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Spring Forward with Courage

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By: Lannette Guerra   |   March 30, 2022

When people think of March, they might think of “March Madness” or Spring. When I think of March, I think of courage and a season for transformation. With lighter steps and longer, light-filled days, we strive to put the pandemic behind us. Yet the world is at war, conveniently synonymous with the Roman meaning of March, but wars are part of history, and even if countries are not at war, humans will always have their internal battles. This is why I declare March as the month in which we wave our white flags to surrender and persevere.


However, before I personally launch myself anywhere, I have to deal with a new set of challenges that my ADHD traits make worse. In February, I learned that I was exhibiting the signs of PTSD. On a call with my doctor, I asked her if my onset of anxiety and panic attacks was possibly related to the medications I was taking. After a couple of questions, she concluded that a recent traumatic experience had opened a can of worms for me; everything I was describing to her was signs of a person with severe PTSD. The global news was not helping.


I find it essential to talk about this issue because ADHD already has daily struggles. If you add additional stress into a neurodivergent’s brain, you’re in for a messy ADHD ride. When that happens, it’s best to avoid any sad songs and certainly the news.


A person with ADHD feels emotions on a deeper level; looking back, I now understand why people would often ask me, “Why do you care so much about so and so, or such and such?” My brain likes to get stuck in patterns of rumination, and getting unstuck is a constant mental battle.  To my credit, I have learned to master the art of letting go; in this season, I’m having trouble letting go as quickly as I’ve done in the past. So, while finally knowing what my elephant in the room is and feeling relief with that revelation, I’m now going down the super focused rabbit hole of investigating PTSD. “Hey Google! What is PTSD, and how do I get rid of it?”


Everyone who walks the earth carries some sort of trauma. Some people might not even cognitively know they have trauma within them, but their body does. With one tiny trigger, your subconscious has the ability to suddenly and unexpectedly open repressed memories. In the interim, your body will start to manifest signs. Even if you are the happiest person in the world, you might find that you suddenly have tightness in your chest, are snapping at people, withdrawing, and maybe even experiencing random panic attacks. You were a mentally sound and healthy individual your entire life—what is happening to you now? It’s a scary time for anyone who might be going through it in secret. When I was mentioned my issues to a close friend, she asked if I had read The Body Keeps the Score. In the book, author Bessel Van Der Kolk explores how trauma reshapes our body and brain chemistry. The book was in my Amazon cart immediately.


My brain chemistry is already awesomely wired; it was disheartening to learn that I would have to teach my inner mentor to be kinder to myself, but I also had to deal with some weird repressed trauma. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I have zero time as it is, especially with my executive dysfunction, or as I like to call it, “the black hole time-sucker.” I was unhappy when the doctor suggested I needed to enter trauma counseling; my list of to-dos for the 2022 year of self-growth just got considerably longer.


From my personal experience, I would also like to caution people from self-diagnosing. For example, signs of a person with ADHD and a person with trauma are very similar. Before a proper diagnosis, experts have to assess you thoroughly. There are scholarly articles that argue that ADHD can form from an early childhood traumatic experience, which could have been true in my case; however, my traumatic experience happened a year after my official diagnosis. Or perhaps the onset of symptoms could have flared from my body trying to flag a similar incident from the past. Regardless, it was time to break down to heal finally. At least that’s my glass-half-full approach to the matter.


Per everything I’ve read on trauma and ADHD, trauma enhances ADHD traits. In Psych Central’s article on ADHD and trauma, experts outline the list of shared and distinct characteristics of both conditions. The number of shared traits is long; therefore, doctors have to be careful in making an official diagnosis to a patient. They want to make sure they can isolate the two and determine if patients are still showing signs of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and forgetfulness. The latter traits are exclusive to an ADHD diagnosis regardless of trauma exposure.


In my particular case, having ADHD without hyperactivity and forgetfulness from PTSD would only leave me with one unique trait, “impulsivity.” Those who know me personally know that I can make highly impulsive decisions. In addition, my doctors have records of me going in and having them test me for early onset of Alzheimer's. I know what you’re thinking I sound like a hypochondriac right about now, but trust me, I did not go into the doctor's office at 32 years old and ask them for a memory test just out of curiosity. My family kept telling me my forgetfulness was not normal and it turns out they were right. It was ADD all along, we just didn’t know at the time.


In conclusion, the above might all sound like a giant hot mess. Yet, just as I’ve personally done my entire life, I will persevere, and I will battle the PTSD and ADHD monsters one day at a time until they are nonexistent or only background music. I may never be able to rewire my brain to be neuro-typical, but I can rewire it to let go of the trauma, and if you have trauma in your life, you can too.


As mentioned previously, March is named after the Roman god of war, and, ironically, my last name means war. Today, we can make a vow to leave the winter behind us and spring forward. It’s either that or live stuck inside invisible walls and not knowing what keeps us trapped inside.

Let us work to make peace within ourselves, unlock the doors of the past, and finally step outside to breathe new air. It’s that time of the year again, time for the butterflies and the bees to boldly pollinate, time for seeds in the garden to grow tall and bear fruit. It’s time for us to spring forward with courage, our lovely sidekick.

Lannette Guerra has a decade of experience working for large and small high-end residential firms, throughout Northern California. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture, a Bachelor of Arts, and is a LEED accredited professional. Before moving to California, she spent 4 years as an Exhibit Designer in Kansas City, MO. 
She resides and virtually works for her current employer, from her home in San Rafael, CA.  When she is not hyperfocused on work she enjoys hikes in the Marin headlands and couch cuddles with her family and furry friend. She is currently staying away from engaging in any new hobbies except for being a mentor & advocate of mental and physical well-being.
She is also a strong believer that the only way to build yourself to personal fulfillment and reach your true potential is to quiet the mind, eliminate distraction, and listen to what your heart has been telling you all along. Only then will you be able to see your authentic self reflected within your home, your soul, and in the workplace.

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