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Living with ADHD • ADHD Stories From Our Listeners – Part Two

Our series continues with stories from parents, writers, and engineers, each living and learning through their experience with ADHD.

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Even after talking about these issues for more than a decade, we’re still incredibly moved by stories of our community members adapting to the world around them with ADHD in tow. This series is dedicated to them — and all of you — as we explore each unique journey for lessons that might inform our own.

Our series continues with stories from parents, writers, and engineers, each living and learning through their experience with ADHD.


Episode Transcript

Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon

Pete Wright:
Hello everybody and welcome to Take Control, the ADHD podcast on True Story FM. I’m Pete Wright and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hello everyone. Hello Pete Wright.

Pete Wright:
Oh Nikki, you’ve really thrown us a curve ball.

Nikki Kinzer:
But a fun one.

Pete Wright:
Oh, it’s going to be a doozy. I’ll tell you, so we’re doing this ah-ha stories thing, like ah-ha stories living with your ADHD. You’re going to set that up for us in just a minute. I have to tell you, I have listened to many of them so far, and what tear jerkers these are.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know, they’re great.

Pete Wright:
I have choked right up through most of them.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know.

Pete Wright:
They are so good. These people are amazing, and I’m so deeply humbled and honored that they would record their voices to share with us and with the world. It’s incredible. It is just wonderful. So, where’d this come from, this big idea of yours?

Nikki Kinzer:
I have no idea. I don’t know. I really don’t, because it was one of those things that you and I and Melissa, our podcast assistant, we were having a meeting and we were talking about shows. We were kind of planning the content, and one of the shows that I’ve always liked doing was sharing success stories or sharing stories from listeners. But the problem is that a lot of people don’t respond because they don’t see success, which is really unfortunate because there’s so many successes with everything that we all do. But it’s really hard to see sometimes.

Nikki Kinzer:
And so I thought, okay, I don’t want to say share your successes because I’m probably not going to get a lot of feedback. So, then I thought, okay, what if we just had a show, or not a show, but had little soundbites of people who listen to the show that just talk about a story, like one situation or give us some strategies that have worked for them. How they’re coping with their ADHD. And I thought, that’s inspiring! That’s some really-

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
… motivating thing to listen to because not only are you listening about who they are and their story with ADHD, but like you said, they’re great stories. Then, I said, “Okay, so Melissa, please go to Discord and get soundbites from people.” But then, I thought, they’re not going to do that either because I wouldn’t even know how to do that.

Pete Wright:
Right.

Nikki Kinzer:
How do I give you a soundbite?

Pete Wright:
Because they’re humans, right.

Nikki Kinzer:
Exactly, yeah. So, I’m asking way too much. So then, I thought okay, and you probably think I’m crazy but I thought, all right, I’m going to open up my calendar and I’m going to let people who are interested in doing this to set up a half hour interview with me. I’m going to interview them. I’m going to have the recording, give it to Pete, Pete and I are going to edit it. And then, it’ll be a lot easier to have these soundbites. That’s what we did.

Pete Wright:
And that’s what we did.

Nikki Kinzer:
And I’m so excited because I just-

Pete Wright:
I know.

Nikki Kinzer:
I don’t know, I just think this is a great idea. And if our audience likes it, then I think we should do it again sometime.

Pete Wright:
I do too. So, we have enough now that we’re doing two of these episodes back to back of these ah-ha moments. They’re sort of part of our Living With ADHD series that we started last week-

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, yes. Yeah.

Pete Wright:
… with [Kiloki 00:03:26] and such a great conversation we had there. I think this is really special. I hope you don’t see it as self indulgent. I’ve learned so much from hearing these people talk about their experiences with ADHD. It was really eye opening and-

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, why do you say self indulgent?

Pete Wright:
Because it’s just like, I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t know why I said that.

Nikki Kinzer:
I think maybe, I don’t know for sure, but I wasn’t expecting people to talk about the podcast. And so, when people talk about-

Pete Wright:
Oh yeah, yeah. That’s right.

Nikki Kinzer:
… the podcast, I was like, “Oh my gosh, that’s so nice. That’s so sweet.” [crosstalk 00:04:12]

Pete Wright:
I know, they’re talking about the podcast was a part of their response to this.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, yes.

