When the pandemic began, Meredith Phillips noticed symptoms in her son and went deep into research. Here, she talks about how that research revealed a diagnosis for both her son and herself.
Lindsay Guentzel (00:01):
Welcome back to Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel. What you’re listening to today, it’s a little bit different than the podcast episodes we’ve shared with you before. This episode, this person’s story is a part of Refocused Together, a special series the team at ADHD Online and I have been working on for ADHD Awareness Month. Every day throughout the month of October, we’ll be sharing a different person’s ADHD story, which is fitting, because the theme for ADHD Awareness Month this year is understanding a shared experience. And I can’t think of a better way to really get a sense of that shared experience than by telling a different story every single day. And to be clear, yes, that’s 31 stories in 31 days. My name is Lindsay Guentzel, and along with the team at ADHD Online, I’m so excited to present Refocused Together, a collection of stories aimed at raising awareness on just how complex ADHD is and the different ways it shows up in people’s lives.
When we share stories, it’s easier to find the perspective, ideas and tips that help us live our best lives. I’m interviewing people with varying backgrounds, diagnoses, experiences, and perspectives. We’ll hear from working parents, advocates, engineers, writers, PhD candidates and more to learn that while we may be different, we are all united by our own ADHD journeys. This special project is very near and dear to my heart. And although talking to 31 different people has been a lot of talking, I am so grateful for each person who shared their story with me. And I cannot wait for you to meet my guests and get to know them. Be sure to subscribe to Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel so that you don’t miss a single story this month. And with that, let’s get on to today’s episode.
Meredith Phillips had a lot of feelings about being formally diagnosed with ADHD in March of 2022, just three months and two days shy of her 35th birthday. What started as relief and validation soon broke open into sadness and anger. So many women like her were discovering that the source of their stress and anxiety and perfectionism was something totally different. Meredith was mad that an entire generation of girls had been lost in the fray, done a disservice and dismissed because their ADHD presented differently than boys during childhood. And still, at the same time as the grief poured out of her, she somehow found herself hopeful, for the first time in a long time, actual feelings of real hope that things could be different.
Not only did her diagnosis shine a light on all she had accomplished despite her struggles, but it also presented her with new medications, skills and support. And Meredith found a compassionate community with other women who share later-in-life diagnoses. Those connections filled with humor and empathy, and of course so much joy, the kind of peaceful joy that surrounds a person when they realize they are no longer alone. I’m so excited to introduce you to today’s guest on Refocused Together, Meredith Phillips. Meredith, I am so thankful that you were willing to share your story. I think it’s so important for all of us with later-in-life-ADHD-diagnosis experiences to share those, because it’s one of those scenarios where we don’t know what we don’t know. And so I’m just very grateful for your willingness to be a part of Refocused Together.
Meredith Phillips (04:06):
Yeah, I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
Lindsay Guentzel (04:09):
So I want to go back, your diagnosis happened very recently, in the sense that we look at life and how it plays out, and if we were to break things down into timeframes, it’s been not that long since you were given a ADHD diagnosis, but I’m wondering if we can go back and talk about some of the things that led you to seek out an assessment in the first place, and what were some of the things that you were seeing or you were feeling that pushed you to start asking questions?
Meredith Phillips (04:43):
Okay. So I mean, a lot of it really starts, I guess three years ago when I was having some more physical symptoms that I don’t think are necessarily related, but were helpful in the sense that they led me down this path. I got to working with an integrative psychiatrist who recommended various things. I feel like if we had carried on, he would’ve reached the same conclusion at some point, but it just wasn’t going very fast. Psychiatrists are so busy, it’s hard to get in sometimes. But really, big surprise, COVID through me for a loop just as much as everybody else, especially those of us with ADHD, I just lost any sort of semblance of structure that I had, and that was really hard. I didn’t hate having to stay inside, as an introvert, I loved that part, but it also acted a bit as a mirror to show me where I just was really not succeeding.
And that, I think combined with some behaviors I had started to recognize in my son first off really led me to seek out what this was. So I know we can talk later about what I was seeing in the kids, but I started doing research. That’s something I’m really good at, is research. I started doing research on various behaviors, came across ADHD, and had passed my mind in the past for the kids, but it was hard to know what to attribute to just the chaos of the pandemic and the lack of typical schooling and all of that, or was it something else? So went down that rabbit hole. That’s one of my favorite words that I’ve heard in this community, by the way, love that. And a lot of the stuff I was reading sounded like it really hit home. I was like, “Wait, what? This sounds like me.” And then along the lines, I found the statistics about the kids and the parents and the likelihood and the heritability and all of this stuff.
