Can This ADDer be Saved?

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A Coaching Story – Part 1

by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Another article in the The ADD Coaching Series

*”Katy,” “Barb,” “Donna” and the details of this story are a composite of the process and progress of several ADDers working with the author, to honor the confidentiality of the client/coach alignment and to better illustrate a sense of the ADD Coaching process.

Like many of us, Katy Nolan was a full time homemaker with a full-time job.

She adored her husband Paul, a terrific father — but not really much help around the house: not really much help with anything having anything to DO with running a household, actually.

Sometimes she joked that she had three kids — Mary, her second-grader, Tom her big fourth-grader, and Paul, the baby! Fortunately, Katy was one of the most organized women anyone knew, so she managed somehow to keep the homefires burning along with the demands of  a high-stress job.

Most days she felt on top of things, but she went to bed exhausted every night and woke up every morning dreading the day.  She loved her job, her kids, her marriage, and their newly remodeled home — but deep in her heart she hated her life.

“What’s wrong with me?” she often wondered.


The words that started Katy’s day were about the worst she could possibly imagine, “Mommy, I don’t feel very good!”

“Not today!” she complained under her breath, feeling guilty for the thought.
“Please let her be well enough to go to school today and I promise I’ll be Florence Nightingale tomorrow!”

Her upcoming week was booked solid with urgent work to-dos and a million errands related to the upcoming Easter holiday. She had taken the day off to work on an important report due Friday — without the distractions of the office.

For some reason, she just couldn’t manage to get her thoughts on paper with the constant ringing of the telephone and chatting of her office-mates, along with the frequent interruptions of her new boss, the micro-manager’s micro-manager. Her recent memo about the “slippage” of the quality of Katy’s reports was scathing.

She really hated Monday mornings! As usual, the puppy was eager for his morning walk. Tommy needed her to read and sign something for school, but he couldn’t remember where it was. Paul scowled on his way out the door, miffed because she neglected to pick up his favorite suit from the dry cleaners and she’d forgotten to set the coffee maker the night before.

She didn’t know how she would manage without that lifesaving first cup she always needed to clear the cobwebs.  She tripped over Bowser as she made her way to Mary’s room.

Spots!  Measles or chicken pox — Mary could be home for two weeks!!!  I’ll lose my job.  “Oh honey, I’m so sorry you’re sick!” she managed to comment through her tears.

And then there’s Barb

Barbara Sitwell, Katy’s best friend and next door neighbor, was Katy’s exact opposite.  Her house was a mess, her kids fended mostly for themselves, and she left all of the car-pooling duties to her husband Larry, even though her only “job” was part-time photography for the local newspaper (consisting mostly of developing negatives in her basement dark room). Barb, however, seemed genuinely happy.  Larry adored her, and her kids we’re doing great.

Katy was still crying as she dialed the phone to let Larry know that Mary wouldn’t riding with them today.

“Hello?”  It was Barb!
“Mary won’t be coming, she has the measles!”  Katy began, fairly evenly until she broke down completely.

The rest came out in a rush.

“And I’m going to lose my job and we’re not going to have any Easter Baskets and Paul’s going to divorce me for letting down the entire family and I’ll end up a single mother living on welfare in some hovel or in some mental institution because I can’t even get it together to make coffee!”

Katy had just “hit the wall.”

She had managed to juggle fairly effectively until this very minute.  Suddenly her elaborately detailed coping strategies couldn’t handle this new level of stress. Everything seemed to come crashing down around her — one seemingly minor glitch, and suddenly, she felt as if she couldn’t cope at all. She didn’t even have control over her words, and felt she was destroying her carefully constructed facade of competence. Her breath came in gulps with this realization.  “I don’t know what to do next.  I can’t even think!!”

Fortunately, Barbara knew exactly what was going on with Katy.
Boggle* — cognitive shutdown in response to stress.

*Search for excerpts from The Boggle Book, which will be posted on while awaiting publication.

Barb herself had been in the same place after her second son was born.  She had been coping marginally since the birth of her first child. The demands of a second child told her in no uncertain terms that something was very definitely wrong.  The additional responsibility of a new baby seemed to push her over some imaginary cliff that led to an ADD diagnosis, a CH.A.D.D. support group, therapy and, in the last 18 months, her secret weapon: weekly phone calls with her ADD Coach.

“Go start a pot of coffee, then call the pediatrician.  I’ll be right over.”  

Suddenly and uncharacteristically, Barb had became the competent one.


