Off Script is exactly what it sounds like. No notes, no pre-planned questions. Just a conversation about ADHD with someone who knows it well.
Host Lindsay Guentzel chatted with entrepreneur Andrea Wallace on Wednesday, June 29th at Start Garden in downtown Grand Rapids. Their conversation has been lightly edited for sound quality.
Note from Lindsay:
Last week, I traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to work with the team at ADHD Online in-person for the first time.
During my time in Michigan, I met Andrea Wallace and within five minutes of hitting record on my computer, I knew I needed to share this conversation with you all sooner rather than later.
Lindsay Guentzel (00:01):
This is Refocused, with Lindsay Guentzel. And I’m your host, Lindsay Guentzel. I’m still not used to saying my name so often during all of this. I promise I am working on it. Well, let’s try this. This is Refocused. I’m Lindsay Guentzel, and it is a podcast about ADHD.
Lindsay Guentzel (00:40):
Thank you so much for joining us for another episode. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend going back and listening to the episode that came before this. We mapped out a really intense plan to dive into topics, to set this base about ADHD, and there are so many great conversations that we’ve had already, and we will continue to have. And I’ll explain a little bit of why there was this little shake up in the plan here in just a little bit, but I just wanted to thank all of you for the reviews that you have left so far, and for the kind notes and the emails. And again, you can email me directly at podcast, at ADHDonline.com. That’s if you want to leave a note. If you want to share your own story, that is the direct line to me. And of course you can find me on social media, @LindsayGuentzel.
Lindsay Guentzel (01:35):
For the last 15 years, I’ve been working as a journalist. And like many of us who were diagnosed with ADHD later in life, a lot of my career choices were motivated or affected by my ADHD, and obviously all of that came without me knowing about it. I got my first job in journalism when I was 21. I was writing for my college newspaper, except I was also failing out of that college and had somehow successfully hidden that very big secret from everyone in my life. And that is a much bigger story to tell, but it gets me started on why my career has been so all over the place.
Lindsay Guentzel (02:15):
Since then, I’ve worked as a sideline reporter for Fox sports, a radio news reporter for CBS, a producer and director for public radio, a talk show producer. I was a sideline reporter for a pro soccer team. I’ve produced cooking segments for TV, many of them even in my own kitchen throughout the pandemic. And then, I even had a brief stint as the cohost of an afternoon drive show on this very strange music sports hybrid station, that broadcast Twins games during the baseball season. It was a lot.
Lindsay Guentzel (02:51):
And most of them I’ve enjoyed, but I’ve always struggled settling in. And mostly that’s of routine, or lack thereof. And ADHD, the delay in executive function skills, I mean, it all comes back around. But there’s also this massive part of me that struggles in social settings, and a lot of that insecurity and overthinking and hyper focus has been a big part of what has held me back in my career. I’ve also struggled committing to my own goals, my own dreams, and I’ve spent my entire career building other people’s dreams, and I’ve pushed myself to the back burner.
Lindsay Guentzel (03:31):
And right now I’m working on reconfiguring my life to make this podcast my priority. And it’s hard. It’s harder than I expected it to be. And it’s so frustrating, because this is what I want to be doing. It’s what I’m passionate about. It’s what I’ve been working for. And it’s right here. It’s literally right here. Like you’re listening to me on my podcast, and I can’t get out of my own way. And I’m exhausted. I’m overwhelmed and I’m disappointed. And it feels like everything I try, I’m able to hyper focus for long enough to make me think things have changed, and then that spell wears off and I’m right where I am right now. And the thing I keep telling myself is I’m not alone. I know there are other people who have ADHD, who struggle with this exact same thing. And even though it’s great to know there are other people out there who are dealing with the same line of frustration, it doesn’t help me get past it.
Lindsay Guentzel (04:30):
Refocused is a collaboration with ADHD Online, a telemedicine healthcare company that specializes in ADHD assessments, treatment options, and teletherapy. And last week I actually flew out to Grand Rapids, Michigan to work in person with them for the first time. And I’ll be honest, at the airport I was a little nervous. I called my mom. I’m 36 years old and I called my mom from the airport. And I just had this fear that everything that’s happened in the past was going to happen again. That it didn’t matter that I have a better understanding of how my brain works and how my emotions work and why certain things trigger certain emotions out of me, none of that mattered because in that moment, all I could think about was what if my insecurities hold me back again? What if I’m not able to connect with them in person like I’d been able to through our virtual meetings the last few months? And what if they met me and were disappointed? What if I wasn’t what they thought I would be?
Lindsay Guentzel (05:32):
Except that didn’t happen. The trip was everything I wanted to be, and more in fact, and it really made me feel so great about this partnership, and so excited about the potential. And just every person I met, they were just awesome and welcoming and kind and thoughtful and energized about changing how people receive care for ADHD. And I can’t wait to share more about the trip. But today’s episode, it’s actually one of the highlights for me. This is technically episode eight. If you were to line up all of the episodes, starting at the first one I put out to this one, it’s episode eight. Except it’s not really episode eight, because we set a plan of what the first eight episodes were going to look like. And we’ll come back to episode eight, which will look at what to do once you have your diagnosis. I’m deviating from the plan because it feels right.
