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Episode 79. Lindsay Hits Reset For Mental Health Awareness Month

What does it mean to be at capacity? After the last five months, Refocused host Lindsay Guentzel is there — but if she’s honest, she’s probably been living at capacity for years. And that’s an incredibly difficult place for a person with ADHD to be. 

Today’s episode is full of honesty, some very exciting news and some oversharing, for sure. It’s not how the Refocused team wanted to highlight Mental Health Awareness Month but we’ve learned an important lesson on working with what you got. 

One topic Lindsay dives into that has some recommended homework with it is the idea of languishing, a topic psychologist and author Adam Grant explored in his April 2021 piece for the New York Times

To support the work we’re doing, we’ve made it a little easier for you to follow “Refocused” on your favorite podcast-listening app and while you’re there, please leave a review – it really helps to spread all the goodness.

Hear more about Lindsay’s ADHD story!

My name is Lindsay Guentzel and I have ADHD

Lindsay Guentzel and Refocused, Together

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Lindsay Guentzel (00:01):

Kicking this off with a quick reminder just in case it’s been on your to-do list, but you need that extra push. It would mean so much to the entire Refocused team if you would take some time and leave us some love online, whether that means giving us the good old rate, review, subscribe, or by sharing us with your social networks, maybe a favorite episode or a story you really connected with from our first Refocused, Together last year. And we’ve even made it easier for you to show us some love. You can head to the show notes to find a direct link to share a review on your favorite streaming platform right now.

(00:42):

I had big plans for Mental Health Awareness Month, which started May 1st in case you weren’t aware. I had big plans for podcast episodes and social media series and all of these great things I wanted to do. And it’s actually very fitting that none of them happened, because it’s finally what pushed me to start accepting that like so many people out there, maybe even you, I am at capacity. And maybe that’s straight up the message I push out this month. It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and I am at freaking capacity. But now it’s May 8th and can you start a month long message a whole week late?

(01:20):

I should probably preface this episode by telling you I am coming in hot with some energy, not all great energy, but energy. And if you were to ask what you can expect from this episode, well, I would tell you that you can expect a lot of honesty, some very exciting news, some moments of oversharing not to be confused with the honesty, which I’ve been led to believe is good. I’m still working on finding that invisible boundary between what’s okay and knowing when I’ve gone too far. And finally, some talk about the connection between ADHD and our mental health and how it all comes together in this one month that now I am one week late at acknowledging. How is that for a motivational show open?

(02:27):

My name is Lindsay Guentzel and every week on Refocused we dive into the incredibly complex world of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, exploring the topics most important to our community by interviewing medical providers, mental health professionals, and ADHD experts on everything from ADHD and relationships, rejection, sensitive dysphoria, object permanence, executive function. I mean the list of topics, as you can imagine, is long and is always growing. We also just talk two other Neurodiverse folks who share what it is like living in a world not built for them. And of course all of that brings up lots of tips and tricks and workarounds that we can mix and match to fit our own lives and our needs.

(03:13):

Whether you’ve been navigating ADHD your entire life or you’re just starting your journey, there is something for everyone on Refocused and I promise that while we take this very, very seriously, I mean it, we take this very seriously, we also have a lot of fun, because life is way better with a little laughter in it. So sit back, relax or do whatever you need to do to get into your listening mode and get ready, because episode 79 of Refocused, A Podcast All About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is coming up right now.

(03:57):

Hello and welcome back to Refocused. If this is your first time here, I guess in the grand scheme of things, it’s my job as host to show you around. And there are a lot more of you showing up week after week, which makes me so excited, because, and well, here’s where I own my epic fail, it’s been brought to my attention that it’s been hard to find the podcast. One, my last name isn’t easy to spell or easy to say if I’m being honest. So if someone told you my name and you tried to search for it, I get it, that’s really just something I’ve always been working against. Guentzel rhymes with pencil, but not a great stage name when it comes with all those extra letters. But the bigger fail I’m really talking about here is that Refocused wasn’t coming up when people were searching for podcasts about ADHD. Didn’t matter that ADHD is literally in every single show note and in a lot of the titles. But because it isn’t in the show title when people searched ADHD, it wouldn’t come up.

(04:59):

So we decided to fix that and that’s when my stubborn side came out, because I like the name of our podcast, that’s why I picked it. I like the name Refocused and I hate that so much in life is controlled by random algorithms that can change on a whim without any notice. So I resisted the urge for a long time to change it. And then it was finally like, “Ma’am, for as much energy as you put into each episode and for as much stress as you cause yourself every week producing these episodes, don’t you want as many people as possible to be able to find it as easily as possible?” We all have a breaking point when it comes to giving in, so that’s the first thing on the agenda for today’s show. I wanted to tell you we have a new name.

