[ ] I understand my ADHD now— I consider it a gift.
Entrepreneur and CEO,
Oak Park, Illinois
KATHR YN GOE TZKE,
41, HAS AN MBA IN IN TERNATIONAL marketing, as well as an undergraduate degree in psychology. As founder, CEO, and president of Mood-factory,
Goetzke develops products aimed at improving the mood of
her customers. Diagnosed with depression and PTSD in her
20s, Goetzke’s personal struggles led to her passion for helping customers with mood disorders.
Says Goetzke: “I managed my undiagnosed ADHD by
keeping myself moving and engaged, and taking on difficult
projects that required hyperfocus.” She overindulged in alcohol and food, and occasionally went to therapy.
In her 30s, Goetzke contracted Lyme disease, and her life
changed. “It forced me to slow down,” she says. She saw a
counselor, worked to end her addictions, took medication
for her depression, and started exercising and eating well.
Her depression was well managed, but she couldn’t stay
organized or focused without self-medicating. “I had major
responsibilities running a business and a nonprofit, and I
could not figure out what to start or do,” says Goetzke. Then,
at 37, she was diagnosed with ADHD. Taking a stimulant
medication enabled her to curb her impulsivity, stay on task,
and finish projects. She finds daily prayer and meditation
helpful, as well.
“It is critical for me to focus on my goals and to write
them down,” she says. Otherwise, she’s easily distracted by
the requests of others, and risks losing sight of her priorities.
“Treating my ADHD allows me to use my creativity in a focused and structured way,” says Goetzke.
Treatment has allowed her to foster new relationships
and repair damaged ones. She talks openly to her brother
about her ADHD, and he is understanding and helpful. She
keeps tabs on family and friends’ birthdays, so she can send
a card. Her willingness to explain her challenges to friends
and family has brought unexpected benefits: They help her
say “no” to activities and responsibilities, so she can manage
her time effectively.
“Now that I understand my ADHD, I consider it a gift.”
ADHD MAY BE NO LAUGHING MATTER, BUT IT DOESN’T keep Eva Pettinato from making others laugh at comedy clubs, corporate events, and open mics. After taking a
stand-up comedy course, in 2000, Pettinato started teaching comedy workshops and founded ZEDS Comic Communications.
Before launching her business, Pettinato had more than
50 jobs. “I was hired, promoted, and then fired, or I quit out
of frustration or boredom,” she says. In 2009, Pettinato enrolled in a Business Administration program at the Southern
Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). She found the work
difficult, and met with a learning strategist at SAIT to get
help. He suggested she speak with the school’s disability services. This led to her ADHD diagnosis, in 2010.
Pettinato says her diagnosis explains the difficulties she’d
had in maintaining personal relationships and staying in
jobs, and why she was drawn to comedy. “I love using humor
to connect, disconnect, or get out of sticky situations,” she
says. Learning about ADHD gave her a new perspective. “I
understand now that I am easily bored, and I stopped blam-
ing everyone else for being boring. I learned to stay engaged
in conversations by pretending it’s a first date.”
Along with medication, Pettinato gets counseling and
has joined the Calgary branch of CHADD. She learned to
advocate for herself without mentioning her ADHD. “Many
people have distraction problems, so if I ask for noise to be
reduced in a meeting at work, no one thinks it’s a big deal,”
she says. “Getting diagnosed helped me to accept assistance
from others,” she adds, “and to admit that there are some
aspects of business and life that can be more successfully
done by others.”
After decades of feeling bad about herself, and spend-
ing thousands of dollars on personal development courses,
Pettinato says, “I’ve given up the great race to perfection
based on others’ standards.”
[ ] Getting diagnosed helped me accept help from others.