Flashback: Can This ADDer be Saved?

A Tale of Two Clients – Part 1

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Reposting an article in the The ADD Coaching Series

In a comment communication with  mike2all on his blog ReadAfterBurnout.com, I was recently asked about my coaching.  I took his question to mean, “How does your Coaching work?”

After a relatively brief response to his question I also encouraged him to take a look at a 4-part series of articles written shortly after I first began blogging here on ADDandSoMuchMORE.com.

That got me thinking that it might be time to repost an edited version of each part of this short-story like article.  I doubt that many of my new readers in the past five or so years since these articles were originally published have seen any of them.

They are written in a “magazine conversational” style, and are each relatively quick reads. STAY TUNED for newly edited versions of the remainder of the story.

Can This ADDer be Saved?

A few brief stories of Coaching Results from Clients themselves found HERE


And so it begins . . .

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, meaning 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 home-fires burning, despite the demands of  a high-stress job.

Most days she managed to stay 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 usually struggled to get her thoughts on paper at the office with the background of the constant ringing of the telephones and chatting of her office-mates.  She also struggled against 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.

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Katy really hated Monday mornings!

From: The Hound Lounge Doggie Daycare found on SASKATOON DOG RESCUE

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 his way out the door, miffed because she had neglected to pick up his favorite suit from the dry cleaners and had forgotten to set the coffee maker the night before.

She had no idea how she would manage without that lifesaving first cup she always needed to clear the cobwebs.

She tripped over the pup the kids named Bowser as she made her way to Mary’s room, hitting her head on a cabinet.  Ouch!

Oh no – 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.

Barb’s 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 Barb’s only “job” was part-time photography for the local newspaper (which, for years, consisted mostly of developing negatives in her basement dark room).

Barb, however, seemed genuinely happy.  Her husband adored her and her kids seemed to 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 suddenly 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 remember to make the 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 feared she was destroying her carefully constructed facade of competence. Her breath came in gulps with her next 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 ADDandSoMuchMore.com 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 let her know 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. inspired 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.

Flash Forward

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, anyway! She has “found the time” to join a yoga class and Weight Watchers, and has lost those frustrating twelve pounds she had been struggling with since Mary’s birth.

Her last work review was encouraging, especially for the period after she worked out a new plan with her boss including, among other accommodations, working four days in the office and one at home.

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 understood 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 realization that nobody can do it all
  • the development of the skills necessary to develop new systems and to enroll help and support
  • with, in Katy’s case, the addition of proper diagnosis and medication
  • and the addition of weekly accountability calls where she could workshop each strategy as she put it into place.

NOTHING’S more effective than good support

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 just how terrific he really was by supporting her efforts with actions as well as words.

Katy was ALSO ready, willing, and able to take her own 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 friends 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, both during and after diagnosis.  She made the wise choice to move some of those photography classes she was itching to take down on her priority list.

She did the best she could for the first year or two, primarily trolling the internet for sites like ADDandSoMuchMore.com for information and ideas.

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

Since her messy house doesn’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 most 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 traveling.

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 reality!)

More of the details behind the story of the transformations
of Katy and Barb can be found in the links below.

Can this ADDer be Saved?
(The rest of the coaching story, illustrating how coaching works in narrative format)


©2010-12, 2017, all rights reserved
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(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)

Shared on the Senior Salon

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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!"

84 Responses to Flashback: Can This ADDer be Saved?

  1. Pingback: Climbing your Mountains YOUR way | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  2. Pingback: Flashback: Can This ADDer Be Saved? – Part 4 | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. Norah says:

    These are interesting stories. I’m enjoying learning more about ADD. I wouldn’t have thought a diagnosis was likely in either Katy’s or Barb’s case. I’ve obviously much to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Flashback: Can This ADDer Be Saved? – Part 3 | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  5. Pingback: Flashback: Can This ADDer Be Saved? – Part 2 | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  6. John Fioravanti says:

    Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie shares with us two short stories of women with ADD who needed and found ADD support to allow them to function effectively and, more importantly, to enjoy their lives. Please read on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, John. Sometimes a few human stories make the point that we can change our own lives better than all the neuroscience at our disposal!

      Liked by 1 person

      • John Fioravanti says:

        I liked the story approach. You’re welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I appreciate the feedback, John. I’m noodling the idea of a book with coaching tips “fronted” by client stories in each chapter. If this article continues to get good response, I’ll consider it seriously.

