ADHD Is Awesome & So Are You

For 10 years, Kim and I have reacted with you predominantly in one way: in the comments section. There have been some very nice interactions at airports, Disney World, and restaurants. But mostly, we’ve gotten to know you with nothing but your written words, a username and a very small picture of you or your adorable pet. 

This last month, however, we took to bookstores to sign our new book, ADHD Is Awesome, and to meet you in person. We were a little nervous on how this would go (kind of like 5th graders waiting impatiently by the front door to see if anyone would show up at our birthday party.)

When you did show up, I was still a little nervous, personally, that you might mistake all of the work we’ve done on the book for everyone’s favorite new buzzword: TOXIC POSITIVITY. 

A Message of Encouragement

The idea of toxic positivity is to paint everything as wonderful, even if it’s not. I am not doing that. I am championing a message of encouragement around ADHD. I believe that my ADHD brain is responsible for some of my best traits: Spontaneity, creativity, outside-the-box thinking, and humor. I also believe, just like anyone else who has it, that ADHD sucks sometimes. It’s both. It can be impressive, and it can also be terrifying. (Which by the way, is the actual definition of awesome, if you want to look it up.)  

If you’ve read the book, you know that I don’t shy away from this. Writing this book was hard because to write it, I had to relive and share my struggles. I was bullied. A lot. I had a tough time making friends. I nearly flunked out of college. When I started raising a family, my executive functioning was taxed and things began falling through the cracks.  I could feel myself letting my family down.  

In the end, I wanted people who have been affected by ADHD to know that I am able to live a better life with ADHD now that I’ve learned more about how my brain actually works. For me, knowledge is power. It makes it easier to talk about it with the people I love, and it makes me more willing to do some real work to get the most out of it.  

Turns Out You’re The Awesome Ones 

I was thinking all of these things as I waited to meet you all in New York, Los Angeles, Charlotte, and Raleigh. I believed in my message, but I didn’t know if you would too. After all, I’d never REALLY met you. Turns out, it was awesome. And by that I mean, the good awesome.

An 11-year-old boy had the courage to raise his hand and tell me that he’d been bullied for getting too emotional and crying easily. I told him it happened to me too, and that I know it sucks. He’s having trouble regulating his emotions. I told him that his bully was probably having a rough time too. I told him he was an amazing kid for having the guts to say that in front of hundreds of people, and he smiled. You all applauded his bravery.   

A 50-year-old dad admitted that he might be taking out some of his own ADHD problems on his children, chastising them for behaving like he did. I told him I’ve been guilty of the same thing, and have been trying to work on it. I told him how amazing it was for him to be vulnerable enough to say that out loud. You all applauded his self-awareness and honesty.

Another woman asked “What if you don’t have a Kim? What if you are on your own and don’t have that person to support you?” My heart broke a little. I told her to look around the room, and that 200 people in here know what she is going through. She said “Anyone want to be friends?” You all laughed and applauded her question. During the signing, I stole a glance down the line and saw her making new friends. She told me she collected several numbers.

Turns out, you’re the awesome ones.

Figuring Out ADHD Together

The Q&A sessions have morphed into group brainstorming sessions. Dozens of moms, dads, sons, and daughters, raised their hands and told stories of their struggles, and also shared some of the systems they have put in place to get through them. 

  • One girl has specialty stickers she uses when she finishes homework. 
  • One woman forgets to turn off the stove (just like me) so she keeps the stove handles in a drawer. She only puts them on when using it, so there’s a visual cue that reminds her. 
  • One woman takes pictures of the food she’s supposed to cook so she doesn’t lose track while trying to do a million other things. 
  • One man found that his job as a landscaper was taxing his ADHD because of how long the projects took, so he pivoted to a fertilizing business; each yard is 15 minutes! He and his brain are much happier.  

The support and empathy in each and every room has been one of the most powerful things I have ever experienced as a human being on this Earth. None of us left the building feeling like we were headed for a Hollywood ending where everything turns out perfectly, but we all felt a little bit closer to each other, and a little less alone. It makes me optimistic about where ADHD is headed and how it is perceived in the future. 

In the end, that’s something we all need to remember: We are not alone. It was awesome meeting all of you (again, the good awesome) and it was even more awesome to see you meeting each other. 

Let’s keep the encouragement going.