In case you didn’t know, it’s ADHD Awareness Month and I wanted to shed some light on the subject, helping to raise awareness of challenges and opportunities that being neurodiverse brings.
I have written a total of three blogs that centre on my own experiences with ADHD, – my own ADHD diagnosis journey, what amazing positives ADHD brings to our business, and our clients, and how we as a company run that attracts the wonderful neuro-diverse and supports them.
I’ve always known my mind worked differently. I am a highly creative, passionate and emotionally led individual and my distinct way of thinking and feeling has presented its own set of challenges. I’ve always thought that I’ve felt things more deeply than a ‘normal’ person would, whatever normal means. The most minor of inconveniences can absolutely ruin my day, a challenging conversation can set me into a spiral of sadness for a week. The same that winning an award or achieving a target can send me into absolute euphoria like nothing else.
As I stepped into leadership, I found these challenges became more apparent. I believe wholeheartedly in authentic leadership. Being yourself, being open and being honest drives a workplace culture that has so many benefits. From fostering trust with employees and better company performance, to a workplace where everyone can show up as their true selves. However, this cannot be an excuse for me to be a bad leader. Sometimes my ADHD means I forget things, I have trouble concentrating or listening and I am led by my emotions, and my ability or inability to concentrate on a task can sometimes be problematic. I can literally only do things when I feel like it. As a leader, this has a huge impact on my team, creating stress and pressures for them, and in turn an impact on my clients, and to the wider business.
I’m a deadline girl, always have been. College was a prime example of this, for my course – which was a Higher National Diploma in Hospitality, I had to do 25 written assignments throughout the 2 years I attended college. As we closed in on the final few weeks of college, I remember my head of department calling me into his office. ‘Tory, you’ve handed in 3 assignments, that means I need 22 assignments on my desk within 2 weeks for you to pass this course.’ You can BET, to everyone’s disbelief, they were there. I basically lived off Red Bull for 2 weeks and wrote all of those assignments and achieved a distinction. The pressure of a deadline is what I need, even if I’ve got time and space to do something, I can’t do it until it’s due!
Cue a need to do something about this. I’ve known I’ve had ADHD for about 4 years through research but I hadn’t officially been diagnosed. My inspiration was my wonderful friend and colleague, Keri. Keri and I have always recognised little things about each other that we see in ourselves, but she took the first step to an official diagnosis. I’ve watched her and spoken to her so much over the last 6 months, watching her absolutely nailing it, going from strength to strength, and thought – that’s what I want.
So, a 3 hour session with a clinician later…‘You’ve got severe combined-type ADHD.’ OMG I felt so validated. It felt like a huge relief to know it was my brain working in different ways, that I couldn’t cope with things that ‘normal’ adults do, like washing or cooking meals or eating or life-admin. But then it really started to sink in…I’ve got this forever. It’s not going away, it cannot be “fixed” and I’m NOT broken – it’s just that my brain is wired differently. How do I cope with this, always being chaotic, constantly late, turning up takes so much effort. What do I do?!
It’s been a journey over the last few weeks. I was only formally diagnosed on the 12th July this year, but I am reflecting on all the BRILLIANT things it does give me, learning ways to make my life work better and cope with the way my brain works. What does that look like for our business? Well, read the next blog in the series to find out all the wonderful things that ADHD does bring to our organisation and why you should be looking out for us neurodiverse pocket rockets!