(05:42):

We started as Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, but I hated saying my name so dang much in an episode, so it very quickly was shortened to just Refocused. And the tagline I’ve been using to describe the show has been, it’s, A Podcast All About ADHD. Take a little from here, pull a little from there, and now we’ve got Refocused, A Podcast All About Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, truly only to appease the search engine optimization gods. We’re going to keep calling it Refocused. It also made sense to drop my name, because somewhere down the line we might be bringing in new hosts, and I really don’t mean this in a cryptic, I’m dying or leaving the show in any way, but taking my name off of it really does clear the way for more collaborations.

(06:25):

And now here’s the less optimistic side of me coming out. With everything I’ve been dealing with health-wise, backup plans are a good thing and backup hosts can be a great thing. It’s crazy to think we’re just one week away from celebrating our one-year anniversary. May 16th, I hit publish on the very first episode. And if I’m feeling brave this week, I might go back and relisten. I think I’m a little afraid, because I know without a doubt the show is so much better now in every way possible. But I also know the perfectionist in me is going to want to go back and fix those early episodes and ain’t nobody got time for that kind of nonsense these days. Also, a great spot to mention that in episode two all the way back on May 23rd, 2022, I do introduce myself and share my ADHD story. So if you are new here and you’re like, “Who is this person?” That’s a great place to start. And to make it easier, I have that episode linked up for you in the show notes.

(07:21):

I had to go back through the episodes to find the actual release date for that. And I was reading through the list of episodes and honestly, while I hate to admit this, you forget stuff. You forget about topics and guests, and I know I’ve told the same story at least five different episodes, which I am terribly sorry about. But to forget some of the work we’ve done over the last year, I mean, this is my job. It’s what I work on every day and I have forgotten about so much. So running back through, I was like, “Oh my gosh, we need to promote this episode, so anyone who missed it gets a chance to listen.” Or, “We need to have this person back on the show for a follow-up.” Which then makes me start to panic, because I have no idea when we’ll be able to make that happen. And not to toot my own horn, but to toot my own horn, I forgot how much of that work I did on my own.

(08:07):

Now I have some help, my coordinating producer, Phil Roderman and my managing editor Sarah Platanitis who support the podcast and me every week. Al Chaplin who helps with social media. We have a few other freelancers like Sarah Gelbard and Jake Beaver who came on to help with ADHD Awareness Month last October. And Lauren Terry, she’s jumped in onboard whenever I need an extra set of hands or ears for proofing episodes. But for the first nine to 10 months, I was on my own, and that doesn’t include the prep work I was doing leading up to that first episode on May 16th. It’s wild because as 2022 came to an end, I was ramping up our team because the podcast was doing so well. We were working on creating more episodes each week, thinking about having Monday’s episode be a more formal interview that hits on a topic important to our community. And then having a follow-up episode on Thursdays, doing it live and people could call in like a real radio show.

(09:02):

And we were doing some test runs and making some plans and then I went and got sick. To spare everyone who’s already been listening and has heard about this all already, the long and short of it is I was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune muscle disease. It’s a form of myositis caused by the anti-Jo-1 antibody. And I should note May is also Myositis Awareness Month, and I also had some illusions of grandeur on my capacity for that as well, surprising no one, I’m sure. My doctors think I’ve been sick since November-ish, but it wasn’t until January 11th that it really started to interrupt my life. And the last five months, which is wild to think about that this has been going on for five months, have been brutal. People keep telling me I have a really positive attitude, and honestly there’s not much else I can do because it’s all been an outright crapshoot.

(09:50):

And remember how I said at the end of 2022, the podcast was doing really well and we were working on taking it to the next level? One of the biggest things driving that positive attitude, some days really the only thing that gets me out of bed is that I really love my life. I love my life, not loved, I was saying loved my life for a while, like all the good stuff vanished the second I got sick. It didn’t, it’s all still here and I love it so much. And I worked so hard to get here, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let some little muscle disease take all of that away from me. The truth is though, it’s not just some little muscle disease, it’s actually very serious and very rare, and I joke that I always want it to be special, but this is a little much, the universe can let up a little bit.

(10:35):

And one of the unfortunate side effects is that right now when it comes to this podcast, I feel like I’m barely scraping by. I feel like I’m delivering the bare minimum. It feels like I’m throwing things together at the last minute and it’s good, but it’s not what I want it to be. And even worse, it’s not what it could be. And the incredibly frustrating part is we were almost out of this. We had almost worked our way out of this chaos. Because one thing I didn’t realize when I left my job to work on this podcast full time, is how reliant I was on body doubling to get through the day, to get through a project. Could I be organized and work on deadline and deliver things when they were needed? Sure, when everything was controlled by people other than me. But starting all of that from scratch by yourself is incredibly hard.

