Jose Valles And Refocusing On Your Purpose

While doing research to better understand his best friend, Jose Valles stumbled upon Refocused episode 4 and began to wonder, as he learned about the different types of ADHD, if maybe he had it too. He took the ADHD Online Assessment and, spoiler alert, he did indeed have ADHD.

Since then, Jose has worked to spread knowledge and awareness about mental health. Let’s hear now from Jose, about his journey with ADHD, how his research supported his bestie and himself, and his hopes for others wanting to seek help and better understand ADHD, too. 

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 Jose on Instagram here

READ | LISTEN: Start With Why by Simon Sinek

WATCH: Homosexuality: It’s About Survival – Not Sex with James O’Keefe

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Jose Valles (00:00):

I shifted my mindset into, it’s not about what I could have been, but what now? When I changed that mindset and I talked about fulfillment, okay, what fulfills me in my role right now? What fulfills me in my role next? Because I can just have fulfillment whatever.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:23):

You are listening to Refocused, Together. This is episode 17, Jose Valles and refocusing on your purpose.


Welcome back to Refocused, a podcast all about ADHD. I’m your host, Lindsay Guentzel, and we’re past the halfway mark of Refocused, Together, the special project we started last year as a part of our commitment to ADHD Awareness month. You just heard today’s guest, Jose Valles. Jose’s a 45-year-old brand manager from Seattle. He started learning about ADHD earlier this year to better understand his best friend. He figured if he knew more, he could support his friend in the ways he needed and strengthen their longtime friendship. Here’s the awesome part. Jose stumbled upon Refocused while doing research. He started with episode four about the different types of ADHD, and then he started to wonder if maybe he had ADHD too. Rewind back to episode two where he heard my story.


Jose felt like he was hearing his own biography. The parallels between our experiences were uncanny, down to dance, student council, advanced placement classes, and failing out of college. This led Jose to take an assessment through ADHD Online, which confirmed that he had inattentive type ADHD. Jose’s diagnosis explained a lot for him. It shed light on his anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance abuse. It filled in the gaps after growing up in a religiously conservative community in Puerto Rico where no one talked about mental health. He felt validated and could finally let go of the shame he’d been carrying around all these years. Jose discussed his diagnosis with his therapist and began taking prescription medication, integrating tools into his routine to improve his executive function, and, of course, he continued to listen and learn from Refocused. Listening to the podcast has inspired Jose to spread knowledge and awareness about mental health. He realized the opportunity he’s had in being able to seek medical help for ADHD and not have to worry about losing his job or social connections because of it.


Jose’s hobbies are his happy place, and you can find him on Instagram at YanuelPR26 where he posts about gardening, cooking, decorating and DIY, and all things art, science, and video games. A true ADHD Instagram feed. Let’s hear now from Jose about his journey with ADHD, how his research supported his bestie and himself, and his hopes for others wanting to seek help and better understand ADHD too.


If you’ve been listening to Refocused, Together, you know the drill, we ask everyone the same questions and that opens with, when were you diagnosed and what was that process like? Jose, if you wouldn’t mind diving into what made you think about it in the first place?

Jose Valles (03:50):

It’s funny because my journey with ADHD started with you. I have a friend, one of my best friends, he has ADHD. He was diagnosed when he was six years old. We’ve been friends for 12 years, and for me to be able to understand him better, I started learning a little bit more about ADHD because we always had this arguments that I could not understand. Early this year, we had a fallout. We’re all good now, but after a very big fallout, I kept digging and learning more about ADHD because I was concerned if I was doing something wrong that may have triggered him or anything. I’ve been on this wellness journey for about five, six years and learning a lot about mental health. I think it was Facebook and Instagram in which I got a link for Refocused. I’m like, “What is this?” I clicked on it and it took me to ADHD Online and I saw a podcast and I love listening to podcasts and books.


I first started with episode three or four, I think it was, the different types of ADHD. When I’m listening to, I’m like, “Oh shoot, hold up. This sounds like me.” Then I started listening to your story, so I went back and went, “Who am I?” I think, which is episode two. When you’re telling your story, it was like I was reading my biography. I was like, “Oh my God, it can’t be that we’re 95% aligned in how we grew up.” I’m like, “Oh, okay. I need to look into this.’ I’m very curious. I love to learn. I get going through it and I’m like, “Okay.” I went to the website, look into it. I went to my husband and I’m like, “Hey, I think this is happening. I want to do this assessment.”


