Welcome to Episode #71 of The Planner Podcast.
In this episode, I chat with my wonderful friend, Dr Hayley Kelly. Hayley and I dive into my recent ADHD diagnosis. Hayley is Autistic ADHD and has been incredibly supportive throughout this whole journey so far.
I’m excited to share our chat with you and at the same time, I am feeling quite vulnerable about opening up this early.
- the “messy middle” after a recent, but late, diagnosis – I was diagnosed when I was 44.
- the confusion of losing who I thought I was and stepping into who I really am
- the challenges that came with navigating life, friendships, and relationships, pre-diagnosis
- Hayley’s personal experience of being diagnosed in her 30s with ADHD and Autism
- the journey we are on both to let our “square peg” lights shine bright so the other “square pegs” can find us!
As Hayley puts it so well in this episode, we are still very much in the “messy middle” since the diagnosis.
If you have any questions or comments after listening, do send me a message on Instagram here @mimjenkinson.
More about Hayley:
Dr. Hayley Kelly is a PhD, CEO, and Founder of Therapists Rising, a global movement revolutionizing mental health care. With a background in clinical psychology, academia, and diverse roles within healthcare and private practice, Dr. Kelly identified shortcomings in traditional mental health approaches and forged a new path for therapists to effect substantial change.
Fueled by personal experiences as both a mother and a neurodivergent individual (Autistic ADHD), Dr. Kelly champions a redefined concept of sustainability and contribution. She leveraged her journey to establish a successful coaching enterprise, achieving financial stability through diversified revenue streams—now shared with fellow therapists.
- We would love to hear your thoughts or questions. DM me @mimjenkinson
- Follow Hayley on Instagram
- Therapists Rising
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Transcript[00:00:00] Hi, this is Mim Jenkinson and you’re listening to The Planner Podcast.
I am so excited to welcome you back to the podcast and to share this episode with you. Now, at the same time, I am feeling quite nervous and vulnerable because it is a really personal episode. And in fact, It’s way more personal than I have been and more than I’ve shared in quite some time. So be kind at the same time.
I am really interested to hear what you think of the episode. So you can reach out to me afterwards with any questions or any comments, or if anything that comes up in this conversation has resonated with you. And the conversation is with one of my really super dear friends, Hayley. We jumped on a zoom call.
We had a conversation, I recorded it and I’m sharing it with you. I’ll tell you about Haley in a moment, but first of all, let me tell you that the conversation is about my recent diagnosis with ADHD and [00:01:00] I’m still very much in the early days. This was only a couple of months ago. I’m very much still processing.
I am absolutely not sharing this conversation as someone who knows exactly what is, what they’re doing. Not that I ever knew before. Really, I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of touch with who, well, I have with who I thought I was and who I’m becoming. So it is very much as Hayley puts it in this episode, it is very much the messy middle of where I am.
So here you are coming along on the journey with me. And I wanted to share things from my perspective, but also from Hayley’s perspective. Not only as a really dear friend of mine, but also as a psychologist, not my psychologist. So let me tell you a little bit more about Haley too, and then we’re going to dive straight in.
So fabulous Dr. Haley Kelly is a PhD, the CEO and the founder of Therapists Rising. Therapists Rising is a global movement revolutionizing mental health care. So Haley has a background in clinical [00:02:00] psychology, academia and diverse roles within healthcare and private practice. Haley is fueled by personal experiences, both as a mother and a neurodivergent individual.
She is autistic ADHD and Haley champions a redefined concept of sustainability and contribution. She’s leveraged her journey to establish a successful coaching enterprise, achieving financial stability through diversified income. Haley’s become such an important person in my life. She’s been incredibly supportive of me before and during this diagnosis.
And I really hope you enjoy the chat with us today. So without further ado, let’s get started. So Haley, tell everyone all about who you are. I am Dr. Haley Kelly. I’m a clinical psychologist by training. I am now the CEO and founder of Therapist Rising. And it is my mission, my passion, my vision to completely disrupt and revolutionize the mental health industry from the inside out.
And the way that I do that is by helping [00:03:00] therapists to move from the traditional one to one very restrictive model of complete and utter burnout into digital products. In the online space, so in particular online programs. And you do an amazing job of that too. And Hayley and I have known each other for, is it two years or three years now?
I feel like if I was like that way inclined, I would say we’ve known each other for lifetimes now. I feel like we have known each other forever, but probably it’s probably been two years. Like, how has it only been two years? It’s, it’s just, I can’t believe it’s only been that short amount of time. We literally talk to each other every single day.
For the purposes of the podcast and what we’re going to be talking about today, I feel like I need to tell everyone that Hayley is on this podcast, not as my psychologist. No. As my friend, as one of my bestest friends. And so we’re going to talk about a lot, but I just… I want to make it clear that this is not everyone listening to an actual [00:04:00] psychology.