(11:20):

Throw in the fact that I have extreme issues with executive function, and I’ll say it, the podcast production before I brought on help was chaotic, and that’s being kind. We had put in so much work to make it so that this stress and anxiety and the frustration wasn’t something I was feeling every week. And then I had to go and get pricked by a cactus on a hike in Sedona, and then slowly but surely, week by week, all of that work slowly started to unravel, because life is hard even when you’re healthy and even when we let balls drop. And you see it happening, which is the absolute worst, you see it all slowly slipping away and regardless of the explanation for why you can’t stop it, you can’t stop it. And even if it’s the best excuse in the world, like a mystery illness that took doctors two months to diagnose, you feel like the biggest failure in the world. Everyone was right about you, you are disorganized, you lack follow through, and if you just did it, this wouldn’t be a problem.

(12:19):

This isn’t even the episode that’s supposed to go out today. This is an episode and I’m using air quotes here, “episode,” this is an episode that on Friday, three days ago Friday, I decided I wanted to create. And then on Saturday morning my rational side came out and was like, “Why do you do this to yourself?” And then it was Sunday afternoon and I had all of these thoughts and feelings and things I wanted to share, and I haven’t really had a chance to just breathe on the podcast in a while. We’ve been busy. But the biggest reason is holding the episode that was supposed to air today until next week gives us a bit more of a buffer, which will be beneficial, because I go back into treatment this week. We start our Plan B treatment Wednesday, all of this coming after my first treatment plan, that would be Plan A, didn’t work the way doctors had hoped.

(13:08):

The biggest setback there was, the reason it didn’t work is my disease was way more progressed than they had anticipated. Cool, huh? More great news. And as I mentioned earlier, I’m at capacity. I was very much probably at capacity long before I got sick, and as I’ve told people, one of the good things to come from this mystery illness is I’m leaning on it and using it to say no. And while I know I can and should be confident saying no with or without a mystery illness as my explanation, it’s still good practice to get it in there. No one said learning boundaries was pretty or logical, right? But back to my manic decision to hold this week’s episode and create something entirely new the night before, like it’s the sixth grade science fair all over again.

(13:53):

When I looked at the episode we were going to air today and I thought about how much I enjoyed it, the research, the script writing, the interview with the guest, it’s truly such a wonderfully inspiring conversation, I needed to do it justice. Which means having a professional sound engineer roll through it, making sure all of the promos are in place and makes sense, having someone else besides me listen to it before I release it out into the world. All things that have been a little too relaxed these last few months, because life has been hard. And even though I love this podcast with all of my heart, it is still getting pushed to the back burner at times, because most days I struggle to dress myself. That’s the bar we’ve been reaching for. Bottom line, I need all of that to end. I need us to get back to the place we were at before I got sick when it was all falling into place.

(14:40):

And falling into place isn’t even the right way to describe it. It wasn’t falling into anything. We were putting in the work. My team was putting in the work and as their leader, as the person who at the end of the day is responsible for the podcast, the good, the bad, and the ugly, it’s been terrible to be the reason why all of that work feels like it’s going to waste right now. So I’m hopeful buffers like this will help, that this buffer will give me some hours back this week to go back and start crossing things off our to-do list, to make sure nothing was missed or fell through the cracks. But to also spend some time looking forward on what’s coming up for the podcast in the next couple of months. In December, we had the entire first six months of the show mapped out, and if we match that schedule at 50%, I would be shocked.

(15:25):

We had to make so many changes because of my health. And with summer almost here, the last thing I want is chaos. Selfish health concerned stuff aside, I live in Minnesota, summer is the only thing keeping me sane in winter. And after the last one, it needs to be an epically good one to make up for it. Not too long ago, one of my best friends sent me a text message. She said something along the lines of, “You know, one thing I’ve been thinking about that really upsets me with all the stuff you’re going through, is I know how important getting your ADHD diagnosis was for you. And you’ve put in so much work over the last two years and now you have to deal with this new thing.” Which first off is such a lovely thing for a person to recognize.

(16:10):

Here’s the thing, am I exhausted from the last two years? Oh my gosh, yes. Am I also insanely proud of the work I’ve done, referring to my ADHD? Absolutely. And it means so much to me that people are noticing the work I’m putting in, especially someone I love and care about, who loves and cares about me. To have them noticing that I’m making actual changes in my life, you guys, it is like the best high ever. The line I repeat to my therapist over and over again is, “I don’t want to be a broken record.” Are there things I still struggle with doing consistently? That would be a hard yes. But I’ve also put in so much work into identifying and acknowledging the difference between an explanation and an excuse, and one is a lot easier to build off of than the other.

