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Living with ADHD: Stories From Our Listeners • Part Three

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.

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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 two adult students and a coach who is taking joy to new levels!


Episode Transcript

Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon

Pete Wright:
Hello, everybody and welcome to Taking 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.

Pete Wright:
Hello, Nikki. Oh, man. Oh, I just had a Seinfeld flashback.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know, right? Yeah.

Pete Wright:
You’re my kooky neighbor, and you knock on the door and it’s “Hello, Nikki.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Hello. We’re doing a podcast.

Pete Wright:
Yes, we are. This is part two of our Living with ADHD. Maybe it’s part three now, part three of our Living with ADHD series. Oh, this series doth grow.

Nikki Kinzer:
It does. At some point we’re not even going to say “part three, part four.” It’s just going to be “part of the series” because we really don’t know how it’s all going to …

Pete Wright:
Yeah, right. I mean, it’s a party for the [crosstalk 00:00:56].

Nikki Kinzer:
Part nineteen now.

Pete Wright:
They keep coming in.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
We’ve got three more interviews we want to talk about today and then one more that was a little bit longer that is going to run all by its lonesome coming up. So we’re very excited to keep this thing rolling, and believe me, this is not the last time we’re going to be doing this. So if you’re listening to this, thinking, “Hey, I get it now. Maybe I should submit a story and do a little interview,” you just hold your breath-

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s right.

Pete Wright:
… just a little bit. We’ll get right back to you because we’re going to open this up again at some other time. Very excited about it.

Pete Wright:
Before we kick off our three stories today, head over to takecontroladhd.com. You can get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list. We’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released. Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook @takecontroladhd.

Pete Wright:
And if this show has ever touched you, head over to Patreon.com/TheADHDPodcast and become a supporting patron. Patreon is listener-supported podcasting. It allows us to keep growing and investing our time and effort and energy and tools into this show, thanks to the direct support of you as members.

Pete Wright:
To everybody who has already become a supporting patron, they could even be watching us record this show live; they get access to the livestream of our recording sessions. They get access to early episodes as we produce them. They get access to our online Discord community and member-only channels there. There’s a thriving community in Discord, and they are getting access to new stuff on the way. So Patreon.com/TheADHDPodcast. We sure appreciate your support.

Nikki Kinzer:
And I have something to add.

Pete Wright:
Let’s talk about it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Okay. I know I’ve talked about Study Hall in the past. We’re coming up on a, what would you call it? A promotion. So every 10 weeks, what I do is I give the opportunity for people to purchase basically 10 weeks of Study Hall for eight weeks of Study Hall. That’s happening now.

Nikki Kinzer:
So if you’re interested in joining our Study Hall on Thursday afternoons, you’re going to have this opportunity for this promotion up until … And I’m going to give you a specific date, even though I know that some of you will listen to this much later in your lifetime. But for those that do listen to it now, the date for the promotion will end on March 25th, so I just want to throw that out there.

Pete Wright:
Okay. March 25th it is.

Nikki Kinzer:
All right. Here we go.

Pete Wright:
Get in there and get that Study Hall. All right. Let’s live with ADHD. Who we going to start with today? We’re starting with one of … Oh, can I just say?

Nikki Kinzer:
A ray of sunshine.

Pete Wright:
One of my favorite people, just joy even just saying her name, right?

Nikki Kinzer:
I know. Active Discord member, Ms. Ellie.

Pete Wright:
Ellie. She’s going to tell her story about her experience or diagnosis and going through school, and there’s just some brilliant little nuggets in here. I hope people get a lot out of this and just smile. If you’re not smiling by the end of listening to Ellie, we need to talk about your wiring being off.

Ellie:
I figured I would talk about how I was diagnosed twice with ADHD, actually.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh.