This is not a session. And I guess to that point, Mim really importantly in my bio, I think top of the conversation, it’s really important to disclose. I am a neurodivergent entrepreneur and business owner, meaning that I have been diagnosed ADHD and also autistic. And I was late diagnosed. So it was only a couple of years ago in my late thirties that I thought.
And that has been, I mean, a huge factor in how we’ve connected even more over this, isn’t it? Because there are so many similarities and things that, I mean, first of all, I will say this, and we literally just spoke about this, out of, I’m 44, I’m 45 tomorrow out of all of the different medical professionals.
In across every single diverse range you could imagine from Western to alternative everyone from a GP to oncologists, many psychologists, [00:05:00] and don’t get me wrong I don’t criticize the team that I’ve had over the years in any way. But not one single person has ever mentioned ADHD and me in the same sentence.
So I best start by just sharing that I was diagnosed with ADHD late too, back in September. And it all came about after many conversations with Hayley, because we’ve been friends online, haven’t we, for a couple of years, but we met for the first time in person in August at an event in Sydney. So we had like three days together where we were together.
All the time, all the time. We were literally in the hotel rooms next door, so we spent all day together in the evenings and we had just the most amazing conversations, connected even more than we ever had before. And then, correct me if I’m wrong, Hayley, because my memory is a bit crap. It was something like the last day or near the end of our little time together.
Where we’ve been talking so much detail about things [00:06:00] about Haley’s experience with ADHD and autism and about the, we call them quirks, like the quirks that we both share. I’ve just thought myself as a, as a weirdo, honestly, for some of these quirks my whole life, but really embrace them. And how we have so many quirks that were exactly the same, things that I’d never imagined anyone would share with me.
And I don’t share them with some people because I’ve been called weird like a weirdo many times. Anyway, that kind of led to a conversation where Hayley really, really gently said to me something along the lines of, you know, I’m not, I’m not diagnosing you. I’m not saying that there is something that you definitely have, but you might, like, you might be interested in pursuing an assessment to see whether ADHD is, is a part of you and who you are.
And after we’d spoken, I thought she wouldn’t say that she wouldn’t say that otherwise, you know, it is something that I’m going to pursue. And I [00:07:00] would never have thought in a million years that I would have, um. be diagnosed with ADHD. And yet a few weeks later, after an assessment with a psychiatrist, here we are, and I think this is why we’re such good friends.
I totally, totally think so. And there’s this lovely phrase in our community, Which is the phrase neuro kin, and it’s this idea that when you, I think you really find, especially as you go through the process of diagnosis, and especially when it’s a late diagnosis, and you start to look around like your marriage, your friendship circles, your family, and you start to see them everywhere.
And I think that we have this natural ability to gravitate towards each other because of similarities in functioning. We get. The peculiarities in things like how we talk, how we carry conversations, that neurotypical people might sort of [00:08:00] sit there going, what is happening right now? And so I think we tend to form really strong bonds and relationships with, and potentially even filter out neurotypicals and bringing in our neurokin, which are people who are also neurodivergent.
That makes so much sense, it really does, and even at the event that we went to, there were a few speakers there who were neurodivergent speakers some on the autism spectrum too, and I’d, I’d been following along with them for a few years now, I’d seen some of them at the event the year before, and I always felt this pull towards them, and it sounds It sounds a bit silly now.
I’m very conscious of the fact that I never want to trivialize any of the feelings because I’m really only just starting this journey myself. I even felt almost disappointed in that, like they, they had something that I felt connected to, but that wasn’t me. Does that make any sense? It was, it was a really [00:09:00] unusual feeling of I feel so similar, but clearly we’re very different and that’s okay.
Obviously we, I celebrate all of our differences for sure. But now I know that. We have even more similarities, like, it’s like, that makes sense. And also that makes sense. Absolutely. I have this analogy. I really like the use of metaphors. I think metaphors is such a beautiful way of communicating when, language tends to feel really limited in terms of describing the full range and technicolor experience.
That it is to be human, right? And I have this, this picture analogy or metaphor that I tend to use of exactly what you’re talking about. Before I was diagnosed, it was like I had this room in my closet, which is my mind or my experience, my identity, which was shut and the part of me that was aware that this room existed in me.
And in fact. The room had this almost like magnetic quality quality to it. So [00:10:00] whatever was in the room, it was capable of seeing or feeling others who also had those qualities in their room. And what I mean by that is it was like, I was, I was close to this fact that. I was witnessing in other people what I felt in myself, but I had no language.
