My Story: Kimberly Scotchie

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

I was suffering from addiction and was misdiagnosed as bipolar in 1988. My drugs of choice were alcohol, cocaine, and pot.

I had checked in at 8:30 in the evening, full of liquor and cocaine, and saw the psychiatrist pinging off the walls at 8:30 am. So much for his bipolar diagnosis. All the wasted years, medication and money, I finally found a great doctor who actually listened to me.

He asked my background, drugs of choice and other questions. He then told me, "You’re not bipolar, but you have one of the worst cases of ADHD I’ve seen." This was about eight years ago (I’m now 64).

I’m currently on 30mg Adderal once per day.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I’ve tried over and over again to be organized, but every time I attempt at organization, I'm not satisfied with the results. I get overwhelmed when things get messy or when I’m under too much stress. It's like I’m a deer in headlights. I’m just so very exhausted all the time.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

Interviewing for my last job, I told my boss, “If you don’t hire me, you’re going to miss out on the opportunity to hire a really awesome, honest person who never takes off work or comes in late." She laughed like crazy and hired me then.

Every year when we had our evaluation I said just let me sign the damn paper. Everything on it said excellent except the last sentence: Has absolutely no organizational skills.

She’d come in my office, stop in almost horror and say, “I know it’s a mental illness thing.” It was always so messy. The office manager bought me all these little trays for my paperwork and labeled them for me. That helped a lot.

When I had one year sober, I was hired as a volunteer firefighter for my local township. One year later I was an EMT. Then I went to the Ohio State Fire Academy for the 400-hour Firefighter Level II course. I was the only woman. I worked with the crew at that time and was the next to get hired full time but had to have five vertebrae fused in my back. They wouldn’t let me quit and kept me on medical leave. It became obvious that I wouldn’t be capable of doing my job as well as I had before. My captain said I was one of the best firefighters at the station. I felt really good!

I’m also a great mom and a hilarious grammy. I have a heart that literally loves thousands all over the US in recovery. I guess these are the things I’m most proud of. Oh yeah, I went to college too!

Who has been there for you? How?

My husband was my best support, but he shot himself (with me there) three and a half years ago, and because of that I have PTSD from that day, and then other things resurfaced from my past.

I have tons of 12-step support, and I think there is a higher risk for ADHD in the addicted population or in the children of alcoholics/addicts, but I don’t talk about this with them.

I have a great counselor and 12-step sponsor. Both offer awesome support, they listen, give feedback, and provide suggestions.

Who has been there for you? How?

My husband was my best support, but he shot himself (with me there) three and a half years ago, and because of that I have PTSD from that day, and then other things resurfaced from my past.

I have tons of 12-step support, and I think there is a higher risk for ADHD in the addicted population or in the children of alcoholics/addicts, but I don’t talk about this with them.

I have a great counselor and 12-step sponsor. Both offer awesome support, they listen, give feedback, and provide suggestions.

Get a good counselor.

Get a good counselor.

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

Get a good counselor. If you can’t afford one, check your local university’s counseling department. They usually offer free counseling by students in the Master's program.

Take care of your health, don’t put too much on your plate (social obligations). I let that happen a lot until I started writing them on a calendar where I could see them.

Lastly, love yourself and surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally if you can find them.

Love yourself and surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally

Is there anything else we should know?

I love animals. I have an 11-month-old labradoodle puppy, named Huckleberry, and a cat, named Houdini, and she's three years old.

I love to feed and watch the birds. I love the mountains, but I was born in Pennsylvania on the West Virginia line. I’d rather be cold than too hot.

Fall is my favorite time of year. The air is clean and crisp. Even if it’s cold out the sun is bright. Even the trees in the mountains are so beautiful, and the colors are breathtaking.

I love the smell of fresh cut grass and a barn full of hay and horses, even their poop!

I love my grandkid’s laughter and them crawling into my bed to watch a movie.

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