Some of you on here will have known me for years and some of you will only have known me recently as clients, as friends, as golf colleagues and something that has changed in the last 12 months. Some of you may have noticed, some of you may not – in a lot of ways it matters not a jot to anybody else apart from me and my family but it’s significant.
So as with many significant things in life, you just need to throw them out there into the world now and again and let people know.
For a lot of years, I’ve known that my brain works a bit differently. I can see the reaction on peoples’ faces when I say certain things or I can see it in my brain jumping around as it always had. It was a massive help to my business early on. I could really see the connections and the synergy between people and how they can work together. So back in the days, I worked for the council, 15 or so years ago now, I would walk into a room and say, “Right, this MP needs to speak to this community group, this community group needs to speak to this housing officer,” and really make those connections and make those introductions. It was easy for me, that’s how my brain worked.
Now it’s only in the last 18 months that this “how my brain works” aspect has come to the forefront. I was diagnosed in December 2020 with ADHD. At 40 years old, that was a very strange thing for me to take. To me, ADHD is a thing in the 80s and early 90s when naughty boys at the back of the class were thrown Ritalin to calm them down and zone them out. So how did I get to 40 without realising that a lot of the traits were why I am the way I am? It’s very weird, obviously, I’ve learned a lot more about ADHD since then and it’s all about coping strategies. I didn’t realise how my brain was just full of coping strategies to get around these problems and it’s amazing how they’ve dropped off since finding out about the diagnosis and freeing me up in a completely different way.
It’s also incredibly interesting how many people I know since my diagnosis who have also been diagnosed. It’s nearly as if there’s this force or connection between us all. Because of the way our brains work, we do gravitate to each other. You’ll have no doubt seen, if you’re connected with Nicola Little, my big sis in business for 10 years, we’ve always had a close working relationship and been good friends for a lot of those years. As it turns out, as she kindly helped out by pointing out my diagnosis was required, she got a diagnosis about three months before me. So she’s just that little bit ahead on the journey through the realisation that this significant mental health issue has just been there and pre-lockdown, it just never came up as a thing. I was just me being me, it was just the personality that I had. I hadn’t realised that quite a lot of the elements of that personality – not all of them obviously – but certain elements of the personality were real ADHD traits, so that’s things like always quite loud talking, fast talking, making those connections, jumping around, having half conversations with people because my brain is already jumping onto the next thing before I’ve finished the last one. So all of a sudden people would be not understanding what I was saying as I’d jumped maybe three or four steps of logic that may or may not have been helpful but it’s just how my brain works.
It’s quite a strange realisation that you can tie all of those traits into something that I’ve had since I was a child. How does that impact my business? A lot of people have said that to get my business to where it is now without that sort of holding me back, has to be a success and me growing the business to where it is has been tough and may be tougher than I realised and maybe didn’t give myself enough credit for doing some of the things I’ve done and work in some of the places I have.
On the flip side, along with that diagnosis did come medication and there’s a whole other topic about that. So if anyone is going through similar at the moment or thinking about an ADHD diagnosis, I’m more than happy to have a chat about my journey.
I was quite matter of fact when the doctor told me, “This will help you.” My straight response was “Okay, I’ll take that then.” And I’ve been taking Methylphenidate ever since, every day and has taking that medication changed my life? It’s done more than that. It’s changed both my life and my family’s life. It’s taken away a lot of the things that were becoming difficult within family life; we all know as parents that children have that innate ability to prod at the right buttons and my reactions to those prods were just not how they should have been. That’s not to say I was aggressive or violent or anything like that, please don’t take it that way, but more that I could stop situations escalating and needing to alleviate a situation by not reacting to things or realising that I could react in a different way. It’s that sort of self-knowledge that’s been an ongoing journey since diagnosis.
In the last 18 months with the medication, how do I feel that has impacted my business? Realistically, I have to say it’s nothing but positive. Some of the decisions that I’ve made over the last year, some of the ways I’ve reacted to things are so different to how I would have reacted a couple of years previous to that and I think that’s allowed me to have an incredibly successful 2021/22 and I really have some interesting stuff lined up for 2022/23. Whether that’s because of the systems I’ve now got in place; the blogging wouldn’t have happened without the systems and without the ADHD support that I’ve got. I could never sit down, I never had the patience and focus to be able to sit down and type out blogs but now all of a sudden I can do voice notes or dictation and then I can get those blogs out there. The “easy” bit is done, it’s actually getting the information out of my head that’s the big challenge. So that’s been an absolute game changer for me as a business.
I have a support team around me now and it was really interesting listening to Mike Pagan talk about tribes and having a support network around you as a business owner on the podcast with Adam Strong and that really resonated with me that now I look at my team around me – yes there are some staff members in there but there’s also those people that I ask specific questions of and I only talk to them about specific things in a work context and that’s really allowed me to grow other things, grow other ideas and to make things happen.
So, Rachel Locke has been instrumental in helping me implement something that Kevin Maddison ( Root Cause Consultancy) has been trying to get me to do for a good couple of years now and because of the ADHD, there was just no way I could do it. Now with the medication, with Rachel’s support, we’ve now got my CRM system working significantly better than it’s ever done and I feel more in control of my business, which wouldn’t have happened on my own. I’ve tried enough times over the years with 20, 30, 40 different CRM systems to find one that worked for me and they’d work for a couple of weeks but the limiting factor was always me whereas now it’s just set up and ready and going and it’s had a real impact.
So ADHD and me. Nobody will think any differently of me knowing the information because that’s all it is, information. It might find me a better listener than I’ve ever been and much better at reacting to questions in the sense that I now give a lot more thought-out answers because I can pause, take it in, dissect the information and then give out a more valuable response whereas previously it was very reactionary. So I think I’m just a slightly more polished diamond than I was previously so hopefully when you go meet me, if we haven’t met in the last year with all the Covid goings on, you might see a tiny change but in the same vein I’m still me so you might not see any difference whatsoever.
If any of this has resonated with you or if you’ve had any thoughts about potentially having something like ADHD or any other mental health issue, I’m an open book and more than happy to have a chat because I think by talking about it a little bit, it will open the door and then I’ll talk about it a lot since and it’s opened so many other doors. It’s a real way of helping each other out. Anything you need, just ask.