Tara Campbell, journalist and former ice-hockey player chronicles her story of living with Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and how it affected every aspect of her life.
I am a runner, and I am a writer. I also have ADHD, but I didn’t always know it. I spent a great deal of my life trapped in the chaos and confusion of my mind. Until, one day, I made the decision to change my life.
On a bitterly cold and isolated morning, in the midst of a reporting posting in the near Arctic, I listened as my soul begged to be set free. I had heard these calls before, smashing and crashing about, attempting to break entry into the rapidly streaming thoughts of my mind, but to no avail – not until this day.
I left my hockey career behind and began searching for something to turn my attention to, eventually landing on journalism.
On this day, the message finally broke through and I surrendered; making the decision to leave my Northern posting, and my career as a daily news reporter. I was scared, and unsure, but knew it was time rediscover the athlete within, and embrace the writer who I had found along the way.
In 1998, I won the first-ever Canadian University Women’s Hockey Championship with Concordia University in Montreal. My first year at university was a great success on the ice, but off it I struggled immensely to keep up academically. I had reached out for help, but by my second year I had lost all hope of being able to fix what had been a lifelong problem.
I left my hockey career behind and began searching for something to turn my attention to, eventually landing on journalism. Over the course of many years away from sport I wanted to return several times but was too stubborn to admit I had regret over leaving, so I forged on – determined to succeed.
I entered my final act – let the mask drop and stepped off the stage I had been on for too long.
As I checked off my career goals, every marker of success left me increasingly unfulfilled and restless. My life had become solely about the thrill of the chase. I knew this because even with the success of being a managing editor of two daily newspapers for three years, and now a reporter for The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) – I still wasn’t at peace.
As I sat in my Northern accommodations exhausted from years of battling my mind, I entered my final act – let the mask drop and stepped off the stage I had been on for too long. Over the course of 48 hours I made a few tear-filled phone calls, took countless deep breaths, and garnered the courage to let go of who I thought I should be and started moving towards the person I am.
It’s been a year and a half since making the decision to leave the daily news business, and just over a year since being diagnosed with ADHD. As I started to learn and understand the impact of ADHD on my life I faced many changes and challenges. It was very difficult at times – grief, anger and fear have all been a part of the process – but it’s been worth every one of the uncomfortable, scary and painful moments.
My life is now filled with more vulnerability and joy than I’ve ever known. My days are spent focused on running and writing. I still struggle at times, but the difference now is I’m confident I will always emerge – true to myself.
…to be continued.
*Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.
Tara Campbell is a Canadian runner and writer based in Omaha, NE. After more than a decade away from the sport she’s making a comeback to competition while navigating life with ADHD.