Lindsay Guentzel (06:39):
I came back from Michigan so inspired and motivated and excited about getting right back to work on this podcast, except I got home and was bombarded by all of the things I had been putting off. And then the long holiday weekend came. And you take all of that and combine it with another really heavy news week, and I’m exhausted. I’m emotionally and physically overwhelmed. And the unfortunate thing is, I’m very, very confident that I’m not alone in that. So, as I said, I’m deviating from the plan, because this conversation, in the moment, while I was in Michigan, was such a cup filler for me. One of those moments where you just immediately feel really good. I could not wait to get this out so you could listen to it. And as I’ve listened back to it, it still gave me those feelings.
Lindsay Guentzel (07:40):
And that’s credit to the woman I was chatting with. Andrea Wallace, everyone knows her as Dre, is someone I was introduced to in Michigan. And as you’ll hear, her energy is straight up vivacious. What I love about our conversation is it’s just that. We fell into this amazing rhythm, and Dre so kindly just laid her story out there. And I think right now her candor and positivity and carefree energy is what we all need to be surrounding ourselves with. I am so excited to bring Dre’s story to Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel. She is a tech founder and CEO, a beverage entrepreneur, an incredibly talented musician and DJ, and that’s all in addition to having a day job. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the time you get to spend with Andrea Wallace.
Andrea Wallace (08:42):
My name is Andrea Wallace, but everyone calls me Dre. I grew up here in Michigan. I’m a Lake Shore kid, so I grew up in a really small town, just kind of right outside of South Haven, Michigan, right on Lake Michigan. That’s where I was born and raised, and I didn’t really start to migrate to other areas until college.
Lindsay Guentzel (09:01):
And remind me again, what age you were diagnosed with ADHD?
Andrea Wallace (09:05):
I was diagnosed around 25, 26, something like that. Yeah.
Lindsay Guentzel (09:14):
All right. So 10 years before I was diagnosed. And we know with ADHD, symptoms have to present themselves before the age of 12. It used to be seven, and then doctors were like, “Yeah, no, that doesn’t really work.” And I think it actually makes total sense. When you think back to that transition from elementary to middle school, is really when the responsibility sets in.
Andrea Wallace (09:33):
Lindsay Guentzel (09:33):
So I’m hoping you could start by telling us a little bit about what you were like as a kid or what you thought you were like as a kid?
Andrea Wallace (09:42):
Yeah. I mean, honestly, I was not a… and I’m pretty sure my parents would say this too, but you might need to interview them also, but I was not what I would call a hyperactive kid or anything like that. If anything, it was the opposite. I was extremely focused. When I found something that I liked, basically no one and no thing existed until I conquered that thing.
Andrea Wallace (10:08):
So I think I probably wouldn’t have… I definitely never thought that I had it, and I know my parents certainly wouldn’t have thought it, because I remember growing up was kind of around that time, like late ’90s, early 2000s, and I would say even mid ’90s, early 2000s, that was when so many kids were starting to be on Ritalin and stuff. And I distinctly remember a conversation in the car with my mom, and she was just like, “I can’t believe all these kids are on all of these drugs.” She’s like, “I just wonder if it’s necessary.” So it starts the wheel of thinking like, oh, yeah, maybe it’s not real, or maybe it just looks really different in different people.
Lindsay Guentzel (10:57):
I have these vivid memories, now looking back, of elementary school, and it was very apparent which kid in class had ADHD. And I’ll just say it, like which boy had ADHD. Because I was born in ’86, so elementary school was ’91 to ’95. And it was the same boys in every class that were getting taken out into the hallway. And I grew up in a small town too, and there was one aide per class, so even if I needed help, I don’t think that what I presented would have ever triggered someone to be like, “Hey, let’s get Lindsay some added attention.”
Andrea Wallace (11:30):
Yeah. Yeah, and honestly, I was a star student. I was getting straight A’s all the time, so why would anyone think anything was off? I seemed like the model kid, kind of, so why would you change anything about that?
Lindsay Guentzel (11:46):
And how did high school go for you?
Andrea Wallace (11:48):
Honestly, high school was basically the same. I didn’t actually notice that maybe… it took me, I think kind of being overloaded with stuff, and then finally I was like, maybe something’s not quite all the way right. Because through high school, same thing, I got amazing grades. I was number three in my class. So you wouldn’t have known. There was no real signals for anything, until, as an adult, when I started to take on more things.
Andrea Wallace (12:26):
That’s when I was like, okay, well this is… having a hard time keeping stuff organized. And then once I would get it organized though, that’s the thing, it was the same thing. It’s like when I had a system in place for stuff, I was just killing it. So I didn’t know either, because I’m like, I’m doing awesome. But right up until when you’re doing too much stuff, and then things start to totally spiral out of control, you start feeling overwhelmed and you start avoiding things, and then it becomes a whole thing.
Lindsay Guentzel (13:00):
We’re hearing a lot of people talk about the transitions in life, and how that plays such a role in when women’s symptoms come out. For me, it was the transition from high school to college. I was kind of the same. I wasn’t top three, but I did pretty well for myself in high school. But that transition to college was brutal for me, and I couldn’t figure out why. And so for you, it came later, which we do hear. There’s a lot of women that get out college and everything feels great, and then they get into their first job and there’s all of this expectation about who they’re supposed to be. You grew up in a small town. I imagine that means a small graduating class from high school?
Andrea Wallace (13:36):
Lindsay Guentzel (13:37):
Then what was college like? Was it a big school? How did you pick your school?
