There are two questions people consistently ask me when they learn that I’ve worked for more than 20 years as a project manager who also has ADHD. The first is about how I manage the demands of project management while grappling with ADHD: the follow-up wonders when I received my diagnosis.
My answer to the first is usually surprising to folks. While project management does require an inordinate level of executive functioning, what’s under-appreciated is how it can also align with, and leverage, neurodiversity.
Like many people with ADHD, I have a co-morbid diagnosis, which is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In my case, the two diagnoses come together and create natural skill sets and interests in designing, building and managing projects and programs. The planning aspects of project management feed my OCD, while the complexity of the work lets me constantly shift my attention to endless combinations of tasks, while still working on a single project.
Having ADHD and other co-morbidities is less about what I can’t do, and more about utilizing my neurodiversity to reach my goals and be my best self.
I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD until I was an older adult with almost grown children, at a time when I was having difficulty managing constant overwhelm. The diagnosis caused me to reflect back on my childhood: I probably always had ADHD. My ability to hyper-focus on topics of interest allowed me to excel in school, and as I matured and began working, I established processes for critical functions as a means of survival. The sense of overwhelm that prompted me to seek help was just symptomatic of how the manifestations of ADHD change as life becomes more complex.
At this point in my life, it has become much easier to manage both my ADHD and OCD with medication. I can honestly say that without the gift of ADHD and the lessons I’ve learned as a neurodiverse woman of color, life would not be as fulfilling as it certainly is at this point in my life.
With your gift to ADDA, ADDA can provide the support, skills and other crucial tools that will help others see their ADHD the way I do — and rewrite their stories to ones of equal richness and joy.
Please join ADDA. Please give what you can. We need your support and your voice.
Lorri Jenkins, ADDA Member