And I was like, “Okay, maybe this is worth looking into,” because having had anxiety for the past several years, having gone through postpartum and overcoming that, but just never really having any medication type of therapy scratch the surface of that anxiety, that as well led me to think, “Well, maybe it’s just all wrong.” So I went to ADHD Online. I found that just through Google searches, and decided that that looks like the best option for me. I went back and looked at this actually earlier, because I was curious. I had first started my application on March 2nd, and it was very long, it’s a lot to fill out. And so I was like, “I don’t have time, I’m tired.” Got distracted, completely forgot about it until, well, two weeks or so, I can’t do math. Three weeks. Yeah, three weeks, because I came back to it on March 23rd. It had been long enough that I did not remember my password, so I had to reset my password, and I did go ahead and finish it that day at about 11:30 at night. And then I woke up to a diagnosis. So it must not have been very difficult for the physician to make that call based on what he had seen. So yeah.
Lindsay Guentzel (08:40):
There’s so much that I want to touch on. And I love the fact that you saw and knew about the genetic connection, because I think that’s actually been a huge push for a lot of parents, that combined with the pandemic, we’re learning so much more every single day. And I think it’s very easy for us to forget that psychology and what we know about the human brain is actually very new. So I’m curious, as you were going through the assessment, were there any things that stood out that you were being asked, or that were particularly hard for you to dive into?
Meredith Phillips (09:23):
Things that really stood out? I know it’s not technically on the DSM-5 criteria, but the concept of this rejection sensitivity, that was big. Again, I know it’s not technically on there, but I think most psychiatrists and psychologists see there’s a bit of a connection, that was huge. The inability to follow routines, but also needing routines. All of these, what’s the word? Just contradictions, it was just ticking off a list. For me at the time, a lot of it was just down to all of the various types of executive dysfunction and how that comes out. I mean, I remember one point thinking, “Maybe this is why I was never able to schedule play dates.” Felt guilty for being this kind of mom that just wasn’t doing what society said you need to be doing for your kids. And I had the pandemic by the time they were five to blame that on, but I remember just that coming to mind and thinking, “Wow, okay.”
That seems a bit superficial maybe, but it’s something that really bothered me, I felt like I just was not able to do basic things that my kids apparently needed. I now realize they don’t actually need all of that, but I took it on as this moral and personal failure, that I think is not uncommon, and a lot of women our age who have not been diagnosed and have just been surviving up until this point, I don’t even know, thinking back, how I didn’t see it, it’s so obvious.
Lindsay Guentzel (11:21):
I feel the exact same way, but I also think what we know about how ADHD shows up in our lives wasn’t talked about. Which is one of the reasons why a few months back I had this moment of going, “If we’re really going to raise awareness for ADHD Awareness Month, we need to tell as many different stories as possible because it is so complex.” And the thing is that it ebbs and flows, it completely changes. And one thing I want to go back to, what you said, which I laughed because I experience it in a different way, but you were talking about play dates, why it was so hard for you to plan play dates, and the shame and the sadness that came with that as a mother. But also, I’ve experienced it where I will see people that I’m friendly with, or we talk about making plans, and I’ll see them doing things that I’m not invited to, and I’ll feel bad about it, but then I’m not calling them to make plans, or I’m not reaching out.
And so it is very much this contradiction. And I think that that is the part that’s so interesting about what we deal with every single day. It’s literally like we are fighting ourselves constantly. Our brain is telling us stories that we know aren’t true, but then there’s just that internal debate and it’s overwhelming.
Meredith Phillips (12:41):
Right. Yeah, totally relate to that. I have a couple of really close friends, one of whom I’ve been friends with for about 17 years. And I mean, she’s put up with all of it, but the kind of friendships that I do tend to keep are the kinds that pick up where you left off whenever you do get to see each other, and the kind where you know that if you were really in a bind and you needed some help, that they would come, no questions asked. So I do appreciate that aspect of my friendships, but I don’t do well with maintaining superficial friendships whatsoever.
