If you’ve ever gone all in on a number of tasks but ended up burnt out by the end, you’ll relate to Sarah Dimeo’s stories in this episode of Refocused, Together.
Lindsay Guentzel (00:01):
Welcome back to Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel. What you’re listening to today, it’s a little bit different than the podcast episodes we’ve shared with you before. This episode, this person’s story, is a part of Refocused Together, a special series the team at ADHD Online and I have been working on for ADHD Awareness Month. Every day throughout the month of October we’ll be sharing a different person’s ADHD story, which is fitting because the theme for ADHD Awareness Month this year is understanding a shared experience. And I can’t think of a better way to really get a sense of that shared experience than by telling a different story every single day. And to be clear, yes, that’s 31 stories in 31 days. My name is Lindsay Guentzel, and along with the team at ADHD Online, I’m so excited to present Refocused Together, a collection of stories aimed at raising awareness on just how complex ADHD is and the different ways it shows up in people’s lives.
When we share stories, it’s easier to find the perspective, ideas and tips that help us live our best lives. I’m interviewing people with varying backgrounds, diagnoses, experiences, and perspectives. We’ll hear from working parents, advocates, engineers, writers, PhD candidates, and more to learn that while we may be different, we are all united by our own ADHD journeys. This special project is very near and dear to my heart. And although talking to 31 different people has been a lot of talking, I am so grateful for each person who shared their story with me, and I cannot wait for you to meet my guests and get to know them. Be sure to subscribe to Refocused with Lindsay Guentzel so that you don’t miss a single story this month. And with that, let’s get on to today’s episode.
When you ask Sarah Dimeo about being diagnosed with ADHD in 2018, she’ll tell you that it all came together in parts. Burnout from corporate life and a grueling bout of rumination led to a late-night Google search about the signs of ADHD in women. As if someone had turned on a light of awareness, Sarah knew deep down in her bones that this was what she was experiencing, and she immediately sought out a psychiatrist who specialized in ADHD. Two weeks later, she showed up for her first appointment. And after Sarah described her symptoms, the doctor went about his diagnosis a little differently. He prescribed Adderall first to see if it calmed her down and smoothed things out. Despite seeming a bit cart before the horse, Sarah cautiously and curiously tried this unexpected approach, and the chatter inside her head was gone an hour after taking her first pill. That peacefulness she felt directed her to pursue a more conventional diagnosis with her primary care provider, and more tests to find out that she had combined type ADHD.
Now, Sarah views her life through this new lens, giving herself permission to learn to love and accept herself unconditionally. And instead of feeling failure and frustration, she now feels like a whole person who is genuinely starting to celebrate her unique mind and talents. I’m so excited to introduce you all to today’s guest on Refocused Together, Sarah Dimeo. Sarah, I am so excited to chat with you today to learn a little bit more about your story and how your own ADHD diagnosis plays out in your life. So thank you for being willing to share it with us on Refocused Together, and for joining our ADHD Awareness Month interview series. Thank you for being here.
Sarah Dimeo (04:18):
Thank you for having me and for opening this up. It’s a wonderful gift for everybody to hear everybody’s stories.
Lindsay Guentzel (04:24):
It’s been so wonderful for me to just hear everyone’s different stories, because every single time I talk to somebody, I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t know that.” Or, “Oh my gosh, that’s so wonderful. I have to write that down so that I remember to try that in my own routine.” It really has been just this crash course in learning. And so getting to bring it to so many people has felt really awesome, because I’m a helper. I love helping people, that’s really where I feel like I thrive. And so just getting to do it feels pretty awesome. But I ask everyone to start at the beginning of their own ADHD journey, what your diagnosis was like, what led to it, and anything that you want to share from that time period.
Sarah Dimeo (05:09):
Sure. So I was diagnosed at age 37, late diagnosed. A big challenge for me has always been my career. So I decided to go to college a week before college started, and then quit a year later because it was easier for me to work. And then I just progressed through my career over the next 15 years in retail, had kids, had to quit that, jumped over into corporate life, which was a whole ‘nother can of worms, and I learned so much, but what I found was I was just taking on all of these things and not dropping anything. You can give me any task, anything in business, and I will know how to do it, marketing, sales, operations, I got you. But what that leads to is burnout and a deep, deep, it was like I had this crisis of identity.
