump in and give things a go.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I have raised two brilliant children; they are both wonderful and supportive people. They are clever and have great friends. I am so proud of them – they care about the world and the people around them, and that is the best I could have hoped for. I am also a published author, I write books for children, which quite often deal with a problem and finding a solution. They are quite often focused on the emotional side of life.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I have raised two brilliant children; they are both wonderful and supportive people. They are clever and have great friends. I am so proud of them – they care about the world and the people around them, and that is the best I could have hoped for. I am also a published author, I write books for children, which quite often deal with a problem and finding a solution. They are quite often focused on the emotional side of life.

The effect has been truly life changing.

The effect has been truly life changing.

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

Don't be so hard on yourself! People with ADHD are no different than other people, we have our strengths and we have our weaknesses, but then who doesn't? There is a lot to feel positive about. It is a physical issue with the structure of your brain, not anything you created.

If you can take medication, and want to, it can be positively helped. However, I have met a lot of creative people who are ADHD diagnosed and choose not to take medication as they enjoy their life and feel no need. I did worry medication would alter me – you hear scary stories about how it will make you a 'zombie'. I can safely say I am still me, I’ve just had a few of my rougher edges smoothed down a little.

I have met a lot of creative people who are ADHD diagnosed.

Is there anything else we should know?

As I said earlier. I am a very positive person. I am an optimist, and I am also the first to step forward for others. Is this my ADHD? I’m really not sure, but if it is, it’s a huge bonus. Through my writing I have been very lucky to be able to help children's charities and to receive wonderful messages from parents saying how a message in one of my stories has helped a child to understand where they fit in the world. I am happily different; I am also so delighted to understand a bit more about why my brain works a little differently.

About Heidi Howarth

My Story: Heidi Howarth

I live in Devon in the UK with my husband and two children. I write picture books for children and my husband illustrates them. Between us we have had over 100 titles published and have a worldwide readership. I am a huge fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy and I am also working on a Young Adult title in this genre.

We live in a traditional thatched cottage and along with my two dogs we have 14 chickens. I enjoy cycling and staying fit with walks across Dartmoor. Writing is the one thing I always wanted to do, but I do also love to paint and baking is my other passion.

We are currently trying something new by using the Kickstarter crowd funding platform.

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