That was the event that brought Katy to ADD Coaching, well over a year ago.  Today she wakes up eager to start the day (most days!). She has “found the time” to join a yoga class and Weight Watchers, and has lost those frustrating twelve pounds she had been agonizing about since Mary’s birth.

She has worked out a plan with her boss including, among other accommodations, working four days in the office and one at home. Her last review was encouraging.

Paul is doing more around the house and actually reading some of those ADD books on his bedside table, so he is able to be more understanding and supportive.  Making sure there’s coffee every morning, clean sheets and towels every week, and taking responsibility for the dry-cleaning are among the items that moved from Katy’s to-do list to Paul’s.

Katy feels lighter and happier than she has in many years.

A fairy tale?

No.  Katy’s new life is the result of a lot of dedication and hard work.  The difference is that she has finally discovered how to focus her energy in ways that make a difference in her life.  Left behind are most of her old crisis management habits that, despite her excellent organizational skills, kept life teetering right on the brink of disaster.

What had been missing was an awareness of ADD and an understanding and acceptance of its implications:

  • an understanding of how ADD impacted her thinking and choices
  • the admission that nobody can do it all
  • the development of the skills necessary to enroll help and support
  • with the addition of proper medication.

Organizational competence aside, Katy was luckier than many of us with undiagnosed ADD.  She had a best friend to identify some of what seemed to be going on —  to offer advice, share information and experience, introduce her to an ADD Coach, and help her find a doctor and an ADD-knowledgeable therapist.  The Nolans could afford the services Katy needed, and her husband proved how terrific he really was by supporting her efforts with actions as well as words.

Katy was ALSO ready, willing, and able  to take the actions to change her life, and had excellent follow-through skills.  She was able to put a support team together quickly and her progress was rapid and dramatic.

And then there’s Barb

Even though they are the best of buds and are working with the same ADD Coach, they are very different women with very different styles of ADD. Barbara’s process has been very different and, from the outside, seems less remarkable than Katy’s.

Since the Sitwells manage on, effectively, one salary, Barb had to wait until there was room in the budget to pay for the services she realized she needed and wanted, post diagnosis, just like some of those photography classes she wanted to take.  She did the best she could for the first year, trolling the internet for sites like for information and ideas.

Once she began working with Donna, Barb took longer to sift through what she wanted to do, and to distinguish what she was willing to really-no-kidding DO to manage from what was (for her) merely a “should.”

Since her messy house didn’t bother her in the slightest, you wouldn’t see much difference were you to pay her a little visit.  Larry would like quite a bit more order, but not enough to take over the chore — hiring a maid is one of the Sitwell’s goals for future salary increases and bonuses.  They’ve dubbed their house “Chaos Casa,” and they’re both fine with that for now.

The important thing is that Barb herself feels like she has finally found the right balance for the type of life she wants to lead.

Even though Barb will always be more of a “free spirit” than Katy, both woman feel more in control and confident that they are each moving at a pace that makes sense for them, in a direction they want to be moving.  And while both woman give a lot of credit to Donna, their ADD Coach, they know in their hearts that their own efforts are the ones that have made the difference.  (And Donna reminds them every time they seem to forget that little detail!)

More to come in Katy and Barb’s story, so stay tuned! (see links to the next articles below)

As always, if you want notification of new articles in the Coaching Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too) STRICT No Spam Policy

If you’d like some one-on-one (or group) coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this article (either for your own life, that of a loved one, or as coaching skills development), click the E-me link <—here (or on the menubar at the top of every page) and I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

Can this ADDer  be Saved?
(Entire coaching story, illustrating how coaching works in narrative format)

Related Articles on

Assorted articles about ADD and ADDCoach Concepts:

A few Articles in the Attention series:

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

33 Responses to Can This ADDer be Saved?

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    • Thanks for liking the site, Ellie. Yes, it has taken QUITE a bit of time for the past 3 years, but recent events have encouraged me to step back a bit for a while.

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    • Thank you SO much for helping me get the word out.

      Since I don’t make a penny for the considerable time I spend here, I can’t justify spending money as well to market the content. TRULY need and appreciate the help “sharing the wealth.”

      RE: donate button – I thought about it, but I couldn’t figure out how to get it working on this platform (this is the free WordPress site, so they don’t allow plug-ins that make it possible to spread the word OR to “monetize” my efforts.)

      After wasting considerable time trying to make that “donate” thing work, I gave up. Once is back up and running, I’m considering a paid membership option for premium content, eBooks, TeleClasses and more – but that’s down the line too).

      Time and tech always determine what I can do. For NOW, at least, my “payment” is wonderful comments like yours, and watching my readership grow, slowly but surely.