And I ended up being so burnt out I actually quit my job with nothing back in 2015, and had no idea what I was doing, and people started coming to me, and I started saying yes to things. And all of a sudden I’m doing contracting for three different companies, and I’m building websites, and I’m doing sales, and I’m maintaining these systems and building these systems. And in 2018, I had to let two of them go, but I was still finding myself just in this place of deep self-hate. I was giving everything to these jobs, but still wondering like, “What the hell was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just be happy? Why couldn’t I just do a job?” This went on for, I mean, really, truly years, this self-hate. And it was three o’clock in the morning one day, and I’m ruminating, RSD, Google hellhole, and pops this signs of ADHD and women.
And I’m going to cry, because that was the moment that I saw myself, and I was like, “Holy shit, this is me.” Everything, every single thing on that list, and I think I included it in my questionnaire to you, was me. And so I told my husband, I was like, “Babe, I really think I need to pursue this.” And I made an appointment with the psychiatrist. Luckily this is back in 2018, so it was before everybody knew about this. I had no idea that it would blow up the way that it has. So I met with the psychiatrist and I just told him, I’m like, “This is what happens. This is what’s happening to me.” And he looked at me and he’s like, “Holy shit.” He’s like, “Are you kidding me?” And I was like, “No, I’m not.” And he’s like, “Well, do you have anxiety?” And I was like, “Listen bud, I get anxious sometimes, but I wouldn’t say I have anxiety.”
And he’s like, “Are you sure you’re not depressed?” And I was like, “I know what it feels like to be low, but I would say that my normal state is joy, so those labels don’t truly fit me.” And he’s like, “All right, listen.” He said, “Sarah, you can go and you can get on a list, and you can wait a year and a half to take this test for 1,500 bucks, or…” He said, “… I can give you a prescription today. And here’s how it will work. If you feel hyped up and ready to go, then you don’t have ADHD.” And he’s like, “But if you feel calm, if you feel quiet…” He goes, “… then it’s ADHD because it’s a disconnect between the two sides of your brain, so it’s connecting the two.” And I was like, “Oh God.” I’m like, “Are you sure I can’t do it with diet? Are you sure I can’t just get a new planner?”
He’s like, “Listen, those things can definitely help support…” He goes, “… but the real support is going to be trying this medication.” And so I did. And Lindsay, it was lunchtime, I came home and I sat down at my desk, and I’m doing multiple things like I normally do, I’m still able to do this, but I looked up about an hour into it, and I was like, “I don’t hear any voices. I don’t hear this mind chattery.” It was still and quiet and calm. I never even realized I had had mental chatter before that, it was so part of me. So anyway, that’s my diagnosis story. And back in November of 2020 I decided to pursue a formal diagnosis. Still off the charts, I think I scored 200% on an attentive type, and a little over 50% on hyperactive, but my hyperactivity isn’t as much physical as it is mental, it’s always going. So anyway, that’s my diagnosis story. And right after my diagnosis I joined an ADHD coaching, and I’ve had a lot of supports and different things along the way.
Lindsay Guentzel (10:13):
I’m so fascinated that you were ahead of the game, for all of us who the pandemic was that push, you found your push, whatever reason, the stars aligned, and you saw that and you had that moment of going, “Okay, I need to look into this.” For most of us, it came in the middle of the pandemic. So I’m curious, how you were able to do during the pandemic? And I say do. And I mean, what was it like for you? Because you knew what you were up against in the sense of having a better understanding of how your brain worked.
Sarah Dimeo (10:48):
Yeah. So I would say that for the most part it was really okay. And at work I was able to utilize some of my best strengths, which is figuring out how to handle change and how to adapt and how to do stuff. So our sales, we used to be in-person, and it was like, “No, we’re moving to virtual. No, we’re going to put this presentation together. No, we’re going to target K-12 schools, because this is what they need.” But ultimately, I burned out. And so in September of 2020, I had just gone in to get a basic root canal, and it got infected and took over my face.