Ellie:
I was first diagnosed in 2006 when I was 16.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
That was a lot earlier. I always wish I could’ve been diagnosed earlier because by age, like, five, I was pretty aware that something was different.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
I mostly managed to get by in school just on I loved books and I was engaged during class, even if I also talked too much during class.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
So teachers liked me, and I managed to get by. Then by high school, though, the homework load as in a lot of AP classes, so the homework load just started to get too much, and I was pulling all-nighters all the time.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Ellie:
And my parents were like, “She’s clearly trying very, very hard, and the amount of effort we see her put in, she should be getting more out of it.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
So my parents were aware something was up. And I don’t know of any teacher specifically suggested that I get evaluated, but they were aware too that some …

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Like clearly, I mean, I got a lot of comments like: “Doesn’t work up to full potential. Pleasure to have in class, but needs to try harder.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Then luckily, one of my best friends, Evan, was ADHD as well.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, okay.

Ellie:
And he had been diagnosed when he was like six or something.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Typical diagnosis age for a guy.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
We hung out a lot, and he was like, “Ellie, trust me. You are ADHD. You’re textbook, even if you haven’t been diagnosed yet.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
So I largely credit him with kind of spurring like: “We should probably look into this.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Ellie:
There were fewer online resources then, so I think a lot of it was my parents looked up how to find a doctor to evaluate me.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
I was super nervous they would say I was just faking it or something. Because even in 2006, there was already that “Is it over-diagnosed? Are people faking it to get meds?”

Nikki Kinzer:
“Is it real?” Yeah. Yeah.

Ellie:
But he talked to me for just like an hour, and then was like, “Yeah, you’re ADHD.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
So I was like, “Okay. Apparently it’s very obvious to everyone.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
So I started on meds. I was on Ritalin or Adderall. I can’t remember. But a low dose, relatively speaking. I didn’t really like the side effects on it, but I took it through high school, and I think it definitely helped.

Ellie:
But there wasn’t a lot of communication on other ways that I could help treat my ADHD. Like nowadays there’s so much focus on diet and exercise and-

Nikki Kinzer:
Sleep.

Ellie:
… time management skills. Sleep, yeah. And I was definitely still not getting enough sleep in high school.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Part of that, don’t get me started on: theater schedule and then getting up at 5:00 AM to go to orchestra practice or something.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Ellie:
But it’s not conducive. That’s for sure. So I skated by, though. I actually got by on the meds.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Then I went to college, and I tried to get combinations. There wasn’t a lot of guidance on what I was even supposed to ask for.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, interesting. Even at the college level there wasn’t a lot of information. Huh.

Ellie:
Yeah. Yeah. It was still pretty … It’s surprising because by then there was starting to be more of a thing, so you’d think they would’ve caught up. But it was a pretty small college, though.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
I remember I went to Student Support Services, and I said, “I have ADHD. I have a diagnosis. What sort of accommodations can I get of what would be most helpful?”

Ellie:
I hope this isn’t representative of the entire support services group there. It might’ve just been I got some student who didn’t know any better at the front desk. But they said, like, “Oh, we’ll see what we can do, but it’s not like you have a real disability like dyslexia, so … ”

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, no.

Ellie:
I was just so frustrated and annoyed with that.

Nikki Kinzer:
Of course you were. Oh, my gosh. Yeah.

Ellie:
I was just like, “What? What does that even mean?”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Then plus there’s paperwork involved with getting accommodations.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Ellie:
So I just kind of let it drop.

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

Ellie:
Luckily I had professors that were very understanding, so I had professors that I was always the last person to finish up my tests, but I got good grades on them. So professors would let me stay late to finish them.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Ellie:
And I had professors that were understanding about deadlines, and those are-

Nikki Kinzer:
So you were given your own accommodations regardless of the Student Services.

Ellie:
Yeah. Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
You were working with the professors. Yeah.

Ellie:
Yeah. Which is why I’m really glad I went to a small school because I had that personal level of attention that my professors were able to say like, “Yay, yeah, I know her, and she’s in class all the time. She knows her stuff. It just takes her longer to get it down on paper.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Ellie:
So that kind of connection was really vital. And that definitely improved as I got further along and I was taking a lot of the same professors in the same subjects as I got more specialized. Then I graduated college. I was pretty good in grades.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
And that was definitely, probably lost some years on my life from cumulative lack of sleep, but I managed it. Then for some reason I thought that I didn’t need meds in the real world, so I just stopped taking them.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, okay. How did that go for you? How did that work?