          Liked by 1 person

          • John Fioravanti says:

            I think that is an excellent approach. The stories will grab the readers attention and then they have those concrete examples to illustrate the tips that follow. I vote you proceed!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks John. I am working my way toward getting a few of my books out there, investigating platforms for publishing/marketing etc. – but I haven’t decided yet where to focus my first effort.

              It’s tough to tell from my post likes since I write on so many topics in so many different ways, even though it’s all brain-based (and we all know that many folks who click like do so from the Reader and never actually read what they “liked.”) So I cherish your feedback. Thank you very much!

              Liked by 1 person

            • John Fioravanti says:

              You just touched on my pet peeve about blogging. I hate it when people just like a post without reading it. I’d like to post about that sometime. I’d likely upset some folks.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I always appreciate the likes as expressions of support, since I know that I sometimes like, read and don’t have time to comment either.

              There are other times when I myself have ZERO time to read and I like JUST to support.

              BUT, with a quick trip around the blogs anybody would see that when I DO comment it is usually more than “good post” – and that I generally read the comments as well (“liking” those as I make my way down to the comment box). I also respond to comments left for me with more than a quick “thank you” most of the time.

              I *live* for the conversations!

              NOT that there’s anything wrong with with the quick hit comments — it’s still support and acknowledgment. BUT it would take a great deal of cumulative time I prefer to spend on “real” comments and reactions, because I already spend at least two hours almost every single day leaving and responding to comments. THEN I still have to prepare my own posts, walk Tink, try to make some sort of a living, and do all the other things that life throws at me. Many days I run out of hours – or even minutes.

              So I have to content myself with “sprinkling” my comments on the various blogs I read, and occasionally leaving something quick and positive ONLY, even though I’d rather be a soaker. 🙂


            • John Fioravanti says:

              P.S. Write the book(s) then decide on publishing options.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Many people have said the same, John – but I’m currently listening to a book coach who advises against that approach, especially when you have a lot to share and limited time to “waste” on a book that won’t get read. She claims that you chose your publishing platform based on your goals for the book and write for that platform. hmmmmm . . . which way to go . . .

              Liked by 1 person

  7. dgkaye says:

    Wonderful examples in these little vignettes into the lives of these people. And brilliant advertising strategy too M. You’re sample stories are effective demonstration of why people could use a coach, and by sharing their outcomes, you showcase the benefits. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  8. mistermuse says:

    Lucky the woman whose mate has the genuine empathy needed to put himself in her place. Sorry to admit that many of us men just don’t seem to “get it.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most of us women have noticed that about so many of you guys. ‘Sup with that? 🙂 Do YOU understand it?

      I’d love to find a brain study I could cite, but I’m thinking it is more a function of societal mores and expectations, along with the different ways that boys and girls are raised.

      Men certainly seem to note the difference when the women in their lives empathize with them and when they do not – especially when they’re ill, right? They complain about lack of understanding from their bosses and colleagues. Most of my male clients who explore therapy expressed a preference for a male therapist because they hoped that a same-sex clinician would better understand their feelings – empathy-seeking, right?

      Why the apparent disconnect at home?

      I agree with you that Katy was fortunate that her husband was willing and able to step up at home, even though some of that was due to her own willingness to learn boundary skills, step up there and set a few.

      But it is so sad to me that, despite the reality that increasingly more women work outside the home, both men and women tend to view male help at home as an exception rather than the rule — i.e., rather than expecting more in that regard from the men in our world overall.

      It sometimes seems to me that many men expect the same Mom behavior from their partners that they used to be able to take for granted when they were kids (i.e., one-way empathy). Is that due to their upbringing? Lack of expectations? Modeling (i.e., copying the apparent lack of empathy in their same sex parent?) Over-functioning in women – or unwillingness to set boundaries with consequences? Differences in chore division?

      I wish I knew – and could wave a magic wand to change that sad reality.