I had no sense of awareness or no context to place around it. So this resonance was being created with people, shared resonance, but. It was like I was closed off to the fact that it was there and it was happening, so I couldn’t really understand why am I feeling the resonance between this person? Why do I feel such a magnetism between their experiences and myself when I don’t have this thing?
I did have that thing. It just so happened that the door was closed and I. Wasn’t completely aware that it existed. Oh gosh, yeah, like I feel that to my core completely. And in fact, can we go [00:11:00] back a bit and can you, because you were diagnosed late too. Can you tell us then, especially if how you, like when you were diagnosed.
And maybe if you want to dive into how that came about and then how those doors then became open to you. Yes, certainly. And I’ll probably take you back even further. Because this is how I really understand how this diagnosis has come about. And I guess why it had such a profound impact on my life and how I processed this huge.
News as as we’ve spoken about together in private, but I’ve never ever felt like I fit in. I have always felt as though I was different. I would quite often comment to people that I felt like I was from a different planet. I feel like I’m an alien that I had to. Almost study the human race and like, if I could just study them enough, I will know how to fit in and belong because there was such a sense of alienation that I was different [00:12:00] that I just didn’t get it.
Or I just didn’t have the thing that all of these other people had, like, it was somehow missing in me. And so what that did for me, it created this, this storyline, this narrative and this identity that I spent many, many years constructing, refining and believing that there was something. And so that, as you can imagine, when you hold a belief so tightly that there is something wrong with you and you are inherently different from everyone around you, it doesn’t fare well in terms of things like self esteem, self efficacy, resilience doesn’t necessarily give you the best foundations for things like mental health.
And we probably see that that would probably open the door to things like depression, anxiety, social anxiety, all those things. And that is definitely the tapestry and the landscape of my life is just experience after experience [00:13:00] of never feeling good enough, never feeling like I fit in, periods of having lots of mental health issues, which were always misdiagnosed because the neurodivergence wasn’t picked up.
So I was diagnosed with all of these different labels, which was like, great, I’ve got like an entire. DSM, which is like our manual, our statistical, sorry, our diagnostic manual in psychology. I’ve got like a whole manual of diagnoses here and it still didn’t quite explain the things that I was experiencing in my life.
To the point where like I was, I repeated year one, I have a PhD and a master’s in clinical psychology. I’m definitely not. Silly when it comes to my intellect, I’m probably, on the other side of the bell curve, when you would think about what would they be, what, what would the prerequisites have to be for a kid to repeat a year, [00:14:00] my intellect was definitely not the reason why.
And it was because I was moving around. I couldn’t follow through instructions. I would, I would refuse to do things that didn’t interest me. I would. Basically, it along to my own drum sort of thing. And so all of these things really, I think, created this sense of identity of not being enough ever.
And I had to try, I had to overwork myself, all of the things. And still, no matter how hard I tried, I still never got to the end goal. Which is just bitterly disappointing, right? It’s a battle that you literally could never win. You can never win because there, there is actually no goalposts that you’re working towards, right?
There isn’t no end goal. It’s the illusion of the end goal. And if I just keep doing the thing, I will get there and you never get there. And that’s why we, we talk about those sort of self, self created, or self perpetuating, behaviors, limiting behaviors, limiting beliefs, all of those things. Or self fulfilling [00:15:00] prophecies.
So to cut a long story short, my, both my son and my husband went through their own diagnostic processes for quite different reasons. And it was sitting there doing an assessment for, I think it was my husband, where the psychologist got me to fill in one of the forms for him. So observing him, tick all the boxes.
Does he do this? Does he do that? And as I’m sitting there ticking all these boxes, I’m going, bloody hell, like, I had that moment of like, oh my God, I need to cover the answers to this because I feel like I’m like, It’s me and as I go further down the list, like that sinking feeling just got like worse and worse and worse until I got to the point where I’m like, holy shit, I think I need to go through a diagnosis.
Like, I think this is, I think this is me. And, and then I guess [00:16:00] the rest is history. So then went through my diagnosis, my diagnostic process. And so it was you and your husband and your son who were all diagnosed at the same time. I can only imagine because I’ve been there when you were looking at that form and completing it and thinking, oh goodness, although different, different experience for me.
You we’ve spoken and I speak with about my husband about this. We’ve talked about it openly. He isn’t yet diagnosed. He’s in the process of becoming diagnosed, but he is. He is that classical ADHD that what what most of society thinks of when they think of typical ADHD symptoms, I think But for you, and for me, but for you, those things were not obvious to you.
And so, one phrase that you shared with me was the term masking. And masking is something that I’ve never heard of before. As soon as you even said the word, I was like, Oh, this is already making so much [00:17:00] sense. But it’s This, this is what it was like for you, I’m assuming, and can you share a little bit more about that, like how, what masking is, how it played out for you, and I guess what those side effects of that became.
