- evidence gathered from recent review of international studies and articles published between 2014 to 2020
- stigma associated with people not seeking treatment, and lower self-worth and ability to function in people with ADHD
- less stigma/most positive attitudes about ADHD were found when people understood
- a biological explanation of ADHD,
- that symptoms present on a continuum
- and resulted in more confidence in medication as part of a treatment plan
- Correcting misconceptions about ADHD, and increasing knowledge about ADHD vital part of the process to end the stigma.
- Lot of time and effort to pass for “normal” as we cover up and try very hard to cope
- we may develop our strengths or have compensations for our challenges
- Moira shares her strengths and challenges as a teacher
- Moira quotes Sari Solden and Michelle Frank from their book about owning our strengths, and challenges, that we are not imposters
- Society is all in transition right now, early summer 2021, we can be curious about how we want to be
- Doing things, we love
- Deciding with who, and when to open ourselves
- When it is better to stay within the safety of our protective responses
- Moira shares a few ways to explore who and what you are
- Keeping it real, which makes us stronger, and face challenges to build resilience
- What is the gender, cultural, societal images, viewpoints, and messages around us like? Supportive or not?
- Community, media, online groups, social media can be powerful forces in either helping us or holding us back
- Making changes in this area can require time, patience, testing, acclimatizing and gradual movement to shed stigma, relationships or cultures that don’t help us
- Living a more ADHD Friendly Lifestyle is a journey of shedding shame and guilt and moving towards being genuinely ourselves in a way that is truly fulfilling.
- Having a community of people who support, understand, and accept ADHD helps lowers our stress level, can serve as a mirror, and helps to grow our acceptance and takes away the power of shame.
Moira Maybin 00:05Today we are talking about having the power and choice to decide with who, when, and how we be ourselves, ways to increase feeling good about ourselves, and the role of community in all of this. This has been a practice for me to show up authentically and with vulnerability. When we share our lived experiences, our struggles, growth, and change, it helps everyone stick-with-it-ness, and ability to come up with alternatives, or solutions to make our life more ADHD friendly. For show notes and more information on this topic, visit ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com.
Welcome to the ADHD Friendly Lifestyle. This is the place to practice putting on our own oxygen mask so we can breathe and make it possible to show up in our own lives without guilt or shame. I’m your host, Moira Maybin, a woman, Mom, educator, and I have late diagnosed ADHD. We can have an ADHD friendly lifestyle that includes more time with our strengths and passions, less with our challenges and has ways to adjust what and how we do things to suit us better and expand the ways in places that ADHD is understood and accepted. I suspect many of us have asked the same questions I did. Why is life so hard? Why does it seem easier for literally everyone else? There are things that I wish I had known about my ADHD sooner that are allowing me to make different decisions to make my life better and more ADHD friendly. And I want to share them with you. I finally understand that to live well. My lifestyle is not negotiable. It has to work for me. It has to be healthy. And Yep, it’s got to be ADHD friendly.
We’re in this together. If you have questions or ideas for me, you can share them at ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com. While you’re there, subscribe to the podcast and sign up for emails to get every episode delivered to your inbox and be the first to hear what is going on. Stay tuned at the end of today’s episode for our feature tell me you have ADHD without actually telling me you have ADHD. Okay, let’s get started.
Moira Maybin 02:17 I suspect that the stigma of ADHD has touched most of us. Many have stories of ADHD being denied, mentioned in whispers or diagnosis when younger and then that not going so well in the school system at home, work, relationships? Do we tell people? Will they accept it? Will we be accepted? How does a child, teenager or young adult handle that? What does it do to our sense of self? If you’re not diagnosed until later, there’s a similar but different layer of shame, stigma, and confusion. A recent review of International Studies and articles published between 2014 and 2020 show that the stigma persists globally. And it’s associated with people not seeking treatment, lower self-worth, and ability to function in people with ADHD. I really don’t think that this is news to us. Fortunately, the researchers didn’t stop there. The most positive attitudes about ADHD were found in populations that understood a biological explanation of ADHD, that symptoms present on a continuum, and then they also had a stronger confidence in medication as part of a treatment plan for ADHD. So correcting misconceptions about ADHD and increasing knowledge about ADHD over the impact on our lifespans, and in the mental and physical health of ADHDers in the general population will be a part of the process to end the stigma. It seems for that day to come, we may need to be leading that charge. But before that, we need to get rid of our own guilt and shame so we can stand proud. And now here we are trying to unravel it all in a process not to just survive, but to thrive.