So I was so stressed out that I was hospitalized for two days, about to turn 40, and I’m like, “Sarah, what the… Are you doing? Literally, what are you doing?” And so I put everything on pause, and I just took care of myself, and I ended up quitting my job. I ended up just being like, “Sarah, you cannot do this. Why are you doing this? You don’t care about this anymore. You can’t care more about it, you can’t push your ideas forth anymore.”
Lindsay Guentzel (11:56):
Do you feel in that moment there was this realization that maybe you hadn’t been doing exactly what you wanted to be doing?
Sarah Dimeo (12:03):
Lindsay Guentzel (12:06):
Sarah Dimeo (12:07):
Oh God. And this ability for us, people with these big brains, to do so many things, and to be seeking that dopamine. It feels good to be able to do so many things, until it doesn’t.
Lindsay Guentzel (12:23):
Yep. So then November, you sought out some ADHD coaching. So tell me a little bit about what you’ve been doing since, and how you feel like you’ve changed from September of 2020 to now.
Sarah Dimeo (12:37):
So actually the ADHD coaching came back in 2018. I did ADHD reWired with Eric Tivers. And that was really helpful in understanding things like timeliness, just some of these tendencies that our brains have. But between then and now, I think the biggest battle, battle might not be the right word, but the biggest learning for me is that the most important piece of this ADHD journey is learning how to love everything about myself, and how to appreciate all these things that I thought are wrong with me or didn’t fit in, or were different than other people, those are my gifts. And I think that that’s true for every single one of us, in general, for everyone. So just to be able to more deeply see this as time goes on, and how to love myself, and even the fact that sometimes my house is messy, to just love those things and know how I work. Self-understanding is the key.
Lindsay Guentzel (13:46):
And career-wise, how has your diagnosis changed your life?
Sarah Dimeo (13:51):
So yeah, I quit my job. And I’ve always been really, really interested in humans and work, it makes sense, this is my biggest challenge, how important it is for us to do work that we love to do with people that we love to do it with. And I have a friend who has a recruiting company. And so I did some recruiting with her for a little bit. And then I was like, “I don’t really want to do that, but I’d love to help you grow your business. So let me put your website together.” And so I did that. Just over time it’s blossomed into… I love to work with business owners. And the first thing that I do is I want them to have a business that looks and feels like them, and that they can feel good about doing what they do every day. And so first I help them tell the story of themselves, and then I help them tell the story of their business, literally create a book about it.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:47):
I love it.
Sarah Dimeo (14:48):
It’s pretty cool, it’s my own thing. And I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know.” But I love it.
Lindsay Guentzel (14:54):
And is it a part of the draw that every business is different and every story is different, and you’re constantly being challenged in new ways?
Sarah Dimeo (15:01):
Absolutely, absolutely. And it’s so interesting to me, because I think that when people come to me, they’re at this pivot point where they’re tight, because it’s so easy for us to just do what people tell us to do, and over inundate ourselves and get burnt out. But they have this dream or this desire to grow in this way, or leave some of these people behind, but they don’t know how to do it. And so I help them reconnect with that part of themselves, and then build from there.
Lindsay Guentzel (15:34):
Let’s go back before your diagnosis, and you’ve had a little bit of time to reflect and look back on things, and probably ruminate because we all love to do it. When you look at your life and areas where you can see the ADHD coming up to the surface and how it was affecting you, what stands out as the really frustrating stuff, the stuff that you look back and you’re like, “That would’ve been so different, or this would’ve been not as hard for me, or I would’ve not gone down that path,” and what is it for you, when you look back, that maybe comes out in a negative way?
Sarah Dimeo (16:15):
Yeah, it can be some pretty shaming thoughts. If I would’ve known that this was a thing, would I have gone to school? I don’t know Lindsay. It’s so, so interesting, for me it’s just a self-acceptance of the way my mind works, because I’m looking back now, even the college degree thing, I didn’t want to be in a room with a bunch of people. And so in some ways I was honoring myself. So I think what I would relieve would be the beating myself up about it. So not so much the not doing things, but it’s the years I spent beating myself up over it, that’s what I would change.
Lindsay Guentzel (16:55):
And that list. You had gone through the list online, and there were things that stood out on the connections between ADHD and women. And what were some of the things that you went, “Oh,” the light-bulb moment of making those connections?
