Stuart Cohen and Finding Yourself

Stuart Cohen has spent the last 12 years embracing his authentic self, accepting both his strengths and weaknesses. Diagnosed with ADHD at 47, Stuart’s journey involves maintaining the delicate balance between medication, nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness to live his best life. 

Initially hesitant about the diagnosis when his girlfriend first suggested it, Stuart eventually embraced his curiosity, recognizing the many challenges he had faced over the years and knowing there had to be an answer. 

His diagnosis not only transformed his outlook on life but also redirected his career path, leading him to find fulfillment as a certified ADHD coach. This positive shift wouldn’t have occurred had he not been willing to confront the tough questions from the past.

Listen in as Stuart opens up about his journey with ADHD, sharing invaluable insights into embracing authenticity and leveraging strengths while navigating through challenges and how life is a lot more fulfilling now that he can show up as his true self. 

Learn more and connect with Stuart here and check out his new series ADHD UN shamed here

READ: How To Control Your Emotions with ADHD: Why Do I Get So Angry with the Ones I Love Most by Dr. Terry Dickson

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Stuart Cohen (00:01):

I like to say the mystery of me was solved when I understood all of Stu, all of True Stu and that ADHD is I’m genetically built like this and there are countless others genetically built like this. I am a firm believer we have this brain wiring for a reason. I believe we are the hunters trying to make it through an industrialized society.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:34):

You are listening to Refocused Together, and this is episode 23, Stuart Cohen and Finding Yourself.


Welcome back to Refocused, A Podcast All About ADHD. I’m your host, Lindsay Guentzel, and the voice you just heard, that’s today’s guest, Stuart Cohen, whose story is a part of Refocused Together, our series for ADHD Awareness Month. This is our second Refocused Together series with 31 brand new stories from 31 new people who have generously shared their story with us.


Diagnosed with ADHD when he was 47, Stuart has spent the last 12 years of his life embracing his true self, and that includes acknowledging both his strengths and his flaws. His life post-diagnosis is one full of self-acceptance and living his best life, which requires finding a healthy balance between his medication, nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness.


But his outlook on his ADHD wasn’t always this positive. He was initially pretty hesitant about the whole thing, after his girlfriend first suggested the possibility to him. The mom of four boys, she had been through the diagnostic process and saw similarities between her son’s symptoms and Stuart. Luckily Stuart’s curiosity won out. He was very aware of all of the challenges he had dealt with in life, like all of the different companies he had worked for, 11 of them in 22 years, and he thought there’s got to be an answer for all of this. That answer was ADHD.


Stuart’s diagnosis has changed so much for him, including his career path. One of the greatest joys in Stuart’s life is the work he’s doing as a certified ADHD coach. He’s truly found his purpose, something that wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been willing to ponder those difficult questions all those years ago.


Let’s talk more with Stuart about his ADHD diagnosis, what he’s learned over the years as he’s worked on embracing his true self and how he thrives and his constantly growing, thanks in part to both his strengths and his weaknesses.


The great thing of interviewing so many different people with ADHD is that everyone’s story is different, but we ask everyone the same questions and we start with when were you diagnosed and what was that process like, and what sparked those initial conversations that led to you seeking answers.

Stuart Cohen (03:20):

47 years old I was clinically diagnosed. Before I moved here to Memphis, I was still in New York and had just been divorced a little while. I remember … Let’s work backwards. I remember after the diagnosis with a prescription in my hand, I sat in the car and it was hot, just sat there like, “Whoa, what just happened? Me? ADHD? I don’t even know what that is. And here I have a prescription for meds.”


Working backwards, the reason why I went to have this clinical diagnosis was because my girlfriend at the time, long distance relationship, she’s here in Memphis, I’m there in New York, Long Island. She just said, “I think you ought to get tested for ADHD.” You talk about a moment, Lindsay, where it’s like I was frozen. It’s like, “What?” I’m thinking that’s a kid thing, because she, Kimberly, she has four boys, the youngest are twins, identical, and they were diagnosed at six or eight, really young.


