Al Chaplin And Accepting The Good With The Bad

Al Chaplin knew they had depression and anxiety. But they also knew there had to be something else. Today, they are learning how to live with ADHD and other coexisting conditions while also creating content for the mental health and LGBTQ+ communities. 

Listen as Al talks about ‘shiny object syndrome,’ the importance of self-education, and how sharing your experiences can make a positive impact.

Refocused, Together is a collection of 31 stories told throughout the 31 days of October, a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness Month. Make sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss a single story this month! 

Connect with Al on Tiktok and Instagram!

READ: Childhood Trauma and ADHD: A Complete Overview & Clinical Guidance

READ: Signs Your ADHD Is Linked to Childhood Trauma

WATCH: Defining Features of ADHD That Everyone Overlooks: RSD, Hyperarousal, More with  Dr. William Dodson

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Al Chaplin (00:01):

It’s been really eye-opening to see that I am good at what I do, as long as I apply myself. So, I always joke about I’ve peaked in college. I feel like I’ve gone downhill since then, and now I’m realizing that that doesn’t really matter as long as I feel successful and I’m helping people. So, that’s where I’m leaning, is just how can I help people and still feel good about myself, where there’s no room for me to put myself down about my successes or my failures?

Lindsay Guentzel (00:38):

You’re listening to Refocused Together, and this is episode seven, Al Chaplin and Accepting the Good with the Bad. Welcome back to Refocused, A Podcast All About ADHD. I’m your host, Lindsay Guentzel, and today, we’ve got another story in our Refocused Together series, this special project we started last year as a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness Month. The plan is to share the stories of 31 people with ADHD each day during the month of October. We created Refocused Together as a way to raise awareness on just how complex ADHD is and the different ways it shows up in people’s lives. You just heard today’s guest, Al Chaplin. Al has a story that might resonate with many listeners.


At 25, they were diagnosed with ADHD after years of knowing that there was something more to their mental health struggles than just depression and anxiety. It wasn’t until leaving a toxic relationship and seeking help from a therapist that Al could officially begin the process of learning how to live life with ADHD and explore the possibility of being autistic too. Mental health advocacy is a cause close to Al’s heart as their father lived with and passed away due to mental illness. They also enjoy creating content for the mental health and the LGBTQ+ communities.


As you might recognize their name from the closing credits of our show, they have a passion for podcast work. Let’s hear more from Al about what they call the shiny object syndrome, the particulars of self-education when it comes to ADHD, and how sharing your experiences with others can create a positive impact. You can find Al on TikTok and Instagram, @mystical_alhazel. That’s @mystical_alhazel. With that, let’s meet our next guest for Refocused Together 2023, Al Chaplin.


Well, these interviews are pretty simple for me because they all start off with the exact same questions and then we take it from there. So, Al, to get started on your Refocused Together interview, I would like to know when were you diagnosed with ADHD and what was that process like for you and if you wouldn’t mind sharing what sparked that initial conversation?

Al Chaplin (03:22):

Yeah, so I was diagnosed with ADHD in end of 2021, beginning of 2022, somewhere in between there. I never thought about ADHD, because all my life, I have had weird mental health stuff going on. ADHD was the one I never thought of because of course we all grow up with the stereotypes that I’m not the type of person who would have ADHD. What sparked the conversation is I had just gotten out of a not-so-great relationship where a lot of the bad things that happened was blamed on his ADHD. So, you can imagine the trauma that built in my mind of what ADHD is. Then I started therapy and I am talking through some of the stuff that happened in the relationship and how it was blamed on ADHD.


I’m like, “I don’t really understand that though, because I know I don’t have ADHD,” I thought at the time, but these same things happened to me and I’m not violent or these things that were happening. Just throughout talking to this therapist, she’s like, “I think you have ADHD. Let’s get some further testing done.” Because when I went back to therapy, I was like, “You know what? It’s time. I need to know what’s wrong with me.” Obviously, nothing’s actually wrong, but you feel that way growing up, of course. The therapist was like, “Let’s get you further.” So they paired me with an income-based psychiatrist who gave me the testing and found out, yeah, I have ADHD. My therapist was joking about it with me later about how, yeah, you’re very ADHD. I’m like, “I know.”