Yeah, absolutely. So I think it sort of ties into the, the experiences that I’ve spoken about so far. Masking is the term used to describe the strategies and approaches to life that we put in place to basically blend in. Right. So if you sort of think about putting on this mask so that no one can tell who you really are, no one can tell that you’re different.
No one can tell that you’re this alien from another planet who has been put on earth and you look just like everyone else. Right. So it is literally the strategies and ways that we adapt. To living in a neurotypical world and a neurotypical world is a world that functions in a really particular [00:18:00] way in a really, really tight box.
And so when you sort of think about, like, cultural norms, cultural standards even things like. Standardized testing and school environments, all of these things have been built upon the foundations of a neurotypical approach and we have to adapt because our brain does not work the same way. It doesn’t, it functions very, very differently.
And so you’ll, you’ll often hear phrases like thinking outside the box. Like that is like an everyday occurrence for us. Like, I don’t even know where the box is. I just think, and it’s somewhere over there.
Or, or that idea of like a square peg in a round hole. So masking would be like contorting yourself into being a round shape so that I can fit into the hole that I’m supposed to fit in just like everyone else does. But as you can imagine with any geometrical shape, [00:19:00] if you try to contort a square into A circle and shave off the points and you have to reconfigure it and and then there’s going to be like parts of it because it’s a particular shape.
It’s going to like squirt out over here. You gotta push that back down. And like, when you sort of think about the logistics of creating a new shape from an existing 1, there’s going to be obvious fallout side effects. Things that happen because you’re trying to hold something that isn’t a shape into a shape, and that’s always the same for us.
It’s almost like the square peg in a round hole is all the other way around. It’s almost like that phrase was made for neurodivergent brains versus neurotypical, isn’t it? Like it just essentially is a metaphor for so, so many things. I almost feel sometimes like if the, if the square, I’m like the, alf a square trying to be trying to fill this square hole.[00:20:00]
So I’m like going between being like a rectangle or half a square. I’m either too much or not enough. That’s how it feels deeply to me. All the time. Because it’s not your regular shape, right? So you don’t have like, we have no idea where or how to exist as a circle other than like looking at. All of the examples around us of circles and we’re like, okay, well, I’ll do that and I’ll do that that way and I’ll, I’ll make eye contact here and oh, now I’m supposed to laugh and all of these things that we sort of just gauge by watching and taking and processing information around us.
Yeah, but I think the effect is that like, we, we are not supposed to function as a square, as a circle, we’re supposed to function as a square. So every time we try to contort ourself into, we’re never going to get it. Right. Right. Or we might get it right, but it comes at a cost. We have spoken about the cost so much though, and how the cost has basically [00:21:00] played out to extreme exhaustion and a list of so many other things that were unexplained, like an unexplainable list of systems, like symptoms, events, mishaps, feelings, all of the things that now with the diagnosis.
And now explained and it makes it is made the world of difference knowing those things. And at the same time, and I’m only a couple of months into this, but I remember after the diagnosis and sending you a very emotional boxer of just like a whole breakdown of. But if this is true, because there was still that, is he, is he really right?
Is he right? Is this wrong? And I still have a little element of, of that about, about it too, but if this is true, then this means that’s why this happened and this happened and this happened. And just, I had like extreme sadness that it wasn’t picked up earlier. Even [00:22:00] if I like the feeling of, even if I’d have known, even if no one else had known, but I would have known I would have done things differently or not worked as hard to do things that way or Not hated on myself, honestly, for so many decades, because when you were talking before about feeling like an alien, like feeling like an alien, and I understand that I’m different, and I understand that they’re this way, and I need to conform to how they are, and I’m going to make it my mission to do so.
That’s the story of my life, too, and I’m sure so many, so many others. And so when I see people now talking about how they embrace who they are and their differences, like I’m actually a long way away from that, but at least I feel like I’m, I’m going to be starting, or I’m starting already that journey to it.
I’ve never felt like I fitted in. I mean, I’ve been told that I don’t fit in by so many people, by people in [00:23:00] positions of authority, by kids in the schoolyard, you know, like. So many people, not everyone, you know, haven’t been an outcast my entire life as much as I’ve felt like one at times, but there have been times where I have been, you know, told very plainly that I’m different and therefore wrong.
And either I need to change or I’m out. And I’m guessing that you have too. And it’s sad. It’s really sad. Like it’s led to so much pain over the years and missed opportunities and self, self doubt, low self esteem, like you said honestly, self hatred at times too because. I’m capable to, as you are, you know, why I can achieve other things I can I’m likable.
