Zoë Kessler, ADHD Warrior PrincessThose of you who’ve read this week’s blog posts know that I hit a pretty impressive low on Wednesday morning. If wishing that I’d been drowned at birth isn’t low, I don’t know what is, and that’s how I started my day.

Later, on that horrible morning, I was inspired by meeting a young boy with ADHD. While not pulling me out of my funk, this chance meeting with an ADD angel renewed my resolve to get my shit together.

Still, I remained shaken up so badly that when I thought about going into work, I knew – I just knew – I couldn’t.

I wanted to call in sick. But I wasn’t. Okay, I was, but it wasn’t the flu if you catch my drift.

Holy dilemma, Batman

I’ve always valued being impeccable with my word: the willingness to speak openly and truthfully. But, hey, I’m only human; I mean, come on, who can tell the truth all the time?

This was one of those tricky situations.

In The Four Agreements, author Don Miguel Ruiz encourages us to dive in, speak our truth. Always, without exception. Had I ever fully committed to this with ruthless courage? No. Had I wavered? Yes.

Telling the truth can be dangerous for an ADHDer

My history as an ADHD kid added a new level of challenge in coming clean as an adult. In the past, my truthfulness had actually come to blows. I was on the receiving end of those blows until the age of 17, when I finally hit back. But that’s a story for another day.

As I thought about calling work to tell them I wouldn’t be coming in, I remembered that little boy. I wanted to raise the bar for his sake. Even if he would never know what I was doing, I wanted to do it for him. I wanted to do it for me. I wanted to do it for you.

Radical honesty: pushing the ADHD envelope

Since my ADHD diagnosis I’ve been consciously taking increasingly big risks with being impeccable with my word. One of the biggest so far was coming out at work with ADHD (see OMG! I Came Out At Work Today!)

Not quite knowing if I had the guts to do what I needed to do, I dialed the number.

“Hi Lori. I’m calling in sick. Okay, I’m not really sick, (my voice wobbled and I began to cry) but I am, if you know what I mean.”

“You need a mental health day, right?”

Taking courage from her response, I continued,

“In the year-and-a-half that I’ve worked for you, how many days have I called in sick?”

“One,” she said.

“Right. Well, I’m calling in sick now. But I can’t lie. I’m not exactly sick, I’m having a really bad day.”

“You need a ‘me-day’,” she said.


“Zoë, I understand. Sometimes everybody just needs a me day. Put your feet up, lay on the couch, watch a movie. We’ll be okay here.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Impeccability warrior

Shaking, I got off the phone. I felt like an impeccable warrior. I hadn’t let myself down. I hadn’t let that little boy down.

I knew, even though he wouldn’t, that part of advocating for yourself, and for everyone who struggles with mental health issues, is honoring the need to take care of our emotional health. There is no way, for me, that lying would ever be part of that. That’s how I was raised (and, ironically, one of the reasons I got whacked – when they thought I was telling a lie, but I wasn’t).

I knew, in my heart of hearts, that if I was going to be the change I wanted to see, I would have to come clean with my workplace, at whatever cost.

So I did.

Enlightened management (mine, and hers)

I don’t know why I’m blessed with this understanding supervisor, with whom I’d shared that I had ADHD long before I came out to the boss, and who now didn’t skip a beat when she told me to stay home.

And I do know that this wasn’t an entirely an altruistic move on her part. She realized that if I came in, in my emotional state, I wouldn’t be effective at work.

While not entirely altruistic, hers was an enlightened managerial response.

I tried to reassure her that I would be ok the next day. Even with my ADHD mood swings, my HSP, and my emotional make-up, I know I’m the Bounceback Queen. No matter how low I get, from experience I know that it only takes me one or two days – max – ‘til I’m happy and smiling again.

The next morning when I went into work, I spread my arms wide and said, “Ta-da! Here she is! The happy Zoë you know and love!”

We laughed.

I’m secretly hoping that the world that sad young boy grows up in will be much like the world I’m beginning to create for myself.

I wish that for you, too.

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