The Many Faces of ADHD - Ariane's Profile
This is a courageous story of a woman named Ariane Benefit who is an organizing and ADD expert, coach, and author based in the NYC area. I first met her a couple years ago via her very popular organizing blog, Neat and Simple Living.
I was so impressed with her insightful writing about overcoming disorganization, that I had asked her to submit an organizing article for my ADD newsletter, ADDitional News. The readers' response was so positive, I've since printed more of her wonderful articles.
A few weeks ago, I received an intriguing email from Ariane. She asked: "Can you help me with Myth Busting about ADD?" After months of agonizing about whether or not to tell her clients and the world that she had recently been formally diagnosed with ADHD, she made the decision to let the world know via her blog.
She wasn't sure people would still want to work with her if they knew because of how controversial and laden with stigmas the label of ADD can be. Here's an excerpt from her email:
"I've had a lot of time to go round and round about how it was possible for me to have ADD since prior to becoming a professional organizer and ADD specialist I had some of the same misconceptions about ADD that a lot of people do. For example, many people believe that people with ADD:
- never finish anything
- are unreliable
- can't sit still
- can't focus on anything
- can't listen and always interrupt
- are reckless and in trouble all the time
- don't care how their behavior affects others
- are losers
What I have learned was that ADD is much less obvious than that. It's kind of like having back pain; you can't see it, but it sure makes it hard for you to walk. But you find a way to do it anyway. You may not know that people have it unless they complain about it, or don't have effective structures in place to help them compensate for it.
The truth is that ADD can be harnessed and channeled. For me it was a very privately painful struggle that I worked very hard to conceal and minimize the impact on others. Not knowing why everything seemed to be so much harder for me than for other people, I constantly wondered if something was wrong with me, but I chalked it up to my creative personality type and persisted in trying to overcome.
It's amazing to me how many people thought everything I was able to achieve came easily. In fact, it didn't and still doesn't. For almost everything I do finish, I probably have at least 20 unfinished projects, and countless ideas for projects I have to keep saying no to in order to focus. It's soooo exhausting at times.
When I read, I reread every paragraph several times. It takes me many hours to finish a book, and even to read all my email. When I type I usually have to retype at least half of my words and sentences due to transposing words and letters. It's takes me at least an hour for every blog post and sometimes over 4 hours. This email just took me about an hour and a half to write. That's why I can't always respond to all my email. I would never leave the computer if I did.
People in my life I've shared this with actually don't believe I have ADD because they think all people with ADD are total messes. It's so not true. I work with so many gifted and productive ADDers who cry at night like I did."
Ariane's story hit me so hard, because I knew exactly what she was going through and wanted to lend my support. It's not easy to hide years and years of struggles and put on a happy face, especially when one is in a field like hers, where expectations are so high for one to be extremely capable in helping others who are challenged with issues of severe disorganization, time management, clutter, and the like.
So, in honor of Ariane and so many like her who are ready to share their inner world of living with ADHD, I'm pleased to share her story. It's her hope- and mine as well- to help others understand that having ADHD is not a recipe for disaster, but it's also not a walk in the park. As she so well explains: "My hope is to educate people about ADD and reinforce that ADD is NOT an excuse for being unreliable, or inconsiderate of other people's feelings. It's also NOT an excuse for prejudging and labeling a person as unreliable and unproductive. You never really know how hard it is to walk in another person's shoes."
Read Ariane's own words on "How I Survived My Life with Undiagnosed Adult ADD and Learned to THRIVE!" at http://blog.neatandsimple.com/2008/02/how-i-survived.html and consider passing her story on to others so that they, too, can begin to understand what life is like with ADHD.
The fight to end myths about ADHD is ongoing and all of us can do our part to educate others who continue to be misinformed.
You can get more information about Ariane's Neat & Simple Guides to Organizing here. Her guides feature ultra-simple, easy-to-implement strategies for people who have "no time" to organize.