Why I Haven't Shared my ADHD Diagnosis and What it Means as a Business Coach

adhd best life Sep 28, 2023

I was recently diagnosed with ADHD and it was both liberating and terrifying. But I've realized that as a business coach it's WAY more of a super power than a disability.

I'm about to get SUPER real about this.

I'm gonna talk about the reality of the effects of a late ADHD diagnosis. I'm not gonna sugar coat this and act like its such an amazing thing to have - at least not in a world that doesn't appropriately recognize the values of a neurodivergent mind.

But I'm also gonna talk about how it can be a HUGE asset if it's properly embraced. And how this diagnosis is changing my life.

And in true ADHD fashion this WILL be long-winded. So grab a snack.


โ˜๏ธ Here's a picture of me saying "Fuck it. I'll just be myself from now on."


Feeling like I couldn't keep up

I spent my whole life feeling different, like I was looking at life from the outside in, or maybe the inside out. Like I tried really hard to do what I thought I was supposed to do but inevitably messed it up. I said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I interrupted too much. I moved around too much. I switched gears too much. I talked too much. I sang too much. I just WAS too much.

I described it to my husband as feeling like people wanted me to "put my Amy away."

I felt like people thought, "She's cool and I like her but I don't know if OTHER people will like her. She should dial it back a bit."

And, of course, I found myself consistently feeling like I wasn't able to please ANYone, let alone EVERYone.

On top of that, the "traditional" lifestyle and the rat race that I found myself thrown into as a young millennial step-parent simply was NOT built for a mind like mine.

I wasn't made for a world where your kids are multiple sports and you have to pack healthy dinners on the go and run around like a crazy person all night long to different events; juggling that hectic schedule with the additional hectic schedule of working multiple jobs and trying to start a business because the economy simply wouldn't accept a bachelor's degree as enough to get a job post-2008 and hey everyone is trying to be super healthy now and you should do it this way, no this way, no this way.

I'm a pretty un-cagable type of bird but I tried to put myself into all the cages at once and nearly had a mental breakdown in the process.

(Not to mention I was trying to navigate a worsening physical health condition).

I couldn't keep up.
I constantly felt like I was failing.

"Why can't I do this?"
"Why can't I keep up with it all?"
"Why do I keep messing up and forgetting the simplest things?"
"Why do I feel overwhelmed and at my absolute wits end while everyone else seems only mildly stressed?"

Now, this isn't to downplay the ridiculousness that the average Canadian and American lifestyle can be for Millennials or Gen Xers - because let's be honest, it's a little bit extreme at times. But something was off and had been off my entire life. I won't get into all the details, though, because I could fill a book and I'm trying REALLY hard not to ramble on here. Thank God for editing๐Ÿ˜…



Having a hard time accepting that I have ADHD

I remember the first time my therapist suggested that I might have ADHD and that I should go for formal testing.

I literally laughed. (Which was funny because I was also in the middle of crying).

My husband had just finished detailing to her the difficulties he has when trying to have a serious conversation with me.

"She won't let me talk. She thinks she knows what I'm going to say next so she just cuts off. I don't feel heard."

It was true.

There was a lot more to it, of course. I get distracted. I change the topic without really meaning to. And sometimes on purpose. I crack a lot of jokes when things get too tense and I don't know how to navigate. I get lost in my head trying to remember what I want to say and stop listening. I never sit still (and sometimes I literally leave) during a conversation and people tend to think I'm bored with them. Sometimes I am.

My list of "symptoms" is long so I'll just stop listing it and get on with things ๐Ÿ˜œ

When she suggested ADHD I laughed because I thought, "I'm not 12. I'm not a boy. I don't try to light the teacher's desk on fire. It's not possible."

And this is literally what I thought of ADHD. And I have a fucking psychology degree. ๐Ÿ™„ Just goes to show how much we're really taught about it.

