Inspirational women with ADHD

Simone’s recent 25th World Championship gold medal extended her lead as the most decorated gymnast of all time. She finished with five gold medals in the all-around, team, vault, balance beam and floor competitions. It was the most successful World Championships of her career.

I really don’t know how I do it sometimes,” Simone said after her all-around victory. “Sometimes I wonder how I do it. I feel like it’s just like not me. I wish I could have an out-of-body experience to witness it because sometimes I think I’m going crazy.”

Simone publicly addressed her ADHD after hackers exposed her private medical information. Her response was loud and clear: ADHD is “nothing to be ashamed of.” She was thrust back into the spotlight when a group of hackers broke into the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) database and exposed her confidential medical records. Simone was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and continues to treat her symptoms with the stimulant medication methylphenidate.

The attackers’ motive was clear: to accuse Simone of cheating in the 2016 Rio Olympics by using a medication that gave her an unfair leg up against the competition. Medical experts, USA Gymnastics and the athlete herself have issued strong, passionate responses.

USA Gymnastics confirmed that Simone submitted, and was approved for, a therapeutic-use exception in order to continue taking methylphenidate, a prescribed medication on the World Anti-Doping Agency Prohibited Drug List. In other words, she has broken no rules or regulations; her medals are not in jeopardy.

Simone took to Twitter to say, “I have ADHD and I have taken medicine for it since I was a kid. Please know, I believe in clean sport, have always followed the rules and will continue to do so as fair play is critical to sport and is very important to me.”

Having ADHD and taking medicine for it is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing that I’m afraid to let people know.”

The actions of the hackers tried to capitalise on outdated stigmas and misconceptions and tarnish an Olympian’s proud moment. The response from the medical community is clear: ADHD is not shameful. Stimulant medication is an appropriate and fully-tested medical treatment. Biles is a world-class athlete who just happens to have ADHD.

(credit to Tumaini Carayol, published in the Guardian 13th Oct 2019 and ADD-itude Magazine)

Emma is an actress, model and activist. Born in Paris and brought up in Oxfordshire, She trained at the Oxford branch of Stagecoach Theatre Arts. As a child, she rose to prominence with her first professional acting role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series, having acted only in school plays previously. She went on to star as Belle in the musical romantic fantasy Beauty and the Beast (2017) and Meg March in the coming-of-age film Little Women, the latter of which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
From 2011 to 2014, she split her time between working on films and continuing her education, studying at Brown University and Worcester College, Oxford, and graduating from Brown with a bachelor’s degree in English literature in May 2014. Her modelling work has included campaigns for Burberry and Lancôme. She also lent her name to a line of clothing for People Tree. She was honoured by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in 2014, winning British Artist of the Year. That same year, she was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill ambassador and helped launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe, which encourages all genders to work towards gender equality.

For a relatively young person she has much wisdom to share, here are a couple of quotes that have inspired me;
She said that life is ‘a journey and the sad thing is you only learn from experience, so as much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.” When asked about her hopes for her future she said, “I don’t want the fear of failure to stop me from doing what I really care about.”
While Emma hasn’t spoken openly about the condition, ADHD Foundation reports that she had been diagnosed and medicated since childhood, while filming the Harry Potter series. In addition, her range of accomplishments in both cinema and women’s rights, along with her undeniable poise and elegance, remind us that even Renaissance women have ADHD.

The successful actress is known for playing tough, powerful women in the TV series Lost and in the Fast & Furious movies. In 2006, Michelle spoke about her diagnosis of ADHD in an interview with Cosmopolitan magazine. She said she decided against taking medication, but she was afraid that her attention deficit would thwart her career dreams. “I want to write and direct, but it’s not easy with ADHD. I have a hard time focusing when I’m alone. I’m a scatterbrain.” As it turns out, Michelle’s concerns were unwarranted.

When Michelle went on her second audition, she walked away with a part in The Fast and the Furious. She hasn’t stopped acting since, appearing in over 20 films and several TV series since 2000, as well as doing voice work for several video games. In 2005, she was in the cast that won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series.

Michelle has had rough times in her life, like many people diagnosed with ADHD. In 2006, she was charged with a DUI and, in 2009, she attempted to attack a photographer who got too close to her. By her own admission, she “partied hard.” Michelle discovered a pattern about herself: she rebels, realises that she is hurting herself and works to get her life back on track.

In 2013, she told Cosmopolitan Latinas that she planned to take a break from acting to try her hand at writing and directing. “Sometimes you gotta believe,” she said. “And sometimes you may be wrong. But until you try it and put it out there, you can’t let anybody have an opinion about it. That’s how you get it done.”