I’ve got friends. Why I don’t understand why these people don’t seem to like me to like to an extreme [00:24:00] degree or why I can’t succeed in this to an extreme degree or why this is great, but this is terrible. Just so much confusion that now makes more sense. It totally makes sense. And I think there is definitely a, and I, I’m certainly not speaking from the vantage point of having completely navigated this.
So I speak to this from the messy middle, just as you’re in the messy middle, maybe a little bit further back in the journey, but nonetheless, in the messy middle of this, I think when you spend your life holding yourself in a particular way, because of the experiences that you’re having. So if I spend my whole life Trying to be a circle and I’m supposed to be a square and I hold myself so tightly as a circle and I do everything that I can to be a circle, like look like a circle, speak like a circle, do the things that circles do, spend your time like circles, spend it all of those things.
Then [00:25:00] the minute that I allow myself to be a square again, it’s not as easy as like a rubber band snapping back like we don’t. Human beings don’t function in that way. And if we sort of think about like, if you hold your arm in a particular way, while you’re sitting on the lounge and then you get up and you’re like, Oh my God, and it takes like a moment for you to like recalibrate the muscle.
Then you’re like, Oh my God, it feels so steep. And there is like a transitory period of readjustment. Right. And it’s not easy. Because a lot of the time we’ve spent so long contorting ourself into the shape that we’ve existed in, especially as a late diagnosis, right? Like I spent 38 years being a circle.
Like it is not going to be the case that someone says, by the way, you’re a square. I’m like square bang. And I’m back into a square shape. Absolutely not. It’s like, I have to relearn how to walk. It’s like, I have to relearn how to be me. Because I’ve spent my whole life not [00:26:00] being me. And in Along with not being me, I’ve also spent 38 years telling myself why being me is dangerous and not acceptable and is prone to being rejected.
So, like, unlearning all of those layers is. Like, it’s going to take a period and sometimes I think that that the period after diagnosis is almost like this limbo place where we’re transitioning and unmasking where we don’t necessarily belong anywhere. Like, we sort of belong in the neurotypical world, but we also sort of belong now in the neurodivergent world.
But do we actually belong in either fully? Probably not. And I think there’s a, that’s a really uncomfortable space to be in post diagnosis. Yeah, that, that is really speaking to me. I definitely feel in that limbo right now, like a little bit adrift, a lot adrift, honestly. And should [00:27:00] I be deciding who I want to be?
Should I be letting this happen naturally? Like where, I guess being ADHD, I’m like, but I want to do it now. Cause now it’s all I’m thinking about. The whole, just let it happen, like, is not really working at all. Like, I actually would quite like the rule book, if that’s okay. But it feels like you know what it feels like?
The more that I am surrounded by, and the more that I am pulled towards or embraced by other neurotypical people. That to me is the most natural way to become whoever I’m actually I’m deep down anyway, not because I’m going to intentionally take on anyone else’s personality traits or identity traits.
It’s not, it isn’t that, it’s actually just being in a space with people who are further ahead than me in really knowing who they are and just. Being in a space of people who are [00:28:00] really bloody comfortable with themselves, that, that makes me feel comfortable enough, even subconsciously, like, to just be myself.
And that is not to say neurotypical friends, I’m not, I’m certainly not walking away from any of them, because like you say, I still feel very connected to who neurotypical Mim was, who I thought that I was then. And it isn’t like a complete. identity shift, but I do already see things that are different.
And I think it’s, and it’s just why we are connected so much because I’ve never, ever, ever had to work hard, hard in quotes, to be myself with you. I’ve never had to put on a front. I’ve never had to hold back. I mean, obviously, as we got closer, I would share more of me and I’m sure the other way around, you know, we’re not going to put everything out on the table, although a little bit.
I do. I overshare like there is no tomorrow. A little [00:29:00] bit. But it’s but there’s things I’ve told you. Even when we like first became friends that I would never have told anyone else probably ever or some people ever and it and I think it’s a level of comfort that I’ve always had with you because there’s so many things that we are similar in.
I mean, we’re both pretty intense people, but I just love that. I love that I’m When I, when I become friends with someone, like I’m all in on that friendship, like you’re my friend. I will die for you. You must now know everything about me. Are you ready? Here we go. Definitely. I definitely feel as though that is the case.
And I think you’re absolutely right. The more that you surround yourself with like minded people, like, again, it’s like the minute you realize you’re a square and you’re trying to renegotiate the boundaries of who you are and the limits and where you exist and these things that you thought were real and are they [00:30:00] actually real and the more that you, I think, move towards having other squares in your life That show you how to be a square, the easier it gets because now we have a frame of reference, right?
So you’re like, Oh, that’s what it means to walk like that. And we can almost like mimic or at least allow ourselves to try things in different ways to delve within and start to really navigate. Like, what does that feel like? What are my interests? Where do I lie if I was to take these parts away that don’t feel that great?
