Hello, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Stephanie, and I have just started working with Genius Within, a company whose beliefs and values couldn’t be more appropriate for me.
After many years of ‘knowing’ I have ADHD, I finally decided that it had all become a bit too much and should probably get my diagnosis. Everything was in turmoil. I have always been blessed with a support network who appreciate my quirkiness, who could embrace my personality as it was, who loved me regardless.
But then things changed, not for them, but for me. I got tired of being the ‘fun’ one. I wasn’t feeling particularly fun. I was tired, tired of pretending I was OK, I was happy, that everything was going great. On paper it was. On paper I had it all. I couldn’t possibly have ADHD. I live abroad, in a fabulous house with two wonderful kids and a husband. I didn’t NEED to work. But that just wasn’t true. I was just sitting in the passenger seat of my own life.
Several factors hit me in quick succession. I lost one of best friends to suicide. My marriage was falling apart. I couldn’t get off the merry go round I made for myself. My head hurt, nothing seemed to work. I couldn’t sleep. I looked after everyone I knew, but was unable to admit my own cry for help. I couldn’t hide my lack of function any more, and with much encouragement from some amazing people I realised I did need that diagnosis. The one I didn’t really need because I’d always kept it together, whatever the personal cost. No matter that nobody knew. In a quite massive 36 years.
I fortunately found an amazing psychiatrist. I went expecting tests and questionnaires, and was almost disappointed she seemed happy to diagnose me pretty much immediately. It was an anticlimax. Was that it? Not even an exam?
No the doctor said, no you really don’t need an exam. You need help, you need medication. She was amazed I wasn’t in more trouble. She was impressed. I flinched. I was ‘damaged’ (in my head).
But I realised that maybe she was right. I took my meds, I met the psychologist weekly. I realised being in a total state of fight or flight for years was bad. I realised not everyone can’t sleep without waking up 4 times a night in a panic. I realised how hard I found it to focus on one thing. Anything. To feel happy and appreciate the joy in my life.
I reflected on how I never achieved my expected results at anything past GCSE. Maybe messing up my A levels wasn’t because I was lazy. Maybe quitting my degree wasn’t because I was useless. Maybe I left jobs quickly because I was scared, and overridden with anxiety and bored because I hated them all. I mean I got jobs easily. I was bright and personable, but I had no idea what I was good at or even wanted to do.
And didn’t know what I wanted. Worryingly nobody noticed because I LOOKED like I had covered, but really only because I was forced to pretend like that. Society isn’t keen on woman who look fine but have inner turmoil. Put your make up on, smile, look good, be quiet about your overwhelming desire to run away because you feel like a failure.
But I went.
I took my drugs and did my counselling.
It revolutionised my life.
I could focus. I could see the patterns in my life. I mean I could see them before, but the ADHD meant my ability to join the dots wasn’t there. My self esteem was on the floor. I felt useless.
Then suddenly I wasn’t.
I am not going to lie, I am still 90% sure I’m a fraud. But with the right people, the right treatment, the right coaching, I began to see I have many positives. Not the houses and cars and money. I have friends who love me, who help me, who lift me up with positivity and love. I am not lucky, I have these people because I have been a wonderful friend to them in return. I can see it now.
Its what i like to do, I like to make people feel loved, to make them laugh and improve their day. For no reason than it makes me happy, it makes them happy. And that’s a beautiful thing… I might not have got my straight A’s at A Level. I might not have got that 1st degree. My career might not be dazzling like my school friends. But I have genuinely helped people. It is AMAZING to feel that I deserve my network. I feel valid.
And then something amazing happened. I got brave, I got my confidence. I took a leap of faith. I left what was making me unhappy and trusted I could do it.
And guess where I ended up? Working at the very company that literally saved me. Who could see my potential, who appreciated I might not think like everyone else and who saw that AS A STRENGTH.
I’m still just starting out on my new journey, but I’d like to encourage anyone who has ever felt like me, that they didn’t fit in, that they never achieved what they were capable of, that they had no control over their own mind, that actually, they can and should be brave.
Kate Gilbert, , Access to Work, AD(H)D, ASD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Neurodiversity, Tools, 0
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