Living with ADHD: Finding a Place Where You Can Be Yourself

Ariadne Ferro candidly shares her personal struggles with being misunderstood due to her ADHD, and describes how she was able to overcome these challenges by finding a supportive community that not only understands her condition but also accepts her for who she is.

Navigating a sense of belonging with ADHD

Nick: And then this ties into another theory, a sub-theory of ikigai which is ibasho. And actually, I'd say ibasho is these three levels of ikigai, especially the interpersonal and community.

And so if we look at ibasho, the elements of ibasho can be threefold: a comfortable space, reliable social relationships, and a positive belief in the near future. And this made me think, if you do have ADHD, is it hard to find an ibasho?

Ariadne: Yeah, I think of all the things that I learned with you, and there were a lot, the one that was the most impactful for me was the concept of ibasho. Because of all these things that we mentioned before, and because of those three levels of ikigai, the three spheres of connection, so to speak.

Because for it to be really meaningful, you've got to be really vulnerable. I mean, cuz that's what an ibasho is, isn't it? I mean, it's a place where you can be yourself, your true self. So it really makes, I mean, an essential ingredient is that vulnerability, and that's really scary. That's really scary. For anybody, I think.

But talking about ADHD, number one, lots of us are undiagnosed. And that makes it really difficult. Because I know a lot of the insecurities that I've dealt with in my life have had to do with it. You mentioned it in the intro, I talked so much, I had this people think I only care about myself from ego-centric, because I talk all the time, I have a hard time looking people in the eye, there's something I've had to train myself to do.

People think I'm not listening, but I am. And because I have really slow working memory or really poor working memory, I don't remember the last thing that they said, or I don't remember all the details. I really do care. And I'm also very intense, this intensity, where you know, I just feel things on a very intense level: either really excited or really, you know, it's like, there's very little flat effect, right?

So all of these things taken out of context, it's easy to imagine that you will be poorly accepted by people: well, I don't want to go with this person, she only talks about herself, or she doesn't listen when I talked to her, or she's always all over the place.

So getting the diagnosis and an accurate diagnosis from a professional, which I am not one to diagnose it, you know, a licensed health professional that specializes in ADHD — getting a proper diagnosis is so important. Because that's that first step. So that first ibasho, that first community has to be yourself.

It has to be okay, this is me, this is who I am, this is why I am this is how I am. These are the things that impact me negatively about this and the ones that I want to work on. And these are just part of me. And you know what, I come this is part of my package, take me or leave me.

And the people who choose to take you then you know, this is my ibasho. And thanks to this process of reconnection with my diagnosis, with the work that I do, with work with you, I have begun to find ibasho and identify ibasho that has really made my life so much richer. And our ikigai tribe is one of them that I'm so grateful for, I'm so thankful for.

And it's funny, I have this small group of intercultural lists and inclusion specialists who've also been diagnosed with ADHD, and were also living in countries other than their, own than their country of origin. So we've got so many things in common that we've learned to support one another.

So, yeah, it's hard. It is hard for anybody, when I think especially you don't really understand yourself, and if you don't understand what makes you tick. And if you're not willing to be vulnerable with that, then you're not really going to find it. Because how are you going to find who accepts you if you don't really know who you are, and what it is that they need to accept, and that you need to accept more importantly. So yeah, a long answer to a short question.

Nick: No, that's fine. And I was gonna say, I'll always take you, you're a different, and I mean, I just have this idea that you're just enthusiastic, and it's great every time we have catch up calls, you are enthusiastic. But I've always noticed that you patiently wait, you let other people talk. You never talk over anyone. So I think you're wonderful.