Pete Wright:
Right. So, I guess that’s it. That’s right.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s kind of where I was tying that, yeah.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, no that makes a lot of sense. And that’s kind of anchors on to what I’m feeling about this. But, I’ll tell you, it’s so easy for us, I think. I don’t want to speak for you, so stop me. But it’s so easy to just feel like, “Oh, it’s time for me to talk to Nikki in my weekly talk with Nikki time.” And not have any sense of what’s going on out there, beyond what’s in our community. It’s hard to… The community is different because I can type something and someone will respond to it. It’s interactive. The podcast itself is not inherently interactive. It’s us talking at a void.

Nikki Kinzer:
Whoever.

Pete Wright:
Right, right.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, we don’t know. Yeah.

Pete Wright:
Whoever, and it is stunning to me when people come back to us and say something. So, that’s, I guess, what’s self indulgent. Please, we’ll probably include some clips of people talking about the podcast and we just appreciate you listening to it and baring with us. I’m telling you, this was a really special experience. So, with that, you know what we’re going to do.

Pete Wright:
Before we start, you should head over to takecontroladhd.com. You should get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website, subscribe to the mailing list and we’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released. You can connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at Take Control ADHD, and now more than ever, if this show has touched you or changed the way you live your life with ADHD head over to Patrion.com/theadhdpodcast to learn more.

Pete Wright:
Incredible people just like you have gone there and become supporters of The ADHD Podcast and community. They get access to special members only channels, in our Discord online community they get early access to the podcast. They get to join us for these live streams, which are sometimes worth checking out the live stream. Sometimes [crosstalk 00:06:13] memorable-

Nikki Kinzer:
Sometimes, yeah.

Pete Wright:
… that happen in the live stream. So you get those as we record them. So, it’s a lot of fun, plus other new members only stuff that is yet to come. We are building right now. Very excited to have you be a part of it. So, check out patrion.com/theadhdpodcast to learn more.

Pete Wright:
Nikki Kinzer, where do we want to start this cable cade of listener feedback show?

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, I think the best place to start would be with our podcast assistant, Melissa. And some of you may know her as Discord Mom in the ADHD community.

Melissa:
So, back when my son was going into first grade, so it was three years ago, we got some news that we were going to have to move to a different school. I found out three weeks before the school year was set to start. And, it was a big shock. I kind of went into spiral mode myself trying to figure out what we were going to do. At the time, my son was going through behavioral therapy with his therapist and things were going well and we were making a lot of progress. I just felt like having to tell him that we were changing schools, he was going to have to change his before and after care, that it was going to set us back.

Melissa:
And, I was really worried about how it was going to affect it and how it was going to affect us as a family. I didn’t get a lot of sleep during those couple of weeks. I did…

Nikki Kinzer:
I’m sure.

Melissa:
I was calling anybody and everybody trying to get things done, and do the most I could to help him transition the best that we could. I decided to write an email to the podcast and get Pete and Nikki’s perspective on how things might be better for me. I remember…

Nikki Kinzer:
I don’t remember this.

Melissa:
It was episode 307, getting more things done during the dog days of summer, or getting one more project done.

Nikki Kinzer:
Ooh. Oh wow.

Melissa:
And, you guys read my question on the air and it was the first time I had ever written in. At first, I was just super excited to hear my name on the podcast that I had been listening to for so long, that I was super excited. But, you guys talked about how kids are resilient, and how even though he may have ADHD and be on the Autism Spectrum, that all the work that we have done up until that point was going to be what helped him to make the transition; even if it was hard, that he would be able to bounce back.

Melissa:
I just remember I was driving home from work, listening to the episode. I remember exactly where I was, and I just started sobbing. I was like…

Nikki Kinzer:
Aw.

Melissa:
“They get it!”

Nikki Kinzer:
Aw.

Melissa:
It was just, it felt good to have somebody validate that it was hard. But, to say that even though it is hard that it’s not the end of the world, and that kids are a lot more resilient and able to bounce back than adults most of the time. Nikki mentioned that it was a good thing to have happened, in a way, because learning these lessons helps you transition and move forward the next time it happens, because there will be a next time. And, we’ve had plenty of next times since that happened and I’ve always fallen back on those words that kids are resilient and to not let it let me spiral out of control.

Melissa:
It has been something that has helped me stay grounded when we’ve come into different situations that have caused big transitions, things that are unexpected. It has been immensely helpful and I actually was re listening to the episode and the one thing I’m still working on, but it was a nice reminder to hear, was Nikki you said, “Not only do I need to be cognizant of my son and making sure that he’s okay, but that with myself and my own ADHD, that I need to make sure that I’m first taking care of myself and making sure that the things that I have in place for myself are still there because you can’t take care of somebody else if you’re not taking care of yourself.”

