it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news, with more accounts of success even in this weird time.

1. I just wanted to send you a note thanking you for your amazing advice on adult ADHD. I’d always assumed that I was just late, disorganised, a procrastinator, time blind, and had mistake-ridden work because I was lazy or stupid and needed to try harder. Turns out that I have ADHD that nobody caught because I’m a woman, who did well in school, with anxiety hiding most of my ADHD symptoms! I only realised that “hey, this might be me” reading your column obsessively at work and seeing myself in the letter writer. I got diagnosed last week, and it’s a huge weight off my shoulders and now that I know how I’m wired, I can play to my strengths and cover for my weaknesses.

Thank you again, for treating this with such compassion and thought. It’s hard to find anything about ADHD that’s useful for adults or what it looks like in the workplace. I work as a project manager and it’s made my work output so much better now that I know I need to accept how I am and work with the flow, rather than giving myself panic attacks fighting how I am.

I know I’m just one of many internet strangers and this is probably super weird, but you’ve changed my life, for real. Thank you.

2. This good news is a few months old, but reading a recent compilation of happy ending posts you shared reminded me of it. As background, last spring one of our student workers unintentionally outed her roommate/coworker to me as non-binary by noticeably correcting her own pronoun usage. “She … They aren’t feeling well tonight.” I agonized for some time on whether I should follow up with the outed student. On the one hand, that information wasn’t something they had shared with me, and I had no intention of doing anything with it without their permission. On the other, if their roommate was casually using they/them pronouns for them in public and they weren’t ready to be out publicly, that was something I absolutely would have wanted to know in their shoes. In the end, I took my guidance on handling a deeply personal topic an employee may not feel comfortable discussing but could nonetheless affect their work from the boss whose employee had been raped by his nephew in the past. I hand-wrote a note that I slid in the student’s cubby at work. Essentially I said that I had noticed the pronoun switch and wanted to know if I should also use those pronouns for them. I also said they could respond however they felt comfortable, including not at all. I never did get a response, but that student gave me some very warm smiles afterward, so I assumed they got the message of my support for them.

Now comes the good news: even before the accidental outing, I had been lobbying with my co-supervisor to update our Safe Space policy to be more trans-inclusive by adding intentional misgendering or refusal to use preferred names/pronouns to the list of unacceptable behaviors, largely as a result of the post you published on that topic. We unveiled the new policy at our fall orientation this term (over Zoom because of COVID). Very soon afterward, that same student confirmed in a private chat to me that they were officially changing their name and shared their preferred pronouns. And that transition has gone amazingly well! No one has made an issue of it to my knowledge, and all misgendering has been unintentional with the person very open to correction and apologetic. It feels pretty great to have contributed to this job actually being a safe place for our non-binary student to be open about their true self. Definitely a happy ending!

3. I have regaled you with so many WTF stories about my grandboss (he’s the one who, among other things, made a sweatshirt with his direct report’s picture on it!) that I have to tell you! He finally left. He almost got me to retire but I kept saying, I can outlast him. And I did. He left in August and we got someone in temporarily that was such a completely different kind of leader! In just a very short time (under severely difficult circumstances, including COVID) I can feel things shifting already. Our new perm boss was just identified and started this week and he already seems so much more engaging and supportive of us and our mission than the original one. I appreciate you being a sounding board over the years. Your column helped me see that it wasn’t normal but also helped me to persevere in one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

{ 47 comments… read them below }

  1. Seeking Second Childhood*

    Good news all around. I really needed that this week. Thanks Alison! And congratulations to op1 op2 & op3.

  2. Kali*

    This is me reading: “Good news good news *screeching halt* – wait, WHAT was that in that second one?”


    Does anyone have a link to that?

    1. juliebulie*

      I wasn’t sure if that referred to a previous letter on this site (that I don’t recall), or something OP just mentioned in passing. Yeah, I definitely did a double-take on that one…

    2. OperaArt*

      I posted the link in another comment. If the post doesn’t make it through, look for “harmed by my family”

      1. Old Admin*

        Yes, that story played out in a most sensitive, humane, and quietly gratifying way. No flash bang of firings, but instead a boss learning, and applying his knowledge to do all the right things. Happiness here.

  3. Emily*

    1 – Congratulations! I hope that your new diagnosis brings you clarity, and helps you to figure out how to work with your brain rather than against it.

