I live in London, UK. I have tried many supplements and been on more ADHD medications than anyone I have met but I do not take any ADHD medications at the moment, as they provide me only slight benefit and cause me tachycardia issues. I walk a lot, eat quite healthily and I am wheat-free. Though I struggle a little with the dishes and tidying up, I am a good dad or so my daughter thankfully reassures me!
I love to learn, to read, and to travel – read my thoughts on the novelty of travel here in my Camel market experience. With forty-five years gaming experience starting in 1975 with pong, racing and tank battle, I can personally confirm that there is a link between game playing and ADHD – games don’t make us ADHD, they help keep our boredom at bay. I am a pretty good cook, in a very ADHD improvisational way.
Here’s my ADHD life from childhood:
My mum tells me that I talked at 8 months and walked at 11or was it the other way around?. I was certainly motivated to get on with things. At school, I was bright, talkative and easily distracted. My teachers were frustrated, but I did well. Most friends were well behaved and studious, but I also kept in with the naughty and rebellious ones too. My teachers’ comments in my school reports are amazingly clear in identifying the problems I would continue to face throughout my life: from punctuality to laziness and focus. Yet their reports lack for a single piece of constructive or helpful advice, most fall into the useless: “Andrew is his own worst enemy”, “Andrew appears to be both very intelligent and immature”. See some of my school reports here.
I went to University to study Physics and my troubles began! No self-discipline, I missed most lectures and labs. I was so, so bored by the dull 70 year-old professors, dictating notes to theatres full of over 70 students. No interaction, no questions and no debate – awful. I couldn’t grasp this independent study thing at all, I wanted to be in an interactive classroom where we could question and discuss theories, not sat on my own trying to study dry text books. I have a profound love of learning, but not of memorisation and revision.
University was a very rude shock. Without any support or guidance from the university, I struggled on unmotivated and quite depressed. In four years I went from being the highest graded student at school to receiving the worst grade possible with a BSc Science (Ordinary Class)rather than a BSc Physics Honours 1st, Upper 2nd, Lower 2nd or 3rd Class". I recovered from the career damage over the next decade, I think the psychological repair is still ongoing! Read more on my experience and view of higher education here.
With my poor degree, I was out of work for nearly a year, then I took a COBOL programming course. I received a distinction, and felt more confident -programming was easy and really rewarding.
I soon found a position as a programmer at a pension company. It was fantastic at first, new people, new tasks, fast development and salary checks were great. Problems were soon to emerge though as my easy boredom and drive for novelty were hard to fight. I remained there for five years, in which I moved from programming to systems analysis, to mainframe systems management. Pensions had nothing more to offer me so I left to join IBM.
I was uneasy about joining such a large corporationI hated the enormous car parks that reduced you to a number" but it offered a chance to recover from my degree and to develop my business skills and opportunities. I started in a technical role but was soon asking to move into marketing, and then into sales. Seven year later I left, IBM had nothing more to offer me. I then had two very successful years in an IBM partner, selling integration consultancy, but continued to be behind in paperwork and business processes.
Next I persuaded the CEO of a Boston, USA integration consultancy, to take me on to establish and run a new European outpost bringing with me three colleagues to help. We grew over two years, to around 20 employees, but the dot.com bubble had burst and the company soon folded. After another few years as European VP at another US software company, I had had enough of working for American CEOs, so when a business partner suggested setting up our own business, I leapt at it.
Within a couple of months our JAVA integration and consultancy company was trading. We were a good team. I was more presentations, ideas and solutions, he was more sales management, back-office and relationships. I loved working independently of authorities and the ease of taking an idea so quickly to completion.
We were successful and our company grew, we hired an office, employed consultants and work felt good for a while. The basic consultancy side of the business grew but the software solution side struggled for lack of funds and I lost interest. I was late to business meetings, procrastinating set in, in effect I began to check-out from my own business.
I was bored, miserable and drinking too much. Everyone was frustrated with me. My business partner was fed up, my wife was fed up, I was fed up with me. My wife and a psychiatrist persuaded me to take a month long stay at the Priory Hospitalfamous in the UK for celebrity rehab", a residential mental-health centre. Highly trained, well-paid therapists and psychiatrists, offered me little convincing help of any kind – no one suggested ADHD. Anti-depressants didn’t help either. I did however really benefit from the time I spent with the other sensitive and damaged patients. Some even sought my support and advice which opened my eyes to the possibility of helping other people. I left the Priory and returned back to my disappointing business, marriage and life.
I knew I was different, yet the specialists seemed oblivious. I was clearly born this way. My issues did not come from past trauma or how I was parented. I was me and I’ve always been this way, different to other people. I searched Google occasionally for an answer, with terms like low dopamine, poor memory, bored, novelty loving, shaky hands and intuitive.
One evening I came across Sluggish Cognitive Tempo, and a click later I was on ADHD at Wikipedia. It was a complete revelation, in my early forties to realise my physical neurology was not like other peoples in a number of profound and extraordinary ways. Of course I then hyper-focussed for months, reading voraciously everything about ADHD, from websites to books like Delivered from Distraction. The knowledge that I am ADHD profoundly and positively changed my life.
Desperately fed up at my consultancy business, I decided that ADHD coach training would help me personally and offer me a new career path. Within only months of my ADHD diagnosis, I was training to be an ADHD coach and had sold my half of the business to my relieved business partner – to end my twenty year computing-industry career. Within a year I was nearly trained as an ADHD Coach and had started coaching. I was divorced and living in a new apartment, co-parenting my daughter and my new life started.
I set up SimplyWellbeing as a one-stop ADHD organisation for adults with ADHD. I worked hard to bring together independent ADHD professionals: psychiatrists, researchers, charities, support groups and therapists to offer comprehensive support. Over the last sixteen years I have helped many seek their adult ADHD diagnosis, I even set up and ran an Adult ADHD Diagnosis Centre in central London for a year or so.
For five years I hosted a large ADHD adult support group, growing from 6 to over 40 regular attendees, called “Share & Tear” Adult ADHD Support Group, moving as we grew from Chiswick, to Hammersmith, to University College London and finally to my clinic near Waterloo. I went on to run “ADHD Expert Talks” at University College London where a wide range of experts from specialist psychiatrists, to professional organisers, nutritionists and authors like Melissa Orlov, The “ADHD Effect on Marriage”, entertained a lively audience of ADHD guests. I have delivered many presentations at support groups, conferences and workshops for ADHD adults, professionals and teachers.
Today my focus is mainly on coaching, having coached over four hundred ADHD adults, with over 10,000 hours coaching and helping them live more effective, fulfilled and happier lives. I am so busy today that I have had to start a waiting list. In what I have of my spare free time I am currently working on a highly interactive series of ADHD self-coaching modules, called Breaking down your ADHD. The irony of my several years delay in finally producing the initial module on procrastination, is not lost on me! My health is good, my work and private life is aligned with my ADHD personality, my wellbeing is simply great.