Melissa:
That is always a good lesson to continue to remind myself. Like I said, it’s something I’m still working on, but it’s one that I’m continually learning that I have to do. But I just, that day was immensely helpful in helping me get through things. And things turned out fine, and he’s been at this school for the last three years now and loves it. I mean, it was a lot of hard work getting to where we are now, but it turned out fine. He was super upset when I told him and it was a fairly large ordeal when things went down. But I had made sure that we had plenty of things in place to help him transition as smoothly as possible. It actually worked out really well.

Pete Wright:
Oh Melissa, I can’t think of a better way to start-

Nikki Kinzer:
I know, right?

Pete Wright:
… our little conversation than with Melissa’s personal experience writing in. That’s exceptional. That is exceptional. I can’t believe it was episode 307. That’s a long time ago.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know.

Pete Wright:
Oh Melissa, so much love and I’m so glad that everything… I’m so glad that it turned out we did okay.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right? I know! We could have given really strange, wrong advice.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, it could have been terrible.

Nikki Kinzer:
But it looks like we did okay.

Pete Wright:
It looks like we did okay. He’s such a charming and great kid.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, he is.

Pete Wright:
So glad, so glad that that worked out. Okay, beautiful. Where do we go from here?

Nikki Kinzer:
Okay, so next is our listener, Marcos and he has a very powerful story that we want to share. And it’s around RSD, so I think a lot of people are going to relate to his.

Marcos:
As someone with ADHD, I suffer with RSD, I think like I’m sure a lot of people do. And it really came to a head when I went through my first performance review with my new company that I’m working with. And it went oddly. It didn’t go the way I thought it was going to go. There’s a lot of reasons why, but it was a disappointment but it was also surprising and it sent me into a RSD spiral.

Marcos:
I was really upset. The genie was out of the bottle, and I wanted to throw everything away and quit and all these different things. And, all these emotions I was processing, and so I was trying to sit with them and I was trying to meditate and I was trying to talk about it with my wife. Trying to kind of process as best as I could, and nothing was working. I was getting really close to doing some dramatic actions, which would have not been healthy for me.

Marcos:
So, one morning I was just like, because now this is my routine, I got up. I put my shoes on. Put my clothes on. It was cold, and I went out, I put an audio book on. I have listened to your podcast while I’ve been doing this walk. That’s actually how it started, and in that process it was like as I got close to home I felt like I was starting to get a handle on it, on my emotions a little bit. Then, all of a sudden, this really uncomfortable thought came over me and I remember thinking at that moment, like I had enough distance with my emotions with just the walk, this mindful kind of exercise, that I was like, “Wow, that was really odd.” Because it came out of nowhere. It was a really negative thought that came out of nowhere and it actually caught me as absurd that it would be so front and center, even though I kind of had dealt with it.

Marcos:
And, at that moment, I realized, I was like, “Listen, if I just look at this performance review from the perspective of them not wanting me to quit, for them not wanting to do me harm, as just people that just did a bad performance review really, ultimately.” And, it’s changed the dynamic of how I felt about it. It stopped being an RSD reaction and started to be like, “Okay, now where can I go? How can I take this information and act on it in a way that I think is productive or at least serves me better?”

Marcos:
And what I ended up doing is I took that, and I took that energy and I went home, and I furiously wrote a response to this performance review. It basically said, “Okay, I’ve listen to what you’ve said.” And the big thing about the performance review that caught me off guard was I ended up defending myself, like they were giving me feedback, which was negative feedback, and I immediately started defending myself like, “Well, it was this, and this, and this is why I do this. Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh.”

Marcos:
And that wasn’t… I don’t think, it made me feel, and I think this is where the feelings of RSD really kind of were really battling me was it made me feel like I then was not accepting of feedback, or I wasn’t listening.

Nikki Kinzer:
No.

Marcos:
And I was like, “Man, they probably thought that I wasn’t listening and I don’t care.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Marcos:
And I’m so diva. All these thoughts, all these play… All these serial plays were playing in my head of all these conversations at work that never really happened, but that was like, “They’re going to think this and they’re going to think this. And they’re going to think this.” And that was just heading me down a spiral, and so anyway, I transitioned and then I wrote this reviewer, which was still negative. My response was not the best, but I wrote it down and then my wife and I went through it.

Marcos:
And, she helped me to forge my language to just more of a… And she’s a professional manager. She manages a lot of people. So, she was able to like, “If I did a review like this, this is the feedback that I’d want to get and this is how it should have been presented to you. So, let’s present it that way, as if…” And it just completely changed the dynamic, and it changed my relationship with my boss and my boss’s boss, and the company.