He was like, “Not right now. Let’s not add more to the mess right now.” Been with treatment for depression and anxiety for the past five years in therapy and everything. I kept thinking to myself, I’m like, “What do you mean add something? I’ve been dealing with this all my life, I just need to know.” I started the assessment and it said it was going to take an hour and a half, something like that. I left it there for four days thinking, “Should I go back and forth, back and forth?” Then finally I said, “I need to do this.” I sat down one day and did it. I’m like, “Okay, now the waiting game.” It was like four hours later I got the diagnosis, inattentive, 90%. I’m like, “Oh, this just answers so many questions.” From there, it’s just been absorbing as much information as I can.


The same day I got the diagnosis, I messaged you on Instagram because I just felt this sense of relief that all the pieces had come together. I always, I’ve said the story many, many times since I found out, your analogy of Independence Day, that was what really said, “Oh my God, this is it.” I’ve always felt that there was something else. I dealt with PTSD, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, sexual abuse, I have it all, trauma, but it always felt like there was something else that was missing. When I said the city killers and the global killer and that global killer is ADHD, I’m like, “Yes, I got that, and this is what it is and I need to know as much as I can because I need to figure this out.”

Lindsay Guentzel (07:36):

I’m so relieved that Instagram fed you that link and that you were able to connect with my story. You have no idea how much that means to me. I love that you also connect with the Independence Day analogy because it really, for so many of us who have had comorbidities and were treated for so long, it was always kind of just told, “Sit and wait and you’ll start to feel better,” but you never really are told what to actually expect, so you do just that, you just sit and wait. For me to have so much makes sense right away and to fall into place, it just was such a relief. I love hearing you use that word. It was such a relief to have answers. I’m curious, going back through the assessment, what you learned through the episodes you listened to early on, what stood out to you that connected with your diagnosis of having inattentive ADHD?

Jose Valles (08:30):

It started with, “do you have a messy desk as a kid or a messy room?” You don’t want to see my desk right now. I actually cleared a little bit just to do this interview. Then of course, I grew up in Puerto Rico. In my family, there’s no awareness. There was no awareness about mental health whatsoever. I was born in 1977 and back then it’s ADD, and it was just the kids that could not sit still, the class clowns. That’s one of the things that I connected with you right away because I was a gifted student, 4.0, I was a top entrance exam of my class, class president. I had more activities than I can count. I was at school from 7:30 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon. I did advanced placement, all extracurricular activities, science fair, calligraphy, art, dance, student council, senior class president. I did it all.


Back in my high school, which is a very small high school, advanced placements takes three maths courses. I took five. I was just always going above and beyond. As I was listening to the story, I’m like, “Oh my God.” Because I even was in the choir at some point, and I don’t consider myself a great singer by no means, but I just needed to keep adding stuff to my plate and I could not say no. From there, I started thinking about, okay, because I’ve been diving into this wellness journey, which I learned about PTSD and trauma. I love my parents. My dad passed away, but also I can attest to the different difficult things that happened when I was growing up. My dad was an alcoholic. My mom lost two babies after me, so she dealt with depression. My dad had lost three kids all his life, so he never had the tools to deal with that grief, which is why he was an alcoholic.


I grew up in this very chaotic childhood that was either really, really perfect or was really, really bad. I always tell when I tell my story that I felt like I always had two sets of parents, the perfect parents and the destructive parents. I’ve always dealt with anxiety, depression. I lived in my bubble as a kid. In the past five years, I always had put that into trauma and how I dealt with trauma. I was sexually abused between the ages of seven and nine, trying to figure out being straight, gay, growing into Catholic school and being told that I’m going to burn in hell because of who I was. I just completely disassociated all my life. As I grew older, there came alcohol and substance abuse all to try to repress all the pain and memories and everything. It was always about that, not about ADHD. Then when I started looking at how ADHD correlates to trauma, correlates to substance abuse, it was just that moment in which everything came together and I was like, “Oh, this is it.” I’ve been searching for this master key, that little piece of the puzzle that will let me see the bigger picture, and that’s when everything came into place.

Lindsay Guentzel (12:12):

First off, I am so sorry for everything that you went through and I want to commend you and applaud you for not only sharing the story because I know it’s so difficult. It’s so difficult to put out something that there is still so much stigma surrounding, but you get to help other people. The more we talk about it, you and I both know, you learned from me sharing my story and I’m learning from you sharing yours right now, and it is so important and it’s so crucial and so I just want to make sure you know that I am so proud of you. I wish Seattle were so much closer right now because I just could give you the biggest hug and we could just sit and share so many more stories. What you have gone through is impossible. It’s impossible for a human being to overcome, and here you are making the choice every day to try and be the best version of yourself and to learn as much as possible, and what has that looked like for you? You get this answer and you start to unpack so much and you start to make all of these connections and you start to realize that some of the things that you thought were a certain way aren’t that. What have you changed in life to address how ADHD has shown up for you?

Jose Valles (13:25):

One of the biggest things right away was letting go of so much shame and so much negative self-talk that I’ve had all my life because I always, if it didn’t go my way, it was about I’m not trying hard enough, I’m not good enough. I had this crisis when I turned 40 because I’m from such a group of very gifted students that I felt like I was so behind and I kept telling myself, “You failed.” One of my really close high school friends, she’s an astronaut. We went to school together. I have so many friends that are doctors and lawyers, and that was the definition of success when I was growing up and I wanted to study art because even though I was great at math, I was great at science, art was what really captivated me, and I was told by family members, “Art is a hobby, not a career so you cannot do that. We need to get you into the right journey, the right path.”


So I went to study engineering. When I started looking at everything through the ADHD lens, I’m like, “Oh, this makes sense.” I had so many interests all my life. I’ve done all kinds of things, but after finding out that I had ADHD, all of a sudden it’s like I don’t need to shame myself or talk myself down anymore, which is something that I was missing. When I started therapy and I started unpacking a bunch of stuff, even after years of being out of closet and accepting myself, I still felt like being gay was a mistake. It’s an error of nature. Early, about five years ago, I saw this TED Talk in which it talks about homosexuality is not about sex, it’s about the survival of the species.


It’s about survival of the group, not the individual and how when there is a queer person born in their family, that actually increases the chances of the success for the group or the family because of the roles they can do. That allowed me to let go of some ashamed that I had about being queer and gave me a sense of purpose. I’m no longer a mistake of nature. I’m here for purpose. Same thing happened with ADHD. All of a sudden I find out that I have ADD and then all of a sudden this talk about time blindness. I cannot tell time for the life of me. I’m always late for everything. I can never estimate the right time for anything. I was listening to one of the podcasts yesterday about over promising and under receiving because I just kept bringing into the table so much and say, “Oh, it’s going to take me two hours,” and eight hours later, I’m still going at it.


The hyper focus. I love art, so I studied all my electives and I could be in the computer doing graphic arts, no drinking, no food, and I’m still perfectly happy. Finances, I’m so horrible with money, impulsive buying, and when you’re going through substance abuse treatment, the theory that’s part of one of those things that come up, but it still didn’t make sense until the ADHD was added to it, and then that’s when it clicked.


Now I get to learn all these tools that can help me manage all those kinds of things without all that negative self-talk. Immediately, I got a timer online to break apart the hyper focus sometimes because I do need to eat. My husband cannot be next to me all the time reminding me, “Hey, get some water,” or something like that. I got a whiteboard, which is next to my office here so that I can track things that need to be done or anything that, a thought that comes up, I write it down because I will forget. I always said I’m horrible with time management, so I stay organized. I’ve been saying that for more than a decade without understanding that that’s how I learned to manage my ADHD. The more organized I am, the better I can perform. Yeah, just little by little, I keep putting together all these pieces that some of them I’ve been doing a long time, but now they make sense and some nuance that really have improved drastically how I performed at home and at work.

Lindsay Guentzel (18:10):

I find it so interesting hearing you say that even though mental health wasn’t something that was talked about in your culture in Puerto Rico, that’s still the stereotype of the class clown fit in for what you were seeing from your expectation of what ADD, because that’s what it would’ve been called when you were a kid, ADD, what that looked like. What else do you see culturally that holds back people when it comes to addressing their mental health and what you’ve seen now as you’ve been able to connect the dots with your ADHD?