A successful and celebrated journalist in print and the wider media. When covering the issue of American families battling ADHD, Lisa started to relate more than normal to her subject matter, recognising the core symptoms of the condition in herself. Aged 40, the mother of two was diagnosed with ADHD for the first time in her life.

My head is kind of spinning, but I feel a little bit of relief because, for so long, I’ve been fighting it and I’ve been so frustrated with this inability to focus,” she said, describing how she was always able to have laser-like focus on her stories, but was unable to concentrate her attention when not on a specific task.

When the actress and filmmaker Trudie Styler, who is also a mother of four and the long-time partner of rock star Sting — started school, in England in the 1960s, she had trouble learning to read. School officials sent her to get her eyes tested. When it turned out she could see fine, the diagnosis was simple: she must be a “backward.” While she didn’t get a real diagnosis of inattentive-type ADHD until years later, her mother came to her defence: “Our Trudie is not backward,” she said. “She’s just slower learning to read.”

School became a nightmare for Trudi as she moved from a small primary school to a big high school. She was lost. What got her through? “My faith in God began to grow, and it was that small voice, when you’re extremely lonely and lost, that lets you know that you’re not alone.” Being a good athlete and actor in high school also helped. “When I got on stage, and when I started to be another character, I could somehow take a distance from me, and that character would come through.”

After high school, Trudi pursued an acting career. She packed her bags and left home for Stratford-on-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare. While there, she became a house cleaner for a family and later moved to London with them. She wrote to the Bristol Old Vic Acting School, begging for an audition. She got one, and was accepted as a student, with a scholarship.

“My life really began there,” Trudi said. “I had started to realise my dream. It was the first time the tide wasn’t going against me.” In 1981, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. Since then, Trudi has appeared in movies and TV series and has produced 15 films.

Yoga is a big help for Trudi — “the meditation aspect has been incredibly useful in clearing the traffic that goes on in a chaotic mind like mine.” Medication helps her focus, especially when reading scripts.

Trudi’s advice: “As a kid, you obsess about wanting to be normal. As you get older, being normal is not such a big thing. Your gifts are important. Celebrate who you are and listen for the small voice.

‘Dancing with the Stars’ (US version of Strictly Come Dancing) professional performer Karina has struggled her entire life with hyperactivity but   found a way to ‘spin’ the symptoms in her favour.

I’ve always been hyperactive, and dancing has helped me with it,” Karina told ABC. She credits medication and behavioural modifications with helping her gain control of her inattention and impulsivity.

A celebrated journalist, winning a Pulitzer at the age of 27 has been just one of Katherine Ellison’s many accomplishments. Katherine has written multiple books on the topic, drawing from both her own ADHD experience as well as her experience as a parent of a child with the condition. It was her son’s diagnosis that ultimately led to her own, which is detailed in the memoir Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention.

She wrote ‘’And maybe there’s something both of us can learn by looking through this Attention Deficit lens, murky prism that it is. Perhaps it can even help clear up the mystery of my own history of unreasonable extremes: of screw-ups alternating with heady success, of buying high and selling low, and — so like my Buzz — of constant cravings for conflict and caffeine. It may even illuminate how I managed to win a Pulitzer Prize just three years after being sued for $11 million for a careless reporting mistake, then realized my childhood dream of becoming a foreign correspondent, only to break my leg by running into a manhole in Managua while chasing Nicaragua’s newly-elected president — and did I mention that she was on crutches at the time?’’

Olympic Gold and Silver medal-winning hockey player Cammi Granato was not immune to the havoc ADHD can wreak in somebody’s life. The athlete struggled while at the peak of her career, which she recalled in an interview with ADDitude magazine: “My life began spinning out of control…the number of voice messages and e-mails I received became overwhelming; I couldn’t return them all. My bills didn’t get paid. My house was a mess. I bought every anti-clutter book out there, but they just became part of the clutter.”


However, when she accepted her diagnosis and worked to make changes in her life, it made all the difference: ‘’ADHD comes with certain strengths and weaknesses that have made me who I am, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.’’

Sari is a psychotherapist and author who knows all about the stigmatising effects of ADHD. After finishing the meal at a dinner party, years back, women knew that they were expected to get up, bring their dishes into the kitchen and put things back where they belong. “It’s like a dance after the meal,” says Sari. “Me? I just stood there, frozen.”

For Sari, who specializes in ADHD’s effect on women, such experiences have shaped her work and life. She understands the shame women with ADD suffer when they can’t stay organized, keep on top of the family schedule and maintain friendships or a tidy home.