Marcos:
I went from this really negative spiral to transitioning to a very positive outflow of energy and action that I think it was a big win for me.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcos:
For my entire life, I would blow stuff like this up if it was like, “I don’t want to be rejected so I’m going to reject, and I’m going to just-”

Nikki Kinzer:
Defend. Defend, defend, defend.

Marcos:
Yeah, defend, defend, defend. And screw all this and I’m just going to throw it all away, and that did not serve me well. And hasn’t served me well in the past. I love what I do, and I love my job, and I literally love it. I get up every morning, I’m really excited and to throw all that away because of a negative emotion that now I realize I can get control of, through something as simple as taking a walk in the cold and listening to a book, or this pleasure pairing. That’s what the concept is that I’ve been trying to institute, which is I don’t really like to walk in the cold. I don’t mind waking up early, but I really like listening to books. I really like listening to podcasts.

Marcos:
So, I have those cued up and to me, it’s just like I much prefer to do that. It’s not really about the walk, it’s just about really turning my mind on and my mind is constantly going. So, pre-medication, pre-meditation, all of this stuff, that’s my action every morning and it’s like clockwork. And it’s been, during this time, it’s been instrumental in my mental health and my ability to process a flurry of negative emotions from everything. We’re doom scrolling, we’ve got craziness in the political system. We’ve got craziness in the weather. We’ve got-

Nikki Kinzer:
Everywhere, yeah.

Marcos:
It’s nuts right now. It’s everywhere. So, it’s like just trying to maintain some semblance of positivity from something as simple as taking a walk is crazy to me, like something that simple. But I should know, again this is probably the ADHD talking, but I should know better. Why do I have to… Whatever. But that’s how I feel sometimes, just like… But I say that because meditation was that way for me. Something as simple as meditation, when I first started meditating, was like, “How is this 15 minutes of my life going to make any difference?” And it’s made huge differences in my life, way more than I think anything else I’ve done.

Marcos:
And, it’s like you try to describe that to somebody; they’re not going to believe it. They’re like, “No, there’s no way.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Throw it away. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcos:
It’s like, “Yeah…”

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, and I think it’s a perfect example to of when you’re in an RSD spiral, it feels like you can’t get out of it. It feels so big and so emotional and one of the things that I really love about your story and I hope really inspires other people is that you can get through it. It will pass, but give yourself that time to process and sit with it and put some space between it. And as you’re saying, with the walking, the meditation, and these things that you’ve put in place, made such a difference for you.

Marcos:
The difference between my output at the very beginning and now, later, it’s completely different. Right? It was a defensive stance to like, “No, let me just show you all the things that I’ve accomplished that we didn’t even get to go into.” Right? Because I was [crosstalk 00:22:28]-

Nikki Kinzer:
And you’re advocating for yourself too. I mean, I think I want people to see that you were also able to get past any shame or embarrassment or, “Oh my gosh, they’re right.” You said it, “I should just leave. I should just quit and forget my dream.” And those are those natural first responses, but when, again-

Marcos:
They obviously don’t want me here.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah!

Marcos:
That was the narrative that kept playing through my head, was like, “They obviously don’t want me here.”

Nikki Kinzer:
And then, for you to-

Marcos:
[crosstalk 00:23:02].

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. And then for you to switch that narrative to all the sudden, how did you say it? I don’t want to put words in your mouth. You said, they do want me to stay or they don’t want me?

Marcos:
No, I just was like, “Let’s start from the place that where they don’t want me to leave.”

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s right, yeah. Huge.

Marcos:
Like let me frame it from there.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Marcos:
They’re not trying to do me any harm. They don’t want me to leave. If I start there, then if I start from that perspective, that there is no ill will, then it changes the response. And that’s really what it comes down to, is it takes a long time to get there. Don’t get me wrong, this is not an easy process. This has been a process for me that’s been honed for years, and Pete said something on the podcast, I’m not sure which one, but that really resonated with me, which was like be furiously curious about yourself.

Marcos:
And I’m crazily curious about the entire world. It’s part of my non-linear way of thinking. Probably why I’m successful in the career path that I’ve done. I mean, [inaudible 00:24:11] lot of assistance in the things that I do. I do not think like an engineers. Engineers, by trade, generally are very linear. And I am not linear in even the slightest. I look for these crazy connections in the world, and I try to make those connections fit together and find how things… I love how things, the world, bends to make things connect.