Sarah Dimeo (17:09):
Oh gosh. I mean, things like the house being a mess, and not wanting people to come over, or forgetting appointments, and, oh, that’s a big one, just this existential feeling that you are different than other people, and not fitting into groups. I don’t know, you could just look at the list. Maybe I should, I should have looked at it before I got on of the call with you, but I mean, I just remember feeling so seen. There were places in that where I have, around money and that sort of thing, where those have been problems in the past, but I fanatically manage my money now. I have to have these supports that I cannot… That becomes my hyper focus, make sure that things are okay.
Lindsay Guentzel (17:55):
And so let’s touch on those, because you did talk a little bit about taking your medicine that first day, and that feeling of going like, “Oh my gosh, it’s so quiet. And I didn’t know that this was something I was dealing with.” What are some of the supports that you’ve put in place, and how are you able to keep them going? Because I think that’s a struggle for a lot of people, we know what we’re supposed to do, but it’s getting into the routine of actually making them happen.
Sarah Dimeo (18:18):
Oh boy, that’s a big one. So first of all, I think having my own business is really important, because I don’t have meetings before 10:00, unless it’s required. And so that allows me to have my mornings to go for a run every day, to journal, to meditate, and to plan my day. I mean, I have this planner that I actually created so that I could take care of myself, you know what I mean? It has 30-minute time blocks, and things I’m grateful for, and splits my life into buckets so that I can make sure I’m taking care of all of the parts of me.
Lindsay Guentzel (18:56):
I love it.
Sarah Dimeo (18:57):
Yeah. So I think that’s a big part. And then doing what I really love to do versus doing something that other people want me to do. I mean, there’s always a balance, life is 50/50, we have to do things that we don’t love sometimes, but to minimize that amount has been hugely beneficial for me.
Lindsay Guentzel (19:18):
I’m curious, when you look at your life and what stands out as areas you thrive in, and if there are certain ones that you connect back to your ADHD. And I know you were at this amazing place with self-acceptance of how it comes out of you, how it shows up in your life, and that’s incredible. And that’s, I think such a gift for you, and it’s such a great reminder of how important it is to just like, “Yep, this is it and I’m going to embrace it.” But what are, you could use the word your superpowers, or where do you see yourself thriving because of your ADHD?
Sarah Dimeo (19:53):
Yeah, I think that where I thrive with my ADHD is really in my ability to connect with people. I mean, I have the most amazing people in my life, and I continue to meet more and more. And it’s like there’s this feeling of loving who I am that then becomes contagious to the people that I get to have in my life. And so I would say I’m thriving in that, I am choosing to do what lights me up, and to be a little weird about it and not hide anymore. I think those are the big things, it allows me to love my family better, it allows me to love my life.
Lindsay Guentzel (20:37):
And I’m curious, because I know from my own experience that sometimes it’s so easy to do what you think you’re supposed to be doing, and how has kicking that concept to the curb benefited you?
Sarah Dimeo (20:52):
Oh girl. Well, let me just tell you, last year I was like… I mean, here’s the thing about self-employment and doing something that’s your own thing, is you are going to come face to face with every fear that you could have. And a big one is the fear of not contributing, not working. And so last year I actually went and I got a job. And it was amazing, and I loved it, and I put together this whole project management system for a leadership team, and they were wonderful people, but at the end of the day, four months later, I was like, “Sarah, you can’t do this. Your business wants you.” And I still fall into that trap where I’m like, “I could just go get a job, just do something.”
And there’s this part inside of me that’s like, “Every time you do that you die a little bit.” So I still wrestle with those though, because society does want us to fit in. I’m at a point in my business where I’m in the middle, I’m not hugely successful, but I’m also not just a baby business. So it’s an in-between phase, and that’s scary. It’s really scary.
Lindsay Guentzel (22:02):
It’s really scary, but there’s also, I think you probably feel this way, because I feel this way, it’s scary, but the greater fear is, what if you stayed in the job and you didn’t come back to your business, and then what?
Sarah Dimeo (22:15):
Oh my God, It’s like I can’t abandon myself anymore, I can’t. Something physically stops me, and it’s like, “Sarah, what do people need to know?” And so I think too, me having these experiences and loving myself and choosing myself through them is also really helpful in my work.