Andrea Wallace (13:41):
Yeah. So I went to Grand Valley state university. Go Lakers. It’s, I mean, in Michigan, pretty well known school of liberal arts university, but it’s not massive. It’s not like Michigan state, where you go to class and you might be in a lecture hall of hundreds of kids. And what I studied too, I studied business, and I think I only really had one business class that we were truly in a real lecture hall that was pretty big, and even then I think it was still less than 100.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:17):
So if you were absent, you would have been missed.
Andrea Wallace (14:19):
My professor would know.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:20):
Andrea Wallace (14:21):
He’d be like, “Oh, Dre’s not here.”
Lindsay Guentzel (14:25):
But that accountability does matter.
Andrea Wallace (14:27):
Yeah. Yeah. And I don’t think I would have minded being in a bigger school, or even a smaller one for that matter, but I feel like that size was probably the right size for me, because it was big enough where I didn’t feel like I was under a microscope all the time, but it was not so small that… I don’t know, it was a nice size for me.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:51):
And how did you decide on business? Because I feel like a lot of people with ADHD go into college and they don’t know what they want to do, so they kind of flounder around for a while, but it sounds like you came in knowing where you wanted to go.
Andrea Wallace (15:03):
Yeah. I had a double major.
Lindsay Guentzel (15:03):
Andrea Wallace (15:04):
Because originally I was only going to the school of music, but my parents were like, “Yeah, you need to do both.” So that’s actually why I ended up in the business school, because I was trying to think of what could I do that is going to help me with things, and that will make it easy for me to get a job and that’s super universal, but could potentially also help my music career stuff too.
Lindsay Guentzel (15:30):
So I’m going to backtrack, because you mentioned music. And to know that you want to study music in college means that you probably did music growing up. So tell me about some of the activities that you did growing up, because you were a great student and you knew you wanted to study music in college, which I imagine meant that you were pretty good at that as well.
Andrea Wallace (15:49):
Yeah. I started playing music when I was like four. So I have been playing all the way through elementary, junior high, high school, college, and then really much later as a professional.
Lindsay Guentzel (15:59):
Andrea Wallace (16:00):
Yeah. So I started out actually playing piano. My mom plays piano. She’s very good. She’s better than I am. It’s annoying. But my main instrument in elementary, junior high and high school is actually saxophone.
Lindsay Guentzel (16:12):
Alto or tenor?
Andrea Wallace (16:13):
Lindsay Guentzel (16:14):
Alto tenor sax. Alto sax over here too. I was not good at it though.
Andrea Wallace (16:18):
And then I picked up violin in junior high, because I wanted to be in symphony. So I was in all of the bands. So actually now that I’m hearing myself talk, it may not have manifested itself in school, but I feel like maybe it did in my extracurricular activities, because I had a lot of them.
Lindsay Guentzel (16:39):
Right. And your schedule was busy.
Andrea Wallace (16:42):
Lindsay Guentzel (16:42):
So there was no time to go off the rails.
Andrea Wallace (16:44):
Yeah, actually. Yes.
Lindsay Guentzel (16:46):
I just had this really great conversation with a mental health-
Andrea Wallace (16:50):
I feel like I’m in a therapy session right now.
Lindsay Guentzel (16:53):
I apologize. You can send me the copay later. Now, I had this really great conversation with someone who worked in the military as a civilian, but with psychology, and they talked about the military is so regimented, but there’s a lot of downtime, and that’s when the ADHD comes out. And for a lot of us, there was no downtime. I didn’t have downtime growing up. I didn’t know what that was.
Andrea Wallace (17:14):
I didn’t have a lot either.
Lindsay Guentzel (17:14):
Andrea Wallace (17:17):
Yeah. I mean, music probably took up at least half of my time. Then I was also in dance. So I was in ballet for a really long time. I was in jazz dance for a while. I was in tap. I was in modern dance. I was in jewelry making, you name it.
Lindsay Guentzel (17:40):
I’m worried that people were reading my diary, because I was like, I was in dance. I applied the alto sax. I did jewelry making. And knowing that like-
Andrea Wallace (17:47):
Is this just like a millennial thing?
Lindsay Guentzel (17:49):
It might be. I do think too with creatives, we want to do everything.
Andrea Wallace (17:54):
Yeah. I loved making stuff. I was huge into crafting as a kid, like needle point, making friendship bracelets, like that one thing with the blue plastic things that you put the iron over, that would melt into shapes and stuff. I don’t even know what it’s called, but that thing too. So all of that stuff, I just liked making things.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:16):
I interviewed my sister on episode two, and she was like, “You were really into beads for a while.” And I was like, “Gosh, I forgot about beads.”
Andrea Wallace (18:21):
The beads, man.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:24):
I loved beads. Did you ever make the flowers?
Andrea Wallace (18:26):
Lindsay Guentzel (18:27):
When you would loop them through?
Andrea Wallace (18:27):
Lindsay Guentzel (18:27):
Gosh, we would have way too much fun together.
Andrea Wallace (18:28):
Oh, yeah. Embroidering.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:31):
Andrea Wallace (18:31):
My one grandma knew how to knit, so she taught me how to knit. My dad’s mom was great at crocheting, so I knew how to crochet.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:38):
The do it yourself hair wrap, with the floss yarn.
Andrea Wallace (18:42):
Lindsay Guentzel (18:42):
Andrea Wallace (18:43):
Lindsay Guentzel (18:44):
Andrea Wallace (18:46):
Feeling very seen right now.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:47):
Yes. At least we’re in good company. So you go to college. What was college like for you?