Lindsay Guentzel (13:23):
Same. Totally the same. And I have found that it’s the people who understand what they’re getting from me, it’s like we can go six days, six weeks, six months, sometimes six years, but I love that I have the ability, when we’re together, to just be in that moment and to pick up where we left off. And there are just some people, they tend to be more neurotypical people, who that doesn’t work for them. And those are their boundaries, and I have mine. And it stinks that you have to set that up, but I think as adults we’re starting to finally realize like, “Oh, I get to make those decisions.”
Meredith Phillips (14:01):
Yeah, I know. And that’s been something that has been really nice about this, is just learning about the fact that I can choose things for myself, and it doesn’t make me necessarily good or bad. I’ve gotten a lot better at setting boundaries. Yeah.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:23):
And I hope you’re getting better at being kind to yourself, because I know that’s one thing I have to work on.
Meredith Phillips (14:27):
I’m trying, it’s a daily battle.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:30):
For sure. Oh gosh, some days it’s not even daily, it’s hourly. The emotional dysregulation that happens, you’re like, “Oh, that’s what that is.”
Meredith Phillips (14:40):
Yeah, turns out.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:42):
You mentioned the pandemic and seeing things come out, which so many of us can relate to, but then you also talked about being a stay-at-home mom, which comes with so many responsibilities. But you mentioned that it highlights some of the things that you aren’t necessarily the most proud of. So what are some of the things that when you look at how ADHD shows up in your life right now, that you would view on the like, “Yeah, I don’t want this. It’s here and I would just really like it to go away”?
Meredith Phillips (15:12):
Mm-hmm. Well, probably one of the parts of that that’s shown up most recently is that when, okay, a little backstory here, when my now husband and I married, we were living in a 400-square-foot apartment in London, in Southwest Barnes. Shout-out to Barnes, love that place. When we moved over to Texas, we really just wanted space. So we got a house that was way too big, we had no need for that, but at the time it’s what felt right, but with that space comes accumulation, and we’ve since moved twice more. The first time into a house that was a bit too small, but now I think we’re in a good size for us, but I’ve got to say we have so much in storage that I accumulated, and I realize now a lot of that was due to impulse, which is a big problem. It’s getting better.
But I just wish that there was this fairy that could come around and just go through everything that I see in my mind, that I don’t need, or that if I were to come across when I am going through things, I could just throw away, that would be so helpful. Sadly, that is not something in existence just yet, at least that not that any of us know of. So that’s a big thing. I’m really into a purging kind of mindset right now. The problem with that is that I start in one space and then something distracts me, maybe even just on the way to the bathroom or something, self-care, going to the bathroom, and then I’ll start in another space. And so there’ll be various stations around the house that really just become cluttered, and I struggle to maintain order in that sense. And it’s frustrating because I get mad at myself, but my intentions are so good. It’s just that, like you say, my brain, it gets in the way, and it’s like, “Ooh, shiny, new area, let’s go to this.”
So I had a conversation with my husband actually last night, and I said, “I spent yesterday just cleaning our room, and making sure that it was a nice space that I could go to and close the door.” And that’s been on my radar for a long time, but with our anniversary, I just like, “Okay, today’s the day, I have the energy, I’m going to do it.” And then when we’re getting ready to go to sleep, I told him, I was like, “I wish I could just have more than one space clean at a time.” And then he went off to do something, and then I started thinking to myself, I was like, “Wait a second.” And I started rattling off these spaces. I mean, some of them, granted, are the pantry, the guest bathroom, but there were seven in my mind that I have gone through and organized and labeled so people put things back. And I was like, “Wait, why am I being so hard on myself? I’ve actually made a lot of progress in the past few months.” So yeah, I would say the organization for me is just the biggest by far.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:48):
I was like, “So early in the conversation to get choked up.” But hearing you have that positive self talk, it’s what we’ve all wanted our entire lives, and we haven’t figured out how to do it. And it’s like, “Heck yes, Meredith. Good for you. You didn’t have to have somebody come in and say that to you.” And it is so hard, but you’re right, we are our own worst enemies, we are always working towards perfection. And I also think too, you talk about the accumulation, and I’ve struggled with that so much, and even just getting rid of stuff, the shame that comes with knowing I spent money on it and I didn’t utilize it or it wasn’t necessary. And then you’re in the shame spiral. And it’s just like, “No, you need to get it out of your house.” You need to have somebody come, like the magic fairy, come and take things, but it is so hard because it’s not just getting rid of stuff, there are a lot of feelings tied to all of those things, and most of them are negative.