Lindsay Guentzel (22:35):
How has it changed you as a mother, as a partner? How has knowing more about your brain changed the relationships in your life?
Sarah Dimeo (22:47):
As a mother, I think I have a really, really deep sense of empathy for my girls and how they work, and I look and see who they are and what’s important to them. And I try my best to nurture that, and not get super frustrated, although my younger one, there’s always challenges with that, but I see her. And my husband, I would say our relationship continues to get better over time. I see how we work together, and we’re learning how to be patient and kind to each other in this hecticness that we have.
Lindsay Guentzel (23:27):
The word I was thinking was empathy, because I feel that way too. I’m constantly telling people, if they miss an appointment with me, or they’re running late, or something happens, the apologies, it’s like, “You don’t need to apologize to me. I have apologized enough in life, I have felt that shame, I have felt that awfulness, it doesn’t belong here, I’m good.”
Sarah Dimeo (23:51):
Lindsay Guentzel (23:52):
And it took so much to get to that point, but if I can put that out to somebody else, because it was never given to me, that feeling of like, “Oh, I am just the greatest disappointment to everyone, nothing is good enough.” And so to be able to give it back, it’s like, “Oh yeah, we’re doing this.”
Sarah Dimeo (24:12):
Yes, yes, yes. And if they’re really frustrated or scared or nervous about something, I’m like, “Okay, let’s connect back. What is it that you want? So you can sit here, and you can steer and stew, or you can go ask for help.” What does that look like? And then walk them through the steps of that so that they can feel confident in their abilities to do that. My girls, they thrived during the pandemic and remote learning, because they asked for help, and they learned how to trust themselves, which is pretty cool.
Lindsay Guentzel (24:46):
Very cool. It’s also a reminder of how every generation has its own thing, and how we are also responsible for stopping the bad stuff from continuing. And I say bad, I don’t mean that just bad things happen, but sometimes no action is bad.
Sarah Dimeo (25:07):
Mm-hmm. And sometimes forcing action is bad.
Lindsay Guentzel (25:11):
Sarah Dimeo (25:11):
And so how do you know? It’s like, “Am I forcing this or not?”
Lindsay Guentzel (25:15):
You mentioned money, which is something that I think so many of us can relate with. I was terrible with money, I still think I’m terrible with money, it is just such a foreign concept to me, and we also don’t talk about it or learn about it until it’s too late. So I’d love it if you could just talk a little bit about some of the things that you’ve noticed about your relationship with money the more you learn about your ADHD?
Sarah Dimeo (25:42):
I have to think on this. I think in the past when I got my first jobs at 15, and you would just spend it all, and get credit cards and then max them out and never pay them, and then just struggle. I think in my life, we were at a point, about 12 years ago now, we were $15,000 in debt. And I discovered Dave Ramsey and the snowball effect, and we did the envelopes for a year, and now I have a spreadsheet that tracks it all. So my relationship with money, I have to be really, really thoughtful before I spend anything because I have a fear that I can go back to that, but I still love it. I think it’s a tool, and I love to have what I want, but I also balance that now because I know how quickly it can disappear.
Lindsay Guentzel (26:37):
Well, and that’s a part of it. And I also think too, with the credit cards, and I’ve tried to figure out the connection to it, and it’s like it’s invisible, you spend money that’s not there. It’s not like you have cash in your hand and you have to budget what is there, it’s just so easy. And I also think we don’t understand the ramifications of certain things until they happen. And then it’s the shame, and then it’s the disappointment. And so it’s like we’re already 10 steps behind before we even start dealing with it.
Sarah Dimeo (27:12):
Yeah, like I said, money is an area where I feel like I have more of a control, but that’s because I was so out of control for so long and I had to reign it in.
Lindsay Guentzel (27:22):
How do you find clients, and how do you decide who you want to work with? Because I imagine that that’s a big part of why you like working for yourself, is you get to be very specific about where you’re putting your energy.
Sarah Dimeo (27:37):
Yeah, it’s interesting. So have you heard of human design?