Andrea Wallace (18:53):
College was fine. Also I was a little bit of a overachiever, so I finished really quick. Like my undergrad, I was done by the time I was 19. So that happened. It happened so quick that I remember going to one of my advisor’s offices and she’s like, “You have enough credits to graduate.” And I was like, “What? Already?” She’s like, “Yeah, you have enough credits to graduate.” Because I did dual enrollment and stuff in high school.
Lindsay Guentzel (19:26):
Yeah, it adds up.
Andrea Wallace (19:26):
Because [crosstalk 00:19:27] doing a lot. But yeah, so once I finished, then I was like, shoot, what am I going to do? I was thinking about going to grad school, so I had already applied, but then I ended up getting a job. So I was like, okay, cool, I’ll just kind of do both for a while, and figure it out from here, see what happens.
Lindsay Guentzel (19:45):
So how old were you when you entered the workforce as a postgraduate?
Andrea Wallace (19:48):
19 years old.
Lindsay Guentzel (19:50):
Oh my goodness.
Andrea Wallace (19:50):
Couldn’t even drink. I couldn’t even go to happy hour.
Lindsay Guentzel (19:53):
I’m exhausted. A part of me is like, I don’t know how.
Andrea Wallace (19:57):
It seemed like just not that big of a deal. Honestly, I look back and it’s crazy. It’s absolutely crazy. But it’s crazy now, like everything I’m doing now is crazy.
Lindsay Guentzel (20:10):
Okay. So let’s go from like 19 to 25, when your diagnosis. So you’re a working individual, you’re paying your bills on time, you’re living independently. Everything is going as it should for an adult who is kind of left the nest and is doing their own thing.
Andrea Wallace (20:29):
Yeah. Actually, I shouldn’t say it wasn’t going awesome, but when I started to feel it was… so while I was working as a professional on the business side, I also had a whole other career on the music side. So I had started to tour. And it was fine because I had, whatever, I work in tech, so most of the time I was working from home anyway. They all knew exactly what I was doing, so it wasn’t really a big deal.
Andrea Wallace (20:57):
But it wasn’t at all uncommon between 2009 to like, I mean probably up til now even a little bit, but not nearly as much as before, where I would literally be on a tour bus, and I would work during the day, and whenever we got to wherever we were going, which usually was around 3:30, whenever we got to the venue is when I would stop working on that job. And then we’d eat food and shower, do sound check, and I would perform, and it would be this whole other thing. And then we’d be back on the bus by midnight, going to the next wherever we were going. So I got so used to it though, that it didn’t seem like a big deal.
Lindsay Guentzel (21:41):
And how often was this touring happening?
Andrea Wallace (21:45):
I probably went on at least a couple a year. But there were fly-in shows all in between there, and festivals all summer long. And yeah, I don’t know, when you want to do it, you just figure out how to make it happen.
Lindsay Guentzel (22:01):
I love that you say that, because in my head I’m already going, “I could not.” There’s no way if I were on a bus with people I enjoyed being around, that I would work and not socialize. So I don’t know how you actually got stuff done.
Andrea Wallace (22:13):
You’d be surprised. I think people think-
Lindsay Guentzel (22:15):
I don’t think I would.
Andrea Wallace (22:16):
… that it’s like complete… it’s way less party time on the bus than people think. I think people think of like, I don’t know, The Rolling Stones being on a tour bus, and it’s just crazy, and there’s girls everywhere and drugs and stuff. And it’s nothing like that really in real life. Usually, the whole crew and all the artists are just tired by the end of the night. So everyone gets back on there, and yeah, people will talk for a little bit, or if you’re in a major market for a show and you have a bunch of friends come, then it’s more stuff going on. But for the most part, it’s actually pretty chill. It’s a job, and I think people forget that. When you see it on TV, it looks so glamorous and crazy, but in real life it’s our job and we know we have to get up and do it again the next day, so you’re not really trying to go super hard every night.
Lindsay Guentzel (23:08):
Right. Well, and I guess I don’t even necessarily mean the partying of it, but I know if I’m going to be on a set for a day, I will tell myself, best intentions, bring something to work on. And then of course, when we’re not rolling, instead of working on what I’m working on, I’m talking to the crew or just we’re socializing. And so I applaud you for holding down a job while you’re touring. That’s incredible.
Andrea Wallace (23:32):
Well, also though, I am, in addition to having ADHD, I’m definitely an introvert, which I think that is probably why, again, another reason why no one would have ever noticed anything, because I’ll talk if I know you know, but I’m not the one working the room at a networking thing. Usually I show up with a plan for how to deal with the networking thing, that I feel like is happening to me. So I feel like it’s a little bit different.
Lindsay Guentzel (24:05):
That’s awesome. I love that. I love that you can see that in yourself, that you know that that was why you were successful, in a sense.
Andrea Wallace (24:11):
Yeah, just because I was quiet and didn’t want to be involved in some kind of stuff. So it worked for me.
Lindsay Guentzel (24:17):
Okay. So I have to know, as we’re talking about this touring, what are you playing? Who are you touring with? What venues are you playing? Is there one that stands out, that was just kind of like a pinch me moment?
Andrea Wallace (24:30):
Honestly, I think the biggest pinch me moment was playing at Paramount in Seattle, and it’s because it’s Paramount. That’s where Madonna did her Like a Virgin tour, where it kicked off. And plus it’s Seattle, it’s a huge deal for stuff like that. But there, and then I think probably Electric Forest, which is one of the biggest music festivals here in Michigan, and it’s mostly just because even though people from all overcome, it was for me, every time I played it, it feels like hometown crowd. To me, I look out and see literally all my friends. So it was kind of nice. It’s a little bit different than playing at a bigger place, somewhere where I don’t live. Which is equally as cool, but slightly different.
