"Do I have ADHD?". 16/10/18. Broome, Western Australia.

Hi I'm Kat and at trainline you may remember me as "the one with girl heels on floor 2" or " the girl who has too much energy in app acquisition".

And whilst I'm not here to talk to you about sending in travel photos or "what does app marketing do" (check out our wiki for that). I'm here to be talking about a condition that affects my daily existence. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD for short. What it is, transparency with managers and links to get support.

Back story

I have always known I was neurodivergent, I received my Autism Diagnosis at the age of 10 and always struggled to fit in. I knew I was different and went through various support systems throughout my education. I had researched what the autism traits were but never felt like I ‘fit the box’ of this and still knew that I was different. It was only in 2018, when in the last 2 months of my gap year, I met people who suggested that I may have ADHD. I researched the symptoms then as soon as I landed in England, I called up my local mental health service and 18 months later , 1 month before my 26th birthday and in the middle of furlough, I had received my diagnosis and life began to make sense. ​​​​​​​

"Do I have ADHD?". 16/10/18. Broome, Western Australia.

So what does it mean?

ADHD can manifest in multiple ways -according to the NHS the main symptoms include aspects of Inattentiveness I.e. short attention span/ zoning out and hyperactivity and impulsiveness- unable to sit still/ interrupting people. They can manifest either as one (I.e. inattentive only, also formerly known as ADD), or a mixture, otherwise known as combined presentation.

For me, I was diagnosed with combined type meaning I have the best (worst) of both worlds.  Meaning I am equally inattentive as I am hyperactive, but I also have some cool side effects with this condition. Examples include:

  • The ability to lateral think- coming up with solutions that seem ‘roundabout’. Fun fact: David Neeleman, the pioneer in airline e-ticketing actually came up with the solution due to the fact he kept on losing his plane tickets – he had ADHD himself.
  • Resilience- ability to keep on going – ADHD are great adapters to their environment, we  will often never say its impossible until the last google page has been found / tested, the youtube tutorials have lead to nowhere and there is a wall after the 20th hoop.
  • Finally, the ability to hyperfocus – I can sit down for a long period of time and work without a break. Yes, the last one is surprising, yet, its not like ADHD cannot focus, its we have trouble regulating where the focus goes. It’s an irregularity of dopamine.

In work, this means I have to schedule work time about how best suits me – I understand that evenings may be better as my brain doesn’t focus in the morning. It’s doing little tasks to get the dopamine receptors going in the morning so you can do the big scary ones later. It also means having a notebook/ notes tab open at all times to jot down anything and everything all of the time, as well as being transparent with managers about the condition. ​​​​​​​

ADHD in the workplace

As mentioned before, I have always been transparent about my condition to my colleagues and managers about my ADHD as if we are together 40 hours a week, this is important. This came to light recently when my previous manager left, and I had to adjust to a new one. I had an informal catchup and explained the condition, how it affects me in the workplace and that I work differently on some days / why I may be struggling on others. I also linked her to some core resources, that explain ADHD in the workplace better (I’ll link them below) and tools to help manage someone with the condition.

Some of the adaptations I explained were:

a – that I need to constantly change how I do things, as they are super dependent on my mood ( main one is to do lists- sometimes my regular diary doesn’t sit right so I have to change it up with different apps/ notebooks).

b- I need to find quiet rooms when I am struggling to focus and getting distracted – I call this hiding mode and it helps reduce anxiety.

c- I ask for help /feedback regularly, especially during ‘too much to function’ days where my condition can peak and I am struggling to concentrate, again anxiety.

d- Finally, coming up with strategies to focus on strengths, ensuring that tasks are done efficiently. I often ask for deadlines to ensure all my tasks are done, or breaking down tasks into mini 20 min tasks to make the BAU seem less like a BHAG.

The final part.

So as I mentioned, ADHD is a combination of symptoms that include: Hyperactivity, distractibility and poor time management skills. But it can also come with great side effects such as: increased compassion, a sense of humour and the ability to persevere. ADHD colleagues think differently and can be a great asset to your team if you nurture them correctly. ​​​​​​​

If you are looking for more information regarding this, here are some of my favourite websites to get information:

How to succeed in a business with ADHD ( story about David Neeleman) https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-entrepreneur-stories-jetblue-kinkos-jupitermedia/

What is ADHD: https://www.geniuswithin.org/what-is-neurodiversity/adhd/

Getting a diagnosis: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/diagnosis/

Right to choose ( how to get private adhd treatment/ diagnosis on the NHS): https://adhduk.co.uk/right-to-choose/

Employers guide to ADHD:

https://www.adhdfoundation.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/An-Employers-Guide-to-ADHD-in-the-Workplace.pdf