    2 – That sounds like a pretty good way to handle it (letting them know, but not in a way that puts them on the spot or requires a response). I’m also glad to hear that you were able to change your Safe Space policy!

    3 – Hooray!

  4. caro*

    A lot of the Friday good news is about people getting jobs/promotions/raises using AAM’s advice, and while of course those stories are all great, I especially love the less common ones like these, where people creatively use this site’s info to enact other types of positive change in their working lives (and lives in general!). #2 in particular – think someone’s cutting onions in here. Truly a joy to read in a time when we could all use some more joy.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Just an email to me. Here it is:

      “I don’t have a question, I just wanted to tell you that my grandboss had a sweatshirt made with a photo-shopped picture of his next in charge. He photoshopped a Santa hat on her picture and had it printed on a shirt. He said its because she is his rock star… but I am just creeped out. She has not yet seen it. We don’t know if he will get up the nerve to show her or not. What is wrong with people?”

    2. fposte*

      I gotta say, my first thought was that I’ve definitely had reports that would be worthy of being put on a t-shirt. But wearing them would be weird. I’ll stick with the traditional shrine.

  5. Autistic AF*

    OP1 – congratulations on your diagnosis! A close friend of mine was also recently diagnosed and it’s been a lot for them to unpack – I’ve read that the first year after an Autism diagnosis is rough (and can back that up from my own experience) and ADHD is likely similar. Here are some resources that were recommended:

    Taking Charge of Adult ADHD by Russell Barkley
    Scattered Minds by Gabor Mate
    Additude magazine (additudemag dotcom)
    ADHD re-wired podcast

    Job Accommodation Network (askjan dottorg) has also been helpful for me and it has a good ADHD section. Neuroclastic (neuroclastic dot com) is Autism-focused, but it would be useful for Exective Functioning information.

    If you search Amazon for “flippy chain” and/or “spiky ring”, these two are my favourite fidget toys – orbeez, sensory putty, and tangle toys are also good.

    1. Hagbard C.*

      also: Dani Donovan’s is an illuminating joy. We are not alone! Tumblr also has a lively ADHD community. Still a scatterbrain, still procrastinate, but have signposts that make me more mindful.

      1. Older and bolder*

        Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell, a shrink who has ADHD. It’s not a new book, but very insightful, easy read, a lot of help to my spouse and I as newly diagnosed adults, and for our children, whose diagnoses led to their parents’.
        Very happy for the boost to your life journey.

    2. Kali*

      For me, my reaction was straight out of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (A DIAAAAAAAAAAAAGNOSIS! I’M READY TO BLOW THIS JOINT! AND BY JOINT, I MEAN MY INNER SENSE OF CONFUSION!), but I’d been suspecting for most of a decade of that point, so it was all just pure relief.

    3. Kaitydidd*

      I’m a little over a year from my adult ADHD diagnosis. It’s been a lot, honestly. Working from home during the pandemic has not made it any easier, either. I really enjoy The ADHD Good Life podcast. The host is a Black woman, and the internal ADHD struggles she talks about really resonated with me.

    4. Secretary*

      Thank you for these suggestions! I’m not the OP but currently working on getting an ADHD dx!

    5. Adult ADD!*

      Same with recently diagnosed as an adult, and asking about it here. The ADDitude podcasts and article archives are amazing. If you are female, see also Kathleen Nadeau about the unique presentation of ADD in women, and how estrogen affects all of it. I recently was recommended the book “Is It You, Me, Or Adult ADD” — very helpful for relationships and new insights into the ADD brain I hadn’t seen elsewhere. Medication has made so much of a difference simply in overall mental health.

    6. Amanda*

      Thank you SO much for sharing these resources! I was dx w/ADHD about 1.5 yrs ago and figuring it all out has been a journey I’m still on.

    7. RJ*

      Thanks for these resources! I was diagnosed a year and a bit ago and it has helped me a bunch. I would add Black Girl Lost Keys to the list of resources. Her twitter regularly links to her blog, which is super helpful for ADHD and women.

  6. hayling*

    OP #1, I had a direct report who suspected she had ADHD her whole life, but her parents “didn’t believe in it.” I had to have a conversation with her about the quality of her work, because she was exhibiting all the typical executive function deficits of ADHD. I directed her towards our EAP, reminded her that we had great insurance, and also talked with her about organizational strategies. I am not sure what she did specifically, but I saw a huge improvement in her work. So glad that you were able to get help as well!