Lindsay Guentzel (25:14):
Different. It’s different.
Andrea Wallace (25:15):
Lindsay Guentzel (25:16):
So when did you start hearing people talk about ADHD and the symptoms that came along with it, and start kind of putting pieces together, or start thinking about it a little bit differently?
Andrea Wallace (25:28):
It was definitely in college, just because I just remember people talking about it, and staying up all night, doing all nighters, working on homework and stuff, and people would talk about it. But I didn’t really… honestly, I viewed it as a thing that other people have. I didn’t think that I had it. So I’m like, what do you mean? I do great in school, my grades are good. I felt like I was extremely focused, like almost on the other end of the spectrum.
Andrea Wallace (26:03):
And I think that’s probably what it was. It wasn’t really until I started reading some books about it and stuff, because of things that friends had said. And then when I was reading about how sometimes it can present as it’s not so much a hyper distracted, it’s a hyper focus. And then I was like, yeah, that would definitely be me. The only thing that was different with me is that it worked in my favor to be like that, whereas I could see how for some people, if it manifested really differently, it would not work in your favor at all until you figure it out.
Lindsay Guentzel (26:36):
I was a good student, but I was the good student who was finishing stuff up until the last minute. What was your work process like for turning stuff in? Was it delayed, procrastinated, or were you good at kind of doing a little bit here and there?
Andrea Wallace (26:54):
I would say I never really procrastinated until college, and even then it wasn’t so much that I was procrastinating, I just was overloaded, and so therefore this gets done last minute kind of. But not so much like procrastination. I just wanted it to be perfect. So whatever it was, I was like, oh my God, I have made this masterpiece. I just wanted it to be perfect.
Andrea Wallace (27:22):
I remember I had a science fair, I think it was second grade, and I was making this brain. It was a brain out of some clay. We had found a recipe for this special clay, so I could make this replica of the human brain. And I locked myself in my room. Second grade, locked myself in my room for two days, making this thing. And I remember I heard my dad come home from work and he was like, “Where’s Andrea?”, talking to my mom. And she was like, “Oh, I don’t know.” She’s like, “I think she’s in her room.” And my dad was like, “Oh, okay.” So he came in, checks on me, goes back out. Talking to my mom, he’s like, “Yeah, she’s doing her thing again where she’s going to drive herself crazy until whatever she’s doing is perfect. So let’s just leave her alone.” So I think back on that and I’m like, yeah, it hasn’t changed in a lot of ways. I’m still kind of like that. So how do you know if something’s wrong if everything’s perfect?
Lindsay Guentzel (28:24):
Working out, yeah. What pushed you to call and asked to speak to somebody about it, about ADHD?
Andrea Wallace (28:33):
It was when I felt like… it was the first time, with music, that I had kind of started taking more control of some of the business parts of it. And when I truly felt like I was stretched and had to learn a bunch of new stuff and do this and do that, and, and, and, there were just a bunch of ands, that’s when I was like, whoa, I feel like something is just… I felt overwhelmed in a way that I hadn’t felt before.
Lindsay Guentzel (29:04):
Andrea Wallace (29:08):
I just thought, I was like, oh, maybe I just took on too much, and that was it. But then when I thought about it, I was like, I don’t really feel like it’s that, because I feel like I can do more. But I’m like, if I do anything else, everything will fall apart. And so just hearing other people talk about it and how they were about it, and talking to some of my female friends who were talking about what it was like for them. And then when they told me that they had it, and I was kind of like, really? I’m like, I thought you had it all together. And then I started to realize, oh, this just is what it looks like in women. It looks like you have everything together until you just don’t.
Lindsay Guentzel (29:51):
Well, and that’s the thing I find so interesting, is because you were ahead of the curve on finding a provider who knew what to look for.
Andrea Wallace (29:58):
Lindsay Guentzel (29:59):
Because I even hear people all the time today, and it’s 2022, women who go in and they’re like, “Nope, it’s not that, it can’t be that.” And it’s like, but no, it looks different in everybody.
Andrea Wallace (30:09):
Yeah. Yeah, I don’t think I would have known if it wasn’t for talking to people and hearing what their symptoms were like. And then when I started Googling more and more and more, I was like, I don’t know, man, I think I might have it.
Lindsay Guentzel (30:24):
Well, at least with Googling it wasn’t like you have brain cancer or you’re dying, because I feel like that’s the other rabbit hole you go down, it’s just much bigger picture. Do you remember a lot from that conversation that you had?
Andrea Wallace (30:39):
I mean, I experience the process still. I remember just not wanting to be on any medication. That’s all I can… I was just like, I don’t want that. I want to figure out how to maybe manage it naturally or whatever, which I’ve done both. Sometimes yes, you can totally manage it naturally. I don’t know about anyone else, but going through the pandemic, I was like, could use a little help. So yeah, I don’t know that I would have changed anything or figured it out any differently, if not just for literally community and talking to people.