Marcos:
So, this idea that I can be so curious about almost… I’m curious about stuff that people are like, “Why are you even interested in that?”

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Marcos:
And I am, I’m just hyper curious about people and processes and things, and everything, everything. But for the longest time of my life I was never really curious about myself and how my brain works, and how the world thinks. If you can get at a hyper focus on the mechanism of learning, then it changes everything, right? So, that opened my eyes to that process. Like why do I struggle with this and not struggle with this? And why do I struggle with this and not struggle with that? And then, being really curious about it.

Marcos:
Just the meditation has helped me get distance from the curiosity to try not to be so shamed about it. But then, just being like, “I’m curious about everything, so I might as well just be curious about why my brain works this way on this one way, and my brain doesn’t work this way on this other way.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Work with it.

Marcos:
And then, focus on the path.

Nikki Kinzer:
You’re working with it.

Marcos:
Yeah. Work with it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Marcos:
Yeah, and then really deep dive into it. So, I did that with emotions and I remember reading somewhere about how I believe people with depression, and I’m not really sure how this actually came to be, but there’s this physical connection between not breaking through certain… No, no. It’s anxiety, it’s not depression. But breaking through certain anxiety and there was a psychologist or neurologist or somebody that was making people with anxiety, in the middle of anxiety attacks, do squats against a wall or something.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh.

Marcos:
And it was the physical aspect of breaking, physically breaking that mind spiral.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, interesting.

Marcos:
And, I don’t know the science behind it or whatever, but that has always been in the back of my head, is like maybe I just need to get out of my head. So, the walking story helped that, and meditation obviously has helped a lot, the negotiation of the emotions, the regulation of the emotions or whatever. But it’s a work. It’s a constant working target. And the pandemic threw it, like everything I thought was working, threw it for a loop. I was like, “Whoa, wow, I got to-”

Nikki Kinzer:
Get back on this.

Marcos:
Get curious again about like-

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, and that’s-

Marcos:
“Okay, why am I suffering?”

Nikki Kinzer:
I love that. I’m sorry to interrupt, but yeah, I love that. Get curious again. So, when things don’t… If they start to look different or your habits aren’t as they were pre-pandemic, yes! Get curious. What’s going on? And I think what you’re saying too is that you did get curious and you did figure out how to make it work for you again. And it looks different, right, now than it does pre-pandemic.

Marcos:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
And it’ll look different again.

Marcos:
Yeah, 100%.

Nikki Kinzer:
You know?

Marcos:
Yeah, it’s all about breaking the shame spiral. You’ve got to break the shame chain.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right, right.

Marcos:
Right, you’ve got to break that first. That’s the first thing you’ve got to do, is like, “Okay, my routine, my process is not working.” And it’s like, “Oh, this is never going to work. Oh, it never works. Oh, I…” I’ve been there, I’m in it all the time.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, yes.

Marcos:
It’s like, so you fight for that. That one, you’ve got to just fight and with whatever [inaudible 00:28:00] and routine you can. At least for me, I’ve seen it for myself honestly. But for me, I focus first on that. Let me break that shame, either address it, and be like, “All right, yeah. Yeah. I’m a [inaudible 00:28:15] so let me, yeah, okay that’s great. Okay, now let’s get past that and move on to the next thing.” But sometimes that’s harder than other times.

Nikki Kinzer:
Sure.

Marcos:
Sometimes it’s as much as a walk. Sometimes it’s like I have to do heavily physical exercise. Sometimes it’s like I have to meditate for a week.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Marcos:
Just to break it. Like, “Okay, all right. I’m not a horrible person. Let’s get past this.” Once I get past that, then it’s like, “Okay, now let’s work.” Then, it’s like, “Let’s get curious, and okay, why am I thinking that? Where did that come from?” But yeah, when you can… For me, the biggest one was that. In this whole episode, was that. When I finally felt like I had everything under control and then this bullet train of negativity came roaring through and literally, I just stepped back and was like, “Wow, that came out of nowhere.” And I realize at that point, it’s like, “Okay, all the bullets that are flying, I’m all right. I’ll be okay.” Because then, that negativity is just going to, like a duck, it’s going to come right off me.

Marcos:
And now, I can process. Now, I can get through. And it was really emotional up and to that point. I was really emotional and I’m an emotional dude. So, it was a big break.

Pete Wright:
I love that. I love that for a few reasons, not the least of which is that he liked something that I said. So…

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, of course.

Pete Wright:
… selfishly.

Nikki Kinzer:
Furiously being curious.