Lindsay Guentzel (05:05):

Once you see it, it’s really hard to unsee it. Then you go, “How did I not see it sooner?”

Al Chaplin (05:12):

Well, when I was telling people in my family and my life, they’re like, “I would’ve known if you had ADHD.” I’m like, “Well, obviously not because I’m actually doing research and most of these are me.”

Lindsay Guentzel (05:24):

You mentioned the testing that you went through and testing right now is so different for so many different people. It definitely depends on, like you mentioned, economic status, where you live, if you have insurance, you don’t have insurance. What was testing like for you?

Al Chaplin (05:39):

So for me, I was already in with a lovely income-based therapist and I was just getting out of a relationship, moving back with family, getting a new job, everything was changing. So, all of that was happening. The therapist was like, “Well, we think we have some resources for you.” It was through a grant that they applied for where they could get actual psychiatric help for people who needed it through a doctor. It was literally just one or two sessions of me sitting and chatting with this doctor, him making his notes. I never actually spoke with him beyond that. She was the one who was actually like, “So your test results came back. You have ADHD.” I was like, “Oh, great.” She’s like, “So what next steps would you like to take?”


I was like, “Well, we can try some medication.” Then that I went through my primary care physician for the medication. So, it was a lengthier process, but it wasn’t terrible.

Lindsay Guentzel (06:39):

You mentioned growing up and living with some mental health disorders or things that were concerning in your life, and I have the same journey of being diagnosed and treated for so many different things until we finally stumbled upon ADHD. I’m wondering as you were testing for the ADHD and since you’ve been diagnosed, if you’ve had that moment where you realized that all of the things you were doing to try and treat those things, none of them were actually ever working or you were waiting for it to work.


Because I think what’s really hard with anything you’re dealing with your mental health is it’s very subjective. It’s not like you’re getting a test readout like, “Look, you’re improving.” So I just remember being treated for anxiety and depression and being put on SSRIs and just feeling like, “Well, one of these days, I’ll feel it. It’ll come.” Whereas as soon as I was diagnosed with ADHD and I was properly medicated, it was like, “Oh, this is what it’s supposed to feel like.”

Al Chaplin (07:44):

Exactly. I still haven’t had that eyeglass moment of putting on the glasses and something finally working, but growing up, I always knew depression and anxiety was there, always ruled my life, number one. My dad actually had a bunch of different mental health diagnoses. He was in the hospital most of my life and things like that. So, every time I was diagnosed with something, they basically just looked at his chart and looked at what was genetic. So, I’ve been misdiagnosed with schizophrenia before and things like that, and it’s still in that phase of I don’t know “what I have”, but now we know the ADHD is there. They’ve been recently talking about a possible autism, maybe, maybe not. So, we’ll see what the future holds.

Lindsay Guentzel (08:39):

I bet that was hard for you, not only dealing with that as a kid, watching your dad go through that, but then to be just grandfathered in because of genetics. Yes, genetics play a huge part in this, but nature versus nurture and who you are as a human and what you are exposed to are also massive parts of how our mental health shows up in our lives. Would you mind just talking a little bit about some of the feelings you had, watching your father, but then also knowing that these were things that you might be predisposed for?

Al Chaplin (09:12):

Yeah, so my father, he actually left when I was seven or eight and went to Indiana, which is where his family lived. So, most of what I saw of that was seven years old and before, he was an alcoholic, drug addict. All that exacerbated what was already there. So, growing up like that, that already gave me a sense of unsafety, even though my family who was still around always made me feel nothing but safe, but of course you always have that in your head that you’re not. Then I actually did not seek any additional diagnosis beyond anxiety and depression until after he passed away. The first thing I did was we had college counselors and I talked to them and I was like, “How can I seek higher help?”


