My ADHD diagnosis was, as with many women diagnosed in their 40s, both a relief and also a process of recontextualising my whole life, along with a surprising grieving process that would pop up at unexpected moments. The paradox of Jen, super capable, intensely passionate, nonstop freight train of getting sh*t done and in ways others wouldn’t even think of – taking on a Master’s degree with a full-time demanding global senior role and new baby, anyone? With a paradoxical inability to work in a linear fashion, or even work from only one, two or three notepads (people do that?). I simultaneously ran an award-winning HR and Organisational Development dept in a busy finance industry, (top 10 best employers for the APAC region), maintained incredible attrition stats of under 5% in an industry average more than double that, created an unrivaled culture that employees loved being at, while day after day my keys would allude me (yes thanks to all the many… many…. “helpful” people suggesting a key hook – if life were that easy….) what about the one where I drove an hour away to realise I’d left a pot burning on the stove, or the one where I really did run out of petrol in the middle of a motorway, no one was surprised there surely?! Just a typical day in the life of..
While I was high achieving on the outside, I didn’t know that my overstimulated way of living was affecting my health deeply, although I was becoming aware this life was unsustainable and things were starting to unravel internally. In 2016, while juggling a demanding senior career, navigating life with undiagnosed ADHD without knowledge or understanding of how my ADHD impacted my emotional and nervous system; behold a new family addition and curveball of my undiagnosed second son – all the behavioural challenges in our house, all the ingredients for the perfect burnout recipe were complete. I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, and it was time to listen up.
All the huge stressful challenges that come along with the brokenness of not knowing how to manage the household behaviours, feeling like a failing parent as well as the guilt of working full-time while there were so many things at home that needed attention, life was no walk in the park, it was not supposed to be this way my head kept saying.
I wallowed in the mire for a fair while & also secretly felt very isolated. When you’re new to this ADHD world & still exploring yourself, there seems to be many well-intentioned but very uneducated friends who are very quick to tell you how they don’t think anyone in your family has ADHD. You can’t help but take this on and add to the confusion before you’re schooled enough.
After a year or so of wallowing and confusion, I realised I’d been in training for years for this type of calamity; I certainly don’t know any ADHD coaches with mindfulness teacher training (or any mindfulness teachers with ADHD to that point). I used my awareness of mindfulness and neuroscience of how my mind worked in conjunction with my body – to really take the stress into my own hands and empower myself. I managed to stay off the lifetime medication prescribed for the auto-immune that made me feel terrible and even more foggy, with various ways of reducing my stress.
Just as importantly, I squeezed myself out of the granular & into the bigger picture, put my big girl pants on, started seeking help for my son, and left no stone unturned. I became a sponge for the many psychology training programs we entered into and applied them seriously at home with astounding results.
Anyone who thinks their parenting can’t hugely affect the home environment…. After years of intense emotions coaching for kids qualifications, plus lived practical experience with my ADHD child and others, I can confidently say that you absolutely have the power to create a beautiful, nurturing, and constructive energy in your household.
It’s not a particularly easy life, but it’s never dull. When I was diagnosed and recontextualizing my history, I also became aware of just how much I’d been unknowingly masking and over-compensating in the workplace especially, and how exhausting that had been too. I’d already spent many years becoming myself and accepting all the paradoxes, but it still doesn’t magically make everything candy floss. I live 70-80% better than I could be, and my home is 100% better than it was! But I’m still human and still have the whhhhhhhy can’t I just come out of the shop with what I went in for moments? Mostly, I can laugh at myself, but it’s still hampering. This is part of it, but as long as we’re on the incline and we keep learning and moving forward, this is the key. I wouldn’t change this life for anything; my children have been my biggest teachers. Where once I wondered why me, I now feel blessed it’s me!
Over the years, managing my own mind strategically transformed my whole way of living. Now post-diagnosis I see why these human life skills affected me so profoundly. Fast forward and a different way of life here we are.
The transition from my background to evolving more fully into my ADHD community space was an absolute no brainer. Moving my like-minded tribe forward is where I can make a tremendous impact. And so, I do….
I’ve not met one person in any of my wide-ranging circles who hasn’t benefited tenfold from having a more thoughtful, non-reactive presence, and those around them hugely benefit too!
Even the hardened cynics amongst us seem to be momentarily captivated by the lock screen image that pops up on their PC’s at log …