October is ADHD awareness month. I (Mandy), and Sail’s co-director (Danni) both have ADHD so we wanted to take this as an opportunity to share our experience of this and some resources that have helped us along the way.
Both Danni and I were late to receive a diagnosis, we were in our 30’s and 40’s. This is a common problem for women due to the lack of knowledge of how ADHD presents in women, this has only been coming to light in the last few years. Being diagnosed this late in life is like a lightbulb moment, suddenly everything makes sense. It’s a weird feeling, and we are both still learning about ourselves every day.
1 in 7 people are neurodiverse, that raises to 1 in 5 in the creative industries.
There are lots of myths to bust: ‘ADHD means disorganisation and deadlines will be missed’, ‘projects will be forgotten, mistakes will be made’, ‘ADHD people can’t run a successful business’ etc, which is why i wanted to write this post. The stigma has to be challenged, for that to happen we need to inform people that all it means is a slightly different brain wiring, and that can bring many benefits. I have founded a successful business, network and reputation regardless of ADHD. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without it, being a creative entrepreneur is a dream job for those with neurodiversity. For me, it’s a super skill of joining dots, lateral thinking and problem solving, relentless optimism, tenacity, persistence and delivering my best creative and strategic thinking. We can bring together left-field ideas and solutions from the most unexpected places, we create abstract concepts and see deeper layered meanings, we create interesting narratives and then simplify them into simple visuals for others to absorb. ADHD and creativity are the perfect match. We often use the term that ADHD brains have Ferrari engines with bicycle breaks. Sometimes it’s impossible to switch off and our brain looks to be stimulated by working on multiple things at once. Other times, we can hyperfocus on a task intensely.
“ADHD is very common among creative entrepreneurs. It’s the perfect journey with an unknown destination, it requires a certain impulsiveness and strive for risk. The combination of curiosity and high energy can propel someone with ADHD, (despite the resistance by traditional academic schooling of painting these traits as problematic), ADHD entrepreneurs can channel this to embrace new experiences, diversity of thought, the seeing of opportunities in every challenge, and the ability to have tenacious persistence.” Danni Gilbert.
The hurdles and barriers ADHD can bring can at times feel like an endless battle, for which mitigation has to be put in place. Planning, logical tasks, systems, time management, self-care, working memory, boundaries, saying no, and not being able to see things as black or white are all symptoms that ADHD throws at us. Having a support system, simple strategies, brilliant team, technologies and automations in place help overcome some of these challenges. Neurodiversity should be acknowledged, recognised and celebrated. Divergent thinking brings answers to real world problems, unexpected connections and ground breaking innovation. Adjustments should be made in workplaces to build spaces that feel safe and accessible for all, so that everyone, regardless of their brain wiring, can do their best work.
In the hope we can be a part of that support for someone else, we have compiled some of the information, platforms and resources that we both use to manage our own ADHD. It is important to us that we champion the benefits as well as talk about the barriers it can present, but most of all, we wanted to use this post as an opportunity to celebrate neurodiversity in the creative industry, and creative minds everywhere.
- ADD Mag – a brilliant community and platform publishing the latest research, information and coping strategies
- Michelle Minnikin: A great resource about diagnosis, and how to go down the Right to Choose track
- Driven to Distraction
- A great talk about the science of ADHD
- ADHD 2.0: a book (available on audio book) showing a revolutionary new approach to ADHD featuring cutting-edge research and strategies to help those with ADHD thrive
- CMYK. RGB. ADHD: A podcast discussing what it is like to be neurodiverse in the creative industry.
- How to ADHD: set up by Jessica who has ADHD, this You Tube Channel features strategies, insight and support networks for those that want to learn more about neurodiversity. Very accessible language and approaches
- ADHDAF podcast: Dawn and Laura, both diagnosed late use this podcast to discuss their own experiences, raise awareness, and break the stigma in hope they will help others.
- This is Me – a local support organisation providing practical support for those with neurodiversity