That’s when I spoke to my first psychiatrist and they misdiagnosed me with schizophrenia and a lot of the symptoms just wasn’t there for me. Some were, some wasn’t. So, it’s been just an ongoing battle since I was 18 years old, trying to actually figure out what was there and therefore trying to find what will help for me. That’s why bringing it back around to ADHD, finally knowing that’s what’s there and not being gaslit by my ex that oh, no way you could have ADHD or just knowing how my brain works is very aligned to a lot of people and it’s been very eye-opening.

Lindsay Guentzel (10:47):

Well, I’m so sorry that you went through that. I do want to applaud you for seeking out help and just how frustrating that must’ve been to want to get help and to not have the avenues to do it. I mean, we can talk for hours about healthcare in this country, but mental healthcare is so hard because it really is invisible and it’s not typically until people start acting out in ways that people go, “Oh, well, let’s get them help.” Then we have issues with people being misdiagnosed.

Al Chaplin (11:19):

Exactly. I live in the south. We’re not exactly known for our great mental health care. So, that definitely, I think, contributed to location of where you live. That’s also going to be a lot in how you’re going to get mental health care and when.

Lindsay Guentzel (11:37):

So let’s talk about living with ADHD. This is a new journey for you with having the four letters next to your name, but you lived as Al for your entire life and you know now what you see in the diagnostic criteria for ADHD of what shows up in your life. So, I’m curious, when you look at attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and how it shows up for you, where do you see the biggest struggles?

Al Chaplin (12:07):

Mine is definitely the inattentive type for sure. It’s always been struggles with remembering basic things, but more like not the stereotypical, “Oh, I forgot that.” It’s, “Oh, I forgot how to take care of myself today.” Or I’m sitting in bed and I know I need to do so many things and get so much done and then I get burnt out from thinking about how much I need to get done that I don’t do it, which took me a while to learn the term executive dysfunction. So, that’s definitely my biggest struggle with ADHD is just I always felt like I wasn’t functioning as an adult before I knew it was ADHD.


Even now, me and my friends will joke about functioning like an adult, but that’s really what it feels like. You’re like, “Oh, I am this age and I know a lot of people feel this way. I’m 26 years old. I should know how to take care of myself. I should instinctively get up and brush my teeth, but I don’t. I have to have an alarm to do that.”

Lindsay Guentzel (13:11):

It’s also so interesting, this idea of adulting and what we are just expected to know as humans. I’m starting to realize that if I wasn’t actually taught how to do something where someone sat me down and taught me in a way that worked for my brain, I don’t retain anything. So, these expectations that are set in adulthood, like you mentioned, joking about it, it’s really I think debilitating for a lot of people, but it’s so hard to admit it because there’s this expectation that you’re just supposed to get it.

Al Chaplin (13:46):

Exactly. Sometimes around here, they always joke about adulting classes and you don’t learn anything in high school. So, I was always very book smart. I love history, I love science, all of that, but give me a map and ask me to read it, I’m not going to be able to do that without taking an hour to study the map and then I can recite it very easily. But yeah, it’s the basic adulting stuff. I was very lucky. My mom always drilled into me about money, so that is a skill I have, but that’s the only skill that I feel like I have as an adult.

Lindsay Guentzel (14:23):

With money, we’re all just searching for this dopamine rush and it’s such an easy one. I keep joking that if I could figure out how to make saving money really sexy for the neurodiverse brain, that would be just the best path to go down because it is so incredibly hard. So, kudos to you. I know you say that’s the only skill you have as an adult. That is a very, very good one to have.