Meredith Phillips (19:52):
Mm-hmm. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it really is. I think we just get so, well, at least for me, I’ve gotten so used to just automatically reverting to, “You’re stupid. You can’t keep things in control. You are this, this, this.” All negative, things I would never ever say to friends of mine in this situation. And we get so used to that, that to get to the point where we are just saying, “Wait, hang on a second, thought, where is the proof of that? Where is it?” Because I think challenging those kinds of automatic thoughts, and I think this is a concept of like CBT maybe, which I had done some of postpartum when I was in a pretty bad state, that’s really come back into play for me. And I’ve been doing that more and more. And when I have a negative thought, I’m just like, “Wait, shut the front door.” Do they even say that anymore? Probably not. Oh my god.
Lindsay Guentzel (21:05):
I’ve said it.
Meredith Phillips (21:05):
Lindsay Guentzel (21:06):
I don’t know that that makes it cool or trendy or anything, but it’s definitely come out of my mouth.
Meredith Phillips (21:10):
Well, trendy in our generation I guess. Yeah, so I think just challenging those thoughts on a regular basis is really important. And sometimes it’s harder than others. I know I mentioned that I’m dealing with PMDD as well, which is another diagnosis that a lot of people think is fake. And I have some gestures for those people, and some words that I’m not sure I can say here. So there’s a lot of waves that I have to ride with that. And during some of those more difficult periods, it is harder to challenge that negative self-talk, because I just get in this negative shell, like a turtle, I guess.
Lindsay Guentzel (21:57):
It’s actually a great analogy for it, because it’s the hard exterior, we get ourselves in there, we don’t want any help, but the only way to actually make it better is to get help, or is to open up about it. And again, it’s that vicious cycle.
Meredith Phillips (22:12):
Yeah, for sure.
Lindsay Guentzel (22:15):
You mentioned some of the things that you were seeing with your son that stood out to you and you were able to make the connections. What were some of those?
Meredith Phillips (22:23):
So for him it was a lot of… His biggest thing is, just back to the executive dysfunction, but for him I was seeing a lot of negative self-talk and poor self-esteem. And I struggle with all these things myself, but I have made, and I think I’ve been pretty good at not doing that in front of my kids, but they get to an age where they pick up on a vibe. There’s only so much you could do. We’re handling that kind of differently now, but for him it was that. I mean, I’m going to try not to get choked up, but as a parent, the last thing you want your child who’s five or six saying is that they wish they had never been born. And that’s the kind of stuff we were seeing. And I don’t even know where he heard that, I don’t know how this became a thought in his mind, especially at that age, I don’t think children really completely grasp the concept of living and death in the same way that adults do.
So that expression that came out his mouth was especially alarming. But also for him, he was very hyperactive. Not in the traditional bouncing off the walls type of thing, but his energy, you could just feel it. I don’t know how to describe it apart from that, but you could just feel it, coupled with the extreme impulsivity that he displayed oftentimes. And that tied into the executive dysfunction meant that for him, that looked like meltdowns over what to us just seemed like nothing. And a lot of times we couldn’t even get him to bring himself to talk to us, what it was. I remember thinking it was a breakthrough, this was after his diagnosis, but it was a breakthrough moment when he had this meltdown, nothing works in that moment apart from just let him ride it out. There’s no point in trying to be negative. There’s really no point even in trying to be positive. Sometimes he wants you to just sit with him, which struggling with ADHD myself is a challenge sometimes, but once he has passed that time, and you can get into his head a little bit, generally that is a few hours later, he’s had this meltdown, we’ve gone about our day once he’s recovered, and then we come back to it and talk about it.
And it was really a pivotal moment when I said, “What’s going on? Bob, what’s bothering you?” And he said, “I don’t know.” And I felt like that was really insightful for a kid, he doesn’t know. And I think that is a big source of his frustration. And I recognize that, because a lot of times I don’t know what is going on, or why the cheese being in the wrong drawer tips me off the edge to rage or something. That particular example has not happened, but I don’t know why that came to mind, cheese, yay. But I recognize that and I just felt like that was a really important moment for him. Gosh, he got his diagnosis, I guess in April. And yeah, I mean, it just all went from there.