Lindsay Guentzel (31:18):
So you’re diagnosed. What were those first couple of days, couple of weeks, couple of months like, as you realized how it was presenting in your life, and you talked to people and…
Andrea Wallace (31:33):
Oh, I thought I was invincible. I was like, oh, okay, I have this thing, but I don’t really feel like it’s that big of a problem. But I’m glad I know about what it is now. So I’m just going to pretend like it’s not a thing and that it doesn’t mean anything. So I actually did nothing about it, other than get diagnosed for kind of a long time. Until probably five years went by, and then it really wasn’t until I decided foolishly to become a startup founder, that then is when stuff really started to hit. And also, that’s when I started finding out just more about it, because now I’m in this community, this ecosystem of startup founders, and I’m hearing how many of them have it. And I’m just like, does this attract us all to the same-
Lindsay Guentzel (32:22):
Andrea Wallace (32:23):
Lindsay Guentzel (32:24):
Andrea Wallace (32:24):
Or did we develop it, like some kind of evolutionary adaptation just to deal with what this is. So yeah, until then, I don’t think I probably wouldn’t have… like if I had just had one regular job, I probably wouldn’t have really dealt with any of it.
Lindsay Guentzel (32:45):
Changed the what you were doing.
Andrea Wallace (32:46):
Lindsay Guentzel (32:47):
I’m curious to know, I hear from a lot of people, even just knowing what it was and having that knowledge played a big part in how you move forward. And do you feel that? Because you say you didn’t do anything for five years, but in a sense you were doing something because you had identified-
Andrea Wallace (33:06):
I definitely read.
Lindsay Guentzel (33:06):
Andrea Wallace (33:07):
Yeah, so I was constantly… then I was reading about stuff to figure out like, okay, well, because I was like, well, how big of a deal is this? Does it really matter? And I’m like, well, what other people have it? So I’m Googling, seeing who else has it or whatever. And I was like, okay, so this isn’t like… because growing up, hearing about it made you feel like something was wrong with you if you had it. So I think I went through a phase of not wanting to know if I had it or not, but being pretty sure I probably did, to then finding out I had it. But then being like, oh, well I’m different, I can manage it naturally, to just finally being broken all the way down and being like, okay, I need help.
Lindsay Guentzel (33:47):
And what did that call for help look like?
Andrea Wallace (33:50):
It looked like me first talking to my PCP, who told me that I couldn’t do anything really, there anyway, that they wouldn’t feel qualified coming up with a diagnosis for it in order to do anything. If I needed any kind of medication, then they really weren’t willing to do it. So then I had to go down the rabbit hole of Googling and finding out like, okay, well what kind of place can I even go to? Because I’ve never dealt with this before. So that, asking friends, where do I go? Every place has six, seven, eight, nine months wait, year wait, year and a half wait to get in. And so I actually ended up finding a place in Lansing, which you know from here, where we are today, is like an hour and 15 minutes to go there.
Andrea Wallace (34:42):
And anybody who has ever been on any kind of medication for ADHD, if it’s a stimulant, you know what it’s like having to go back and forth. Every 30 days, back and forth. Now I have to drive. So yeah, it definitely was not the easiest process in the world. And I think of mine, I don’t want to minimize my case, but I have some friends that have much more extreme cases, and I’m like, I don’t know what it would be like to be dealing with that, and then someone tells you it takes a year for you to get into the doctor. And then, “Oh, yeah, you also have to drive all the time until we stabilize you, and we don’t know when that’s going to be.”
Lindsay Guentzel (35:23):
I had a similar situation, in the sense that I was diagnosed by my primary care provider with the help of a psychologist. And then there was no communication about what the steps were going forward. So I was diligent about what I needed to do from what they had told me, and then all of a sudden it was like, three months in and they were like, “Oh, well you haven’t come in to do your checkup.” And I was like, no one said anything about a checkup. And then I got so frustrated, because it was like, I’m here doing what I need to do. And I know what I need to do because you told me this, but you didn’t tell… and it just felt like such a mess. And then I felt like a failure. And then I got emotional and then I got angry. And it was so hard to move past that, because I’m like, I’m going to do this every three months? We’re going to play this kind of game of chicken? It’s so hard.
Andrea Wallace (36:13):
It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible.
Lindsay Guentzel (36:18):
And I wonder how many times in those scenarios it’s people making those rules, who don’t know, like you mentioned, people who had it much worse than you. Although I think the comparison game is a dangerous one to go down, for sure.
Andrea Wallace (36:32):
Yeah, it is. Yeah.
Lindsay Guentzel (36:34):
But it’s people making those rules, who don’t know what it’s like to feel the anxiety and the panic of going, my prescription is out, and that is when I feel my best, and to then not know when it’s coming.
Andrea Wallace (36:46):
Yeah, definitely. And I think, looking back to even the first time I went to the place, I didn’t understand what the provider was actually telling me. I didn’t know the process of every 30 days I have to come back. I just remember being like, why do I need to come back every month? I’m like, it’s the same medication, this is so dumb. No one actually explained it to me well, and the reasons why that has to be a thing. I’m just like, oh, so I need to come like every 30 days, so you guys can weigh me to make sure I haven’t lost too much weight. They just didn’t do a great job explaining any of that.
Lindsay Guentzel (37:26):
Right. And when you know the reasons why, you get it. You’re like, yes, people have ruined the system for the people who actually need it.
Andrea Wallace (37:33):
Lindsay Guentzel (37:34):
1000%, and that’s in everything in life.
Andrea Wallace (37:35):
Totally get it. But when that is the only thing standing in between you and losing your mind or your job, it doesn’t even matter. You just don’t even care.