(16:56):

The hysterically uncomfortable part of me just opening up about all the flaws of the podcast is that last week we received some news, which is another reason why I wanted to go rogue today, because despite all of these feelings of inadequacy, we have some really amazing news to celebrate. Last week, we found out that Refocused, Together, the special series we released in October for ADHD Awareness month, where we told a different person’s ADHD story each day, so yes, that would be 31 episodes in 31 days, although technically it was 32 because of course it was, well, that special project, nabbed the highest honors at the Communicator Awards, picking up awards for excellence in two categories. First for series causes and awareness, and second for series diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also received an award of distinction for educational series. The Communicator Awards have been around for nearly three decades and every year they receive close to 5,000 entries from companies, agency studios. It’s one of the largest award shows of its kind in the world. And its sole purpose is recognizing excellence, effectiveness, and innovation across all areas of communication.

(18:04):

Some of our fellow award winners include PBS, Pepsi, Vox Media, even Lionsgate Sound. And are you ready for this one? 50 Cent who hosted and produced Surviving El Chapo, The Twins Who Brought Down A Drug Lord, episode one Little Village, like what is life? See, the thing is the last five months not included, October 2022 was without a doubt the hardest month of my life. The amount of work I took on, I took on. It was my idea to tell 31 stories in 31 days, because I do not ever start out wanting to do anything that isn’t the hardest possible thing to do. It was the hardest month of my life, but it was also when Refocused hit its stride. It’s where I fell into my groove. It’s where I realized my strength comes in helping people tell their own story. It’s where I realized the potential for this podcast.

(18:54):

So to have it be recognized truly means the world to me. We haven’t even celebrated one year yet, and we’re doing really important work. And that’s always been the biggest goal, to do work that matters. And you hope you will, so it feels pretty amazing to know that the path we’ve been on has been the right one. Which is why I am so excited to share that Refocused, Together is a go for October 2023, another 31 stories over 31 days. Now hear me out, I know I just got done telling you that I’m at capacity and now I’m telling you that I’m going to do another 31 episode month. Which will time out as I’m wrapping up Plan B treatment, because of course it does. And on paper or really anywhere, this all doesn’t compute. I get it, I do, but I swear to you it’s not as bad as you think.

(19:41):

Truthfully, last year gave us the step-by-step guide to follow, and we’re starting so far ahead of where we were last year. I didn’t even pitch the project until mid-July, and here I am, it’s May 8th, I may be a week late on Mental Health Awareness Month, but I am months ahead on Refocused, Together. And I ask you to remind me of those famous last words when we’re talking again in September. I do want to acknowledge our first Refocused, Together class. There would not be any awards without their willingness to share their story. And the pretty cool bonus part is that I’ve become pretty close friends with a good number of them following the interview and even got to meet some of them in person in Dallas in November. If you haven’t listened to the Refocused, Together series yet, oh man, we’re talking about 31 very different stories from 31 very different people. But as you might have guessed, somehow so much is similar, the same, the same but different. That could be a great ADHD tagline.

(20:37):

We kicked off the month with me, mostly because putting me first meant not having to decide on who to actually put first, because despite any of those lists that say in no particular order, we all always think it is definitely in a particular order, don’t we? I know you’re nodding your head in agreement, aren’t you? Truthfully, we went in the order that the episodes were finished and we definitely had some last minute swaps, another lesson learned that I’m taking into this year’s adventure. So as I said, we started with me on October 1st and then rolled into a month of incredible personal stories starting with Twitter favorite Jesse J. Anderson, who kicked things off with the most perfect description for his ADHD, the visual of him juggling chainsaws.

Jesse J. Anderson (21:22):

When I feel myself slowing down, I like to add more projects to my plate. Sometimes I refer to it as juggling chainsaws. Juggling three chainsaws is really exciting until you’ve done it for a while, then it’s like, “Well, you got to add another chainsaw or it’s going to get boring.” And so I feel like I’m constantly adding new chainsaws to juggle and new projects, new things to do.

Lindsay Guentzel (21:43):

JeVona Maniex who shared how she communicated her needs to her employer for accommodations that are actually helping her in her job. Food scientist Bryan Le, who was learning the ropes of consultant life and all of the freedom that came with it. And then there was Laura Hoyos, the creator of Latina with ADHD, who is building a community for other Latinx women on the internet. Jenn Schaal, a friend of mine, one of the funniest, hardest working people I know whose pandemic diagnosis opened up the door for an incredible amount of personal and professional growth.

