Tara Campbell’s journey with ADHD made her also realize that she needed to accept she had the love and support to see her though.
I arrived at the Saskatoon International Airport with an exhausted mind, pouring heart, and fragile, yet relenting optimism. No more than 48-hours earlier I was in the far north of Canada in the midst of a reporting posting, when I made the decision to surrender to a battle I didn’t need to be fighting.
I was losing myself in the madness of my mind; running away from everything, and everyone I loved
For 35 years I had been struggling with undiagnosed ADHD. Capable, strong, clever, and determined, I forged my way to a successful career in journalism – all the while vaguely aware, but unable to articulate a restlessness within. And through it all I was losing myself in the madness of my mind; running away from everything, and everyone I loved.
In my early 20’s, I left behind a cherished hockey career, stifled my athletic identity and clawed away at a career in daily news. Along the way I denied myself love in protection of the small semblance of order I had created within the larger mess of my mind. I was locked in this state of being and insistent on not to letting anyone tinker around with my delicate formula.
Coming out allowed me to reconcile some of the restlessness I had been feeling my entire life
The few relationships I had through the years were tattered at best. At the age of 29, I told my family and friends I am gay – something I had known deep within since I was a child. Coming out allowed me to reconcile some of the restlessness I had been feeling my entire life, but it was only a fraction of the equation, as ADHD remained the common denominator.
I was fortunate to have good people in my life along the way; people who loved me, but who I inevitably hurt in my skittish ways. I didn’t have the capacity to ride through the emotions, accept the ups and the downs, or commit to the intimacy that is required in a long-lasting relationship. I merely held on as long as I could, before my impulsive tendencies ushered me away.
I began to wonder if I was built to be in a relationship; a painful prospect I coped with by telling myself that I didn’t really need that in my life. The problem was, that was a lie – one that would eventually be exposed by the very person there, waiting for me, when I arrived at the Saskatoon airport – my partner, Candace Bloomquist.
She saw my fierce passion for life and my unwavering determination to achieve what I set out to do.
Candace is one of the people I ran from, numerous times, over the years. Far more than that though, she is the one person in my life who was strong enough and brave enough to stand up to me at a time when I needed to hear the truth. When we first met she saw my fierce passion for life and my unwavering determination to achieve what I set out to do. It is a part of me she was immediately drawn to. It’s also a fundamental part of who I am as a person with ADHD; I process and execute with great intensity – and I never want to change this about myself. However, it does have to be kept in check. When focused in the wrong direction my intensity can turn from being highly productive, to absolutely destructive. It has the ability to, and did, ravage pieces of my life I will never be able to fit back together.
Thankfully, though, I’ve discovered that with a lot of dirty, hard work and proper supports, the most important pieces always find their way back into place – and Candace is one of those pieces. I drove her out of my life on more than one occasion; the final time came while I was up north reporting. Years spent pushing my career forward while simultaneously pushing back important pieces of myself were taking a massive toll. I could feel I was on the verge of surrendering to it all – and that was exactly what I needed to do, but I wasn’t ready to do it. The prospect of shaking the already-shifting foundation beneath me was far too overwhelming. So, I kept pushing on and my mind kept spinning around and around, and my thoughts kept getting more and more out of control – and then – I panicked. And I did what I had always done when I felt my ailing construction under threat – I tried to isolate myself, which meant saying goodbye to Candace.
I knew I had to surrender.
It was an act of desperation; one final attempt to hold onto the familiar, single-minded force I had built around me. Except this time no amount of hiding, denying or self-medicating drinks were enough to remedy the pain of my struggle. I knew I had to surrender.
When I reached for the phone to call Candace to tell her I was coming back to Saskatoon, all I could do was hope my reckless ways hadn’t destroyed every single bit of our relationship. I rang and she was there – thank God she was there. Her voice offered calm to the storm pacing through my mind – it always has, she always has. Her thorough Ph.D mind, her NCAA-Div. I basketball-playing drive, and her inherent courage to always strive for the best in herself and others – was a gift I had not yet been ready to fully receive.
As my tears dropped to my hand, then to my phone, I told Candace of my exhausted mind and saddened soul. She very easily, and rightfully could have hung up, but she didn’t. Instead, she graciously and lovingly said she would be there to pick me up at the airport the next day. With this act of compassion and display of unconditional love I knew, in that moment, it was safe to stop running and possible to start finding my way home.
I knew, somewhere in the recesses of myself, that everything was eventually going to be okay
When I arrived in Saskatoon, I knew Candace would be there at the airport, but that was it. I didn’t know if she would ever completely let me back into her life. This uncertainty, coupled with the quake of my upheaval still rumbling within, could have been enough to cripple me on the spot, but it didn’t. I knew, somewhere in the recesses of myself, that everything was eventually going to be okay; and I proceeded through the shifting glass doors of the Saskatoon International Airport. Within seconds I felt the city’s cold, yet comforting air slide across my unprotected hands. Gripping my bags, packed only hours before, I clenched tightly, fully aware that unfamiliar terrain lie ahead.