Ellie:
Yeah. Not great.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Ellie:
Some of the early jobs I had were basic enough that it didn’t really catch up with me until later.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
But there was one job where it was just really boring for me, and so that definitely made it worse. But I also started working out at a gym all the time.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, interesting.

Ellie:
So I think I was compensating.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes. Yes.

Ellie:
But I still needed a job, but that felt really good being at the gym all the time.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Then we moved and I got a new job in 2005.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Then I was also planning our wedding for the following year.

Nikki Kinzer:
2005 or 2015?

Ellie:
2005, 2015.

Nikki Kinzer:
2015. Okay.

Ellie:
It’s 2015.

Nikki Kinzer:
Okay. Because I was going to say I saw you were 16 in high school in 2006, so how would that work?

Ellie:
It was 2015.

Nikki Kinzer:
All right. Got it.

Ellie:
I have so much trouble with the early decades of the aughts. I’m always like that.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, yeah. I understand. Yes.

Ellie:
So 2015, I got a new job and we moved, so there wasn’t a gym that was as convenient. So I stopped working out as regularly.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
The job was a much better fit and it was really interesting. But it was also much more demanding, and so the cracks started to show a little bit more.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Then I’m sure anyone who’s planned weddings with ADHD can attest that it is very stressful.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Ellie:
My mom helped a lot, but she also lived out of state. So a lot of just local meeting with vendors day-to-day stuff fell on me.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
I managed and the wedding was beautiful and totally worth it, but it was definitely just months and months of stress.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Then combined with work stress, and I know for sure I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t trying to have any sort of work/life balance.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
So I don’t know if you can call it like a mini-nervous breakdown or something, but I definitely was not doing well by 2016.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
So I realized, I was like, “Maybe I shouldn’t have gone off my meds. Is that what’s going on here?” By that point it had been so long since I had been diagnosed, I realized I would have to get diagnosed again.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Or at least have someone confirm my diagnosis.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Ellie:
So I looked up a psychiatric nurse in my area, which is a good … I find there’s often not room to see some of the top psychiatrists or …

Nikki Kinzer:
Uh-huh (affirmative). Uh-huh (affirmative).

Ellie:
So a psychiatric nurse is often, I find she’s just as good.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes. Thank you.

Ellie:
And she had more room for patients.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. And they take a little bit longer, usually, and they can still prescribe the medicine. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Yeah. Yeah. So then I still had that anxiety that she was going to think I faked it, even though I had been on meds for like 10 years before.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
And she was like, “No. Oh, yeah. You seem ADHD.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mmm.

Ellie:
So she had to try me on a couple different types of meds first because Vyvanse has that thing where insurance won’t cover it until you’ve proven that other types don’t work.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, right. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Ellie:
But she was understanding that I had said I had remembered the side effects of the Ritalin and Adderall. I was like, “I don’t think they’re the ones for me.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
But we tried them for a couple weeks each, and now I’m on Vyvanse.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Which I know a lot of our community is a big fan of.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes. Yes.

Ellie:
Then again, though, things didn’t magically get easier. It definitely helped a lot to start seeing someone about it and to be back on meds.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
So 2016 was kind of the start of my current … I hadn’t really done a lot of research on ADHD before. Just by knowing I had it and thanks to the internet and just the plethora of e-books, and I found your guys’ podcast.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
And all of that combined, I definitely hyper focus on ADHD research.

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

Ellie:
So I’m pretty knowledgeable now. But even then I still have to remind myself to put those things into practice on a daily basis.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.Yeah. Yeah.

Ellie:
Now that I’m actually expecting my first kid, I had to go off my meds, though, for that. So now I’m dealing with a third chapter of my story in which I try to figure out: “Okay, now I really need to look at those other strategies like sleep and diet and exercise to try to make up for the fact that I’m not on medication.”