Lindsay Guentzel (27:41):
Sarah Dimeo (27:42):
Oh God, it’s my favorite, it’s a tool that I use. I discovered it right around the time that I was diagnosed with ADHD, it’s life changing. But how do I find clients is, I’m very, very lucky to develop relationships with people. It’s part of my design to connect closely with people one on one. For me, it doesn’t make sense for me to try and push or force, even find clients, that energy is bad for me. It’s about just showing up as myself, and then the right people are drawn to that. And that sounds weird, and it’s not like my doors are being knocked down yet, but I feel it.
Lindsay Guentzel (28:24):
And how do you set your self-worth in that situation? Because I think that that’s also something that a lot of us struggle with. How do you say, “This is what my time is worth. This is what my energy is worth. This is what my ideas are worth”?
Sarah Dimeo (28:38):
Oh Gosh. You know what, Lindsay? I am still learning that, but as I’ve been doing it more, people are like, “Oh, this is more than fair, you should probably be charging more for this, for what we get.” I’m not fully there yet, but I’m paying attention. And so I think that’s the thing is like, “How does it feel when you’re doing it? How much energy are you actually exerting? And what kind of results are the people that work with me getting, how do they feel when I’m done?” That matters. And I’m not here to tell people how to do things, I’m here to help them see themselves so that they can do them in a way that feels good to them so that it’s not pushing. I think that the stuff that we’re sold, that, “You need to have a six-figure business, and I have a seven-figure business, and I did it this exact way,” I think is bullshit. And it’s like, “No, who are you? What’s important to you? What do you want? And then how can we build that?”
Lindsay Guentzel (29:29):
I’d love to ask a little bit more on where you see yourself thriving, and how you set, almost like your mantra of what your purpose is in life, and how you came to that conclusion and how you protect it, because you’ve mentioned you like doing a lot of other things, you like being able to jump into anything and do it, but that takes away from your little bubble, your little cushion of where you know you’re happiest. So how do you protect that? And again, how did you come to set that and go, “This is me, this is what I’m doing”?
Sarah Dimeo (30:09):
Oh, Lindsay, it is a lot of baths. I know that sounds really silly, but I’ve had people from my past work come to me and ask me to do work for them, and I’m like, “I am sorry, I can’t. I just can’t.” Even though the financial rewards would be there, saying no to something immediately to choose my happiness is a work in progress, it’s scary. And I just consistently come back to my heart and my gut on those things, because I know what it feels like to feel bad when I’m working, and I know what the result of that is for me. And that is a deep, deep burnout and self-abandonment. And I just can’t do that anymore, I can’t. As much as the parts of me that want to fit in with society tell me that I should, I can’t, but every time I do that, I get a little bit stronger.
Lindsay Guentzel (31:14):
I love that you said that, because I’m thinking of a long list of things that I need to go and say no to, that I have been letting happen. And you’re right, every time you say yes, or you convince yourself that it’s benefiting you in a certain way, or that you’re growing from one of the aspects of it, when you said like, “When I’m doing that, and I hate it.” And I feel the exact same way, it takes away from what I want to be doing, and it’s also the fear of disappointing people, but what’s worse, disappointing them or disappointing me? And we don’t talk about that enough.
Sarah Dimeo (31:55):
We don’t. And I cannot, physically, my body cannot handle disappointing myself anymore, I can’t. And when I do, I feel like I’m letting other people down, you know what I mean? I feel like, for those of us who are on this journey of learning how to be ourselves, that’s my, if I were to write a book, which I’m thinking about, it would be the life-changing practice of being yourself, because it is not easy.
Lindsay Guentzel (32:22):
It’s not easy. And it comes up in so many different ways. I was just thinking about, I hate making Instagram Reels, I don’t enjoy doing TikTok videos. If I saw something that was really cool and I wanted to share it, yeah, but this whole idea of allowing this market of social media to control how I build my career, I was like, “Why am I doing this? I don’t enjoy it.” There are people who are great at it, who enjoy it, who thrive on it, amazing, go for it. That’s just not me, but I was buying into this idea, and you said it, that there’s only one way to do things. How many times do we have to be reminded that that’s not the case in order to get out of our own way?