What does that leave underneath? And I think we can start to really dive into those questions and answers in the safety of being surrounded by other squares. And it’s that word, the safety, the safety part of it and not to say that the other people are unsafe or intentionally making us feel [00:31:00] unsafe.
It’s just like, there’s this like automatic safety. With people who are similar and I’m sure it doesn’t have to be about how our brains are either it can that can relate to many other people with similarities to but for me, it’s, it’s made a huge difference just being able to connect with people who are the squares.
I think I shared that meme with you, like one of my favorite memes forever was the let your weirdo light shine bright so all the other weirdos can find you. I remember seeing that years ago. I just, I love it. I share it all the time because it makes me feel so good. And now why? Absolutely. And I think that’s such an important part, right?
We have these these concepts in the therapeutic space. So when we’re studying psychology and we learn first about relationships and attachments and just how fundamental and important and vital relationships are [00:32:00] in our growth, our development, our self expression, our self actualization, all of these things, right?
Mm. And there is a saying that we have in therapy, which is healing happens in relationship, right? It’s healing doesn’t happen in cognitive behavioral therapy. The vast majority of healing that happens for us. And, and in this case, we’re talking about it directly related to being neurodivergent and finding other people in the community who are neurodivergent and being able to heal and move forward and process and develop our identity in the safety.
Of the relationships that we build with that community, but this you’re absolutely right. This doesn’t, this isn’t just like relegated to the realm of neurodivergence that saying stands for every bit of our experience being human, whether it being a first time mom and finding a mom’s group and going, Oh my God, I didn’t sleep either.
I’m so glad you get it. And remember when [00:33:00] before we had a baby and we used to laugh and talk about how tired we were because we just pulled an all nighter and like, how will we go back to that day? Because the people sitting across from you, this community that you’re building, who have had the same experiences as you, they get it.
And there’s nothing more validating and healing than being connected with people who have gone through the same things as you. Oh, 100 percent agree. And, and it’s why I’ve connected so much with you and some other women particularly who were also diagnosed late, which again is a different layer than those who may have been diagnosed as a child.
It’s a different experience in so many ways. It’s why when I think about, as you know, and others know, like I’m a person of color, but I’ve been presented as white. It’s why I connect so much to other. People of color who present as white or have been socialized as white, like, again, it’s another layer that others can’t possibly understand, you know but it’s [00:34:00] something that it, I mean, it does like feel like the messy middle for sure.
It’s so early on. I’m enjoying the journey so far, as much as it’s completely rocked everything. I mean, as you know. My whole business is about planning and becoming organized and my, like who I am, I am the planner girl. I am like my, my friends, my family, my colleagues from years before have always been not just organized, but the most organized one.
And, and I’m definitely well, I mean, who knows I’m still working this out, but I wouldn’t have said ever that I was the the ADHD type that is prone to extreme disorganization or extreme procrastination, you know, that hasn’t been me. But however, what I have like uncovered and realized through this, particularly with speaking to the psychiatrist in that session, that first one.
Is the work that I’ve had to do and the [00:35:00] systems I’ve had to create for years and years and years to become planful, to become organized, to, to find those things now easy and to make my life work and function as it should. I’ve had to do so much work before. And the result of that because it’s so multi layered is that most of the time I’m absolutely bloody exhausted.
And I have chronic insomnia and massive issues with perfectionism that I didn’t think I had any longer. Now I realize I do. Just so many things. It’s like, once you dive into this, you uncover more and more and more. Has that been the same for you? Yeah, absolutely. There, there’s certainly been things like adaptive things that I’ve done to fit in.
I think you are such a wonderful case of the extreme lengths that we will have to sometimes go to in order to [00:36:00] survive a neurotypical round world, right? The, the ideas around planning and organization are rooted in. Productivity, right? They’re rooted in this idea of being an efficient, productive member of society, which is based heavily in capitalism and patriarchy and all of these really like abstract big terms.
But nonetheless, they speak to the idea of being efficient, getting stuff done, being able to do things. Speedily and usually for money, right? Cause we live in a capitalist society, but all of these things are celebrated in our world. Like if you can get things done the quickest, then. Amazing off you go to recess before everyone else does.
Right? Like, these are heavily celebrated qualities in our culture and surprise surprise. They are very [00:37:00] much neurotypical ways. And I would even argue that there are probably not actually neurotypical ways of. Functioning in the world, either. I think they’re just as harmful to neurotypicals as they are to neurodivergent people.
And we have to work exceptionally hard and put in lots of rules and strategies and like hold ourselves in a particular way in order to tick that box. But just because we’ve ticked it, that doesn’t mean like, Oh, I’m naturally good at planning or organizing. Well, maybe it’s just a strategy that you’ve practiced so much and become so expert that That’s now your thing.