Jose Valles (18:43):

Back when I was growing up, going to a psychologist, you’re crazy and we don’t do that. We don’t talk about feelings. Depression is you’re just really, really sad. That’s it. You can just choose to be better. All those kind of things that are just, now that I look back after all the knowledge that I have, just don’t make any sense. When I found out that I was ADHD, I had ADHD and I told my mom, “Hey, this happened.” She’s like, “But you are such a smart kid. You never gave us any trouble.” I was the quiet, smart kid that did everything and just I could get a bucket of Legos and be playing with Legos 18 hours and would not bother my mom versus my brother who was the jumping up and down, running around the place, which I’m pretty sure he has ADHD as well for some reason, as I think my parents both have ADHD.


There’s four autistic kids in my family, which is very unusual, from both sides of the family. As I keep learning, I keep tying all these things together. I did the Ancestry DNA and all that kind of stuff and found out a bunch of stuff from the family that were secrets. All these kind of things that just they don’t talk about, it’s this hush hush, we don’t talk about mental health, we don’t talk about feelings, we don’t talk about none of that, and men don’t cry, that kind of thing. When I learned the term generational trauma, I was really impacted because I know my dad struggled all his life because he never had the tools to deal with grief or deal with his emotions. My mom struggled with her lost pregnancies. For many years, I could not remember us saying, “I love you,” in words when I was growing up. I could not remember that. Now my mom and I say, “I love you,” all the time. Every single time we finish a conversation, same as with my niece, my brother. It’s become part of we need to heal this and we need to bring it back. We need to really acknowledge how we feel, and this just continues to grow.

Lindsay Guentzel (21:03):

Breaking generational trauma is so important and breaking the cycle and not letting it go forward. I’m going to say something that we’re talking about something that is so serious right now, but I always laugh because I think so many of us have the family secrets that have come out because of advancements in DNA and what you can find out by simply doing a test online and it’s like, “Here’s the deal, people, your secrets are coming out and you can either continue to carry that baggage around or you can open up and let it go,” and it is so freeing when you do let it go. But I have to imagine there are so many, I mean my family included, extended family, where there were lots of secrets that came out when my sister did her 23andMe. It’s happening.

Jose Valles (21:48):

Yeah. My paternal grandparents, my grandfather was 32 or 33 when he married my grandmother who was 13. That were to happen today, it would be a scandal. He was white, she was dark skin. She had her first kid when she was 14. It is just all these kind of things that you never even realize and now it’s about, let’s just face it, let’s just heal from it, let’s move on. One of my best friends, she is raising her two kids here in Seattle, and when I see how she raises her kids with such emotional awareness and how she’s teaching them how to talk about emotions and read, and it just gives me hope that things will improve. It’s just within this period that it’s kind of shaky and some people are adopting the new things. Some people are just like, “No, no, we’re not doing that,” but there’s hope that things will get better.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:48):

I feel the same way when I see people who are doing what your friend is doing where you’re just like, “Yes, yes. How do I support you? How do I cheer you on? How do we do this together?” It’s amazing. I want to go back to one thing you said, and it was talking about all of the people in your life that you look at as being successful and what our vision of success is and how awful for you that you were taught that art is not something that a person can be successful at because I think that is so common for so many of us, but I also think that we had these unrealistic expectations thrust upon us that we were going to graduate high school, go to college, and then be exactly who we were supposed to be. That was it. I had this idea that I was going to just be who I wanted to be, the most successful person, in my twenties. Then you get there and you realize that happens for one in a million.

Jose Valles (23:47):

When you’re sharing your story, “Oh, I failed college twice.” I failed college three times. I went in for engineering and when I sat in my third year, I’m like, “This is not what I want to do. I don’t like this.” All my electives were art, and that’s what really kept me sane. Then I couldn’t, for the life of me, read a book to completion and how many books we have in college. There were no audiobooks back then. All of a sudden, it’s like, okay, I stopped on school, start working, decided to go back to school to study business management because it’s what I’ve been working on, really enjoy some classes. Economics was amazing to look at the world in a different lens. I had to stop that too.