So I took it really seriously for two reasons … No, three reasons. Number one, she’s had experience there raising two healthy kids with ADHD, and once she said that, having met them of course before, I was like, “I don’t know. Maybe I do have a little of that too.” Number two, she’s also a board certified cardiovascular nurse practitioner. Man, that’s a mouthful, but she understands. She’s got this level of knowledge of physiology and health and she’s always really very, very hip with all mental awareness and mindfulness, yoga, this kind of stuff. And number three, I was tired of these challenges I was having, which I just thought was just Stu.


By the way, I call myself Stu. Most other people call me Stuart, but that’s what I call myself these days. By the way, Lindsay, it’s True Stu. But then, back then I was like living on a roller coaster, on an express freight train nonstop, bitting off more than I could chew, blurting. Then I was, I think already working for myself. I’m not really sure because I don’t remember dates and timelines, but 22 years I worked for 11 different companies and I felt a lot of shame around that.


So, okay, let’s go figure this out. There’s got to be something going on here, and I don’t want to be this emotionally … Now I’m going to use a word that I just recently learned, but it fits, labile. When Kimberly, she said to me fairly recently, “Well, it’s just due to your emotional lability.” I was like, “What did you just call me? Did you call me labile? Is that bad?” She goes, “No.” Just like when she said, “You’re ruminating right now,” I took offense to it because I didn’t know what that word meant.


So that’s when I was diagnosed, and that’s what led me to it, and that’s how I felt in that moment. And one more thing. Doc said, “Here, I’m going to give you a prescription for Ritalin.” And he never said, “Call me in the morning.” In other words, there was never a check-in. There was no, “Hey, let me know in a day or a week how you feel. Hey, maybe you should get a therapist or a coach,” which I never knew existed. That was it.

Lindsay Guentzel (07:34):

Same experience in the sense that you’re sent home and there’s not even a pamphlet. You’re not even given the paper printout with the staple in the top left corner of this is ADHD, and to just think what hasn’t changed in those 12 years.


In 12 years since you were diagnosed, we both had very similar experiences and just kind of being sent home and that was it. Here’s this life-changing thing and no follow-up.


You mentioned a little bit on some of the challenges that you had and some of the things that stood out. And I’m wondering if you can dive into those a little bit more. Maybe even going back and seeing some of the things that you now know from your childhood, your adolescence, your 20s, your 30s that are tied to ADHD.

Stuart Cohen (08:26):

As far back as I can remember in school, I was not the crazy bad kid jumping out of his seat. I was the daydreamer. I was the doodler. I’m always looking out the window. I’m imagining. I’m writing movie scripts in my head. I’m imagining would I ever have the courage to ask a girl out on a date. I was everywhere, but the classroom.


That said, I did well, I did well in school, I did good in college. Looking back at some of the characteristics now that I realize is a part of me that would get me into trouble was the blurting. I would oftentimes share my opinion when it wasn’t asked, because Lindsay, things made sense to me. It’s like, “Why would you do it that way? How about this way?” And by the way, that’s what usually got me let go from my companies because sitting in a conference room listening to bad ideas or being bored out of my mind.


So as far back as I can remember, I have been a champion blurter. I have been a perseverator/ruminator in terms of getting so deep into a thought where I am completely detached from reality and it’s that echo chamber or that downward spiral. I second guess, third guess, fourth guest, fifth guess, sixth guess did I say something wrong? Did I blow it? Do I need to apologize? Oh, I need to go back and send another thing. I need to go send another. It’s that, uh-oh, it’s that regret.


A lot of shame around things that I’ve done in my life when I was married the first time. I have no patience. I go from zero to 60 yesterday. I’m giving you all the challenges, the bit of struggles of who I am, not the positive sides, but I just want to finish it off by saying, I made poor choices. I developed rage. I can’t tell you how many iPhones are broken. Just don’t tell Apple. I am embarrassed about that. So there’s shame around that. And I never realized that some of the choices I made was because I needed the fix, I needed the rush, I needed the stimulation, and I made poor choices that got me into trouble. I regret that.


The only thing I do now is live True Stu, be honest, control the blurt, be careful of my addictive behaviors, and just put out energies of love. And if daydreaming is good, pay attention, focus because the greatest gift I think I can give somebody is my full attention.

Lindsay Guentzel (11:43):

I want to ask you, what are you doing to make True Stu someone that shows up every day?