Lindsay Guentzel (37:48):
I had a really hard time explaining to some people in my life who don’t have ADHD, what the medicine did for me. And I finally had this moment in therapy recently, where I was just like, I’m so frustrated trying to explain how much it matters to me. And she explained it. She said to me, she was like, “If you had a broken leg and you didn’t have crutches and you were just kind of walking around, people would be like, oh my gosh, let me get you a wheelchair. You need to look at the medication as your wheelchair.” And I was like, well, that’s a… and she was like, “Mo, no, no, you’re not playing the comparison game. You are not going to diminish how this helps you. It helps you, and you need to stick to that.” But it’s so hard in that moment when you’re around people who don’t understand how defeating it feels.
Andrea Wallace (38:36):
Yeah. And there’s a stigma still. Like, honestly, I don’t think I even told anybody that I actually have it until like…
Lindsay Guentzel (38:45):
This podcast? No, I’m just [crosstalk 00:38:48]
Andrea Wallace (38:47):
I mean, truthfully, publicly it was Monday. I was on a panel discussion about diversity in tech and stuff, and we were talking about different kinds of diversity. And so I was like, it’s super multifaceted, and I brought up neurodiversity, and I was like, “Yeah, I have ADHD.” I was like, “Most people probably don’t think I have it, but I do.” Because I think you don’t want people to think you have something wrong with you, but it’s like you have to get over that mental hurdle that there’s something wrong with you.
Lindsay Guentzel (39:23):
Andrea Wallace (39:24):
Like now, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with me. I probably wouldn’t be where I am now if I wasn’t, if I didn’t have ADHD. But it takes fully understanding it, understanding how it presents in other people, understanding what other people have been able to accomplish while also having it. It’s not something that’s a burden really, or a weight. I mean, it can be, but if you can get it under control, it’s kind of great. But if it gets out of control, it could be kind of rough.
Lindsay Guentzel (39:59):
I definitely feel that. I feel that from the sense of, I think my strengths with ADHD is feeling like the sky is the limit.
Andrea Wallace (40:06):
Lindsay Guentzel (40:06):
And then at the same time, one of the worst things for me with my ADHD is feeling like the sky is the limit.
Andrea Wallace (40:12):
Yeah. Yeah, because I truly do feel like, I never think like, “Oh, I can’t do that”, or anything like that. I’m always like, “Oh, yeah. I can definitely figure that out.” Which makes me sometimes wonder, I don’t know, if everybody… I don’t want to say everybody who has it is like that, but I think there’s something about the way thoughts just are, which it feels like someone just threw a bunch of stuff in there, that’s like a jumbled mess. But I can sort through it all and put it in the categories because I’m trying to make complicated things really simple. So because of that, it’s easy for me to kind of move around between big ideas and stuff, which is great for working in tech. But I can see how, if you don’t understand it fully and know that and know how to make it work in your favor, why it would be just really difficult.
Lindsay Guentzel (41:05):
Do you feel like ADHD has ever affected your relationships? And I don’t just mean with a partner, but friendships, your family. Because with a lot of women, it does present in this insecurity in where you are in life. There’s the rejection and all of that. So I’m curious, has that ever played a role for you?
Andrea Wallace (41:24):
Truthfully, I never really thought so until I read this article. I was reading this article just about things that can happen if you have ADHD, like in a relationship. And I’ve thought about things that my now husband, we’ve been married for a few months now, stuff that he said, and I was like, “Oh, man. Yeah, I guess I do kind of do that.” Because he always says I interrupt him when he’s talking, but in my mind I’m not interrupting. Usually I’m just-
Lindsay Guentzel (41:54):
Engaging in the conversation.
Andrea Wallace (41:56):
Yeah, I’m reaffirming what he said, because I’m worried that I will be off somewhere else if I don’t do that. And so the way that he thought he was looking at is like, she’s interrupting me. And I’m like, no, I’m actively involved in the conversation. This is how I’m staying with you on the right path. But when I read it, I was like, oh, yeah. I was like, I guess I should think about that more.
Lindsay Guentzel (42:19):
But the other problem to that is if you don’t interrupt, then they stop talking and you’re expected to engage, and you’re like, I’m lost. I don’t know where I’m at. What was I saying? What were you saying? Where were we? What room are we in? Why are we here? Yes.
Andrea Wallace (42:34):
Lindsay Guentzel (42:35):
So what workarounds do you see that you have put into your life? And it doesn’t have to be since your diagnosis, but knowing that you’ve had ADHD your entire life, where do you see kind of these like little like patchworks that you’ve formed together to make this work?
Andrea Wallace (42:52):
Routines, routines, routines. Routines work for me. I don’t know if they work for everyone, but for me they work. And it doesn’t matter how much stuff I have going on, as long as I have a routine and can kind of keep stuff kind of compartmentalized and organized, I’m usually good to go. That and working out is huge for me. It helps just kind of burn off excess energy, and it’s the one time where I… because I run and cycle and stuff, and so those are the times where I can just do that, and there’s no one talking to me, trying to get me to do stuff. So it truly is my time to kind of just think. And I’m doing an activity while I’m thinking, so those same things when you’re sitting, which might be the nervous leg movements and needing to use a fidget spinner, stuff like that, I don’t need that when I’m working out. And I’ll literally be tired when I’m done, so that works for me.
Lindsay Guentzel (43:55):
What do you do to relax?
Andrea Wallace (43:57):
I have a hard time relaxing.
Lindsay Guentzel (43:59):
I knew. I was like throwing that at you.