Nikki Kinzer:
I’m curious to know, now that you can’t take your meds, you probably can’t rely on caffeine all that much with being pregnant, what are the things that you have found that help you get through the day?

Ellie:
I’d say, yeah, I did discover that meds and caffeine I was relying way too heavily on.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
Especially the caffeine. So I hadn’t realized how much of a coping strategy that was for me.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Ellie:
And I can’t pull all-nighters. I’m in school right now too. I went back to business school, so I can’t pull all-nighters to finish my homework, so I did get accommodations in grad school, though.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, great.

Ellie:
So that has been a lifesaver. It is worth the effort and they were much more understanding than my undergrad.

Nikki Kinzer:
Isn’t that interesting that just a 10 year difference can make. Yeah, that’s crazy.

Ellie:
Yeah. There’s even a note on all of my syllabi that says, “Make sure … ” Like, “We do have disability accommodations if you have something like ADHD or another learning disability.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes. Oh.

Ellie:
So ADHD is actually like the flagship one that they mention.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes. Yes. Oh, that’s really good to know that … Yeah, yeah.

Ellie:
Yeah. So accommodations and I fidget a lot and it [crosstalk 00:17:06]-

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s right. You have a lot of fidget toys and ideas, right? Yeah. Yeah.

Ellie:
I do. I do. I’m a big fan of fidgets, even for adults. You have to search a little harder to find the ones that are … I mean, I personally love the ones even that are made for kids and have glitter and bright colors.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ellie:
But I also have found a lot of fidgets that are quiet enough to use during Zoom meetings and discrete enough. That sort of thing.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. Yeah.

Ellie:
But I tell you, those two things and music has always been a good … Having some sort of energetic music or white noise or something while I study.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s a really good point because, yes, I think music for sure can energize you if you’re starting to get tired or get distracted.

Ellie:
Yeah. Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
Take a little break, do a little dance or whatever you need to do. Well, thank you so much for being here today and for sharing to our listeners a little bit about your experience. We thank you so much.

Ellie:
It was great being here.

Pete Wright:
The whole idea of ADHD being the flagship thing like what she says. Yeah, so it’s the flagship.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Pete Wright:
I think that’s amazing.

Nikki Kinzer:
10 years later, yeah.

Pete Wright:
Oh, how far we’ve come.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know. It’s crazy.

Pete Wright:
That was amazing. I love it. I love just watching. Ellie disappeared from the community for a while. She got busy with school and such. But she’s back, and I’m so glad that she’s back and participating because her insights are fantastic. Definitely connect with Ellie on Discord if you jump in there.

Pete Wright:
Also, I have a head cannon of her future. Because you remember You’ve Got Mail, the Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks?

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, right. Yeah. Uh-huh (affirmative).

Pete Wright:
Yeah. I have this fear for Ellie, and she goes and opens a bookstore in New York and becomes the Meg Ryan. But because she’s just good at it, she actually is Tom Hanks all along, and ends up running like Barnes & Noble [crosstalk 00:19:23].

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, wow. Yeah.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Right? And she brings books back. That’s what I think is going to happen, just bringing books back.

Nikki Kinzer:
She brings books back. Yeah.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s fantastic.

Pete Wright:
Who’s next on our list? We’ve got another great story, and I think there are a couple of more ADHD tag lines in the story coming up.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, and this is from a listener and a former client, Caryn.

Pete Wright:
Outstanding. Shall we just start? Any other set up?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. No, let’s go ahead and start.

Pete Wright:
All right. Let’s just start. Let’s just do it and see what happens.

Caryn:
Until I started realizing that most of my friends had ADHD, I don’t know, is that my type of person? I’m very attracted to ADHD people.

Caryn:
But I had always felt really ashamed and very … Like I was stigmatizing myself because of the ADHD. I was sort of just taking all of the myths about ADHD or not being real or medication vacations and concepts like that and applying them to myself, which it was a disaster.

Caryn:
Then I guess just recently when I went and did my master’s, there was a kid in my class, well, up here. He was late for class a couple of times, and I thought, “Oh, is he okay?” But for me, when I’m late, I’m very hard on myself, or I was very hard on myself and I would like, “Oh, they’re going to think I don’t care,” and this, that and the other.