But I think it’s the suffering has come for you because you, you, it’s like the duck on the water, right? Of like, don’t drown, don’t drown, don’t drown. Like if I didn’t have these strategies, what the hell would have happened to me? Yeah. If I didn’t become so good at these strategies, I probably wouldn’t have survived the quote unquote modern neurotypical world.
Yeah, [00:38:00] completely, completely. I wouldn’t have done. I mean, I joke now. Well, as a joke that we say in the planning community of if it isn’t in my planner, it isn’t happening, but literally it isn’t happening. It isn’t happening. And even, I mean, I’ve recorded podcast episodes, I’ve written blog posts on things like how to remember to use your planner, you know, like you can literally go back and back and back.
To all the work you have to do to be able to even write the to do list, let alone deliver upon it, you know and I have always made the assumption that these things come naturally to me, but now I can go backwards and backwards again and one layer back and another layer back to see, oh no, there’s actually been quite a lot of work that’s gone into this.
Of course, there are people who are naturally organized and I think I probably still lean that way more so than my husband, for example. And I do think it’s something that, you know, we’re all, we all have differences in it, whether it’s skills or some kind of inherent [00:39:00] ability, but. I feel like this, the strategies and the systems that I’ve put together have benefited me, but have taken a toll and there’s been a cost to certainly in the beginning, but we spoke about this just again, just before we hit record, because part of what has come with this diagnosis is the feeling of if I’m not that person and I’m not yet the next person, who am I in the middle?
I feel a bit like a fraud. And that has been related to the fact that I do help people plan, I do help people become organized. And so I was really going down the rabbit hole of, have I been leading people the wrong way? So can you talk about that? Because you made me feel so much better about this.
I’m so glad because it’s, I think it’s, while it’s really understandable and we bring so much compassion to the, to the rationalization and logic you’ve brought to it. But I [00:40:00] think we can, we can allow it to gracefully fly away. Like, it doesn’t actually, it doesn’t actually mean anything that you think that it means and I get it because that imposter syndrome for us is like so loud.
And this is the entire human experience, right? Imposter syndrome. Am I enough? Am I enough? Should I be doing this thing? Do I, should I, do I have the qualifications? Am I harming people? That sense of imposter syndrome I think is such a fundamental part of being a human being, but what you made it mean around like, Oh my God, well, I created these strategies and I practice them so much only because I have this diagnostic label which in our world is seen as Bad or you know, disability, yeah, yeah, absolutely.
When it is, it is actually, I mean, it is a disability, but only in the sense of that it disables us in terms of our functioning, quote unquote, normally or fully in the cultural [00:41:00] society that we exist in. But here’s the really important thing. And this is, I think, the reflections that you probably grabbed onto.
When we look at the evidence for the strategies that you would implement a neuroaffirmative strategy that you would implement to help someone to cope or exist. Better as a neurodivergent person in this world, no matter the strategy, it helps everyone across the board, regardless of your neuro type. So these strategies that we think are relegated to the realm of neurodivergent.
So whether it’s autistic strategy, or whether it’s something for an ADHD person, it doesn’t actually matter. The strategies that are put in place are often helpful for people across the entire spectrum. Of neurotype. So when you see things there’s a heavy push now, and it will continue to be heavily pushed.
I can imagine for many, many years to [00:42:00] come in our school systems as a heavy push towards neuroaffirmative classrooms. So being really responsive from a classroom and educational perspective to the variety of neurotypes. Sitting in that classroom. So if kids can’t sit still when they’re expected to, how do we need to modify the environment or create strategies that are going to accommodate the kid who needs to be wiggling in the chair versus the kid who can sit there for 10 minutes and, you know, not that an eyelid, the things that you implement in neuroaffirmative educational context, benefit the data shows time and time again, the entire classroom.
So the wellbeing, the educational outcomes, everything gets better. So it’s not just for our neurodivergent kids. The neurotypical kids also derive benefit from these strategies. So there is this misconception that these strategies. [00:43:00] And for you, this is like my, my ability to plan and be organized the strategies that you have become so good at.
And so expert level in are going to help everyone who struggles with planning. Everyone who struggles with, managing a to do list or managing the cognitive load of today’s modern lifestyle. Like these are not things that are just for neurodivergent people and they shouldn’t be, they should be accessible by everyone who experiences.
Difficulties or has a passion in taking mental load off themselves, which is exactly what your work does. Right. So if I really look at the essence of what you do, yes, you bring joy. That is fundamental. Everything that you do, but the planning, the organization, the use of planners when sitting down on a Friday night, and here’s the things that you want to focus on.