Pete Wright:
Fearlessly curious, that was delightful. Yeah, somebody should write a book.

Nikki Kinzer:
Of course.

Pete Wright:
Of course, yeah. No.

Nikki Kinzer:
But there is a lot of power to that, right?

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Right.

Nikki Kinzer:
I mean, really to be able to not shame yourself and go into that judgment, but to just be really curious about how your mind works. And I love how he, with the RSD, going with that story first about how he was just able to really give himself that space and that time. And that shift from, “I’m not going to quit” to “I know they don’t want me to quit.” Right?

Pete Wright:
Yeah, right.

Nikki Kinzer:
And it’s really cool. Thank you Marcos, that was a wonderful story.

Pete Wright:
That’s huge. It’s just huge. The power of just freeing yourself. I read an article, just as a little aside, that says we need to be outside for two hours a day target. Outside, the outside.

Nikki Kinzer:
Wow, for two hours a day?

Pete Wright:
Rain or shine.

Nikki Kinzer:
Wow.

Pete Wright:
Well, and they actually call it in a green space if you can. Right? It’s not just the value of parks, but they’re finding that there is a real brain value to being outside in the trees, in the green, whatever you’re doing.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hmm.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, so-

Nikki Kinzer:
I can see that.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, I can see it working. Next up we have Jason. Jason is a writer and a journalist and he is fantastic. I’m so glad… He’s also on a podcast, so his audio is amazing. So, I just love listening to Jason. I love that he’s a part of our community, and I loved his story. I think I really, really relate to it, right? And so, I hope you get out of this, and let’s just roll it and see what you have to say after, is that okay?

Nikki Kinzer:
Of course.

Pete Wright:
Awesome, here we go.

Nikki Kinzer:
Let’s go.

Pete Wright:
Here’s Jason.

Jason:
So, I work from home, even before all of this. I work from home because my company, The Athletic, is headquartered in San Francisco, I live in Oklahoma City.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh okay.

Jason:
So obviously I’m not going into the office.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Jason:
Ever.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Jason:
But even before that, I’ve always… I graduated college in 2009, so since 2009 I’ve basically worked from home. And it’s just brutal. In fact, I told all my friends when they were all excited about… I mean, nobody’s excited about the pandemic.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Jason:
But they were all like, “Hey, well, it’s cool to work from home.” I’m like, “No, it sucks.”

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s hard.

Jason:
It’s terrible.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Jason:
It’s terrible. And I think that’s the thing that it took me the longest to accept is that this is not ever going to go away.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Jason:
You know? I think I thought getting on medication was just going to fix it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Jason:
And that’s certainly not the case. I also, I’m now in therapy also.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:
Which I know isn’t… I know that’s not the same necessarily as having an ADHD coach or whatever, but that helps a little bit.

Nikki Kinzer:
Absolutely.

Jason:
So, it’s having somebody to talk to about some of these things.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Jason:
When I’ve been the worst, when I have the hardest time is when I don’t get a good night’s sleep. And the last month or so, I’ve tried to go to bed earlier, tried to get up and go to the gym. That stuff really does make a difference.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Jason:
It really does, and I can make all the excuses I want, but the truth is when I’m not exercising and sleeping well, it’s a million times worse. And then, the other thing I would also add, and I’m not just saying this because I’m talking to you, but your podcast has helped me out a ton.

Nikki Kinzer:
Awe, thank you.

Jason:
Really, because it was about the time the pandemic started and everything was shut down. And for me, I don’t know if everyone with ADHD is this way, but the pandemic and the shut down and not seeing people as much as I want, and those things have made my ADHD, I feel like, a million times worse.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jason:
Just a million times worse. I’m much more foggy. I have a harder time focusing. So, but anyway, but about a… I guess it would have been about a year ago. I can’t believe we’ve been dealing with this stuff for a year.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know, right? Crazy.

Jason:
But, yeah, about a year ago. I love podcasts, as I mentioned. I am on a podcast regularly for my job. I do other podcasts sometimes, and I love to listen to them. I sort of dawned on me, like, “I wonder if there are any podcast for people with ADHD?” So, I literally just Googled it, and some article said that you guys were the best one.

Nikki Kinzer:
Ooh!

Jason:
So, I subscribed and the first episode, I’m not exaggerating this, the first episode I listened to, the way that you guys were talking, I cried.

Nikki Kinzer:
Awe.

Jason:
I actually cried, because…

Nikki Kinzer:
Jason, thank you. Wow.