Then finally, as I’m older, I realized, “Okay, this is what I want to do. I want to study graphic arts and design, and now there’s a path for me to do it.” I start there. I had to quit again and I feel so defeated. I was like, “Oh my God, I was supposed to be the most successful of my class. I was like the class president.” I’ve been hiding from my graduating class for decades because I felt like I was a failure compared to what was expected of me, even though I’ve accomplished many, many great things in my career as a restaurant manager, as an artist. I worked decorating cakes for about two years and I knew nothing about it. I just started helping someone and became really, really good at it, and that stopped when I moved back to the United States. But I just learned that I can just use all my skills. Earlier this year, I read this book by Simon Sinek that says, “Start with why.”


I was having a really hard time. I felt stuck with work. I kept having trouble with substance abuse and depression and things seemed that I could not get better. It was like five, six months and things were back to where I started. When I read that book, I listened to that book, it really showed me that I can find fulfillment in whatever I want. I just need to start with my why. I needed to do a really deep look inside and say, “What do I want to do?” I didn’t mention earlier, I had a suicide attempt when I was 25, and I survived that, and I always said, “This is a second chance to do something good with my life.” Fast-forward to five years ago, I almost died because of a bacterial infection, and shortly after that was when I went to substance abuse treatment and that really settled that, “This is not my second chance, this is my third chance. I need to do something good with life.”


I started focusing on what I do best, which is to help people, to talk to people, to train people, to show them what potential they have that they may not see, which is why when I found out that I had ADHD, I heard you say as well, that it is a privilege to be able to have the assessment, to have the means to do that, to have a voice, that I can talk about ADHD at work and it’s not going to affect my career. By all means, that’s why they embrace me because I think outside the box and I am a problem solver and I can do, I just come up with the craziest ideas that work. I said, “I need to do this. I need to show people that mental health is not a bad thing, that we all could benefit from a therapist, that we can talk about it, that we can band together and move forward, and that this is just the way we are, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Lindsay Guentzel (27:46):

I know people probably say this to you all the time, but you’re exactly where you need to be. I know it’s hard to accept that because we play the what if game so often, but everything you went through prepared you for what’s ahead right now, and now you are prepared and everyone’s journey looks different, and when we finally realize that and accept that, there’s so much life ahead for you and so many opportunities, and how exciting that now you are more equipped to actually go after all of the things that are really important to you. That might be more time decorating cakes. Who knows? The sky is the limit, which is what’s so wonderful, but I think we beat ourselves up because we set ourselves up with these impossible goals, these finish lines that we move, these goalposts that we keep pushing away, and we just keep adding more work and higher standards for ourself.


That being said, I want to know, when you look at your life right now and what you have learned and all of the things that you have changed and the growth that you have, where do you see yourself thriving?

Jose Valles (28:55):

When I moved to Seattle and after I went back to the workforce and I worked for a sustainable restaurant company, sustainability became really crucial to me and I began doing urban gardening, so I have a huge garden at home. I began in the house we rented before. We bought a house last year, and we have a huge garden here, and that has become a sanctuary for my mental health. I do everything. There’s little pieces of my story there. I have had my first serious partner passed away, so I have flowers that remind me of him. I have a rocking chair that my grandmother always had a rocking chair. I have little pieces in my garden that I represent my story. My dad was a carpenter by trade, so I built stuff. Every time that I start building something, it reminds me of him and I can feel his presence.


All of a sudden, I had this biggest, now that I know I can, every time I have a little what I call a pop-up, I write it down because I’ll forget. I had this pop-up about how gardening had taught me what mental health is like. When a garden goes bad or weeds come out, you don’t just mow the garden and start over. You pull the weeds, you fertilize, you take care of it. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you fail, but you just keep going at it again. I was like, what a great idea to say gardening taught me about how to live life and how to really tackle the bad things. That’s one bucket. Another bucket is work, professionally, things are going great because I shifted my mindset into, it’s not about what I could have been, but what now. You probably remember that from an episode, because when [inaudible 00:30:51] had said it, I was like, “This is it.”