Instead of being seen as someone with ADHD, my struggles to fit in, to follow rules, to do things the "normal" way, to fit in the little boxes life laid out for me, to follow systems, to do things in order, to listen, to sit still, to manage relationships appropriately, to keep my mouth shut when I was "supposed" to, etc. were seen as me just being "weird" and I was often treated that way growing up.

So, thinking I'm just defective all that time, I learned to hide it as much as possible.

I would shove down all the self-hatred, all the frustration and overwhelm and only let it out when I was alone. It bred itself into a depression in my teenage years and manifested as anxiety because I was terrified to interact with people because I was certain I would let them down and inevitably be pushed away.

The idea of it being ADHD that whole time apparently never crossed anyone's mind (and I saw my fair share of therapists), so I was skeptical. But after 3 months and 10+ hours of vigorous testing that weeded out all other possibilities there I was with a formal diagnosis and a MUCH better understanding of ADHD Combined Type (leaning much more heavily toward hyperactive/impulsive that most women, too).


Worrying about how ADHD affects "professionalism"

Even before my diagnosis I tried REALLY hard to present myself in a way that wasn't even remotely authentic. In my personal life I "let my freak flag fly" only in very specific circles where I felt absolutely safe. In my business life I hid it away entirely.

I spoke differently with clients. My first couple of websites, while slightly colourful, were in no way written in a voice that represented who I was. I was afraid to be myself in case people thought, "Oh, she doesn't know what she's talking about."

That was actually something I struggled with for a lot of years. This idea that if I looked, dressed, spoke, or behaved a certain way it meant I wasn't at all responsible, trustworthy, or intelligent - three things I'm very proud to say I am (even IF I lose my cell phone all the time and enjoy day drinking on the weekends).



Speaking of cell phones, here's my little tattoo friend Merle the Squirrel holding mine ๐Ÿ˜…  He's on my forearm to remind me that it's OK if I'm not perfect, it's OK if I forget things or have a hard time staying on task - I've accomplished a lot and will continue to do accomplish a lot, just in a slightly zanier way.


Embracing my true self, my unique mind, and finding my tribe

After pushing myself through the denial and then the fear I arrived at acceptance. I'd already spent most of my life being depressed and trying to bargain my way out of being who I am. I wasn't about to waste anymore time on THOSE stages.

I opened my mind and my arms to myself. I opened my heart. I began to heal.

It's a long road and the healing isn't even remotely complete. But I'm working on it every day.

And the more I do, the more I see just how much I can use this experience to help other people.

I've developed very unique ways of keeping things organized that my clients with ADHD value incredibly. I have a deep understanding of what it means to feel overwhelmed - an empathy that EVERY entrepreneur is grateful I bring to the table. I'm real. I'm down to Earth. And I'm VERY fucking driven to succeed.

I bring all of these assets to the table.

I've learned to work well under pressure - to perform to high standards - to admit when I make a mistake and to correct it posthaste.

I spent so long trying to understand how to fit into a world that wasn't made for me that I've developed skills to help other people find their way as well.

Trying to fit in and be someone I'm not gave me a LOT of perspective on other people and makes it much easier for me to understand my mentoring clients while also helping me slip into the voices of my marketing clients to provide them with marketing copy that represents THEM, even if they're different from me.

Having an ADHD mind in a world made for linear thinkers has been a challenge that nearly cost me to take my own life at times. I can't deny that.

But knowing what I'm working with and having an excellent support system has helped me take that challenge and breathe it into my business in a way that turns it into an advantage.

I'm eternally grateful for this opportunity.
For the support I have.
For an accurate understanding of mind (at last).
For a lifestyle that now allows me to flourish with a neurodivergent mind.



If you are struggling please reach out to a professional for help with diagnosis, treatment, talk therapy, etc. You are not alone. Whether it's ADHD or something else that is challenging you. There IS help.

If you're just looking for a friend who knows what you're going through, feel free to email me [email protected] or hit me up on Instagram @denhammarketing

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