Sarah Dimeo (33:06):
Yeah. And you know what? Here’s the thing too, is the algorithm is such bullshit. So it’s like, “What’s your purpose for doing it?” So for me, I actually love to make Reels from time to time, and I love to post on Instagram from time to time, but I don’t do it for views or likes or anything like that. I have this inspiration, and I want to share it today, and I hope that it benefits one person, but I do not really care about… I think it’s learning how to, and it’s a learning, it’s a practice, learning how to take your worth away from views or likes, because they don’t care. But it’s a sharing of yourself, what do you want the people who look at you to know. And to me, that’s the authentic truth of it, but if you’re not feeling authentic, then don’t do it, literally, don’t do it, but it is scary.
Lindsay Guentzel (33:58):
It is very scary.
Sarah Dimeo (34:02):
I mean, that is something that a lot of people come to me about. They’re like, “Oh, I love watching you on there.” And I’m like, “What are you even talking about?” “I feel like you’re talking to me.” I’m like, “Well, yeah, if you’re that person, then I guess I am.”
Lindsay Guentzel (34:11):
Yeah. And then you think of the accounts like, “Why are there accounts that I like more than others?” And it’s like, “Oh, because they feel like they’re their authentic self, and that’s why I’m connecting with it.” It’s so interesting to me again. But again, it’s not something that’s just isolated to social media, it’s saying yes to things that you don’t want to do, and making up in our heads how it’s going to benefit us, because that is easier than setting boundaries.
Sarah Dimeo (34:41):
Yeah. It’s interesting, so I have my own perspective on boundaries that I’ve developed over time. And for me, boundaries isn’t about what you’re keeping out of your life, but it’s about what you’re allowing in. So I only have room in my life right now for work, for people who make me feel good, and who I feel like myself around. And if that’s not you, there’s not a fortress here, but you’re on the other side of that. I still love you, but I only have time for… Yes anymore.
Lindsay Guentzel (35:21):
Yeah, totally. And it’s hard to get there, and it’s hard to stay in that moment because we’re constantly being pulled out. It’s just like, “Nope, you can’t do that, you’re not supposed to do that, too much.”
Sarah Dimeo (35:36):
Yeah. Oh God, how much do you waiver between being too much and not enough? Our poor hearts.
Lindsay Guentzel (35:44):
Our poor hearts. And I think it’s so interesting, and I don’t want to say that men don’t deal with this, but I think it’s just the number of women I know who at some point were told, and probably were told multiple times by multiple different people, “You’re too much. You’re too loud. Your personality’s too big.” All of those things. And I think of all of us who allowed somebody else’s opinion to affect us. And then I see women who… I met a woman the other day, and I was like, “Oh, you are so much, and I am so happy that you made it through, that somebody didn’t get to you.” And maybe they did, and you had the capacity to say, “Oh no.” Because there’s so many of us who, I can think back to every single moment in life, you said you’re middle ground right now, you’re like, “I’m not a massive business, but I’m not a new business, I’m in this middle ground.”
And I think of all the times where I felt like I was there and I was going to the next one, and there was somebody who came in, and for whatever reason, whatever they said or they did, and it was targeted at me, and I went, “Okay, learn your place,” or however you want to describe it. And it’s just like, “We’re not doing it anymore, we’re not doing that.”
Sarah Dimeo (37:01):
We’re not doing that, yeah. But also like, “Good for you, good for me,” and how important it is to surround ourselves with people who are doing that too. So I think this community piece is really important, and you’re doing that as you build your podcast, and as you talk to more people, you are creating that. And I thank you.
Lindsay Guentzel (37:25):
Well, thank you. I mean, gosh, the energy you put out, it’s no-nonsense in this very matter of fact. And I think we just, as a society, we cringe at anyone who knows what they want and aren’t flexible. And it’s like, “Well, it’s not like we’re asking you if you want cheese on your cheeseburger. How do you want to live your life? Who are you? Who do you want to be?”
Sarah Dimeo (37:50):
What I have here on my desk, and it’s a question I ask myself, and it makes me cry, but it’s how can I be of utmost service to the world while I am alive? That’s my job, I think that’s everybody’s job, but I don’t think that everybody has the ability to look at it, and that’s fine, but for those of us who are, that’s our work, is figuring that out.
Lindsay Guentzel (38:14):
What’s pushing you forward right now? What’s on the horizon that you’re excited about? What is getting you out of bed every morning?
