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My Story: Barbara French

Barbara FrenchI am 72 years old, but at age 7, no one could get me to sit down. Because I couldnít focus, I was flying all over the place; I would fidget and school was very difficult. I did not get good grades in elementary school or high school. School was a disaster; so I educated myself. I loved to readóI still doóand I read a lot of books. Thatís where I got my knowledge.

Many people think that ADHD stops after a certain age, but it doesnít. All my life, I have been forgetful. I will be sewing a dress and think about a word that I donít know the definition of, then go look that word up in a dictionary, and that leads me to something else. I always have three or four things going on at once.

As for jobs, at first I mainly worked in offices. But I didnít last very long anywhere because I would forget where I would put things. The more stress and pressure from my job, the more I would forget. I would flip from one job to another usually after six months to a year and then I realized that I wasnít looking for the right kind of jobs. I needed something that was good for me, so I worked at a library for eight or nine years. It was heaven.

Before I started working in the library, I thought I was a flop and that was bad for my self esteem. At the library, I was in my glory. From there, I discovered NAMI and found out about my disorder.

I live with ADHD and bipolar disease, but I only take medication for bipolar because of the interactions of the medications. I am used to it, I live with it. Itís not easy, but I learn to go with the flow.

There are many things I do very well. I am a great entrepreneur. I am unorganized and I may have to do something twice, but I just look at the great things that I can do. Everyone has talents, you just have to find them. If the job doesnít fit who you are, you have to find another job. Find a job that works for you, motivates you. Something that you love that way you can focus.

I work in community outreach with NAMI Central Ozarks in Missouri. Last year after, 14 years, we won outstanding affiliate of the year in San Francisco! Is there anything bigger than that? I don't think so. I donít think there is anything else in the world that has meant more to me than that.

ADHD is a gift because you can think of more than one thing at a time. To me, thatís an attribute. Finding the right job was a turning point in my life, and, in life, doing what you love means itís going to be a success story.