      Many woman have expressed how difficult it is to partner with (or continue to be attracted to) a man who has the emotional-reciprocity skills of our children. Empathy for our partners (including practical demonstrations like stepping up to help at home) is the essence of feelings of adult intimacy – beats roses and candy hands down and doesn’t cost one red cent. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Jennie says:

    This is so interesting to follow, Madelyn. I remember in the early 70’s when woman’s lib was telling all of us that we could do it ALL. Well, we know that’s unrealistic. I wonder how many ADD suffers peaked back then? And that was before most people knew what ADD was! A great read, Madelyn.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Tina Frisco says:

    Encouraging stories, Madelyn. Above all else, they show how vital a support network is when making a substantial behavioral change that affects nearly every aspect of one’s life. A terrific post for anyone who feels locked in stress and over their heads ♥

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I remember reading this series the first time around, and it’s just as awesome. Your fictional “case studies,” Madelyn, are so very real, that many people out there will relate to them and listen to you, I am sure!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. paulandruss says:

    Oh Madelyn!!!! Superb.

    Loved the format.. Nice and easy nothing psychologooglie about it. Just a nice tale of two ‘everyday’ women. Most people will say that have a lot of crap in their lives. What they don’t see is it comes from their worst enemy.. themselves. (Trying to be superwoman or even superman- yes we’re not all animals you know! (Wink.. of course we are!) as Paul showed once he began to understand!

    Sometimes I think if someone appears very competent one tends to back off and let them do it and you don’t think you come up to that standard (and yes there is a bit of taking the easy road in that as well!)

    As for her boss… I have often noticed that although we were brought up to do our best at work and never say no, the more willing you are to take the burden the more the boss lets you because the easier it makes their life and the less consideration you get for it. As they say it’s the squeaky wheel that gets the oil!

    Work like life is a 2 way street by all means go the extra mile but by the same token let the boss know that you have and you didn’t need to! Plenty of others would be glad to have such a diligent worker in their team! And you will work diligently & hard every day but not at 200%

    Can’t wait for the rest!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You always come up with the most interesting comments, Paul! Thank you.

      I love your reference to the importance of setting effective boundaries to achieving life balance, especially when you find that you have been “pushed” to take on increasingly more as you prove you can accomplish effectively – the essence of The Peter Principal (that people tend to be “promoted” to their level of incompetence).

      I have often discovered that the bosses (etc.) most apt to do the pushing are suffering from the same “super” syndrome and unconsciously take advantage of their best workers to help them manage (which frequently backfires with sometimes disastrous results).

      I also love how you point out how our own “superman/woman” shoulds can keep dynamics in place that are horrible for our well-being.

      Thanks also for letting me know that this type of article works for you. Same message, of course, but the fact that the “human interest” format doesn’t seem too simplistic to someone like you encourages me to, perhaps, expand this article into a Series (or maybe even a book!)

      Liked by 1 person

  13. An interesting post, Madelyn. I am hyperactive (according to my GP and Michael’s paed) and I get loads done. I do understand, however, that when something extra comes into play, like illness, it can make a highly organised and busy person go over the edge. Every now and then this happens to me and I have a bit of a melt down. It has always passed though and life goes on.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The timing of this comment is interesting, Robbie, underscoring both the up and down sides of “whatever” in our lives. (I just posted a link to About Rainbow Brains on this weeks Senior Salon – an older guest post encouraging us to open our paradigms about neurodiversity.)

      I’ll bet a lot of people would reframe hyperactivity as “the best thing EVER” if they could be invisible and watch all you can get done in a day – right up to the point where doing/resting balance gets off and you have your “bit of a melt down.” You seem to have discovered the secret to righting yourself (i.e/, rebalancing) and moving on.

      More remarkable to me are these words: “every now and then.” They tell me that, most of the time anyway, you step back before you “stop yourself” with a melt-down – the real secret to life balance.

      Many so-called “hyperactives” have yet to learn to take the signals to step back seriously, so they careen from crises to crises, which sometimes takes a toll on their physical health as well as their emotions (sometimes also with “Type-A Personalities” – similar dyanamic). We could all take a page from your book! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. -Eugenia says:

    The Superwoman syndrome. First, was Katy doing this for herself, perhaps unconsciously? Or trying to be all things to all people? I believe that sometimes those who push “overachieve” to the max are crying out for attention- the ‘look at me” syndrome. Nice post.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Our clinical nurse specialists at work would have said that Katy was ‘catastrophising’. Good word isn’t it? I’m sure we all do this from time to time.

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Lucy Brazier says:

    Ah, the importance of creating the right balance for our own individual lives! It’s so easy to think that we ‘have’ to do it all and paint ourselves into a corner, pressure and responsibilities ever building until things become impossible. I do love your posts, they give me a thoughtful and informative start to my day and I always feel a little more sane after reading!

    Liked by 2 people

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