Caryn:
Then I need accountability to get my work done, so I just kept asking everyone like, “Oh, I study here. Does anyone want to come study? I have all the books.” So this guy kept showing up, and we sat down to study one time. I was like, “Oh. He’s like me, I guess.” But he also was very late diagnosed this.

Caryn:
I’m in Scotland, and in the UK, it’s very hard to get proper treatment and medication if you have inattentive type. I have classic-12-year-old-boy ADHD. I recently in the pandemic broke my nose crawling on and off a computer chair with wheels because I still have not learned to not stand on a chair with wheels. A week later I fell off a chair with wheels again.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, no.

Caryn:
But if you have the inattentive type, it’s harder to get a diagnosis. So we worked together. You were my ADHD coach for, oh, I don’t know, maybe two years, and I learned so many skills there. And now I’m about to finish my master’s. I had to take a pause because of the pandemic.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Caryn:
But I found that when I was helping my friends, just teaching them some strategies that I learned like the alarms and, most importantly, how to advocate for himself at the school and with doctors and getting him the information …

Caryn:
I think Dr. Russell Barkley has really good things. I was like, “Don’t read this. It’s too much. It’s not for us, but take this to your doctor.” Because my friend had sleep problems, and I started on with melatonin and that had really helped me.

Caryn:
But just learning how to advocate for myself, I didn’t do it but I had the information. But then I started realizing that like: “Well, my friend has been left behind because he doesn’t have this information.”

Caryn:
Then I realized it’s really important for me to be out as ADHD and tell everyone everywhere and announce it at class and announce it every time I go anywhere. Announce it to the bank, and say, “Oh, no. I’m sorry, but this is not accessible.”

Caryn:
It was really difficult for me because I had to face that my ADHD is actually a disability and it does hold me back. But my ADHD does not hold me back so much as the world is not accommodating. You know?

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
Just some blanket accommodations that are cookie cutter that they give everyone doesn’t work for ADHD. It’s about finding out how your ADHD affects you and then articulating that effectively. And then insisting that you’re accommodated.

Caryn:
Because at least in Scotland and in most places in the US, it’s your right, and you have you have to stand up for your rights. Because if I don’t stand up for my rights and if I don’t teach my friend how to stand up for his, then we’re all done.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
So I think during the pandemic and as I was doing my master’s, I realized it was important to become more active in the ADHD community and to just be more vocal and not treat it like it was a shame as I had taken on growing up in my younger adulthood.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
So that was really powerful for me. Also, in trying to be more helpful and trying to pass on any little tidbits for my friends, I found that I started taking care of my own ADHD better because I still had to walk the talk.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Right.

Caryn:
So things got better for me too, but it’s still … Like we moved at the end of December, and we got sick for two weeks. And that sort of threw off my whole plan of how we were going to unpack and organize.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
So it’s a lot. And I am completely time blind. I don’t think I have yet met a person as time blind as I am.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, really?

Caryn:
It does not exist to me at all. But now that’s fine because I just like, “Oh, five minutes? Five years? These are the same for me.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
“This is the same.” Oh, but I have multiple alarms and backup systems, and I have a digital and an analog system. Although I was very resistant to even doing the digital and analog system because it feels like that’s taking more time. Is it does take more time to set up and it takes more times to implement. But without it, if I wander into a room and I don’t have my phone but I have my notebook, then I’m okay.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
Or if I don’t have my notebook but I have my phone or my watch then I’m … Because I’m moving things and I get lost in my own house.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
Every time I walk into a room, I’m like, “Okay, what am I doing here?”

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
Or I’ll have a little Post-it note with my list of the next objectives.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s good. That’s great. Yeah.

Caryn:
And the little pads.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Caryn:
I like to play video game, and sometimes you need to check what quest you’re on.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Right. Well, what a perfect example, too, of creating your own accommodations in your own home of what you need. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Like that.

