Never Be Ashamed of Who You Are

Michelle Donnelly (age 30; Dx age 10)

My name is Michelle Donnelly and I was diagnosed with Executive Functioning Disorder. Growing up with Executive Functioning Disorder was not easy especially since I was not willing to accept the fact I had it. I just wanted to be like everyone else without the struggles and accommodations. “Normal” was the term I used often, ” I just want to be normal”. However I wasn’t and because of my learning disabilities I was segregated into smaller classrooms. Classrooms that were the size of janitors closets. It was then I was labeled a ” SPED”, a “dumb kid”, a “retard”. These classrooms were filled with kids with learning disabilities and behavioral issues. From then on, I was bullied and tormented at school. School for me wasn’t fun, it wasn’t a safe space. It was a place I dreaded going. In middle school, I met this amazing child psychologist Chandler Creedon. He understood me, understood what executive functioning was. He told me this extraordinary story about a boy with dyslexia. He went on to tell me about this boy’s struggles and how it never stopped this boy from his dreams. It wasn’t easy but with the right tools, he succeeded. That little boy was him. He gave me hope, hope that one day if I worked hard my dreams and goal would come true.

High School was even harder, I just wanted to be normal and to fit in. I continued to be bullied and at some point, it became psychical throughout the years. College finally came and I got into a community college and went for Graphic Design. I refused to go on a special ed plan. I thought by ignoring it, it would just go away like a common cold. That was not the case. College was hard, full of deadlines and projects. I was drowning.

I dropped out, fell back on my teacher certificate I earned in high school and started teaching in a preschool. Before AANE, I had lost 10 jobs in total. Fired for not making it to work on time, not being focused enough. I was told I was not teacher material. Time management is a huge issue for me. People that know me often say I will be late for my own funeral. Being late constantly made me look like I didn’t want to be there, lazy and irresponsible. I lost 10 jobs, each time I was fired it was another blow to my self esteem. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t keep a job? Was I ever going to be successful? I wanted to give up, I thought about just ending my life. I felt like such a burden and disappointment to the world and to my family. It seemed like when I thought things were going well, something would happen and I would be right back to square one and have to start over again.

My mom was scared for me, she did some research and found Sarah Ward. Sarah Ward sent us to AANE. Judy Cloherty became my LifeMap coach, she helped me realize that even with EFD, I can still be successful given the right tools. Because of AANE and Judy, I became successful. I kept and maintained a job for five years and left at my own recognizance for a better job. I moved out of my parent’s house with a roommate. I managed my finances and barely asked my parents for financial support. Time is still an issue but it is not controlling my life anymore. I am now 30 years old, I went back to college at night, work full time and live by myself in a one bedroom apartment. I am not ashamed of having Executive Functioning Disorder and I realize now that there is no such thing as “normal”.  I would have never seen myself where I am now and I can’t thank Judy Cloherty and AANE enough.