podcasts

Navigating Adult ADHD – Podcast

By Jason Clayden on May 8, 2024

In this episode, we are joined by Cora Elkerton as she candidly shares her personal journey of being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and the unique challenges she faces as a parent raising children with ADHD.

Through her insightful reflections, Cora offers helpful perspectives on managing symptoms, navigating daily tasks, and fostering positive relationships with children.

Join us as we embark on a journey of understanding and empowerment, discovering the transformative power of patience, self-awareness, and community support in embracing neurodiversity.

Learn more about ADHD

Nicholette Leanza:

Hello, everyone. I’m Nicholette Leanza. And on this episode, I’m excited to be talking with Cora Elkerton. And she’ll be sharing with us her experience as a person with ADHD, as well as being a parent to a child with ADHD. So welcome, Cora. Great to have you on.

Cora Elkerton:

Thank you so much, Nikki. It’s a pleasure to be on today.

Nicholette Leanza:

Tell us a little bit about your role at Lifestance.

Cora Elkerton:

Absolutely. So I, thankfully, have the opportunity to be our director of talent acquisition supporting all of our clinical support folks, so all of our front office individuals all the way through to our leadership teams. And really supporting our caregivers, our clinicians, in doing their best work to support patients.

Nicholette Leanza:

Definitely an important role.

Cora Elkerton:

Absolutely.

Nicholette Leanza:

And thank you for doing it so well. Appreciate you.

Cora Elkerton:

Oh, thank you. It’s a pleasure.

Nicholette Leanza:

Tell us about your experiences that led you to being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.

Cora Elkerton:

Yeah, absolutely. I think throughout adulthood I really, something was different for me. Something just felt different. Why wasn’t life as easy for me, I say easy in quotations, comparative to my colleagues, my peers, those individuals around me? And then I had my oldest. And when he turned about three, I started noticing some symptoms. And over the next three years, I worked with his pediatrician. And ultimately, he ended up being diagnosed with ADHD combined presentation. And then my youngest came around and I started noticing symptoms in her as well. And so she was diagnosed last year as well, ADHD combined, leaning a little bit towards the more hyperactive end of things, but officially combined. And thankfully to our partners that we work with, they were doing a study here to determine how is it parenting a child with potentially having ADHD as the parent?

And finally, something clicked for me in realizing I may have it. And to put some symptoms to that, my role deals with a lot of heavy thought-intensive work. In order for us to bring the best talent, I have to go dig for those individuals. And that requires a lot of detailed attention, time, and focus. And that was very difficult for me. And I ended up finding myself working 10, 12, 14, sometimes 16 hours a day and into the weekend in order to get my work accomplished. And it took a significant amount of time. And then procrastination. I call myself, jokingly, a procrastination queen. But when that due date comes up, I can power through that work like nobody’s business. My husband used to really struggle because if I had a paper due, I could get it done in a night and it would be really great work. And he is the opposite. It takes him time to get thought to paper, and so he would always just be quite jealous of that.

Nicholette Leanza:

So you’re great at last minute being able to check out the work, then.

Cora Elkerton:

Yes, exactly. So things just finally came together. Certainly, I’m not a hyperactive person, but I am a little nerdy and I enjoy Legos. So if you put a Lego set in front of me or a puzzle, I can sit and focus on that for hours.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah.

Cora Elkerton:

But give me something that’s very thought intensive and it’s a struggle.

Nicholette Leanza:

Often with ADHD, we think it’s deficits of attention, but it’s just attentional differences. So for you-

Cora Elkerton:

Yeah.

Nicholette Leanza:

… put a puzzle, put Legos in front of you, boom, you’re hyper focused on those, potentially, right?

Cora Elkerton:

Yes, exactly.

Nicholette Leanza:

But other things you recognize, okay, that’s going to be a little bit harder for me to really attend my attention too.

Cora Elkerton:

Right.

Nicholette Leanza:

So you definitely recognize that about yourself.

Cora Elkerton:

Yes, absolutely.

Nicholette Leanza:

So what are some of the other biggest challenges of having ADHD as an adult? And how do you manage your symptoms?

Cora Elkerton:

Yeah, absolutely. I think the overwhelm. One of the things that I have really come to recognize through my own journey is a neurotypical individual, say, for instance, I need to take a shower, that’s the thought process itself. They get up and they go take a shower. Whereas for someone like me, taking a shower is breaking it down into each of the individual parts. And that becomes very overwhelming. And so getting undressed, picking my next outfit, washing my hair, doing all the things that you need to do in the shower, getting out, getting dried off, getting dressed, combing my hair. And so that task then becomes a mountain of effort. And that’s just very overwhelming. And so some of the tips and tricks that I really utilize, list making is really my go-to because I can put that right next to me and I write it down. And that, A, I won’t forget it. It’ll still remain. But it’s also that task checking often highlighting-

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah.

Cora Elkerton:

… okay, I’m done. That’s a dopamine hit.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah. It hits.

Cora Elkerton:

Oh, I accomplished that.

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah.

Cora Elkerton:

Or for instance, in my inbox at work, I don’t move an email out until I’ve completed that task. And so it’s just little things like that. It’s a double check to myself, but it’s also, if I don’t write something down, I’m going to forget it because it’s very much… as kids, we had that magic paper that you’d write on and you lift it up and it’s empty-

Nicholette Leanza:

Right.

Cora Elkerton:

… and that’s it.

Nicholette Leanza:

Right.