Caryn:
Yeah, there are Post-its everywhere and little notepads because I do need to write down the next quest very often.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
Especially because the house isn’t completely organized now, and I am very, very affected by my environment.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
So once everything gets organized and with a trusty label maker and the order of operations chore chart is filled out and everything is systemized … It’s taking a while to set up. But having had set up such a thing before, I know that my life will become so much easier and manageable.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
And I’m very lucky that I have put everything, including my master’s, on pause during this move because I am no longer … I realize now that I need to do one thing at a time, and if my environment isn’t in order, I won’t be able to do much else.

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

Caryn:
So that has to come first.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. Yeah.

Caryn:
And as much as I hate routine and systems, my brain really needs it because I do a lot of very cerebral work.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
So by systemizing it, I take all of the executive decision out of what rooms to walk into next or what to eat next or what to wear or how to go about the mundanity of being human in the modern world.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
And so that when I do my research or my writing work, I’m able to really shine and outperform my peers that I know are typical. Because I have accommodated my ADHD in my life so that the connections and the jumps that my brain can make when it is not stressed out from too many executive decisions in the daily life, it is really amazing.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
That has been really, really transformational to be able to see that actually it isn’t random when I am able to be smart. Or when I’m completely unable to remember my name, it has a lot to do with how I’m managing my ADHD and, yeah, as you said, if I’m accommodating myself in my daily life. And that means saying no to things that sound really fun.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
It’s a bit of putting myself through boot camp sometimes and I’m very unhappy. Like, “Nope.” I have an iPhone because I’m lucky enough to be able to have one, but it’s so I can have this screen time.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Caryn:
It is so awful to undo.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah.

Caryn:
And then it just shuts off and the alarm, so it goes there. You know?

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

Caryn:
And I started using a Habitica app because I really like games and I’m very competitive. So I’m getting to bed at a bedtime because it’s a thing that I have to check off every day and I want to win.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Yeah. Yeah, that’s a great app.

Caryn:
So I think, and that works for me because I know that works for me and it works for … But it’s just not for everyone. It really is about trying to figure out what motivates you.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
And also to be flexible with the systems. Because Habitica works right now, but it wasn’t working six months ago. I’ll probably get … I have to be able to accommodate myself to myself sometimes.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right, right. You have to make some adjustments.

Caryn:
I’ll manage.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
So it is a disability, and I was raised to hush-hush about that, but it’s fine. And I find that being able to help my friend who also has ADHD and teaching him how to advocate for himself and my friends who are ADHD inattentive type …

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Caryn:
There’s only ever one hyper-attentive in the group, so we can have a few inattentive types. But I didn’t get diagnosed until I was in my late teens, I think because I’m female.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right.

Caryn:
Because looking back through my report cards when I was a kid, I was always like: “Doesn’t stay in class. Doesn’t stay in her seat. Standing on the chair to … ” Like, oh, God.

Nikki Kinzer:
It has wheels on it.

Caryn:
Yes, but I still have not learned.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah. Well, you have. Yeah.

Caryn:
Then “Put [crosstalk 00:32:40] on the chair. Do not stand chair.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Stand. Yeah. Well, Caryn, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and there’s so many great nuggets here. I just really appreciate you taking the time to talk to our audience and sharing your story. Thank you so, so much.

Caryn:
No, thank you. I got so much out of working with you, and it was really transformational. I’m going to start my PhD in the fall, and if you can be able to imagine that. Only after taking the summer to sit down with everyone and figure out how I’m going to organize this data. Because now I realize that that is, not even going to attempt it until we know how I’m going to organize this piles of data that I already have too much of.

Pete Wright:
That’s amazing.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, she is fantastic. And I … Oh.

Pete Wright:
She is fantastic. Amazing.

Nikki Kinzer:
She is fantastic, and I have to say I am so proud of her. I listened to her, and this is the second time I’ve listened to it, and I’m in awe because this is what I want for my clients. Because when she first came to me, she was ashamed of her ADHD.

Pete Wright:
Sure.