Stuart Cohen (11:50):

My mission is to give myself grace and to love the fact that this is who I am and whoever likes me or loves me will be in my circle. If not, I have to let that go. And what’s most important is that I work to manage those things, which I still have, and I’ve developed a whole toolbox of ways to stay focused, control my impulsivity and just put out, be a beacon. I want to be a beacon. True Stu shows up because I am finally at 59 years old going on 60 in December, comfortable with who I am. I really am Lindsay. This is who I am. I want to be myself. Whether we’re close or not I’m going to be fun, I’m going to be funny, I’m going to show you respect and give you the time to express yourself. I’m going to express my curiosity. I love asking questions. I love saying, “Yes, sign me up. I’ll do it.” I’ve never felt more comfortable in this slim body than today.


And I will tell you something else. I was that kid who was always picked last on the team in school, because I was a skinny little, Skinny Marinky, as we used to say. Guess what? In my 40s, I started to get on a bicycle, I started to run. Fast-forward, a part of True Stu is racing. I’ve done 18 half-marathons, three marathons. I’ve done three triathlons, two of which were half Iron Man. That gives me a source of internal pride and confidence, and I never knew it. I get a dopamine rush from it. So if I need to be creative for a speech that I have to give, I go for a run and I just love competing. And I’m not competing against the next person. How can I better my time from last time?


So that’s True Stu, doing what I love doing, being super sensitive to others and their feelings and their emotions, trying to be the best dad I can, the best husband I can, the best grandfather I am. My God is hard for me to say that, but I have two grandkids with another on the way. That’s True Stu. That’s me sitting here talking to you. I’m not selling you anything. This is Stu coming at you right now, and I got a big smile on my face because I feel really good about my flaws, foibles, phobias, and also my gifts. And if I can make you smile, if I can give you pleasure, make you laugh, make you feel good, then I’m being a beacon.

Lindsay Guentzel (14:57):

How has your ADHD diagnosis changed your life in what you’re doing day-to-day for work?

Stuart Cohen (15:04):

Significantly. Before I understood how to leverage the meds, which I’ll get to, before I understood, before I obviously went to ADHD school to get my certification, before I realized that there are strategies, I would sit there in this brain fog funk just staring into space and “Why can’t I get work done? This is terrible.”


And the more I read, the more I understood, especially when I went to school to equip me to help others, to coach others, I was helping myself too, obviously.


I know that it’s very important for me to eat well, especially protein. I need protein, starts my day. I’m a one cup of coffee guy, so it’s not about the coffee. I will use my methylphenidate on occasion when I think I need it. And you know what? It doesn’t change my personality because it’s at the right dose. I can sit down, get work done, feel just fine. I know that I need to take little breaks. I need to get up, walk around, take a walk around the block, get into a cold shower. I have a desk full of fidget toys because my fingers are always going. I need to be touching or something. I need to always have that hydration. Right now it’s green tea.


I know that if I have … Yesterday was a really big day for me, Lindsay, because I had four coaching clients in a row. That’s boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, big energy. And I had a hard deadline to complete two PowerPoint presentations for two paid workshops I’m doing in a couple of weeks. We’re talking waiting for the last minute, hard deadline, which I’m going to get to in a second too. It was a big energy day. I needed a good night’s sleep. I need to take that walk. I need to get down and do some yoga. I need to have special music playing. I call it drone music so I can get in the groove, get in the mood.


I need to have a fan, a little fan blowing on my face. That actually helps. And I need to also realize that I am a procrastinator. That’s the way I work best, and I will meet my deadlines. The only way I can do an outstanding work, write an outstanding article, give an outstanding speech, is if I wait till the last minute to do it. And that’s just me. And if my client says, “Oh no, we need the PowerPoint 30 days prior,” I said, “Go. You’re not going to have it. Trust me. You don’t want it 30 days prior. You want it three days prior.” So I do. I make big adjustments because I have big dreams. I have a lot on my plate right now. I love biting off more than I can chew, and I love being super productive and making things happen, making progress, making a difference, particularly now in the ADHD world.

Lindsay Guentzel (18:16):

You mentioned finding the right balance with your medication. What was that journey like?

Stuart Cohen (18:23):

It was trial and error. The full day methylphenidate would keep me up all night. I’d have insomnia. I couldn’t fall asleep, let alone insomnia. I tried Vyvanse. Woo. That one really messed around with my … It just didn’t work for me and I didn’t go any farther than that. It just came down to the half day five milligram. And I try not to take it the second half a day, to be honest with you, because I don’t want to run the risk of it affecting my sleep. And I’m going to mention something else that is a personal choice.


