I often take for granted how open I am with my mental health and ADHD. They are both a piece of me, and it has taken a long time to be able to come to the realisation that if you want to know me, then this is part of me.
I recently wrote a blog post about why I wrote, blog posts. It went through the reasons why I do it. I don’t do it for likes, shares, comments or views.
I thought I did. Then I really looked into it. I do it because I have the propensity to forget it 5 minutes later if the learning is not reinforced. My mode of reinforcement is to write it down.
I work predominantly from home, and I have notebooks coming out of my ears. The blog ideas, client notes, learning notes, each have their own notebook this helps with my ADHD Awareness.
My diary is colour coded, so I know the difference between a client and non client meeting.
When I found out, through discussions with a psychiatrist, I realised - all of these are my coping strategies to deal with my ADHD.
I live by a list.
Ask my wife, Katie.
If I go to the supermarket and don’t have a list, I’ll come back with all sorts of stuff.
I’ve gone to a supermarket before to buy lunch and come back with a t-shirt and no lunch. Why? Because I didn’t have a list.
Looking back now, with hindsight, I can see that there are massive ADHD flags waving at me saying “HEY YOU’VE GOT ADHD”. But I just never saw them.
At secondary school particularly. I struggled. I was not academic in any way, I much preferred the more practical side of learning - computer lessons included.
I went to a Grammar School in Kent. But I was borderline and was put through an appeal process to get in. I scraped through, compared to my peers though I was down at the bottom end of the educational spectrum. GCSEs were ok. But A-Levels. Nope. Still to this day the hardest learning I’ve ever done.
Through that though I met some amazing friends who are still friends now. Some 25 years later.
One thing that came up with the psychiatrist was the fact friends of mine used to say “uh oh here he goes again, it’s Rusty FM time !”
Russell is my surname, hence the Rusty part, the FM was about the radio station you had to tune into to understand what the hell I was going on about. My wife often says to me “you’re on one aren’t you?” Whether that is me excited because I am in a new rabbit hole or that I am excited about a new tune I have heard. Or that I am excited I am going out to a pub only to find the pub has no electricity.
It’s all or nothing for me. That’s the problem. There is no middle ground. Ever.
Leading on from the middle ground piece, there are some social settings I find very difficult. Small talk is my worst, ironically I feel out of my depth, I just clam up and don’t communicate.
On the flip side, if someone is passionate about something and they start talking, I can be immediately engaged because I am hyper focused on the person and the conversation style and subject they are employing and having with me.
This leads nicely on to the Power Platform. I have spoken about its benefits to me personally, I am truly passionate about most aspects of it.
And this is where ADHD is my super power. I can hyper focus on a clients requirement to the point where it becomes slightly obsessive. It does mean though that I can get bogged down in the detail.
This is something I am starting to understand is that I need to relax that hyper focus on the minute detail and instead re train my brain to focus on the wider picture.
I can do that right ?
It’s just context switching to a different place, to a different level of the solution.
Awareness, Compassion and Being you
Overall, I am very happy, lovely supportive family and lovely working environment where we are implored to bring our true self to work.
Being you is one of the culture values and it really shows.
We have a group called the ANS Squirrel group, where people from all neurodivergent areas are encouraged to join. It’s a sounding board and safe space for anyone to talk.
In a recent Gartner report they called out “Real value of neurodiversity spikes” as one of 10 strategic predictions for 2024 and beyond.
Going on to say
“GenAI can help create a more diverse workforce inclusive of those in a wide range of age groups, from different educational and ethnic backgrounds, and who are neurodivergent. By 2027, 25% of Fortune 500 companies will actively recruit neurodiverse talent to improve business performance.”
When I wrote that blog post, someone reached out to me on LinkedIn. His words were very powerful and meant a lot to me.
His message started:
“Thanks for publicly saying that you have ADHD. We don't know each other but that statement - "I have ADHD" - means a lot to me.”
Wow ! Straight away I was blown away by this. A total stranger has reached out to me because of something I wrote.
“We do indeed solve problems in a different way, as you say. I see parallels between technology and the real world. These are real problems we're solving after all and I enjoy the 360-degree view that I have...and it's comforting to know someone else like me is out there. That's what makes us truly unique. Our thoughts are colorful creations.”
This struck me to my core. I think instances of ADHD are unique in the fact that everyone’s experience is different. But to read these words, they really resonated with me. It’s exactly how I felt and how I feel when I work with clients in consulting. Yes there are times when Rusty FM is about, but trust me I do have a point somewhere.
His final part that struck a chord with me was about blog writing itself:
“When I write, it takes time. In addition to a full time job, I chew on the relationship between the problem I'm trying to solve and the step-by-step details and instructions that I put together for others to learn. That's how I relate to the tech. Hopefully, some people will see that thoughtfulness (there are indeed some). The effort also takes an incredible amount of focus and determination throughout the week where I need to intensely focus on the task, structure my life, and manage triggers deftly to hit the Publish button.”
This is exactly why my blog posts have been few and far between. I hover over the publish button. But this comment alone has given me the confidence to just go for it more. So much so I’ve gone squirrel mode and this is the 3rd blog post in so many days.
Thank you again for reading. I will be coming back to this subject in later posts.