Jason:
Because it was like, I’m so bad about talking about my emotions with people and so, I don’t really talk about the way I feel with ADHD much, except really to my therapist, and sometimes to my wife. But just hearing people talk about the things that I deal with, it was like, “Okay I’m not alone here.” Then, eventually when I joined the Patrion and got into Discord, I mean it’s just, it’s great. I love it. I absolutely love it, and that’s the reason I wanted to do this.

Nikki Kinzer:
Awe, I appreciate that so much, and it’s so sweet. It’s so sweet, and I’m so glad that you found us, and that it resonates with you. And that you’re on study hall with me so I get to see you every Thursday. It’s really great that you did this, and I really appreciate you sharing your experience with ADHD. And also, really bringing up some really good points about the management of it. I also appreciate a couple of different times where you said, “It doesn’t always work.” Because that is the truth, right? It doesn’t always work. And if we can just accept that and know that that’s okay, but that doesn’t need to stop us from doing it again or trying again; then that’s managing ADHD in a lot of ways.

Jason:
Yeah. I used to be a lot worse about the printing it out and doing it all by long hand. One day I remember that had worked a few times and I tried it, and it really wasn’t working. I was getting angry and like, “Oh my God, I’m not fixable. I’m not fixable.” That’s how I would feel, but now I’ve sort of learned that, no, it’s not totally fixable but that’s okay. That’s okay.

Nikki Kinzer:
I really appreciate Jason’s insight on accepting ADHD, and that it’s not going to go away. And understanding that these strategies work and sometimes they don’t work, and I love that because it’s so true. You know? And one of the things that I really noticed about Jason when I was interviewing him is just the perseverance in his voice. He’s not giving up and I love that. And what he said about the podcast, I have no words. It’s so sweet.

Pete Wright:
Right. I feel like I really relate to this idea that from any day, any one day to the next you can’t totally trust the tools that you have in place to help you get the job done. Right? You never quite have… You’ll never have 100% confidence that this thing that I did today is going to help me tomorrow. And that’s that bit about acceptance. Once you accept that, then you’re free to be creative, and you can stop being angry.

Nikki Kinzer:
So true.

Pete Wright:
Right? That’s okay. So, I really, really appreciate Jason’s insights. I’m so glad he jumped in on the call, or jumped in on the show. Next, we have our dear friend and member of our community, Jay.

Jay:
There was something else that just wasn’t clicking correctly. I started going down a path that… not a bad path by no means, but started analyzing my oldest son, David. I discovered that he had some learning difficulty actually in kindergarten.

Nikki Kinzer:
Okay.

Jay:
And this is when we were still in Georgia and we hadn’t moved to Alabama yet. But when we moved to Alabama, which we were very fortunate, we did what we now call an IEP on him, individual educational plan, and were able to work with him. I looked at my wife and I said, “I wish I’d had that whenever I was in school. I probably would have done a whole lot better, even through…” because I was having, I won’t say flashbacks, but I was looking back at how I struggled in school, how I struggled in elementary school, how I struggled. Then, in junior high I had a spurt where I actually made honor roll for two years, straight. Well, that was puberty.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Jay:
So, that was, you had that adrenaline, had that drive during that period of time. Well, that wore off by the time I got to high school, and I did okay through it. But I was never that super student that a lot of my friends were. You know? I was just that average student, an occasional A, happy to have a C.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Jay:
You know, getting by with.

Nikki Kinzer:
You passed. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jay:
Because I struggled so much, there were things that I was really interested in. There were some things that the teacher just could not get through to me, and even though I would ask for help or whatever, the teacher wasn’t going to change his or her lesson plan to, or what we would call today, a modification to help me with that. In fact, I had one math teacher who could get through to me, and I would take my work from the other teacher that I had a class with over to him. And say, “Can you explain this to me?” Well, she found out I did that, and she took offense in it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Ooh, really?

Jay:
Oh yeah, and I explained to her, “Please, please, please don’t take offense in what I’m trying to do here.” In fact, all three of us sat down and my math teacher and my friend, and he said, “Jay learns a little bit different than the rest of your students probably does. Jay’s very smart and intelligent, but he needs to… He’s coming to me for an explanation of this so that he can grow and accelerate in your class.” “Well, why doesn’t he come to me?” And I said, “No offense, but I have a friendship, if you will, with this math teacher because I practically grew up with him.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Jay:
“And he can just get through to me. He’s easier to get through to me than you are. It’s not an offense. Sometimes you get through to students, sometimes you don’t.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Jay:
“I like you as a teacher. I like you as a person. But, I don’t want you to find offense that I’m coming to this teacher for assistance. I look at him as a tutor.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Jay:
She said, “Oh, well if you’re doing it like that, okay.” I said, “I’m not doing anything to undermine you, or anything like that. I’m just trying to learn how to do this, and be more… Trying to get through your class without going nuts.”