And then when you move into the next week, all of that structure. It reduces [00:44:00] someone’s cognitive load, their mental load. We have enough mental load, like most people carry around entire to do lists in their head. No wonder we’re so stressed. It decreases stress. It helps us to be more productive. It helps us to feel more productive, which increases our sense of self efficacy.
So when I see myself doing things and ticking things off it. It helps me to feel like I am moving the needle forward, which there is really great psychological data to show just how important that sense of achievement is for us. That’s what you do. It’s like a weight is like lifted. Thank you. Because it’s exactly why, why I do the things I do.
You know, I’m not only creating a to do list to get stuff done. It is to reduce the time, the effort, the energy, the anxiety, the stress. All of the [00:45:00] things that are taken up too much of when we don’t have whatever system in place that works for us. And a big part of it for me too, is to reduce the decision making because it’s heavy.
The number of decisions that we have to make already as busy people in our lives is heavy and big. And it’s part of the reason that the system works for me and so many others because it means that the decisions are made on that Friday. And when we get to that desk or wherever we are on a Monday morning, we just need to hit go rather than look at making those decisions right there.
And then we, I could literally talk to you about this. For so much longer. I think we’re going to have to have a part two conversation because even a few things that you said then came up for me. I mean, I know that the vast majority, of course, of the people who listen to my podcast or in my planning and sticker world are neurotypical.
But one thing that I found over the past few years alone. Is that more and more people are telling me that they’re [00:46:00] neurodivergent or seem to be pulling in more people who are. And like you said before, I’ve felt like a kinship towards those people for sure. And at the same time, what I’m doing is here for.
Everyone. I’ve just loved talking to you today. Can we, can we continue? Can we do a part two? 100 percent of course. And as I think it will be exceptionally helpful for people to hear this conversation. My gut actually tells me Mim. And what I actually think as you, as you get more and more comfortable in your squareness.
And as you start to explore the parameters of your squareness, you will see just how vital, you’re probably going to find a newfound sense and depth of understanding, in terms of just how important the work that you do is not like I shouldn’t be doing this. I think you’re actually going to come out of this going.
I need to be doing this and I’m, I feel it to the depth of my soul. Like I didn’t know [00:47:00] could exist. I have absolutely no doubt. And what I suspect, like my hunch is my gut tells me that there are probably a lot of neurodivergent people in your space. Because even when we think about the qualities of your space around like you, you’re going to be a certain type of person to be obsessed with stickers, right?
Like you got a special person. An amazing special person, right? Like, you’ve got to be a special type of person to, have the patience to be able to do that, to withstand probably some of the external criticism that comes with it of like, really? That’s your thing? Oh, absolutely. I think you’re actually probably going to find this conversation may actually be really illuminating or comforting for a patient.
A big group of people that you may not even know are there. I hope so. I hope so. And I would love to hear from, from anyone who has got something positive out of this conversation and if they’ve got any questions, you know, [00:48:00] feel free to let me know Instagram at Paper Planner Club. Let me know whether Whether you are neurotypical, whether you are neurodivergent, whether you are unsure or going through a similar experience yourself, I just want to open the conversation up now.
I’ve kept, as you know, this diagnosis just to myself and my friend group for a couple of months now, but I’m feeling like as I’m exploring this more, I’m ready to to share the conversation and open it up to others. And so. I’m just so grateful for you. I always knew that we had a special friendship and now, of course, it’s just so much bigger and better on every single level.
And I just want to thank you so much for all of your support over the last few months, particularly, but certainly over the last couple of years, too. I think you’re amazing and I love you. I appreciate you. I think we have such a beautiful reciprocal relationship and I’m so, so happy that I get to support you through this while at the same time also discovering different parts of [00:49:00] me as I help you process it helps me process as well.
And I’m really excited. What I honestly cannot wait for. I’m like, can’t wait for that proud mom moment. Where I get to look at you and go, you, you are that beacon of light now for all of the weirdos in your community who feel different, who may hide their obsessions with stickers or planning, or who may struggle or whatever it might be.
That you become the beacon of light for the other weirdos to find. Thank you. And now you’ve set me off. So here we go. Oh, thank you, Hayley. So, so much. And where can everyone else go to connect with you and to find out even more about you and the amazing work that you do? Absolutely. So I’m, I’m always up for connecting with people in the DMs on Instagram, especially around neurodivergence as a topic.
If you’re not a [00:50:00] therapist, that is totally fine. You can still hit me up and I will respond, but I am at dr dot. So dr dot Hayley Kelly on Instagram, or you can find us over at the website, which is therapistsrising. com. You are so special. I’m so appreciative of you. I’m going to link everything below as well.
And. We’re going to do another another part of this part two very soon. So thank you Hayley. You’re welcome. Thank you