Jenn Schaal (22:17):

I just felt like this cloud had lifted for me. And I’m like, “Okay, yeah, brush my teeth, walk the dog, feed the dog, go take a walk. Let’s get these emails answered. We’re going to also clean the house and go with it.” And I just am so grateful for that, because it removed all of this negative self-talk that I was giving to myself. And could really make way for, “Well, how do I want to work with this? How do I want to handle this?” And the superpowers that come with it too.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:50):

The incredible Dylan Alter, one of the creators behind NeuroQueer.org, who shared the connection they see and feel between the queer experience and ADHD. Amy Marschall, a licensed psychologist who learned about her own ADHD while diagnosing others. Then there’s ADHD coach and improv lover, Alex Hey, another one of the guests I got to meet in Dallas who opened up about how his faith led him through his diagnosis. Then we got to meet Jay Miller, the Microsoft coder who made his own later in life ADHD diagnosis, his pathway to advocacy in the tech world.

Jay Miller (23:27):

One of the things I love is even on things like TikTok, there are creators who are advocating for mental health and Black men, which is just traditionally a thing that we’re so obsessed with all these other things that we don’t stop and ask someone, “Hey, how are you doing? Really, how are you doing? How’s your mental health? How’s that going for you?”

Lindsay Guentzel (23:50):

Emily Chen, who was just starting graduate school and was looking forward to using all of the new workarounds and accommodations she had added into her life to benefit her as a student. Athletic trainer, John Smith, one of those that I’m lucky enough to call a great friend, whose ADHD diagnosis in his fifties gave him the voice he hadn’t realized he was missing. Our youngest Refocused, Together guest, Evan Bierscheid, just 14 years old. Evan has so much figured out about his ADHD and wasn’t afraid to talk about it.

Evan Bierscheid (24:21):

I recently had the discussion of medication and then right before school started, I started Adderall. So that’s been really helpful with the school stuff, just the immediate focus, whenever a teacher is like, “Oh, take notes on this,” I’m more able to just focus on that one thing. And then beyond that, I’ve just been trying different things of putting my phone in a certain place and leaving it, or the time blocking piece of like, “Well, this isn’t done, but move on.” So you’re keeping stimulated with homework stuff.

Lindsay Guentzel (24:55):

And then there was Katie Sue, you likely know her as katie.adhd, the charismatic redhead who found herself looking into her own diagnosis, because of social media and now helps people every day through her own Instagram account and over at adhdsocial.com. Then we traveled to Japan and met traveling mama Veronica Hanson, who used the pandemic as her ticket into the life she wanted to live with her husbands and daughters. Back-to-back interviews with ADHD online co-founder and CEO, Zach Booker and his co-founder and chief innovation officer Randall Duthler broke up the middle of the month. Yeah, the two creators of ADHD Online both have ADHD. And shared how the journey they started on with their own children inspired them to make something different, something better.

(25:43):

Photographer and working mom, Kristina Bird talked about managing it all, her work, her life, and the comorbidities that she realized came with her ADHD. Teacher, Cathy Murphy, another one of our guests who was diagnosed in her fifties, shared the connection she saw between her students and herself and how that led her to start asking questions. Comic artist and home cook, Linda Yi on how the shame and embarrassment from things she now knows were tied to her undiagnosed ADHD held her back before she found herself.

Linda Yi (26:14):

I feel like I’m a little bit hesitant to be like, “ADHD is a superpower.” Because there are also a lot of things that we struggle with, right? It’s not like, “Oh, it’s great.” So for example, one thing that I used to feel very embarrassed about, was there would be a very simple recipe that I knew how to make. Sometimes I would just forget steps, and so I would always have these little cheat sheets I would write for myself and I’m like, “I can’t believe I need this. My mom doesn’t need it.” But then I realized that sometimes I need to teach myself how to do something as if I’m the beginner. But because of that, that actually makes me a very effective instructor for people who are complete beginners.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:54):

Activist, Marc Almodovar, who had just made the moves to make his online support group Men’s ADHD Support Group An official nonprofit. Stability X, someone who lived a life of structure in the military but craved the creative freedom she found as an artist. Geoffrey Evans, a parent who found his own diagnosis while helping his child find theirs. And who was seeing the changes, good changes in his family unfolding in real time. Author, Jaclyn Paul who found her own ADHD diagnosis after learning how to advocate for herself, and took those lessons and has been helping so many people with ADHD for so many years through her site, adhdhomestead.net. Then there’s content creator, Dani Donovan, dare I say, the OG of ADHD internet, who was putting the finishing touches on her first book, The Anti-Planner. Texas mom, Meredith Phillips, another guest turned friend who I also got to meet in Dallas, who truly defines what it means to be a fierce advocate for your children. All around bright light, Sarah Dimeo, who walked us through her own burnout start over process and how it’s changed the way she works.