Nikki Kinzer:
You’re advocating for yourself at a young age.

Jay:
I was, and it was… There were no modifications to a plan or anything like that in the school system that I was in. There are now, of course.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right, right.

Jay:
But, then, graduating in the early 80s, and that wasn’t a thing. If I had been tested or anything of that nature, maybe they would have caught something but that wasn’t the case. There were a lot of kids who, if I had probably knew what I had then, they probably would have put me in special ed rather than in the regular curriculum. But I wasn’t. The special ed program was actually for special ed. It wasn’t an IEP, instructional type thing.

Nikki Kinzer:
Very different, yeah.

Jay:
… where you needed modifications. So, looking back at that through what my son was going through, okay? I’m going to go rabbit trail back to my son, and seen what kind of modifications they were doing for him.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Jay:
I was like, “Well wow. That’s cool. That’s neat that he’s having difficulty spelling certain words.” They actually gave him a speller machine thing, where you get close to it and bam, there was the word. He was having difficulty with tests, I had difficulty with tests. I would just freak out. The sweat would be pouring off the backside of my neck, and I would go into almost like a panic.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. What would you tell a listener if they were newly diagnosed with ADHD?

Jay:
If you’re newly diagnosed with ADHD, congratulations. You are among the elite, and don’t worry, everything’s going to be okay, trust me. And, depending on whether you’re a growing adult or if you’re a teenager in college, if you’re a teenager in college I applaud you because you’re going to get some of the most… You’re going to get probably the best help of anyone else as far as in that age bracket is concerned. There are programs within your college and within your university or even if you’re not going to college and your university, if you’re just in the working world or if you’re in a different type of career; there are… You have avenues at your disposal, and you have more of those type of things now than I would have ever had at 55 years of age.

Nikki Kinzer:
So, I think it’s really interesting, sort of how ADHD awareness has come about over the last few years, because when Jay was in school, he didn’t have an IEP plan. He wasn’t even recognized as having ADHD, and now, we do have those kinds of accommodations. I hope that that means it’s a good trend, right? More awareness of ADHD.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, I think so, and I think there are a couple of pieces in Jay’s conversation that I think are really important. And the first one is, cultivate your mentors, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
And I think what Jay’s example was, and he was a little bit dismissive of himself, and that I think is characteristic of those of us with ADHD, but I’m here to say that is an incredibly intuitive and insightful strategy to cultivate this tutor that is this other teacher and friend to help you through things that are hard when you need it, even when it means you have to actually advocate for yourself in a way that’s uncomfortable with somebody else. And, I think that’s something, that’s a lesson that he demonstrated very early, even if it wasn’t a lesson that he’s able to have repeated consistently over… It’s hard to do that, but I think that that’s model behavior right there.

Pete Wright:
And it’s important, and I feel like I want to take that too. The second is that your mentors and the people that you find aspirational don’t have to be older or more experienced than you. This is such a valuable lesson that I learn from my 14 and 18 year old, how they adapt to the world around them every single day.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Pete Wright:
And they are so important to me in my journey as a lifelong learner. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have them to learn to watch and grow, and love. That’s really powerful. So, Jay’s story with his son and watching his son go through this experience, I think, as something that’s illustrative of his own, is powerful. It’s great stuff.

Nikki Kinzer:
All of it is great stuff, and thank you guys so much for participating, and to all the listeners out there. I really hope that you enjoyed this as much as did, and yeah. I love it. We’ve got more to come next week.

Pete Wright:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
Four more stories.

Pete Wright:
That’s right. Can’t wait. Thank you everybody. Thank you so much for downloading, and listening to this show. To those of you who have been in the live stream hanging out with us, this has been a couple of hours of us actually going through these interviews, and kind of hope that you see that as a cool benefit to being a part of our community. We like to sort of… This whole transparency thing is fun for us, and so if you’re interested in seeing how the sausage gets made, Patrion.com/theadhdpodcast.

Pete Wright:
On behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright, we’ll catch you next week right here on Taking Control, The ADHD Podcast.

Through Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast, Nikki Kinzer and Pete Wright strive to help listeners with support, life management strategies, and time and technology tips, dedicated to anyone looking to take control of their lives in the face ADHD.