Learning to be ourselves in a way that is loving, kind and helps us have an ADHD friendly lifestyle is a big piece of that. I would hazard a guess that many listening can remember more than a few times that we’ve tried to fit or blend in. The degree and frequency will vary among us yet. There have been so many good reasons why we have hidden ourselves. Living a more ADHD friendly lifestyle is a journey of shedding shame and guilt and moving towards genuinely being ourselves in a way that is truly fulfilling. When we keep it real with ourselves, we end up stronger but what if we don’t know how, or if it is possible for everyone with ADHD? Again for a whole host of reasons? How can we feel more comfortable in our skin and shine and share our glorious uniqueness to end the stigma of ADHD?
There are many of us who have managed to pass for normal as we covered up and tried very hard to cope. Our suffering only on display for a limited few or showing up in in our physical or mental health. At the same time, we may develop our strengths or have compensations for our challenges. Being a teacher uses my strengths to be able to see and meet people where they are at and help them to see for themselves what is possible. I love learning. I love children, and I love helping. So, teaching came naturally to me. But time management, and knowing how long things are expected to take, especially on the first few go rounds? When I started my career, I’d be the teacher who was surprised every day when the bell rang at the end, because we weren’t ready. I looked around and saw other teachers who would have their class ready to go lined up before the bell, I asked them how long that took, I readjusted, and it took many trials with many errors to get the hang of it. I had to take stuff out of the day. Because like many of us, the problem wasn’t not doing enough. I was trying to do way too much with not enough time, and then feeling like a failure for not getting it done. So even while I was struggling, I was discounting what was going well and I only saw a failure, feeling like an imposter. Now, I realized that I was able to figure out how to make it work for me, and that I felt the way I did because of all the behind the scenes scrambling overcompensation and all the effort it took to pass for normal.
Psychologists Sari Solden and Michelle Frank, write in their book, A Radical Guide for Women with ADHD. “It is important to remember this, you are not an imposter in these situations. You are someone who has found a way to use her strengths. They are real, you are not fooling anyone who sees your real strengths. You need to own both sides strengths and challenges as a whole person. I am smart, talented, and successful in some ways, and I have struggled greatly and others. I also now know I need to ask for and receive help when I need it.” I now know this to be true. in recognizing both my struggles, and my strengths, I feel better.
Moira Maybin 07:10 To be ourselves, when we have spent years, even decades not recognizing or acknowledging either our strengths or challenges, trying to fit in or be someone others expect us to be, we can feel lost and uncertain about who we even are. I know I have spent so many years trying to keep the balls in the air that time for fun, or activities with others has long disappeared. What would I even do for fun? What do I like to do? So much of our attention and effort is just about keeping us afloat. But life is so much more than that.
Moira Maybin 07:49 If you are listening to this episode, when it comes out, we’re in early summer 2021. I hope that you and yours are healthy and being able to consider what a post pandemic life will involve. Can you add being curious about what that is and how we want to be? We are more than our ADHD. And when we can spend time with our passions and joys, it decreases our ADHD symptoms. If that isn’t a prescription for some free time and fun, I don’t know what is. We can help ourselves on this journey by questioning what is now in our life. What are the parts that are working? Things we like to do things that are okay. What are the parts or times that are not working? After having a regular routine for most of COVID, my husband started a new job two months ago, he’s still working at home. But I finally realized why I was struggling more with that now; his schedules and routines are no longer predictable. He’s working longer hours, and I never know when he will appear or if he’s available. The lack of former reliability and the added uncertainty creates two more sets of variables for my brain to negotiate. I have asked if we can talk about it and come up with a solution that works for both of us to mitigate these variables. It also helped me realize that I struggle in not knowing with what my family is doing and when because I never know when I will need to put on my mom hat and for how long with all of us in transition right now. And three of us being ADHDers two in puberty and one and perimenopause. It’s proving to be challenging to say the least. Now that I’m aware of it, it’s about finding a way to make it easier for all of us.
As we continue to examine what is currently in our lives, we can’t ignore the pandemic. It really impacted opportunities for fun for so many of us. For other, pandemic life meant a release of external expectations that was much needed and a return to what was before is of concern too. I hope we can take enough time to consciously decide which pieces we want to add back in and which ones to leave in the past? Can we consider what we might want to move towards? What do we need more of in our lives? What do we love and brings us joy, fun, and energy? What are our strengths, passions, and interests? I have heard many people with ADHD, talk about the lack of any fun or not being able to truly enjoy pastimes, because of guilt or nagging thoughts. This means we may need to look at things from the recent past that we enjoyed, or love, we’d like to include and the more distant past, I rediscovered my love of outdoors by thinking back to how I spent my time as a child, my favorite memories always included being outside. It was prioritizing what was right in front of me, that kept me indoors far too often. Now, I know that, and I put reminders everywhere I can think of, to either do things outside or go outside. In my efforts to put more fun in my life. I am thinking about what I need more of. My slow rehab from back surgery in the fall is continuing. I can see more capability in my daily life. But as someone who has always loved physical activity, I am still feeling very limited. I biked everywhere as a kid and a teen. And the last bike I bought was in 1990 30 years on I just picked up a new one last week that is very friendly for my back. Next week, I will be able to start using it on some old train trails, which will be level and a gentle way to start. I’m also going to make some time to connect with some friends I haven’t seen before the pandemic. And I know that will fill me with lots of laughs.
