Sheena's story

I love to sing. It’s my therapy. I sing in the Sisterhood Choir at the Kingsgate Church. I was diagnosed with ADHD at 47.
Sheena

My name is Sheena. I always knew that I was different from other people. Relationships were difficult. I didn’t know why they didn’t work. I was impulsive, hyperactive. I was never very good at reading people – who it was OK to be around, and who it wasn’t. There was no time to think. I could manage things at work – it had structure - I could keep my head above water there.

It was when I went into a relationship, and then I had a child. That’s when the wheels came off.

I was the one who had to provide the structure for them – for the house, for the child, for my partner. I’d try, all day – but distractions would stop me from focusing on my tasks.

I met my partner at work – so he knew me from who I was at work. That’s not what he got. We were different, culturally, and in our approach to parenting. And over time he started to undermine my confidence. He wouldn’t eat the food I cooked, things had to be cleared away at the end of the day, using the dishwasher would make him angry, he’d get me to sign things when I was exhausted. His cousin would eat my food - so I realised, it wasn’t my cooking that was the issue.

I shut myself down, to cope. I didn’t know it then, but part of ADHD is difficulty in regulating emotions. To cover my tears and feelings I threw myself into work, I tried not to be home. As I would go home, my heart sank.

But women cope, you know? They put a face on. I did that... It was singing that started to change things. It helped me find my voice.

I’d always been into singing, it’s been my therapy. A singing coach put me up for the Fame Academy. I had an audition. I was a nightmare. I lost my bag, I lost my keys ... But I was chosen. They had me stand in for Jenny Eclair. 

Of course my partner said “You can’t do this. You’ve got a child.” I said “I’m going. You have to sort yourself out.”  

It was my son getting a diagnosis 3 years previously that made me realise I had ADHD. Hearing about his symptoms being described and his diagnosis, I started to think about me and while at Fame Academy the penny dropped. I told my GP and she said “You can’t have ADHD. You’re a professional person.” I told her my partner said it was like “having two children in the house”. She referred me for a diagnosis, to the Maudsley. And they agreed with me.

Getting the diagnosis, getting treatment, getting the medication, started to turn things around for us.

I got a divorce; I got to keep my son; we sold the house; we got shared ownership on a flat.

Now, I can spot it in other people. I started a support group called Fastminds where we support each other. I sing in 3 choirs at the Kingsgate Church with other people, it’s the connection it gives you.

I’m still exhausted, but I’m determined, and I’m good. I feel blessed.

Support

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Time to Change is a social movement aiming to change the way people think and act about mental health. Time to Change Kingston is the second funded hub in London. It is hosted by the Royal Borough of Kingston Council and coordinated by Healthwatch Kingston.

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