Lindsay Guentzel (26:26):
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about what he told you at such a young age, because I’m sure that is just something that is so hard to go back to. But I want to tell you, as somebody who had a really hard time as a little kid, saying how I felt or what was going on, you should be so proud of yourself as a mother, and you your husband, that you’ve created that environment where he could say that to you, because you’ve got to get him help, you’ve got to look into it, and there are so many kids who don’t have that. So on the days that you are beating yourself up, because I know what that feels like, that is such a gift to him and to your family. And it could have very much been a scenario like you and me, where it didn’t come out and it wasn’t talked about. And so just truly, that’s a really powerful thing for me to hear, you’re creating that environment where your kids feel safe, and that’s awesome.
Meredith Phillips (27:29):
We’re really trying. Yeah.
Lindsay Guentzel (27:33):
I want to talk about what you do. You have this diagnosis now, what has changed? What have you added into life? What have you taken away? What is working for you right now when you think about how you’re managing this new thing in your life?
Meredith Phillips (27:50):
Mm-hmm. Yeah. So it’s only been, what, five, six months? Again, math, another thing that went under the radar. So I’m still pretty new into medical, non-medical, I guess it would be actually pharmaceutical, I don’t know. Anyway, different interventions, different techniques, different skills. And I am taking a stimulant med. And that has helped. It helps in certain areas. And this is where I think it’s important for people to realize it is not a magic pill at all.
Lindsay Guentzel (28:38):
Be great if it was.
Meredith Phillips (28:39):
I know, right? I wish it was. It has made it possible for me to do other work that requires the focus, that requires the attention that otherwise I just could not keep to. I remember the first day, and I think I told you about this, the first day that I took my medication, I cried happy tears, my brain was calm. Yeah, that was truly remarkable. Instead of having eight, nine different thoughts spiraling in your head at once, to be able to get it down to just two was way more manageable. And in that period, I realized that this is where it was going to help, it’s going to keep my mind from becoming overwhelmed by things that I need to be doing. And again, this is not an everyday thing, it ebbs and flows, but that has made it possible for me to do some other work, the other work, really just acknowledging what works for me and not apologizing to the world for it, like Post-its, Post-its work.
When I was teaching, I would get told off in a way because I did not like to write lesson plans, just all that on a piece of paper, but I had my Post-its, and that’s what did it for me. But society says that’s not professional enough, whatever. So yeah, that was a problem. Oh, the struggles. Post-its, I have to have a visual planning system. I try so hard to keep it in my phone, but that just doesn’t work. I have to carry around a planner, Filofax style. Do they still even make those?
Lindsay Guentzel (30:48):
I don’t know.
Meredith Phillips (30:49):
I’m sure they must. I’m going to go look it up later. What else works? I mean, honestly, I’ve had to just come to this almost OCD level of organization. So those spaces that are staying clean, it’s because I spent a week probably in each of them, measuring shelves for different containers, and putting things in order, and labeling everything. And part of that is for my family, because I mean, my kids, they’re kids, but they also struggle with this memory thing. And my partner, I mean, it’s for helping them help me and our family, and just the general chaos. So that really intense level of organization has helped.
The problem with that of course is that I have these periods where I can really hyperfocus on it, and I can just keep going, and then there are periods that I don’t. So I’ll go a week or two getting a lot done, and then a week or two not. Sometimes it’s even just a day, a day here, a day there. So that’s frustrating, the pill does not fix that. I think I’ve also really become more okay with talking, what’s going on in my head. I’ll be like, “Okay.” So I’ll say something to my husband, he’ll say something back, he’ll be confused. I’m like, “I realize this isn’t logical, but that’s what my brain does. That’s where it goes.” I’ve gotten better at telling the kids that, saying, “I’m struggling right now, I just need a few minutes and then I’ll come back.” Really, it doesn’t always work out so magically, but really trying to give them that positive example as much as I can of acknowledging what you need and not being afraid to tell people. So yeah, those are a few things that I think are really working.
Lindsay Guentzel (33:12):
It sounds like a fantastic start.
Meredith Phillips (33:14):
Lindsay Guentzel (33:14):
Meredith Phillips (33:15):
Lindsay Guentzel (33:16):
Meredith Phillips (33:17):
I have alarms for literally everything. And then once a month I’ll go through and purge, start over.