Al Chaplin (14:49):

I actually have to make saving money like a game. I have a journal where I have the chart that you see in fundraiser movies where you color in the thermometer. That’s the only way I can save money is if I see, I can check something off or check a block, then I’m good. Other than that, nope, it’s gone the second I don’t see it.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:07):

But I love that you know what you need to do for yourself. You mentioned one thing that I want to go back to. You said, “Some days I forget to brush my teeth,” so you have to set an alarm for that. What else have you implemented in your life to alleviate some of the struggles that you find yourself dealing with because of your ADHD?

Al Chaplin (15:25):

Yeah. So, getting Samsung Watch was actually life-changing. I did that a month ago and I have all my reminders, all of my to-do lists, all of my alarms just right there and I know what I need to do. It even tells me when to drink water and when I need to stand up. Some days, of course, I can do that myself, but other days, I look down, I’m like, “Wow, I haven’t stood up for an hour. Maybe I should go do that.” So that’s been really great. I’m a virtual assistant, so managing my own clients and stuff. I’m very good at managing other people’s lives, just not my own.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:01):

Well, it’s the joke I always make. I would rather come to your house and clean your house than-

Al Chaplin (16:05):

Than my own.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:06):

… clean my house and why it’s more fun to do it at yours than mine, I don’t know.

Al Chaplin (16:10):

Because there’s new stuff, new shiny objects to look at.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:14):

Yes, and it probably does fill up our helper cups. It’s like, “Oh, I’m going to somebody else’s house and I’m helping them.” Whereas if we could spin it in our head that doing little things for ourselves actually make life a lot easier, especially down the road, but it’s sometimes hard for us to see that when it’s something we’re dealing with all the time.

Al Chaplin (16:36):

Oh, for sure. Body doubling is another thing I do a lot since learning about it. One of my best friends also have ADHD. We’ll go to each other’s houses and I’ll sit and do work on my laptop and they’ll clean their room while we have a movie we want to watch on. We get our stuff done and it’s great.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:55):

I wish we lived closer because I suggest this to my neurotypical boyfriend all the time. I’m like, “Why don’t we work together and we’ll have a show on?” He’s like, “Well, how do you work with the show on?” I’m like, “Well, you just do because then it makes it enjoyable.” It is. It’s so funny. Sometimes we just need to bribe ourselves with something like good company or that accountability or a rerun of a show we’ve watched a million times and we’ll get it done.

Al Chaplin (17:21):


Lindsay Guentzel (17:22):

So you mentioned some of the things that you’ve added in recently. I’m curious, when you look back at life, if there were things that were a struggle for you. So, some people are just not like paper planners. It’s just not their thing or the traditional to-do list. Are there any things that you see that have been maybe even marketed towards the ADHD brain and you just go, “No, that’s just not going to work for me”?

Al Chaplin (17:49):

Oh, for sure. It’s funny you brought up planners because I want to be the person who uses a pretty paper planner, like bullet journaling. I went through this phase where I was like, “I’m going to bullet journal,” spent a bunch of money on art supplies, because I was going to take up this new hobby. It didn’t happen. I don’t bullet journal, but yeah, definitely paper planners or just the “normal ways” of doing things never worked for me throughout school. So, for example, I’ll give the best example.


In college, I took a theater history course, because I was a theater major. It’s very hard course, it’s known for being very difficult. I would never actually learn the vocabulary. I would learn how to spell the vocabulary so I could write it on the test because spelling counted anyway. To this day, I can read a text and tell you what part of theater history that is, but a random vocabulary word or a name of a very old actor in the medieval times, I can’t tell you. I aced that course and people still use my Quizlets.

Lindsay Guentzel (18:56):

That is very impressive. It is interesting. I think hindsight is a gift and a curse in so many of our lives, but I think the older I get, the more I understand about myself, the more I’m talking about myself and how life comes at me, so to speak. You realize that we all went to a very one-size-fits-all education. We went through this school system that was built for one person, one brain, and so many of us learn in so many different ways. It’s nice to be at a point where we are acknowledging that a little bit more. I think there’s some grief with that because knowing what I know now about how I learn best and how I function best in that setting, if I had been able to change things, I would have and it would’ve been a different experience.