So what now? When I changed that mindset and I talked about fulfillment, okay, what fulfills me in my role right now? What fulfills me in my role next? Because I can just have fulfillment in whatever. I have many interests. I can do all kinds of things. I’ve been doing DIY in the house. I do too many things, and the problem is that I can’t really trust my time management on that. With that said, the biggest most important thing for me right now is to really use everything that I learned about mental health and just spread knowledge and awareness. I talk to my friends about it. I talk publicly about it. I began talking about substance abuse on social media a couple of years back. Fun thing, when I posted that I had ADHD online, no one said anything. There was no acknowledgement, no comments, no likes.


Not that I do it for the likes, but that’s how much lack of awareness about it is in my circle. I grew up in Puerto Rico and my friends, so I need to be the person that I needed when I was growing up. That’s what really drives me. I have everything that I do and that’s fine, but there has to be someone else, younger kid, teenager, that needs to see that you can thrive without having a college degree. You can thrive despite having mental health challenges or ADHD. One thing that my dad taught me is that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. If you’re going to be the janitor at a high school, you better be the best janitor there is, period. It doesn’t matter what it is, and I live to that. I always keep that very close to my heart.

Lindsay Guentzel (32:42):

I love that mindset. You have decided that you are going to be the person that you needed when you were younger, and how wonderful for all of those people who are going to get to connect with that person because that is incredibly special and that is something to carry into your future. So when you look ahead, what is giving you hope? What is that glimmer ahead of you that’s pulling you forward?

Jose Valles (33:08):

One of the things that gives me the most hope is watching my best friend, that I mentioned, raising her daughters. She is showing them this level of emotional awareness and knowledge that it’s baffling to me like I never imagined. It’s such an amazing thing. Something as simple as now I know to ask for consent when I hug her. We never thought about that, even when we were growing up like, “Oh, that’s your grandma’s best friend. Go give her a hug and a kiss.” “No, I don’t want to.” Now, every time I visit them, I’m like, “Hey, can I give you a hug?” Most of the time she says yes, sometimes she says no, but those little things do mean so, so much. Seeing her and how she is doing this radical change on how kids can grow really brings me a lot of hope for what comes next, because even though I had such a troubled childhood, I’m still here, but there’s many that haven’t made it.


I want to bring, in some way, some level of hope to whoever I can reach. When I began this journey, which I always say I began this journey with you because it began with you, with the podcast, I listened to Refocused, Together from last year. I had it in the back of my mind, “I would like to do that,” but I was really, really scared. But I thought about it and then I backed out without saying anything, and then you reached out and you said, “Hey, would you be interested in doing this?” I’m like, “Yes, but I’m scared about it.” But yes, I also can be that person that needs to hear that you can try this. You can find out. It can be a sense of relief. I see ADHD very differently right now. I wish we could use that ADHD as a tool for improvement instead of a disease that needs to be eliminated and that bringing a lot of value, same as neurotypical people bringing a lot of value, to the table.


I began my journey with medicine early on and I describe it to my friends, the day I took that first pill, it felt like the pop-up blocker turned on my head. I was like, “Is this actually real?” Because you don’t know what you don’t know. I always thought that this is how people are. Sometimes it felt quiet, but if we embrace being divergent as an asset to society, I feel we can be in a much better place because we, instead of putting those kids aside or reprimand them, we just embrace them and allow them to flourish in the way that they need to flourish, I think it will be limitless. There’s no limits to what we can do.

Lindsay Guentzel (36:13):

I love that mindset and it touches a little bit on the last question that I want to ask you, which is, what you’ve learned about ADHD and what you see that society knows about ADHD, what is something that you wish people understood better?

Jose Valles (36:29):

I think we need to change the name of ADHD because I think people need to understand that ADHD is not a deficit. There’s no lack of. Yeah, technically, there could be lack of neurotransmitters, but I believe that there’s a reason for it because it allows us to think differently. I think people need to understand that this is not a deficit. This has nothing to do with how smart you are. It has nothing to do with what you can achieve. You just need to have the environment that allows you to flourish. For the longest time, I thought I couldn’t read. I even thought I had dyslexia because I could not read for the life of me. I go through probably one or two other books a month now and learn so much. When I was looking back, that’s how I learned as a kid. I didn’t study. I just listened to, if I had a good professor that went through things, I listened and I learned. Making that environment for kids in which they learn the way they need to learn, I think that’s what we need to look at moving forward.