Lindsay Guentzel (33:21):
Alarms have helped me immensely, and I think a part of it is because I can’t tell you what five minutes is or 10 minutes. I always joke, so the gym classes I do, we always end with a minute plank. And sometimes the minute feels like 15 seconds, and sometimes the minute feels like 18 years. And I have no understanding of what time is. And so alarms and setting them, but the problem is you have to remember to set them. And thankfully, I think for a lot of us learning how to say, “Hey, you know who…” I can’t say it because she’ll wake up, “… set an alarm for this, or remind me to do this.” And it is such a game changer.
Meredith Phillips (34:06):
Yeah, it really has been. And I think before, I would’ve seen that as like, “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you remember all of this stuff?” Or just whatever, but now I’m just like, “Screw you internal, hateful brain, this works. Not going to apologize for it.”
Lindsay Guentzel (34:28):
I feel that way about names.
Meredith Phillips (34:30):
Lindsay Guentzel (34:30):
I was recently back at the college that I failed out of twice, and still go to football games. As you’re paying student loans, you feel like you should get something out of it. But I kept seeing people from 2005, 2006, which is so long ago. And I can tell you everything about how we met, how we know one of another, what’s going on in your life, or what had been going on in your life, but I can’t remember your name. And I’ve just gotten to the point where I walk up real confidently and awkward, and I’m like, “Hey, it’s Lindsay. Hi.” And then they have to say their name because I’ve said it. And I think it’s two things. One, it saves me from the awkwardness of trying to dig through my brain for their name, which is so much work and is painful and embarrassing. And two, they probably don’t remember my name. And so it’s just like, “Clear the air.”
Meredith Phillips (35:19):
Yeah, that’s a good technique actually. I mean, even just this morning I went on Facebook and it was somebody’s birthday, I’m like, “Who is this?”
Lindsay Guentzel (35:29):
Well, if we all could go back and be a little bit more particular about who we Facebook friended when it first started, right?
Meredith Phillips (35:36):
Yeah, for sure. I go through a purge once a year, honestly. Not a hateful purge, just like a “Heh.” I don’t know.
Lindsay Guentzel (35:44):
Oh, I just don’t even touch it.
Meredith Phillips (35:46):
Lindsay Guentzel (35:48):
You’ve talked a lot about what you saw, but what I love about how you say it is, there’s so much self-awareness that you have, that you’re putting out there, for yourself and the journey that you’re on, and the progresses that you’ve made, but I’m curious, when you look at ADHD, and some people call it superpowers, I’m not there yet, it’s not something that I’m fully grasping because I’m still dealing with a lot of the grief, but where do you see ADHD coming out in your life that you’re like, “This is what makes me really special,” or, “These are really positive things”?
Meredith Phillips (36:26):
So yeah, I think I’m in the same boat. I wouldn’t say that I’m like, “It’s a superpower.” I think given the right supports, it can be channeled to be that, but I’m not there, I also went through a big grief process. For now, I would say things that it is useful for, I… Okay. So I’m currently getting into having to advocate for my kids in all of this. That’s really hard. I grew up not standing up for myself. So I struggle with that still. Standing up for my kids is a different story. And I absolutely will bear down and risk the image that comes with that, but mess with them, man, they are not going to have their self-esteem shot before they’re 10, they’re not, at least not without doing everything I can to prevent that. So I think for me, an ability to advocate for people, that’s something that I tend to be good at. I can do all the research, I can speak out.
What I’m not good at is sometimes not getting emotional in the middle of it. And so I have a hard time with that. And then I have to fight my own internalized thoughts surrounding that. I’m trying to see it more as passionate instead of unhinged, but that’s hard. And then also, I can look back through this new lens on my life and I see how it has negatively impacted literally every part of my life, but I also see how it has given me some of the best parts of my life. I mean, I look back on, when I was finishing my undergrad and deciding to go to grad school, I had hyperfocused on this English choral tradition, and I moved over there and met my partner there. And I have this whole life because of one of the things of ADHD. So it’s hard to say I hate it, I don’t think I would go that far, but I don’t think I would say I love it either. I’m in this gray area.
Lindsay Guentzel (39:30):
What is exciting you right now? When you look at life, and it can be with the diagnosis or it can be completely unrelated, what is getting you up, what are you looking forward to, what’s down the pipeline that you are just energized by?