I find that taking one, maybe two drops of tincture sativa will do the same thing as Ritalin. So that’s why I mix it up. I also know that if I go out for a morning run or if I go even to the morning walk, I don’t need it. And there’s no shame in me taking that pill. I don’t feel no shame, and I go a week without taking anything. What’s great is I own that decision. I really do. I’ll even say in the morning over coffee days, Kimberly say, “Hey, today’s going to be a Ritalin day. It doesn’t matter.” But I’ve made that decision on my own.

Lindsay Guentzel (19:54):

I feel very connected to you on the procrastination and the hard deadlines. I do feel like I make my best work or I create my best work when I’m up against a deadline. It’s like my brain knows it has to get it done. And I’m wondering how that works for you because it is not something that is supported in the workforce ever. You kind of even mentioned it. Being asked to give something 30 days ahead. In those 30 days, I would change the presentations so many times that it would be completely ridiculous to give them something that I knew wasn’t going to be what I was going to present.

Stuart Cohen (20:39):

In the workplace in those 22 years when I was asked to complete a project that I didn’t feel made in my opinion, any sense, it was dumb, it’s a waste of time. And that included, by the way, getting my expense report in because I’m really, I have terrible anxiety over numbers, really bad. Even if it’s my own money. Why didn’t I go get it? So that got me into trouble because I was reluctant to meet those deadlines because I thought it was, I just classified as unworthy. However, something naturally I was interested in, sign me up because I want to impress the pants out of my bosses that, “Oh, look at this job Cohen did. Let’s promote them kind of thing.”


And even though I worked for 11 companies, I did move up. I mean, I was very proud of myself starting off in field sales and moving up to executive positions. However, the reason why it works for me, Lindsay, is because I sent a text to a dear friend of mine. He’s also an ADHD coach, and we are not accountability parties, but we’re cheerleaders for each other every day. I said, “Ryan, I’m on fire right now, man.” And that’s the best way to put it, is that I’m on fire. I feel everything is … The synapses are all lighting up. My creativity is at its peak. I can see myself speaking these words. I can see the audience reacting and how they’re going to engage with me. I’m in it. I can feel it. I can see the flow. That’s why when I’m in that phase, I can’t do it for 15 minutes. I got to be all in.


So yesterday after my coaching calls, I said, “All right, when this is done, go get yourself a good nutritious lunch.” I took a 20-minute meditation break. I don’t take a nap, but I listen to a meditation about 15, 20 minutes. It just calms my brain down and boom, eyes open at this desk, shut the phone off, I’m all in, baby. I’m all in. And you know what? My goal is to get it uploaded into Dropbox by 5:00 PM Central Time. 4:56, mark it down, 4:56 I’m like, “How does that happen?” And that’s because it works for me.


And that’s how we succeed. We have to know. I know how I work. And if it’s a client who says 30 days, where I’m like, “I need to be honest with you. If this is a deal breaker, then at least tell me I can bring a jump drive.” And I’ve done that before. I’ll bring a jump drive and I’ll upload the whole new PowerPoint because just like you, Lindsay, it’s going to go through a million different iterations as an idea pops into our head, scratch that, add this in. And we want it to be fresh. When I get on stage, oh yeah, I just finished this presentation a week ago, it’s fresh. It works.

Lindsay Guentzel (23:54):

When you look at life right now and everything that you have going on, what stands out as where you see yourself thriving?

Stuart Cohen (24:03):

This new space I’m in, I still consider it new because travel and hospitality had been my space for so long. I mean, after my 22 years on the corporate side, I’ve been independent, I’ve worked for myself. I’ve been an entrepreneur for probably 17 years now. Never looked back. Love the risk, love making my own paycheck, love coming up with new ideas and helping people. And when you help people, you get paid for it.


Back then, it was my passion. I still love travel hospitality. And those two presentations were in the travel hospitality industry, not even ADHD. There’s a big difference between passion and purpose. I have never felt more lit up than I do every morning. Because I’m a TG IM guy, Thank God it’s Monday. What can I do in this world of ADHD? Everything I do not only helps me grow and learn, but there’s no greater joy than knowing I’ve made some little itty bitty impact in someone else’s life. When you have these conversations and they have these aha moments and they look around and they stare in a space, they go, “I never thought of it. Wow.” And it changes the trajectory of their lives. That’s big stuff.


I love the opportunities that I have to do my one-on-one coaching and make a difference in relationships and work lives and their health and happiness. I love these interviews I do now with this thing called adhd UN shamed, where I get so much joy having others show up like you do here and speak their truth, speak their peace, and sort of shine light on stuff that’s been in the shadows for so long. It’s liberating. It’s cathartic. It’s freeing. It’s energizing. It’s empowering.


This is my purpose. When I take the stage of speaking at the conference, the ADHD conference, I can’t wait to share my thoughts on how to travel because that’s my expertise is travel, right? So I’m talking about travel and ADHD. It’s like it’s all coming together, Lindsay. It’s like, okay, I’m going to be 60 years old. I feel like I just graduated college and I’m starting a brand new career.


I see a very bright wonderful future. I don’t understand the word retirement. There’s so much really wonderful work to do here. We got a lot of work to do here. And I’m talking not just in our category with these other beautiful people who have like minds, but for me personally, everything I do benefits me as well, and my relationships and my work. So it’s nothing but upside.

Lindsay Guentzel (27:14):

You mentioned all the work that has to be done. And I’m wondering if we can sit there for just a second and let’s start with you because you said all of these things that you do, all of the interviews you get to do, all the people you get to meet, everything helps you. So what is that one thing right now that in your head is what you would like to work on?

Stuart Cohen (27:36):

Patience. When I feel big energy coming on, these are separate things or combined, I guess in a way, I still have a tendency for rage. If I see an unfairness, if something is really disturbing me, I’ll feel it coming on. And I’ve given a name to him. His name is Roger Rage, and I’m really working hard to recognize when I might be in a situation where it might come on, number one, so I’m prepared. Number two, when I feel it coming on, how do I change that reflex? And this is what we do, we feel it coming on. Can we catch it in time? Can we change the reaction so we’re more proactive? So instead of letting the cortisol just completely destroy the body and the day because the cortisol stays in the body for much longer, how can I mitigate that? How can I minimize that?


So that’s the work right there. And I’m working real hard to have patience. I have no patience. I don’t understand. I wasn’t given the patience gene. I wish I had it. And it’s really hard. And I’m trying to give people things, technology. Oh my gosh, this iPhone is a curse and a blessing. Sorry, Apple. I’m not just mean to pick on you, but you know what? Stop. It insists upon itself, right? Don’t do that to me. Don’t tell me I got to log in again. And I can’t see my password. Are you joking? Sorry. These little things set me off.


And Lizzie, I’m trying to, with the rollercoaster ride, lessen the lows, lessen the highs just a little bit. When a little bit too much energy may not be appropriate in that moment, definitely raise the bottom so that in those moments when I do, when I’m out of dopamine, I’m out of oxytocin, I’m out of serotonin, I’m out of norepinephrine, those lows aren’t so low and they don’t last as long. And what can I do keyword here to stimulate my parasympathetic nervous system? How can I come to a place of calm and ease, not only for me, for my mental health, also for the people around me?

Lindsay Guentzel (30:13):

I think there are a lot of people, myself included, who can relate to the rage, especially over something that is supposed to work and then it doesn’t work and it just sets you off. And I think technology is a big part of that. I want to flip it now. You mentioned all of the work that needs to be done in the ADHD community. What is at the top of your list right now?

Stuart Cohen (30:39):

Right now is encouraging people to speak their truths, to work through whatever past regrets and shame they may be holding onto, to face the fear. It’s not about convincing the rest of the world or your family members. It’s about owning it, learning about it, realizing that don’t need to go it alone while they can read qualified information. Watch the videos. Know who are the educated, positive influencers. Don’t be afraid to get a coach, to get therapy. Get the help you need because you can build a toolbox.


There is hope. These things don’t have to be a permanent cause of frustration and depression and anxiety. We can live our best life and we can’t wait for the rest of the world to say, “Oh, come here. I’ll show you how.” We’ve got to really self-advocate.


Look, it wasn’t until years after my diagnosis, years later, I realized it’s got to be more than this so-called magic pill because it’s not magic. And it wasn’t until eight years, seven years later, honest to goodness, I went on a silent retreat, which is hilarious because everybody who knows me, never uses the word silent and Stuart in the same sentence, because I was looking for what’s my next big thing. And in fact, it was going back to ADHD school and really learning about my ADHD and bettering myself, figuring me out.


I like to say the mystery of me was solved when I understood all of Stu, all of True Stu and that ADHD is, I’m genetically built like this. And there are countless others genetically built like this. I am a firm believer we have this brain wiring for a reason. I believe we are the hunters, trying to make it through an industrialized society. So how can we maximize what we’re great at, give ourselves joy, bring joy to the rest of the world and figure out how to manage through this sucky stuff that is emotional, it’s hard? Damn, I just gave it an explicit rating.


That’s the work that’s got to be done, to bubble it up to the top, to keep having conversations. Whether I’m coaching behind a mic, doing stuff in travel and hospitality, I’m out and about, ADHD rolls out of my mouth as frequently as, “Oh, you want to grab an ice cream?”


I want to normalize the conversation. I want to free up everyone else who feels it’s a curse and it’s a stigma, it’s an illness. I don’t look at it as a disorder at all. I just look at it as that’s how I’m wired. I’m purpose built man. And if this is the way I’m purpose built, and I didn’t know what the first half of my life, man, I’m going to sure live my best life second half. And how can I give others the green light to say, “You be you, man. You do you.”

Lindsay Guentzel (34:29):

You were able to touch on what you need to work on and what we need to address within the ADHD community. And I wrap up by asking every guest, what is something you wish the general population, all of our neurotypical friends understood better about ADHD?

Stuart Cohen (34:47):

I thought I was ready for this question. There’s so much. But the one thing is not to be afraid to talk about it, not to be afraid to ask an ADHD-er a question. If you’re married to or you’re in a family where there’s someone who has ADHD, you can get a coach, an ADHD coach who can help you understand that person in your life that has ADHD instead of remaining in it, and I don’t mean this negatively, in ignorant state.


Read about it too. Learn about it too. That’s the most important thing I think is. It’s one thing for the ADHD-ers to feel free speaking about it, learning about it, owning who they are, embracing it, giving themselves grace. It’s altogether another for the neurotypicals, the rest of the world to understand what it is and who we are. We’re really not terribly different. We just have a bit of extra zest of vibrancy in all directions. Just let us be and the workplace is a whole, whole different conversation. But especially in the workplace, talk about it. It’s okay. Give it air.

Lindsay Guentzel (36:15):

I love that idea of encouraging people to talk about it because I think sometimes it does feel like a dirty little secret. And I think once we acknowledge that there is no one size fits all, in a sense, everyone is neurodiverse because all of our brains are made differently. There is not a brain that is exactly the same as the person next to them. But we do know we are working with, as you said, different wiring, and allowing those conversations to happen just opens up the door for more understanding.

Stuart Cohen (36:53):

It does. It really does. And that’s the way we remove stigmas. That’s how we work through regret, how we work through shame by talking about it. It’s liberating. It feels so good to speak our truths and at the same time doing our own internal work on, okay, this is an opportunity where I could blurt. I’m not going to this time. I’m just going to hold on to it. It’s okay. It doesn’t need to fall out of my mouth. I still laugh about it, joke about it. But yeah, there’s a lot of conversations yet to be had.

Lindsay Guentzel (37:36):

Well, I hope this is just the start of many conversations between us. Stuart, it was such a pleasure to have you share your story with us on Refocused Together. I’m so excited to get to see you present in Baltimore very soon, the end of November for the International Conference on ADHD, and to learn more about life as an ADHD-er and traveling.


In fact, our very first episode of Refocused Together this year with Ying Deng, it was something we talked about was traveling and her idea of what perfect traveling was until she realized that because of her ADHD, she was actually making herself miserable. And so I’m so excited to see what you have to share, and I wish you the best of luck, and I love the energy that you put out there, and I love that you know what you’re working against because I think it’s also important for all of us to acknowledge what we have and what we’re working with, but what we’re working against. And so knowing that every day you get up and you make an effort to lessen some of that, I think is really, really powerful and motivating. So thank you.

Stuart Cohen (38:44):

Thank you, Lindsay. It’s an honor and I’m humbled to be here with you to talk and to continue the conversation. Thank you.

Lindsay Guentzel (39:00):

I had such a wonderful time chatting with Stuart, and I have to give a shout-out to Trina Haynes, another one of our Refocused Together 2023 guests for introducing us.


I so appreciate Stuart’s honesty. It’s one thing to talk about all the things we are good at or the things we’ve overcome. It’s a completely different beast to be candid about the not so nice things that are often thrown into our ADHD basket without our approval, like our strong emotions.


Honest question: How many people do you think have broken a phone after throwing it during a fit of rage? I mean, there is a reason protective screen covers were invented, and it wasn’t just for us clumsy humans. Like Stuart, I have very strong emotions and there are times where I can handle them, and there are times where I’ll just say it, it’s not pretty. And the unfortunate reality is those not so pretty times, my reactions, they tend to be impulsive and they for sure escalate very quickly.


For Stuart, it’s been such a struggle that he’s found relief in giving it a name. Do you have a little Roger Rage in your life? If you have ADHD, it makes total sense. Emotional dysregulation while not currently included in the DSM-5, is commonly observed in individuals with ADHD from both childhood to adulthood. And although emotional dysregulation is not unique to ADHD, its prevalence in a ADHD years has given healthcare providers another factor to consider when making complex diagnoses.


Mood instability may not only be indicative of mood disorders or personality disorders. It can also be a manifestation of ADHD, particularly for adults. It’s a topic Dr. Terry Dickson, the founder and director of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic of Northwest Michigan, dives into in the November 2022 article for ADDitude Magazine, Why do I get so angry with the ones I love most?


As Dr. Dickson points out, it’s important to remember that there are many ADHD traits that make it tough to control anger. That includes impaired executive function and diminished inhibitions, which can lead to hasty responses, frustration, and impatience. Us ADHD-ers tend to also feel emotions more intensely, which means we might respond to situations or experiences in a more extreme fashion than our neurotypical friends. So what can we do to help manage our emotional dysregulation?


Dr. Dickson offers up an extensive list. My two favorite suggestions. Number one, remember that anger is not necessarily bad. It’s a natural reaction and it’s a very human response to want to express that, in a healthy way, obviously. And the second tip I really like is number three. When you start to feel emotionally dysregulated, give yourself a timeout. Whether that means space, time, or both, giving yourself what you need to process is crucial.


I also think living in a society where we are so used to getting things immediately, it’s important to remember you don’t owe anyone an immediate response. If you need to take some time, even if it’s during a conversation, you can simply say, “Hey, this is making me feel a certain way, and I need to sit on it a minute.” Also, never respond to an email when you’re frustrated. Take that time out. You don’t need or want to respond immediately, especially if you’re still working through some strong emotions.


We’ve shared the link to Dr. Dickson’s tips and tricks for managing emotional dysregulation in the show notes so you can check out the rest of the suggestions. This is definitely a topic we’re going to explore further in 2024, and I’m so grateful to Stuart for being so open about it.


Like I said earlier, it’s never fun to highlight our weaknesses, but I also agree with Stuart wholeheartedly that the best path forward for all of us ADHD-ers is a world with less stigma and more understanding. And that comes from getting candid, even about the stuff that is less than pretty. It’s something that I respect the heck out of Stuart for, putting in the time to learn as much as he can about himself and then showing up every single day as that person without any hesitation.


As Stuart mentioned, he has his own series of interviews in the works, adhd UN shamed, which I was lucky enough to be interviewed on. I’ve included links in the show notes, so you can check those out, along with ways to connect with Stuart online.


There’s still so much to come for Refocused Together 2023, 8 more incredible ADHD-ers for you to meet and connect with, and we’ll be right back here tomorrow with another brand new episode. In the meantime, as you’re working your way through the 31 episodes we’re sharing with you this year, it would mean so much to us if you would leave us a five-star review and a kind comment wherever you’re listening now. Those are our gold stars, and the more important added benefit is when you guys share your love for Refocused Online, it helps other ADHD-ers find us. So take that extra minute, head over to Apple Podcasts or Spotify or whatever app you’re listening to us on right now and leave us a little love.


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, Susanne Spruit, Melanie Mile, Claudia Gotti, and Trisha Merchen-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 Rodemann, 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 at Refocused Pod and you can email the show directly [email protected]. That’s [email protected].

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