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    • Unfortunately, yes, I DO “run into any issues of plagiarism or copyright violation” — and it always breaks my heart. The “permission” part doesn’t bug me as much as the lack of attribution, however (and when somebody is SELLING content I didn’t make a penny for the HOURS of research that went into producing it).

      I have actually been SENT content that somebody thought I’d find interesting that I personally originated, credited to another – sometimes without a change in a single word, and sometimes a “high school report” attempt to claim the writing with a few changes in wordage, but all concepts remaining, even in the order in which I explained them (which, to my mind is WORSE!)

      I have also been sitting in live seminars when one or more of my students have been credited from the podium for my work – and I have seen it in print as well. AWKWARD!

      The strangest was tripping across a copy of my Modalities Inventory™ on EBay – with a CLEARLY stated “copyright box” right there on the photo that anyone could read saying that selling it was a no-no – FOR SALE!

      I emailed the offender with a request for a conversation – but he or she never had the guts to speak to me, instead, sending a screen snap that supposedly “proved” it had been removed. I thought about turning the vendor in to EBay with a request for closure as a condition of maintaining a decent seller reputation (I had screen snaps too, ya’ know! – and still do), but that’s really not who I am or how I want to spend the minutes of my life. I’m hoping that being “shot at and missed” will make them stop that nonsense in the future.

      Too bad the vendor didn’t speak to me, however, because I was going to suggest I supply them with more to sell, as long as they sold my content as MY content, and split the profits. But I did want to know where they got the copy they were selling, because it was ONLY available as part of the course content for my ADD Coach training (SURE hope it wasn’t a student, but the refusal to dialogue begs the question, doesn’t it?)

      I hate having others believe that *I* was the one who “stole” the content, and I hate having to agonize over how to handle situations of this sort. But there you have it. As an old boyfriend of mine was fond of saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” 😐

      Unless you want to hire an attorney to protect your intellectual property rights, once it’s out in the either, there is not much you CAN do about “pilferage” other than making your policies as clear as possible and relying on the integrity of the individuals who visit to attempt to honor them.

      In *my* community, I choose to believe it’s more a factor of ADD getting in the way than intentional plagiarism or copyright violation — in their haste to post content or to establish their own reputations they neglect attribution, then lose track of the source (or don’t revisit their own content to see that it might read as original when, in fact, they know that’s NOT the case – and it gets passed on as their own.) I’ve dropped out attribution myself in the case of graphics, and I’m pretty rigorous about Intellectual Property Rights. (I fix it when I catch it, but I don’t always catch it, so it’s not entirely out of the realm of the possible with my written content, right?)

      It is painful, I do know, but the thing to hold on to is that publishing on the web IS “publishing” – and with the existence of “the way back machine,” it’s not too hard to show who originated the content, right?



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  19. Wonderful story. So *one* of the secrets is distinguishing between “what she was willing to really-no-kidding DO to manage from what was (for her) merely a should.'”

    The question for me is how to stick with the decision once made. Hopefully you will address that in future episodes.

    I’m posting your story on my facebook page. Several of my followers are ADD-ers also.


    • THANKS for the repost, Jean – I’m sure you’ve read WHY I’ve been MIA of late – apologies anyway.

      LOL – *one* of the secrets might as well be THE secret. As my coaching mentor Thomas Leonard said (many times) “Information is the booby prize!”

      ADD Coaching is not only helpful re: HOW to stick, but how to determine if/when it is *appropriate* to stick – some “goals” age-out and become a waste of energy and weapons of self-flagilation (and decisions are SO tough for ALL of us with ADD)

      THEN we have activation struggles, distractibility and it’s effect on follow-through struggles, FINISHING struggles (the last boring part!) and last-but-not-least “turning it IN” struggles (not simply a homework problem – also relates to final disposition, whether that is filing for future retrieval, archival disposition, reminders of follow-ups that might be required/advisable.)

      When one begins to compile the details, one can’t help but note that this LIFE thing sure has a lot of pieces to it, huh? It’s a MIRACLE *any* of us function with intentionality EVER, IMHO.

      RE: your request: An article in draft talks about the difficulty of “that follow-through part” – but I may rewrite it as part of this series, time-permitting.

      Thanks ALWAYS for stopping by and for passing on appropriate posts. I’m flattered and touched. As soon as Kate is able to “fly solo,” I’ll be back to your site to see what MY readers might benefit from. Meanwhile, know that *I* know that anything you want to suggest via link will be valuable, so will eventually approve it on sight, even if Akismet throws you in with the links of the spammers. When time permits, I’ll back-link within the article itself, since not everyone gets down to the comments.


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