Nikki Kinzer:
And she was really behind in her classes. And the thing that she doesn’t say, because she wouldn’t say it, is she’s an excellent writer and she’s very, very talented. The work that she does is really good. Or excellent. But what was happening, she was so far behind that she was scared to go to the professor and say anything.

Pete Wright:
Of course.

Nikki Kinzer:
And she did; she mustered up this courage to advocate for herself, and I think she was really surprised by the reception that she received. Because they know she is an excellent writer and she turns in exceptional work, they gave her the extensions that she needed. And she graduated and got that degree to move on to the next.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s so inspiring, Pete, just to listen to her talk about how she’s teaching other people to do this. And how she’s so just shouting at the rooftop: “I have ADHD and it’s great.” Not great. She’s not saying it’s great. But it’s there and I just, I love it. I love Caryyn, and I thank her so much for being on the show and talking about that.

Pete Wright:
Well, she’s so funny and delightful and easy to listen to. Just, her stories are fantastic and, again, so relatable.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes. Of course.

Pete Wright:
I mean, we’ve all fallen off the wheelie chair. It may not have been a wheelie chair, but we’ve all fallen off the wheelie chair.

Pete Wright:
We got one more today and you got to set this one up because this one is a little bit different.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, this is a different one, and I thought it might be a nice one to end, although we really aren’t ending our series yet because …

Pete Wright:
End today.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, for today we’re ending it. So this is an ADHD coach who actually watched our presentation, Pete and I’s, at the ADHD conference. And we, of course, talked about joy. She was inspired by our presentation. This is what she had to say about it.

Nikki Kinzer:
Hi, Leslie. Thank you for joining us on the show today. Before we get started, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about who you are, what you do? That would be great.

Leslie:
Yes. Thanks for having me. My name is Leslie Robbins, and I am an ADHD coach. I’m also a mother of a couple of ADDers myself, which was the beginning of my journey into the coaching world. I live right outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Yeah, and I’m coaching families and individuals, right now kind of the gamut.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Great. All right.

Leslie:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nikki Kinzer:
And where can people find you?

Leslie:
Oh, they can find me on my website at leslierobbinscoaching.com.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. All right.

Leslie:
Yeah. That’d be a great place to find me. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nikki Kinzer:
Good. Well, there is a very specific reason why I want you on the show today. You had watched Pete and I at the ADHD International Conference this year where we talked about joy jars.

Nikki Kinzer:
So just to give a reminder of what joy jars are, we did a presentation, first of all, on just how to create joy. And really felt that it was an important topic, especially during this time of chaos in the world and everything that we’ve been facing with COVID and everything else.

Nikki Kinzer:
The joy jar started as an idea of having some kind of Mason jars, something that you could decorate. Or basically, you could be as creative as you wanted to be. The thought was if something brought you joy, you could put it on a piece of paper and you could put it in there. It was either an experience or something you noticed or whatever it might be. You could do it in so many different ways.

Nikki Kinzer:
But the point was to be able to go back to that joy jar, pick something out of there when you’re having a bad day. Add to it as people are in your home or you notice something that’s going really well with one of your kiddos, whatever it might be.

Nikki Kinzer:
And Leslie, you really took this and ran with it.

Leslie:
I did.

Nikki Kinzer:
So tell us what you did. And I’m curious … Before, I guess, you tell us what you did, what inspired you? Why did this resonate with you?

Leslie:
Oh, my goodness. I’m fascinated with all of the positivity studies that are out there, and it just really resonates with me. I am a glass-half-full kind of a person. I mean, I always have been.

Leslie:
At one point in the presentation that you guys were giving, you started talking about what happens to your body when you feel joy. I don’t know if you remember that.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Leslie:
I started jotting down some notes, and I was like, “Oh, this is like … ” At that moment, and that was before you guys even started mentioning anything about ways to implement joy, I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. There’s something there for me.”

Leslie:
At that moment, I think I was really inspired because I started noticing that in myself. Like, “Oh, this is where I’m feeling it. My heart is swelling. It’s like this hum of energy that I’m feeling all throughout.”