After graduating from California State University with a master’s degree in clinical counselling, Sari started her career in a large family service agency. She had trouble doing the administrative work and focusing on long lists of clients. She often found herself switching off clocks and fans in the office to help her focus.

Through her work, Sari started learning more about adults and learning disorders, and recognized her symptoms as attention deficit. Upon hearing the term “ADHD” from a doctor, Sari felt relief. “It was liberating,” she says.

Now in private practice and having learned to organise her professional and personal life, Sari is paying it forward. In her book Women with Attention Deficit Disorder, she explains the difficulties that women with ADHD face and gives strategies for navigating society’s expectations. “Women with ADHD have to understand that their brain works differently,” she says, “and not blame themselves.

Sari says that finding other women with ADHD has helped her because they understand how her mind works. “I learn from the women with ADHD I work with. They inspire me.”

Marta Bota is a freelance make-up artist whose career has spanned more than two decades. She has done make-up for the on-air talent and celebrity guests for mainstream TV channels in the USA. Working with make-up uses Bota’s creative gifts. “Artistic expression has always been therapeutic for me,” says Marta.

Marta’s diagnosis came about when her son was being evaluated for ADHD. The doctor handed her a questionnaire about her son’s behaviours. As she read over the questions, she recalled having the same challenges as a teen.

Several months later, after her mother’s death, Marta found her old report cards stored in boxes. On the back of them were comments such as “Trouble paying attention” and “Needs to learn to focus.” She was in the gifted and talented program, but she struggled to keep up with the work and to stay on task. That was her “Aha!” moment. She decided to get tested for ADHD and to find ways to cope with the condition.

Marta had developed coping strategies before her diagnosis. She knew that a 9-to-5 career wasn’t for her, so she started her own make-up firm, MB Face Design. What she likes most about it is that there is no routine – every day is different. She taught herself how to get things done by moving among several projects to avoid being bored by one of them.

Marta focuses on the positives of ADHD. She has more energy and gets more done in a day than many neurotypical people do, she says. She is creative and resourceful. Most of all, she learned to forgive herself and accept her condition.

Margaux Joffe is an award-winning producer, creative consultant and advertising professional. Her goal is to use media to inspire and educate others. She has produced, among other projects, public health campaigns, a documentary to raise awareness of human trafficking in India and a campaign for the prevention of sexual assault.

Margaux spent years believing that her difficulties with organisation and time management were personal flaws. She tried living like neurotypical people do and suffered periods of depression and anxiety when she couldn’t pull it off.

One day, as Margaux strolled through IKEA with her mother, she found the noise, crowds and lights overwhelming. She shut down emotionally. Her mother called her a few days later to discuss the possibility of ADHD. As her mother ticked off the symptoms, Margaux had a watershed moment. She made an appointment with a psychiatrist, who diagnosed her as having ADHD.

After her diagnosis, at the age of 29, Margaux had mixed feelings. The diagnosis explained many things about her life, but she didn’t want to think of herself as “disordered” or having a “deficit.” Understanding ADHD freed her to find a path to success.

Margaux works with a psychotherapist and uses traditional treatment methods to manage ADHD symptoms. Self-care is essential for her overall wellbeing and daily functioning. She makes sure she gets enough sleep and she exercises regularly. Yoga improves her focus, memory and mindfulness. To mitigate the effects of her racing, busy brain, she follows her “24-hour rule”: she waits a day before committing to working on any new idea or project.

The key is to own your ADHD and to stop trying to please others,” says Margaux. “Those of us with ADHD have a sensitive heart, a creative mind and incredible energy. We have the power to lead our generation to do things in a better way.”

Jessica was diagnosed with ADHD at 12 years, following the diagnosis of an older female family member. She founded the YouTube channel ‘HowToADHD’ in 2016. Originally created to be an ADHD toolbox, she hoped to provide tips strategies and insights into ADHD from her own personal experiences. HowToADHD grew quickly, with nearly 10,000,000 views and nearly 200,000 subscribers by mid 2018. Jessica’s 2017 TEDxTalk entitled ‘This is what is really like to live with ADHD’ has been viewed nearly 1,500,000 times.
She is a great role model and advocate for girls and women with ADHD. She supports a whole community of viewers, subscribers, and supporters dubbed “Brains” (or those whom come to the channel for their own benefit or is subscribed/a part of the community), and “Hearts” (those whom love, support and seek to better understand Brains) actively participate in this close-knit community, sharing stories and personal tips to help and support each other. She has been so successful she has been able to make it a full time job for both her and her husband.