Al Chaplin (19:47):

Right. I spent a lot of time at first for sure, mourning who I could have become if it wasn’t for ADHD or for the depression or anxiety or whatever else might be there. I’ve definitely had my times where I’m like, “You know what? I wish I wasn’t neurodivergent. I wish I could just do things like everybody else can.” Then I think back and I’m like, “No, because it makes me me.” I wouldn’t have the friends I have, because us people who’s neurodivergent, we stick together. So, I wouldn’t have my best friends. I wouldn’t have the experiences I’ve had. So, I am very thankful for it at the end of the day, but yeah, some things could be a little easier without the little ADHD monster behind me all the time.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:33):

Exactly. I completely agree with that totally. There is the grief for sure, but you’re so young. You have so much time ahead of you. I think what I am so inspired by with this podcast and having these conversations is just reminding people that life is a crazy journey. I don’t know about you, but I really thought I was going to be exactly who I wanted to be right out of college. Very quickly you realize that that is not the case for 99% of the people in this world. So, it’s so nice to see culture embracing these later in life blossoming, so to speak.

Al Chaplin (21:15):

Oh yeah, for sure. I was a theater production major. I thought I was going to be in Seattle right now, stage managing big productions. Well, then of course, the funniest thing happened, COVID, because I graduated in 2019, but your life just takes turns. Honestly, I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. In a way, I’m thankful that I learned at 26 and not like 46, but at the same time, you still have that part of you that’s like, “No, I need to figure it out,” and then the other one that’s like, “No, it’s fine. Just do everything until you find something.”

Lindsay Guentzel (21:51):

Well, that’s a perfect segue to talk about where you see yourself thriving in life right now with ADHD and all the things that you’re learning about yourself and some of the new coping strategies that you’re adding into life. What’s working out for you? What are you proud of?

Al Chaplin (22:07):

Since I’ve learned my diagnosis and since actually starting to work on this podcast and listening to other people’s stories, I really see my relationships thriving and not in the romantic sense, but just with family and friends. I definitely used to consider myself the person with no friends or I would always think everyone hated me. Now I’m able to double check those emotions, especially with rejection sensitivity, which is another big struggle for me. I’m always having to double check myself. I’m like, “No, nobody hates you. It’s okay, just have a conversation. Normal friendships have these conversations.”

Lindsay Guentzel (22:48):

Oh God, I love that that is also something you’ve experienced. I mean, I don’t love it. I hate that you’ve experienced that, but to know that I’m not alone, because I think sometimes when you explain rejection sensitive dysphoria to a neurotypical person and you’re like, “Hey, so there’s this thing where I can walk into a room and even if my best friends are there, I will think that no one wants me there.


I will create these stories that I will tell myself over and over again to the point where I will physically respond to these emotions that I’m quite honestly making up in my head.” They look at you and they’re like, “Wait, I’m sorry, what?” But I love that you’ve figured out how to check yourself. So, what is that conversation like? If you don’t mind and you remember, what was it like when you first learned about rejection sensitivity?

Al Chaplin (23:34):

I definitely used to be the person who, and I regret throughout college, I would isolate myself because I felt like no one wanted me there. I would blame it on like, “Oh, I’m the stage manager. No actor wants their stage manager to be hanging out at a party with them.” So I would blame it on these, now that I look back, stupid little things. When I learned my diagnosis and I learned about rejection sensitivity, I was like, “Oh, wow. People actually care about me and want me in their lives. I’m a net positive.” Still sometimes I will come to my best friend’s house and we’re like a little friend group, with me, her boyfriend and all.


So, sometimes I’m just like, “Should I really be here?” and then I’m like, “Wait, she wouldn’t have invited me if she did not want me here.” Even now, it gets to the point where we joke about her boyfriend being the third wheel. That was my glasses moment that I’ve had so far where you try on a pair of glasses and it’s not quite the right prescription lens, but it’s there. So, I started learning about these major things that I wanted to make changes in my life.

