My Challenge

• Country of origin of the narrator: ICELAND
• Age of the narrator: 46
• Family situation of the narrator: Married with 2 children and 2 stepchildren
• Level of education of the narrator: Paramedic

My name is Gunnþórunn Heidenreich and I was living with disability parallel to raising and supporting two children with ADHD and ADD and myself being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult in 2009. I work as a paramedic in a nursing home. I dropped out of the labour market due to backpain due to musculoskeletal problems in spring 2006, then 30 years old while waiting for an operation that took place in October 2007.

My main challenges

• My undiagnosed and untreated ADHD posing difficulties in education and personal life.
• Challenging household and home, two children
• The feeling of uselessness when getting the disabled sentence at 33 years old after the operation.
• Overweight after going through different treatments, medication, and rehabilitation in relation to my musculoskeletal, limiting as well physical activity and ability to exercises.

My path

After my operation in 2007 I went to a traditional rehabilitation for some weeks and then I was discharged without any follow up plan as well a full (75%) disability assessment that basically meant that I didn’t need to work but could get full disability payment then only 31 years old. While waiting for the operation I got temporary disability and rehabilitee payments.

I had been experiencing learning disabilities during my education and training in the health sector that I thought was due to my undiagnosed ADHD that was then diagnosed in 2009 enabling me to go back to school and graduating in office management in 2013 as I thought that my dream job in health care would be too physically challenging.

I was however always wondering how I could improve my health and 2013 I signed up for a lifestyle rehabilitation parallel to part time (30%) job in the service sector. During the years I had been suffering and rehabilitating from back pain as well as facing mental challenges of hopelessness and depression I had gained considerable weight. As a follow up from my lifestyle training, I got a bypass surgery that further helped me to lose 40 kg. and improve my lifestyle, increasing physical ability and activity, reduce medication and overcome mental challenges. I now only take hormones and ADHD medicines and lot of vitamins.

The lifestyle changes and improved physical condition further encouraged me to proceed with my health care training as well as my experience of working in home care from 2017, feeling that this was what I wanted to do, not working in an office. I went back to school 2018 to finish my paramedic education and graduated 2021 parallel to working almost full time (70%) at the nursing where now I hold a full position.

My success

I think that you must be aware that you can’t rush it, all the small victories matter, getting the ADHD diagnosis and proper medication helped me to build up resilience as well as patient, improving your health is a long run. My personal strength is “that I never give up” I’m stubborn and resilient.

Never during this process, I defined a specific goal, but I acknowledged and enjoyed every victory like being able to mow the lawn and hike the mountain and most recently golfing with my husband.

I sometimes feel that I’m a different person than I used to be and while some people worry that I’m doing too much I know my boundaries and know that I can continue to grow and take on more challenging tasks every day.