Lindsay Guentzel (37:37):

You know that if ADHD were a company, the marketing department would be working night and day to change the name because you’re right, it really does set us up for even more barriers to work through. Jose, I need you to know that to know that I’ve been with you on this journey means so much to me, and I’m so grateful that the stars aligned and that we connected and you were able to share your story with us for Refocused, Together. I hope this is just the start of a lovely friendship between us and I’m so excited to see what’s next for you, and I’m so honored that you trusted me with bringing your story to the people who need to hear it, so thank you.

Jose Valles (38:15):

Thank you for the invitation, Lindsay. This is validation for you. You said in a few episodes that you don’t do it for likes, you do it if you can reach one person and make their lives better, this is why you do it. I am pure testament that you are where you need to be and that you have accomplished that.

Lindsay Guentzel (38:35):

You’re so wonderful. Thank you. As I’m just sitting over here, it means a lot to hear that and you know what it’s like to doubt yourself and to not see what you’re capable of, and so I just so appreciate that. Thank you.

Jose Valles (38:46):

Thank you.

Lindsay Guentzel (38:54):

What a lovely addition to Refocused, Together 2023 and to think it almost didn’t happen. Shout out to my impulsivity for throwing out the invitation and kudos to Jose for being so open about sharing his story. Something Jose mentioned from our conversation that I think a lot about is changing the name ADHD and how the stigma that goes along with it holds so many back. Dear American Psychiatric Association, while we’re glad we know what we’re dealing with, the name doesn’t truly describe what we’re dealing with very well. Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has had a few name changes over the past couple of decades. This happens because of new research and understanding about it. In 1980, it was Attention-deficit Disorder, or ADD, and there were two subtypes, with or without hyperactivity. They added the H for hyperactivity seven years later because that was a key part of the disorder.


In 1994, they added a forward slash, so it became Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, followed by three subtypes, predominantly hyperactive impulsive type, predominantly inattentive type, and combined type. 2013 was a year when the word subtype was changed to presentation in the DSM-5. There you go. While we wait for a DSM-6, there’s been lots of talk about a name change, maybe not so much by the APA, but by many experts in the field and a lot of experts in experience with ADHD. It’s confusing to be labeled hyperactive when you’re anything but, but if you’ve ever met someone with ADHD and talked with them, you quickly realize we don’t have attention deficits at all. It’s more like a surplus. The label is misleading, it’s confusing, it’s problematic. ADHD has a branding problem. Can we get some strategists in here? Preferably some with ADHD. Like Jose said, we need to look at ADHD as a tool rather than something that needs to be eliminated.


So many of us feel perpetually stuck on the sidelines of a game that we’re told we can’t play in. Call us in already. We are all so tired of being called out. Listeners, I’m curious, what have you learned from listening to Refocused? Head over to social, @refocusedpod on Instagram, or shoot us an email [email protected] and let us know. Maybe, just like Jose, there are some folks out there who stumbled upon our little show and it turned out to make a big difference for them. We’d love to hear from you. Oh, and by the way, welcome. We are so glad that you’re here. It means so much to me that this podcast will forever be a part of Jose’s story, and I feel really lucky to not only know that, but to feel encouraged to get to carry that little special nugget around with me.


This is where I encourage you all. If you have a special person, place, thing or podcast in your life, tell them about it. We rarely take time to praise the good, but we are real quick to jump in on the bad. I’m so glad I got to meet Jose and share his story with you on Refocused, Together. We still have so much to come as October rolls on, and I don’t know about you, but every day I’m just blown away by how special this community is. To catch all of the 31 stories this month, subscribe to Refocused wherever you listen to podcasts, and to learn more about how ADHD Online can help you on your mental health journey, head to ADHDonline.com and don’t forget to use the promo code Refocused20 to receive $20 off your ADHD assessment right now.


Support for Refocus 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 Spruit, Melanie Meyrl, Claudia Gatti, and Tricia Mirchandani for their constant support in helping make Refocused, Together happen. These 31 episodes were produced thanks to our managing editor, Sarah Plantanitis, our production coordinator, Phil Rodemann, social media specialist and editor, Al Chaplin, and me, the host and executive producer of Refocus, Lindsay Guentzel. To connect with the show on social media, you can find us online at Refocused Pod and you can email the show directly [email protected]. That’s [email protected].

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