Sarah Dimeo (28:03):

I wish people could feel what it feels like to be so wonderful in so many ways and the pain of that self-judgment for not fitting in, and then people like trying to push that. I wish people could feel that pain and really know how awful it is. For people with ADHD, what I would love them to know is that you are perfect, and the way that your brain works is exactly what the world needs. And how can you love yourself more and better? I don’t think that the rest of the world necessarily can understand that.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:41):

Then we had Cameron Sterling and Candace Lefke, two people I met back in June on set for my first video shoot with ADHD Online, two people who also have ADHD and at the time were the hair and makeup team randomly assigned to our shoot. Now, not only are they dear friends, they are the only people I work with when I come into town, and I loved getting to share their stories. I got to add another Minnesota friend to the Refocused, Together list, fashion blogger, Carla Anderson, who was recently diagnosed and walked us through the very specific plan she had developed to manage her ADHD symptoms, while still finding the time and energy to chase her dreams.

Carla Anderson (29:18):

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with me. It’s just unfortunately in my life, my journey, I had to figure it out that I have ADHD at this age. In hindsight, I think I can probably say that I’ve gotten to know Carla way better. And it’s something that unfortunately sometimes life is too busy. Not everybody has a chance to really get to know oneself. What do you like? What do you not like? What do you need in order to function better, to be a better person? And I had to take a deep, deep dive with coaching of who Carla is and Carla, Carla needs and what I needed to be successful to feel successful.

Lindsay Guentzel (30:01):

Then we met Mary Llewellyn, someone whose grief led her to her own later in life ADHD diagnosis, one she wishes she could share with her late husband who passed away suddenly during the pandemic. And finally, we wrapped the month with Louis Inglis, the singer-songwriter from Perth, Australia, whose work you’ve been listening to on our podcast since day one. That was, well, 32 interviews in 31 days. That was a Refocused, Together 2022. And honestly, all of that really just got me so jazzed for the next one. It also helped put to bed some of the imposter syndrome nonsense I’ve been feeling since we found out about the awards. I’ve been making up a lot of excuses for why we won. Of course, none of them being that the work we created was really good. Aren’t our brains the best?

(30:49):

I do want to take a quick moment here to thank the people who made our first Refocused, Together happen. And at the top of that list is Sarah Platanitis. This was long before Sarah came on as managing editor and was actually one of the first projects I handed off to her. And if you could see the spreadsheet she created for this beast, sexiest thing I’ve ever seen, no Lie. Without Sarah though, this entire project wouldn’t have happened because it wouldn’t have even started. That’s how much legwork she did for me during the planning phase. Refocused, Together is also how Phil Roderman started working with the podcast, which came after this tweet that I sent out on October 11th at 10:57 PM. “At the “wish-I-had-known-this-when-I-started” point of the podcast project. Could totally use an extra hand handling basic edits on two-person interviews. If you are looking for extra work, like removing ums & awkward pauses and have immediate flexibility, hit me up.”

(31:48):

Phil was all in on removing ums and awkward pauses, and despite the chaos graciously stuck around, it’s also how I met Jake Beaver who jumped in to help edit when I was scrambling through the month. Remember how I said we moved guests around on the fly? Well, a lot of that was because I was trying to edit all of those episodes by myself. I can’t even comprehend that right now. I also leaned heavily on Sarah Gelbard for Refocused, Together and was so happy we got to work together again on the interviews with relationship expert Melissa Orlov that we aired in February. And of course, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of ADHD Online. When I say I have never worked with a group of people who lift me up the way they do, I have truly never experienced this kind of support. And I cannot wait to get started on putting together our next class of Refocused, Together guests.

(32:45):

That was a lot of talking, wasn’t it? I want to wrap up by spending just a minute or two talking about our mental health. I mean, it is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the unfortunate reality is there are very serious comorbidities that love to hang out with Neurodiverse folks, like depression. According to Attitude Magazine, 70% of adults with ADHD will be treated for depression at some time in their life. Alcoholism and substance abuse, another set of comorbidities tied to ADHD. There are some estimates that the co-occurrence is as high as 50% for people with ADHD. And the rates are just as high for people with ADHD having an anxiety disorder. So how do we view the connection between our ADHD and our mental health? It’s a question I posed to a handful of Neurodivergent friends and I’m going to share their responses anonymously, of course.