Meredith Phillips (39:48):
Cooler weather, that for sure. We talked about organization, and a lot of that needs to happen in my garage, but here in Texas it’s been way too hot. So the weather cooling off is exciting me because it means I can do something that’s been on the back of my mind for, well, ever, but especially since we moved into this house. What else? I mean, the couple of really good friends I have, honestly, I know the society would say my first answer should be my kids and my husband, and they’re a huge part of it for sure, but I’ve got a couple of really close friends that have their own things that they’re going through. And so being there for them, being present in what they need, that is something that’s keeping me going.
The breadth of possibilities is keeping me going, but the flip side of that too is that it can be overwhelming. Being an advocate for my kids, it’s exciting times for our family, just in the sense that we have really drawn inward and have become very cautious about what we allow into this space. And sometimes that involves who, and at what time. And that’s hard sometimes, to set boundaries with people that you love, who may not understand, and who you risk hurting the feelings of. And that’s really hard, but it’s been very important for us. So that has kept me also going forward in this direction, and just keeping on being better about saying no.
Lindsay Guentzel (41:55):
I want to wrap this up by asking you, it is ADHD Awareness Month, the whole point of this project is to build awareness about what ADHD actually is and how it presents in life so differently for every single person. I’m curious, if there is one thing or a general idea that when you look at the general population, who probably have a very outdated idea of what ADHD can look like, is there a message that you wish you could get out there to change some of that?
Meredith Phillips (42:30):
First, I would say stop dismissing girls. I’ve already, even in the professional expertise that I have sought, I have found more of a potential to dismiss my daughter than my son. And that’s really hard, because I don’t want history repeating itself for her. Another thing I would say is, it has nothing to do with intelligence. So many things that I heard from people when I first told them, were like, “But you were so smart.” I’m like, “Yeah, I know. That’s why no one picked up on it.” Turns out that’s a thing. And it’s not that they were saying that maliciously or anything like that, I think people are just unaware of how far we’ve come as far as the research goes. I would also tell them to not just automatically make assumptions about medication. I had people also tell me, “Oh my gosh, avoid this or that.” And I’m like, “I’m going to listen to my doctors, but I appreciate your input.”
Lindsay Guentzel (43:42):
Good for you. Everyone’s a doctor, right?
Meredith Phillips (43:46):
Right, because Google.
Lindsay Guentzel (43:47):
Meredith Phillips (43:49):
I have been more proactive about trying to inform the people in my close circle, and just learning how I can talk about it better. But I think the biggest thing I wish people would know, especially since everybody is a doctor because of Google, is that maybe they can go learn about it. If someone you love is affected by this, then go and learn about it. That would be my biggest thing.
Lindsay Guentzel (44:20):
Meredith, I truly enjoyed this conversation. I am really grateful for your willingness to share it with the audience as well. I think the more we talk about it, and the more we see the connections, we can talk about the genetic connections, we can talk about the cycles we need to break. And you touched on so much of that, and I truly appreciate you coming on and being a part of this. And thank you for sharing not only your story, but a lot of your family’s story as well.
Meredith Phillips (44:50):
Yeah, thank you. It’s been really cool to be a part of this. So I’m excited for the possibilities of this podcast and just the scope of what it is doing, not only for those of us who are learning about ADHD and how it affects our own lives, but also how it can teach the general public.
Lindsay Guentzel (45:20):
I’m so grateful to Meredith Phillips for sharing her story here with us on Refocused Together. Seriously, Meredith, just a massive shout-out of thanks, and I hope we get to connect in person soon. Thank you so much for trusting me with your story.
There are so many people to thank for making Refocused Together happen. The entire team ADHD Online, Zach Booker, Dr. Randall Duthler, Tim Gutwald, Keith Brophy, my teammates, Keith Boswell, Susanne Spruit, Claudia Gatti, Melanie Meyrl, Paul Owen, Kirsten Pipp, Sissy Yee, Tricia Mirchandani, Lauren Radley, Kory Kearney, and Mason Nelle, and the team at Deksia, Hector and Kenneth, and the team at SMACK Media, Cameron Sterling and Candace Lefke, Camilla Eden, Lauren Terry, Sarah Gelbard, Phil Roderman, Jake Beaver, and Sarah Platanitis. Our theme music was created by Luis Inglas, a songwriter and composer based in Perth, Australia, who is diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39. To find out more about Refocused Together or to share your story with me, head over to adhdonline.com and check out the ADHD Awareness Month page, which highlights this project as well as each day’s episode after they’ve been released. You can also find out more by following along on social @lindsayguentzel and @RefocusedPod.