Have you ever felt like you’re losing your damn mind at work? We all have, but did you ever feel like you were going to get fired because of it? That project you attacked with full speed like a boss, yet some ball, an important ball, got dropped. Except that it wasn’t this one time, it was one too many times.
I know how it feels. In 2015, I was diagnosed with ADHD at 34. I entered the workforce at 16 – that’s 18 years of my brain at work without its glasses on. At my very first job, one of my best friends was hired and my manager asked me why I couldn’t be more like her, she had her shit together.
Just Skating By
Don’t get me wrong, I did well enough. I was in all the “smart” classes in high school, had a decent GPA and got into a good college. Sure, in the first semester I was put on scholastic probation for almost failing French, but other than that I did well enough. I blamed it on going head-first into a journalism career, no time to study.
Except in my career, there it was again. That sinking feeling I wasn’t doing good enough, but not knowing how to fix it. I watched peers excel beyond me, while I did just alright. I skated by. It went on like that for awhile. I even ran my own business at one point; at another point, I nabbed a plumb corporate position.
My “Do Not Pass Go” Moment
Then it happened: I ran out of get-out-of-jail-free cards. Not just at my job, but in my romantic life. I had lost two concert tickets too many. I had failed to dot the “I” one too many times at work, and somebody too high up the ladder saw it and pointed it out to our department head. On a routine visit to the psychiatrist for my anxiety and depression, she began to probe deeper into my workplace issues.
I had left my keys behind every time I had visited her. I was always calling their office at the last minute because I ran out of prescriptions again and had forgotten to cross some “T” that put me in another bind. On a hunch, she sent me to an ADHD specialist to get tested. On a hunch, she changed my life forever.
I had inattentive ADHD, and it was why I was always using crutches like Diet Coke, Red Bull – even cigarettes – to get my head right. Why wasn’t it caught in school? Because I’m a girl, it presents differently (I wasn’t hopping up and down, I was daydreaming) and there wasn’t enough awareness there yet.
I don’t get scared about dropping balls anymore. The last job I left was my call, not because I was backed into some corner. Over the past few years, I have developed the right systems to survive in today’s workplace as a woman with ADHD. Along the way I became a parent and a blogger, all while still thriving in my career. And those concert tickets I lost? He didn’t bounce – our daughter just turned one.
How I’m Doing It
It started with a diagnosis, then some behavior modifications combined with medication. But there wasn’t always medication. When I was pregnant, I put that on-pause, so I learned how to survive without medication, too. There was white noise, there was color coding. Some of it stuck, some of it didn’t. All of it led me to where I am today – thriving with ADHD.
Now it’s your turn. I’d like to invite you to join the 7-Day Adulting With ADHD Career Challenge, where you will receive one email a day with advice on how to fight ADHD in the workplace.
On the agenda:
- About ADHD & Women – It’s not just a little boy’s disease, and we know it. The challenge of the ADHD woman is unique and we’ll unpack it all on Day 2 of the challenge.
- Your Treatment Plan – What do you do when you think you have ADHD? Who do you see? Maybe you already are seeing somebody and are wondering if it’s the right provider for you. We’ll get into that, and I’ll share how my trusted squad of professionals took me from zero to hero in my career. Don’t have a doctor you like or trust? We’ll get into that, too.
- Your Rights – There’s no right answer, but we’ll look at the pros and cons of telling your coworkers and/or boss that you have ADHD. Do you know which protections you are entitled to under the American With Disabilities Act? Did you even know you have a disability? Once you know your rights, we’ll look at what kind of accommodations you may need and are entitled to.
- Productivity Tools & Hacks – Everyone likes a good productivity hack, and I’ll share my favorites. They’re not exclusively ADHD things, but boy can they help us the most! From project management to self-care, having the right tools in place can be the difference between water girl and the real MVP.
- Finding (and Training) Support System – Your support system can’t help unless they know you need it. From coworkers and friends to spouses and family members, how to get the support you need. (And what to do when you’re not getting it.) Learn how to activate your support system.
- Long-Term ADHD Maintenance – For every new lifestyle change, there will be setbacks. I’ll share how life has been since my changes, and what kind of bumps you can anticipate along the way.
I sure hope you’ll join me, because going one more day without against your brain instead of with it? That’s just too long when you know how it’s like on the other side.