Sarah Dimeo (38:24):
I pinch myself on the daily, like, “Is this really my life? Do I really get to do this?” And every day it tells me, “Yes, you do.” So that’s pushing me forward, that’s what’s getting me out of bed, is like, “Who can I talk to? And who needs a little help, who needs a little encouragement?” And the truth is, we all do. To know that I have a gift that I can share, and I can help people see that, and then they can have immediate impacts in their life, like, “Yes, please.” That’s what gets me up in the day, that’s what keeps me going.
Lindsay Guentzel (39:03):
If there is one thing that you wish the general population understood better about ADHD and some of the things that we all deal with, is there anything that comes to mind, or anything that you wish we were working harder to change the narrative around?
Sarah Dimeo (39:18):
I wish people could feel what it feels like to be so wonderful in so many ways, and the pain of that self-judgment for not fitting in, and then people trying to push that. I wish people could feel that pain and really know how awful it is. For people with ADHD, what I would love them to know is that you are perfect, and the way that your brain works is exactly what the world needs, and how can you love yourself more and better. I don’t think that the rest of the world necessarily can’t understand that, but if I did have a message for the rest of the world, it would be to say, “How can you work with those things?”
So for me, everything comes from a self-understanding, understanding how we work, understanding what time means to us, understanding how our feelings operate, understanding what we’re great at, and then that way we can be very clear. I don’t know, that sounded like a bunch of bullshit. So I feel like the pain for us, people with these neurodivergent brains, is when we’re trying to fit into this world or trying to make them accept us.
Lindsay Guentzel (40:28):
I mean, isn’t that what it always feels like?
Sarah Dimeo (40:31):
I’m coming to this thing where it’s like, “Do we want to be accepted by that, or do we want to create something new instead?” I don’t know the answer to that, Lindsay, and I think that’s why I’m talking around it.
Lindsay Guentzel (40:43):
Well, I don’t know if there is an answer to that, but I also think, in so many ways in life we’re realizing that just because the way we did things before is the way it was being done is not the way it has to continue, right?
Sarah Dimeo (40:59):
Oh yeah, I guess it’s true, we can be great in groups, and it’s like, where do you see the strengths in the people? Look for the strengths and utilize those things, because when we’re operating in our strengths, that is where we’re the most powerful, and where we have an understanding of maybe where we’re weak and how we can work with that, or how we can utilize things in different people to pull those things out, that’s a big deal, because damn, we have some really creative brains, and lots of ideas and adaptability and things that we can change.
Lindsay Guentzel (41:39):
This was so amazing, Sarah. I’m going to cut out some of the stuff you talked about, where you were like, “Nope, this is what I want, this is what I’m doing.” And I’m going to just save it in my phone for those moments when I feel myself starting to say yes to things. I just thank you so much for sharing your experience and sharing your acceptance, and enlightenment, and the energy that you are putting out. And it is a great reminder that it is possible to have that. It makes me just want to go dive into everything that I’ve been putting off, because I thought that it was what I was supposed to be doing. So for that, I’m so thankful, but thank you for this lovely conversation, for being so honest and candid.
Sarah Dimeo (42:25):
Yeah, thank you, Lindsay. And really, thank you for starting that with such an important conversation to have.
Lindsay Guentzel (42:40):
There are so many people to thank for making Refocused Together happen, the entire team ADHD Online, Zach Booker, Dr. Randall Duthler, Tim Gutwald, Keith Brophy, my teammates, Keith Boswell, Susanne Spruit, Claudia Gatti, Melanie Meyrl, Paul Owen, Kirsten Pipp, Sissy Yee, Tricia Mirchandani, Lauren Radley, Kory Kearney, and Mason Nelle, and the team at Deksia, Hector and Kenneth, and the team at SMACK Media, Cameron Sterling and Candace Lefke, Camilla Eden, Lauren Terry, Sarah Gelbard, Phil Roderman, Jake Beaver, and Sarah Platanitis. Our theme music was created by Louis Inglas, a songwriter and composer based in Perth, Australia, who was diagnosed with ADHD in 2020 at the age of 39. To find out more about Refocused Together or to share your story with me, head over to adhdonline.com and check out the ADHD Awareness Month page, which highlights this project as well as each day’s episode after they’ve been released. You can also find out more by following along on social @lindsayguentzel and @RefocusedPod.