One thing that many of us who are women or are part of marginalized groups know is that it’s important to feel like we have the power and choice to decide with who, when and how we want to reveal ourselves as it’s not always safe or in our own best interests to fully be ourselves. Sometimes it’s because we realize that this person is not going to understand us. And it isn’t worth the time or effort to try. There’s a real difference knowing when it is better to stay within the safety of our protective responses. Compared to not knowing or being uncertain how to open ourselves up to others. If how to be more of yourself has felt like something out of reach. We can experiment with being curious about the version of us who shows up in different situations by noticing our emotions, bodily sensations, and behavior. What are we doing when we feel excited, seen, understood, fulfilled, confident, or peaceful?
Moira Maybin 12:38 We can do the same thing with our bodies. Even though I can struggle to notice what is going on in my body. with curiosity and support to remind me to be curious, I have noticed that my stomach is a real good barometer of how I am. When I am flustered, anxious, worried, I can soon expect to feel slightly nauseous if I’m not using the strategies and activities to support myself. When I realized that this is reoccurring in some situations, then I began to be curious about what is going on. And with those that are safe to do so ask for help to figure out how we can change that dynamic. I really don’t like feeling sick to my stomach. When I look back on my life. This stomach sensitivity started when I was in third grade and began to first really struggle with my ADHD. And it’s when I stopped sucking my thumb. I love that thumb– my orthodontist didn’t. If the connection between our guts and brains interests you, I will link to a great podcast related to that and eating on my website.
On the other hand, having some discomfort is important when we are trying to build and grow. It’s a fine balance and paying attention to what we are saying. Doing. Feeling and thinking can determine when discomfort means we need to explore and when we need to take care of ourselves and pivot. building and growing is something we all need in our lives. Challenge is something that makes us stronger and more resilient. Right now, I’m practicing setting boundaries and saying no, as I need to adjust to what I’ve already started in 2021. And I cannot take on any more without disrupting my developing ADHD friendly lifestyle. I can still struggle with my own recognition of myself as a good and valuable person. So, I get it if you do too. I’m continuing to try and remember not to be judgmental towards myself. And that even with mistakes and setbacks, there is growth. I also want more peace at home. This means tackling some more challenging aspects. I have realized how and where some ADHD challenges are showing up in my life that leads to conflict with loved ones and are great distress for me in a way that my regular self-care tools aren’t helping. I have regular therapy planned that I know will help me either consider new tools or perspectives as I’m stuck on what to do. I’m trying my to keep it real with myself, and find it has helped me gain clarity, peace, strength and courage, so that I’m able to face the thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and behaviors that have held me back.
Moira Maybin 15:17 As human beings on this planet, we deserve to feel good about ourselves by the mere virtue of existing. That’s not the message we receive from so many segments of our lives. The realities many of us experience, have strong gender, cultural, societal images, viewpoints, and messages that literally bombard us with how we are supposed to be. Then on top of that is the shame and stigma associated with ADHD is what we see daily promoted or valued in our society, helping us how much energy and attention are focused on what we want, or how to be compared to what we do to create images or stories of ourselves to share with the world? How is neurodiversity talked about in your world? One thing I had to accept as a teacher who passionately supports learning differences and neuro diversity, is that not all teachers will do so as well. It seems there’s three groups, those who are with me, those who can be encouraged and supported to join us, and those who just won’t. I spent years focusing on trying to convert those who didn’t want to be converted. Now I focus on the second option, the other two groups together, we can empower enough people to change the world. I’ll take that.
Do the people in your life support who you want to be. If yes, what are the ways you can pay more attention to that? Or have it help you? I find even being around those type of people helps me. As Sari Solden and Michelle Frank write, showing up as ourselves has a domino effect of empowering others, and that the journey towards our most deeply fulfilled and support itself as a person with ADHD can bring out the best in those around you. We need each other community can be powerful.