(33:38):

Here we go. “Before my diagnosis, I just thought I was worthless. But even with knowing, I still spiral when I get mad at myself for forgetting to do something or being constantly exhausted with no motivation. I certainly like to think that if my ADHD had been caught earlier, it would’ve made my tendencies towards anxiety lesser of a burden. Though honestly, the last year since finding out about my ADHD has really been freeing in many ways. ADHD is the driving force of my mental health. It dictates everything. If I don’t proactively work on mindfulness or meditation, I am actively overstimulated, which triggers my anxiety and depression. When I am able to tame my ADHD through good habits, I can function as a highly productive individual. When I let ADHD run the show with manic states, it’s a tornado of touching a few things and never completing any.”

(34:32):

“It’s intimately entwined since my diagnosis, the lens through which I see my mental health is different. I’ve had to learn so much where before my diagnosis I had learned to be healthy through my whole life. For me, it’s hard to separate my mental health from my ADHD and my autoimmune disease, because right now there’s just so much on my plate and it’s all intertwined and the emotional dysregulation is real. I do know things that brought up major concerns in my life before my diagnosis, anxiety, depression, disordered eating, all of them are much more controlled now that I’m treating this big overpowering monster. I know I’ve shared this before, but I call my ADHD the mothership, like in the movie Independence Day. All those little spaceships come down to earth and they are making a big old mess and nothing can get past their shields until Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith get up into that mothership, the one that’s been controlling all the little spaceships and they take it out. That’s how I view my A D H D.”

(35:35):

“The second I started addressing the real problem, I saw change, a good change. Now, keep in mind I had to know or even think that the ADHD was there, it took me almost 35 years, but I found it. And the grief I had about all of that time loss, well, that’s slowly being worked through. Every good day, every to-do checked off my list, every step forward reminds me that I still have so much life to live and I could spend it sitting in that mucky pond of sadness. Or I can take what I know and make the best of what I’ve been given, a pretty incredible brain that just needs some safeguards in place to operate at its full potential.”

(36:15):

I wrote this on May 6th, 2021, and shared it on my website two years ago, almost exactly. It feels very weird considering at this time last year we were getting ready to launch the podcast. At this point, I had only been diagnosed with ADHD for a few months. I had just started seeing a new therapist. I was working at a place I liked that paid my bills, but wasn’t helping me up my very steep career goals ladder. And the pandemic was still raging on, and like many people during that time, I felt lost. I went back to this the other day, because I felt these feelings start to creep up again. This feeling like I’m treading water through my illness and I’m losing time. And I knew that if I was reconnecting with them again, it’s likely you might connect with them, whether because you’re in the midst of the ickiness right now or because you need a reminder of how far you’ve come.

(37:06):

On April 19th, the New York Times shared an article from psychologist and author Adam Grant on the idea of languishing, not quite depressed, but definitely not thriving either, and how this weird middle area has affected some of us throughout the pandemic. I’ve included a link to Adam’s piece in our show notes. I highly recommend you read it. “March 18th, 2020 was my first day of unemployment. The restaurant I was working at was shut down because of COVID. It was also my 34th birthday. Quite the welcome to the new world. The last year-ish has been meh. Well, we all knew the shutdown was likely. Having my calendar, my responsibilities suddenly wiped away, was not something I was prepared for. So in those early weeks, I filled my time with things that felt productive. I started sewing and I finished up some ongoing projects around the house I had been putting off.”

(37:56):

“I ran a lot, miles and miles every day. I had dinner ready when my boyfriend came home from work, and because I had been isolated from any human connection during the day, I soaked up our nights together in front of the fireplace. Most nights I went to bed happy. I was doing stuff, I was busy, but I wasn’t fulfilled or motivated or thriving or content, I was just doing. It’s been a really difficult time to be a dreamer, to be someone who wants to forge their own path, for someone who dreams big and outside the box. It’s not that I think it’s been harder for me, for us, for those that aren’t following what society has defined as the more traditional path, it’s just been different, a different form of feeling stuck. Feeling like there is a disconnect between the life I want and was working towards and what’s actually possible now.”

(38:46):

“Before the pandemic hit, there were things I was still deciding, things in my life that hadn’t been solidified. Then the world came to a screeching halt and all of those decisions, those opportunities were put on hold. It’s not that the last year has been a complete loss. I kept writing and working. I mastered the art of producing television segments from my kitchen. I started working with some new brands and have a growing list of projects on the horizon. On paper the last year was successful, on social media it might look satisfying. But it doesn’t matter what I’ve accomplished or what others think when they look at me. At the end of the day, it doesn’t feel like enough. It doesn’t feel like I took advantage of the free time I was given over the last year. It doesn’t feel like I did enough, which is ridiculous, I know that.”