Lindsay Guentzel (24:44):

That’s awesome. I’m glad that you were able to have that, even with rejection sensitive dysphoria, because it can be so debilitating and so consuming and it makes you feel really awful. Then like you said, then you isolate yourself, which just makes it worse.

Al Chaplin (25:01):


Lindsay Guentzel (25:03):

I’m curious, when you look at life right now and where you are keeping in mind, graduating college, going into the pandemic, being diagnosed with ADHD, it is all a lot and you probably feel like the last few years you’ve been reacting to life a little bit more than making things happen for yourself. But I’m curious, what is giving you hope and what is pushing you forward right now?

Al Chaplin (25:29):

For me, I would definitely say it’s the people I’m close to in my life. Friends and family’s very, very important to me, because when I look at a career status or anything like that, I don’t see myself moving forward, even though I know in reality I am moving forward and I do good work, but I don’t see myself that way. So, I really have to rely on my friendships to hold me up and sometimes bless them, because all of my friends have to remind me that I’m not just stuck in life. If I didn’t have that, I don’t know where I would be.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:10):

You mentioned not feeling like you’re moving forward in your career, but knowing you are, do you think sometimes you have a hard time acknowledging or identifying and laying claim to your successes? Because I think this is something that I hear from a lot of people with inattentive ADHD. We don’t want to be too boastful. We don’t want to come across as egotistical. So, then we just hide everything and then it goes the opposite direction where we feel like we’re failures.

Al Chaplin (26:42):

Yeah, definitely. So, right now, I’m in this transition in my career job still trying to figure out what I want to do and I’m slowly telling the people I work with and they’re just all like, “Oh, well, we don’t want to lose you. That sucks, but do what’s best for you.” It’s been really eye-opening to see that I am good at what I do as long as I apply myself. So, I always joke about I’ve peaked in college because I’d feel like I’ve gone downhill since then because I was doing so much theater stuff. I was going to London and then get out of college.


I am scraping pennies trying to make by just to figure out what I enjoy doing. Now I’m realizing that that doesn’t really matter as long as I feel successful and I’m helping people. So, that’s where I’m leaning is just how can I help people and still feel good about myself where there’s no room for me to put myself down about my successes or my failures.

Lindsay Guentzel (27:49):

I’m curious if you’ve thought at all about your brain and how it functions and all of the things that are wonderful about it and how that connects with theater life. The comparison I make is I worked in restaurants for a really, really long time. I loved going and working so hard for six hours, and you would just put it all into a shift and then you would go home and you would be exhausted. Then you’d wake up the next day and you’d have this big, long break until your shift started, but it’s similar in theater life. You go through the rehearsals and then you open the production and then you’ve got the run, but you always know in the back of your head that that commitment is coming to an end at some point.

Al Chaplin (28:33):

I think that’s why theater always has worked so well for me and I’m looking to get back into it, because I get bored very easily. Now I know that’s probably an ADHD thing. I’ve never stuck to doing one thing for more than a year one job. I’m a certified job hopper. I’m a professional at it at this point, and it’s because I need something to cycle around to feel like I’ve succeeded or failed at it, where I can look back at it and go, “Oh, this is why I did good. This is what I can do better at.” Also, with theater, I was a stage manager. That’s what I do. So, again, it took out where I have to manage myself. I get to manage other people instead and get to make something beautiful out of that, and I don’t have to rely on myself to do that.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:23):

I’m wondering if you wouldn’t mind, just sharing a little bit about any connections you might’ve seen between your gender identity and then how your ADHD shows up in your life.