    1. Miss Marple*

      Just wanted to say you are a fantastic boss and I love reading stories like this. You have changed your employees’ life with your compassion and support.

      It is nice to see that there are some great bosses out there.

  7. Miss Marple*

    Thank you so much Allison for the lives you are saving and improving with the hard work you put into your site. I read your site each day and have referred so many people to it. For me you have helped me have tough conversations with my manager and pees in a tactful and assertive way. Your wisdom also has made me realise the value of the social capital I have in my company and when I should and should not use it.
    OP1 – Congratulations on getting your diagnosis and thank you for sharing your story it will inspire others. It has also helped me as my son was recently diagnosed with ADHD. He was visiting a psychologist as 4 months ago he came out as transgender ans she picked up on the ADHD and asked us to get him assessed. Being an introvert that was a top student he was never picked up with ADHD. Unfortunately it is rarely picked up for female introverts that are intelligent.

    OP2 – Thank you so much for being there for your student worker and the tactful and unobtrusive way you handled the news. There will be people that read your update and will use your actions on how they should handle a similar situation. Congratulations on the changes you made. Your actions show that one person can change so many lives and you are an incredible role model.

    OP3 – I love your mantra I can outlast my boss. Well done I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for you . It is great to read you are getting the boss that you deserve. I have 10 years with my current company and I love the work and the people. In my 10 years I have had 2 narcissistic bosses that were also bullies. As my company offers secondment opportunities I took advantage on 2 occasions to get some breathing space from these bosses. Both secondments lead to permanent jobs in the team, which I took. I am glad that I was determined to stay in the company, as later this year we will be relocating to an area that is a 10 minute train trip.

    1. CollegeSupervisor*

      Thank you so much! (OP2) I appreciate your kind words – I’m just glad I was able to make life easier for our students :)

  8. Betty Anyway*

    Just wanted to say to writer #2, THANK YOU. I work with tons of LGBTQ youth, not sure why, it seems to be just a coincidence given where I work. But it’s a constant struggle to get people to behave around us and I applaud you for standing up and being of help to your coworkers and future coworkers too. People like you make me feel better about the world.

    1. CollegeSupervisor*

      OP 2 here – you are so welcome. I love that I get to use my role to help make life easier for students than I had it as a student myself. :) Glad that my story brought some joy to your day.

  9. The New Normal*

    I didn’t… but I could have written letter #1! I was also diagnosed with ADHD after years of anxiety and depression hid symptoms. It wasn’t until I was working with a neurologist for my migraines and the brain fog/short term memory loss became embarrassingly severe that he realized I needed evaluation. I chose to go on medication and it made such a big difference the first few days that I cried several times… it was just life-changing. And I would never have pursued this if it wasn’t for AAM!

    1. Properlike*

      I wish my neurologists for migraines had been that insightful. The pyschologist they sent me to literally said ADD/anxiety – doesn’t matter naming it, because mindfulness would cure it all. This is a real doctor in a major hospital network in a large US city! Like you, when I finally found a doctor who would listen, and the first days on stimulant meds were also life-changing in that my anxiety/depression finally went away!

      1. Kaitydidd*

        It’s bananas how much meds help! Once I wasn’t overwhelmed by everything around me I was so much less anxious!

  10. Older and bolder*

    Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell, a shrink who has ADHD. It’s not a new book, but very insightful, easy read, a lot of help to my spouse and I as newly diagnosed adults, and for our children, whose diagnoses led to their parents’.
    Very happy for the boost to your life journey.

  11. Bookworm*

    Grateful as always (especially this week!) to read some good news for people. Thanks to all who shared their updates.

  12. whatchamacallit*

    LW #1: just started medication right after Christmas. Working on figuring out the right dosage. I’m in my late twenties and finally got evaluated over the summer after my therapist suggested it – didn’t even suspect it! I also have anxiety and did very well in school growing up. I just wish someone had told me to do this years ago before I went through all of college and grad school. Good luck moving forward!

  13. Amy the Rev*

    LW#1, I recently made this discovery about myself, too, as a 31 year old woman! It’s like I finally have a language to describe how my brain has always felt…I saw myself as “lazy” and “undisciplined” for so long and I had really internalized shame around it…it’s been such a liberating and validating experience learning about my ADHD

    1. Em Ef*

      I’m also a 31 y/o recently diagnosed woman! I cried in relief at the diagnosis – I’m not lazy, my brain just works differently.

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