Leslie:
Then when as you went through the presentation and started talking about the joy jar, I was like, “Ooh, I could make it into a kit. I could give these away for Christmas. I could give these to clients. I could give this to family.” The list kept growing, and I was so excited, I have like five pages of notes just from the conference presentation.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, wow. That’s great.

Leslie:
I moved those aside, and I started drawing out what I wanted these little joy jar kits to look like.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Oh, my gosh.

Leslie:
Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
So what did you end up doing?

Leslie:
Well, I was trying to figure out how can I make … My list was growing, first of all.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Right.

Leslie:
It started with about maybe 12, 15.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Leslie:
And by the end, I had 70 people on my list that I wanted to-

Nikki Kinzer:
Wow. 70 people you touched.

Leslie:
70. Yes. So I’m like, “This has to be a little cost effective.” You mentioned Mason jars, so I’m like, “Well, yes. That’s a great place to start.” Then, yeah, I just started gathering up all different sizes. So nothing was the same; everything was a little bit different.

Leslie:
I started gathering those things up, and I wanted it not only to be a kit. I wanted them to be able to have everything they needed so they wouldn’t have to put anything off to get started.

Nikki Kinzer:
Ah. Smart.

Leslie:
Yes, yes. So I had these little pails that I bought that I put little colorful sheets of paper in and pens, and everything was combined. I made a little booklet too, and I took some of the information from Barbara Fredrickson’s positivity book and what positivity is basically made of. I put some examples in there about that, and I made this little joy jar, I guess, instruction manual.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Leslie:
I stuck it into the jar, and I added a couple of notes myself about why that particular person brought me joy.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, my gosh. That just gives me chills when you just say that. I can’t even imagine what the recipient would feel like. So what kind of response did you get?

Leslie:
Well, it was wonderful, and I started actually saving all the responses. I have handwritten notes from people and texts and emails and everything. One of my favorite ones was a football coach who said, “Oh, this is right up my alley.” I don’t know if I would’ve ever thought about it, you know?

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Right.

Leslie:
For that to come from him. Then there was another one. It was one of my clients who’s actually been working on really focusing on staying positive and that type of thing. She said, “This is great because even if I don’t put anything in the jar, it’s on my desk. It’s right out in the open and I can see the colorful pieces of paper that in there, and I know there’s joy there.”

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh, I love that.

Leslie:
So that was so great. There’s moments all the time that happen. It could be a little blip. It doesn’t have to be this big magnificent moment. It could just be just something, and it’s just about being in the present and noticing those moments of when your heart does swell and you do feel that energy that come in. And that jar is there for you to just harness it all.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). I love it.

Leslie:
So yeah. Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s great. Thank you so much.

Pete Wright:
There we go.

Nikki Kinzer:
That was great.

Pete Wright:
That’s really powerful.

Nikki Kinzer:
I love it. It is. It is powerful.

Pete Wright:
That one person touched 70. It’s just really lovely. I’m so grateful for that one.

Nikki Kinzer:
And the manual. She has a joy manual. How awesome is that?

Pete Wright:
I know. And the football coach. Come on with these people.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know. You just never know how something like that will touch somebody else. It was really great. I really appreciate her sharing that and …

Pete Wright:
That could be like a motto for the entire episode: You never know.

Nikki Kinzer:
You never know.

Pete Wright:
You never know who has ADHD, who doesn’t. Who’s struggling in their brains, who doesn’t. Who’s going to fall off the wheelie chair, who doesn’t.

Nikki Kinzer:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright:
Or who is going to really find an affinity with your idea of joy. It’s just beautiful. It’s really beautiful, so …

Nikki Kinzer:
I love this.

Pete Wright:
I know. Thank you, everybody, for continuing.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s so fun. Thank you, everyone.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, continuing on this journey and listening to these stories. They’re so meaningful for us to hear how you are living with ADHD. So thank you for sharing it, as we mean that very deeply. Thank you so much for sharing and being a part of this series.

Pete Wright:
Until next time, thank you for downloading and listening to this show. Even if you’re not contributing to the series, we appreciate your time and attention. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright. We’ll catch you next time right here on Taking Control: The HDHD 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.