Al Chaplin (29:34):

So I have gone through a huge tidal wave in figuring out my gender identity. Right now, I identify as trans masc, so I still use they/them pronouns, but I feel like how that applies with the ADHD is I don’t think I would be gender-fluid, trans masc if I didn’t have ADHD, because I think it goes with my job example of how I fluctuate and I feel like I need to always be changing. I think my gender identity feels the same way where I don’t like to be in a box. I like to feel like I can be outside of that box. For me, gender identity gives me that and it also took me a long time to learn my gender identity and start exploring that. So, I do lump that in with my exploration of mental health and ADHD because everything is so different and just fluctuates.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:32):

What were some of the things that you did when you were starting that exploration process?

Al Chaplin (30:37):

I was a gender studies minor in college, so going to college, I knew what trans was, the gay community, but again, I live in the south. It wasn’t a major part of my education. So, I didn’t know gender fluidity or really identifying as anything but fully I want to transition, all the surgeries. I didn’t know that was an option, so learning that was an option. The first thing I did was experiment with my pronouns and cutting my hair and how I dress and then eventually my name. That has become such an important part of me because it lines up with my discovery of myself as an adult and how I view the world. I feel like if I viewed the world through the lens of one gender, I wouldn’t be able to understand the experiences of how I view the world as much. So, yeah.

Lindsay Guentzel (31:33):

What is something that you wish people knew or understood better about ADHD that you’ve had some moments to reflect on since your diagnosis?

Al Chaplin (31:43):

I just wish people understood that going back to what we talked about in the beginning, we are adulting in our own ways. We are adults. We can still do adult things even if we have to do them differently and not to be so hard on people for that because I’ll air out my dirty laundry. I cannot clean. I am terrible at remembering to clean. I live with my grandfather, so I oftentimes have to be reminded to do something, but I’m up and I’ll do it in a heartbeat. I don’t mind doing it.


It’s just sometimes I have to be reminded of these things, and that’s a big one that I’m just like, “Have grace with people when they forget to do things or they forget a conversation that you had and just remind them,” instead of being like, “Oh, I can’t believe you forgot,” or if you accidentally double book. Just be patient with people is the biggest thing. Whether it’s ADHD or not, just learn patience with people is I guess my message.

Lindsay Guentzel (32:47):

What is the one cleaning task that is just the thorn in your side? Because we all have them.

Al Chaplin (32:54):

Oh, goodness. Laundry, folding my laundry. It will sit in the dryer for days unless my grandpa will be like, “Hey, I need to do laundry. Do you have anything in there?” I’m like, “Oh, crap. I have laundry in the dryer that I need to fold.” Still it’ll stay in the guest room, laundry room for weeks until I remember to put it up or until I’m out of clothes again and have to do laundry.

Lindsay Guentzel (33:23):

Laundry is, I think, a difficult one, because there’s just so many steps to it and there’s so much time in between the steps. You have to run the washing machine and then you have to remember to go back to the washing machine and move everything to the dryer. My weird quirk, and it’s a very weird quirk, is I love to iron and I think it’s something about feeling very accomplished after ironing stuff, but then it’s like a double-edged sword because the second it gets wrinkled again, then I lose my mind.

Al Chaplin (33:52):

Oh, yes. See, I don’t iron anything. I know I probably should, but yeah, stuff is not getting ironed. It’s barely getting folded.

Lindsay Guentzel (34:00):

Well, also, I should preface this by saying I like to iron. It doesn’t mean that I actually do it.

Al Chaplin (34:07):

That’s a mood.

Lindsay Guentzel (34:09):

I just want to wrap up and give you the opportunity. We touched on a lot of different things, but if there was something that you wanted to share about your journey and what you’ve learned about yourself with your ADHD that maybe you just didn’t get an opportunity in the questions that I asked, throw it out there.

Al Chaplin (34:26):

I guess I’ll just say, like I say with everybody, learn patience for people with ADHD. If you just learn you have ADHD or you’ve learned a long time ago and you’re still struggling with it, have patience with yourself. You are not abnormal. You just think a different way and you have to do things a different way. You’re always going to be able to figure out that way. Even if it takes 20, 30 years to do it, you’ll figure it out and those five minutes after you figure it out will be the best five minutes of your life.