Andrea Wallace (44:06):
Something that I’m working on. But yeah, I mean, I try to meditate. I’m not great at it. It’s something I’m really working on, because I know I need it, but just imagine an ADHD person trying to meditate. Truthfully, what I would love to find is a guided meditation class in person. That, I think would probably work the best for me. I have a couple of apps, and it’s better than nothing, but in person would be great. It just is hard for me tom I don’t know, just calm down like that.
Lindsay Guentzel (44:39):
Stay on the path. I also think too with the in person, for someone who has ADHD and has a hard time staying on task, even if it’s meditation, in person adds the accountability and the body doubling.
Andrea Wallace (44:51):
Yep. 100%. Like me in person at the gym… although now, working through COVID and stuff and all of that and working out at home, I’m in a good routine with it now. But prior to that, I would have never have been like, “Yeah, I work out the best at home.” Like, no, I always work out better at the gym in front of people. With some extra added social pressure, I will run the extra mile, I will lift the extra five reps. I will do all those things if I think somebody is looking, even though they’re not, but I can play mind games with myself about it. But yeah, at home is a little different. But now I’ve gotten in a good routine of it at home.
Lindsay Guentzel (45:28):
What do you take away from the pandemic and kind of how it forced a lot of us who have neurodiversity to adjust our lives, or even see that something’s going on?
Andrea Wallace (45:42):
Yeah. I mean, it was a rough time. That’s all I can say. And truthfully though, at first it wasn’t. It really wasn’t until… I would say the first couple months were great, like awesome. It wasn’t until… it was like pandemic hit in March, then everything in the world is going crazy by June. And work exploded because now we’re working at home. And so instead of it being normal 40-ish hours, it suddenly became 60. And I’m in my condo by myself all the time, all day, every single day, barely leaving, getting groceries delivered. And after a while I was like, okay, I think I might feel crazy now.
Andrea Wallace (46:32):
There was a moment I was in my basement working, and I started getting shortness of breath. And I was like, oh my gosh. I was like, I think I just had a small panic attack, which was something I had never experienced in my life. But I think it just was everything that was happening, it was just so much to be thinking about, and constantly bombarded by stuff and bad news every five minutes it just seemed like, and I think that’s when it hit. And I was like, okay, I can’t manage this naturally anymore. I throw the flag, now I need help. And trying to find help in the middle of a pandemic was very, very difficult.
Lindsay Guentzel (47:19):
Kudos for you for sticking with it, because it’s apparent that it helped.
Andrea Wallace (47:24):
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And my heart goes out to anyone, whether you are neurodiverse or not, going through the pandemic, if you didn’t have anything wrong with you mentally, I’m sure you do now. Just because just the sheer amount of the way things changed so quickly and we all had to adapt, literally everything changed. Work changed, relationships with people, how you talk to them changed. Grocery shopping changed. Literally restaurants changed. Everything changed at once. And so I think doing that, while also still trying to keep the routine, it’s virtually impossible, because there’s just too much variability happening. And that, for me, variability is not that fun.
Lindsay Guentzel (48:11):
You’re kind of the prime example of reminding people that the only person that can truly advocate for you is yourself.
Andrea Wallace (48:18):
Yeah. Yeah, 100%. I think, especially with something like this, because it presents so differently in so many different people, so you can’t really be like, “Oh, their case is either worse than mine or easier to deal with.” You don’t know, and that can change throughout the week. Yeah, you might be dealing with it awesome on Monday, and by Friday you might be falling apart.
Lindsay Guentzel (48:45):
All right. Sounds like a good time to be bringing up the outro music. I’m going to just get that started. Yep. Oh, there it comes. Okay, I’m going to give you here the last little out to provide whatever little context or little nugget of inspiration or just however you would like to wrap up this conversation about ADHD. This is your little, I’m not asking you anything, you just, whatever you want right into the mic.
Andrea Wallace (49:10):
Yeah. I mean, I would just say don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you. I think that’s where I went wrong, was feeling like it was something that happened to me. I was very much loved to be in control about stuff, and so feeling like there was this thing now that I have, that’s like a dun-dun-dun, mental disorder, it just made me feel like something was wrong with me, and you shouldn’t look at it like that.
Andrea Wallace (49:42):
To be honest, I don’t know if it’s an evolutionary adaptation or not, but 100% just the sheer amount of stuff that is coming at us in this time that we’re living in, I got to imagine, I feel like I’m dealing with some stuff maybe better than people who don’t have it in some ways, because I’ve gotten accustomed to making super complex things really simple, and putting them in categories and dealing with them that way. So yeah, there’s nothing wrong with you if you have it. Also, if you don’t have it, great too, whatever. That’s why we call it neurodiversity, because it’s fine if everyone’s different. But if you happen to have it, it’s okay. Just go get diagnosed and figure out some tools to deal with it.
Lindsay Guentzel (50:28):
Thank you for that, the whole conversation. Truly, thank you.
Andrea Wallace (50:32):
Thanks for having me.
Lindsay Guentzel (50:35):
Refocused with Lindsey Guentzel is a collaboration between me, Lindsey Guentzel, and ADHD online, a telemedicine healthcare leader offering affordable and accessible ADHD assessments, medication management and teletherapy. You can find out more by visiting ADHDonline.com. The show’s music was created by Louis Inglis, a songwriter and composer based out of Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020, at the age of 39. A huge thank you to Andrea Wallace, also known as Dre, for sharing such a wonderful glimpse into her life. You can follow her on Instagram @superdrizzy. I also have it linked in the show notes. And remember to subscribe, rate and review wherever you’re listening now, and join us next week for another episode of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel.