Episode 1 – What is ADHD?



Consider this your crash course in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.  The first-ever episode of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel explores what makes an ADHD brain different — functionally, structurally and chemically — with the help of Dr. Gayle Jensen-Savoie, the division chief of psychology for ADHD Online.  Then a look at the resouces available through ADHD Online, including free webinars from industry leaders in organization, money management, relationships and more.  Plus, the Mental Health Minute dives into how to talk about your ADHD diagnosis. Whether it’s your partner, friend or boss, psychotherapist and author Terry Matlen has you covered with advice to boost your confidence heading into those difficult conversations. 

This week’s Mental Health Minute

For more information on ADHD Online and ADHD assessments, medical management and teletherapy. 

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Lindsay Guentzel (00:02):

I was just two months shy of my 35th birthday when I was diagnosed with ADHD in January of 2021. It turned out to be the answer I didn’t know I was looking for.

Lindsay Guentzel (00:18):

My name is Lindsay Guentzel. I’m a journalist and mental health advocate, and I’ve teamed up with ADHD Online to dive headfirst into Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, by talking to the people who know it best, those of us living with it and the mental health providers who work with us. So much is misunderstood about ADHD and the only way to change that is by having straightforward conversations. Here on Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, we’ve thrown out those old, outdated assumptions about ADHD. It’s time to change the narrative and not just around ADHD, but mental health in general, those stigmas have held us back for long enough. It’s time to refocus our energy. This is episode one of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, what is ADHD? This is dedicated to my dad.

Lindsay Guentzel (01:14):

We didn’t know there was a problem so we couldn’t look for a solution. It’s one of the first things I said to my mother after I received my ADHD diagnosis in January of 2021. I was nearly 35 years old, and I suddenly had answers, too many of them, real explanations of why certain things in my life had not gone the way they were supposed to. I said it to her more than a few times in the months that followed my diagnosis. As I worked through these strange swells of relief and sadness and grief, I realized very quickly how dangerous it was going to be to live in the past, to play the game of what if about my happiness, my success, my relationships, my education. I even said it to my therapist, who I had been seeing for almost four years at that point. “I can’t believe I didn’t see it,” she said. None of us did.

Lindsay Guentzel (02:04):

And my story is one that so many people can now relate to. For me, a somewhat surprising diagnosis that led into this avalanche of putting together the puzzle pieces and realizing how for as little as I knew about ADHD, it all now somehow made sense.

Lindsay Guentzel (02:26):

My name is Lindsay Guentzel, together with ADHD Online, we’re launching a new podcast, focused on shining a light on something that is so frequently misunderstood and mischaracterized. Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel, this podcast, it’s something I’ve been working towards for a very long time. Obviously not knowing how my career as a storyteller would help support and comfort me after my diagnosis, because there’s just been something so powerful about sharing my story. And I understand it’s not something everyone wants or needs to do, but I do feel great responsibility in shining a light on what I’ve learned about myself, following my diagnosis, probably because I had become so good at hiding everything. We have so much to get into in this first episode that I don’t want to spend too much time sharing my own story. We’ll get to that next week. But I think it’s important to know how skilled people with ADHD can be at putting on a facade for those around them, usually when things are at their worst.

Lindsay Guentzel (03:22):

I hid failing out of college, not once, but twice from everyone around me, my parents, my sisters, my friends, my employers, every single one of them. I’m not proud. It might seem like I’m cavalier above all of this and that’s not the case. It’s just that sometimes things are so sad you have to laugh or make a joke. And that time in my life, it was pretty awful. And if I can help stop that from happening for even one person, then I will call all of this a success.

Lindsay Guentzel (03:57):

So there are a couple of things we have to do today. You’ve already met me, your host, Lindsay Guentzel. It rhymes with pencil. It’s a lot easier than it looks spelled out. You also need to meet my partner, ADHD Online, and then we need to dive into the topic for this episode, what is ADHD? So let’s get started.

Lindsay Guentzel (04:22):

I feel like this is a little bit like the first day of class, which if you’re like me, you loved it because it set the standard and you knew when things were due and you could put things into your calendar and everything felt so new and exciting. And so, it’s like this, we’re running through the syllabus. And so, for a more in depth look at ADHD Online, I want to bring Keith Boswell into the conversation. Keith’s the Vice President of Marketing for ADHD Online. And he’s one of the first people I met within the company. And that was just a few months ago when our paths crossed serendipitously. We’ll get into that a little bit later, but he’s one of the many people who’s been working so hard to get Refocused off the ground and into your ears. And I’m so excited to introduce him to you on this very first episode. So Keith, welcome to Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel.

Keith Boswell (05:13):

Thanks, Lindsay. I’m so excited to be here.

Lindsay Guentzel (05:15):

Keith or Bos, as most of us call him, you’ll be hearing that thrown out there, he’s going to be joining me on every episode to share the latest events happening at ADHD Online and how you can get involved. And we will get to those upcoming events later in this episode. But first I thought it was super important for us to establish right away what exactly ADHD Online is. One thing we’ve all agreed upon from the beginning is that our goal is to help people, whether it’s people with ADHD, people who think they might have it, but haven’t been diagnosed, people who are just starting to dive into their own investigation or exploration into ADHD, or the many people who love someone with ADHD and are simply looking for more insight into how the ADHD brain works. And we’ve also been on the same page about transparency.

Lindsay Guentzel (06:06):

And so, this is where I tell you I was not diagnosed through ADHD Online and I will share my diagnosis story because the only reason it happened was kind of like everything coming together at once. And I too much to dive into in this first episode. But a lot of you listening today have been diagnosed through ADHD Online, or if you haven’t gone through any ADHD assessments or testing yet, you might have been looking into ADHD Online and I want to make sure you know what your options are. So Bos, the one thing I’ve loved about ADHD Online’s model is, it doesn’t just stop at testing. Yes, establishing an ADHD diagnosis is the first step. And there are a lot of telemedicine healthcare companies out there offering that, but that’s where they stop. They essentially, they give you the information you need, you have ADHD, but they don’t have anything in place to help the person after that major life moment. But ADHD Online’s approach is so different.

Keith Boswell (07:10):

And it’s something we’re really proud of because the testing and diagnosis really is a first step into knowledge of a better understanding of your brain. I mean, I’ll share my diagnosis story quickly here. I was diagnosed through ADHD Online after joining the company and being here several months and I thought I might have ADHD in the past, but getting it confirmed, certainly opened my eyes up to a better understanding of my own personal history. I think the really unique thing that we have is we have the option to offer treatment to patients in about 36 states currently for medical management and then also teletherapy in seven states. It’s really part of our commitment to having a practice focused on ADHD. We are the largest practice that we know of that’s simply looking at ADHD day in and day out.

Lindsay Guentzel (08:15):

And you guys have been working on this since before the pandemic. I think what has been happening over the last couple of years and kind of this big awakening of people realizing once their structure and their routine was gone, that maybe everything wasn’t okay. And in order to offer those crucial next steps and that we’re talking the medical management and the teletherapy, it’s taken an immense amount of work to grow and you guys are doing it right. You’re going through the proper channels to make sure that everything is up to code, so to speak. You’re working with the best of the best, these licensed professionals. And what I love about the model is, anyone who has ADHD or maybe who has ever been told that they have ADHD tendencies, knows that to-do-lists are hard, doing something when you’re supposed to do it is hard.

Lindsay Guentzel (09:07):

And so I was actually speaking to one of your licensed professionals, one of your clinicians, and they were telling me that they’ll get assessments coming in that people have taken at two in the morning. And it’s kind of this idea, the ADHD brain does what it wants when it wants. And you guys are offering that up to people. The idea of being able to add in teletherapy, I am such a fan of therapy. I fought the idea of it so hard in my twenties. And as soon as I started going, it was like, oh, I get it. I get it. And I love that every conversation we have about mental health and it’s not just about ADHD, every conversation we have about mental health is breaking down some of those barriers and ADHD Online is really working to address the whole person and the whole diagnosis.

Keith Boswell (09:56):

It is a really interesting time because, I look at my parents’ generation, mental health was not a topic of conversation, right? And, and being part of Gen X, I think we were kind of the generation that started breaking it open. But I look at my daughters, I have teenage daughters and their generation is very comfortable talking about their mental health and it’s a great time to be in this space. And we were around before the pandemic. And so, we were one of those interesting business cases where the pandemic actually helped us grow because our model was kind of, telemedicine hadn’t been adopted as rapidly as it was during COVID. I mean, it’s kind of amazing. We really underestimate that technology’s been around for decades, I mean, literally, but it’s just not been used. And it wasn’t really, till people were forced to stay at home.

Keith Boswell (10:58):

And quite frankly, we hear a lot of stories from those people that staying at home was the moment when they realized ADHD was a part of their life, because in the day-to-day routine, they’d kind of built a way to deal with it. But then when suddenly things got disrupted and they’re at home, they’re noticing things about themselves that they might not have otherwise.

Lindsay Guentzel (11:23):

So I have to tell you a funny story, but I also want to address the fact that you are in the office right now. And what I love about it is every time we talk, you just hear these passionate, hardworking, lively people who are committed to this cause. And what I love is like when I’m sitting in slack and I can see messages coming in and a patient, a client will call in and have an issue. And like the response is so immediate and so powerful. Like John is calling in and he needs an answer and who can do it? And I just…

Lindsay Guentzel (12:00):

So I do want to tell you this funny story. I was doing this pre-interview with one of the amazing clinicians who’s working with ADHD Online and we were sharing our own stories of how we were introduced to the company in the first place. And they said to me, Facebook was serving up some ads. We’ve all been there. And the Facebook ad said something along the lines of, get your ADHD diagnosis for $150. And this person thought immediately, this company is just handing out diagnosis. And so this provider, who’s a mental health advocate, they started digging, ready to report ADHD Online. And instead, they found a group of people who are one, trying to make ADHD assessments and treatment both more affordable and more accessible, and two, who are really doing things the right way. And now they work for you. And I just, I thought that was the perfect analogy because we all are so used to healthcare companies not doing things the right way.

Lindsay Guentzel (13:01):

And so, to see a company putting, essentially, a product, you are putting a product out there and you are making it accessible and affordable. And has that ever happened before? It’s kind of this thing, we’re just so used to being duped it’s so outside our realm of comprehension.

Keith Boswell (13:19):

I mean, it’s true. We’re fortunate both of our co-founders have ADHD and saw the issue. I mean, the biggest issue that we tackled first was the bottleneck that happens in traditional diagnosis and assessment. I mean, depending on where you live and the type of insurance that you might have, it could be three months, it could be nine months before you are actually evaluated and tested for ADHD.

Lindsay Guentzel (13:56):

This was your introduction to Keith Boswell, more affectionately known to the rest of us as Bos. You will keep getting to know him throughout Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel. He’s the Vice President of Marketing for ADHD Online. And he’s going to join us just a bit later in the episode for a look at the events calendar. It’s what’s coming up at ADHD Online and how you can take advantage of the free events.

Lisa Woodruff (14:21):

Maybe you’re like me and you thought I cannot wait to be an adult because once I’m an adult, then no one could tell me I have to clean and organize my room on Saturday morning before I could go do what I want to do. My name is Lisa Woodruff and I teach the skill of organizing home and paper at organized365.com.

Lisa Woodruff (14:43):

What is housework? There is no definition, so I made it up myself. It’s four different kinds of work. It is cleaning, maintenance, tasks of daily living and organization. We’re going to dive into each one of those. What are they do? We have to do them? How long do we have to spend on them? How can we reduce the amount of work that there is to do at home?

Lindsay Guentzel (15:04):

Join Lisa Woodruff from Organized 365 for more conversations in her, Learn How To Organize Your Home, series on June 8th and June 29th. Register at adhdonline.com/webinars.

Lindsay Guentzel (15:20):

In February of 2022, yes, just a few months ago, I connected with the team at ADHD Online and we’ve been working nonstop since that first introduction to bring you Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel. As you might already know, May is mental health month and it really felt like the perfect opportunity to introduce this podcast. So much has changed over the last few years. And the statistics are clear, ADHD diagnoses are up for both adults and children, the pandemic and the interruption to our daily routines, it helped many of us realize something wasn’t right, that we had been walking a tight rope for years, some of us even decades, balancing carefully adopted coping mechanisms to make it through day to day life. And then, poof, those coping mechanisms that we’d been relying on essentially disappeared overnight and we were left to pick up the pieces with limited resources.

Lindsay Guentzel (16:11):

As we move into this next phase of life with more of our old lives and routines coming back into play, our brains are figuring out once again, how to manage these next round of interruptions, these changes. And Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel will be right there next to you by discussing ADHD and how our brains work. Yes, but by also examining the ways ADHD presents itself in our lives and the hiccups that often come when an ADHD brain tries to get things done in a non ADHD world. You can expect to find innovative and thoughtful workarounds from people with ADHD and those dedicated to helping create a more detailed understanding of ADHD. And that includes Dr. Gale Jensen Savoie. Dr. Savoie is the Division Chief of Psychology for ADHD Online. And we sat down together to dive into the basics, her from her home office in Texas, me from my dining table turned production studio in Minnesota, to answer the question, what is ADHD?

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (17:09):

ADHD, it really is a neuro issue. Oftentimes, and for years people thought it was about kids that couldn’t behave, when it’s not. It’s a brain issue.

Lindsay Guentzel (17:23):

Kids misbehaving. See how early we snuck that outdated idea into the conversation. According to the CDC, ADHD is one of the most common neuro-development disorders of childhood and yes, for some children, it does present itself through the, over the top hyper behavior, the cliched class troublemaker, who was always being sent into the hallway because they kept interrupting. I mean, every class had an example of this it seems. But ADHD is a much more complicated diagnosis, especially for adults who spent their entire lives learning coping mechanisms to work around some of the frustrating symptoms and research is also playing a role in how the conversation has changed around ADHD.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (18:04):

Over the years, it’s changed from ADD, ADHD, all sorts of different titles. Currently, really, there’s only three types of ADHD. There’s inattentive, hyperactive, and combined. So if we look at the inattentive type, those are folks that typically make a lot of careless mistakes because they can’t sustain attention, they’re not able to follow details and not able to organize activities. Usually they have what we call kind of a weak working memory, easily distracted, trying to do work on the computer and they get distracted and look at the next tab. These are folks that say, on my computer, I have 9 million tabs open. So to be diagnosed with inattentive type, you have to have six of nine symptoms. So the nine symptoms are, not paying attention to detail, making careless mistakes, failing to pay attention and keep on task, not listening, being unable to follow or understand instructions, avoiding tasks that involve effort, being distracted, being forgetful and losing things that are needed to complete a task.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (19:22):

So again, you have to have six of those nine. Usually inattentive type, we typically, historically have seen that more in women and adults. Now, hyperactive or impulsive type, that’s what most people think of when they think of ADHD, because that’s what they think of, of those children that we always say, it seems like they’re driven by a motor. They’re running around excessively. They’re talking excessively. They interrupt people. They blurt out things. They really just have trouble with self control. Again, this is usually diagnosed in children and more often in men. So again, it’s another one of those, you got to have six of nine. So the nine symptoms for hyperactive and impulsive are fidgeting, squirming, getting up when you’re seated, running and climbing inappropriately, having trouble playing quietly, talking too much, talking out of turn, blurting out answers, interrupting, often on the go.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (20:24):

I have adults sometimes say to me, well, those all sound like children, but really if you think about it, especially nowadays, we’re all on Zoom calls, you’ll see that one person that can’t sit still, that keeps fidgeting or they get up and they stand up. If you’re in your house, you’re the person that quietly tries to maybe get up earlier than everybody, but you just run into everything, drop everything.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (20:46):

And then the combined type is just what it says. You have symptoms in both the inattentive and the hyperactive. You got to have six of each and it’s by far the most common type of ADHD.

Lindsay Guentzel (20:59):

So, let’s review that real quick. People with ADHD fall into three categories, inattentive, hyperactive, and combined type, which Dr. Savoie said is the most common diagnosis. For people with inattentive ADHD, the symptoms are a bit more nuanced and for a lot of people, they can lead to a different diagnosis before the ADHD is discovered, the not paying attention to detail, making careless mistakes, failing to pay attention and keep on task, not listening, being unable to follow or understand instructions, avoiding tasks that involve effort, being distracted, being forgetful and losing things that are needed to complete a task. Those are the nine symptoms attached to inattentive ADHD.

Lindsay Guentzel (21:44):

For hyperactive ADHD, these symptoms tend to be more in your face, physical examples, fidgeting, squirming, getting up when you’re seated, running and climbing inappropriately, having trouble playing quietly, talking too much, talking out of turn, blurting out answers, interrupting, often on the go.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:03):

And for people who have a combined type like me, it’s a big old mashup of all of those symptoms.

Lindsay Guentzel (22:09):

So what do we know about ADHD and why are some of us more likely to have it? Well, we do know that genetics play a role and while too much sugar or watching too much TV, it doesn’t cause ADHD, we also know our environments and habits can affect certain symptoms.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (22:27):

What we know about the ADHD brain is, it is different, that it is functionally different, it is structurally different, it is chemically different than someone who does not have ADHD. We also know that with children and it can carry on into adulthood, people with ADHD brains are typically three to 4% smaller. Now what we have to know with that is, intelligence has nothing to do with the size of your brain. Don’t correlate those two things.

Lindsay Guentzel (23:00):

Think about that. My brain, the ADHD brain, is functionally, structurally and chemically different than the brain of someone without ADHD, not to mention smaller. And each one of those plays a role in how my ADHD symptoms present in my day-to-day life. And somehow I made it fairly unscathed to my mid thirties without having ever even considered if there was something wrong. And when you don’t know anything different and you’re not talking about your problems or your feelings, it can be pretty easy to assume that the way you’re feeling is not just the norm, but the only option out there. So what else do we know about the difference in an ADHD brain? People with ADHD have a smaller prefrontal cortex. That’s the area that sends down orders to help us with decision making, problem solving and regulating our emotions, really light, unimportant stuff.

Lindsay Guentzel (23:53):

And the posterior part of the cerebellum, it’s a spot in the brain that plays a big role in focus and attention, it has less volume than non ADHD brain. So structurally the ADHD brain is different, but we also know there are parts of our brains not working either the way they’re supposed to or not to their full potential.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (24:11):

The limbic system, it’s located deep in the brain and it regulates your emotions and your attention. The basal ganglia is different. There’s a kind of a deficiency there, which results in people being inattentive, being impulsive. We, for years have thought there was something going on with the reticular activating system in your brain, which is kind of the relay system, the way that things come into your brain and leave your brain. So when you have a deficiency there, that’s what causes the inattention, the impulsivity, the hyperactivity.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (24:47):

We know there’s less gray matter, which is that kind of outer level of the ADHD brain, which is important because if you have less gray matter, your gray matter is what processes information, it helps you think before you act. So, especially with kids when their brain is still developing, if they have less gray matter, that’s when they’re jumping off of things they shouldn’t jump off.

Lindsay Guentzel (25:12):

For a disorder that’s still viewed by many as simply a behavioral issue, there sure are a lot of differences when it comes to an ADHD brain.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (25:20):

The amygdala, which is the part of the brain that really deals with motivation and processing emotions, controlling emotions, that’s smaller in someone who has ADHD. So it’s hard for folks with ADHD to process, to cope with emotions because several of the structural differences in the brain, the amygdala, the striatum, the nucleus accumbens, the all sorts of structurally things in the brain are smaller, overactive, et cetera.

Lindsay Guentzel (25:53):

And the support system for the brain also behaves differently for someone with ADHD. Remember our smaller prefrontal cortex? That’s kind of the boss of the brain. It’s where our executive function lives. And it’s right smack dab there in the middle of your forehead. Executive function is a term that comes up a lot in the ADHD community. It’s defined as a set of mental processes that help us self regulate. So we can effectively plan, prioritize and sustain effort toward our long term goals. Essentially, it’s what helps us go from wanting to do something, to getting it done. And for a lot of people with ADHD, it’s the space between that point A of wanting to do something, to point B of getting it done, where we struggle. Things like planning, staying focused, remembering instructions, juggling multiple tasks at once, all are things people with ADHD can struggle with. And get this, my ADHD brain, there’s actually less blood flowing to that spot, meaning it can’t perform the way it’s supposed to.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (26:52):

It’s underactive, which is why then you have a hard time paying attention, a hard time controlling your behaviors.

Lindsay Guentzel (26:59):

But while some parts of the ADHD brain need more blood flow, other parts are getting too much blood. And that leads to overactivity, which is why someone with ADHD can struggle with paying attention and at the same time, be able to hyper focus onto something at the drop of a hat.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (27:15):

What I always tell people is, I don’t know why we ever named an Attention Deficit Disorder because it’s not about a deficit of attention, it’s about too much attention. Folks with an ADHD brain pay attention to everything, which is why they can’t pay attention to one thing.

Lindsay Guentzel (27:34):

It’s interesting to me how the word deficit has played such a monumental role in essentially creating a massive amount of misunderstanding around ADHD and has definitely contributed to the delay in diagnosing, especially for people who didn’t know anything was wrong, until all the wheels on the bus they were driving through life came off in dramatic fashion, like during the pandemic.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (27:55):

As we know, dopamine and norepinephrine are really the two major neurotransmitters that are affected by ADHD. I think most people know dopamine is really important because that’s your reward and pleasure center. So you need that to sustain attention, to stay motivated. If the dopamine levels aren’t high enough, you can’t pay attention. Or if the dopamine runs too high, that’s when kids automatically get way too impulsive. So inefficient dopamine systems make it hard to wait for things, make it hard to control your impulsivity and norepinephrine and dopamine are the two neurotransmitters that are mostly affected by ADHD.

Lindsay Guentzel (28:42):

And it’s also important to remind ourselves how young psychology and the study and the subsequent understanding of the brain it really is. And ADHD in its documented form, it’s even younger. While there are examples from the 1800s that experts believe are documentation for ADHD symptoms in children, it wasn’t recognized as a mental disorder into the 1960s. And before the 1980s, when the diagnosis became known as Attention Deficit Disorder with or without hyperactivity, it was called Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood. So, we are constantly learning and discovering these new “aha” moments in the ADHD community, and a lot of them simply because of developments and science and technology.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (29:27):

Folks with ADHD, their brains don’t have the organization of the neurons or the neural organization to self regulate, to stop some of these automatic responses. So they don’t know how to build in not to be impulsive. It makes them harder to do things day in and day out because of so much of the impulsivity.

Lindsay Guentzel (29:51):

These developments in the medical community have been so important in expanding our understanding of ADHD and conversations have been just as crucial. A part of increasing accessibility for mental health disorders comes directly from increasing our willingness to be vulnerable and our openness to asking questions that can be incredibly challenging and come with a lot of information that we might not want to deal with. That’s why this perfect storm we went through during the pandemic is so interesting because for some of us, that massive interruption in our lives, our routines, had it only been two weeks or even a month and not a significant stretch of time like we dealt with, we might have been able to bounce back to our trusting coping mechanisms and might have never even asked the questions that led to our ADHD diagnoses.

Dr. Gayle Jensen Savoie (30:39):

What we used to believe was that everybody grew out of it because your brain kept growing and as you got older, we all grew out of ADHD. Well, what we know now is, some people can grow out of it, but some people do not. And it is a lifelong issue that you address, just like any other issue. The one thing though we know with ADHD is, you must have symptoms before the age of 12 to be diagnosed. So, we’ll see a lot of people who aren’t diagnosed until adulthood, but you must have symptoms as a child. Otherwise, it’s typically another mental health issue because I think it’s probably about 80, 85% of folks with ADHD also have another mental health diagnosis, typically anxiety or sometimes depression.

Lindsay Guentzel (31:27):

And that’s why these assessments are so crucial. I know from my own experience, looking at my childhood, I was really good at holding things together. Yes, I was always working up to the last minute, pushing things off as long as possible until the panic pushed me over the finish line, but I also always completed them. And for the most part, it was always good work, so no one paid attention to me. It didn’t mean that I was thriving, but I wasn’t drawing enough attention to myself to warrant someone stepping in. I was social, every report card from kindergarten on up, there’s a mention of Lindsay talks too much and she doesn’t wait her turn before speaking. I sometimes still struggle with that, but I was also filling up my reward and pleasure center. That’s the area that Dr. Savoie told us about, it’s the one that’s fueled by dopamine.

Lindsay Guentzel (32:17):

I was filling it up with the approval and the sense of accomplishment that came from getting good grades, from not getting in trouble. I was kind of your quintessential model student. I was in the gifted and talented program in elementary school, went to the state science fair in middle school, was on student council and national honors society in high school, I danced, was in the school musical, pop choir, cheerleading, had my first job, a paper route when I was 10 or 11. But then from age 13 on, I balanced summer nannying jobs with after school jobs, worked as a receptionist at a hair salon in town, got up at 6:00 AM on weekends to host at a busy restaurant near my house. My schedule was always full, always a long list of responsibilities of people counting on me, keeping me in place. And now I know that pace and those expectations were really the only thing keeping the magnitude of my ADHD symptoms at bay.

Rick Webster (33:08):

If it was purely impulsive, there’d be nothing we could do other than handcuff ourselves, I suppose. There are things we can do because we can interrupt the pattern farther upstream and the farther upstream we interrupt the pattern, the less onerous the correction has to be. If we wait too long, if we don’t interrupt the pattern and now it’s three years later and we’ve got a $90,000 Range Rover that we’re making payments on, that we don’t even want anymore and we can’t buy a house and all these things happen, we can’t do anything about that. If we can interrupt it farther upstream, then we can interrupt those buying behaviors.

Lindsay Guentzel (33:45):

That’s Rena-Fi CEO, Rick Webster, during an April webinar he hosted on impulsive spending. Remember all of the webinars are free and are also available for replay after the event. On Tuesday, May 24th, Rick is hosting a budget workshop and we’ll be back again on June 6th to talk about repairing your credit. You can find more information at adhdonline.com/webinars.

Lindsay Guentzel (34:18):

So one of the many reasons I was excited to partner with ADHD Online for Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel is because of their commitment. And this is through every step of the ADHD journey. And for those of us who have been diagnosed with ADHD already, we know that the diagnosis it’s really just providing one part of the answer to an incredibly complex problem that a lot of us have been unknowingly dealing with for a very long time. So, once you’ve been diagnosed, that’s when you go, okay, what now, what’s next, and that’s why I love the free webinars that ADHD Online is putting on because they’re free and I am all about increasing accessibility, especially for a disorder that can come with some pretty hefty price tags when you’re paying out of pocket. And what’s so great about this is everyone can attend.

Lindsay Guentzel (35:08):

We talked earlier in the episode that ADHD Online is working to increase accessibility to their assessments, to the medical management, to the teletherapy. And right now, that is kind of in this bubble of the United States. So let’s say you’re someone who lives right above the border in Canada, I’m in Minnesota, Bos is in Michigan, Canada is very close, while you can’t take the assessment through ADHD Online, you can still attend as many of the free webinars as you want. All of this amazing stuff is just sitting there for you, created for you. And so, it’s where I really see ADHD Online’s commitment to helping people with ADHD shine through.

Keith Boswell (35:53):

Yeah. So, we kicked off our webinar series in 2022 with a commitment to both share expertise inside the building. So having Q and A sessions with some of our providers talking about how you get diagnosed or answering general questions about ADHD to also bringing in outside experts that are really well respected in the ADHD industry. People like Melissa Orlov, talking about ADHD’s impact on relationships. People like Rick Webster, the CEO of Rena-Fi, who focuses on finance and behavioral understanding, and then organizers, people like Lisa Woodruff that have written books about ADHD and organization. And we’re continuing to bring in more of those outside resources too. I think a big part of our commitment is to be a part of this community. We know there’s so many things going on in it and our goal is to just be a contributor and to give something back and to your point about people outside of the areas where we can offer service, this is our commitment to giving away more than we ask for.

Lindsay Guentzel (37:11):

It’s the mental health two minutes. It’s really supposed to be one minute, but I talk way too much to get anything done in 60 seconds. How can you talk to other people about having ADHD, especially if you’ve recently been diagnosed? That’s a great question. And right now there’s a whole blog on this topic up at adhdonline.com titled, how to talk about having ADHD. You can find it under the resources tab at the top of the page. The article offers up real life examples of how to get these conversations started and what you should have in your arsenal to make yourself more confident. Start by working to understand your ADHD. The more confident you are in knowing how it affects you and your brain and your behaviors, the easier it’ll be for you to explain it to those around you. Then figure out who you want to tell.

Lindsay Guentzel (37:58):

If you’re in a romantic relationship, they have to be at the top of your list. That’s according to psychotherapist, author consultant and coach, Terry Matlen. She says, if it impacts the people around you, they not only need to know, they deserve to know. But when it comes to other relationships, Matlen says, you might want to just share your ADHD symptoms instead of your full diagnosis. For example, you could say, “I don’t have a good sense of time, so I’m often late,” or “I have a tough time staying organized,” or “I get distracted easily.” Then it’s super important to work on responding to skeptical or negative responses with a calm attitude. Yes, I know it’s frustrating, but it’s also an opportunity for you to educate them on ADHD, and by sharing how it affects your life, you’re giving them a personal connection to it.

Lindsay Guentzel (38:44):

Now, finally, this is a tough one, but do you have to tell work? Absolutely not. But if there are accommodations or extra training or resources that could potentially help you in your role at work, you might want to consider having that conversation. It would be great to say confidently that every employer is going to have your back, but unfortunately we all know that isn’t the case. If you’ve had that conversation with your employer or you’ve been thinking about it, I’d love to hear about your experience. My email is [email protected] or you can find me on social media @LindsayGuentzel and @refocusedpod.

Lindsay Guentzel (39:25):

Thank you so much for listening to the very first episode of Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel. A special thank you to Zach, Randy, Bos, Claudia, Suzanne, and the entire ADHD Online team for being so supportive throughout the last few months. It’s a dream come true, truly. Thank you to both Rachel Coleman and Camilla Eden, who helped me keep my head above water, to Lewis English who created the incredible music behind Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel. We are so lucky to work with you. And to Ross Brendell, who answered every question I had in a way I could actually understand, appreciate you, friend. To my first guest, Dr. Gail Jensen Savoie, thank you for your commitment to the ADHD community. I can’t wait for our next conversation. And finally, to my family, friends, colleagues, social media friends, random people who hear my story and send me a note of support, this wouldn’t have happened without you. Thank you.

Lindsay Guentzel (40:16):

Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel is produced by Lindsay Guentzel with support from ADHD Online. You can subscribe wherever you are listening now, and we would love it if you would take a minute to leave us a review. Mom, I’ll call you later to tell you how to do that.

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