(39:34):

“My life and whatever routine and structure that was there was completely wiped out. How the hell are you supposed to prepare for that? Was I supposed to have a global pandemic life contingency plan mapped out that no one told me about? Did I miss that memo? I did what I could. I had more good days than bad days, and my family stayed healthy. That should be all that matters. But I’m still stuck feeling like I missed something, like I missed some grand opportunity with all the free time. There’s this really complicated middle area a lot of us are living in right now, and I don’t know how long I’ll be here or how long I’ll feel like this, or if those feelings of loss and frustration will ever go away. In 10 years when I look back at this time, will I still be holding onto those feelings? Or will I be able to celebrate the good things that happened, even if they are hard to acknowledge right now?”

(40:26):

“As I scrolled through my phone this morning looking for a photo to accompany these words, I found a screenshot I saved from July 10th, 2020. It says, “Your life is not on pause or delayed. Your life is still happening.” So then the question is, are you fully awake to it, paying attention, even if it is completely different from your idea of how it should be like in an ideal scenario? There are no ideal scenarios. There is only the present now that is unfolding right before you with every inhale, every exhale, every inhale, every exhale, Yumi Sakugawa. To all my fellow dreamers and to those still navigating all of the unknowns that come with the letters ADHD, I see you and I am here for you.”

(41:19):

If you are in crisis or need guidance on resources, please contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness at 1-800-950-NAMI. That’s N-A-M-I or text N-A-M-I to 741741. And of course my inbox is always open, [email protected]. You can also reach out on social @refocusedpod and @lindsayguentzel. I just want to take a quick minute to thank every single one of you who has welcomed this podcast and me into your lives this last year. I had a moment of overwhelm not too long ago where I owned up to my therapist about a fear that’s been building since I received my diagnosis in March. All of a sudden I was hit with the realization that life is precious and it’s not guaranteed, and I started to get sad. What if my time here is shortened, because of all of this? What then? What about all of the things that I want?

(42:24):

And that’s where she so kindly reminded me that regardless of what’s ahead, my work, my legacy, I guess lives on in this podcast for sure, but also in the people who I helped find answers. It doesn’t matter the actual number. If there’s just one, it’s all been worth it. And it feels weird to accept that, like I’m bragging about my good work, but it was an important reminder, one I needed to hear. I spent so much of my life trying to find my place, and in order to find it, I had to find myself first. And it’s funny how that works, isn’t it? I want to leave you with some tips that Al Chaplin put together, five ways to honor your mental health. Things you can do right now, and it doesn’t matter if we’re a week late, right? You’ve got three more weeks to do it.

(43:08):

One, get a good night’s rest. Studies show that getting less than seven hours of sleep can hinder your brain’s ability to handle additional stress and anxiety. Two, eat a nutritious meal. Getting in your daily electrolytes through food is a good way to give your brain enough energy to think clearly, redirect stress, and ultimately tackle the day. Three, take a break. Put away your phone for a few minutes a day, step away and practice some mindfulness and deep breathing. Deep breathing has been proven to get oxygen to the brain, allowing us to think more clearly, and it helps reset our nervous system. Four, take a walk. It’s one of those mental health tips that everyone says really works, even if it’s only to the end of your driveway. Let some sunshine increase your serotonin. Five, take up a hobby. Give your mind something to focus on away from the hustle of life. Hobbies often give us a sense of achievement and purpose, which is a great source of dopamine.

(44:12):

A big thanks to my coordinating producer, Phil Roderman, who helped make all of this happen on a whim. I’m truly grateful to my team for keeping me afloat these days. We’ll be back on schedule next week. In the meantime, I’m going to hold myself to the message I’ve been sending out into the universe for the last few months. Take care of yourselves and please, in an effort to reduce the unbelievable amount of stress we all carry around with us unnecessarily, be a little kinder to yourself this week.

(44:42):

A huge thanks to our managing editor, Sarah Platanitis. Sarah is the yin to my ADHD brain yang, and we’re so lucky to have her working on the team. Al Chaplin is our go-to for all things social media, and I love what they’ve been creating for us. Make sure to go check it out and give it a like, @refocusedpod. A big thanks to Mason Ellie over at Dexia in Grand Rapids, Michigan for all of his help in getting our videos ready to share with you guys. Refocused couldn’t happen without my partner’s turned friends at ADHD Online, high-fives and hugs to the ones I bug the most, Keith Boswell, Claudia Gotti, Melanie Mile, Suzanne Spruitt, Tricia Merchant Dunny, and the entire team at Mentavi Health and ADHD Online.

(45:32):

Our show Art was created by Sissy Yee of Berlin Grey, and our music was created by Louis Inglis, a singer-songwriter from Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39. Links to all of the partners we work with are available in the show notes. To connect with the show or with me, you can find us online @refocusedpod as well as @lindsayGentzel. And you can email the show directly [email protected], that’s [email protected].

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