Cora Elkerton:

And that’s how my brain works. And so it’s a lot of memorization tips or tricks-

Nicholette Leanza:

Okay.

Cora Elkerton:

… to help myself keep accountable for the things that I need to complete.

Nicholette Leanza:

Well, I think that’s the key word you just used there, keeping yourself accountable for what-

Cora Elkerton:

Yes.

Nicholette Leanza:

… you need to complete.

Cora Elkerton:

Yeah.

Nicholette Leanza:

And that you have a system in place to help you do that. Sounds like lots of-

Cora Elkerton:

Exactly.

Nicholette Leanza:

… to-do lists, things like that.

Cora Elkerton:

Yeah.

Nicholette Leanza:

And it probably took some time for you to recognize that’s what works for you as well.

Cora Elkerton:

Absolutely, absolutely. I think that’s the thing is every ADHD individual has very different needs. And a list may be very overwhelming for someone else. For me, that’s what works. And my husband, I’m pretty sure also has it. And he’s not an organizational type, whereas me, that’s how I keep myself accountable. So it’s very different, but-

Nicholette Leanza:

Yeah.

Cora Elkerton:

… I’m thankful it works for me.

Nicholette Leanza:

And I like that you’re emphasizing is that it could be different for different people with ADHD. What works for you might not necessarily work for your husband. And that’s okay. It’s about your husband probably trying to figure out what works best for him, then.

Cora Elkerton:

Exactly.

Nicholette Leanza:

Right?

Cora Elkerton:

Exactly. It’s all trial and error.

Nicholette Leanza:

Definitely. Share with us some of your experiences parenting a child with ADHD. Any advice or tips or tricks you would like to give to parents?

Cora Elkerton:

Oh, my goodness, yes. I think I went through a behavioral parenting training this last year, and one of the things that really helped me was reminding myself my children are equally struggling with their own tasks. And so one of the biggest things that I would advise parents is, when you’re offering a task to your child, take a breath before reminding them. Because you have to remember just as much as you struggle with interacting with those around you, they are doing the same thing. And so I have to frequently remind myself when I say, “Hey, can you go do this?”, and they don’t acknowledge me, it’s because their brain is somewhere else.

Nicholette Leanza:

Right.

Cora Elkerton:

And I have to get their attention first for them to acknowledge. And then just letting it sink in. “Hey, can you go get your dirty clothes?” Take a breath, let it sink in and funnel. They don’t acknowledge me. “Hey, did you hear what I said?” “No.” “Okay. Can you go get your clothes for me?”

Nicholette Leanza:

Got you.

Cora Elkerton:

And then it’s also breaking up tasks. Morning time is often a struggle for us because there’s a lot of things that need to be accomplished before they head off to school. When my oldest comes in, “Hey, did you brush your teeth?” “No.” “Did you put on deodorant?” “No.” “Can you go do those things for me, please?” And it’s also reinforcing the positivity. We as ADHDers have a lot of negative inputs because we’re frequently being reminded of the things that we’re not accomplishing or that we’re not as good at. And so I always try to positively reinforce them in any way that I can, even if it’s something simple. “Thank you so much for putting your plate away in the sink. Thank you so much for putting your shoes away in the right space.” Because on the flip side, it’s always, “Hey, can you stop putting your shoes in the wrong place?”

Nicholette Leanza:

Right, right.

Cora Elkerton:

So it’s that reframing. Because otherwise, it’s just constant negativity.

Nicholette Leanza:

Negativity. So oh, my gosh, those are great tips for parents because it can get very frustrating for parents who are maybe finding themselves repeatedly asking a child to do whatever tasks. But if they can step back and recognize that, especially if you’re a parent with ADHD and what your struggles are like, to give that same sensitivity to your child. To step back, take a breath, and to award the positives that they’re doing, thinking of them.

Cora Elkerton:

Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. And I found myself getting so irritated when they wouldn’t acknowledge and they wouldn’t listen. And reframing my own emotional response was crucial. And I found after learning this that my own irritation reduced, which is huge for my own stress level and my own anxiety. It’s such a little thing, but such a big thing at the same time.

Nicholette Leanza:

Definitely. Any other takeaways you’d like to share?

Cora Elkerton:

Yeah, I think patience is certainly something that’s really crucial when thinking about going through a journey like this. It’s so much trial and error in finding what works, what doesn’t work, how to work and survive in a world where your brain works differently. And so I think there are so many resources available through various means with the different organizations, social media, what have you. And don’t be afraid to reach out. Even myself, if you see me on social media and you’re struggling, I’m available. I want to help others, especially our women ADHDers. I am here and a resource, and don’t be afraid. I think that’s the biggest thing. It’s okay. You’re normal, right?

Nicholette Leanza:

Got you. Oh, my gosh. Cora, thank you. I think you’re emphasizing go ahead, ask for help, and that you’d be willing to be a resource for others to help guide them too. So my gosh, thank you.

Cora Elkerton:

Thank you so much, Nikki, for having me, for letting me have this platform. It’s such an important piece to me in advocating for women’s health, especially for neurodivergencies.

Nicholette Leanza:

Definitely. Thank you again, Cora.

Cora Elkerton:

Thank you, Nikki.

Nicholette Leanza:

I’d also like to thank the team behind podcast, Jason Clayden, Juliana Whidden, and Chris Kelman, with a special thank you to Jason Clayden for editing our episodes. Thank you again for listening to Convos From The Couch. Take care, everyone.