My late diagnosis of ADHD and autism and the power of coaching

It’s 2015, and things are falling apart.

I’ve run my own business for more than 15 years and I’ve been a mother for nearly as long, and suddenly I can no longer keep up the juggling act without dropping all of the balls. It starts to be a struggle just to do the simplest of things, and receiving a social invitation is enough to see me dissolve in tears of helplessness. Eventually I go to see my GP, who declares me depressed and prescribes some pills to make me all better.

Cut forward to 2018, the year I turn 50, and things only appear better on the surface. The antidepressants have been enough to get me functioning again, but in reality things are still in a bad way. Work is coming in like it’s always done, but I’m finding it harder and harder to keep on top of it, to meet deadlines, and to stop procrastinating when it’s time to start or finish a project. Most worryingly, bills are not getting paid on time, and our debts are mounting alarmingly.

It will be another two years before I will have the real ‘aha moment’, with my triple diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and major depressive disorder (another name for clinical depression) – and before I can even begin to understand how hormonal fluctuations in perimenopause have exacerbated these and caused me to become overwhelmed and burnt out.

Enough is enough

In the meantime, I somehow get myself to the point of realising that enough is enough and that the time has come to do something to get myself out of the miserable rut I’m in. Discovering the women’s coaching and leadership organisation One of many™ (OOM) for the first time, I and a friend make the decision to invest in ourselves and embark on a couple of their self-development courses, BeFruitful and BePowerful.

Looking back now, I can say hand on heart that that was the first step on an uplifting journey from where I was then to where I am now. For the first time in my life, I am delving inside to learn more about my identity. Asking myself questions. What are my values and beliefs – the guiding principles and motivations that are causing me to think and behave in the way I do? What are my own particular needs, and how can I make sure these are fulfilled? And how can I find a new way of being and moving forward with my life and my business?

From there I go on to work with money mindset coaches and business mentors to help me learn more about managing finances and entrepreneurship and what I really desire from life. And before too long I realise that what I want more than anything is to help other women like me who have burnt out and become depressed, and I resolve to train with OOM to become a certified coach myself.

The revelations begin

By the summer of 2020, I know where I want to go, and I’m working hard to try and get there. But things are still a massive struggle. I am so physically tired all the time, and even with some of the best tools in my kit I’m finding it hard to manage my energy properly and to put into practice the things I know I need to do in my business.

Doing research to help my eldest daughter, I stumble on some information about how ADHD affects women in later life, and suddenly everything clicks into place. I book an online assessment with Harley Psychiatrists, and by the October of that year I have my triple diagnoses. They are a massive shock, and I go through a lot of different emotions as I begin to get used to the idea and to learn what it all really means for me and our family. But already I am in a much stronger position to know how to deal with it all than I would have been before I began my self-development journey back in 2018.

And then the magic happens. I find my tribe – other neurodivergent entrepreneurs and business people – and I start to learn all about my specific traits and the unique strengths and challenges they bring. I seek out coaches and mentors with ADHD and autism themselves who can help me develop my business in a way that suits me and my clients, and I begin to think about the coaching tools I am learning in a new way. In particular, I spend a lot of time working out how they can be adapted to help neurodivergent people of all genders to develop their sense of self and step into a new place of power and leadership in their own homes, their workplaces and their businesses.

And here I am today. Happier and more fulfilled than I’ve ever been. A One of many™-certified coach, still working with some amazing coaches and mentors to help me develop further, and now training to be an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

But most of all, I’m determined to help other late-diagnosed adults like me to look back on their life through a new lens, not with grief and sadness but with compassion and understanding and a strong sense of self, a knowledge of where their strengths lie and where they need support to make the impact they want to make on the world.

In the upcoming blog posts, I’ll be sharing some of the musings and other self-revelations I’ve had since discovering my unique flavour of neurodivergence. And there will be guest posts from all sorts of interesting people. I can’t wait to get started!

In the meantime, if you would like to book a free discovery call with me to see how we could work together, you can do that here:

Or maybe you would like to join my informative and supportive Facebook group for neurodivergent people (diagnosed or simply suspected), Explorations Outside the Box:

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