Lindsay Guentzel (34:59):

Al, it was such a pleasure. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and we’re so grateful, seriously so grateful to have you as a part of our production team. I just wish the best for you with everything that’s still to come because there is so much more ahead, but just thank you so much for making time for us and for sharing your story with the Refocused community.

Al Chaplin (35:22):

Of course. Thank you for having me. It’s been a blessing.

Lindsay Guentzel (35:31):

It was so great to get to spend this time talking with Al. I mean, obviously, our ADHD comes up in conversation when we’re working together, but I really appreciated having this one-on-one time with them and it means a lot to me that they shared their story with us. What I find so special about Refocused Together is the willingness of our guests to explore their vulnerability all in an effort to help our community. My conversation with Al was no different. They were so honest about not only their journey with ADHD, but also shared parts of their life that are probably hard to put on display like their father’s struggle with mental health issues.


It’s something I’ve shared my own experience with on the podcast, and I just want to take a moment to commend Al for opening up about something that typically carries a heavy load of stigma with it. My conversation with Al also made me think about trauma and the role it can play in the life of a neurodiverse person. It’s common for a ADHDers to underestimate the profound impact trauma can have in our lives. This often leads to an unwillingness in discussing an issue. People may choose not to speak up due to feeling uneasy or embarrassed or because they’re worried about their own safety. We know that traumatic stress can worsen ADHD symptoms like the death of a loved one, community violence, and bullying, all of which can impact symptoms.


According to research, as many as 17% of children who have experienced trauma meet the criteria for ADHD and the presence of both conditions makes each condition worse. Trauma also has an impact on specific brain regions, which can increase inattention, impulsivity, hyperactivity, social and learning difficulties, and other symptoms of common comorbidities such as anxiety and mood disorders. There is so much more that we can unpack from Al’s journey with ADHD, but I want to just wrap up by saying that my favorite without a doubt, absolute favorite moment was when they shared their struggles with rejection sensitive dysphoria and how through self-discovery and checking their emotions, they were able to see themselves for what they actually are, a net positive in the lives of their friends and family.


The stories we tell ourselves can be downright awful and it can feel impossible to break away from them. I’m so proud of Al for putting in the work to face those challenges. I hope that rejection sensitive dysphoria is something you struggle with, that Al’s story is one that gives you hope about what’s possible on the other side. Once again, a huge thank you to Al Chaplin for not only sharing their story with us on Refocused Together, but for sharing so many of their talents with us as well. You are without a doubt a net positive for our team, Al. Over in the show notes, we’ve included links to connect with Al on TikTok and Instagram, as well as some links to more resources on the connection between ADHD and trauma, as well as a more in-depth look at rejection sensitive dysphoria with Dr. William Dodson.


We have so much in store for you, still to come for ADHD Awareness Month. To catch all of the 31 stories we are sharing this month, make sure to subscribe to Refocused wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you so much for listening, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow as Refocused Together 2023 continues on. Support for Refocused comes from our partner, ADHD Online, a telemedicine mental healthcare company that provides affordable and accessible ADHD assessments and treatment plans. To learn how they can help you on your journey, head to adhdonline.com and remember to use the promo code, REFOCUSED20, to receive $20 off your ADHD Online assessment right now.


The biggest thanks go out to our team at ADHD Online, Keith Boswell, Suzanne Pruitt, Melanie Mile, Claudia Gotti, and Tricia Merchant Dunny for their constant support in helping make Refocused Together happen. These 31 episodes were produced thanks to our managing editor, Sarah Platanitis, our production coordinator, Phil Roderman, social media specialist and editor, Al Chaplin, and me, the host and executive producer of Refocused, Lindsay Guentzel. To connect with the show on social media, you can find us online, @RefocusedPod, and you can email the show directly, [email protected]. That’s [email protected].

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