ADHD an A-Z: Figuring It Out Step by Step
Leanne Maskell discusses her ADHD diagnosis, her journey towards becoming an ADHD Coach and the purpose behind her book, ADHD an A-Z: Figuring It Out Step by Step.
When I was diagnosed with ADHD aged 25, I burst out laughing. ‘I’ve got a REAL problem,’ I said.
Nobody tells you what Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder actually means, or how it’s relevant to you and your life. The academic diagnostic criteria of symptoms of ‘inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity’ didn’t resonate with me. Despite being unable to listen, I got A’s in school, skipped P.E whenever I could, and was constantly paralysed by indecision.
Accepting this diagnosis allowed me to figure this out for myself. Learning about ADHD is like being given a map to your brain, helping you to understand why you might have always felt ‘different’ and how you can enjoy your life like everybody else seems able to so naturally. This doesn’t end: there’s new learnings every day, one more piece of the unique puzzle that makes up who you are. Instead of debating whether it’s ‘normal’, you can own it as who you are.
I first wrote ADHD an A-Z after learning about the 7 year waiting lists for assessments from my GP. My own route to diagnosis was so dangerous, stressful, and lonely, that I felt compelled to do something to help others avoid the same experiences. Naturally, I wrote about 85% of it in 3 weeks, then didn’t touch it again for 8 months, until I had an ADHD Coach.
The coach was the first person I’d met who also had ADHD, and was life-changing to learn how to work with my brain, instead of against it. I was inspired to finish the book and self-publish it on Amazon, as people kept messaging me to ask for more information and I knew it was incredibly important to make this help accessible.
I was absolutely terrified. I misspelt the title of the book as ‘AHD’, only realising after I’d posted a photo on LinkedIn coming ‘out’ about it! It also didn’t end up on the cover of The Times like my first book, The Model Manifesto, so I ended up feeling extremely bad Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria and beating myself up for stamping ADHD on my forehead for the rest of my life.
So it was quite amazing a few months later to receive a message from a senior executive at Microsoft saying how much the book had changed her life, asking for me to talk at the company! I started receiving more and more of these messages, and realised that although it wasn’t an instant best-seller, it was still doing all it was ever meant to do: help people that needed it. Ironically, it ended up on Sky News within a few months!
By the time Jessica Kingsley Publishers contacted me, I had quit my law job to work full-time as an ADHD Coach. I was being inundated from people seeking support, to the extent that I set up a company, ADHD Works, and ran large scale courses and group coaching sessions. Now, almost everyone I know knows someone with or has ADHD themselves. The world is a very different place, and awareness has exploded. It’s been incredible to re-write this book to include not only my own limited experience of trying to figure ADHD out, but also the overwhelming amount of experiences and learnings I’ve had since becoming a full-time ADHD coach. It’s been amazing to update it with brand new chapters on how ADHD impacts women and girls, and executive functioning, having learned about this whilst training and working as a Coach. This book isn’t just about me: it’s about every single person that resonates with it.
In contrast to 2 years ago, In the last few months, I have presented on ADHD to Directors of the World Health Organization and was selected for the LinkedIn Creator Accelerator Programme because of my ADHD and writing this book. I could never have dreamed of being in this place right now, but these ‘achievements’ are just added extras. The only thing I ever wanted to achieve from writing this book was to help at least 1 person feel less alone in the maelstrom of chaos of their own mind. As usual, that 1 person ended up being myself!
ADHD an A-Z is living proof that you don’t have to be an academic ‘expert’ or doctor to make a difference to your own life and those around you. It is proof that you don’t need to see ADHD as a ‘disorder’: but simply a part of who you are. The people I know with ADHD are all exceptional, creative, wonderful, brilliant and passionate, and make a huge difference to the world. If this resonates, you may have spent a long time beating yourself up for the way your brain works: I hope this book helps you to realise that there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re perfect exactly as you are!
ADHD an A to Z by Leanne Maskell is available to pre-order.
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