So, if we don’t have people in our life, who support us to be who we want to be, then what choices or wiggle room do we have for something different? Who around you near or far? Can you see if there’s a connection with is their old friends, people who you can reach out to? Let’s not worry about how long it’s been, I’m pretty sure most of us would just be happy to hear from someone we liked and wanted to reconnect with. Maybe we can even share with them the ways it is easier to communicate. Like if they reach out and we don’t respond, it means we might have forgotten and to give us another poke. There are many wonderful and supportive online communities. If you have a less than pleasant experience, it’s not the right one for you. And that doesn’t mean there isn’t another one. Currently my Facebook group for ADHD Friendly Lifestyle is public, but as it grows, I will be opening a private version for those of us on a similar journey and want that privacy. There are many options. I just found out this week that one of my favorite Canadian ADHD groups has a local one too. I’ve also found one for newbie paddleboarders. And it’s great as people are asking and sharing all the things I want to know. My point is, if you don’t have immediate access to the people in your life that you’d like, there are now more ways than ever to connect. A few other things we can try is to expand our social media to include the voices, messages and images that support who we are. Sometimes we also need to start to put some distance between less supportive people to shedding stigma and rejecting cultures that don’t serve us is something that happens slowly. When we slow down it allows us to notice and we can give ourselves the time we need to climatized. In my upcoming second episode with Marisol we talk about the ways we are more open and transparent about having ADHD in certain situations and with people who we are either testing the waters with or feel safe to do so. Having a community of people who support understand and accept ADHD lowers our stress level. I will guarantee you there will be laughs It can serve as a mere a way to see what we do well. How we can be hard on ourselves, and how others handle situations. Often, not only do we need to learn about our ADHD, but so did the people around us.
Moira Maybin 20:10 Remember those people who are able and willing to change their views? If you have people like that in your life, we can often get ideas and support from other ADHDers on how to help those in our life learn more about ADHD, it’s so helpful if they can understand how your challenges show up. And that they are not choices that you could change if you wanted to. We help each other consider new ideas, grow skills, have words and ways to figure out workable solutions for common ADHD problems that can feel insurmountable at times. And again, because we are people who like to amuse and be amused the power of laughter, not at each other, but with each other, helps to grow acceptance, and takes away the power of shame. My community has people I can lean on who will understand and listen like no one else. Many times, it’s just being able to share our struggle that helps. Yeah, when it can feel like our ADHD is winning, and we are tired, and everything feels like so much effort. This community can offer a perspective that is lost to us in that moment. When I was recently in that place, I let a few of my friends with ADHD know. And they reminded me first focus on our successes. And some days that can be as simple and as important as I got out of bed, brush my teeth, left the house. And second, anything is better than nothing. And it helped me. So, if we don’t get it all done, or even close, if we did anything, that’s better than nothing. Some days that is our best. And that’s all anyone can ask.
Moira Maybin 22:06 Okay, you’ve done the hard work by staying to the end your reward. Here are the main takeaways from today’s episode. Living a more ADHD friendly lifestyle is a journey of shedding shame and guilt and moving towards being genuinely ourselves in a way that is truly fulfilling. We can be smart, talented, and successful in some ways, and struggled greatly and others. If how to be more of yourself has felt like something out of reach. We can experiment by being curious about the version of us who shows up in different situations. We can also be curious about the messages around us. Do they bring you up or put you down? Do you want to change some of that? If so, give yourself some time to explore possibilities. Having a community of people who support, understand, and accept ADHD, lowers our stress level can serve as a mirror and helps to grow our acceptance and take away the power of shame.
I hope you enjoyed today’s show. This is the place for the late-diagnosed women’s mom’s professional. Those who want to understand ADHD be heard and know they are not alone. And ADHD-friendly lifestyle is for those of us who are done with trying harder and want healthy, sustainable lives that pay attention to our own needs and challenges with ADHD. We want to have the capacity to pursue our goals, dreams and passions with more joy and ease and have tomorrow be a more ADHD friendly day. I’d love to know your thoughts about today’s episode and appreciate questions you’d like to hear on the show too. All questions will be anonymous, respected and appreciated. And I can’t wait to continue this conversation with you. To get in touch you can check out my website, ADHD friendly lifestyle.com email Moira at ADHDfriendlylifestyle.com. Please remember, I am not a doctor. The information presented in this podcast does not replace the individual recommendations from your health care providers. You can help by subscribing to the ADHD friendly lifestyle on Apple podcast or the podcast player of your choice. You can also help spread the word by sharing this podcast with the people in your life and by taking the time to rate and review. And now for tell me you have ADHD without actually telling me you have ADHD. So, I found something on Netflix to watch, walked into the kitchen, and then wondered what was on TV. If you want to tell me you have ADHD without telling me you have ADHD, visit the ADHD friendly lifestyle Facebook page, and continue our threads there. Maybe you’ll hear yours on a future episode. Thanks for listening. See you later.